Thursday, January 29, 2015

On the Edge by Allison Van Diepen

“Love is a dangerous thing.”

Life is looking up for Maddie Diaz. Her mother’s divorce from her stepfather is almost final and a letter arrived in the mail. Not only was she accepted to Florida State but she is getting a scholarship for tuition for four years. Her best friend, Iz, throws her a party after work to celebrate. After striking out with the latest guy Iz sets her up with, not her type, she leaves after 1:30am with another friend, Abby. They head off in different directions and Maddie cuts through the park. Its quiet but she sees Hector, a homeless man, talking to himself on a bench. Hector is a long time fixture in the neighborhood. Maddie is startled when she sees two gang members from Los Reyes sitting on the playground equipment. She passes by trying not to draw their ire and breathes a sigh of relief when she makes it out of the park. Hearing laughter, she turns to look over her shoulder. Maddie sees that the two gangsters have turned their attention to Hector. They start beating him and Maddie knows there is nothing she can do to help him. Several blocks from home, she ducks into an alley to call 911. The dispatcher tells her to stay on the line and to continue to watch what is happening. Hector stops moving and Maddie tells the dispatcher to send an ambulance. One of the Reyes pulls out a lighter and sets Hector’s clothes on fire. Maddie screams and takes off sprinting towards him. The Reyes run from the scene. Maddie attempts to help extinguish the flames but she keeps burning herself and is unable to help him. The EMTs arrive followed by the police. The flames are put out and Hector, unmoving, is placed in the ambulance. The cops question Maddie and she answers before thinking through the ramifications. At the police station, they have six men in a lineup before Maddie. With her wits returned, she hesitates answering anymore questions. The two men who set fire to Hector are there. Detective Gutierrez leaves Maddie alone in the room. She starts to question her safety when the detective returns. He tells her that Hector has died. Maddie tells him that suspects number one and six are the men responsible. Maddie goes home, fearful.

Maddie calls into work the next day and it seems everyone in the neighborhood has heard the news. Her mother even stayed home from work to stay with her, upset over the previous night's events. Begging off from hanging out with her friends, Iz brings some friends over to the hangout anyway. While watching television, they decide to go the the neighborhood market for some snacks. Unfortunately/fortunately, the good looking cashier is working. He watches them in the store, seemingly suspicious of their activity. When Maddie goes to look at him, he looks away. She decides that he has heard the news. Everyone but Maddie tries to flirt with him. As they are walking away, Maddie sees him watching her through the window.

A week later, Detective Gutierrez comes by to discuss the particulars of the case. She is a good witness and commends her for speaking out. He doesn't think the Reyes will retaliate but she should stick to public places and not take any midnight strolls through the park. At work the next night, Manny, a former gang member, talks with Maddie. He has been worried and offers to take her home from work. She asks him if he thinks the Reyes will come after her for talking. He doesn't think so since their leader, Salazar, has bigger problems to deal with right now, mainly a rival gang. After work, she goes with her friends to a college party. Sitting in a corner, she sees the hot guy from the market and promises herself that she will talk to him before the night is over. A girl, Julia, starts talking to her and they click, talking about college. Julia’s boyfriend Eric is throwing the party.  The two sit down and she introduces Maddie to a couple of her boyfriend's boxing buddies. One of them is the hot guy from the store. He looks at Maddie and says "hey". Julia is surprised that she knows Ortiz. After a bit, Ortiz turns and asks if she is Maddie Diaz. He admires what she did for Hector. They begin a conversation and Maddie begins to wonder about the possibilities of the two of them. She is crushed when he looks at his cell phone and says that he has to go. Later while at Denny's with the girls, Ortiz comes up in the conversation. They want to know if Maddie gave him her number. She tells them he didn't ask before he abruptly left. She vows not to go back to the store for two weeks.

While waiting at the bus stop, Maddie feels like someone is watching her but doesn't see anyone. Feeling like she is going crazy, she meets with the school psychologist. She asks if Maddie has been to the police. No, because she is embarrassed. She doesn't feel the way she did that night in the park when the two Reyes watched her. Maddie leaves. She meets up with Julia one afternoon and she notices Maddie is jumpy out in the open. She tells her about her past run ins with gangs. Julia knows just the place they can go for her to feel safe. They go to Eric’s boxing club and Maddie does. Eric is there but so is Ortiz. Julia comments that Ortiz is very nice to look at and Maddie is a bit embarrassed. After a few sparring matches, Eric and Julia ask Maddie to join them. She begs off saying she needs to work on the school newspaper. She notices Ortiz coming their way. Not wanting to be rejected again, she hurries off to catch the bus. While waiting at the stop, a black car pulls up and beeps the horn. It is Ortiz and her offers to drive her home. Maddie accepts. They talk along the way and Maddie isn’t for sure if he is flirting with her. She tries to keep her distance so as not to get hurt. He drops her off and she thanks him. Maddie is impressed that he doesn’t drive off until she opens her door.

One night while at the bus stop with a crowd of people,  Maddie’s worst fears come true. She was feeling paranoid and with good reason it turns out. She looks up when a car squeals its tires and she gets knocked down from behind. The men, definitely Reyes, beat her before dragging her to a waiting car. Everyone just stands and watches, unable to stop them. Maddie fights to remain conscious, knowing it is her only chance for escape. She is dropped to the ground and sees several guys fighting one another. The car peels off from the curb. Two guys drop down beside her and a blue eyed one tells her it is going to be okay. He picks her up and reassures her that he is there to help. She wakes up in the backseat of a car, her head cradled in someone’s lap. The guy up front asks Lobo how they are going to handle the situation. The guy holding her says her will carry her into the hospital. All of the guys have bandanas covering their faces. Lying her on a hospital gurney, he tells her that she is going to be fine and “until the next time.” Before he leaves, he tells the nurses that her name is Maddie Diaz.

Waking up in the hospital, Maddie is hurting. Her mother won’t leave her side. Iz promises her mother that she will stay with Maddie until she goes to sleep. She finally leaves so that the two girls can finally talk. When Maddie mentions the name Lobo, Iz freaks out. Lobo is the leader of the Destinos, the rival gang that has been screwing up the Reyes plans. Salazar will do anything to find out who Lobo is. Maddie has no idea what he looks like. She does knows that his kindness wasn’t faked and that she will see him again.

Who is Lobo? Why is he trying to stop the Reyes? Can he protect Maddie until she is able to testify? Who is Ortiz? Why is he taking an interest in Maddie? What happens when Maddie and Lobo aren’t able to stay away from each other? Will she discover his true identity? Can her heart survive an encounter from Lobo?

A great read for all the fans of Simone Elkeles’ Perfect Chemistry trilogy.
Visit Allison Van Diepen’s website.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

On the Fence by Kasie West

HEADS UP! Even though you don’t need to read Ms. West’s previous book, The Distance Between Us, you will recognize some characters and places from this book.

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds is known as Charlie to everyone. With three older brothers, Gage, Jerom and Nathan, and raised by a single father, she knows more about being a boy and sports than being a girl. Braden Lewis, the boy who has lived next door for the past twelve years, is like brother number four. As an only child with a verbally abusive father, he is always hanging around. He and Gage are best friends. Her mother died when she was six and her dad has never remarried. She and her brothers are ready for summer break to begin. When their father comes home from work in a bad mood, he only has eyes for Charlie. He isn't happy that she received another speeding ticket and didn't tell him. As punishment, he is going to make her pay for not only this ticket but the last one as well, plus the extra cost in Insurance. Not having that kind of money, her dad tells her to get a job. She refutes that a job will interfere with sports practices and camps. He tells her that she will have to figure that problem out because he isn't backing down.

Gage goes to Old Town with Charlie to look for a job. He is scoping out the girls while she picks up applications. Charlie goes into one store and meets Skye Lockwood. Skye isn’t hiring but she sends her down two doors to Linda’s Bazaar, a clothing store. Linda will put her to work Tuesday and Thursday nights as well as Saturday mornings for a total of eight hours. She knows that Charlie really isn’t interested in a job and that she was put up to this. Linda tells Charlie that she will need some better clothes for work. She will help her pick them out and her first two week paycheck will cover the cost. On Charlie’s first day, Linda gives her all kinds of outfits to try on. Charlie doesn’t feel comfortable  and Linda decides on what she will wear. Charlie trains for her job and at the end of her shift, she changes back into her old clothes. Linda asks her why but Charlie doesn’t tell her that she doesn’t want her father and brothers to see her this way. Linda thinks her mother would like to see her dressed up. Knowing how Linda “mothers” Skye since her mother left her when she was young, Charlie doesn’t want to see her pity when she tells her about her mother. She lies and says that her mother is a tomboy like she is.

That night, Charlie has a nightmare about the car accident that killed her mother. Not wanting to go back to sleep, she heads out to the backyard. At 3am, she is surprised to witness Mr. Lewis just coming home. Not long after, lights in the neighboring house come on and the yelling begins. She is stunned when the back door flies open and Braden comes out. Charlie watches him through the slats of the fence that separate the two yards. She speaks to him and he think it is Gage. He comes over to the fence and finds her. He sits with his back to the fence and Charlie does the same. They begin by talking around the events that led them to the  fence and the conversation soon turns into a competition of sorts about how well they know the each other. Charlie realizes that even though Braden is her brother’s best friend, she really doesn’t know everything. The competition ends when his dad starts yelling again and Braden starts to head back inside to see if he can get him to go to bed. As he is leaving, he tells Charlie that their conversation isn’t over and that he will be victorious in the end.

At work, Linda tells Charlie that she is thinking about selling makeup in the store. The distributor wants to hold a class on Saturday to drum up business. Linda thinks that Charlie will be the perfect model and will split any commission she makes with her. Charlie reluctantly agrees thinking that she can quit sooner with the extra money she could make. Since Charlie is underage, her mother or one of her parents will have to sign a liability form. Linda says that she should invite her mother to the class. Feeling guilty, Charlie continues with her lie and says that her mother is working on Saturday. She comes home to find her “four brothers” playing a game inside the house. Braden grabs her as she comes in and tells her what is going on. They need to keep quiet so as not to be found. With her pulled up against him, Braden can smell the perfume that Skye sprayed on her. Charlie notices how close they are before Gage tells them that if they were playing the game, they would both be “dead” by now. She is shaken by how close they were touching.

Working two nights a week interrupts Charlie’s running schedule and hence her ability to sleep fitfully from pure exhaustion. Charlie and her father are awkward around each other when they are alone and girl stuff needs to be discussed. Not wanting him or her brothers to know about the makeup class, she forges her mother’s signature to the consent form. Looking out the window, she sees that Braden’s light is on in his room. She send him a text to see if he wants to meet for a fence chat. Sitting back to back against the fence, Charlie tells Braden that she is feeling guilty about lying to her boss without telling him what she has lied about. Braden tells her that it is okay unless it is something that will continue to eat at her. They return to their competition/conversation and Braden mentions that Charlie doesn’t like girls who wear certain articles of clothing. She tells him that it should be a rule not to date someone like that. Braden comments that she has never given him dating advice before. Charlie admits that she knows the type of girls he would date and Braden thinks that she doesn't know what type of girl he wants to date. Charlie tries not to read anything into it.

The makeup class is a success but Charlie cannot wait to take it off. Amber, the distributor, invites her to lunch with a couple of her friends, but she begs off. Amber will not take no for an answer next week. Linda takes a photo of Charlie’s makeup to take home to her mother before she wipes it off. Looking at the photo at home, Charlie is shocked to see that she looks just like her mother’s wedding portrait hanging in the hallway. She hides the photo when Gage bursts into her bedroom. Gage says that he will find out what she is hiding one day. The next night at work, Linda presets Charlie with a check for her cut of the commission. She says that it was such a big success, she has printed fliers when Charlie’s photo on them to advertise. Charlie hopes that no one will recognize her.

Will Charlie find the courage to ask her family about her mother’s death? How does Linda discover the truth about Charlie’s mother? What does she say to Charlie? Does Charlie become more comfortable with the feminine side of her or will she just always be a tomboy? What happens when the men in Charlie’s life discover what she is doing for her job? Will they finally see Charlie as a young woman? And will Charlie be able to admit her growing feelings for the boy next door and will he feel the same way?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Alienated by Melissa Landers

Cara Sweeney is the valedictorian for Midtown High School. When her principal, Mr. Ferguson, calls her into his office to tell her the big news, she is not excited. The L’eihrs chose her over every other high school valedictorian in the United States. The aliens made contact with Earth two years ago but their interest has been nothing but secretive. They did share a cure for cancer as a gesture of goodwill. The L’eihrs technically have the same DNA as humans. Aelyx, the L’eihr student ambassador will be staying with the Sweeneys while Cara’s older brother Troy will be going to stay with a host family on L’eihr. Having just turned eighteen, Aelyx is a top student just like Cara. The exchange comes with an excessive scholarship that will pay for any college that Cara could attend. Her parents have eagerly accepted, especially since Mrs. Sweeney’s cancer was cured by the L’eihrs. Next year, Cara and two others will go spend a year on L’eihr. Mr. Ferguson lets Cara know that this is the opportunity of a lifetime for a future journalist, lots of potential blog material. This could launch her career. Aelyx will shadow her everywhere. Suddenly, she realizes that her boyfriend Eric could be a problem. He loathes the L’eihr, like most people on Earth. Mr. Ferguson tells Cara that he is proud of her and it is nearly her undoing. It’s time for her to “woman up.”

Her suspicions come true when Cara tells Eric and her best friend Tori about Aelyx coming to live with her family. Eric pretty much gives her an ultimatum as he leaves and drops a HALO pamphlet. HALO stands for Humans Against L’eihr Occupation. Even though they provided the cure for cancer, Eric believes that they are up to something. There will be a cost for the cure. They didn’t make contact with Earth for nothing. Tori thinks they are coming to procreate with humans. She doesn’t think the students of Midtown High will be happy with her new alien friend. A championship debater, Cara thinks that for the first time in her life she may have actually picked the losing side.

Aelyx, Eron and Syrine are the three L’eihrs chosen to take part in the Earth exchange program. They are less than thrilled to be going but actually have a secret mission to carry out. The humans on Earth cannot know about it. The three aliens are to meet their host families at a LEAP (L’eihr Exchange Ambassador Program) reception in Manhattan. Cara and Troy are talking while taking in the scene. The spy the L’eihr ambassador and two of the students; one female and one male. Not knowing what Aelyx looks like, she comments to Troy that she hopes the one boy is him. Wearing too tight Spanx under a too small cocktail dress, Cara is clearly uncomfortable. Troy notices and tells her to just go take off her underwear. She goes to the bathroom only to find that it has been closed by the secret Service. The President is in the restroom for an indeterminate amount of time. Looking for another one, Cara glimpses a dark alcove behind a mural. Sliding in, she hikes up her dress to wrestle out of her undergarment. Finally free of it, she is startled when a voice behind her asks if she is going to undress any further. She turns around to find a striking boy who turns out to be the missing L’eihr. Desperately trying to keep her composure, she apologizes. Up close, she is stunned by his exquisite looks but his eyes just have an empty stare.. As she is crossing the floor to rejoin her brother, she remembers that the L’eihr called her Cara. If she thought Eric was being unreasonable before, he was going to come unglued when he meets Aelyx.

Things at the Sweeney home don’t go smoothly. Aelyx is overwhelmed. Life on L’eihr was simple; everyone dressed alike, food was bland and population growth was tightly controlled. Cara’s parents are very affectionate and the home decor overwhelms him. He cannot tolerate the food. Cara goes out of her way to attempt to make him feel comfortable. When Eric and Tori come over to meet Aelyx and celebrate Cara’s birthday, things are disastrous. Aelyx bought a necklace from L’eihr as a gift and she loves it. Eric is extremely jealous and demands that she take it off. The two leave the room to talk. Tori tells Aelyx that she hopes that Cara will finally dump Eric. She doesn’t know what Cara sees in him. Aelyx wonders the same thing. Eric leaves. The two have broken up. The next morning, Aelyx tells Cara that he is sorry about Eric, her mate. Cara explains that they weren’t mates. He doesn’t know why she was with him but he knows why Eric was with her; she is a perfect human female. They start walking to school through the woods.

On the way, Tori meets up with them. She is there to keep Eric away. As the are just about to exit the woods to the school campus, the roar begins. A protest led by HALO is there while a much smaller contingent of supporters stands opposite. This is just a preview of things to come. They are greeted in the hallways by a group of five Freshmen girls who have formed a fan club, Cara gets rid of them. In history class, Cara doesn’t feel like giving the answer and when no one else answers, Aelyx does. Pretentious, he is not winning over any friends. And in the lunch room, most everyone stares but a few girls attempt to flirt. As the week goes on, more HALO posters show up around school. Nasty notes are shoved into both Cara and Tori’s lockers. Tori sticks with her friend, even when it costs her her seat on the student council and her place on the soccer team. Tori tells Cara that she needs to watch out for Aelyx, he looks at her like she is a piece of meat.

Cara notices late one night that Aelyx is in her parents’ gardening shed. She watches him from her window unseen as he goes off into the woods behind the house. She wonders what he might be up to. Aelyx cannot wait for the L’eihrs’ plan to come to fruition so that he and the others can go back home. He does start to have some lingering doubts that Cara will be to blame for what will happen and that Tori might get caught into the fallout.

What have the L’eihrs sent three of their own to Earth? What is happening to Cara’s brother Troy while he is on L’eihr? Why is Aelyx sneaking into the woods at night? What are they planning? Can Cara, her family and Tori survive the ostracism from their peers? Why do the L’eihrs have blank stares? Is Aelyx attracted to Cara? Will he carry through with the plan the L’eihrs have for Earth?

Book two in the Alienated trilogy, Invaded, will be published on February 3, 2015.

Visit Melissa Landers’ website.

Until Midnight is a free ebook short story that bridges the events between Alienated and Invaded.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

“Sometimes danger is hard to see...until it’s too late.”

Britt Pfeiffer is planning on spending the entire week of spring break with her best friend Korbie. The two girls along with Korbie's boyfriend, Bear, will be staying at Korbie's family cabin, Idlewilde, located in the Grand Teton National Park. The only way that Korbie's parents are letting Bear stay is that her older brother, Calvin, will be chaperoning. Britt isn't happy over this development considering he is the ex boyfriend she only recently gotten over. In the immediate aftermath of her heartbreak, Korbie let Britt plan their break. Britt's original scheme was to get Calvin back, hence the trip to Idlewilde. Calvin is practically a mountain man. Now, eight months after he broke her heart with a phone call and not a word since, she knows that they won't be getting back together. The trip isn't what she planned.

Stopping for gas at the SevenEleven before picking up Korbie, a pair of hands cover her eyes and the voice she has dreaded hearing fills her ear. It's Calvin and Britt is trying to act nonchalant. She asks about a girlfriend and tells Calvin that she is seeing someone. He doesn't believe her, especially when she points out an older boy at the gas pumps. The boy comes in and Calvin goes to introduce himself. Hiding behind the shelves because she knows that the gig is up, Britt is floored that the boy plays along. He seems to be a mind reader in bag he gets all of the details correct. Calvin is visibly fuming. The boy introduces himself as Mason and leaves, saying that he will see her next week. As she passes by Calvin's BMW, she takes his classic CD collection. She hopes to make him sweat wondering where it is until she gives it back. Britt leaves to pick up Korbie.

Britt isn't happy that Korbie hasn't finished packing and Calvin will beat them there. Driving along, Korbie discovers the stolen CD case and asks Britt about it. They can talk about her brother as long as Britt doesn't bring up kissing him. Opening it up, the girls discover a map of the park with Calvin's painstakingly detailed notes. Britt knows that she can use it to her advantage on her hike.  As they are driving up the mountains, dark clouds start to gather. Soon rain drops start to fall and Britt stops her Wrangler to snap the top back into place. She is soaked by the time she gets back into the vehicle. The rain doesn't slack off and the temperature begins to plummet. Soon the snow is so thick and deep that they are stuck. Britt isn't so sure that they aren't lost. There is no cell phone reception. Knowing that they need to find some shelter before they freeze to death, Korbie decides to follow Britt into the forest.

After an hour hiking, the girls see lights up ahead. They have come upon a cabin and they beat on the door for awhile before it opens. Two guys older than them are standing there and Britt cannot believe her eyes. One of them is Mason, the guy she used to make Calvin jealous earlier. He isn't happy to see her and tries to get them to leave. The other guy is ready to let both of them in. Finally, Mason relents but doesn't make them feel welcome. Once inside, it is apparent that Mason will do just about anything to get them to go. Korbie begins to flirt with the other guy, Shaun, and he is more than willing to comply. Britt realizes that Mason doesn't want them around Shaun. The tension only gets thicker as the night goes on. Korbie is jealous of Britt. She wants Shaun for herself, even though she has a boyfriend, and wants Britt to back away. Dinner is a disaster. Mason doesn't eat and Korbie complains about the food. Britt tries to diffuse the situation when she notices both Shaun and Mason trying to keep their tempers in check. Korbie cannot keep her mouth shut about Britt, Mason or the food. Mason asks the girls what kind of gear they brought with them. Britt starts going over the supplies they packed and Korbie wants to know why. Shaun stands up and tells them that they didn't plan on staying in the mountains. If he is going to get out any time soon, they are going to need their stuff. That is when Britt realizes that Shaun has pulled a gun from his waistband and is pointing it at them.

They separate the girls to question and see who has the best chance of getting them off of the mountain. Shaun realizes quickly that it is Britt and Britt needs to come up with a plan to keep both of them safe. It seems that Shaun is in charge and she tries to find out why Mason helped her out with Calvin at the gas station. She tells Mason that Korbie is a diabetic and needs her insulin. She isn't but it is the same excuse they used one summer at camp to get out of some work and hopes that Korbie picks up on it.. Britt knows that if she can convince the guys that Korbie is sick and will only slow them down, she will be safe until Calvin or Bear might be able to find her. Shaun wants Britt to lead them off of the mountain so that they can steal a car and get away. Shaun overheard Britt's comments about Korbie being sick. He wants Britt to tell Mason how to get back to her Wrangler to retrieve the supplies and Korbie's medicine. She tries to convince him that the medicine would be frozen by now and no good. Mason leaves and Britt tries to figure which one of the guys is in charge because Mason is throwing off mixed signals.

Can Britt and Korbie get away from Shaun and Mason? Did Britt convince the guys to leave a sick Korbie behind? Will Britt be able to find her way off of the mountain? Do either Calvin or Bear come looking for them? Who is the ring reader between Shaun and Mason? Will Britt be able to trust one of them? And will Britt survive this ordeal?

Visit Becca Fitzpatrick's website.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Talon by Julie Kagawa (Talon saga book 1)

Humans assume that Ember and Dante Hill are twins but the two of them aren’t human, they are dragons. Dragons usually only lay one egg at a time so instead the two are really clutchmates; they were hatched at the same time and grew up together. The two are rare among their own kind. With similar appearances, the two consider themselves to be twins. Now at the age of sixteen, Ember and Dante are being moved into the next phase of their training by Talon, the secret organization that keeps dragons safe. Leaving the desert compound of Talon behind, they are going to Crescent Beach to begin their assimilation with humans. High strung and not one who likes to be confined by rules, Ember cannot wait to live her life as her own for the summer. They will be under the care of guardians and in the fall will enter high school as sophomores.

The “guardians”, Uncle Liam and Aunt Sarah, have a house overlooking a public access beach and Ember cannot wait to get on the sand. After splashing in the waves for a while, the two spot a group of teenagers playing volleyball. Uneasy with making friends, Dante leads the way and smooths things over for Ember. The two fit in pretty quickly. As night begins to fall, the two go to a beach burger shack with siblings, Calvin and Lexi, two of their new friends. While sitting at the table, Ember feels a strange prickle on the back of her neck, like she gets when an evaluator is watching her. Turning around, a dragon on a motorcycle pulls up, in his gorgeous human form. Lexi tells the group that Gorgeous Biker Boy has been hanging around for a couple of weeks and this time it looks like he has found what he is looking for. Lexi is implying that Ember is in his sights. The guy leaves. Ember looks at Dante and his look is cold and dangerous. Dante is ready to go and they promise to meet up the next day. Walking home, Ember asks Dante what is going on. He would bet money that the dragon in the parking lot was a rogue; a dragon who has broken away from Talon and was on the run. They are considered criminals and traitors to the organization. Dante warns her not to tell Liam and Sarah because they will inform Talon. The two agree.

The next day while on the beach, Dante and Ember receive texts from their guardians at the same time. Begging off from their friends, the twins head home. Waiting for them when they arrive are their aunt and uncle as well as two dragons who are scary even in their human forms. The female announces to Dante and Ember that there has been a change in plans. Now, their summer of freedom is all but over when their education is accelerated. Every morning, the two will take the basement tunnel to a garage three blocks away where two cars await them. Ember and Dante will be taken to separate locations where their training will take place. Ember is with the Scary Dragon Lady who puts her through her paces strength training. Dante will only say that he is studying political science but Ember unloads at the unfairness of her situation.

After trying to surf one morning with no waves coming in, Ember gives up and looks for Lexi. She finds Lexi and Kristin talking to three boys who are in town from Colorado State. They are leering at Ember and her friends. She gets the  prickling notion again but doesn’t see the motorcycle guy. Her friends are ready to show them around and they ask about Lone Rock Cove. Even Ember knows that the hidden inlet a couple of miles out of town is isolated where “questionable things” occur. The boys want to go on a picnic and everyone but Ember is eager to go. Later, she wishes that she had listened to her inner dragon.

Garret Xavier Sebastian’s entire family was murdered by a dragon when he was just a toddler. He was taken in by the Order of St. George, a group of dragonslayers whose purpose is ridding the world of dragons, and trained to join their ranks. Becoming a soldier at the age of fourteen, he has partnered with Tristan St. Anthony for the past three years. A week after a successful mission, the two are called to a superior’s office. The Order has received intelligence that Talon is integrating a rare female dragon into society. They will be sent to Crescent Beach to try and find her so that she can be killed before Talon can hide her away again. The reason they are sending the two of them in is because Garret is the only experience soldier who can pass as a high school student since he is only seventeen. After several weeks scouting out the town, Garret and Tristan think they have narrowed down their search to a group of girls who hang around the beach every day. While watching them one day, the two notice that the girls ride off in a yellow jeep with some boys. They decide to follow them.

At Lone Rock Cove, everyone but Ember starts drinking. She wants nothing to do with the situation. The group begins to pair off but Ember isn’t interested in the boy, Colin, who has his sights set on her. Pawing her, Ember begins to fight him off. She struggles to keep from Shifting and revealing herself as a Dragon. Lexi tries to help her a little too late but Kristin has no interest in leaving her new boy behind. With her temper flaring, Ember pushes Colin off of her. Furious, she doesn’t see him move before he slaps her across the face. Knocked down on the sand, it is all Ember can do to control herself from erupting into her dragon form. Before she can get up, a new boy punches Colin. Soon, it’s three against one but not for long. An older boy joins the fray. The two new boys obviously spend a lot of time in the gym and the three college boys are quickly subdued. For the first time that summer, Ember realizes what Lexi keeps saying about human boys, her rescuer is gorgeous. The younger boy asks Ember if she needs a ride home. Colin starts in about Ember being a slut like all the other West Coast girls. Before Garret knows what is happening, Ember knees Colin in the groin. Tristan and Garret take the girls back to the beach.

On the ride back, Garret goes over the facts he knows about Ember Hill. He has studied her and her two friends extensively. Garret has pegged Ember to being the sleeper dragon planted by Talon, except for one glaring detail, she has a twin. Dragons only have one offspring at a time. Back at the beach, Kristin invites the two to her birthday party that weekend. Tristan sees it as the perfect opportunity for Garret to assimilate with the group.  

Will Garret go to the party? Are sparks flying between Garret, the soldier for St. George, and Ember, the dragon he has been sent to kill? What are Talon’s real motives for Ember and Dante? Are they to be trusted? Why is the rogue dragon looking for Ember? What does he want with her? Is Dante receiving the same kind of training as Ember? What happens when secrets are spilled and who will survive the fall out?

Readers will be eagerly anticipating book two in the Talon Saga, Rogue, due out April 28, 2015.

Visit Julie Kagawa’s website.

Monday, January 12, 2015

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (Starbound book 2)

SPOILER ALERT! This Shattered World is a companion novel to the first book in the series, These Broken Stars. Readers of the first book will see references to Lilac and Tarver but this book can be enjoyed without having read the first book but when they are finished with this book, they will want to go back and read the first one.

Even the new recruits to Avon know that Captain Jubilee Chase, aka Stone-faced Chase by her platoon and don't call her Jubilee, isn't at Molly Malone's for the guys. At eighteen, Lee has taken herself off of the market. But while sitting at the bar one day, she sees an incredibly handsome yet oddly familiar guy staring at her in the mirror behind the bar, just like she has been checking him out. He comes over to sit next to her and the two begin flirting. Her suspicions about whether or not he is a new recruit are proven when while flirting with him he calls her Jubilee. He tries to buy her drink and leave because he knows that she is suspicious. She stops him and continues to flirt while attempting to figure out who he is. He slips up when he refers to her as Captain Chase and Lee drops all pretense. With her hand still on his arm, she is tells him that they are going to HQ and chat. Suddenly, he has a gun digging into her ribs and she notices his tattoo peeking out of his jacket sleeve that detonates him as a local. He tells her that all he wanted to do was buy her drink and leave. Lee notices her platoon but they make an effort not to look at their commander, thinking she has finally picked up a guy. He tells her to leave her gun behind. No one in the bar will look at them. As they walk out the door, her platoon begins to make catcalls. Knowing that she is being carried off by a rebel, her troops will wish in the morning that they had stopped by the laps she will make them run. Once in the alley, Lee realizes that as a military officer captured by a rebel, she won't see tomorrow. Using the plastic sword from her drink that she swiped when she left her gun behind, Lee jabs it into the rebel's thigh and breaks it off.

Flynn is in pain and momentarily loses his grip on the captain. A gunshot rings out in the scuffle between the two and Flynn realizes it came from his gun. Jubilee is down in the mud and as he reaches for her, she knocks him off balance. They grapple for the weapon but he eventually recovers. It seems as if the captain's wound was just a graze. He walks her to the fence where he entered the base from the swamp. Flynn needed information about the secret facility he stumbled on just a few hours earlier. The new recruits didn't have that kind of security clearance, but "Avon's most notorious soldier" would. As "Fianna's biggest pacifist", he is determined to know what the plans are for it. Reaching his flat bottomed boat in the swamp, Flynn renders her unconscious by using the toxic gas fumes his people are forced to use. She looks at him furiously before blacking out. Flynn knows his desperate move has cost him. His people would welcome her head on a platter but if the captain realizes who Flynn's sister is, he won't be safe anywhere. Either way, someone will probably end up dead so Flynn must act fast.

When she wakes up, Flynn asks Jubliee about the base. She really knows nothing about it and thinks he is making it up. He is just looking for a way to end the war. But first, Flynn wants to know why Terra Dynamics would build the facility. He is hoping to find some answers as to why Avon is generations behind on it's terraforming schedule. He doesn't expect a hired gun like Jubilee to care. Biting down her anger, Jubilee asks why he thinks that, what could be gained from not making a profit on Avon. Now it’s citizens have no rights and aren't recognized by the Galactic Council. She thinks his reasoning is off but why is no one truly investing, he counters. Jubilee doesn't answer but does considers his reasoning.

After paddling through the swamp, Flynn arrives at a large island. Getting out, the two begin walking along the shore. It's not long before he stops, confused and a little annoyed. He swears that this is the spot where he saw the building but nothing is there. Jubilee begins to feel fuzzy and wonders why she is still affected by the fumes. She sees a green light and stumbles. Flynn doesn't see it. Suddenly the fog clears and an entire building surrounded by a fence briefly flashes into existence. She sees a man with a mask on looking her way. She drops to her hands and knees coughing and in pain. She looks and the building is gone but something sharp is digging into her palm. Flynn turns around and thinks she is faking. Shaking her shoulder, he has the gun drawn. Jubilee puts the object she found in her boot and Flynn goes to get her some water. She begins screaming that he has drugged her. Flynn shakes her by the shoulders and she realizes that he has dropped the gun. She goes for it and he wants to know why she can't let it rest. Flynn places the gun in his pants. Jubilee reaches for him as the blackness threatens to overtake her. The last thing she remembers is being carried by Flynn.

What is going on with the terraforming on Avon? Why has the building disappeared and what is its purpose? How will Flynn keep Jubilee safe from his people? What did his sister do that worries Flynn when it comes to Jubilee? Will the two work together or against each other? Initially attracted to each, what happens when the two finally act on it?

Book three will be published in 2015.

Visit Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner’s website.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Lux book 5)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read the first four books in the series; Obsidian, Onyx, Opal and Origin, Stop. I don't want to ruin the ending of the series for you.

"They'll need each other to survive..."

It turns out that Daedalus was right, the Luxen have come to Earth with the intent to take over. Katy is in a cabin in Idaho with Beth and two Origins; Archer and Luc, wondering why Daemon and his family left to join the newly arrived Luxen. She has no idea when or if he is coming back. So far, the Luxen have been silent since their arrival. When she is the last to discover that Dawson's girlfriend Beth is pregnant, Katy and Archer head to town to a supermarket for some supplies. While there, the unexpected happens. Super strong Luxen arrive who are able to take over human bodies. Trying to save a frightened child, Katy knowingly draws the Luxen's attention. Archer isn't happy and these new Luxen don't know what to think of a hybrid and an Origin. Battling their way out, they notice that the store and outside look as if the zombie apocalypse without the zombies has arrived. Before they can get out of the store, Katy feels a pull and Archer is unable to stop her. Thinking that she has found Daemon, Katy is blown away when it is Dawson instead. Then, Katy's world goes dark.

Dawson has taken Katy back to the mayor's house where the Luxen have set up base. The Luxen is charge has assimilated into the mayor's body and goes by his name, Rolland. The Luxen who invaded seem to know a lot about Earth but they had no idea about the hybrids or Origins. Dee is more than happy to inform Rolland all about Katy including the fact that her and Daemon's lives are not intertwined. Rolland is counting on families like the Blacks to help them out. Rolland leaves and Daemon asks Dee about Katy. Supposedly she is alone and still unconscious two days later. He wants to know why she didn't tell Rolland about Beth. Dee says that Beth is weaker than Katy and is probably long gone. That secret needs to buried for now. Daemon makes his way to the room where Katy is and becomes furious to find that she is not alone. After a confrontation, the other Luxen leaves and Daemon is devastated over Katy's condition. Haphazardly laying on the bed, Daemon is moved to help her. Touching her brings him to his knees and he begins to heal her. He stops before he is completely done, knowing that she will soon wake up and leaves.

Katy wakes up to Dee in the room. Having last seen her two days earlier, Katy cannot believe the change in his attitude. Dee states that they have seen the error of their ways since the others have arrived. She is to bring Katy downstairs when she wakes up. Walking into an office, Katy sees Rolland, a couple of other Luxen and Daemon, who won't look at her. Walking towards him, it isn't until she is directly in front of him that he looks at her. Daemon places his hands on her shoulders and moves her away from him. Rolland asks Katy if she expecting a more personal greeting. With her mind warning her, Katy says that she doesn't know what to think. Sadi, beautiful red head, says that she isn't impressed with her and trails a hand down Daemon's chest. Katy becomes unglued. Another Luxen, Quincy, goes to touch Katy and she reacts to defend herself. Rolland asks Daemon to restrain her and he does. Katy is shocked and hurt but even more so when Quincy lays a hand on her chest like she saw happen at the supermarket. The room is surprised when Quincy says that he cannot assimilate with her like other humans. Rolland wants to know what else is different about Katy and the other hybrids. Daemon tells him several things but both he and Dee lie through omission. Neither mentions that Katy and Daemon can communicate like other Luxen when he is in his true form. Katy wonders what is really going on when Daemon and Quincey get into a fight.

Why are Daemon and Dee acting aloof towards Katy? What is the real reason the Luxen have invaded Earth? Who is their leader? What will happen to Beth, Lux and Archer? Will Daedalus be able to stop the Luxen or will it be someone else? Will Katy ever see her mother again? Can life ever return to some normalcy for Katy? And will Daemon be a part of her life?

This thrilling conclusion to the Lux series ties up all of the loose ends.

Visit Jennifer L. Armentrout’s website.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ignite by Sara B. Larson (Defy book 2)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read the first book, Defy, Stop! I don't want to ruin the story for you.

King Damien's coronation was one month earlier and so far there hasn't been a single threat. Damien had to assassinate his own father, King Hector, to keep the people of their kingdom, Antion, safe from his cruel rule. Alexa is determined to keep Damien safe, even though it means keeping her feelings for him buried and a secret from him. She broke his heart when she lied and said that she didn't love him. While on guard duty one night, Deron the captain of the guard, alerts her to a messenger at the gate. The messenger claims to be from Dansii to alert them that the delegation sent by King Armando will arrive within the next two days. Armando, Hector's brother, had never send anyone but Iker in the past. Deron and Alexa are immediately suspicious. Potential plans are discussed but Damien will make a final decision in the morning. Alexa finishes her shift but not without her thoughts straying back to Damien and the hurt look in his eyes every time he looks at her. She goes to her room to sleep for a bit but will not divulge what is bothering her when Rylan attempts to ask.

Alexa is plagued with nightmares of Iker and is awakened shortly after laying down to the news that the Dansiian delegation will arrive within the hour. She enters the throne room and the tension between her and Damien is thick. She takes her place by his immediate side and watches as the doors open. Elijan has yet to return from his scouting mission. Just then, he flies through a side door and whispers in Damien's ear. Alexa can't hear if a sorcerer accompanies them but the room is stunned when a beautiful, young woman enters. Lady Vera announces that her father is King Armando's most trusted advisor and that she wouldn't be perceived as a threat to bring words of congratulations. Alexa notices how Damien is looking at her and how Vera is sizing up Alexa. She asks for a bath before delivering her message. Damien invites her to dinner and she is shown to her rooms. After she leaves, Damien requests that Alexa and Deron guard him at dinner. Jealousy subsides a bit in Alexa when she realizes that Damien does have his guard up when it comes to Lady Vera.

Immediately after the Dansiian delegation leaves, the doors unexpectedly open again to a delegation from Blevon. General Tinso, Elijan's father, is not with them. A tall man strides in between the ten soldiers accompanying and tells Damien that he has "brought peace between our two nations at great cost." Alexa notices that his voice is empty of emotion and Elijan staringat him. Damien addresses him cautiously that the cost was worth the result. No, the man states. Peace was not the result and before Alexa can react, he drives a sword through Deron's upper arm and that says that Antion will never know peace. All chaos breaks lose. Alexa drives her sword through the back of the man who stabbed Deron. The blank look in his eyes disappears. With clear eyes, he is crying and speaks in Blevonese. Alexa doesn't understand him but Damien draws her attention. She drops just before she can be struck by a sword. Turning around, Alexa sees the man turning purple. Damien is using his powers and kills the man. All of the Blevonese soldiers lie dead on the throne room floor. Alexa asks what the dying man said to her and Elijan tells her that he said that he didn't mean it, it wasn't him. Damien will stand by the peace treaty with Blevonese but every one is to be suspicious. Before the throne room can be cleaned, General Ferraun, head of Antion's army comes in with bad news. A town on the Blevonese border was attacked by a black sorcerer. There were no survivors because he was leading a group of Blevonese soldiers.

Elijan believes that the recent attack and the one years earlier on Alexa's village are connected. Not really wanting to recall the details of the day when her parents were killed, she offers up what she remembers. Alexa realizes that the black sorcerer that day looked like Iker. Elijan adamantly believes that his country isn't behind the attacks but doesn't tell Damien why he thinks that way. All Alexa knows is that she protected Damien once before, she will do everything in her power to do it again.

Shortly after dinner begins, a guard rushes in to state that the Lady Vera's dinner has been poisoned. Her taster dropped to the floor ten minutes after taking a bite.  The room is in an uproar and Lady Vera excuses herself clearly miffed. Alexa thinks she saw a slight smile on her face before leaving. Lisbet is fetched to see to the taster. Later, Lisbet declares the taster dead. In the chaos afterwards, not only does the dead man's body disappears but Lisbet's son and Damien's half brother, Max, does as well. A full scale search of the castle turns up no signs of either. Damien calls off the search inside the castle when a ransom note for Jax is found. Alexa is forced to finally get some sleep but only on the condition that she can search for Jax when the sun comes up.

After a disastrous late night meeting with Damien where she lets him kiss her before she puts a stop to it, Damien tells her the next morning what the note written in Blevonese said. In exchange for Jax's return, kidnappers want Alexa. She is determined now more than ever to find Jax for Damien.

Who is behind Jax's disappearance? Could it be the same as the black sorcerer attacks? Is it Blevon, Dansii or someone else? Is this latest attack related to the one on Alexa's village years ago? What is the truth behind Lady Vera's visit? Does Alexa discover the truth in time to prevent another war? Will Jax be returned? Can Alexa move past her feelings for Damien or will she no longer be able to fight them?

Readers will be left clamoring for the final installment in the Defy trilogy.