The Outcast Prince by Shona Husk

shona husk - outcast prince

The Outcast Prince by Shona Husk

Book Stats:

Reading level: Adult
Paperback: 320 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Release date: July 2, 2013

Series: Court of Annwyn #1

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: Netgalley

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Caspian Mort can feel the history in anything he touches, a gift he inherited from his father, the Crown Prince of Annwyn. Devastated over his ex-wife’s infidelity, Caspian has withdrawn from human contact except when working as an antiques dealer.

While assessing the contents of the historic Callaway House he encounters the beautiful Lydia Callaway and senses that her home is haunted by a banished fairy. But what does the dangerous exile want? Unbeknownst to Lydia, she’s the owner of the last remaining portal to Annwyn—a mirror hidden somewhere in the house. To keep Lydia safe, Caspian will have to divulge the secrets of his heritage, and risk losing his heart again.

I really didn’t know what to expect when I started reading THE OUTCAST PRINCE. Before this, I had never heard of the author, but since I ended up really enjoying this first of her new series, I’ll probably end up reading some of her other books while I wait for book 2 to be published.

THE OUTCAST PRINCE is a great introduction to the fairy world of Annwyn, even though we don’t spend much time in it. Most of the book is spent in the mortal world while beings and fairy forces never fail to plague Caspian “normal” life. All he’s ever wanted is to live his life without being bothered by anything fairy but since politics are unstable in Annwyn, the mortal world is feeling repercussions. Caspian is more or less forced to search for a fairy mirror/portal, which in the wrong hands, could lead to some very awful things, both in Annwyn and in the mortal world. His psychometry ability to see an object’s past just by touching it is what makes him so valuable. As a changeling, a mortal being with some fairy abilities, he shouldn’t be important in this deadly game of fairy politics, but since he’s the son of the fairy prince, he does have a significant role to play.

Overall, I loved Caspian as a character. His generosity and selflessness when it comes to protect those who matter to him is respectable and admirable. In my opinion, him and Lydia might have fallen in love a little too quickly since after just a couple of days, it seemed like they were already in love and were thinking of moving in together. But who wouldn’t want to live together, especially in such a historical house like the Callaway House Lydia inherited from her deceased grandmother.

Lydia has a history of her own and while she’s a well developed character, there’s just something submissive about her that I’m not too crazy about. While I like that she had an open mind and was able to accept Caspian’s parentage and abilities so easily, it just seemed like she could have been a little bit bolder in her thoughts and actions. After just a couple of days, she started to depend and rely on Caspian way to much for my taste, and while I understand she was still grieving her grandmother’s death, she could have made some decisions without relying so much on Caspian’s opinion. Otherwise, I find Caspian and Lydia make a great pair, and they found each other at the perfect time. I think, because they both have their own eccentric history, they are able to understand and accept each other rather nicely.

THE OUTCAST PRINCE is before all a romance book with some supernatural action included. I was sad to leave Lydia and Caspian behind because they had such a great relationship going on. I hope we hear more about them in the future books because from what I understand, the next books will have different main characters. I also hope we get to spend more time in Annwyn. THE OUTCAST PRINCE and its fairy world is very enticing. This first book  feels like a tease because while we learn a lot about Annwyn, there seems to be so much we don’t know about it. Shona Husk created a wonderful world and populated it not only with great main character but also with entertaining secondary characters. I look forward to the continuation of the series and I hope book two will be a page-turner, much like this one was.

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Heart of Iron by Bec McMaster + giveaway!

Heart of Iron by Bec McMaster Heart of Iron by Bec McMaster

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Mass market paperback: 448 pages
Genre: Steampunk romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release date: May 7, 2013

Series: London Steampunk #2

Source: Personal shelf

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

In the mist-shrouded streets of London’s dreaded Whitechapel district, werewolves, vampires and a clockwork army are one step away from battle…

Lena Todd is the perfect spy. Nobody suspects the flirtatious debutante could be a rebel against London’s vicious elite—not even the ruthless Will Carver, the one man she can’t twist around her little finger.

Will Carver, is more than man, he’s a verwolfen and he wants nothing to do with the dangerous beauty who drives him to the very edge of control. But when he finds Lena in possession of a coded letter, he realizes she’s in a world of trouble. To protect her, he’ll have to seduce the truth from her before it’s too late.

Readers who enjoyed Bec McMaster’s debut can raise their expectations because HEART OF IRON is even better than its predecessor. I really liked McMaster’s debut but I found myself completely absorbed by the rollercoaster of emotion and action that is HEART OF IRON. (For an introduction to the series, I’d suggest checking out my post on KISS OF STEEL.)

The main characters in HEART OF IRON were introduced in KISS OF STEEL. Lena is Honoria’s sister and Will is Blade’s lieutenant. I was quite fond of these characters in the first London Steampunk novel so I was thrilled to see them front and centre in this novel. (Fans of KISS OF STEEL’s Honoria and Blade will enjoy a glimpse into their lives post-HEA since they are featured in HEART OF IRON (but not in a gratuitous way).) Lena and Will had something of an instant attraction when they met but Lena has since left Whitechapel and Will has moved out on his own as well, leaving Blade and Honoria to themselves. He still works for Blade but their bond isn’t as easy as it used to be. They’re both strong-willed, opinionated characters devoted to their friends and family, and it was great fun watching them come together romantically.

Will has a really unique position in the series. He’s the only verwulfen in London, since the blue bloods (vampire-type aristocrats) kill verwulfen on site. (He’s safe in Whitechapel since it’s Blade’s domain but he’s in danger every time he leaves.) He’s given a brief reprieve, though, because the blue bloods need him to help them negotiate a treaty with the verwulfen populations from other parts of Europe. At the same time, Lena has been living in high society, working as a spy and courier for the humanist movement, a group that is rebelling against blue blood rule. Of course, it wouldn’t be any fun if their two missions didn’t bump into each other and boy do they collide! The plotting and pace in HEART OF IRON is truly outstanding and I needed to find out how this tangled plot would be resolved.

The introduction of other verwulfen really opens up the world of the London Steampunk series. Where KISS OF STEEL explored blue bloods and vampires, KISS OF IRON shows us more about verwulfen and their place in society. We also get to learn how verwulfen come to be and how their societies work, which I found quite interesting. The foregrounding of the humanist movement also added to the depth and breadth of McMaster’s worldbuilding, and really fleshed out the setting.

Once again, though, I did have some issues with the use of dialect. Dialogue that’s written in dialect is not my favourite thing, though I understand that McMaster uses it to highlight class differences. As I said when discussing KISS OF STEEL, it may not bother other people but it’s something I’m hyperaware of in books, movies, TV, you name it. =)

HEART OF IRON is an engrossing, thrilling sequel to KISS OF STEEL. If you liked KISS OF STEEL, you’ll love HEART OF IRON because it has all of the elements that made KISS OF STEEL a strong debut, with even more worldbuilding, intrigue, and steam.

Read an excerpt

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giveaway

The lovely folks at Sourcebooks Casablanca are kindly offering one (1) copy of KISS OF STEEL (the first book in the series) to a lucky reader!

US/Canada only

To enter the giveaway, listen to the Rafflecopter!

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Jenn

The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova

cordova - vicious deepThe Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova

Book Stats:

Reading level: YA
ARC: 370 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Release date: May 1, 2012

Series: The Vicious Deep #1

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: Won

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

For Tristan Hart, everything changes with one crashing wave.

He was gone for three days. Sucked out to sea in a tidal wave and spit back ashore at Coney Island with no memory of what happened. Now his dreams are haunted by a terrifying silver mermaid with razor-sharp teeth.

His best friend Layla is convinced something is wrong. But how can he explain he can sense emotion like never before? How can he explain he’s heir to a kingdom he never knew existed? That he’s suddenly a pawn in a battle as ancient as the gods.

Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea…and now it wants him back.

When I was child, one of my favorite movies was Disney’s The Little Mermaid. So it comes to no surprise that I would be interested in this mermaid/merman book. There’s just something special and attractive about the ocean, and so I felt compelled to pick up this book. While I did enjoy the story and the mythology, it did have a few shortcomings.

I think my expectations were set too high and I was disappointed with the result.The actual story was very entertaining and the mythology of the merfolk was well thought out, but I was a bit disappointed with the writing. The pace of the story was very fast, and while sometimes that means non-stop action, in this case it felt like the scenes were rushed and unfinished. At times, it was hard to follow the storyline since the change of scenes was too quick and I felt lost entering a new one. I think the introduction of vampires was unnecessary and it introduced us to characters that didn’t have any real purpose. In my opinion, some scenes should have been cut out, while others could have used a little more expansion.

I did find Tristan Hart, the main character, a little egocentric but that’s to be expected with a teenage boy, especially when he learns he’s in line to be the king of the merfolk. And especially when he learns he’s a merman. Right until a freak storm hit Coney Island, he had no clue about his heritage. With a human father and a mermaid mother, he was raised as a human boy after his grandfather, the king, bound his tail when he was a baby. However, nothing could pull him away from the sea. A great swimmer and a beach lifeguard, you could say water runs in his blood.

Tristan’s relationship with Layla, his best friend, is typical in the sense that both want to be together but their long friendship prevents either of them from making the first step. Their almost-relationship is entertaining but my favorite characters have to be Kurt and Thalia, Tristan’s “mermaid cousins.” Thalia’s naivety about the human world is funny and Kurt’s a riot because he tries to be so serious all the times.

I’m anxious to learn more about these mermaids—oops—merfolk. These are definitively not similar to the ones portrayed  by Disney. Some are absolutely vicious, while others will simply charm you senseless. Even if I’m not crazy about THE VICIOUS DEEP, I do plan to read the next book. Hopefully the writing will improve because the story has only just begun! Tristan’s quest to prove that he would be a worthy king will certainly bring new adventures to him and his friends. The cliffhanger at the end will definitively leave you hanging because if feels as if the author stopped right in the middle of Tristan’s “quest.”

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Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

Darker Still (Magic Most Foul, #1)

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

Book Stats:
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Genre: Historical/paranormal YA
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: November 8, 2011

Series: Magic Most Foul #1

Source: Personal Shelf

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

I was obsessed.

It was as if he called to me, demanding I reach out and touch the brushstrokes of color swirled onto the canvas. It was the most exquisite portrait I’d ever seen–everything about Lord Denbury was unbelievable…utterly breathtaking and eerily lifelike.

There was a reason for that. Because despite what everyone said, Denbury never had committed suicide. He was alive. Trapped within his golden frame.

I’ve crossed over into his world within the painting, and I’ve seen what dreams haunt him. They haunt me too. He and I are inextricably linked–bound together to watch the darkness seeping through the gas-lit cobblestone streets of Manhattan. Unless I can free him soon, things will only get Darker Still.

Natalie Stewart has been very lonely her whole life. After her mother died in a traumatic accident, she lost her ability to speak. Hoping to help her, her father sent her away at an institute, without success. A lot awaits her when she comes back to her home though. A mysterious painting has been brought to New York, one of a young Lord who supposedly committed suicide. Natalie can’t help to be drawn to it, attracting trouble to herself by the same occasion.

I bought Darker Still because it was only 1,99$ on kindle (still is if you’re interested) and I think it was a good deal. Leanna penned an intriguing paranormal mystery, set in New York, 1800s, and I’m glad I read her highly original tale. Many elements make it original and I think it’s important I point a few. First, Natalie is a mute girl. It’s very rare to have main characters with disabilities in a novel and I loved that it didn’t impair her. She was strong and confident despite what most thought of her, thus would make a great model for teens in this situation. Miss Hieber also chose to narrate the story in the form of a diary, letting her main character pouring her soul onto the pages, an highlight of this story. And last, the concept was simply unique. Having a young Lord trapped in a painting isn’t something I read of before, and his fate in the hands of Natalie made it that much more engrossing.

Not action-packed, the novel was sustained by its characters. Natalie was very likeable, but the secondary characters strongly enriched this magical tale. Lord Dendury was particularly magnetic in both his forms. You see, his spirit is looked in the painting, but his body is walking the streets, causing havoc. Mrs. Northe was actually my favorite. She is kind and knowledgeable, her motherly figure really hit home with me somehow and her relationship with Natalie was very endearing.

Even though the plot progressed somewhat slowly Leanna managed to keep the reader engaged the whole time and I truly enjoyed following the heroes putting together the clues to free Lord Denbury. The only mistake Hieber did, I think, was to wrap-up the tale so tightly. Even though I liked the novel, there’s no loose ends or cliff-hanger at the end, and I don’t feel the urge to get my hands on the second book.

With its gothic atmosphere, Darker Still will definitely please fans of mystery and paranormal wrapped in a pretty package.

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Entice by Jessica Shirvington

Entice by Jessica Shirvington


Book Stats:

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks

Release date: September 4, 2012

Series: The Violet Eden Chapters #2

Source: Publisher

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Violet Eden is Grigori – part angel, part human. Her destiny is to protect humans from the vengence of exiled angels.

Knowing who to trust is key but, when Grigori reinforcements arrive, it becomes clear everyone is hiding something. Even Lincoln. The only thing Violet does know: Phoenix’s hold over her is more dangerous than ever.

The race to find the one thing that could tilt the balance of power brings them all to the sacred mountains of Jordan, where Violet’s power will be pushed to the extreme. And the ultimate betrayal exposed.

Enticed is the second compelling book in The Violet Eden Chapters.

The second book in the Embrace series did not disappoint! Having fully embraced as a Grigori, Violet struggles to reconcile with Lincoln while keeping life-altering secrets. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that she will never, ever truly be safe anymore. If anything, this gripping tale has even more secrets than the first. Webs of lies are spun repeatedly and somehow Violet always ends up in the center of them, making the story all the more juicer and enjoyable for the reader.

It’s very easy to get into this book since it picks up directly where book one leaves off. The action scenes are not only plentiful, but intense, and Violet’s journey to discovering her creator brings about many more curiosities! The plot was continuously thickening and its fast pace made it easy to blast through this book without hesitation.

My biggest qualm with EMBRACE was the ever-present love triangle. While it was executed better then some, a love triangle is still a love triangle. The one in ENTICE is much more subtle. It’s still there because Phoenix will never fully be out of the picture, but because Phoenix plays such a little role in this novel, most of the romantic interest is focused on Lincoln despite the fact that him and Violet can never be together because they are partners. And he’s keeping secrets! That’s never a good thing… More or less, this revelation made me really happy as a reader because the love triangle was no longer in my face, though part of me does hope that Phoenix shows up to play a larger part in book three. This aspect of the novel greatly improved from the previous book.

Full of lies and deception and a tiny rocky romance on the side, it’s impossible to hate the second installment to this series with a unique and interesting twist on angels! It’s an exhilarating page-turner that will leave you begging for book three! Once again, Shirvington did not disappoint.


Kiss of Steel blog tour: Interview with Bec McMaster + giveaway!

We have an exciting visitor today: debut author Bec McMaster! She’s the mind behind a new steampunk romance series; the first book, KISS OF STEEL, was released at the start of the month. She’s stopped by Tynga’s Reviews to chat about KISS OF STEEL and her publishers have graciously offered up a giveaway copy for one lucky reader.

Keep reading to get to know Bec and the world of her London Steampunk series!

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Hi, Bec, and welcome to Tynga’s Reviews! To start, can you tell us a little bit about the world you’ve created for your London Steampunk series?

Bec McMaster Kiss of SteelHi! And thank you for the welcome!

Kiss of Steel is set in a world where the Echelon rules London; blue bloods who are afflicted with a virus that makes them crave human blood. Faster, almost immortal and terribly dangerous. Humans are considered a lesser class, existing only to serve and below them are the mechs – those forced by circumstance to take a metal limb or organ and considered less than human. Into this world comes Honoria Todd, with a secret that could change the very social structure of London. On the run from a duke who would kill to get his hands on her secret, the only one she can turn to is Blade, the notorious Devil of Whitechapel – and one of the very creatures she despises.

So far, we’ve met blue bloods (who can eventually turn into vampires) and verwulfen. Are there other supernatural beings in the London Steampunk world? Can we expect to encounter different beings or creatures in future installments?

There will be creatures, but whether they are supernatural, mechanical or human is something I might keep to myself. There is so much to explore in the blue blood and verwulfen worlds that I doubt I will delve too deeply into other supernatural tropes, but that’s not to say never. I know where the main arc is going, but my best writing occurs when I let surprises pop up.

Did you do any research for Blade’s accent? Was it challenging to write in dialect?

The funny thing is, Blade came to me almost fully formed and that was simply how he spoke. I could almost hear him in my ear, whispering in that distinctive dialect. Of course, there was a lot of slang I researched, but the majority of it was simply Blade. I didn’t find it challenging at all, though a few of the other characters speak the same dialect and I had to work at them a little bit more.

One of the ideas you introduce in KISS OF STEEL is the possibility of a vaccine that saves people from being infected with the virus that turns them into blue bloods. Will we see more of this science in future novels?

Yes. Though the effects of it won’t be felt for a little while. Blade’s not about to let it become common knowledge – for protective reasons – and it’s the sort of thing that might change the entire structure of the world.

If you only had seven words to describe KISS OF STEEL, what would you say?

Dangerous dukes, devilish rogues and blue-stocking heroine.

What inspired you to write steampunk and paranormal romance?

I love it. Pure and simple. But the main inspiration was this world where there was an entire aristocratic class comprised of blood-drinkers, almost like the ton, but paler. And far more dangerous. For any writer, most ideas are sparked by asking questions about that hint of inspiration. How could this ruling class hold their power? What is the history behind it? And what does the future hold for them? From this, the steampunk elements sprang up.

What are your favourite aspects of steampunk fashion?

Honestly, I spend far too much time trawling the internet for Victorian fashions. I do love corsets though. I’ve always had a fascination with them, and there are some amazing examples out there. Something in leather… with brass buttons. That’s the type of steampunk fashion I adore. Or maybe parasols. Especially lacy ones.

Why do you think steampunk (specifically steampunk romance) has exploded in recent years?

I hesitate to call steampunk a genre on its own, as I think it “corrupts” a lot of other genres and that is the appeal. For example, most readers will find strong paranormal romance elements in Kiss of Steel, and it can appeal to readers of historical romance as well. Also, it’s so much fun. It’s sexy and it’s unique. For those who are fed up with the same-old, it’s a breath of fresh air.

Thanks very much for visiting us as part of your blog tour, Bec!

Thank you so much for having me!

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More about KISS OF STEEL:

Bec McMaster Kiss of SteelA brilliantly creative debut where vampires, werewolves, and clockwork creatures roam the mist–shrouded streets of London…

When Nowhere is Safe…

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitecapel district. For Honoria Todd, it’s the last safe haven. But at what price?

Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It’s been said he faced down the Echelon’s army single–handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood–craving he’s been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal.

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She’s so…innocent. He doesn’t see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he’s been seeking.

Jenn’s thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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giveaway

To enter the giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

US/Canada only

Ends Thursday, October 11, 2012

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Bec McMasterAward-winning author Bec McMaster lives in a small town in Australia and grew up with her nose in a book. A member of RWA, she writes sexy, dark paranormals and steampunk romance. When not writing, reading, or poring over travel brochures, she loves spending time with her very own hero or daydreaming about new worlds.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Jenn

Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Mass market paperback: 448 pages
Genre: Steampunk
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Release date: September 1, 2012

Series: London Steampunk #1

Source: Personal shelf

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

A brilliantly creative debut where vampires, werewolves, and clockwork creatures roam the mist–shrouded streets of London…

When Nowhere is Safe…

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitecapel district. For Honoria Todd, it’s the last safe haven. But at what price?

Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It’s been said he faced down the Echelon’s army single–handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood–craving he’s been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal.

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She’s so…innocent. He doesn’t see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he’s been seeking.

I’ve been looking forward to this book for quite some time. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, even if the lady’s outfit is far too scandalous for the period. Between the amazing cover and the cover copy, I knew that I had to pre-order KISS OF STEEL! And once it arrived, I dived right in.

I really like the world that Bec McMaster has created. In fact, it’s probably my favourite part of the novel! The author brings a different take on the supernatural, with many of the upper class (the Echelon) being infected with a virus that makes them crave human blood. These blue bloods are faster than humans and nearly immortal. If their counts get too high, however, they succumb to their bloodlust and becoming rampaging killing machines. The blue bloods tend to be choosy about who they infect but sometimes non-nobles get infected, like Blade, the Devil of Whitechapel and the male romantic lead in KISS OF STEEL. Honoria Todd, our heroine, has only recently entered Blade’s domain, after her father, a man of science, was murdered by a blue blood, who hunts for Honoria and her two siblings. This world is also inhabited by verwulfen and mechs, who have metal parts and are considered the lowest class, making KISS OF STEEL a very engaging read. I love books that blend genre elements and KISS OF STEEL has a little bit of everything: there’s steampunk, paranormal romance, mystery, and more!

Honoria was a great main character. I empathized with her from the start and was really rooting for her. She has a lot of adversity but she makes the most of her situation. I also liked that she’s smart and tries to figure out the best way to survive her situation. I’m not a fan of helpless heroines who wait for people to take care of them and Honoria is very independent, even in a setting where keeping her independence is a challenge, particularly in a Victorian era.

In contrast, I wasn’t as keen on Blade. He’s got an interesting history and I really enjoyed his relationship with Honoria but I couldn’t get behind him 100% because of the fact that his speech is written in dialect. The author’s done a nice job of it, and uses the presence or absence of Blade’s Cockney accent to tell you whether he’s in control of himself or not (which was a great device), but the linguist in me always gets nervous when people decide to write in dialect, especially when it’s not their native variety. For me, it’s distracting. I don’t know if other people have the same problem but it’s just one of those things that I’m hyperaware of, no matter how well it’s done.

On the whole, however, I very much enjoyed KISS OF STEEL. The romance is steamy, the world really captured my imagination, and Bec McMaster has me desperate for more! There are ideas that were left unresolved and I hope they’ll be discussed in the next book, which features secondary characters from KISS OF STEEL.

Read an excerpt

Jenn