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!

Read an excerpt

Jenn

Sealed with a Curse by Cecy Robson

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

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

Series: Weird Girls #1

Source: Won on My world…in books and pages

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read an excerpt

Jenn

Forsaken by the Others by Jess Haines

Forsaken by the Others (H&W Investigations, #5)

Forsaken by the Others by Jess Haines

Book Stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban fantasy
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Zebra
Release date: July 2, 2013

Series: H&W Investigations #5

Source: NetGalley

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

The Others–vampires, werewolves, things that go chomp in the night–don’t just live in nightmares anymore. They’ve joined with he mortal world. And for private investigator Shiarra Waynest, that means mayhem…

Have a one night stand with a vampire, and you can end up paying for it for eternity. P.I. Shiarra Waynest, an expert on the Others, knows that better than most. Yet here she is, waking up beside charismatic vamp Alec Royce with an aching head…and neck. Luckily, Shia has the perfect excuse for getting out of town–namely, a couple of irate East Coast werewolf packs who’d like to turn her into a chew toy.

On Royce’s suggestion, Shia temporarily relocates to Los Angeles. But something is rotten–literally–in the state of California, where local vampires are being attacked by zombies. Who could be powerful enough to control them–and reckless enough to target the immortal? Following the trail will lead Shia to a terrifying truth, and to an ancient enemy with a personal grudge…

Trouble follows Shia around like a dog and its tail, and Forsaken by the Others is no exception. She just avoided turning into a werewolf (or did she really?) and found Royce for comfort. After getting what he craved since he met her, he has to let her go for her own safety. Did he really think she would be safer away though? I bet he didn’t foresee an army of walking dead!

First, let me say that this book was just as amazing as the previous ones and that fans of the series won’t be disappointed! There was a very drastic split at about 25% of the book, moment when Shia and Sara went away to LA, supposedly to stay safe. The first part is all about Royce and I was really surprised. If you remember, at the end of book 4, Shia finally gave in and had sex with Royce. Forsaken by the Others starts the next morning, when she has to face what she did. At first, she’s scared and distrustful and I was knocked off my chair by how easily she gave in to him in the end. By the time she leaves for LA, I’ll dare say she’s almost clingy. It felt really anticlimactic to what I’m used to from her, but it wasn’t bad either, I mean, they have been dancing around each other for four books already. I am really sold to Royce despite everything and I’m afraid to say he is practically absent from the rest of the book and I missed him.

Part two is all about Shia and her best friend Sara forced to investigate a case of zombie attacks against the vampire hosting them at his home. He is hiding things from them and the girls bit off more than they could chew. The action was non stop, Forsaken by the Others was a real page-turner. I was also really pleased to see old friends and heart-broken that Arnold is still not back on the roster. When will Arnold be back Jess? *begs on her knees*

The plot line was smooth and surprising and there’s a particular scene with zombies swarming the highway that particularly felt bigger than nature. Kudos Jess! The end was a real slap in the face and would’ve knocked me on my behind if I weren’t already sitting. I never expected it and I am that much more excited for book six. What will happen to Shia in the aftermath? Will she or will she not turn into a werewolf? Will she finally have a somewhat normal relationship with Royce. And more importantly, will we see Arnold again??? lol

I know the covers of the first books in the series aren’t particularly attractive, but this series is a serious case of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. H&W Investigation series is an amazing urban fantasy series and I am convinced fans of the genre will fall in love with its action and its characters. On a side note, Jess Haines is also made of awesome and I love her very much ❤

tynsigdisclaimer

SS: Interview With Veronica Wolff

SSbig

Today, we have the pleasure of welcoming Veronica Wolff back on the blog. I was really excited about reading her most recent release of her Watchers series, The Keep. It’s the fourth book of the series so far and I thought it was a great continuation to her series. But before learning more about The Keep, you can read an interview below, in which I questioned Veronica with things I was itching to ask her after reading her newest book. Also, don’t forget to check out the giveaway!

———————-

1. First off, welcome back to Tynga’s Reviews, Veronica. The Keep, the fourth book of The Watchers series, has been released June 4th, 2013. Is it truly the last book of the series or is there more to come?

Thanks for having me! The Keep is definitely not the last installment in the Watchers series. I’m working on book five now—I’ll just be publishing it myself. All future books will be available online.

2. What next for the series?

Book five will be told from Ronan’s point of view. I thought it’d be an interesting way of catching up readers who are new to the series, while also appealing to established fans. It also enables me to reveal secrets, relationships, and action that Drew hasn’t been privy to. Besides, selfishly speaking, I completely adore Ronan, so it makes it really fun for me!

3. The books from your Watchers series were your first published young adult novels. Do you plan on writing more young adult novels in the future?

For sure! It’s become my favorite genre, both to read and to write. In addition to my Watchers series, I’m working on a stand-alone contemporary, with romantic elements, naturally. 😉 Stay tuned!

5. If you had to introduce Drew, the main character of The Keep to readers that have never met her, how would you describe her?

That’s the fun thing about the book I’m writing now—we get to see Drew through Ronan’s eyes for the first time. If I had to introduce her, I’d tell people she’s a smart, funny, and loyal young woman who’s coming into her own, and that even though she doesn’t always know how to keep her mouth shut, she’s sympathetic and definitely someone you’d want having your back.

5. Besides Drew, who was your favorite character to write about? Are there any characters that surprised you as the series progressed?

I have a big old crush on Carden—he’s so fun to write! I just love that guy’s guy type, the one who’s tender and protective one moment and then just the right amount of naughty the next. Besides, as you can see from my backlist, I can’t resist a Scotsman.

Otherwise, I think Mei-Ling is the character who most surprised me. Maybe because she was harder for me to flesh out, she resonated much more than I’d initially expected her to. We definitely haven’t seen the last of her–I miss her and am anxious to see how she’s grown and progressed.

6. Your other series and books are mostly romance. Did you always plan to write about vampires and the supernatural? Are there any other genres that you might be interested in?

No, I didn’t expect that’d happen at all. I’m a fan of horror, though, and whether it’s The Vampire Diaries television show or the Twilight books, I’ve loved so many of the teen vampires out there. But I found myself wanting something darker, something grittier and more sinister, and the Watchers was born. As for writing in other genres, I’m definitely interested, particularly if it’s within young adult. I like contemporary romantic stories, or personal journeys that involve romantic elements. I grew up reading fantasy, and there’s probably a fantasy novel in me somewhere, someday, too.

Now on to some event related questions:

7. What is your favorite summer treat?

All the amazing fresh fruit—berries, melon, you name it. I live in California, and we are positively spoiled with it. I do like a few strawberries with my whipped cream, you know. Oh, and Fudgsicles! My summer definitely features a lot of Fudgsicles.

8. Is the summer solstice something that is observed or celebrated in The Watchers’ world?

Ooh—good question! All of those ancient holidays and celebrations play a part in the Watchers’ world. The island is peopled by Vikings and Celts—the summer solstice will surely come up at some point.

——————

Thank you so much for stopping by, Veronica! I’m glad we got to do this again!

Check out more about THE KEEP:

veronica wolff - the keepJUST BECAUSE YOU WORK FOR THE DEAD DOESN’T MEAN YOU WANT TO JOIN THEM.

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

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

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

Hers…

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

My thoughts

———————–

The other books in the series:

veronica wolff - isle of night veronica wolff vampires_kiss veronica wolff - blood fever

giveaway

Veronica is offering a copy of The Keep to 3 lucky winners. One of the winners can be from Canada, while the others only from the USA. Like all Supernatural Solstice giveaways, it ends on July 5th, 2013.

To enter, just obey the Rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Veronica Wolff

veronica wolff2Veronica Wolff is an award-winning, bestselling author with a soft spot for kilts, mountains, beaches, and vampires. Not necessarily at the same time. She lived everywhere from Texas, to Hawaii, to India, before finally settling in Northern California, where she lives with her husband, two kids, and small menagerie of rescued pets.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Source

stephsig

The Keep by Veronica Wolff

veronica wolff - the keepThe Keep by Veronica Wolff

Book Stats:

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

Series: The Watchers #4

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: From the publisher

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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

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

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

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

Hers…

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

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

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

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

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

stephsig

House Rules by Chloe Neill

House Rules by Chloe Neill (Chicagoland Vampires #7)House Rules by Chloe Neill

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Trade paperback: 384 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: New American Library
Release date: February 7, 2013

Series: Chicagoland Vampires #7

Source: Personal shelf

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

In a city full of vampires, trouble never sleeps.

At the tender age of twenty-seven, Merit became a sword-wielding vampire. Since then, she’s become the protector of her House, watched Chicago nearly burn to the ground, and seen her Master fall and rise. Now she’ll see her mettle—and her metal—tested like never before.

It started with two . . . Two rogues vanishing without a trace. Someone is targeting Chicago’s vampires, and anyone could be next. With their house in peril, Merit and her Master, the centuries-old Ethan Sullivan, must race to stop the disappearances. But as they untangle a web of secret alliances and ancient evils, they realize their foe is more familiar, and more powerful, than they could have ever imagined.

I was a little underwhelmed by the previous Chicagoland Vampires novel, BITING COLD, so I went into HOUSE RULES with a bit of trepidation and lower expectations. My general reaction to HOUSE RULES? It was okay. Not mind blowing, not terrible, just okay. I think the shine is gone from the series for me now, even though I found HOUSE RULES to be more satisfying than BITING COLD.

Let’s start with the good stuff. I thought the main plot points in HOUSE RULES were really interesting. Cadogan is separating itself from the Greenwich Presidium, the body that governs all of the vampire Houses, meaning Cadogan has voted to go Rogue. It’s a decision that emerged in the previous novel and that gets our full attention in HOUSE RULES. I really liked this idea because it changes the dynamics of vampire politics in the whole Chicagoland Vampires universe, and it puts Ethan, Merit, and the rest of Cadogan House into a new, more precarious position. It was fun watching everyone scramble to figure out what the GP might do and how they would counter. Seeing Cadogan behind the gun was nicely different, since their lifestyle and future were being severely threatened.

At the same time, Merit has to deal with her initiation into the Red Guard, the secret group that polices vampire activity. Up until now, the Red Guard seems to have been a convenient way for Merit to get information other characters couldn’t provide so it was nice to see her face a quandary about her membership. I was hoping this storyline would bring greater tension to her relationship with Ethan, but it wasn’t really a huge deal, as it turns out. I’m all for HEAs for characters but I feel like this is a big secret that should have major implications on Merit and Ethan’s relationship; the outcome was a bit disappointing in this regard.

And, of course, I can’t talk about a Chicagoland Vampire novel without getting into my beef that Ethan even exists. I wish he’d stayed dead. I admit that this may be an unpopular opinion but it’s how I feel. (Please don’t feel the comments with too much hate!) I thought the emotional and political ramifications of Ethan’s death back in HARD BITTEN were really great and beautifully written and I just haven’t felt invested in Methan since he came back. I feel like it was a big cheat and I clearly haven’t gotten over it since that was three books ago! It would have been ballsier for him to stay dead (like Kisten in the Rachel Morgan series — unless he’s been brought back to life since the last book I read, which was right around the time the series transitioned to hardcover) and now I’m just not into it. And I think this is a major part of why the series isn’t shiny anymore.

All this being said, I’m not giving up on the series just yet. I think Chloe Neill is a great writer and I love the world she’s created. I’m curious to see if the non-romantic storylines in BITING BAD will be strong enough to win me back in August.

Read an excerpt

Jenn

Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander

Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander

Book Stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban fantasy
Mass market paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release date: May 22, 2012

Series: Edie Spence #1

Source: Review copy from author

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

From debut author Cassie Alexander comes a spectacular new urban fantasy series where working the nightshift can be a real nightmare. Nothing compares to being Nightshifted.

Nursing school prepared Edie Spence for a lot of things. Burn victims? No problem. Severed limbs? Piece of cake. Vampires? No way in hell. But as the newest nurse on Y4, the secret ward hidden in the bowels of County Hospital, Edie has her hands full with every paranormal patient you can imagine—from vamps and were-things to zombies and beyond…

Edie’s just trying to learn the ropes so she can get through her latest shift unscathed. But when a vampire servant turns to dust under her watch, all hell breaks loose. Now she’s haunted by the man’s dying words—Save Anna—and before she knows it, she’s on a mission to rescue some poor girl from the undead. Which involves crashing a vampire den, falling for a zombie, and fighting for her soul. Grey’s Anatomy was never like this…

I was very excited when NIGHTSHIFTED showed up in the mail. (Thank you, Cassie!) I think it has an excellent premise – a secret hospital ward for supernaturals – that is just rife with possibilities. And the fact that Cassie Alexander is a registered nurse gave me hope that the setting would be exploited to the fullest. To a certain extent, it was, and I greatly enjoyed the scenes at the hospital. Edie works with an interesting team on the night shift and many significant events take place in Y4 and the rest of the hospital. There’s a really great scene with a dragon shifter and we see some truly interesting patients in Y4. These were probably my favourite scenes in the book because it offers us a perspective we don’t often see in urban fantasy or paranormal romance.

The bulk of the story, however, involves Edie’s promise to the dying man mentioned in the cover copy. Edie quickly finds Anna but the events surrounding her success lead Edie further down the garden path and she’s quickly sucked into vampire politics. (That pun was very unintentional, I promise you.) Cassie Alexander has created an interesting world and I enjoyed learning about the different supernatural races and hierarchies. She’s populated her book with a wide variety of supernaturals and it made the novel a lot of fun. I thought the Shadows and Anna were the most interesting and I hope to learn more about them in future stories. And I absolutely need to know what’s going on with the German-speaking CD player. (You’ll feel the same way after you finish reading, believe me.)

I also really liked the fact that Edie is just a regular person. She doesn’t have powers but she’s doing the best she can. Most of her decisions – even the ones that end badly – are made with other people’s welfare in mind and it’s nice to see a selfless heroine. (As an example, she took her job in Y4 because the powers that be promised to stop her brother’s drug addiction.) As a human surrounded by supernaturals, it would be easy for her to feel overwhelmed, which does happen, but she does her best to get through life and build relationships.

On the downside, there were a couple moments where the book fell flat for me. It’s hard for me to pinpoint why but NIGHTSHIFTED didn’t suck me in the way some of my favourite books do. I was reading it while travelling and I could put it down and go about my business without regret, which isn’t the case with some of my faves. On the other hand, though, I was happy to get back into the story when I had time and I was curious to see what would happen to Edie and Anna. I also wasn’t sold on a zombie for a love interest at first. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Resident Evil? Don’t get me wrong, Ti (the zombie) is a well developed character with all the makings of a great love interest but I guess I’m more inhibited than Edie because I don’t think I could kiss a guy who can put himself back together with replacement parts. Intellectually, I know it’s probably no grosser than kissing a vampire, who’s also undead, but it took a while for me to come around to the idea. But I think it’s a very original idea and I love writers who do the unexpected.

Before I close, I’d like to take a moment to admire the cover. It really captures the spirit of the novel (complete with the dragonshifter I mentioned!) and so I wanted to heap some praise on the artist, whose name I can’t find. Kudos, anonymous artist. (Does anyone know who did the cover art? I’d really like to know.)

All in all, NIGHTSHIFTED has a lot of promise. It’s not a perfect novel but the trilogy’s world and characters have so much potential that I look forward to seeing what Edie gets up to next in MOONSHIFTED, which comes out in November.

Read an excerpt

Jenn

disclaimer_thumb[2]

A Bloody Good Secret by Sierra Dean

A Bloody Good Secret by Sierra Dean A Bloody Good Secret by Sierra Dean

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
E-book: 248 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Samhain
Release date: September 20, 2011

Series: Secret McQueen #2

Source: Personal shelf

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

You can’t keep a good Secret for long.

Secret McQueen, Book 2

After cheating death twice in one night, confessing her true nature to her werewolf soul mates and being asked to kill one of her closest friends, Secret took a much-needed vacation. By running away.

Now she’s back in town—dragged kicking and screaming—determined to clear Holden Chancery’s name. Right after she finds out what he’s accused of. It shouldn’t be hard—Holden has a habit of using their new and scintillating psychic bond to break into her thoughts and dreams at some very, shall we say, awkward moments.

Just a few things stand in her way: a secretive Tribunal leader, a group of would-be vampire slayers and two werewolf boyfriends who refuse to let her operate in her customary lone-wolf style. Even less amusing are the terrifying creatures that someone is using in an attempt to gain control of the council. Even for this out-of-the-ordinary bounty hunter, it’s a challenge with potentially deadly teeth.

Warning: Contains an ever-plucky heroine with no shortage of weapons, super-hot mind games, an ever-complicated love triangle and one hell of a creepy amusement park.

My love affair with Secret McQueen continues after reading A BLOODY GOOD SECRET. As you may remember, I dared you to read the first book in the series last month after really enjoying it. And now I can report that the second book is just as much fun as the first, if not more!

The book opens in rural Manitoba, where Secret grew up with her grandmother. She ran away to Canada to avoid her latest mission from the vampire Tribunal: killing her friend Holden Chancery. But she’s kidnapped and dragged home, forcing her to deal not only with her assignment but also the two werewolves she left behind. Desmond and Lucas have very different reactions to her reappearance and I enjoyed watching her negotiate her relationships with these men. Even though she’s soul-bonded to both of them, the dynamics of each relationship are quite different and I find myself staunchly on Team Desmond. To further complicate matters, she’s also starting to have sexy dreams about Holden, sometimes at extremely inconvenient times, and I appreciate the added dimension of confusion this brings to the relationship table.

We also get to learn more about how the Tribunal assigns missions to Secret and how Holden has been affected by his position as Secret’s warden. It was a nice change of pace to see Secret think about the ramifications of her actions, even though it was all in retrospect. The author also starts to reveal what it means to be a warden, since Secret is now in that position with Brigit. (Can I just say that I love how Brigit has become incorporated into the story, going from the nameless blonde that Secret saves to a bigger part of the story?) The Holden storyline also shows us what Secret was like when she was younger, which was neat. She’s still much the same since only six years have passed since Secret moved to New York but it’s nice to see that she has developed some smarts and skills since first meeting Holden and Keaty. If that’s not enough, there’s also some great reveals about Sig but they left me with a lot of questions about his relationship with Secret.

As with the first Secret McQueen book, A BLOODY GOOD SECRET ends with a titillating piece of information that makes me glad I used a Christmas gift card to get all of the existing ebooks. I can’t wait to see what Sierra Dean does to Secret next!

Read an excerpt (click on the excerpt tab)

Jenn

Daring You To Read…Skinwalker by Faith Hunter

Daring you to read

It’s been too long since I caught up with Jane Yellowrock, the protagonist of this fantastic urban fantasy series by Faith Hunter. I’m a few books behind on this series but that’s going to change by the end of the summer!

I first discovered Hunter’s writing through her Rogue Mage series (a dare for another day) but I was recently overcome by the urge to get reacquainted with Jane, one of the most interesting and unique heroines out there. Why do I find her so fascinating? If you are familiar with the series, I’m sure you can guess but here’s the lowdown for folks who might not be in the know. =)

Jane Yellowrock is a skinwalker and freelance vampire hunter. The world knows about the latter since she has a website and everything, vampires having been outed in 1962 (it involves Marilyn Monroe!). The skinwalker part? That’s a secret. As a skinwalker, Jane has the ability to shift into different animals but she usually turns into Beast, the big cat that lives inside Jane. Skinwalkers are rare — so rare Jane might be the only one alive — and if you want to find out how Beast and Jane ended up together, you’ll get the answer in SKINWALKER. Jane’s looking for answers too, since she can’t remember her life before she was found wandering the woods at age 12. Despite this, Jane has a strong personality: she’s smart, tough, and independent, she rides a motorcycle she calls Bitsa because it’s made of bits of this and bits of that, she’s got slick martial skills and smooth dance moves, and she’s found a family in her best friend, Molly, who just happens to be a witch. How can you not root for a chick like this?

If Jane alone isn’t enough incentive to get you to try SKINWALKER, you should know that there are vampires galore. Vampires have a strong presence in New Orleans, where SKINWALKER is set, and they’ve actually hired Jane to come in and find a rogue vampire. She learns a lot about the social structure of vampires over the course of the investigation, which means we do, too. There are clans, there are blood-servants, there are blood-junkies, and more, all led by Leo Pellister, the vampire in charge of the city. Every vampire Jane meets is intrigued by her because they can tell she’s different but no one knows quite what she is, making her a mystery and a prize all at once.

Another great element in SKINWALKER is the prominence of Jane’s Cherokee heritage. Hunter embraces Cherokee language and culture and it’s cool to see Jane explore this side of herself. And cooler still to see Jane portrayed as a strong Native American woman on the cover!

If you’re looking for a book with great writing, strong characters, and smart plots, get your hands on SKINWALKER!

Want more? I bet you do! Here’s the scoop on SKINWALKER from Faith Walker’s website:

Skinwalker by Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock #1)A year ago Jane nearly lost her life taking down an entire blood family of deadly rogue vampires that preyed on the helpless local populace of an Appalachian town. Now, after months of recuperation, she’s back and ready to fight again. Except this time, she’s hired by those she’s trained to kill—vampires…

Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind—a skinwalker of Cherokee descent who can turn into any creature she desires and hunts vampires for a living. Back from hiatus, she’s hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katies’s Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vamps.

Amidst a bordello full of real “ladies of the night,” and a hot Cajun biker with a panther tattoo who stirs her carnal desire, Jane must stay focused and complete her mission—or else the next skin she’ll need to save just may be her own…

My thoughts

Audio book excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

And here’s the rest of the series:

Blood Cross by Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock #2) Mercy Blade by Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock #3) Raven Cursed by Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock #4) Death's Rival by Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock #5) Blood Trade by Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock #6)

And here are some short stories and e-releases, including EASY PICKINGS, a crossover with C. E. Murphy’s Joanne Walker:

Cat Tales by Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock short stories) Have Stakes Will Travel by Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock short stories) Easy Pickings by C. E. Murphy and Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock and Joanne Walker crossover) Signatures of the Dead by Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock short story in STRANGE BREW)

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!

What do you think? Have you read this series? Are you willing to accept my dare?

Jenn

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

———————————

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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jenn