Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain (Into the Dark book 1)

Based on the Persephone myth with the story of Orpheus and his wife Eurydice's escape from the Underworld thrown in.

Lord Haden did the unforgiveable the day his mother died and he has been relentlessly punished ever since. When he is chosen by the Oracle as the only champion, the Court of Heirs is outraged. King Ren Hades voices his outrage that Haden and not Rowan, Haden's twin and his favorite son, was chosen. The Oracle tells King Ren that they both know why it must be Haden. He is the only one who can complete the quest that has been eighteen years in the making. King Ren relents rather than anger the Fates. He makes the ceremonial vow and carves something in Haden's arm. The Oracle faces Haden. She touches between his eyes and instead of taking a memory from him like she did in the choosing ceremony, she gives him a memory. At first, it is the story of Hades and Persephone that he was raised on but then changes to something new, he sees a girl and the Oracle tells him that the Cypher has been found. She is the one who can restore what was taken from the Underlords. Haden is the Champion fate has chosen to return her to the Underrealm. He will have six months to convince her to return of her own accord. King Ren will allow Haden to call him father, have his honor restored and be named his heir if he succeeds. If he fails and the gate between the Underrealm and the mortal world opens, he will lose much more. King Ren orders everyone to leave. The blessings and feast for the champions will not occur. Haden is also told to leave. Still dazed by the ceremony, he finds that he is filled with a mixture of grief, pride and relief. He looks at his arm to see what King Ren carved there. It is the name of the girl he must find order to restore everything that has been taken from him, Daphne Raines.

Before leaving for his quest, Rowan taunts Haden until he snaps. He is punishing a Lesser, which Haden recognizes as their half-brother, Garrick. Garrick was with Haden when his mother was dying and was sent to retrieve their father. Something happened and now Garrick is now punished by working in the Keres mines and Haden is disgraced by his father. The stronger of the two brothers, Haden quickly gains the upper hand while Rowan's followers watch. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, he strikes a bolt of lightning just next to his head. Unfortunately, his has just played into his brother's plans. He goes off alone to think before leaving and his friend Dax finds him. Disgraced from having failed his own quest, he tells Haden that his father has given him permission to join him in the Overrealm. Everyone lines up to see them off but no honor is bestowed on him as it has been in the past. Haden and Dax head towards Persephone's Gate. Now only open for 24 hours twice a year, it is the only entrance and exit that a living soul can pass through into the Underrealm. It is also the time reserved for the Champions to enter and exit the Overrealm. The key to the gate was lost when the Sky God killed the original Hades when war broke out amongst the gods. With his father missing from the ceremony, Haden asks his teacher if he can have an entrouage. Yes and Haden asks for his brother. Rowan steps forward but Haden clarifies by saying his half-brother, Garrick. Transported through the gate, they arrive in the Overrealm at sunrise. A voice greets them by saying, "Welcome to Olympus Hills."

Haden and his entourage have been greeted by a man named Simon Fitzgerald, their "guide" in the Overrealm. He leads them to a spectacular house and is surprised to see Dax back after his failed quest. Haden quickly grows tired of Simon but Dax tells him not to make him angry. He is needed. Simon shows Haden his room and makes him promise to stay there until he and Dax have worked out all of the necessary arrangements. He locks the door behind him. Later, Haden thinks he hears Simon and Dax leave the house. He soon grows impatient and feels like time is rushing past. Haden decides if he can make it back to the gate and it's still open, less than twenty four hours will have passed. He finds he window unlocked and climbs out. Haden heads back to Persephone's Gate.

Daphne Raines made a deal with her mother ever to leave her small hometown of Ellis Fields. In her almost seventeen years, she has only ventured outside of the town once. Tonight, she wants to sneak away to go to the All-Teen Talent Competition at Southern Utah University. The promise came at the age of thirteen when Daphne crashed her bike on the outskirts of town trying to leave. A broken arm, a weekend in the hospital and lots of painkillers, stuck the deal until she got her driver’s license. On the cusp of turning seventeen and no license, she is beginning to believe that she has been duped. "Uncle" Jonathan found her flyer and confronts her when she lies about wanting to go to the dance. The second place prize money would replace the cooler her mom needs for the flower shop. Jonathan says if she got first place, which is very possible considering how well she can sing, she would move on in the competition and her mother will kill them both. Besides the money, colleges and talent scouts will be in attendance and Daphne sees college as a way out of Ellis. He lets her know that her mother just wants to protect her. They hear the front door slam open and before Daphne can see if it is her friend Indie, Indie comes bursting through the back door. She drags Daphne to the front, telling her she won’t believe who is there. A Hummer limo is parked illegally in front of the store and a man and woman are standing in front of the flower cooler. She is surprised that he is dressed in leather while in the middle of the desert. When her turns around, Indie is ecstatic but everyone else goes silent. Daphne asks her father why he is there. He lets her know that a judge in California has granted him custody and she will be living with him.

Daphne's father is taking her back to the exclusive Olympus Hills community that he has just purchased a house in so that she can attend their prestigious high school and music program. Knowing that by agreeing to go with him, she is breaking her mother's heart, but it is her only escape from Ellis. Being with her father ensures that she will have money to go to college and peruse her musical dream. What Daphne is unprepared for is that she will have to audition to gain admittance to the program, in the morning. She is worried because she doesn't have three songs prepared, only the one for the talent competition. Waking Joe up the next afternoon for his scheduled interview, she doesn't stay to help him clean up since he hasn't said two words to her since they left Ellis. Having picked two more songs for her audition, she tells him that she is heading out to the grove they passed the night before for some quiet practice time. Joe begs for some time with her and offers to buy her a new amp for her audition. She relents, knowing that she could use one. Joe goes upstairs to get his credit card. When he doesn't come back or answers her, Daphne is disappointed. She straps her guitar to her bike and heads towards the grove.

In the grove, Daphne hears the music of nature and is drawn to it. She hears music in everything; people, nature. It is how she has chosen her friends based on the melodies of their voices. Deciding on her third song, she begins playing. Eventually she adds her voice and her song reverberates with the sounds from nature. When she stops, she hears a very real gasp. Asking who is there, no one answers but she knows that she is not alone. Thinking it might be paparazzi, she calls them out. A strange voice finally answers asking about her voice; what was she doing? Does he mean her singing? A refined looking boy steps out, towering over a tall Daphne, but she realizes that he acts a bit wild and untamed. Fascinated but leery of him, she notices that he has no melodies coming off of him like other people and he radiates warmth. He sees her necklace, a name pendant that was a gift, and asks if she is Daphne Raines. If he can get her to willingly return to the Underrealm with him, it would surely bring him glory to return less than a day later. She realizes that he doesn't have a camera but is shocked when he asks her to go with him. She calls him a perv, punches him and flees.

Why does King Ren seem to despise Haden so much? What happened when his mother died? Will he regain his father's respect? Can the key to Persephone's Gate be found? Why does Haden need Daphne to willingly return with him to the Underrealm? What is the real reason Daphne's father came to get her? Will she succeed at Olympus Hills High in their music program? Why can she hear music from people and things? What happens when Haden realizes that he is falling in love with Daphne?

Told in alternating chapters from both Haden and Daphne's points of view, readers will be clamoring for the next book in the trilogy. Hilarious with major surprises and twists at the end, I think this trilogy is going to be even better than Ms. Despain's Dark Divine!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Promise Bound by Anne Greenwood Brown (Lies Beneath book 3)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read the first two books in the trilogy, Lies Beneath and Deep Betrayal, Stop! I don't want to ruin Calder and Lily's story for you.

Lily continues to struggle with her newfound family identity, being part mermaid. Her father took to the water naturally, but the change is still physically difficult for her. Calder loves being accepted as a part of the Hancock family but with Jason Hancock teaching college and his family, he and Lily have decided to stay north with them rather than head to the warm waters of the Bahamas for the winter months. With the entire Hancock family coping with their new family dynamics, Calder beings to wonder what the spring migration will bring to his family, both new and old when Maris and Pavati come back to Lake Michigan.

Lily wears the sea glass pendant that once belonged to her grandmother. She has dreams in which she is reliving important moments in Nadia's life. Calder believes it is just stress but Lily insists that they are real and it drives them apart. When Maris and Pavati arrive back at the lake, Lily and Calder worst fears are realized. Daniel was able to father a child with Pavati, a boy. Initially, he is not willing to accept the possibility of raising a child for a year and then giving him back to Pavati, but Daniel becomes instantly smitten with his son. Pavati is heartbroken to have to leave him behind. Lily and Calder fear that history may repeat itself when Jason Hancock wasn't returned to his mother, Nadia, by his father. Before diving back into the lake, Pavati whispers to Lily if she got her letter. She acknowledges that she did but fears that Calder has overheard their conversation.

Why is Lily seeing Nadia's past through her dreams? Is Lily's sister, Sophie, also able to transform into a mermaid? Will Daniel be able to return their son to Pavati? And if not, what would it mean for everyone? What was in Pavati's letter to Lily? Will Lily ever be able to change her form without the physical pain? Can all of the menfolk coexist peacefully? Do Calder and Lily have their happily ever after?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

“They say she’s a killer. One day she will be.” 

Gifted, extraordinary and blessed were words Davy Hamilton had heard all of her life. With dreams and ambitions to do something with her life, no one ever told her that she would be a killer. Davy has plans to attend Julliard in the fall while her gorgeous boyfriend Zac will be at NYU. Things seem perfect until the afternoon her mother calls to tell her to come home immediately. Both of her parents are at home waiting for her. Davy detects a nervous tremor in her mother’s voice. Zac drives Davy to her house. Once there, Davy sees two unknown vehicles in their driveway. Her mother steps out of the house to greet them and sends Zac on his way. Davy promises to call him later.

Walking into the house, Davy hears her father’s loud, panicked voice. She sees the headmaster from her school, Mr. Grayson and an unknown man. She hears that the conversation is about her, not her troubled, older brother Mitchell. With his check book in hand, Davy’s father asks how much it will cost to keep Davy at Everton Academy. Mr. Grayson says that he is sorry even though Davy had a promising future. He gives them a sympathetic smile and leaves; the other man introduces himself as Mr. Pollock and informs Davy that he is now her case manager. He hands her his business card and says that he expects her in his office at 10am the next morning. When he leaves, Davy asks her parents what is going on. They tell her that she has been uninvited from Everton (their nice way of saying expelled) because she has tested positive for the kill gene.

The family is devastated. Her father is looking for someone to blame, her mother is terrified of her and her brother Mitchell gives her a pep talk and tells Davy to prove them wrong. She ignores the phone calls and texts from Zac and her best friend Tori the rest of the night. Davy and her mother go to Mr. Pollock’s office the following morning. He enters her information into the system and gives her the rules she is expected to follow. She will now be attending Keller High School, a public school in town that accepts students who have tested positive for the HTS (Homicidal Tendency Syndrome) gene. He does let her know that she has one chance. If she gets violent or hurts someone, she will be imprinted with the H on the side of her neck even if she isn’t sent to jail. As they turn to leave, a boy who can only be described as a line from Julius Caesar saunters in; “a lean and hungry look ... such men are dangerous.´ Mr. Pollock tells Mr. O’Rourke that it is nice of him to show up. He is only an hour late. O’Rourke ignores him and looks at Davy and says “Hey, princess.” Pollock tells Sean to sit. Before she even sees his mark, Davy knows that he is a carrier. She and her mother leave. Zac comes over after school and Davy breaks the news to him. His reaction is exactly as she feared; he is terrified of her just as her mother is. 

The next morning, her mother enrolls her at Keller High School. She is given an orange identification badge to mark her as a carrier. Mr. Tucci, her counselor arrives and takes her to her classroom. He is extremely nice to her and tells her to prove everyone wrong about her. Mr. Tucci lets her know that there are five other HTS carriers at Keller. “The Cage” as everyone calls it, is located in the bowels of the school. With steel reinforced doors, the classroom is divided with chain link fence from the supervisor’s desk. Mr. Brockman, a babysitter, will transfer their assignments back and forth from the classroom teachers. Mr. Brockman tells her that she can stay outside of the fence with him for a while if she wants to. Deciding to go inside, she sees that there are only four other students at the desks, three boys and a girl who Mr. Brockman introduces as Coco. Terrified, it isn’t long before a boy named Nathan sits beside her. Not wanting to tell him anything about herself, Davy comes off aloof and Nathan jumps on it. He lets her know that her life will never be the same and she better get used to it. She will be hanging out with other carriers the rest of her life. A small guy in the room, Gil, tries to intercede with Nathan and help her but ends up taking his wrath as well. Gil tells him that things will change once he gets there. Nathan leaves and Gil tells Davy that she needs to make as many friends as she can. He won’t be able to help her against guys like Nathan and Brian. He leaves and Coco reiterates what Gil said.

Having dozed off, Davy wakes up when the door to the Cage opens. She thinks the day is finally over but checks the clock. Disappointed, the sixth student finally enters the room. Davy is shocked to find out that she has actually seen him before, yesterday in Mr. Pollock’s office. Sean O’Rourke takes a desk nearest the door, next to Davy. He looks up to see Davy but his expression doesn’t change until Davy realizes that she is staring at him. Gil signals that Sean is the type of friend she needs to make. She discerns that Sean is who Nathan is afraid of. Davy is dumbfounded that a marked Sean could possibly be a good guy.
At the end of the day, Davy is the first one to leave the Cage. Reaching the parking lot, she discovers that she left her purse behind. Going back to retrieve it, she finds the room empty. Checking the contents of her purse, Davy hears someone crying. Looking for the source of the noise, she finds that it is coming from the closet. Opening the door, she sees that Mr. Brockman has Coco pinned against the wall, kissing her. Spying Davy, Coco screams for her to leave. Davy runs.

That evening, Mitchell is giving her a pep talk when Zac comes over. They talk and kiss but she can tell that their relationship has definitely cooled. He invites her to a party the next night and even though she doesn’t want to go, she agrees. At school the next morning, Mr. Brockman pays extra attention to Davy, who attempts to brush him off. Coco tells her to stay away. Later, the class is given an assignment from the Wainwright Agency, they oversee the HTS carriers. The class must pair up and interview each other to write a biography. Brian and Nathan pair up and Davy is disillusioned when Gil and Coco decide to work together. She is left to partner with Sean. In the end, she gets up to take a desk next to his and begins reading the assignment. Wondering why it is necessary, Sean tells her that they are trying to teach them some humanity. Davy begins with the basic questions. She finds out that he lives in a foster home and has no idea who his father was. He refers to his mother in the past tense. As for hobbies, he doesn’t have time with having to work six days a week washing dishes. When Davy asks why he has a job he hates, Sean tells her that not everyone lives like a princess. He says that she better come to the realization that her life has changed. Davy vows to never play into the HTS stereotype. 

Is Davy a HTS carrier or was there a mistake? Can she accept her new role on society? Will her parents ever accept what has become of their daughter? What happens when Davy goes to the party with Zac? Who is Sean O’Rourke and what did he do to be marked? Is he truly dangerous or really a good guy? Do sparks fly between Davy and Sean? What happens when society turns on the HTS carriers?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Perfect Lies by Kiersten White (Mind Games book 2)

"Two sisters who will do anything to protect each other."

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read the first book in the duology, Mind Games, Stop! I don't want to ruin Annie and Fia's story for you.

Fia told Annie to play dead; it was part of the plan. She is lying on the ground when a man checks her pulse and asks if she is okay. She whispers that she is pretending to play dead. He picks her up and tells the onlookers that his sister had an epileptic seizure. He carries her to a building and snaps at her when she asks about the plan. He seems as clueless as her. Fia's cell phone rings in Annie's pocket and she answers. She immediately recognizes the voice as Adam's. Trusting Fia's perfect instincts, Annie tells him who she is. Adam assumes that she is with Fia and promises to come pick the two of them up. The man who carried her takes the phone and talks. Annie cannot hear what the two of them say. The conversation ends and he tells Annie that Fia is not coming for her and that he is not helping Fia either. He has been following Fia and he thought she had murdered Annie and he didn't stop her. Adam and a woman rush in to Annie and ask where Fia is. Annie tells them she had a plan, don't they know what it is. No one knows what Fia will do next.

Now with the Lerner group, Annie is in hiding with them. Never staying in one place long, Annie has a vision of Fia looking fondly at a sleeping James Keane. She realizes that Fia sacrificed her freedom for Annie's and that she isn't coming back for her. Fia and James are playing a dangerous game with his father. While Annie is working with the Lerner group for a way to bring down the Keane Foundation, Fia and James are attempting to do the same thing from the inside. James is the only person she feels that she can trust. Unfortunately, Fia is given an assignment; see if the new girl is really trustworthy. Soon, Fia finds that she is willing to protect Pixie at all costs; even though she knows Fia's darkest secret.

Can the Keane Foundation be stopped? Will Annie and Fia find their way back to each other? Who is Pixie? Can Fia trust James? Will both girls find happiness and a life worth living?

Told in alternating viewpoints from both Annie, weeks leading to the big event to Fia, just hours, reader will get a glimpse that brings the sisters to a meeting with Destiny.