Blurred by Tara Fuller

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

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

Series: Kissed by Death #2

Source: Review copy from publisher

Reviewed by: Helen

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Cash is haunted by things. Hungry, hollow things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read an excerpt

 

disclaimer_thumb[2]

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Everneath by Brodi AshtonEverneath by Brodi Ashton

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

Series: Everneath #1

Source: ARCycling

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<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"

Arrow of the Mist by Christina Mercer

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

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

Series: n/a

Source: Review copy from Xpresso Book Tours

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read an excerpt (scroll down)

Jenn

disclaimer_thumb[2]

Daring You to Read… Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

This week I am daring you to read an amazing fantasy novel, Falling kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (a.k.a Michelle Rowen). As you might know, I’m a huge fan of High Fantasy, especially young adult ones, and I was extremely pleased with this novel. I’m dare compare it to the likes of Kristen Cashore and Maria V Snyder, so if you are fan of these two, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on a copy!

Why I loved it so much? First, the lore was extremely original and fascinating. Morgan did an amazing job of creating a believable and rich backstory. Further more, the world-building was simply effortless and the descriptions were rich and fluid, never slowing down the story arc. And finally, the fantastic characters. Morgan chose a wide range of teenagers from different social classes and territories and the alternative point of view allowed us to really live the experience from each of their perspective.

The plotline isn’t exactly action packed, but the tension, treasons and promises of revenge will keep you on the edge of your seat. At times my heart was pounding, at other moments I was shedding tears, really miss Rhodes kept me emotionally involved the entire novel and it’s something I really appreciate.

The conclusion was simply a killer and I am extremely glad I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early copy of Rebel Spring, which I plan to read very soon. It’s a December release, so you still have plenty of time to get your hands on Falling Kingdoms before then.

If you love high fantasy, I urge you to pick up this amazing novel!

 

Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, #1)In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword…
The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

Read my review

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Sequel:

Rebel Spring (Falling Kingd...

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

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

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

Series: Stand alone

Reviewed by: Helen

Source: Purchased

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

SHHHH!

Don’t spread the word!

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

You do NOT want to miss it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read an Excerpt

 

Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood

Star Cursed by Jessica SpotswoodStar Cursed by Jessica Spotswood

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
ARC: 384 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: June 18, 2013

Series: The Cahill Witch Chronicles #2

Source: From Author for Review

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

With the Brotherhood persecuting witches like never before, a divided Sisterhood desperately needs Cate to come into her Prophesied powers. And after Cate’s friend Sachi is arrested for using magic, a war-thirsty Sister offers to help her find answers—if Cate is willing to endanger everyone she loves.

Cate doesn’t want to be a weapon, and she doesn’t want to involve her friends and Finn in the Sisterhood’s schemes. But when Maura and Tess join the Sisterhood, Maura makes it clear that she’ll do whatever it takes to lead the witches to victory. Even if it means sacrifices. Even if it means overthrowing Cate. Even if it means all-out war.

In the highly anticipated sequel to Born Wicked, the Cahill Witch Chronicles continue Cate, Maura and Tess’s quest to find love, protect family, and explore their magic against all odds in an alternate history of New England.

Jessica Spotswood is back and she does not disappoint! It is official, she is forever my favorite author of a witchy series. Nobody can compare. Wow, is my mind still reeling.

I think that this book may have been even better than the first one and that is because this book really made me think. Spotswood was able to take the usual subjugation of women from the time period that this novel takes place in and spin in to fit her plot perfectly. What is there to fear about women that makes it scary to have them work outside the home, have the ability to pursue an education, and the knowledge of how to read? Are we so powerful that the Brotherhood fears the power that an intelligent woman can possess, thus they feel as if they must take it away to lessen a woman’s power and sway in society? What is it that causes the Brotherhood to deem us wicked and hate our ways? It just got me thinking, and Spotswood was able to make such dark and demented themes work throughout her novel in ways that kept you guessing. Never once did I feel as if anything was being shoved down my throat. Instead, I wanted to rebel alongside Cate and fight back. You know you have a good story when it can invoke such strong emotions within you, especially when a story containing anti-women sentiments is written so beautifully.

And, as always, Spotswood’s characterization is strong. I began to love Cate and Tess even more during their journey to figuring out right from wrong in the time leading up to a war, just as my burning distaste for Maura slowly evolved into a strengthening hatred. And while I can’t say I’m a fan of this particular character, it’s amazing to have an author create a character who truly does make you hate, who inspires passionate emotions within you because they’re written so well. Whether you want to or not, you’ve forged some kind of connection with a character if they invoke anything in you, and this is a huge accomplishment, especially among the more villainous of characters. It makes me love Spotswood’s writing even more. It does help that I really began to love the friends that Cate made in the Sisterhood, just as I hated the friends and allies Maura made. And it’s made all the better by Finn who somehow managed to become even more amazing in this book. With that being said, I have one protest: there was not enough Finn! His scenes were some amazing, I wish they were plentiful instead of gifted and scattered apart.

The pacing of this book was a little spotty, though. Though this was admittedly rare, I did find myself reading slowly at times because there were a few preparation scenes between the bigger scenes that began to drag a bit. While I understand the importance of such scenes, they did not hold the intensity that the rest of the book held and I wish the entire novel had pacing on the same level. I mean, gosh! Those last ten pages had my heart beating out of my chest, and I let out a little scream during those last two pages that startled both my father and my feline reading companion, Cosmo. It was so easy for me to get into so much of this book, so why did the filler chapters drag so much? That is the one thing I would have liked fixed abouted this story.

I recommend this series to anyone willing to check it out. Certainly my favorite witchy series out there. Jessica Spotswood has already been informed that I will give my left leg for book three. I need it that badly!

<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]

Spartan Frost by Jennifer Estep

Spartan Frost by Jennifer Estep (Mythos Academy #4.5)Spartan Frost by Jennifer Estep

Book stats:
Reading level: Young adult
E-book: 46 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Kensington
Release date: June 25, 2013

Series: Mythos Academy #4.5

Source: eARC via Netgalley

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

I’m Logan Quinn, the deadliest Spartan warrior at Mythos Academy. At least I was—until the day I almost killed Gwen Frost.

Professor Metis and Nickamedes say that I’m fine, that Loki and the Reapers don’t have a hold on me anymore, but I can’t risk it. I can’t risk hurting Gwen again. So I’m leaving Mythos and going somewhere far, far away.

I know Gwen wonders what’s happening to me, whether I’m safe. I can’t tell her, but this is my story…

WARNING: Do not read SPARTAN FROST unless you’ve finished CRIMSON FROST. The book deals with the aftermath of the climax of CRIMSON FROST so you’ll be spoiling it for yourself if you jump to this.

Clocking in at under 50 pages, SPARTAN FROST is a brief glimpse into the life of Logan Quinn, the alpha male of Mythos Academy. I’ve been really excited to get my hands on this story because it’s the first time we get to be in Logan’s brain, and see just how he’s coping with what happened in CRIMSON FROST (the previous novel), when his stepmother betrayed him and helped Loki to possess him, causing him to skewer Gwen (his girlfriend) through the chest with a sword. Free of Loki’s influence, Logan’s been shaken to the core and it gives the reader a chance to see our favourite Spartan off of his game. I’m kind of bummed there’s no Logan on the cover of the e-book, especially since there’s a super busty and cleavage-barring Gwen instead (and she’s not in the story at all).

Logan retreats to his family’s mansion in the Adirondacks but it doesn’t take long for trouble to show up in the mountains. There’s a bit of interaction with some Reapers — and by interaction I mean swordplay! — but the most interesting part of SPARTAN FROST was definitely getting into Logan’s brain and seeing how he feels about Gwen and his father. Logan and Papa Quinn have an uneasy relationship and they’re walking on eggshells around each other now that Agrona, Logan’s stepmother, is gone. She was always a buffer between them and now these two men have to learn how to interact and get over their old feelings. This is what I was hoping to get in SPARTAN FROST and Jennifer Estep delivers.

If you’re a Mythos Academy fan like me, you’ll find SPARTAN FROST both satisfying and frustrating — satisfying because we finally get to know Logan a bit better and frustrating because it’s just too short! I’d suggest reading this just after finishing CRIMSON FROST or right before you start MIDNIGHT FROST (due out next month) because SPARTAN FROST will leave you begging for more time with the Mythos Academy kids!

Read an excerpt

Jenn

disclaimer_thumb[2]

SS: Interview with Stacey Jay + Giveaway!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Have you ever celebrated the summer solstice?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ends July 5th, 2013


——————

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

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

 

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

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

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

Series: n/a

Source: From Publisher for Review

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lili disclaimer_thumb[2]

SS: Interview with Jennifer L. Armentrout

 
I am so happy to say that one of my favorite authors, Jennifer L. Armentrout, was able to stop by for a quick interview for our event! Check out her responses to ORIGIN related questions below. I don’t know about you, but I’m super excited for book four in her lux series!
 
———————

1. What inspired you to come up with the Lux series?
 
Actually, after turning in another project, my editor asked if I wanted to write a story about aliens in high school.  Initially, I laughed at the suggestion and said no.  I wasn’t really sure how to make aliens sexy or interesting, but I started thinking about the possibility of writing about aliens anyway.  I came up with Katy and Daemon and then the storyline that evening. I sat down and started writing Obsidian that same night.
2. If the Lux series ever became a movie, who would you want to cast as your main characters?  
 
I’m terrible at answering this question.  I really have no idea, but my readers usually come up with some good suggestions.  I would love to see who would ultimately be cast as Daemon and Katy if the series were made into movie, though.
3. Can you share a few fun facts about ORIGIN?  
 
There isn’t much that I can say about Origin right now.  The book is in dual POV, alternating between Daemon and Katy.  So, readers will get a lot more of Daemon in this book.  There are definitely a couple of surprises in Origin, too.
4. Which character have you enjoyed the most while writing the Lux series? 
That’s a tough question.  Daemon is fun to write just because he’s sarcastic and arrogant.  When one of my characters has those qualities, I always enjoy writing the dialogue and banter.
5. How has the major success of the Lux series impacted your life?
 
When the Covenant series and the Lux series were published, it definitely changed things for me.  I’ve always wanted to be a writer, so it’s amazing to be able to write full time.  I didn’t really expect to be writing every day and traveling to events and signings.
6. How would your characters celebrate the summer solstice? Have you ever celebrated the summer solstice?
I’ve never celebrated the summer solstice, but I think Dee would probably plan a big bonfire down by the lake for Katy, Daemon, and all of their friends.
 
——————
 
Thank you again for stopping by, Jennifer. I can totally imagine Dee going all out just for the sake of going all out.
 
Check out more about ORIGIN below:
 
Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.

After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything.

But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on? And will they even be together?

 
———————–
 

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russel Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins. (Source)

lilisig