Sunday, September 29, 2013

Review: Dark Triumph



Title: Dark Triumph
Author: R.L. LaFevers
Genre: Historical fiction, young adult, fantasy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads description:
Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. The convent views Sybella, naturally skilled in the arts of both death and seduction, as one of their most dangerous weapons. But those assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Grave Mercy, because of the richness of the world, the interesting characters, and all the politics and intrigue. Dark Triumph has all of that, but there's just a little something else that makes this book better than the first.

The second book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy is narrated by Sybella, a character you see very little of in the first book. When you find out about her past, your heart shatters for this girl who has managed to endure through so much. Sybella has been asked to act as a spy in d'Albert's household on behalf of the duchess; she longs more than anything to get revenge and kill the man who has brought so much misery to innocent people. But when her orders finally arrive, they aren't waht she expects, and Sybella finds herself on a journey she hadn't anticipated.

This is definitely a darker story than the previous book, but I enjoyed it more. While Ismae was naive at times, Sybella is just the opposite. She isn't a perfectly good person - she has been complicit in terrible things, and even enjoys killing. She's also no stranger to the brutality of the world, and she's a very strong character, yet she's also deeply broken. I liked what she learned from Mortain better than what Ismae took away from her meeting with him.

Although there was a lot less politics in this book, the historical backdrop was equally engaging and intriguing. This book is more about personal struggles rather than the war, although the war is a large part of this novel as well. I don't want to say too much so as not to spoil anything, but I liked the way different characters' relationships developed over the course of this novel. Some people come off as twisted at first, and then you see another side to them; others seem brutish and prove to be incredibly gentle.

I highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and fantasy; the assassin nuns are back, better than ever!


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Friday, September 27, 2013

Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold


Strands of Bronze and Gold (Strands of Bronze and Gold, #1)Title: Strands of Bronze and Gold
Author: Jane Nickerson
Genre: Fairy-tale retelling, historical fiction

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .
When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.
Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.
Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.

I really enjoy fairy-tale retellings (who doesn't??), and I was really excited to read about a twist on the Bluebeard tale. Bluebeard is one of the more frightening fairy tales, so I was expecting something equally sinister and harrowing. Strands of Bronze and Gold was mildly creepy at best, and there was a lot about it that I didn't care for.

Sophia is a young girl who is taken in by her godfather once her father dies and leaves the family practically penniless. At first she is delighted by the exotic clothes and exquisite food; but soon she learns that M. de Cressac has a darker side to him, and she begins to wonder if she's safe here after all.

I can't put my finger on it, but there is something about the writing style that I didn't really like. I didn't think it flowed very well or fit the time period of pre-civil war America. It wasn't distracting enough to keep me from reading, but there was just something off about it.

The characters really bugged me. M. de Cressac was sufficiently creepy, and my skin crawled as soon as he'd appeared. But then nothing happened. I kept waiting for him to do something crazy and sinister but he just kind of loomed in the background. He's prone to mood swings, but even his worst moods weren't as bad as they could have been. Sophia was vain and silly, and I could hardly stand her. She is constantly thinking about and commenting on her clothing and others' clothing, and bothering about how low cut her dresses are and how a decent girl like her couldn't possibly wear such things. Also, her oh so diplomatic view on slavery was annoying. Obviously slavery is a terrible thing, and I'm not endorsing it, but for her upbringing, it was unusual that MC felt that slavery was so unfair (and she hardly sees any of the truly wretched stuff at all! She at one point pities the workers in the fields because of their shabby clothes, not because they are being worked to death or whipped). This wouldn't have been an issue if she didn't keep making a point out of it. It was as if I was being hammered over the head with how wonderful and good Sophie was.

This book also had a slavery-related subplot that I didn't think was necessary. For all the focus on the horrors of slavery, you rarely get to see that truly ugly side, and half the time the slaves are pitying dear old Sophie. I just couldn't understand why - it's not like Sophie's situation was worse than their own. Sure, Sophie is a "slave" to M. de Cressac's whims, but she is never physically hurt, and she has everything she wants and more.

And finally, the ending. Just when things start to get exciting, the climax is resolved very quickly and magical happy endings take over. It's not that I want all the characters to suffer, but I felt like this could have had a more tragic or at least bitter-sweet ending to fit the bluebeard mood.

I wouldn't recommend this particular retelling.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday 2




Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's theme: BEST SEQUELS EVER

Here are some of my favorite sequels/second books in series.

Dark Triumph Quicksilver Froi of the Exiles Ruins

Days of Blood and Starlight Days of Blood and Starlight

Have you read these series? Which ones did you enjoy?

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Blog Tour: Scars of the Bifrost


Welcome to the Scars of the Bifrost Blog Tour, put together by Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction!

Title: Scars of the Bifrost
Author: A.J.M Mousseau
Genre: Dystopia, science fiction, YA

Rating: 3/5 stars

Goodreads Summary: 
Freya Catten has lived on the fringes of society her entire life, growing up in hiding with her mother in the deepest, wildest places left in North America—the national parks and forests. Freya's mother taught her how to live off the land, away from civilization—mysteriously warning her of the dangers of getting involved with society and leaving traces of her DNA behind. But five years ago Freya's mother abandoned her, leaving Freya to survive on her own.
Freya knows how to stay alive, whether she's hiding in the forest or running on the city streets. She changes her appearance often and owns nothing but her backpack filled with survival gear and a necklace that had been her mother’s.
But, keeping one step ahead of Social Services isn't her biggest fear. Freya's true terror lies with The Takers—strange men who rappel from silver cords out of the deep blue sky from nowhere. They snatch up their victims then evaporate without a trace. Freya holds a dark suspicion—that the Takers are really after her, and they are closing in.
Freya realizes that if she is to ever have a normal life she must first find her mother and answer the questions that have kept her in hiding. Along the way, she meets Theron Hawk—a rugged teenage soldier from a war-torn country—and finds herself truly trusting someone for the first time in her life.
As secrets are uncovered, and Freya comes closer to solving the mysteries surrounding her life, her blood and the priceless necklace that lays at her throat, the scars of the Bifrost will threaten to rip apart Freya's very existence.

SCARS OF THE BIFROST is the first story in The Scars Saga and is a Young Adult science-fiction/fantasy/paranormal romance novel infused with wilderness survival, urban fantasy, dystopian elements and mythological realism.


My review:

This was one of those books that started out on the eh... side but grew on me as it progressed (moving it from a 2 star to a 3 star rating). I think one of the major issues I had was with how it was marketed as "dystopian" with "urban fantasy" and "mythological realism" - that made me expect one kind of story, but really this story is more accurately described as survivalist with a healthy dose of science fiction.

Freya Catten is running from the Takers ever since her mother left her five years ago. It seems that no matter where she goes, the Takers follow, and she knows that she must not get caught at any cost. Freya doesn't know where her mother is, why she disappeared, or really anything about her current situation, and she won't rest until she finds answers.

I thought Freya was an interesting heroine. She is fiercely independent, almost to a fault - she's so used to making it on her own that she runs away from much-needed help. She was very realistic - her thoughts and feelings and worries were all very realistic, and she doesn't spring out random superpowers or kick-ass fighting moves - which made her refreshing in a genre where the main character usually has some sort of special skill or trait. That isn't to say Freya isn't special - she is in fact far more valuable and unique than she realizes - but she's very relatable as an average girl.

As I mentioned earlier, this book didn't start out so great for me. The chapter endings were really abrupt sometimes, and I didn't think there was a good flow. The dialogue seemed forced or awkward at times, which also broke up the flow. A bunch of descriptions were awkward or redundant - I think the author is very fond of adverbs and adjectives:
"[A] slender woman in her mid-thirties with light chocolate skin beautifully accented by her orange sundress smiled brightly as we walked past" (and that's a character who never appears again!). Generally, the writing style felt clumsy to me, and it was distracting enough that I didn't really connect with the story as much as I would have liked to. There was also a customary romance, which I found a bit cheesy but sweet all the same.

Still, the second part of it had a lot more action, more revelations, and more of the heart of the story, and I really enjoyed it. I thought the whereabouts of Freya's mother and the reasons for everything that had happened until that point were handled really well. I also liked the allusions to Norse mythology and the goddess Freya (although again, I wouldn't really call it mythological realism).

This isn't an amazing read, but I did like it. If you like stories about people on the run and or ones that have twists along the science fiction route (not the paranormal/fantasy one), you will enjoy this book!

----

AUTHOR BIO
I am an author and university student. I live in a recreational vehicle -- by choice -- with my awesome husband, four amazing kids, and huge, fluffy, 85 pound golden retriever named Titan. I write and do school on line as we travel throughout the U.S. and Canada. It is incredible to live in a new place every few months (sometimes weeks) and to see everything! We have lived this clan and tribal lifestyle for two years now and have been to over twenty national parks and forests. They gave me a lot of inspiration for Freya's story. 

Unlocking BrĂ­singamen, the next book in the Scars Saga, will be released very soon!


Author Links:

Here's a "guest post" by Freya Catten, the protagonist of this story:

My name is Freya Catten. I'm seventeen years old.

I was named after the great Norse goddess, but I don't know why – I'm certainly not great.

I was raised by my mother – hidden in the deepest wild spaces left in North America. It's been no fairytale either – no winged godmothers, no magic spells – we have scraped and survived out here against the elements and hewed out an existence with our bare hands and with mostly no contact with other people.

She never told me who my father is, or if we have other relatives. And five years ago, she abandoned me out here on my own. Yeah, she was mental.

She would talk without end about the stupid Bifrost, then later about the Takers – and one day she just disappeared.

But I won't talk about any of that – those are my secrets.

They aren't real anyway.

That isn't completely true, the Takers are real – rapelling on silver cords out of the deep blue sky from nowhere – snatching up the nearest, unsuspecting victims then evaporating without a trace. They scare me more than anything, and I think... I think they are really after me, but I have no idea why.

I decided that I have to find my mother, no matter what it takes.
I need answers – like who I am. I don't even have a birth certificate or a home, and that's all I really want.

Then I met Theron. I want to trust him. I want to let all of my walls down, but I don't know if I should, or even if I can.

I want to live a normal life, but my mom told me – brainwashed me really – to stay away from people.

Like a bedtime story, she would tell me, “Society has a tendency to destroy and eliminate what it does not understand.”


And...there's a giveaway! If you're interested, fill out the Rafflecopter form below~
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review: Gone Girl


Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: adult fiction, suspense, unreliable narrator

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Goodreads summary:Marriage can be a real killer.
One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work "draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction." Gone Girl's toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

GOOD GOD THIS BOOK IS SCARY.

Yup, every bit as disturbing as my friends told me. I really didn't expect to like this as much as I did, but it was so clever and witty and at first it doesn't seem so bad...and then chapters go by. The scariest thing is that you don't realize quite how twisted these people are until almost the very last chapter.

I really don't want to say much about the plot of this book, because there are so many twists and "gotcha" moments (thanks, unreliable narrators 1 and 2...). I'm a huge fan of unreliable narrators because you never know if they're telling you the truth, the partial truth, or downright lies, and in this book you get plenty of all of them. I think all you need to know is that this is the story of Nick and Amy and a marriage gone bad.

As twisted and manipulative as Amy and Nick are, I actually really liked their voices (and maybe, just maybe, I even liked them). They're snarky and sarcastic, with equal parts average American and, well, not average American. They are very flawed, but there's just something about them - charisma? - that makes you want to read their story. Compulsively.

Gillian Flynn has a crazy twisted imagination, and she really knows how to write! I loved the writing style of this book, and there was just the right balance between maintaining suspense and getting answers (if not always the ones you wanted to hear) to keep me hooked. I don't think I've ever been so grotesquely fascinated by a book before - usually it's one or the other. I don't know if I should feel guilty that I actually enjoyed being shocked and horrified - it was very refreshing after reading so many predictable books fueled by cliche and happy endings.

Oh man, the ending. The ending left me feeling sick, but I thought it was fitting. Amy and Nick, you two really do deserve each other.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday 1




Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's theme: Top Ten Books On My Fall 2013 TBR List

  1. More Than This by Patrick Ness - Ness is one of my favorite authors, and this book sounds spectacular (as always).
  2. Unsouled by Neal Shusterman - Another one of my favorite authors. Unsouled is the third book in a four book series, and each book adds more characters and more twists that keep me dying for more!
  3. Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood - Yet another favorite author. This one is the third book in the MaddAddam trilogy, which is one of the scariest dystopian series I have ever read. It's not that the things that happen are so cruel or gruesome, it's how twisted yet completely plausible everything is.
  4. Champion by Marie Lu - The third book in the Legend series, which I am really enjoying. I love the incredibly smart characters and the fast pace of these books.
  5. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman - The first non-sci fi book on this list whooo! Gaiman is fricking brilliant and I can't wait to read his latest novel.
  6. The Prestige by Christopher Priest - I watched the movie a week or two ago and absolutely loved it! The story was incredible, and I'd like to read the book behind it. Obviously they're going to be very different experiences, but I'll see which one I like better.


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Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: Quicksilver


Quicksilver (Ultraviolet, #2)Title:Quicksilver
Author:R.J. Anderson
Genre: Science fiction, Young adult

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
Back in her hometown, Tori Beaugrand had everything a teenaged girl could want—popularity, money, beauty. But she also had a secret. A secret that could change her life in an instant, or destroy it.
Now she’s left everything from her old life behind, including her real name and Alison, the one friend who truly understood her. She can’t escape who and what she is. But if she wants to have anything like a normal life, she has to blend in and hide her unusual... talents.
Plans change when the enigmatic Sebastian Faraday reappears and gives Tori some bad news: she hasn’t escaped her past. In fact, she’s attracted new interest in the form of an obsessed ex-cop turned investigator for a genetics lab.
She has one last shot at getting her enemies off her trail and winning the security and independence she’s always longed for. But saving herself will take every ounce of Tori’s incredible electronics and engineering skills—and even then, she may need to sacrifice more than she could possibly imagine if she wants to be free.

Ultraviolet was one of the most unique and unexpected science fiction novels I read last year, and I think I can say the same for Quicksilver. The second book in the Ultraviolet series is told from Tori's point of view, and describes her struggle to continue a "normal" life after the events from the previous book left the police with unanswerable questions.

Tori is an unconventional main character, in more ways than one. [Stop reading here if you don't want to be spoiled about the first book]She's a girl who likes engineering and is good at it too. People don't usually take her seriously, but Tori doesn't take no for an answer and proves her talents admirably. She's also asexual, which took her a while to figure out. She just isn't interested in making out with guys (or girls). Oh, and she's from another planet whose inhabitants share a common ancestor with humans.

I really liked Tori's perspective, and I definitely liked her more than I liked Alison. The unconventional romance in the first book frankly made me a little uncomfortable, although I could see why it happened, and I was glad that Tori shared some doubts as well. Tori is incredibly cynical but also has a very good heart; she never wants to hurt anyone and is willing to take a lot of risks to help others. Sebastian makes a reappearance, and he isn't the godly do-no-evil man that Alison perceived him as. You see other sides to his character, and although he may not be completely evil, he definitely has changed since the last book. I really liked the introduction of Milo, who dealt with a lot of the pressures that my community pushed on me and my friends. I liked that he was such a loyal and understanding friend without expecting something in return. He's just a nice guy who wants to help, and I admired that.

The author isn't afraid to take risks and make tough decisions about the characters, and that really made me appreciate this book more. The ending had me gritting my teeth and clenching my fists with the building tension, and once we finally found out what Tori's solution was, I was shocked.

I'd recommend this to anyone who is bored with the usual YA dystopian science-fiction. This one has a very unique flair.


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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Blog Tour: Earth Dwellers by David Estes


Hello everyone! I'm really excited to be a part of the Earth Dweller's blog tour. Earth Dwellers is the final book that ties together the Country Saga and Dwellers by David Estes. We're even hosting a rafflecopter giveaway, so check it out!

 
Your favorite Dwellers and Country Saga characters come together in this epic seventh book!
As President Borg Lecter threatens to annihilate the Country tribes in order to expand his glass-domed empire, Adele ventures into the belly of the beast. Her only hope of survival is the consolidation of Dwellers and Country power before it’s too late. Former demagogue President Nailin is eliminated, yet civil unrest infects every alliance. To save Adele, President Tristan faces his greatest challenge yet: unifying unfriendly Dwellers in the Tri-Realms to raise an army against Lecter. Meanwhile, Dazz must convince the Ice Country leaders to march with Siena and the Tri-Tribes on the gates of the Glass City. The world sits on the edge of a knife. Will Adele, Tristan, Dazz, and Siena defeat Lecter and his army of killers before the Glassies wipe them off the face of the Earth?

See where it all begun with The Moon Dwellers and Fire Country
To celebrate the release of The Earth Dwellers by David Estes, the fourth book in both The Dwellers series and Country Saga, David is giving away UNLIMITED free eCopies of Fire Country, book one in the post apocalyptic, dystopian, Country Saga. A little over a year ago, David published his first young adult dystopian series, The Dwellers, and it has changed his life forever. Since then, he’s gone from struggling Indie author to fulltime writer, he’s watched in amazement as his Goodreads fan group has swelled from 300 members to over 1,600, and growing. He's been featured on Buzzfeed, as one of the '15 Book Series To Read If You Enjoyed The Hunger Games', and has just signed on to Andrea Hurst and Associates literary agency. Andrea will we working with David to expand both the Dwellers and Country Saga, taking David's career to a whole new level.
So before the two series collide in The Earth Dwellers, grab the coupon code below and download your eCopy of Fire Country from Smashwords. Share the code with your family, friends and literary inclined pets. The only thing David asks for in return is that if you enjoy the read and continue on with the series, to please leave a positive review on Amazon.com, Goodreads and blogs for each of his books that you read.

 
Visit: Smashwords
Simply use the coupon code: WM49N and download your FREE eCopy.
Expiration Date: September 15, 2013
 
The Earth Dwellers will cap off an eighteen month journey that has taken me from unknown Indie author to still-mostly-unknown fulltime Indie author. The change is a subtle one for most people, but for me it’s a dream come true. To the hundreds (and now maybe even thousands!) of readers who have come along for the ride with me, either by reading the Dwellers Saga, the Country Saga, or both, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Now down to business. There may be some of you who have only read the three books in the Country Saga or only the three books in the Dwellers Saga, and are now thinking you’ll read The Earth Dwellers, which is supposedly the 4th book in BOTH the Country Saga and the Dwellers Saga. Well, that’s awesome! However, I must highly recommend that before reading The Earth Dwellers that you read the three books in BOTH series. Trust me, doing so will greatly enhance your experience, as The Earth Dwellers will be taking significant characters from both series and crashing them together (yes, like a water country wave) into an action-packed tale of struggle and loss and hope and friendship… And maybe a little love, too.
The Country Saga
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

David Estes was born in El Paso, Texas but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was very young. He grew up in Pittsburgh and then went to Penn State for college. Eventually he moved to Sydney, Australia where he met his wife and soul mate, Adele, who he’s now been happily married to for more than two years.
A reader all his life, David began writing novels for the children's and YA markets in 2010, and has completed 13 novels, 11 of which have been published.  In June of 2012, David became a fulltime writer and is now travelling the world with his wife while he writes books, and she writes and takes photographs.

David gleans inspiration from all sorts of crazy places, like watching random people do entertaining things, dreams (which he jots copious notes about immediately after waking up), and even from thin air sometimes! Recently he’s been inspired by some of his favorite authors, like Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, and Maggie Stiefvater.

David’s a writer with OCD, a love of dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), a mad-skilled ping-pong player, an obsessive Goodreads group member, and prefers writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table.  He loves responding to e-mails, Facebook messages, Tweets, blog comments, and Goodreads comments from his readers, all of whom he considers to be his friends.
Where you can find David Estes hanging out:
Blog/website Facebook page Goodreads author page Twitter

Other Young Adult Books by David Estes:
Children’s Books by David Estes:
The Nikki Powergloves Adventures: Nikki Powergloves- A Hero is Born    Nikki Powergloves and the Power Council    Nikki Powergloves and the Power Trappers    Nikki Powergloves and the Great Adventure   Nikki Powergloves vs. the Power Outlaws (Coming soon!)

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review: Jaran


Title: Jaran
Author:Kate Elliott
Genre: Science fiction, adult fiction

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
The first book of Kate Elliott’s epic Novels of the Jaran, set in an alien-controlled galaxy where a young woman seeks to find her own life and love, but is tied to her brother’s revolutionary fate

In the future, Earth is just one of the planets ruled by the vast Chapalii empire. The volatility of these alien overlords is something with which Tess Soerensen is all too familiar. Her brother, Charles, rebelled against them at one time and was rewarded by being elevated into their interstellar system—yet there is reason to believe they murdered his and Tess’s parents.

Struggling to find her place in the world and still mending a broken heart, Tess sneaks aboard a shuttle bound for Rhui, one of her brother’s planets. On the ground, she joins up with the native jaran people, becoming immersed in their nomadic society and customs while also attempting to get to the bottom of a smuggling scheme she encountered on her journey there. As she grows ever closer to the charismatic jaran ruler, Ilya—who is inflamed by an urgent mission of his own—Tess must choose between her feelings for him and her loyalty to her brother.

Jaran is the first volume of the Novels of the Jaran, which continues with An Earthly CrownHis Conquering Sword, and The Law of Becoming.

It's books like these that keep me coming back to sci-fi. Jaran is set in a the future where alien species and humans coexist rather delicately, vying for power. This is only one side of this story, however, and a rather small side at that. The majority of the book hardly reads like science fiction at all - the protagonist, Tess, finds herself learning about and assimilating into the jaran culture, one that is markedly different from the Westernized world she has grown up in. Along the way, she builds friendships, thwarts foes, learns to wield a saber, falls in love, and ultimately discovers herself.

I loved the world of the Jaran. You would think the whole nomadic tribe concept would get stale, but Elliott delivers a world that I would almost want to live in. The women are the ones in charge in this culture, and the freedom they had to make decisions for themselves and their families was refreshing. I thought it interesting that while the women chose their lovers, the men chose their wives. The Jaran people ride like the wind upon their horses, always restless and searching for more to explore and experience. As Tess absorbs this new way of life, she really spreads her wings and becomes a far more liberated person, even though she her instinct is to hold herself back.

While the plot is slow-moving (the first half was especially long), I didn't really feel bored. I was captivated by the world and the mysteries of the characters and their individual motivations. You really get to know these characters, and they felt very real to me. Once things get going, though, things really pick up. They aren't really twists so much as bends in the road, shuffling the dynamics between characters and cultures as they learn more about one another.

Tess was an incredible main character. I really enjoyed reading about her transformation from someone burdened by her association with her infamous brother to someone free to live and love as she pleases. Bhakhtiian was equally dynamic and incredibly intense. You never quite know what he's up to or what he's really thinking, but you know for sure that this incredibly proud but very courageous man has something up his sleeve. I adored Yuri with all his babbling, and his relationship with Tess was really sweet. I didn't like Kirril much at first, but by the end of the novel I really liked him as well. Even the more minor characters had personality and none of them blended into one another. I will admit that I was a little confused with the dozens of names as more and more tribes and relationships were introduced, but it wasn't too bad.

The whole mystery involving the Chapallii didn't seem so relevant during the first half of the book other than the fact that it was why Tess came to the planet of the Jaran in the first place. I felt like the Chapallii conflict could have been a little more intense in the middle of the book, because it kind of fades before coming back full force towards the end. Still, there was definitely enough going on with the other subplots that I was entertained the whole way through.

I highly recommend this book!

*An e-copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

View all my reviews

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cover reveal: Vision of Shadows


I'm afraid this post is a week late because of blogger scheduling glitches, but better late than never, right? Anyways, here is the cover reveal for Vision of Shadows, a YA Paranormal romance coming out in December!




Is Bristol Blackburn about to meet the love of her life...or her killer? 

After the death of her parents, Bristol Blackburn's life is thrown into chaos and she's forced to move to Spirit, a small town where shadows are stirring. As she learns to navigate her new school and figures out how to keep her psychic abilities secret from her family, Bristol comes face to face with the boy who makes a regular appearance in her dreams: the gorgeous, possibly deadly, Payne McKnight. Soon she’ll find out if Payne will be the love of her life, or the end of it — and she has no idea which possibility scares her more.

And that's not even the worst of it. Strange shadows are haunting her dreams, and they're up to something that could put Bristol and the lives of everyone she loves in jeopardy.

Excerpt:
Journal of Bristol Blackburn
Sunday, March 17th

     There are times when being psychic really bites and this is one of them. Here it is, three in the morning and all I can think about is the boy who will eventually have his hands on me.
                I have no idea what his name is. We’ve never met, but I feel like we’ve grown up together. I’ve had visions of him since I was six years old. Now, eleven years later, I know we’re getting closer and closer to finally meeting. I think it’s going to happen any day now.
                And the thought scares the hell out of me.
                I know what Dream Boy will look like. In a word: hot. Dark hair that falls loosely over his deep blue eyes. He has an angel’s face and the devil’s grin.
                I know he’s got a bad boy attitude. Half the time, I get flashes of him getting hurt. Sometimes he’s playing the hero. Other times, he’s just being an idiot. Many times, it seems like there’s someone who enjoys hurting him.
                What I don’t know is what he’ll be to me.
                There are times when he seems to love me. Don’t ask me why. But he’ll look at me with nothing but love and contentment in his eyes. Earlier tonight, I had one of those dreams. One where he couldn’t keep his hands off of me. Weird that I know every inch of his body, yet I have no idea what his name is, huh.
                Then there’s the other vision. It was the first one I had of him and the one I have most often. It’s the one I woke from tonight, the feeling of his hands still on my skin.
                In that vision, he doesn’t look at me with love, but hatred. He has his hands wrapped around my neck as he slowly squeezes the life out of me.
                So any day now, I’m about to meet the boy of my dreams—literally. Then I get to see if he’s going to be the love of my life, or the end of it.
                Funny thing is, I’m not sure which idea scares the crap out of me more.


You can add Vision of Shadows to your to-read list on Goodreads:


Information about the book:
Title: Vision of Shadows
Series: Vision series
Author: Vincent Morrone
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Romance
Length: 210 pages
Release Date: December 30, 2013

About the Author:
Born and raised in Brooklyn NY, Vincent Morrone now resides in Upstate NY with his wife. (Although he can still speak fluent Brooklynese.) His twin daughters remain not only his biggest fans, but usually are the first to read all of his work. Their home is run and operated for the comfort and convenience of their dogs.

Vincent has been writing fiction, poetry and song lyrics for as long as he can remember, most of which involve magical misfits, paranormal prodigies and even on occasion superheroes and their sidekicks.

As they say in Brooklyn: Yo, you got something to say to Vincent?
Check out http://vincentmorrone.com/ where you can learn about Vincent and leave him a comment.  You can also connect with Vincent on Twitter https://twitter.com/Vince524 and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Morrrone.



You can find and contact Vincent Morrone here:

Vincent also participates in a group blog called YA Rush which consist of YA and NA Entranced authors. You can find YA Rush here:



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