Friday, March 30, 2012

A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton (Gods and Monsters book two)

“A power she can’t deny. A destiny she’s determined to fight.”

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first book in the series, Darkness Becomes Her, Stop! I don’t want to ruin the story for you.

For Ari Selkirk, coming to New 2 has presented new opportunities and answered some questions about who exactly she is. With all of the good things occurring in her life; a home, friends, including the gorgeous Sebastian, and school, some truly horrify facts are uncovered. Ari is the latest in a long line of women descended from Medusa; the beautiful maiden priestess of Athena who was raped by Poseidon in the temple and was changed into a gorgon by Athena as revenge. Ari’s destiny will be that she gives birth to a daughter and becomes a monster herself at the age of twenty-one, if she doesn’t commit suicide first, like her mother. With the legacy of her father’s lineage, Ari is capable of tapping into her powers sooner. A showdown in an old New Orleans cemetery between Ari and Athena, leads to the capture of Ari’s father and her young friend Violet. Ari is desperate to get them back.

Going to class and training at the Novem school, Presby, Ari is attempting to prepare for the inevitable showdown with Athena. Appalled by what she will become, Ari doesn’t want to tap into her powers and resists. With unprecedented access to the Novem’s secret library, Ari seeks answers to her questions. She uncovers a clue and when the opportunity presents itself to find where Athena’s secret temple is; Ari and Sebastian go to check it out. Under attack by rogue vampires, Ari and Sebastian accidentally go into Athena’s temple, woefully underprepared.

What are Athena’s plans for Ari? Can her father and Violet be rescued? Will Ari be able to stop Athena? Can Ari trust the Novem? And will Ari and Sebastian be able to create a happily ever after or will Ari fall to Athena’s curse?

Visit Kelly Keaton’s website.

As for book 3, Ms. Keaton has siad she is not currently under contract but will write and publish the next in the series for her readers.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spell bound by Rachel Hawkins (Hex Hall book 3)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the Hex Hall and Demonglass, Stop! I don’t want to ruin one of my favorite series for you.

The end of Demonglass finds Sophie Mercer’s magic inaccessible thanks to the binding spell performed by the Casnoff sisters. Unfortunately, her father’s magic was removed and he and Archer Cross were locked in a cell in the basement of Thorne Abbey when the attack came. Cal attempts to rescue both of them but not before putting Sophie in the Itineris to find her mother. Cal lets Sophie know that her mother is with Aislinn Brannick. She knows that the Brannicks are “scary Irish monster hunters” dedicated to ridding the world of evil and she is the daughter of a demon purposely going to look for them.

When Sophie emerges from the Itineris, she finds herself in a forest where she is soon attacked by a girl younger than herself with red hair. Sophie tells the girl her name and that she is looking for her mother and the girl, Isolde Brannick, is shocked. Suddenly, a werewolf attacks and Sophie is without her powers. She starts to feel werid and realizes that her deceased frenemy, Elodie Parris, has possessed her body and is channeling her magic to rid them of the werewolf. Sophie passes out when Elodie leaves her body.

Sophie awakens in a strange bed to miraculously find her mother taking care of her. She learns that she was stuck in the Interis for seventeen days. In questioning her mother, Sophie learns that basically everything in her life was a lie. With a war brewing, Aislinn Brannick is extremely disappointed to learn that Sophie is powerless. She was to be the Brannicks’ secret weapon.

Why exactly did Call tell Sophie to go to the Brannicks? What happened to her father, Cal, Archer and Jenna after she fled Thorne Abbey? Can Sophie find her way back to any of them? With a war brewing on the horizon, what happens when Sophie finds herself back at Hex Hall with Mrs. Casnoff?

Join Sophie on her journey to stop the Casnoff sisters from raising their demon army as she keeps he snarky comments coming to leave the reader rolling in the aisle.

Visit Rachel Hawkins' website.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Starters by Lissa Price

“Survival is just the beginning.”

For the past year, sixteen-year-old Callie Woodland and her younger brother Tyler have struggled to survive since their parents’ deaths. With a stalemate in the Pac Rim sea battles, the United States used EMP weapons to crash computers, planes and stock markets around the world. In retaliation, the U.S. was attacked with spore-head missiles. As per usual, the elderly and the young received their vaccinations first. In the end, those between 20 and 60 who weren’t vaccinated against the genocide spores, died. “In less than a year, the face of America changed to a sprinkling of Starters like me (Callie) in a sea of silver-haired Enders, well off, well fed and oblivious.

Eking out an existence and squatting in abandoned buildings with their friend Michael, the three are continually on the run to evade capture. With hopes of providing a permanent roof over Tyler’s head, Callie pays a visit to Prime Destinations, a company that employs teens. Starters, those under 20, are paid handsomely to have their bodies “rented” by Elders, those over 60, who wish to be young again. For enough money to pay for a house for a year, Callie must agree to have her body rented three times. A neurochip is implanted in each Starter’s brain and while under general anesthesia, an Elder is connected via a Body Computer Interface. The Ender lives vicariously through the Starter and is young again.

Callie signs a contract and undergoes her physical transformation. Her first two rentals go well and are brief, but she is thrown for a loop when her third rental will be for a month. Begging a couple of hours, Callie is able to visit Tyler and Michael to let them know she will be gone awhile. All three are upset but realize the pay off will be worth it in the end. She goes back to Prime Destinations and begins her final rental.

Callie finds herself in a dance club. Initially confused, Callie realizes her renter has lost contact with her body. Attempting to conceal her true identity, Callie realizes her renter, the wealthy Helena Winterhill, is there with her fellow renter friend, Madison aka Rhiannon. She tries to play off the situation, but meets a fellow teen, the gorgeous Blake, who is interested in Callie. He doesn’t know about Enders renting Starters and thinks Callie is just a regular teenager where Helena’s acquaintances think she is just renting Callie’s body. Eventually Callie leaves and makes her way back to Helena’s house. She realizes that it’s only been a week since her last rental, far too short and something has gone terribly wrong.

Thrown into a world she is unfamiliar with, Callie tries to keep her true identity and what has occurred to her a secret. When Blake calls for a date, Callie cannot resist even though Helena’s housekeeper frowns upon it. Their outing goes well and Callie is thrilled but feels guilty about living the high life while Tyler and Michael are struggling. She sees a large sum of money in Helena’s purse and asks Blake if he will take it to Michael. Something happens and Callie blacks out. Callie later awakens and realizes a significant amount of time has passed. She considers returning to Prime Destinations to have whatever the problem is fixed. She also notices that the money she gave Blake is still in Helena’s purse. Suddenly a voice in her head warns Callie not to go to Prime Destinations and she realizes she needs to obey.

What has gone wrong with Callie’s rental? Will she be able to make enough money for Tyler, Michael and herself to live in safety? Why has Callie regained control of her body only to keep losing it? What is really going on at Prime Destinations? Will Callie be able to tell Blake the truth about herself without fear of rejection? When Callie realizes Helena’s true intentions for her body, can she stop her before it is too late?

Book two, Enders, will be published on December 4, 2012.

Visit Lissa Price's website.
Visit the Starters website.

The Savage Grace by Bree Despain (Dark Divine book 3)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, The Dark Divine and The Lost Saint, Stop! I don’t want to ruin the story for you.

“A troubled soul. An impossible choice. A final battle.”

The Savage Grace picks up six nights after the horrifying events that took place in The Lost Saint. Daniel is still trapped in the white alpha wolf form he turned into saving grace from his father Caleb and the Shadow Kings gang at their warehouse hideout. Grace is full of self-doubt as Daniel drifts from her and struggles to keep her own inner wolf in check. Her family is splintered with Jude’s return to town. Her mother suffers a nervous breakdown and is hospitalized, her father struggles to make things right not only for his children but Daniel as well. Talbot’s betrayal of their friendship over his feelings for Grace has left her angry. With Daniel howling in the woods all night and another dead body discovered, the town of Rose Crest is up in arms. When the sheriff sponsors a wolf hunt, Grace knows she must stop at nothing to help Daniel.

To make matters worse, the people Grace relies most on suddenly become unavailable to her. Will Grace be able to bring Daniel back to her? Can her fractured family be repaired? Will Caleb Kalbi and the Shadow Kings be stopped? And what will become of Grace?

Don't miss this thrilling conclusion to the Dark Divine series.

Visit Bree Despain's website.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Grave Mercy by Robin LeFevers (His Fair Assassin book one)

“Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?”
Brittany 1485

“I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch’s poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb. That I survived, according to the herbwitch, is no miracle but a sign I have been sired by the god of death himself."

Ismae Rienne wasn’t wanted even before she was born. Her mother’s efforts were for naught and Ismae’s life has been anything but pleasant. When her husband-to-be Guillo pays her father three silver coins, she briefly believes that her life may get better. After being married by a hedge priest in Guillo’s cottage, Ismae quickly realizes she has gone from the cruelty of her father to the rage of her new husband when he sees her scar. Beaten and thrown into a root cellar, the hedge priest comes back for her and takes Ismae on a journey. They eventually take a small boat to a remote island where a convent is located.

The convent is dedicated to Saint Mortain; one of the old gods who predates Christ, the patron saint of death. Ismae meets with the reverend mother and unknowingly passes the test given to her. Ismae is immune to the effects of poison. The reverend mother goes on to tell her the mission of those at the convent. It is the “nuns’ job to train those sired by the god of death. We teach them to perform their duties quickly and efficiently. Usually, we find that He has given His daughters some special skill or art. Abilities that will aid you as you carry out His work.” Ismae counters with the fact she would be committing murder, but the reverend mother states that they are the hand maidens to Death and only carry out his will. If she chooses to join, Ismae will be trained in Mortain’s arts of killing stealthily so that no man will ever be a threat to her again. Thinking of her father, Guillo and the other men and boys of her village, Ismae is intrigued until the reverend mother tells her not all of her victims will be like Guillo. She continues by saying, “He will ask for sacrifices, but it is not your role to question. Only to serve with love and obedience.” When asked if Ismae agrees, she asks what will become of her life if she says no. The reverend mother states that they will find her a kind and gentle man in need of a wife. Ismae has two options; to leave the world of men behind and train to kill them or “be handed to one like a sheep.” Ismae chooses a life dedicated to Saint Mortain.

And so Ismae begins her new life of servitude to Saint Mortain. Her training includes physical defense, ways to effectively kill a man and the arts of womanhood as well as working with Sister Serafina to learn how to make the poisons needed at the convent. Ismae’s training takes place over three years before she is sent on her first mission. She is successful in poisoning the man marked by Mortain but does run into a bit of trouble when a tavern patron strikes up a conversation and follows her upstairs. To Ismae’s horror, he seemed a bit suspicious of her, but she escapes undetected back to the convent. She is immediately sent out on a second mission. The reverend mother is sending her with Chancellor Crunard to stop another man believed to be leaking information about the duchess of Brittany to the French government. Once again successful in her mission, Ismae almost escapes but another man enters the room. He begins to question her and seems suspicious. She eventually escapes him without blowing her cover.

The next morning, Ismae is debriefing with Crunard and the reverend mother when a man bursts into the office. Ismae is shocked to see that the man from the night before is in front of her. Gavriel Duval, a member of the nobility, wants to know why Ismae keeps killing the men he is trying to get information from concerning France. Feigning interest in cooperation with the convent, Duval soon finds himself tricked into working with Ismae by the reverend mother. Neither Duval or Crunard and the reverend mother trust one another’s motives. For her final assignment before swearing allegiance, Ismae will go to the high court of Brittany and pose as Duval’s mistress to find out what she can about France’s plans for Brittany but also what exactly Duval is up to.

At the high court, Ismae finds herself woefully underprepared for the task at hand. Soon caught up in the palace intrigue, Ismae doesn’t know who to trust. When she begins to question not only her orders but all she has learned at the convent, Ismae needs to make some heart wrenching decisions. Who is loyal to the young duchess of Brittany and has nothing but the best intentions for her? What happens when Ismae’s heart begins to rule her judgment? Will she be able to trust herself to do the right thing?

Grave Mercy is an absolutely fantastic start to a great fantasy trilogy that will delight fans of Kristen Cashore, Cinda Williams Chima and Rae Carson.

The next installment of the trilogy, Dark Triumph, will be published in 2013.

Visit Robin LaFavers’ website.

Avalon High by Meg Cabot

Elaine Harrison, aka Ellie, is starting her junior year of high school away from home. Her parents, both Medievalist professors, are on a sabbatical for one year in Annapolis, Maryland. Her father is researching for a book he is writing on an old rusty sword while her mother continues her research on Elaine of Astolat. Ellie is named after Lady Elaine Asolat, the title character from the Alfred Lord Tennyson poem, The Lady of Shalott. In the poem, Elaine kills herself when Lancelot chooses Queen Guinevere over her. Ellie has grown up with the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

Ellie’s not thrilled about the move but her parents do rent a house with a pool. She spends all of her time floating in it until her mother persuades her to go jogging with her father at the local park. Quickly leaving her father behind, Ellie notices a cute dark haired boy talking with a blond girl and guy. He smiles at her and seems to say something to her that she doesn’t understand because she is listening to her iPod. Ellie goes to the park every day for the next two weeks but doesn’t run into the dark haired biy again until her first day at her new high school.

At Avalon High. Ellie quickly spies the cute dark haired boy, A. William Wagner. Will is the senior class president, quarterback of the football team and all around great guy. He finds himself drawn to Ellie even though he has a steady girlfriend, Jennifer Gold. Ellie soon finds herself drawn to Will and is invited by him to start hanging out with his inner circle of friends that includes his best friend Lance and step brother Marco. Between her World Literature teacher Mr. Morton partnering her with Lance for an oral presentation and Marco calling her the Lily maid (a reference to Elaine of Astolat), Ellie begins to think something is not quite right at Avalon High.

After a day of sailing with Will and his friends, Marco spills the beans about Jennifer dating Lance behind Will’s back. Will is actually a bit relieved and not upset. When the news hits Avalon High, Mr. Morton tells Ellie that she is too late and he will be leaving. She asks him what and he tells her once again that evil has won out over good and King Arthur will not come back into power. When Mr. Morton informs her of his belief that Will is the reincarnation of King Arthur, Ellie decides to figure out what is really going on before it is too late.

Is it really impossible that King Arthur’s court has been reincarnated in Annapolis? And will history repeat itself once again?

This was a cute read that had me sucked in. A bit slow at the start, the action leads to a climax at the end along with a few unexpected surprises.

Visit Meg Cabot’s website.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (Delirium book 2)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read Delirium yet, Stop! I don’t want to ruin one of my favorite series for you.

Lena Haloway has escaped from Portland into the Wilds with the help of her uncured boyfriend Alex, but at a high cost. Once Lena is over the fence, she turns around to see a bloodied Alex wasn’t able to cross. Heartbroken, she stumbles through the Wilds for one week before she is found by a girl slightly older than her named Raven. Battered and weak, Lena is taken to their small homestead/hideout to regain her strength. She slowly recovers and soon becomes an integral member of their small society. As time goes on, her memories of Alex, Hana and her old life in Portland are replaced by new friendships and survival skills.

As winter approaches, Raven and the others begin their plans to move south before bad weather sets in. Hunter, Tack and a few others scout ahead and bury food along the way before everyone moves south as a group. But before the scouts can return, Lena receives a message from their supports in Portland to run. The bombing begins, not everyone escapes with their life and no one leaves prepared. They struggle with their move south as the snow sets in. Arriving at their last camp without finding Hunter and Tack, Lena and Raven quickly realize something is terribly wrong just before the Scavengers strike.

This is where Ms. Oliver’s telling of Lena’s story begins to get a little confusing at first. Told in alternating chapters if Then (Lena’s time in the Wilds) and Now as Lena’s story continues being undercover in New York City with Raven and Tack. The DFA, Deliria Free America, is holding a major rally in the city before its leader, Thomas Fineman, has his son Julian undergo the cure. For Julian, the procedure may very well be deadly after the numerous surgeries he has endured in his battle with a brain tumor. On the day of the rally, Tack tells Lena to get close to the stage and never let Julian out of her sight. Just as the rally begins, the Scavengers begin their raid. Lena notices some of the bodyguards pull Julian through a back door. Lena decides to follow and quickly realizes she is in trouble when she discovers the bodyguards dead before blacking out. She awakens locked in a room with Julian. During the next two weeks, Lena and Julian bond over their predicament and against all odds, find themselves dependent upon one another.

Once I reached the part in the book where Lena is in the Now with Julian, I was totally sucked in and had a hard time putting the book down. I needed to see where Lena’s journey took her. Who was behind the raid at the DFA rally? What happens between Lena and Julian while they are alone? Who exactly are Raven and Tack and what is their connection? Will Lena ever see Alex or Hana ever again? And whatever happened after her mother escaped from the Crypt?

Needless to say, Lauren Oliver leaves Pandemonium readers with one heck of a cliffhanger to be resolved in the final book of the trilogy, Requiem, out in 2013.

Visit Lauren Oliver's website.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

“Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.”

For the past 264 days, seventeen year old Juliette had lived in isolation in an asylum since she accidentally touched someone and killed them. Her parents agreed with the reestablishment; the group in charge of reconstruction the declining world, and locked her away for her own good. A cold concrete cell with sparse bedding is now her life with brief glimpses of the outside world through a small window. Even though the environment has deteriorated and humans are struggling to exist, Juliette still longs to be outside amongst the chaos. Between writing in her stolen notebook and hoping to see a long forgotten bird through the window, Juliette longs for a normal existence.

On day number 265, her cell door opens and a boy her age is shoved in. Not knowing what to think, Juliette attempts to educate him in the ways of their shared existence, as simple as they are. He is cruel to her at first but after their first night together; he immediately warms up to her out of pity. Juliette will not look him in the eye but quickly realizes she knows him from somewhere. Eventually, they exchange names and Juliette remembers she first met Adam in the third grade. Out of fear for Adam’s safety, Juliette tries to distance herself as he attempts to get closer to her. She desires his touch even though she knows she shouldn’t.

After two weeks alone with Adam, their cell door is thrown open for several guards with guns drawn to enter. Juliette quickly realizes that they are there for her and that Adam has kept his true reasons for being there a secret. Adam is a soldier with the reestablishment and he was sent to spy on her. She is taken to Warner, a leader in the Reestablishment who desires to use Juliette and her power as a weapon.

Who did Juliette touch to be locked away? How does she know Adam and what is their connection? Are Warner’s plans for Juliette strictly platonic? Can Juliette escape and make a life of her own? And will Juliette ever get the human touch, love and acceptance that she carves so much?

Book two in the series, Unravel Me, will be published Feb. 5, 2013. Loved how and where the book ended and cannot wait for Unravel Me to see how Juliette grows as a person. Ms. Mafi’s writing is fantastic, lyrical and to me ranks right up there with Holly Black and Lauren Oliver as one of my favorite authors to read.

Visit Tahereh Mafi's website.