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!

<img style="background-image: none; border-right-width: 0px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: inline; border-top-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; padding-top: 0px" title="lilisig" border="0" alt="Lili" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-K1wL7-qkvhw/UYQxqQ_oQAI/AAAAAAAAG3M/EnaK6x1ILL8/s1600/lilisig.png"

disclaimer_thumb[2]

Advertisements

Blood and Magick by James R. Tuck

Blood and Magick by James R. Tuck Blood and Magick by James R. Tuck

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Mass market paperback: 352 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Kensington
Release date: March 5, 2013

Series: Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter #3

Source: Review copy from Kensington

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Taking out hellish creatures—not a problem. Armed with blessed silver hollow-points and the ability to manipulate magick, he’s ready for anything—except betrayal he never saw coming…

Deacon Chalk knows the biggest danger in fighting monsters is becoming one. Just another day at the office for your friendly neighborhood occult bounty hunter. If keeping three helpless were-dog children safe means battling a malevolent trio of witches by any means necessary, so be it. If that means partnering with a ruthless government agent to stay one step ahead of the allies and friends he must now suspect, he’s not going to cry about it. The only way Deacon can save humans and shape-shifters alike is to embrace a power beyond his imagining, putting his team at stake—and his soul on the line…

Best Deacon Chalk story yet. Hands down. It may not have a tyrannosaurus but it rocks out like some totally awesome but obscure heavy metal star I would name if I knew anything about the genre. (I am in a silly mood as I write this post. Obvi.) The writing is solid, the plot is dynamic, and the pace is relentless. I couldn’t put it down. Those little things that I didn’t love in the previous books are gone and I was completely blown away by BLOOD AND MAGICK. It’s got the plotting and excitement of an action movie and I was positively thrilled by it.

In his third full-length outing, Deacon is facing down a trio of witches who are incredibly powerful and utterly ruthless, which forces him to dig deep to save the day. It’s the first time I really felt like Deacon could fail, which made BLOOD AND MAGICK so compelling. I had doubts about Deacon’s ability to survive his encounter with these baddies and those doubts kept me glued to the (virtual) page. Witches may be pretty standard fare in urban fantasy and paranormal romance but James R. Tuck has done a marvellous job of creating tough, smart villains who pose a significant threat to the entire universe. Kudos, Mr. Tuck!

I also really liked the introduction of the O.C.I.D., a government organization specializing in the occult. At first, I was worried it would have a total Men in Black vibe but the agent we meet reminded me more of characters we might see in a Justin Gustainis novel: he had a more serious mien and skills. The addition of the O.C.I.D. really opens up the world Tuck has created and the possibilities going forward are very exciting, particularly in light of the last chapter. (You’ll figure out what I mean when you get there, because I’m not going to spoil BLOOD AND MAGICK for you.)

There are also some lovely developments on a more personal level. We get some info about Father Mulcahy’s past (though his history is still tantalizingly mysterious) and we also get to see where Deacon and Tiff’s relationship is in the aftermath of the final battle in BLOOD AND SILVER, which I was very curious about. It’s been six months since poor Tiff got put through the wringer yet again and I love the fact that she doesn’t get too beaten down by life — at least not for very long. Fans of Larson and Kat will also see them get some nice page time as the relationships between Deacon and these two characters face some incredible obstacles. We see just how inflexible Deacon can be when it comes to the occult, and what that line in the sand costs him, which makes for some serious emotional punch. Tuck also gives us some really poignant moments involving Deacon and his dead family and now I finally feel like I get why he keeps thinking about them. (You may recall I complained about the repetitiveness of this aspect of Tuck’s debut, BLOOD AND BULLETS.) Now, the depth of his emotion really resonates with me.

BLOOD AND MAGICK is by far the best Deacon Chalk story so far and I can’t wait to see what Tuck has up his sleeve next. He’s always been a fantastic plotter but he’s really levelled up with this book in terms of the tension, action, and scope. If you’re on the fence about this series, make sure you hold out until this one. You’ll be a loyal and true believer for sure after finishing BLOOD AND MAGICK!

Read an excerpt

Jenn

disclaimer_thumb[2]

Strange Fates by Marlene Perez

Strange Fates Marlene Perez

Strange Fates by Marlene Perez

Book Stats:
Reading level: New Adult
Print Length: 277 pages
Publisher: Orbit
Release date: March 5, 2013

Series: Nyx Fortuna #1

Source: NetGalley

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon

The first in a line of three exciting new urban fantasy novels blending elements of Greek myth and forbidden romance against the backdrop of Minnesota’s magical underworld.

Brooding, leather jacket-wearing Nyx Fortuna looks like a 20-something, and has for centuries now. As the son of the forgotten fourth Fate, Lady Fortuna, he has been hunted his entire life by the three Sisters of Fate that murdered his mother.

Fed up and out for revenge, Nyx comes to Minneapolis following a tip that his aunts have set up a business there. His goal ­ to bring down his mother’s killers and retrieve the thread of fate that has trapped him in the body of a twenty year old unable to age or die.

But when a chance meeting with the mysterious, dangerous and very mortal Elizabeth Abernathy throws off his plans, he must reconcile his humanity and his immortality.

Nyx Fortuna, Son of Fortuna, has been running from his murderous aunts since he was born. See, he is professed to kill them and they plan to put an end to him before he has the chance to. To save him, his mother has hidden his thread of fate and he is looking for it since. When you live alone for hundreds of years, it gets lonely and Nyx is ready to give up. Or he was, until he met Elizabeth.

Highly attractive cover, compelling summary, I requested this novel as soon as I saw it on NetGalley. I enjoyed this novel but I will have to mention some elements that bothered me. Shall we get the negative stuff out of the way first?

I found Marlene Perez’s writing to be very repetitive, especially when it came to Nyx’s past, his aunts, his mother death, his need for revenge etc. I guess she wanted to emphasis on their relationship, but I found it bothersome after a while.

Also, when Nyx meets Elizabeth, he notices right away how she looks a lot like his late ex-girlfriend, and the memories seems painful.  Yet, when the girl asks him if he’s ever been in love, his answer is no and he mutters something along the lines of ‘until I met you’. I don’t know about you, but it just sits wrong with me that he didn’t love his ex-girlfriend and falls in love at first sight with a girl he doesn’t even know?  His unconditional and illogical love for her is the element that really annoyed me the whole length of the novel because I just didn’t buy it.

Now let’s focus on the positive. How cool is this guy’s name? Nyx is the name of one of my favourite characters ever, from another series, so I instantly took a liking to him. He is laid back, sarcastic and funny and I really enjoyed following his adventures. I particularly liked his relationship with Talbot and I wished there was even more scenes of the two of them together.

Marlene Perez brought to the table an amazing Greek mythology with her own spin to it and I greatly appreciated its originality. I’m not really clear if the novel is set in an open world though? It seems most people he meets is a paranormal creature, or sworn to an house (Zeus, Poseidon, or Hades, Fates being the fourth), and everyone seems pretty casual about magic. I honestly don’t know.The numerous twist and turns confused me at times, but overall, I had a good time and stayed engaged to the story.

The conclusion wrapped-up the main plot line nicely and set the table for the second instalment, Dark Descent. I still have many questions though, and I guess the second novel will answer them. Who is Nyx’s father? Is there more behind Ambrose’s interest in Nyx? Will he find his thread? What about about Gwen? And Willow?

I haven’t decided yet if I will read the second instalment in the trilogy. I genuinely loved Nyx, Talbot, Ambrose & Willow, but is it enough to counterbalance my annoyance with Elizabeth and Perez’s writing style that I don’t really care for? Either way, Strange Fates is a quick, fun read and I suggest you give it a try and make your own mind about it 🙂

tynsig

Daring You To Read … Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

0daringyou_thumb[2]

I’ve reviewed both Demonglass and Spell Bound in the past few weeks, so I thought I would dare you to read the first book in the series, Hex Hall. Rachel Hawkins penned an awesome series and her debut novel sets the table for great entertainment.

Hex Hall features Sophie Mercer, an half-witch raised as a human by her single mother, ends up at Hecate Hall, a reform school for special (see magical) kids after a love spell gone bad. The objective of the school is to re-educate witches, shape-shifters, faeries and the likes that exposed magic in the human world.  Sophie knows nothing about this whole hidden society and one of the great aspect of this novel is that you learn everything there is to know alongside the protagonist.

The main plot line revolves around a series of murder and Sophie’s roommate, a vampire with an unhealthy passion for pink, is the main suspect. Despite this macabre setup, this young adult novel has a light spirit and is a quick and fun read.

Without pretention, Hex Hall was a great read on its own, but as the series progressed, each book gets better and better. You can really tell Hawkins’ writing progressed over the years and the last instalment, Spell Bound, is far from the bubbly beginnings. Sophie kept her endearing personality but matured a lot and that development was particularly interesting to witness.  

I seriously hope you will take my dare and give this great YA series a shot!

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins Young AdultThree years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Also in the series:

Demonglass (Hex Hall, #2)Spell Bound (Hex Hall, #3)

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

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

tynsig

Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

Spell Bound (Hex Hall) by Rachel Hawkins

Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

Book Stats:
Reading Level: 10 and up
Genre: Paranormal
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book
Release date: March 13, 2012

Series: Hex Hall #3

Source: Personal shelf

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Hailed as “impossible to put down,” the Hex Hall series has both critics and teens cheering. With a winning combination of romance, action, magic and humor, this third volume will leave readers enchanted.

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

After a very traumatizing summer that isn’t quite over Sophie wakes up alone in the dark, in a forest, with no recollections of what happened to her. Her memories don’t take long to hit her like a freight train though and meeting face to face with a knife yielding Brannick (Prodigium hunter) doesn’t leave much room for break-down. Was Cal right to send her there? He said her mom would be there? What is it all about anyway?

What an awesome ending to a fantastic series! Hex Hall & Demonglass were extremely fun and exciting books and thankfully, the conclusion of this trilogy delivered! We are thrown right in the action when Sophie meets with the first Brannick she’s even met, or so she thinks, and we discover some stunning information about her family history. After learning more about Sophie’s dad’s family, it’s now her mom’s turn to be in the spotlight and I enjoyed it just as much!

Jenna, Cal & Archer are still front and center along Sophie’s side, but Elodie also assumes a very important role in time of dire needs. As much as I hated her in Hex Hall, I learned to appreciate her in the last instalment and I kind of pitied her too. Her involvement was really surprising. Cal is just the sweetest boy and I really wish things turned out better for him, he got me shedding tears! Archer was as rocking as usual but displayed a vulnerability that was yet unseen and I truly enjoyed it.

Sophie’s growth curve followed its course and her maturity surprised me. She literally stepped in Hell to save the world and held her head high even though she was scared to death. A scene about her played when she was there, and Sophie didn’t get to see it (Cal did) and I still find myself wondering what it was. Hawkins shrouded it in mystery but never got back to it, which was a slight disappointment.

I couldn’t glue my eyes off the pages and read Spell Bound in just two days (which is fast for me). Its action-packed plot and engaging characters really engrossed me and the time flew by without my noticing.

Many of my favourite series came to an end in the past two years and more often than not, I found myself disappointed by the ending. It wasn’t the case with Spell Bound. Even though the epilogue is admittedly cheesy, it brought a much needed sense of closure after the epic battle that took place a month before. I felt all woozy inside, teary-eyed and all and I have to thank Rachel Hawkins for feeling content about the way everything wrapped up. High five girl! 

School Spirit is the first book in a spin-off sequel and it’s already on my kindle. I can’t wait to get to it! Its the story of Izzy Brannick, Sophie’s cousin! I strongly recommend the Hex Hall series to YA fans, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this outstanding series!

Read an excerpt

tynsig

Wicked Lies by Karina Cooper

Wicked Lies by Karina Cooper (Dark Mission #4.5) Wicked Lies by Karina Cooper

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
E-book: 100 pages
Genre: Paranormal romance
Publisher: Avon
Release date: March 4, 2013

Series: Dark Mission #4.5

Source: E-ARC from publisher via Edelweiss

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

In this Dark Mission novella, Jonas Stone emerges from the shadows into his own story, and finally allows himself to have the same shot at love he’s given his friends.

Jonas Stone has been given his first independent operation: rescue the insurrection leader’s imprisoned grandson from the Mission. Getting the job done means more than getting Danny Granger out-it means staying with him while he heals. Staying too close, for way too long.

Danny is everything Jonas isn’t: confident, optimistic, honest–a man to be reckoned with. If only it didn’t mean going against everything Jonas has planned. He’s kept his secrets for years, hid behind a mask no one could see through…until now. Danny isn’t the kind of man Jonas deserves. But he might be exactly the man he needs…

The Dark Mission series is a recent discovery for me and it’s one of those series that just keeps getting better and better with every installment. I enjoyed the first book, BLOOD OF THE WICKED, but my favourite is definitely the most recent novel, SACRIFICE THE WICKED, which is why I was so excited to read WICKED LIES. WICKED LIES is book #4.5 in the series and it picks up less than a week after the end of SACRIFICE THE WICKED. Needless to say, this novella is a trip through Spoilerville if you’re not caught up on the series so you might want to read the DARK MISSION stories in order. But if you don’t mind knowing spoilers, then you can probably jump right in since Karina Cooper has done a great job of explaining how the characters were left at the end of SACRIFICE THE WICKED, without the dreaded info dump. You’ll settle in in no time. 🙂

Another reason I’m excited to talk about WICKED LIES is because it marks a special moment in Avon’s publishing history. As you may have read in Karina Cooper’s wonderful guest post, WICKED LIES features a male-male romance, making it the first LGBTQ story for this imprint. It’s a big deal. And while I realize that the subject matter may not be for everyone, I love that Cooper and Avon are publishing this story because (a) I’ve been dying to know more about Jonas Stone and (b) well-written, sexy same sex romances aren’t terribly common in the genre, especially from bigger publishers. (There are exceptions of course, like Harlequin, which has some great diversity, particularly in their Carina Press imprint, but that’s a post for another day.)

Turning back to WICKED LIES, though, I want to give you some quick backstory, in case you’re not familiar with the series. The Dark Mission books are set in a sort of post-apocalyptic Seattle, where you can mark time as pre- or post-earthquake. Before the earthquake, witches lived on the fringes, not hiding but not persecuted. But then there was an epic earthquake and they got the blame. Now, they are hunted by the Holy Order of St. Dominic. The Church’s soldiers, called missionaries, are responsible for capturing and killing witches and have been for about fifty years, with the government’s sanction. Basically, it’s bad to be a witch and even worse to be a witch on the Mission’s radar. Over the course of the series, we see a small band of rebels come together from unlikely places: some are witches, some are ex-missionaries, some are just regular people. In WICKED LIES, the focus is on Jonas, who’s been helping these rebels, as he takes his first steps as an ex-Mission operator. His goal: to save Danny Granger from the torture he’s enduring in the Mission Jonas used to work for.

I have to tell you, I loved this story. Loved, loved, loved it. Jonas has been a secondary character in the Dark Mission series since Book #1 and I was so happy to see him front and centre in WICKED LIES. He’s always been a great supporting character but I’ve been dying to get into his head and boy, do we! I had no idea he was gay before this novella came out. What I did know: Jonas is a tech wizard who used to work for the New Seattle Mission. His legs are messed up thanks to a mission gone wrong but he doesn’t let that stop him from contributing to his team’s operations and he’s actually one of the best techies out there. In WICKED LIES, we see just what makes him tick and now I want even more Jonas!

I wasn’t as invested in Danny at first because he doesn’t enter the series until the last third of SACRIFICE THE WICKED, the novel that precedes WICKED LIES. As such, we don’t know much about him before WICKED LIES, other than the fact that he works for “the ghost”, a hacker who’s been causing trouble for the Mission. In WICKED LIES, Danny’s strength of character is definitely revealed as he’s horribly tortured by Mission agents. He’s instantly drawn to Jonas after he hears Jonas over a comm, and his flirtations with the slightly older man, even when he’s enduring torture and trying to escape, really throw Jonas for a loop. It was great fun for me because I’ve always viewed Jonas as rather unflappable and I’m a big fan of seeing generally solid characters get rattled, especially in the name of love.

I only have one complaint about WICKED LIES: it wasn’t long enough. Watching Danny and Jonas fall for each other was beautiful and the sex scenes are rather steamy but the “L” word gets dropped far too quickly for my liking. If this had been a full-length novel, having the “I love you”s come out would have seemed more genuine but I didn’t feel like Jonas and Danny really knew each other well enough for the words to have significance. I totally believed their attraction and feelings but I would have been happy just having them together and not talking about Love, since they’re still in the getting-to-know-you phase. But maybe it’s just me wanting to see more page time for this particular couple…

In any case, I feel confident when I tell you that Dark Mission fans are going to adore WICKED LIES. And if you haven’t tried Cooper’s writing before and are looking for a quick sample, this is a good one. You won’t be as familiar with some of the faces that pop up in the novella but you’ll see just how outstanding Cooper’s writing, world building, and characterization are. So hop on over to your e-book seller of choice and invest in WICKED LIES!

————————-

Excerpt

Dedication:

For my Uncle Stephen. You were the first man in my life who bravely came out to me, and who paved the way for me to be myself. I loved you so much before, and I love you just as much now.

You are my inspiration.

And for every gay, lesbian, bi-, trans-, queer, and questioning youth out there. Life can be hard, sometimes it can get mean. There will be days when you feel like it’s impossible, but I want you to know that there are people like me out here who support you. I promise : it gets better.

Chapter One

A blue-white light flickered in the dark. Sparks glinted off the tool racks bolted to the wall across the shadowed room, reflected from the metal braces left leaning against the desk. As silence—mind-numbingly loud, thick as water, and twice as hard to breathe—filled the narrow room, that blue-white light caught in the circular lenses of a pair of glasses and threw a glare across the screen.

Jonas Stone stirred. “It has to be now,” he said, his voice too loud in the oppressive weight of the shadows behind him. He couldn’t look away from the feed spilling its incandescent glow over his desk, his keyboard.

His conscience.

Because the man framed in that digital feed—the kid strapped to the chair dead center of the surveillance footage—wasn’t the first suspected heretic to sit there. To sweat there.

To bleed.

“Be sure, Jonas. We get one shot at this.”

His brain wanted to look at the comm unit beside his left hand. His body refused to obey, every cell focused on the prisoner’s dark, drooping head. Scarred fingers twitched, knuckles whitening, and Jonas frowned as he realized his right hand had closed into a painful fist.

It had to be now. The kid wouldn’t last much longer.

“There’s no alternative,” he replied. “We’re not going to get another opening soon enough to.” He hesitated.

The voice over the comm link didn’t waver. Not even a fracture. “Soon enough to save him.”

Only through recent experience did Jonas know that the raspy, lifetime-pack-a-day voice coming out of the secure line belonged to a woman named May. Leader of a rebellion that had saved Jonas’s life, and the perpetrator behind a string of hacking jobs that left Jonas seriously reconsidering a career shift before the Church had made that choice for him.

The fact that she was very, very good was all that kept him from throwing in the towel now.

But he’d never met her in person. Hell, he’d never met the prisoner now struggling to raise his head in Jonas’s feed, either. Instead, all he had was a picture in a box, a hacked security feed, and too many hours spent staring at the incandescent screen until his eyeballs throbbed and the vicious curl of helplessness inside him turned to a spiraling ache.

That boy didn’t belong in that kind of interrogation room.

A single light, faded blue, gleamed over shoulders broader than Jonas’s, but not by much. The prisoner was athletically lean where Jonas was simply skinny. The narrowly defined muscles of his chest were outlined by the stained remains of a thin, long-sleeve shirt. Blood and sweat had turned it nearly brown. His slumped shoulders strained against the restraints confining him to the hard metal chair, a position not just awkward but painful as hell. Jonas hadn’t seen his face for over an hour.

He didn’t have to. He knew what he’d see when—if—the kid raised his chin again.

Blood caked into a ridged scab across the fine slash of his upper lip, under his broad nose and over a determinedly sculpted chin. He’d see the blackened stains of it dried into the man’s ears, blending into his dark brown hair. Even now, that greasy fringe flopped over his forehead, long since sweating off the gel that had held it into its fashionable spikes. The longest of the textured strands would slide into one swollen eye, if it ever opened again.

The prisoner had eyes the color of the computer-lit confines of the places Jonas preferred to inhabit. Almost black, even without pain stripping them to an endless void. When open, those eyes all but crackled with an intensity that could take a lesser man’s objectivity away in a single glance. Like a hungry kid or a kicked puppy.

Or a man on the edge of desperation.

Jonas’s chest kicked.

“Let me know when your people are ready.” He didn’t bother hiding the raw regret in his voice. He’d felt a lot of it, lately. After all, he used to be the man who helped put people into rooms just like that.

“Fine.” May’s voice cracked. Flattened. “I’m trusting you, Jonas.”

“I know.” They always did. “Let me try. I’m positive I can get him out. They won’t expect it this soon.”

Jenn

The Midnight Spell by Rhiannon Frater and Kody Boye

midnightspellfrontred-FINAL The Midnight Spell by Rhiannon Frater and Kody Boye

Book Stats:

Reading level: Young Adult
eBook: 235 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Publisher: Self published
Release date: February 26, 2013

Series: n/a

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: Book tour ARC

Purchase: Amazon

Adam and Christy have been best friends since kindergarten. Always the perpetual outsiders in their small town in Texas, they’ve always had to deal with nasty comments from their classmates. Adam is called “gay” while Christy is called “witch.”

On both counts the bullies are right.

Their junior year in high school seems destined to be the same old same old until Christy decides to cast a love spell for Adam at the midnight hour. The next day an alluring and mysterious new boy enrolls at school and sets hearts a flutter, including Adam’s. Meanwhile, Christy’s mad crush on the handsome Ian seems to be going nowhere fast. Struggling to capture the heart of Ian while trying to come into her full witch powers is tough enough, but when a great evil arrives in town that threatens everything they hold dear, she realizes that finding a boyfriend is the least of her and Adam’s worries.

Soon Adam, Christy, their potential love interests, and their good friends Drifter and Olivia, will have to battle a force of darkness that has killed in their town before and will again.

At heart, this is really a YA book but with some supernatural elements added to the mix. Rhiannon Frater fans like me will probably enjoy the book, but will probably agree with me when I say this isn’t Frater at her best. While I did enjoy the story, I wasn’t crazy about the immaturity of some of the characters. In my opinion, just because the book is about young adults, it doesn’t mean the characters have to be immature and that naïve (at times). But kudos to Rhiannon for trying YA. Since this is my first book of Kody Boye, I don’t really have anything to compare it too, but along with Rhiannon, Kody has gained a place on my watch list!

I really appreciated the fact that each author was writing from a different point of view. While Rhiannon was writing from Christie’s point of view, Kody was writing Adam’s. The writing styles were slightly different, enough to help differentiate the two main characters, yet not enough to cause a rift in the story. Personally, Christie felt a little too immature for me when it came to some situations but I must admit, I really enjoyed meeting her family and learning about her magical powers. Little things like a magical broom stick living in her house adds so much to the book, and the fact that this said broomstick likes to spy on Christie is so freaking original! I have a soft spot for Adam because all the things he’s going through.

Despite the paranormal elements, this is a real YA book. In my opinion, it’s a realistic representation of high school life which includes bullying, teen romance, boring classes and teen parties. The bullying in the book reminded me of the bullying in the movie MEAN GIRLS. While the mean girls in the movies were called The Plastics, in the book they were called The Barbies. I couldn’t truly identify with the characters as they were being bullied by multiple characters but I can definitively understand their feelings. Like Adam, my brother is gay, and even if he didn’t officially come out until in was in university, he was definitively bullied in high school for being gay and different.

I think one of the strong messages from this book is that bullying is still out there, even when we don’t realize it. There no reason why some teens are still being plagued by bullies today. Teen bullying can come from many different sources: other teens, parents, teachers, coaches, etc. Obviously this isn’t news so I’ll cut my rant short, but I do applaud Kody and Rhiannon for facing the issue in their book. What made the bullying in this book bearable is that both main characters had strong support systems at home. Parents that understand their child or teen’s situation makes it easier for everyone to get through hard situations. Christie’s parents are definitively a good presence, and Adam’s mom couldn’t be more understanding (or quirky, but that’s another matter).

For some unknown reason, I’m always scared when it comes to collaborations. While it’s a good way to discover new authors, it can sometimes be a failure if the book isn’t up to standards about a specific author we’ve been following. But I worried for nothing about this book. While this is not my favorite Rhiannon Frater book of her, it has definitively introduced my to a new author!

stephsig

The Cat’s Meow by Stacey Kennedy + giveaway!

The Cat's Meow by Stacey Kennedy The Cat’s Meow by Stacey Kennedy

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
e-book: 256 pages
Genre: Paranormal romance
Publisher: Entangled
Release date: December 13, 2012

Series: Witch’s Brew #1

Source: Review copy from Bewitching Book Tours

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

When a magical presence is detected around a recent string of feline slayings, Libby, an enchantress, is determined to discover who is behind the odd deaths. Being a witch gifted by the Goddess to conjure spells won’t protect her from the sexy warlock the Coven sends to assist her. Kale weaves a spell more powerful than any she’s ever seen.

While having the muscle around proves to be useful in her investigation, fighting her growing attraction for Kale is worse than a hex, especially considering the secrets she knows he’s keeping. But when her spells turn up clues that point to something far more sinister than slaughtered cats, the elusive warlock becomes the least of her worries.

Libby finds herself in the midst of an uprising. She trusts no one and isn’t safe—not from the warlocks stirring up trouble. Not from the worrisome rebellion she can’t escape. And certainly not from Kale, who is weaving a very dangerous spell over her heart.

Don’t let the cover fool you: THE CAT’S MEOW isn’t nearly as silly as you might expect based on the cover art. I think the book got something of a raw deal with this cover (no offense to the designer) since it doesn’t really capture the full spirit of the novel and might have people discounting it. I know I was expecting something really fluffy and smexy when I first saw it and I was on the fence but I decided to request a review copy when I was won over by reading an excerpt.

Don’t get me wrong. There are definitely some sexy moments between Libby and Kale but there’s a great mystery at the heart of THE CAT’S MEOW: Libby and Kale are investigating a slew of mutilated cats, which eventually puts them on the trail of some serious dark magic. Libby’s used to investigating on her own as her coven’s Enchantress so she’s a little put out and confused by Kale’s presence. Kale is a new warlock in her coven, which puts her back up because (a) Libby has a grudge against warlocks and (b) she knows he’s keeping secrets from her. Watching her overcome her prejudices and some justified anger made THE CAT’S MEOW a fun, engaging read.

To be honest, though, there are some predictable elements in the story, especially if you tend to read a lot of romance, paranormal or otherwise. I was able to guess what Kale’s secret was, for example, but the predictability didn’t detract overmuch from my enjoyment of THE CAT’S MEOW since I was still charmed by Libby and Kale’s blossoming relationship, and by Libby herself. And a lot of the book’s elements are less obvious, so there were still moments that came as a surprise, particularly as the plot builds to the book’s climax. There are some really cool moments in the last third of the book and I was flying through the pages to discover what was really going on with all the dark magic around Charleston.

Plus, I can get past some predictability as long as the characters keep me hooked, and that was the case in THE CAT’S MEOW. I really enjoyed watching Libby and Kale fall for each other, and I really enjoyed Libby as a character on her own, right from the start. It took me a little bit longer to warm up to Kale, partially because he’s named after a vegetable and partially because of the walls he’s got up to maintain his mystery.

On the whole, despite some obvious plot points, I enjoyed reading THE CAT’S MEOW and look forward to seeing what comes next for Libby, since this is the first book in a series. I’ll definitely keep my eyes peeled at the library when the next book comes out. I may not need THE CAT’S MEOW on my shelf but I’d definitely enjoy revisiting this world and these characters down the road.

Read an excerpt (scroll down)

giveaway

We have one (1) e-copy of THE CAT’S MEOW for a lucky winner!

Open internationally

Ends on Thursday, February 14, 2013
(this giveaway runs for one week only!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

———————————

This post is part of Stacey Kennedy’s blog tour! You can check out the rest of the stops by clicking on the button:

The Cat's Meow Tour Button

Jenn

Daring You To Read… Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

0daringyou_thumb[2]

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

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

I have a feeling some people won’t exactly agree with me on this dare. I read BEAUTIFUL CREATURES by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl about a month ago and I immediately fell in love with the dark but thrilling southern tale. Some critics aren’t too crazy about the series because they say it’s not very realistic and that the book drags on for nothing. I obviously disagree with that because I’m daring you to read it this week! I’m not from the south so I don’t know how realistic it really is but lets face it, it is a story about magic and witches (or casters as they call them in this book), so how real can it actually be? And personally, I really liked all the extra details that shaped the story into this thick and long book. I really don’t think you should critic a book based on the page count.

This YA book was one of my favorite YA reads of 2012 so it’s no wonder it found its way onto this post. All the characters are well developed which made it so easy to fall for the story. It was full of mystery and a lots of unknowns, exactly how I like my books. I like to be kept guessing right until the end, and BEAUTIFUL CREATURES did that wonderfully.

I still haven’t read the other three books of the series so I’m only speaking for the first, but if the rest is anything like this one, I’m sure they’ll be great. Some people must agree with me that this book is worth reading because a movie is coming out on February 13, 2013. Check out the movie trailer down below.

 

beautiful creatures #1Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Tynga’s thoughts

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

The rest of the Caster Chronicles:

beautiful creatures #2 beautiful creatures #3 beautiful creatures #4

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

0stephsig

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Book stats:

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 330 pages
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal and Historical Fiction
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release date: February 7, 2012

Series: The Cahill Witch Chronicles #1

Source: Trade

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word… especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.

Witches, in my opinion, are some of the most interesting creatures to read about, but they seem to be widely absent from the young adult literary scene these days. Because of this, I was very eager to get my hands on this book and once I was able to successfully trade for it, I dove right in upon its immediately arrival at my doorstep. I was very pleased and easily immersed myself into this story thanks to Spotswood’s amazing writing, historical references, and alternate United States where the traditions and beliefs were incredibly interesting.

Cate Cahill is the oldest of three daughters born to a witch in hiding and a scholarly father. With her mother’s passing, Cate became the female head of the household and thus had to protect the witchy secrets that her sisters kept so that they would not be tried and possibly killed or sent to an asylum. She manages all of this while nearing the age she is expected to marry and fighting with the decision to do what is expected of her by her society or to follow her heart. Because of this, there was a lot of secrecy, intrigue, and plot twists in this book regarding her family’s fate as well as her love life that easily kept me flipping the pages.

As I sit here and reflect on this amazing novel, it’s hard for me to grasp the fact that this is Spotswood’s debut. It was written so beautifully and the characterization was absolutely superb. Even the characters that I disliked were fully fleshed out and well rounded. They were all three dimensional and important, and I found myself connecting with many of them for different reasons. No two characters were alike and such a thing fascinated me. Having Cate as the heroine, a girl who is somehow managing to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders without collapsing, was pretty awesome too.

It’s hard for me to find anything negative to say about this novel, but I can say that it was slightly hard to get into. The secrets that the Cahill girls kept due to their pasts were so complex that they required a lot of explanation and world-building for the rest of the book in the very beginning. At times the beginning dragged on. Once I was a little less than a third through and the plot truly picked up, I blasted through this story easily. It’s a quick and easy read, though the beginning is perhaps a little too slow compared to the excellent pacing of the rest of the novel. And that ending! It breaks your heart and excites you for book two all at once, which I take as a good sign as a critic but an anxiety inducing realization as a reader.

Spotswood’s debut novel is not one to be ignored. Recommended to nearly everyone for its beauty, creativity, imagination, and intrigue, I can’t imagine anyone disliking Cate’s desire to protect those close to her and her willingness to go to great lengths to insure the safety of those important to her.

 Read an Excerpt