Monday, April 30, 2012

Challenge Review: Tempted by Elisabeth Naughton

Title: Tempted
Series: Eternal Guardians #3
Author: Elisabeth Naughton
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Supernatural Fiction
Elements: Immortals, Demons, Deities
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca, Sourcebooks Inc.
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 411 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1-4022-6046-9
Release Date: September 6, 2011
Source: Borrowed from Wentworth Library
Rating: 4.5/5

Tagline(s): DEMETRIUS--He's the hulking, brooding warrior even his fellow Guardians avoid. Too dark. Too damaged. And given his heritage, he knows it's best to keep everyone at arm's length.

Summary: Isadora is missing. The words pound through his head like a frantic drumbeat. For her own protection, Demetrius did all he could to avoid the fragile princess, his soul mate. And now she's gone--kidnapped. To get her back, he'll have to go to the black place in his soul he's always shunned.

As daemons ravage the human realm and his loyalty to the Guardians is put to the ultimate test, Demetrius realizes that Isadora is stronger than anyone thought. And finally letting her into his heart may be the only way to save them both.

Review:

Tempted is the third book in Elisabeth Naughton's Eternal Guardians series. We get to see behind the masks of Isadora and Demetrius, two of the most complicated characters in this series. Isadora finally comes into her own, and we learn why Demetrius is the way he is.

In Marked, Isadora was a shy princess who was easily pushed around. In Entwined, she realized that is she wants to change her world for the better, she needs to become stronger and grow a backbone. And finally in Tempted, we see Isadora become who she was always meant to be. She has found an inner strength that just shines though. She's not going to let anyone use her--especially not the Council.

I never really liked Isadora until I read Tempted. I don't like weak heroines, and that's exactly what she was until this book. But in Tempted, Isadora becomes stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally. She's going to make a great queen.

*Sigh* Demetrius. There is just something about a guy who has that tough, hard exterior, but the soft, caring center, that's irresistible. Like candy with a yummy, gooey center. Demetrius has a really dark past that has left it's scars. He's more than just the typical Argonaut, and the secrets of the past have come back to haunt him. He knows that Isadora is his soul mate and he will do anything to protect her. But before he can give himself completely to Isadora, Demetrius has to overcome the darkness inside himself and step back into the light.

I loved Demetrius from the very beginning of this series. But seeing his strength, his determination, his restraint, and his deep love for Isadora, made me love him even more.

On a side note from the main story, I was pleasantly surprised by Orpheus. His love and concern for both Isadora and his brother, Gryphon, was really touching. And I felt really bad for Nick, Demetrius's brother and the leader of the Misos, by the end of the book. I can't say much because of spoilers, but you'll know what I mean once you read it for yourself.

I loved this books and I can't wait to read Orpheus's story in Enraptured.

About this Author:

A former junior high science teacher, Elisabeth Naughton traded in her red pen and test tube set for a laptop and research books. She now writes sexy romantic adventure and paranormal novels full time from her home in western Oregon where she lives with her husband and three children. Her work has been nominated for numerous awards including the prestigious RITA® awards by Romance Writers of America, the Australian Romance Reader Awards, The Golden Leaf and the Golden Heart. When not writing, Elisabeth can be found running, hanging out at the ballpark or dreaming up new and exciting adventures. Visit her at www.elisabethnaughton.com to learn more about her and her books.









Tempted is the fourth book I've read for the Mythology Romance Reading Challenge hosted by Reading Between the Wines Book Club.

Challenge Review: The Darkest Pleasure by Gena Showalter

Title: The Darkest Pleasure  
Series: Lords of the Underworld #3  
Author: Gena Showalter
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Supernatural Fiction
Elements: Immortals, Demons, Deities, Angels
Publisher: HQN Books, Harlequin Books
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 374 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-0-373-77524-8
Release Date: July 1, 2008
Source: Borrowed from Wentworth Library
Rating: 4/5

Tagline(s): He can bear any pain but the thought of losing her...

Summary: Reyes is a man possessed. Bound by the demon of pain, he is forbidden to know pleasure. Yet he craves a mortal woman, Danika Ford, more than breath and will do anything to claim her--even defy the gods.

Danika is on the run. For months she's eluded the Lords of the Underworld, immortal warriors who won't rest until she and her family have been destroyed. But her dreams are haunted by Reyes, the warrior whose searing touch she can't forget. Yet a future together could mean death to all they both hold dear....

Review:

In The Darkest Pleasure, unlike in the first two books in the Lords of the Underworld series, we get to read the story from, not only the main characters Danika and Reyes's POV, but also the POVs of Paris, Sabin, and Aeron. Each has their own pain to work through. Some are able to overcome that pain and find happiness and some aren't.

Reyes's demon is Pain. His demon urges him to cause pain. When Reyes came out of his demon haze all those years ago, he discovered that he could satisfy the demon's need for pain by inflicting it upon himself. A life ruled by pain rarely, if ever, offers a chance for pleasure. But when Reyes meets Danika, she enhances his pain but also gives him the greatest pleasure. All Reyes needs to worry about is not whether she'll accept him as who ans what he is, but what will happen to her once she does. Pain has changed all of the women Reyes has ever been with and he doesn't wish that upon Danika.

(SPOILERS) And Danika has her own problems to deal with. It is discovered that she is the All-Seeing Eye, one of the artifacts the Lords are searching for. It runs through her family bloodline, and that is the reason Cronus ordered the death of her and her family. That way no one would be able to use her against him. When Aeron asked her what she sees of the heavens and the underworld, this is how she described it:
"I see great evil and unerring goodness. I see death and life. Darkness and rainbow colors. Demonlike creatures who destroy, screams all around them. Angels who repair the damage, songs of glory humming from their wings."
It's hard to imagine dreaming of these things; whether terrifying or peaceful, it's got to be a huge burden to carry. I can understand why she would work through it by painting what she has seen, to "purge" it from herself.

Another revelation is actually discovered through one of Danika's dream-vision paintings. Galen, keeper of Hope, is leading the Hunters! Who would have thought that Hope was a demon? And it turns out that he's probably the worst demon out of all the Lords. Hope is a demon who purposely raises expectations, only to crush them, leaving nothing but despair in it's wake. And the man is no better. Galen is two-faced and a master of deception. He will easily pretend to be a friend to your face, but once your back is turned he has no problem stabbing it. Where Aeron's demon, Wrath, has black wings; Galen's demon, Hope, has snow-white wings like those of an angel. This helps Galen deceive the Hunters into believing that he's been sent from Heaven to help them rid the world of the Lords, and in turn use the Hunters for his own devices without them even realizing. He was also the one to convince the warriors to go after Pandora's Box in the first place. He is the ultimate cause of all the Lord's torment. To think that the greatest evil in the world is actually Hope. It's mind-boggling.

Lastly, I just wanted to say that Paris's POV was really moving. He's lamenting Sienna's death. He doesn't know whether to blame himself, the Hunters, or the gods, but he wants someone to pay for him losing her. He ultimately chooses to beseech the gods, Cronus to be exact, to bring her back to him. But like all deals with the gods, there's always a catch. Cronus, in the end, makes Paris choose between Sienna and Aeron. If he chooses Sienna, Cronus will give her to Paris just as she was before her death. If he chooses Aeron, Cronus will relieve Aeron of the blood lust curse. I'll leave you to find out who Paris chose, but I'll say that the choice is one that completely tore Paris apart. When I first started the Lords of the Underworld series, I was most intrigued by Lucien and Reyes and was dying to know more about them, but after reading The Darkest Pleasure Paris has become the most intriguing character and I desperately want to know if he'll ever be rid of the torment he went through in this book and find happiness.

About this Author:

Gena Showalter sold her first book at the age of 27 and now, four years later, is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirteen books, with eleven more on the way in a thrilling blend of genres: breathtaking paranormal and contemporary romances, cutting edge young adult novels, and stunning urban fantasy.

Her novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan Magazine, MTV, Seventeen Magazine, and have been translated in French, Italian and Korean. The critics have called her books "sizzling page-turners" and "utterly spellbinding stories", while Showalter herself has been called “a star on the rise”. 






The Darkest Pleasure is the third book I've read for the Mythology Romance Reading Challenge hosted by Reading Between the Wines Book Club.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Challenge: Kelley Armstrong YA Challenge


Welcome to the Kelley Armstrong YA Challenge hosted by Darlene's Book Nook!

The books in the Darkest Powers series by Kelley Armstrong are:
  1. The Summoning (Book #1)
  2. The Awakening (Book #2)
  3. Darkest Powers Bonus Pack: Contains Dangerous (prequel to The Summoning, Book #0.5), Divided (set between The Summoning and The Awakening, Book #1.5), and Disenchanted (overlaps part of The Awakening, told from Tori's point of view, Book #2.5) 
  4. The Reckoning (Book #3)
  5. Belonging (Book #3.5) [you can read it on Armstrong's website HERE]

The books in the sister series, Darkness Rising, by Kelley Armstrong are:
  1. The Gathering (Book #1)
  2. The New Guy: Gathering Bonus Short (Book #0.5) [you can read it on Armstrong's website HERE]
  3. The Invitation: Gathering Bonus Short (Book #1.5) [you can read it on Armstrong's website HERE]
  4. The Calling (Book #2)
  5. The Rising (Book #3) [expected publication 2013]

Please read below for the challenge guidelines:

1. This challenge will run from April 27, 2012 to April 28, 2013. As challenge host, I reserve the right to extend the challenge period if The Rising has not been released before the challenge is supposed to end!

2. You can join the challenge at any time. All books read during the challenge period count for the challenge, regardless of when you sign up.

3. This challenge can cross-over to your other reading challenges.

4. You do not need a blog to participate! If you are not a blogger, you can post your reviews at Goodreads, Shelfari, or LibraryThing and link them up here.

5. All formats of books are acceptable: Bound copies, e-books, and audiobooks (unabridged only). 

6. There are three levels for the challenge:

a. Just A Taste: Read 1-3 Armstrong YA books.
b. Halfway There: Read 4-7 Armstrong YA books.
c. All The Way: Read 8-10 Armstrong YA books.

7. When you write your sign-up post, you must choose your level. You can go up, but you cannot go down!

8. There will be a link-up for your reviews, which will be posted on THIS page.

9. There will be a link for your wrap-up post at the end of the challenge, which will be posted on THIS page. 

10. Create a sign-up post and link back to this post. Sign up with Mister Linky below! Be sure to use the direct url to your sign-up post and not the url to your blog.

11. Grab the challenge button and post it in your sidebar. 

Kelley Armstrong YA Challenge

For this challenge I'm going to go All The Way: Read 8-10 Armstrong YA books. I'll read one Kelley Armstrong YA book a month.
 
I'll keep track of my progress on the challenge page.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Challenge Review: The Darkest Kiss by Gena Showalter

Title: The Darkest Kiss
Series: Lords of the Underworld #2
Author: Gena Showalter
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Supernatural Fiction
Elements: Immortals, Demons, Deities
Publisher: HQN Books, Harlequin Books
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 375 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-0-373-77232-2
Release Date: June 1, 2008
Source: Borrowed from Wentworth Library
Rating: 4/5

Tagline(s): He is ultimate darkness--and all-consuming desire... / She has tempted many men...but never found her equal. Until now.

Summary: Though she has lived for centuries, Anya, goddess of anarchy, has never known pleasure. Until Lucien, the incarnation of death--a warrior eternally doomed to take souls to the hereafter. He draws her like no other. And Anya will risk anything to have him.

But when the merciless Lord of the Underworld is ordered by the gods to claim Anya herself, their uncontrollable attraction becomes an anguished pursuit. Now they must defeat the unconquerable forces that control them, before their thirst for one another demands a sacrifice of love beyond imagining....

Review:

The Darkest Kiss is a real beauty and the beast tale. There's Lucien, the keeper of Death--scarred and tormented--and Anya, the goddess of anarchy--gorgeous and strong--who loves him. She sees past his scars and is able to love Lucien, as well as his demon. And Lucien is able to find comfort and happiness with Anya.

Lucien's demon is Death. He's tasked with escorting the souls of the dead to their final resting place, whether that's Heaven or Hell. This is an emotionally stressful job because he sees what Heaven and Hell are like, and he's left yearning for the peace Heaven offers but knows he'll never have. And because Lucien can see a soul's last few moments of life, the knowledge he's left with becomes a burden he doesn't want. Lucien has a very intimate view of life and death; he's even had to escort the soul of the woman he had loved, and that has left its mark on him. To make sure that no other woman could ever love him again, he scarred his own face and burned part of his body to keep them away. But when he finally meets Anya, the goddess of anarchy, in person, he meets the one woman who sees his scars as beautiful and can see past them to the man he is underneath.

When I read the first book in the Lords of the Underworld series, The Darkest Night, Lucien was one of two warriors that really intrigued me. He's the scarred leader of the warriors and the incarnation of Death, so he was shrouded in mystery and I was dying to know more about him. We also meet Anya toward the end of The Darkest Night, but she was just the disembodied voice of a goddess and we only got a glimpse of her when she appeared to Ashlyn. So she was just as much of a mystery as Lucien. But we get the full scoop on them in The Darkest Kiss. And apparently the kiss of death is irresistible.

In The Darkest Kiss, we learn that Lucien is just a man scarred, literally and figuratively, by his past. By lost love, his job of escorting souls, and just wants peace and happiness for himself and his friends. Anya want to be able to find a man that she can finally trust to love and give all of herself to. She wants people to see that she is important and not minor in any way. Both want acceptance, peace, happiness, and love--and they find all of that in each other.

The search for Pandora's Box is in full swing, and they find out that they need four artifacts, guarded by Hydra, to locate the box--the All-Seeing Eye, the Cloak of Invisibility, the Cage of Compulsion, and the Paring Rod. The four artifacts are spread out all over the world and can be found somewhere in these four locations: South Africa, the Arctic, the States, and Egypt. While all of this is going on, Lucien is ordered by Cronus to kill Anya, Paris finds and loses a woman who stirs him like no other, and Aeron escapes the dungeon leaving death in his wake.

With Aeron's escape in The Darkest Kiss, Reyes and Danika's story is set up further for The Darkest Pleasure. And Paris and Sienna's story is also set up and introduced when he was captured by Hunters in this book. The Lords of the Underworld series just keep getting more exciting with each new addition.

About this Author:

Gena Showalter sold her first book at the age of 27 and now, four years later, is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirteen books, with eleven more on the way in a thrilling blend of genres: breathtaking paranormal and contemporary romances, cutting edge young adult novels, and stunning urban fantasy.

Her novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan Magazine, MTV, Seventeen Magazine, and have been translated in French, Italian and Korean. The critics have called her books "sizzling page-turners" and "utterly spellbinding stories", while Showalter herself has been called “a star on the rise”. 






The Darkest Kiss is the second book I've read for the Mythology Romance Reading Challenge hosted by Reading Between the Wines Book Club.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Challenge Review: The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter

Title: The Darkest Night
Series: Lords of the Underworld #1
Author: Gena Showalter
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Supernatural Fiction
Elements: Immortals, Demons, Deities, Psychic Abilities
Publisher: HQN Books, Harlequin Books
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 379 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-0-373-77522-4
Release Date: May 1, 2008
Source: Borrowed from Wentworth Library
Rating: 4/5

Tagline(s): His Powers--Inhuman. His passion--Beyond Immortal...

Summary: All her life, Ashlyn Darrow has been tormented by voices from the past. To End the nightmare, she has come to Budapest seeking help from men rumored to have supernatural abilities, not knowing she'll be swept into the arms of Maddox, their most dangerous member--a man trapped in a hell of his own.

Neither can resist the instant hunger that calms their torments...and ignites an irresistible passion. But every heated touch and burning kiss will edge them closer to destruction--and a soul-shattering test of love....

Review:

This first book in the Lords of the Underworld series, The Darkest Night, is full of mythology and steamy romance. But the story is kind of slow and doesn't really pick up until the end. With many books that start a series, the first book sets up the world and the characters, and that's usually what makes it seem slow. Many readers don't like books like this, but I really enjoy them because these books are the introduction to the series.

Maddox is one of twelve immortal warriors who were once protectors to the gods. When those gods chose a woman to guard a box holding the worst demons, pride overtook the twelve and they killed the woman--Pandora-- and opened the box, unleashing all the demons inside upon the world. As punishment, the twelve warriors were to house the demons within themselves and were then banished from the heavens.

Maddox's demon is Violence. This makes him the strongest, most violent, and most lethal of the twelve Lords. For thousands of years he's been tormented. But one day when the hill to their fortress is breached, Maddox goes out expecting to find Hunters invading their home, but instead he finds Ashlyn. Ashlyn went in search of the Lords hoping that they could help her control her ability to hear the voices of the past. Both know their own share of torment, and have only ever found peace and happiness when they are together.

In other reviews I've read for this book, readers found the romance between Maddox and Ashlyn full of drama and the dialogue cheesy. But I really love the relationship Maddox and Ashlyn have. I found it sweet and even fragile at times. Maybe it's the strength of their bond that I loved most. A love that is so strong that absolutely nothing can destroy it is something that we can only wish for in the real world.

We also get to meet to other women who will play major roles in upcoming books, Danika and Anya. They are both left as mysteries at the end of The Darkest Night (which is only right, otherwise there would be nothing to tell in the future). We'll get to learn more about Anya in The Darkest Kiss and Danika in The Darkest Pleasure, books two and three in the Lords of the Underworld series.

About this Author:

Gena Showalter sold her first book at the age of 27 and now, four years later, is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirteen books, with eleven more on the way in a thrilling blend of genres: breathtaking paranormal and contemporary romances, cutting edge young adult novels, and stunning urban fantasy.

Her novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan Magazine, MTV, Seventeen Magazine, and have been translated in French, Italian and Korean. The critics have called her books "sizzling page-turners" and "utterly spellbinding stories", while Showalter herself has been called “a star on the rise”. 






The Darkest Night is the first book I've read for the Mythology Romance Reading Challenge hosted by Reading Between the Wines Book Club.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Novella Review: Lenobia's Vow by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Title: Lenobia's Vow
Series: House of Night #9.5, House of Night Novellas #2
Author(s): P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Supernatural Fiction
Elements: Vampires, Deities
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin, St. Martin's Press
Format: Hardcover, 147 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-250-00024-8
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Source: Borrowed from Wentworth Library
Rating: 5/5

Tagline(s): A great journey... A new love... A dark secret revealed / Caught between two separate lives and face-to-face with utter evil, how far will one girl go to follow her heart?

Summary: Evreux, France, 1788: Before she becomes Zoey's favorite professor and the House of Night's fearless horse mistress, Lenobia is just a normal sixteen-year-old girl--with enough problems to last a lifetime. As the illegitimate daughter of a powerful baron, she has never quite belonged, and instead has to watch her spoiled half-sister, Cecile, get anything she wants. As if that's not enough, her remarkable beauty draws unwanted attention wherever she goes. For once, she would just like to fit in.

But when fate intervenes, Lenobia suddenly finds herself surrounded by other girls on a ship bound for New Orleans, where they will be married off to the city's richest Frenchmen. And they're not alone. An evil bishop who is skilled in dark magic makes the same journey. His appetite for lovely young women makes him dangerous--most of all to Lenobia, who caught his eye back in Fance. So she remains hidden, making secret visits to the ship's stables, where a handsome young man and his beautiful Percheron horses soon capture her attention.

Will they make it to land before the bishop discovers her true identity and a powerful evil breaks loose? And will Lenobia follow her heart, even if it puts lives at risk? Find out more about one of your favorite professors in the next heart-thumping House of Night novella.

Review:

In Lenobia's Vow, we see Lenobia's past and the events that eventually brought her to the House of Night and Nyx. Lenobia's story is full of hopefulness, terror, and heartbreak.

(SPOILERS)We see the hope of a young woman wanting to find love and happiness in the New World; but that hope is threatened by an evil man, steeped in Darkness, stalking her every move. But Lenobia finds a Light in that Darkness that keeps her hope from burning out. Upon arrival in New Orleans, Lenobia falls terribly ill and is left in the care of the evil bishop. His unholy plans are thwarted when a Vampyre Tracker Marks Lenobia as a fledgling. But he doesn't give up that easily, and when Lenobia's Martin comes to her aid, he meets a heartbreaking end. But to ensure Lenobia's safety, he makes sure to take the bishop with him. Heartbroken over the loss of her love, Lenobia leaves for the House of Night, and as she leaves the burning city behind, she reinforces her vow to never love another man for as long as she lives.

We get a peek at how the world was in the 18th century. Slavery was going strong and the Catholics lead with and iron fist. But we also see that in the New World, New Orleans specifically, that there was more leniency in the acceptance of different peoples. Those traveling to the New World in the 18th century were like those who came to America in the 20th century hoping to live the American Dream. The hope for a better and happier life.

I loved reading Lenobia's story and finding out why she refuses to feel anything for another man and what she meant when she said she's encountered Darkness before. We also get to see that her love for horses came well before she was ever Marked.

(SPOILERS)Then there's Martin! He's just so sweet! I loved the vow they made to each other to only love the other and no one else. It was really heartbreaking at the end when he promised Lenobia that he would love her forever and that he would find her again. But if my suspicions are correct, he has! In the form of Lenobia's cowboy (sorry, I can't remember his name) who we met in Destined. It can't be a coincidence that he arrived with a Percheron and sporting those gorgeous green eyes. The appearance may change, but the eyes never do. I can't wait to see if I'm right and if Lenobia will figure it out or continue to push him away.

One thing I was kind of disappointed about was that, unlike in Dragon's Oath, there wasn't a clear connection from the past to the present.

About these Authors:

P.C. Cast was born in Watseka, Illinois, and grew up being shuttled back-and-forth between Illinois and Oklahoma, which is where she fell in love with Quarter Horses and mythology (at about the same time). After high school she joined the United States Air Force and began public speaking and writing. Since her tour in the USAF, she has been speaking and teaching professionally.


At 19-years-old, Kristin is thrilled to be coauthoring the YA series, THE HOUSE OF NIGHT, with her mother. The first book in the series will be her first published novel. She has won awards for her poetry, as well as served as journalist for her intermediate high school newspaper, Tiger Tales, and as editor for her high school magazine, Tiger Eye. Kristin attends Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and is working hard to fulfill her goal of becoming a veterinarian without bankrupting her mother. One of the Scottinators belong to her, although we’re not telling either of the dogs that she’s going to someday be their veterinarian. Kristin would love to hear from her fans, and can also be reached through her mother’s website.

Review: Winging It by Deborah Cooke

Title: Winging It
Series: The Dragon Diaries #2
Author: Deborah Cooke
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Supernatural Fiction
Elements: Dragons, Shapeshifters, Mages, Deities, Ghosts, Werewolves
Publisher: New American Library, Penguin Group
Format: Paperback, 339 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-451-23489-6
Release Date: December 6, 2011
Source: Borrowed from Wentworth Library
Rating: 4/5

Tagline(s): ~NONE~

Summary: Zoë Sorensson yearns to come into her powers as the only female dragon shifter. But being part of two worlds is more complicated than she expected. It’s bad enough that she’s the target of the Mages’ plan to eliminate all shifters—she also has to hide her true nature from her best friend Megan, a human. For her sixteenth birthday, all Zoë wants is one normal day, including a tattoo and a chance to see hot rocker Jared.

Instead, the Pyr throw her a birthday party but ban Megan from attendance, putting Zoë in a tight spot. Things get even worse when Zoe is invited to the popular kids’ Halloween party and Megan’s left out. Zoë knows the party is a trap laid by the host, an apprentice Mage. When Megan gets a last-minute invite, Zoë must save the day—and her best friend—without revealing her fire-breathing secrets . . .


Review: 

Zoë's adventures continue in Winging It. When her two worlds collide, someone's bound to get hurt. Between fighting with her human best friend, pining over her rocker love interest, worrying about her parent's marriage, and being hunted by the Mages intent on destroying all shifters starting with her, Zoë's got a lot on her plate. No pressure. 

In Flying Blind, Zoë was just coming into her powers, and I found her to be quite immature. She was letting herself be ruled by her emotions, and wasn't leading the way she could have. But in Winging It, Zoë has experience and she leads intelligently, and uses her intuition to help her make decisions. She's definitely to be admired in this book. Not only does she have personal family and friend drama being dumped on her, but she also has the Mages coming at her too. She's in a stressful position, but she keeps her cool and does what needs to be done. 

I did find Meagan, Zoë's best friend, a little annoying for most of the book. The way she was always getting upset when Zoë didn't tell her every...little...thing just really irked me. It's totally unreasonable for Meagan to expect Zoë to tell her about things that Zoë clearly stated she could not talk about. Everyone has something they can't or won't tell someone else about, and being a very private person myself, I was just really irritated by Meagan's attitude and treatment toward Zoë.

I loved the addition of the love triangle between Jared, Zoë, and Derek in Winging It. While Zoë is waiting for some kind of commitment from Jared, Derek makes his way in and is there for Zoë when Jared is not. Derek's dependability is what could sway Zoë to finally give up on Jared. The thing is, Jared doesn't know about Derek. I have a feeling that this triangle could potentially be painful for one or all of them. It'll be interesting to see what direction Deborah will take it all. 

About this Author:

Deborah Cooke also writes under the names Claire Delacroix and Claire Cross.

Deborah makes her home in Canada with her husband. When she isn't writing, she can be found knitting, sewing or hunting for vintage patterns. Deborah Cooke has always been fascinated with dragons, although she has never understood why they have to be the bad guys. She has an honors degree in history, with a focus on medieval studies. She is an avid reader of medieval vernacular literature, fairy tales and fantasy novels, and has written over thirty romance novels under the names Claire Cross and Claire Delacroix.

Manga Review: Blue Exorcist Volume 4 by Kazue Kato

Title: Blue Exorcist Volume 4 
Japanese Title: Ao no Exorcist
Series: Blue Exorcist #4 
Manga-ka: Kazue Kato
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Graphic Novels, Older Teen Ages 16+
Publisher: Viz Media, Shonen Jump Advanced, Shueisha Inc.
Format: Paperback, 187 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1-4215-4047-4 
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Source: Borrowed from Wentworth Library
Rating: 4/5

Tagline(s): Fight hellfire with hellfire!

Summary: While most of the students at True Cross Academy head home for the summer break, Rin and his classmates are sent to a training camp in the forest district, and the right to go on a real mission is riding on their performance. Locating and recovering their objectives in the woods is tough and will require teamwork, skill and more than a little magic--and Rin will have to learn to rely on his friends. But is Mephisto masterminding something behind the scenes?!

Review:

Rin has finally made friends with those in his class, but Mephisto comes along and ruins everything for Rin. Mephisto sets his brother, Amaimon, after Rin again, but Rin's friends are threatened and in order to protect them, his true identity is revealed. Now friendless once again, Rin must work to control his blue flame and pass the Exorcist exam in six months to prove to everyone--but most importantly, himself--that he's not a monster.

I really liked the moment when Rin is caught by the big moth and tells everyone to go on ahead--because he plans on using his flame to get free and doesn't want them to see--but Suguro insists on helping Rin escape and tells him the he doesn't need to do everything alone because he has friends to help him. The only sad thing about that moment is when Rin questions how they would feel if they ever found out that he is a child of Satan.

The big question that Mephisto presents in this volume while Rin is fighting Amaimon is:
"While demons are pleasure-seekers who can only destroy, humans are weak because they walk the middle path. So which will it be for you?"
It'll be interesting to see what path Rin will take. Will he become the demon he was born to be? Or will he walk the middle path? I'd like to see Rin take a path that would not only make Father Fujimoto proud, but one that also leads him to follow his beliefs and what he thinks is right.

I think my favorite part of the whole volume was when Rin was undergoing questioning in front of the Grigori and Mephisto is going on and on about how he asked Father Fujimoto to save Rin so that they could use him as a weapon against Satan. Rin's had enough and explodes declaring:
"I'm not a weapon or a demon lord or a savior!!! I'm Rin Okumura!!!! Someday I'm going to be the strongest Exorcist!! All of you remember that!!"
Rin always gives the best declarations and you can tell that he's going to d everything to prove his words correct.

This volume ends with the beginning of a new story arc, so I'm excited to see what happens next!

About this Manga-ka:


Kazue Katō (加藤和恵, Katō Kazue), born on July 20th, 1980 in the district of Shinjuku, in Tokyo, is a Japanese mangaka, author of shōnen manga. She is mainly known to be author of Blue Exorcist. She also created Robot to Usakichi ( ロボとうさ吉 ), for which she received the price Osamu Tezuka Award.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Giveaway Winner: Hunted

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Congratulations to Amy S. for winning a copy of Hunted!

Be sure to contact me at shadowhunters_jace_clary@hotmail.com with your email and I'll pass it along to the tour host!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Challenge Review: Stolen by Kelley Armstrong

Title: Stolen
Series: Women of the Otherworld #2
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Supernatural Fictions, Urban Fantasy Fiction
Elements: Werewolves, Witches, Demons, Vampires, Shamans, Sorcerers, Voodoo Priests
Publisher: Plume Books, Penguin Group
Format: Paperback, 399 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-452-29607-7
Release Date: September 28, 2004
Source: Borrowed from Wentworth Library
Rating: 4/5

Tagline(s): ~NONE~

Summary: Elena Michaels is back--and she has company. Leading a mission of vampires, demons, shamans, and witches, Elena is lured into the net of ruthless Internet billionaire Tyrone Winsloe, who is well on his way to amassing a private collection of supernaturals. He plans to harness their powers for himself--even if it means killing them.

For Elena, kidnapped and imprisoned deep underground, unable to tell her friends from her enemies, choosing the right allies is a matter of life and death.

Review:

Being the only female werewolf makes Elena a hot commodity. But in Stolen, she's not the only one being hunted. Witches, vampires, shamans, sorcerers, half-demons, and voodoo priests, are among the other supernaturals being captured and imprisoned by Tyrone Winsloe and his cohorts. Elena will need the help of her Pack and a group of supernaturals to bring down the lab and free the other captives.

In this second installment in the Women of the Otherworld series, Elena is introduced to the reality that there are other supernatural beings in the world besides werewolves. In the group Elena meets intent on eliminating the threat Ty Winsloe and his lab presents; there's Paige and Ruth the witches, Adam the half-demon, Cassandra the vampire, and Kenneth the shaman.

Just as Elena meets these people for the first time, we as readers are introduced to them as they will make future appearances throughout the series. Others in this group will take over as narrator and show things from their places in the world of the Women of the Otherworld. So we're meeting the full cast for the first time! It was kind of exciting. And what's great is that no matter who the narrator this, every character will eventually make a guest appearance, so we don't have to say goodbye to anyone!

But back to talking about Stolen. I have to say that I really enjoyed the downfall of Ty Winsloe and the lab he funded. Elena and the other captives were supposedly "guests," but they were kidnapped and locked up. The scientists thought they were all that and knew what they were talking about in regard to the different species, but in reality they knew nothing and didn't take Elena's warnings seriously. I mean, who's going to know more? The person who's actually a werewolf (or what have you) or a scientist who's just learning about them? And then there's Ty Winsloe himself. He totally disgusted me, but he was like the perfect villain. I just found it very satisfying when it all blew up in his face. Very satisfying, indeed.

I liked that Elena was more open and accepting of her feelings for Clay in this book. She doesn't lie to herself anymore about loving him. Their devotion to each other is something to be admired. Every time Clay would say "darling" I could imagine his Southern accent and it made me want to swoon every single time he said it. I don't know how Elena could push someone like Clay away. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for them, as well as everyone else we met in this book.

About this Author: 

Kelley Armstrong has been telling stories since before she could write. Her earliest written efforts were disastrous. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, hers would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to her teachers' dismay. All efforts to make her produce "normal" stories failed.

Today, she continues to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in her basement writing dungeon. She's the author of the NYT-bestselling "Women of the Otherworld" paranormal suspense series and "Darkest Powers" young adult urban fantasy trilogy, as well as the Nadia Stafford crime series. Armstrong lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids and far too many pets.






CHALLENGE: MONTH TWO
STOLEN BY KELLEY ARMSTRONG

Tour Review: Meeting Destiny by Nancy Straight

Title: Meeting Destiny
Series: Destiny #1
Author: Nancy Straight
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Supernatural Fiction
Publisher: Nancy Straight
Format: Kindle Edition, 291 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-4507-2109-7
Release Date: June 26, 2010
Source: Tour Host {SupaGurl Books}
Rating: 5/5

Tagline(s): ~NONE~

Summary: Lauren is visited in her dreams for years by a stranger claiming to be her destiny. Destiny becomes reality when paths cross during a failed robbery attempt. Lauren and the stranger experience chemistry like no other and now her doubt over her long time relationship with her high school sweetheart is not her only secret...someone else knows about her keen intuition and sixth sense.

A mysterious clairvoyant seeks Lauren out and tells her not only of her life now but what the future may hold. Soon Lauren is in the middle of a murder investigation and a questionable friendship with the key suspect. Law enforcement, friends and family are concerned for Lauren but unfortunately they are unaware of the true danger... Sinister forces are at work and will stop at nothing to destroy Lauren's abilities.

Review:

I absolutely ADORED this book! If I could give Meeting Destiny an infinite rating to show how much I love this book, I would do it in a heartbeat. Meeting Destiny has everything it takes to make my favorites list: the characters are real and lovable, the romance is absolutely swoon-worthy, the story is intriguing and engaging, and most importantly--MEETING DESTINY MADE ME FEEL SOMETHING. The number one thing a book has to have to become a favorite of mine is that it has to make me feel something deeply. It has to make me feel emotionally attached, and Meeting Destiny did just that.

I really liked how the paranormal doesn't take a front seat in the story. Lauren's dreams help her recognize Max, her "destiny" when she finally meets him. Her "sixth sense" warns her of imminent danger and a vague sense of people in general. Then there's her, I guess you could say "guide," Rewsna, who gives her advice telepathically when she truly needs it. These aspects are subtle and are seamlessly woven into the story without overtaking it and drowning out the other aspects of the story.

I thought that the roles a soul plays in the day-to-day life of another was interesting. There's Tempters, Instigators, Protectors, Anarchists, and Mates. We know that Max is Lauren's Mate, but it's cools to see her make the connections between herself and others in her life.

I loved Lauren and Max as the main characters. Lauren has a heart of gold and a strong sense of justice. Max is patient and has a great capacity to love. And Lauren and Max together just makes me want to sigh. Their love may be fast-paced, but that's explained as Destiny in action. It's sweet and pure and totally makes you want to swoon. I also like that Max is still somewhat of a mystery by the end of the book.

I found Meeting Destiny to be reminiscent of Kristie Cook's Promise. Lauren, Max, and even Seth have their counterparts in Alexis, Tristan, and Owen. The story of a young woman with a special purpose, always in danger, and meeting her soul mate are also similar. Even the ending is similar. Though their frameworks are parallel, these two books are also very different. I didn't notice the similarity until I was thinking about what to write for this review; but just as Promise and the Soul Savers series made it's way into my heart and quickly became one of my favorite series, I know that Meeting Destiny and the Destiny series will become a favorite as well.

I can't say much about the ending, but I will say that it's a really emotional part of the book and not what I was expecting. I want to badly to know what happens next after such a powerfully emotional ending. I can't wait to see what's next for Lauren and Max.

About this Author:

Nancy is the one on the Right with the silver dress :)
Nancy was born in Sioux City, Iowa, left the cold of the Midwest in 1991 and only returns to see family in the summer time. She spent ten years traveling the world as a US Marine and settled in rural SC with her husband and two children.

She enjoys reading all types of Paranormal and Young Adult literature. 


 
Where to buy Meeting Destiny :

Amazon -


Challenge: 2012 Patricia Briggs Werewolf Challenge


The 2012 Patricia Briggs Werewolf Challenge hosted by Darlene's Book Nook!

The books in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs are:
  1. Moon Called
  2. Blood Bound
  3. Iron Kissed
  4. Bone Crossed
  5. Silver Borne
  6. River Marked
  7. Frost Burned (expected publication: Spring 2013)

The books in the sister series, Alpha & Omega, by Patricia Briggs are:
  1.  Alpha and Omega: A Companion Novella to Cry Wolf (originally published in the 'On the Prowl' anthology by Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance, and Sunny)
  2. Cry Wolf
  3. Hunting Ground
  4. Fair Game
Here are the challenge details:

1. This challenge will run from April 10, 2012 to April 9, 2013.

2. You can join the challenge at any time. All books read during the challenge period count for the challenge, regardless of when you sign up.

3. This challenge can cross-over to your other reading challenges.

4. You do not need a blog to participate! If you are not a blogger, you can post your reviews at Goodreads, Shelfari, or LibraryThing and link them up here.

5. All formats of books are acceptable: Bound copies, e-books, and audiobooks (unabridged only). 

6. There are three levels for the challenge:

a. One Paw In: Read 1-3 werewolf books.
b. Running With The Pack: Read 4-7 werewolf books.
c. Alpha: Read 8-11 werewolf books.

7. When you write your sign-up post, you must choose your level. You can go up, but you cannot go down!

8. There will be a link-up for your reviews, which will be posted on THIS page.

9. There will be a link for your wrap-up post at the end of the challenge, which will be posted on THIS page. 

10. Create a sign-up post and link back to this post. Sign up with Mister Linky below! Be sure to use the direct url to your sign-up post and not the url to your blog.

11. Grab the challenge button and post it in your sidebar. 
 
2012 Patricia Briggs Werewolf Challenge


For this challenge I'm going to start at the lowest level: One Paw In: Read 1-3 werewolf books. And depending on how it all goes I'll move up the levels.

I'll keep track of my progress below:

1. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tour Review: Forgiving Trinity by Liz Reinhardt (Giveaway)

Title: Forgiving Trinity
Author: Liz Reinhardt
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Liz Reinhardt
Format: Kindle Edition, 190 Pages
ASIN: B006PU8NBW
Release Date: December 23, 2011
Source: Tour Host {Letters Inside Out}, Author {Liz Reinhardt}
Rating: 4.5/5

Tagline(s): ~NONE~

Summary: At seventeen, Trinity McCabe has already made enough mistakes to fill a lifetime. Especially the one where she got high, drove a car, and almost killed a dog. And then let her friend Aidan take the blame.

She’s clean now and desperate to fix the messes she’s made, but first she’s going to have to get out of her pajamas.

As Trinity struggles to stop sleepwalking through life, she faces the painful, tingling sensation of waking up. It’s sometimes embarrassing (she really didn’t want to have lunch with Aidan’s mom), sometimes terrifying (group therapy is beyond intimidating), and sometimes, amazingly enough, pretty romantic (who’d have though Aidan would be such a great kisser?)

Trin is lucky, though—luckier than she deserves, she’s sure—and she doesn’t travel this road alone. Her family, her therapist, and her new friends are all pulling for her. And it turns out, some of them have made pretty big mistakes, too.

But before she can embrace her new life completely, Trinity has to be forgiven by the one person who is holding out the hardest: herself. It’s not easy changing everything, especially when you don’t think you deserve a second chance. Trinity might make an even bigger mess of things before she figures that out.

When the smoke clears on her latest disaster, will anyone still be standing there?


Review:

Forgiving Trinity is a much darker and serious book about addiction that I've read up to this point. There are points when the story is pretty slow, but I think that works best with the seriousness of the story. Forgiving Trinity is a really interesting story, and I loved reading from Trinity's POV as she struggles to come to terms with the events of her past and start living life again. We see this from a psychological viewpoint and what goes through the mind of a person recovering from addiction.

I really liked that Trinity wasn't the only character that needed to overcome past events. Aidan also struggles with recovering from addiction, and Ruth struggles with recovering from an assault. The fact that the two people that are closest to Trinity aren't seemingly perfect and can understand and relate to her was also appealing. In other books I've read about addiction the people closest to the one recovering seem too perfect and the one recovering feels ostracized. That's not the case in Forgiving Trinity. Trinity, Aidan, and Ruth can all find strength in each other and their commonalities.

Aidan and Trinity's relationship was really beautiful, but also really fragile. The fragility is what makes it feel real. I think that they became too close to each other too soon. Aidan was looking for an emotional connection and Trinity was looking for a physical connection, but they ended up offering each other the opposite of what they wanted. There were points when they were completely in sync, but then something would happen to put them out of sync. In the beginning of the book, Trinity and Aidan moved too fast; wanted too much and didn't offer enough. The disruption in the middle of the story is probably the best thing that could have happened for their relationship; it put things in perspective for them. By the end, they slowed down and I'm sure that they can appreciate each other more now.

Though I absolutely loved this book, this story, and these characters; this is definitely not a book for everyone. But I believe that it's worth it to give this book a shot, whether you end up liking it or not. Liz Reinhardt is an amazing writer and I look forward to checking out her other works.

About this Author: 

Liz Reinhardt was born and raised in the idyllic beauty of northwest NJ. A move to the subtropics of coastal Georgia with her daughter and husband left her with a newly realized taste for the beach and a bloated sunscreen budget. Right alongside these new loves is her old, steadfast affection and longing for bagels and the fast-talking foul mouths of her youth.

She loves Raisinettes, even if they aren't really candy, the Oxford comma, movies that are hilarious or feature zombies, any and all books, but especially romance (the smarter and hotter, the better), the sound of her daughter's incessantly wise and entertaining chatter, and watching her husband work on cars in the driveway.

You can read her blog at www.elizabethreinhardt.blogspot.com, like her on Facebook, or email her at lizreinhardtwrites@gmail.com.


 Links:


Tour Wide Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Tour Schedule:

3/26  
Fire Star Books - Guest Post  
Respiring Thoughts - Review  
3/27  
Insightful Minds - Review & Author Interview  
Reading in Winter - Review  
Addicted to Books - Guest Post from Trinity 
3/28  
A Diary of a Book Addict - Review & Character Interview w/ Trinity  
Nose in a Book - Guest Post 
3/29  
Book Briefs - Review  
A Written Rhapsody - Guest post 
3/30  
Kindle Fever - Guest post  
Reviewing Shelf - Review  
It's a PenPal World - Review & Author Interview 
4/2  
Rondo of a Possible World - Guest Post  
Nose in a Book - Review  
(Love of Books) - Guest Post 
4/3  
Sweeping Me - Guest Post  
Kindle Fever - Review 
4/4  
Catch The Lune - Top Ten  
Simply Infatuated - Review & Character Interview w/ Aidan 
4/5  
Catch The Lune - Review  
A Tale of Many Reviews - Author Interview  
The Book Barbies - Guest Post  
4/6  
Actin' Up With Books - Guest Post  
Addicted to Books - Review  
4/9  
Forbidden Passions - Review  
A Book & A Latte - Guest Post  
4/10  
A Daydreamer's Thoughts - Guest Post  
Reviewing Shelf - Author Interview  
Zodiac Book Reviews - Review  
4/11  
Nyx Book Reviews - Guest Post  
4/12  
My Shelf Confessions Guest post  
Reading in Winter - Author Interview  
Seeing Night - Review  
4/13  
Ed and Em's Reviews - Review & Author Interview  
My Life With Books - Guest Post


Tour Hosted by Letters Inside Out

Review: Finding My Faith by Carly Fall

Title: Finding My Faith
Series: Six Saviors #1
Author: Carly Fall
Genre: Science Fiction, Supernatural Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Romance Fiction
Elements: Aliens, Psychic Abilities, Spirits
Publisher: Westward Publishing
Format: eBook, 214 Pages
ASIN: B007E25F72
Release Date: February 27, 2012
Source: Tour Host {Bewitching Book Tours}
Rating: 5/5

Tagline(s): ~NONE~

Summary: Growing up in a small Northern Arizona town, Faith Cloudfoot’s life was spent playing in the forests surrounding her house under the protective eyes of her father, and learning about the legends of her Native American heritage.

Yearning for more out of her life, she moves to Phoenix, Arizona at the age of twenty-three where she is kidnapped and almost killed.

Rayner has a special ability, one that weighs on him like a curse. He can see spirits trapped in between life and their final resting place. Because he can’t do much to help them, he studiously ignores them. He concentrates, instead, on working with his fellow warriors to right the wrongs caused by the evil criminals from his home planet.

When Rayner sees Faith in her spirit form while investigating a lead in Phoenix, his attraction to her is immediate, yet he follows his own personal code and ignores her cry for attention. When he realizes that she may be a stepping stone to getting him home to his own universe, he engages Faith and begins to use her as a means to an end: going home.

As the attraction grows stronger, Rayner finds himself breaking all sorts of self-set rules, as well as the code of ethics set by him and his fellow warriors. When Faith nears death, Rayner realizes that he must do everything in his power to save her, because if he doesn’t, he may just lose himself.

Review:

Being someone who has not had the pleasure to read the first book in this series, The Light Within Me, I was glad that the author provided some background information. Because of this, one doesn't have to have read the first book to understand Finding My Faith. In fact, I became really curious about Noah and Abby's story when they were introduced in this book, and I can't wait to go back and read their story for myself. Because I have not read The Light Within Me, I can base this review solely on Finding My Faith, since I have nothing to compare it to.

I loved how Finding My Faith has a mix of genres; there's a little bit of something for everyone: sci-fi action, supernatural abilities, and sweet romance. All of this is blended so well together that this book can't be put into just one genre.

It might seem kind of cheesy, but I really liked how Rayner and Faith always seemed to have everything in common. Not only are their backgrounds similar (each grew up in the forests of their respective homelands), but they also just so happen to like the same foods and TV shows. Their both spiritual people and love nature and the outdoors. And both are free-spirits; although Rayner lost that when he came to Earth, meeting Faith made him want to live again instead of just floating along.

I love legends and folklore, so I really like the legend of The Woman With Fire for Hair and the Red-Eyed Wolf Warrior. The legend states the a woman of the Navajo with flaming red hair and an man with glowing red eyes will produce a son that will be able to harness the earth's energy. This son will only be born when the Earth needs him most, it could be a few years or hundreds of years until he's born. Until then, The Woman With Fire for Hair and the Red-Eyed Wolf Warrior will not age, the Warrior will not lose his wolf spirit, and only after then son is born will they begin to age as humans do. This legend really works in Rayner and Faith's favor. Neither of them will age until their son is born, and who knows how long that will be. And Rayner won't lose his SR44 form (though the legends says wolf spirit, for Rayner it's his SR44 form).

I was kind of disappointed that we never got to see the Colonist's demise. With how hyped up Hudson ans Cohen were to hunt him down, I was looking forward to seeing his downfall. Everyone likes seeing the bad guy lose in the end, but we just don't see it in Finding My Faith. Also, the Colonists are portrayed as these vicious killers, but the Colonist in this book just wasn't. It was just disappointing reading about how they are trying to catch and kill this Colonist and we never get to see it when they finally do.

Other than my issue with how weak I found the Colonist to be, I really loved Finding My Faith. I can't wait to see what's next for the Six Saviors.

About this Author: 

Carly Fall lives in Arizona with her incredibly supportive husband, their son and their dog.
She enjoys the weather in Arizona, and when she isn't writing, you can find her spending time with her family, or lazily floating in the pool.

Carly has spent twenty years writing business materials, and Shackled to the Night was her first foray into fiction.

For more information on upcoming books as well as freebies and giveaways, visit her website at www.CarlyFall.com


Twitter: CarlyFall1


Tour Hosted by Bewitching Book Tours

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tour Review: Kings & Queens by Courtney Vail (Guest Post)

Title: Kings & Queens
Series: Kings & Queens #1
Author: Courtney Vail
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: Little Prince Publishing
Format: eBook, 328 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-0615469775
Release Date: January 27, 2012
Source: Tour Host {SupaGurl Books}
Rating: 5/5

Tagline(s): In Cedar Creek, forget baseball... Violence is the new celebrated pastime.

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Majesty Alistair wants police to look further into her father's fatal car wreck, hopes the baseball team she manages can reclaim the state crown, aches for Derek...or, no...maybe Alec...maybe. And she mostly wishes to retract the hateful words she said to her dad right before slamming the door in his face, only to never see him again.

All her desires get sidelined, though, when she overhears two fellow students planning a church massacre. She doubts cops will follow up on her tip since they're sick of her coming around with notions of possible crimes-in-the-works. And it's not like she cries wolf. Not really. They'd be freaked too, but they're not the ones suffering from bloody dreams that hint at disaster like some crazy, street guy forecasting the Apocalypse. So, she does what any habitual winner with zero cred would do...try to I.D. the nutjobs before they act.

But, when their agenda turns out to be far bigger than she ever assumed, and even friends start looking suspect, the truth and her actions threaten to haunt her forever, especially since she's left with blood on her hands, the blood of someone she loves.

Review: 

Courtney Vail's Kings & Queens has a complex and vivid story. At times, I found myself confused about some of the events that took place and how they came about. The characters and their individual POV's are just as complex, but each is really unique. I didn't really understand what was going on with the dreams of disaster--were they real premonitions or just their minds playing off the events happening in real life? And there were times when we are fed so much information that it can be overwhelming sometimes.

It may seem like I only have negative things to say about Kings & Queens, but there's an equal amount of positive things about this book as well. Though there were moments when I was confused and overwhelmed, the story itself is so intriguing that I kept wanting to read more. The mystery and suspense surrounding the events of the story keep you on the edge of your seat. The characters and their stories each have a depth that makes them unique and very likable--you can relate to the characters. So there's this huge mass of interconnecting stories that all meet with the main plot of the Kings and Queens and their mission. This book's complexity is what makes it worthwhile to read. Sure, it can be confusing at times, but it's also so engaging you won't be able to stop reading.

Courtney Vail has a sequel to Kings & Queens, Sapphire Reign, coming out that takes place 10 years in the future, and Majesty's world is a lot more dangerous and darker. It is not a Young Adult book, but I'm going to make sure to read Sapphire Reign to sate my curiosity about Majesty's life after Kings & Queens.

Book Trailer:

 
About this Author:

COURTNEY VAIL writes totally twisted YA and adult suspense. She enjoys braiding mystery, suspense & romance with some kind of weirdness. Her addictions to crazy coffee concoctions, Funny Bones, Ben & Jerry's, and bacon keep her running and writing. She currently lives in New England with a comedian stud and a wild gang of kidlets. 





Guest Post by Courtney Vail:

HOW DREAMS AND OTHER WEIRD THINGS AFFECT ME:

Hi. I’m the author of the YA suspense novel, Kings & Queens. I love dreams. They are a well-spring of inspiration for me. A dream is what kick-started my plot for Kings & Queens actually. I overheard two guys in the woods planning a church massacre and escaped them in this little town, and that’s where my story was born. Dreams also factor into my plot in different ways. 

My parallel protagonist, Derek, has a reoccurring nightmare of a past mistake he can’t shake. He doesn’t acknowledge the guilt of what happened, because that’s weakness to him, and he can’t speak of it since he’s blood-bound to silence, so in his sleep, it taunts and haunts him. He tries to bury it, but in his sleep, he can’t escape it. But, something happens to create a glitch in his dream, and the event shockingly changes to something else entirely, and the difference ends up changing him. 

Majesty, my main protagonist, can’t squelch sick feelings in her stomach that terrible things are going to happen. The first time she brushed off a major nudge, her father ended up near-headless in a ditch under a blanket of safety glass, so she begins to take the ominous more seriously. Soon, her dread over other tragedies somersaults into bloody nightmares. 

Warren Niles, resident Goth, dreams of a church shooting, but he’s left without much detail and more questions than answers. He hopes to just chalk it up to nothing but a dream, but it won’t let go. What if his anger actually drove him there, to that ugly, vicious place? Or what if it happened, not of his hand, and he’d done nothing to stop it? How could he live, knowing?

Most of my books have been inspired by dreams. In addition to Kings & Queens, its sequel, Sapphire Reign sprung from this dream about a little girl who was psychically linked to a serial killer, and my short story Carousel also came from that dream too. It was originally the prologue to a story about this art therapist, Vivien, nicknamed Evie, but that was before I saw the light. I was working on two stories separately, but they fit together beautifully in tone and concept, and a literary merger took place and resulted in Sapphire Reign. And Dropping Like Flies came from a noise right on the cusp waking up. I heard this intercom noise that sounded like hospital chatter and that was just enough to stir my mind. 

Usually when I dream, I don’t take them as real or prophetic, but the dreams that spawn inspiration are different than my others. I’m not always in them or they are more vivid or strange. If a dream was premonitory, I believe I’d know because weird things happen to me all the time. 

Like, I do sometimes dream things before they happen and get slapped with déjà vu. It’s usually bland stuff, nothing major, conversations mostly. And I won’t know until the moment has passed in reality, but it will be a couple days later, and I’ll shake my head or shudder knowing, wait, I dreamed this. Like, one time in high school, people were talking about sheep. Um, sheep do not come up in conversation every day. They just don’t, so I flipped. I had dreamt that exact conversation days before. Or I’ll be with people in a dream, and I’ll see them days later in the same clothes they were wearing or at the same location.

An example of a weird thing: in my newswriting class in college the course book was packed with info you had to turn into articles. Sometimes you’d get names of people but not always. I always made up names, but one time, I was like, you know what, I’m just gonna use the name of someone I know. The story was about a hero, and Guy McCaslin, my high school basketball coach, guidance counselor, Bible teacher--Hey, it was Christian school. Whadaya want. Those guys are spread thin for squat pay. Pretty heroic if you ask me--seemed like a winner. Anyway, the day after I turned in my paper, my prof asked me to stay after class. So, nervously, I did. 

He said, “Who is Guy McCaslin?” 

Um, yeah, I told that same stacked bio. 

He said, “Well, that’s weird. He’s best friend’s with my son, and my wife and I are good friends with his parents. We all lived in Oregon. I’ve known him since he was a little tyke in my Awana’s class.” 

Wait! What??? That’s weird??? Weird? That’s like THE understatement of the century. This is so beyond weird!!! Here I was in Virginia, far, far away from my home in Massachusetts & Mr. Guy Smiley, and they’re all from OREGON, AND the FIRST time I use a REAL name, I pick the ONE guy HE knows???? And he knows him well? What are the freaking odds? One in a million? Or billion, maybe. I don’t know, I suck at math. But, I mean, think of all the people you know or know of, all the names you could choose from. I have social photographic memory, I never forget anyone, so I have a lot, A LOT of names in there. The odds are totally insane and mind-blowing. Yeah, I’m going to repeat insane because it IS. It was like winning the lottery. I FREAKED. I dashed back to my dorm and prayed up a storm for him and his family. It can never hurt to pray, and usually, if something like that happens, I assume it’s for a reason, so, that’s what I did. Just in case.  But, I mean, it still to this day trips me out.

I’m a practical joker and can somehow totally rock an innocent vibe at the same time, so I mostly come out unscathed. This is what tells me there is a God, and that He has a sense of humor. Even though my victims may skip on the payback, God  always gets me back, and I’m sure he’s laughing.

Weirdness like that happens to me all the time. So, if I dreamt something truly prophetic or meaningful like any of my characters have, I’d take it for premonitory.  I’m sure it would feel different from other dreams, and I would pray and do whatever I could to help out in the situation.

Do weird things happen to you, or do you find dreams inspirational, meaningful or premonitory?




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