Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Outside by Laura Bickle

Author: Laura Bickle
Title:The Outside
Series: The Hallowed Ones #2
Publication: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Harcourt
Genre:  Paranormal YA
Pages: 320 pp.
Source: Blog Tour/Netgalley

One girl. One road. One chance to save what remains…

After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.

And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?

In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?

Katie's kicked out of her community for harboring an outsider and breaking the laws of her people. Shunned by her loved ones, she sets out with her companions Alex and Ginger outside as they travel north in hopes of locating more survivors and holding on to the hope that humanity isn't completely lost to the darkness.They learn many theories add to the cause of this vampiric outbreak but some think science is at fault and others believe it's just pure evil and signs of the end. 

Katie's experience in the outside world is nothing like the what she envisioned for her Rumspringa. There is no carefree discovery or movies when she's constantly on the run from vampires. Her faith is constantly tested throughout her journey and she learns that maybe it's possible that there is more than one way that God communicates and uses his people;that darkness can leak into the most sacred of places. It's interesting to watch Katie struggle internally to hold together the pieces of the life she's known and even as she kills vampires, her ability to remain faithful and kind makes her an endearing character to root for. I think Alex is good love interest for her, he doesn't try to stifle her spirit, even as she gets herself caught up into sticky situations. He supports her and understands her need to believe in her faith. 

This story made me think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer but Amish style. Katie kicks but when she gets going and Alex isn't too bad himself. On another note, it was enlightening to learn about the Amish lifestyle, personally I think I would've rebelled as well against Elders that refused to see the evil and take precautions to save their people. Overall, I think this is a good story about faith, love, and survival.



Copyright © 2013 by Laura Bickle


The hard part about the end of the world is surviving it, surviving when no angels scoop you up to fly you away to heaven. God doesn’t speak. But I kept asking. 

“Unser Vadder im Himmel . . .” 

My breath was ragged in my throat, my voice blistering around the words of the Lord’s Prayer. I spoke in Deitsch, the way my people always did when we prayed. It didn’t matter if evil understood me, only God. 

“. . . Dei Naame loss heilich sei . . .” 

I opened my arms, my coat and dark skirts flapping around my legs and wrists. I stared out at a field, holding a sharpened pole in each fist. One had been a garden hoe in a previous life and the other a shovel. The metal had been stripped from them, but they were still tools. Weapons. A crumpled piece of paper was fastened to my chest with straight pins, the writing growing faint and illegible in the gathering darkness. 

Darkness with eyes. 

“Dei Reich loss komme . . .” 

I strained to see into the night. Shapes seethed. I knew that something terrible was out there. The bullfrogs had stopped chanting and the late-season crickets had gone silent. I heard crunching in leaves, saw something shining red. 

“Dei Wille loss gedu sei.” 

My knuckles whitened on the wood in my hands.

“Bonnet, c’mon!” 

My head snapped around, my bonnet string slapping my chin. I could see two familiar figures retreating behind me. A short, round woman scurried through the field. Her platinum hair was bright against the night, almost appearing as a moon bobbing along churning water. She reached a nervous white horse who was pawing at the earth, clambered clumsily onto its back. Between her and me, a lanky shadow in a dark jacket gestured at me with white hands. Alex. 

Bonnet. That was Alex’s nickname for me. My real name is Katie. 

Alex said that God did not rule the end of the world. Alex said the end of the world was ruled by sun and Darkness. By time. And time was one thing we had very little of. The light had drained out of the day, and we were vulnerable. 

I saw Alex taking off his jacket, wading through the grass toward me. I swallowed. That meant that he sensed the same thing I did, that the hair also stood up on the back of his neck, that he was ready to fight. 

He stripped off his shirt. My heart flip-flopped for a moment and my grip on the stakes slackened for a fraction of a second. His pale skin was covered by black sigils that seemed to blur in the twilight. It was cold, but for them to work well, the creatures pursuing us needed to see them —the same reason I’d pinned the petition to God to my chest. 

I worked the prayer through my teeth, one eye on the horizon, at the roiling shadows in the east. 

“ . . . Uff die Erd wie im Himmel.” 

“Damn it, Bonnet.” He grabbed my elbow. He tore the white bonnet off my head, stuffed it into his pocket. 

I snatched at the strings. “Don’t . . .” 

“This thing makes you a target. I could see you from all the way back there.” He stabbed a thumb at Ginger’s retreating figure on horseback, melting into the grass. “It shines like a beacon.” 

I lifted my chin. “Ja. Maybe it should.” 

This was an argument we repeated often. Though the end of the world had come, I adhered to the old ways. I was born Amish, and I would die Amish. 

But hopefully not tonight. 

Alex’s eyes narrowed and he looked over my head. I could feel his hand grow cold through the sleeve of my dress. 

“They’re here,” I breathed.

He swore. 

Alex pulled me back, back into the tall grass disturbed by a breeze. 

My breath hissed behind my teeth: 

“Unser deeglich Brot gebb uns heit, 
Un vergebb unser Schulde, 
Wie mir die vergewwe wu uns schuldich sinn.” 

I ran. I felt the grass slashing around my skirts as I plunged into the gathering night. The landscape slipped past, and I had the feeling of flying for a moment, of hurtling through that striped shadow in which no crickets sang. 

But I knew that a more solid Darkness gathered behind me. I could feel it against my back, the way the air grew thick and cold, the way it felt above the earth right before first frost. 

The last lines of the Lord’s Prayer slipped from my lips: 

“Un fiehr uns net in die Versuchung, 
Awwer hald uns vum ewile. 
Fer dei is es Reich, die Graft, 
Un die Hallichkeit in Ewichkeit . . .” 

Evil hissed behind me, crackling like ice popping over a fire. I felt the thread of a spider web slip through the grass, breaking on my hands. 


I turned, swinging the hoe in an arc around me. It whipped through the grass with the sound of a card trapped in bicycle spokes. A pair of glowing eyes leapt back, but claws scrabbled around the makeshift stake. I lunged with the second weapon in my left hand. The point struck home into something solid, and that something shrieked. I fought back the urge to shudder. 

Nothing human made a sound like that. It was a sound like a bobcat wailing at sunset, mourning the loss of the day. Only this shadow mourned the loss of flesh. 

Alex, ever the anthropologist, had a theory about that sound. In the calmer daylight hours, he speculated that this shriek had been at the root of the banshee myth, in an earlier, more orderly age. Once upon a time, when there had been civilization. I’d never heard the myth before, but I knew that inhuman sound all too well now. 

The stake broke off in my hand, and I stumbled back with only splinters in my fist. Something swept up from the grass and ripped at my sleeve with claws. 

I howled, smelling my own blood. The scent would bring more of them. 

I twisted in its grip. The letter pinned to the front of my dress rustled and the creature with the glowing eyes hissed. It loosened its hold, enough for me to jam the ruined stake into its face. 

I was no longer a pacifist. I meant to kill. 

I was no stranger to death. We Amish lived close to the earth, under the watchful eye of God and all of his kingdom. I had helped with the butchering of pigs, mourned the loss of dogs at my kennel in whelping. I had stood at the bedsides of my grandparents when they died. I’d held my mother’s last child, a stillborn, and witnessed a neighbor die during child-birth. Those things had happened in normal life. 

But when life stopped and God’s kingdom fell into shadow, I saw death in an entirely different fashion. I had dressed the bodies of women in my community for burial, only to be forced to cut their heads off before daylight’s fingers of sunshine had left them. I had seen children torn asunder, reduced to unrecognizable smears on a ceiling. I had slain men who were once like brothers to me, impaled them, and burned them. 

I had seen too much.  

I had seen true Darkness. 

My heart thudded against the fabric of my dress and the holy letter pinned there —small defense against the undead, but still a defense. I thrust down with all my might to jam the stick into the face of the creature twisting beneath me in the grass. 

This was not murder, I had decided. This was doing the Lord’s dirty work. Putting the dead back in the earth. 


I glanced up to see a pale face with a gaping maw hurtling toward me. I saw fangs, red eyes, little else. I flung my right hand with my remaining stake up before me, but the creature slammed against it, buffeting me back to the sea of grass. I landed on my backside, my feet tangled in my skirt. Its cold shadow passed over me, blocking out the pinpricks of starlight in violet sky. It smelled like blood. 

“Food,” it rasped. “Lovely food . . .” It reached toward my face, gently, reverently, almost as an intimate might. It was a very human gesture, rendered savage by the greed in the red eyes. By hunger for the blood that slipped down my arm and pooled in my palm. 

“Get away from her!” 

A black and white blur passed between me and death. Alex. From behind, I could see the familiar tattoos stretching across his skin: a Djed pillar, sacred to Osiris. And on his chest, an ankh made of scars, which he told me was the symbol of eternal life. 

It was nothing like the carefully scripted letter pinned to my dress. It was called a Himmelsbrief, and had been made for me by my community’s Hexenmeister, a petition to God on my behalf. But any symbol of divine power behaved in the same way, the way that crucifixes and holy water did. God, in whatever guise he chose, did have some power over these creatures. 

The vampire reached for Alex with an expression of longing. 

“Food,” it whispered, with a nearly palpable sorrow. 

But its hands were stilled just above the ankh burned on Alex’s chest. It was as if this was an invisible barrier it could not cross. The vampire froze in puzzlement, and I could almost imagine that some thoughts still rattled around its head as it had learned what was safe to eat and what was poisonous. 

“Not food,” Alex responded. There was a subtle jerk at his elbow, and the flash of a silver knife plunged between the vampire’s ribs. The creature clawed, scratching at the edge of the ankh. I could hear the sizzle of his flesh, a sound like bacon frying. Black blood flowed over Alex’s wrist. He shoved the vampire down to the grass, and I could see his knife slashing, the black droplets of vampire blood clinging to the tips of the grass stalks like dew. I was still mystified by it, by its lack of redness, by its soft, inklike consistency. It smelled like iron, though, which was enough to tell what they had once been. Alex speculated that iron oxidized in their blood, darkening it. 

That black blood was on my wrist. I smeared it against my skirt as Alex’s fingers wound around my hand. “We’ve got to go. There will be more.” 

I nodded. This was no time to contemplate biology or humanity. This was time to act, to move. To survive. 

We ran, hand in sticky hand, sliding through the grass like ghosts. 

I could see the bright helmet of Ginger’s hair and the stark white figure of the horse far before us. We’d given them a head start, which was good —Alex and I had the only really effective weapons against the vampires. Alex had his tattoos and I had the Himmelsbrief. They were more of a deterrent, Alex said, like spraying mace at a perpetrator. The startlement they created sometimes gave us enough opening to run away. Or kill. 

“Where are we going?” I asked, casting my gaze about the dark landscape. It was suicide to be out in the open like this. “We can’t fight until daylight.” 

He shook his head, mouth pressed in a flat line. “I don’t know. The sign said that there was a church back there, but all we saw was burned timbers. Useless as shelter, if it was desecrated by the vamps.” 

“We’ll have to find someplace else,” I decided, nodding sharply to myself. 

“How do you feel about sleeping in trees?” His face split open in a lopsided grin, his teeth white in the darkness. There were some at the horizon we could possibly reach, but none in the field. 

“I’m quite sure the vampires can climb trees.” 

“Maybe not if we set fire at the roots . . . they don’t like fire.” 

I made a face. “I don’t much fancy the idea of being roasted alive in a tree.” 

“Reminds me of a movie, The Wicker Man . . .” he began. 

I glanced at him blankly. I had never seen a movie. 

“Never mind, then. I’ll tell you later.” 

Ginger’s horse was climbing a slope ahead of us. This part of the meadow wasn’t cultivated, and the grass and weeds swelled over this rill in the earth, perhaps five feet tall, stretching east to west. 

My skin prickled. In the far distance, I could see more glowing eyes gathering. They had heard us. They smelled blood. I pulled at Alex’s sleeve and pointed. 

Ginger had reached the top of the hillock. She was panting, and her glasses slid down over her nose. She was dressed as an Amish woman, but she was not one of my people. She was an Englisher, like Alex. She was an old friend of my family who had lost everything: her husband, her children. And she was the only part of my old life I had left. I clung to her. 

The horse stared to the south. His ears flattened, and his eyes dilated black as obsidian. His nostrils flared, and his tail swished back and forth. He pawed the earth, pacing nervously. I had found him back on Amish land with an empty saddle, smeared in blood and with his former rider’s boot still in the stirrup. We had discovered that the horse had a sixth sense about the vampires. Perhaps he could sense them the way dogs could sense earthquakes. Or perhaps he was merely a nervous horse and vampires were everywhere. 

Alex had named him Horus, after an Egyptian god of the sky who defeated evil. Ginger and I just called him Horace. 

“They’re out there,” Ginger said, staring out at the dark and patting Horace’s sides soothingly. 

“Ja. They’re coming.” I climbed up the hill, gazing at the flattened trail of grasses we’d left. 

Alex scrambled to the top of the hill. Ginger and I made to rush down the slope on the other side, but he said: “Wait.” 

I looked up at him, my brows drawing together. “What do you mean?” 

Alex shook his head. He squatted, and squinted to the beginning and the end of the strangely squiggling formation of land. 

“Alex. We’ve got to go.” Now it was me urging him on. 

He slipped on his jacket. “We wait here.” 

Ginger’s head popped up above the grass line like a platinum gopher. “What are you talking about? We’ve gotta get moving.” She tugged at Horace’s reins, but he would not budge. He stood on the pinnacle of the hill as if he were a statue. 

Alex shook his head, and he pressed his hands to the ground. He was smiling. “No. We wait here. On the hill.” 

I bit my lip. Perhaps the stress of running from vampires for the last several weeks had caused Alex to finally lose touch with reality. Perhaps he had some desire to make a last stand. I confessed to myself that I felt like that often. I hadn’t been baptized, so I wouldn’t get to heaven, but it was sometimes peaceful to imagine not existing in this chaotic world any longer. I didn’t think I’d be sent to hell, but I just wasn’t sure. 

In any event, I wasn’t quite ready to test theology. 

“Alex,” I said. “We need to go if we’re to have any chance of—” 

“Do you trust me?” 

He crouched on the top of the hill, looking at me with an infuriatingly jovial smile. I felt myself frown, but I reached down for his hand. Behind me, Ginger sighed and scrambled up the grass bank. 

We sat on the crest of the little hill, looking down, as dozens of glowing eyes converged upon us. 

“We’re screwed,” Ginger said. 

I didn’t disagree with the sentiment. 

Those luminous eyes drew near. I counted more than two dozen pairs. My heart hammered, and my mouth felt sticky and dry. I fingered the rough edge of my makeshift weapon. I might be able to kill one vampire with it. Not dozens. 

Jagged silhouettes of people pulled themselves from the grass, like spiders extricating from webs. I braced myself, clutching my puny staff. Their eyes swept up the hill. I expected them to rush to us like water in a trench after a rainstorm. 

They reached up with pale fingers that smelled like metal. Their lips drew back, hissing, and I could see the thirst in their eyes. But they made no move to climb the hill. 

I sidled closer to Alex. “What’s stopping them?” 

“Holy ground,” he said, grinning. 

My brows drew together. I didn’t understand. I saw no sign of any human habitation here. No church. No graveyard. Just this oddly shaped hill that rose up out of the field.


Ginger started laughing behind me. She turned on her heel and surveyed the sad little hillock. “I see it now,” she said. She huddled in closer with us when a vampire snarled at her.

“See what?”  

“We’re on an Indian mound,” Alex said. “A holy site built by any one of a number of tribes in this area. They were used as burial mounds, ceremonial sites, astronomical measurements . . . some, we have no idea what for.” 

“How did you know?” It looked like just a rill in the land to me. A bump. 

“See how it’s sorta shaped like a snake?” He gestured to the west. “It’s hard to see underneath the tall grass, but notice how it undulates in the ground?” He swished his hand back and forth like a snake swimming, and I could see some of the suggestion of a reptile in it. 

“I saw a mound one time that was shaped like a big serpent eating the moon.” He cocked his head and started to walk off down the snake’s back. “I wonder if this one is like that . . .” 

Ginger snagged the back collar of his jacket. “No exploring in the dark with the monsters down below.” 

“What do we do now?” I leaned on my staff. The hissing and bright eyes below were unnerving. Pale fingers combed through the grass. 

Alex sat down. “We wait for morning.” 

I sighed and knelt down to pray. I could feel the chill of the earth beneath my knees, dew gathering. My skin crawled at the thought of the creatures, only feet away. I shut my eyes, trying to prove that I trusted God. He had kept us safe so far. He would keep us safe as long as it suited his purposes. 

That was part of what I believed —what the Amish believed. We believed in Gelassenheit — surrendering ourselves to God’s will. It was difficult, at times like this. I struggled to keep my eyes closed, seeing crescents of light beneath my lashes; I could not quite make myself trust the darkness. 

“Unser Vadder im Himmel . . . 
. . . dei Naame loss heilich sei . . .” 

“Damn. I wish I had a harmonica,” Alex grumbled. 

About the Author: 

Laura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science, and when she’s not patrolling the stacks at the public library she’s dreaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs (she also writes contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams). 

Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and six mostly-reformed feral cats.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday #31: Evertrue by Brodi Ashton

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
Expected Release: January 2014

Amazon Synopsis
Inspired by the Persephone myth, this stunning conclusion to the Everneath trilogy—whose captivating first book earned a VOYA Perfect Ten of 2011 and a Whitney Award—explores the resilience of the human spirit and the indomitable power of true love.

Now that Nikki has rescued Jack, all she wants is to be with him and graduate high school. But Cole tricked Nikki as they journeyed through the labyrinth of the Everneath together, and now she's begun the process of turning into an Everliving herself. Nikki and Jack begin a desperate attempt to reverse the process, using everything they can think of. Even Cole has become an unlikely ally—but for how long? Nikki needs to feed on Cole to survive, Cole needs Nikki to gain the throne in the Everneath, Jack needs Nikki because she is everything to him—and, together, they must travel back to the Underworld to undo Nikki's fate and make her mortal once more.

Will Nikki be forced to spend eternity in the Underworld—or does she have what it takes to bring down the Everneath once and for all?

  What are you waiting for?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Author: Kendare Blake
Title: Antigoddess
Series: The Goddess War #1
Publication: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Arc via Aroundtheworldarctours

Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god. 

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning. 

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out. 

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

The gods are dying. Athena and Hermes are searching for answers to what's happening to them and hope to find a way to stop it. Cassandra is pretty good at predicting things but she knows that someday it will eventually change. She keeps having these horrifying visions of torment and death but is unaware of what all means. Yet, as clues lead the gods to her, she will soon discover the truth about who she is and why they want her. Time’s ticking and the battle lines are drawn, can Cassandra tip the balance before all is lost?

Cassandra is an interesting character with a powerful gift. I like how the author chose to make her into something more than just a prophetess. Cassandra seems carefree and in love with her boyfriend, Aidan, who doesn't seem frightened of her ability to see the future. Aidan appears to be the perfect guy but he has secrets that could change everything for Cassandra and their relationship. He tries his best to protect her but only makes things more complicated and in the end the stakes are high. I liked getting to see Cassandra grow and take charge instead of letting Aidan shield her. 

It's cool that the gods have taken on more modern identities and some of them seeing humans as more than pawns. I loved the back and forth dialogue between Athena and Hermes; you can really tell they have a unique relationship. Hera is consistent tyrant as she usually is but the god that surprised me with the side her chooses, is Poseidon. I really liked how he was in Percy Jackson. Any who, the characters are different than what you would expect because ultimately, the gods especially, are on the same playing field. What happens next could change everything and wipe out humanity because when the gods go to war, they do it big. 

I'm curious about why they are destined to die these horrific deaths and the part that Cassandra will play in discovering or fixing the problem. By the end of the story, the author gives a glimpse as to what Cassandra's purpose is but I'm intrigued to see how she will develop in the next book. Overall, the story moves at good pace and I think anyone who likes mythology will enjoy this new take on the gods. As I'm mythology lover, I will surely check out the next book.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Sunday Post #31

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. 
I'm also linking up to Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Review this week.

Last Week on the Blog
My Sunday Post #30
The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson ~ Review
Waiting on Wednesday #30: Perfect Lies by Kiersten White
Sylo by D.J. MacHale ~Audio Review
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas ~Review
Elysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson ~Review
Tenative Schedule for this week 
My Sunday Post #31
Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
Books to Movie Giveaway Hop
Waiting on Wednesday #31
The Outside by Laura Bickle ~ Tour
The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke
New This Week 
Publisher via Netgalley
Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group

Thanks to PYR and Little Brown & Co.
August 29, 2013 Spotlight & Review 

October 20-26, 2013

 Hope you all have a great week! :)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Elysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson @torbooks

Author: Suzanne Johnson
Title:Elysian Fields
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans #3
Publication: August 13, 2013 
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Adult Paranormal, Fantasy
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

An undead serial killer comes for DJ in this thrilling third installment of Suzanne Johnson’s Sentinels of New Orleans series

The mer feud has been settled, but life in South Louisiana still has more twists and turns than the muddy Mississippi. 

New Orleanians are under attack from a copycat killer mimicking the crimes of a 1918 serial murderer known as the Axeman of New Orleans. Thanks to a tip from the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, DJ Jaco knows the attacks aren’t random—an unknown necromancer has resurrected the original Axeman of New Orleans, and his ultimate target is a certain blonde wizard. Namely, DJ.

Combatting an undead serial killer as troubles pile up around her isn’t easy. Jake Warin’s loup-garou nature is spiraling downward, enigmatic neighbor Quince Randolph is acting weirder than ever, the Elders are insisting on lessons in elven magic from the world’s most annoying wizard, and former partner Alex Warin just turned up on DJ’s to-do list. Not to mention big maneuvers are afoot in the halls of preternatural power.

Suddenly, moving to the Beyond as Jean Lafitte’s pirate wench could be DJ’s best option.

D.J. is now the sole sentinel for New Orléans, having proved herself capable by solving the mer dispute and mysterious murders. Now, there is a new copycat killer that the police are investigating but once D.J. senses traces of paranormal residue, it becomes her problem. The Axeman keeps coming back faster and she's his next victim. D.J. has other problems with the men in her life and trying to juggle it all becomes overwhelming with the Elders monitoring her and the elves trying to get to her. One thing is clear, someone wants her dead. Incidents begin to spiral out of control and D.J. finds herself bound and bruised but she has to figure out a way to stop the necromancer before the Axeman catches her. Everybody wants her but only one can have her heart.

D.J. has talent for attracting trouble not that it's her fault. She doesn't know much about her wizard abilities and she tries to learn more about her elven powers. Randolph her neighbor keeps pressuring her to speak with and she still believes he's hiding his true identity somehow. The Elders want her to practice using her staff but being that her aim is off, leads to a few happy accidents. Jean LaFitte remains his sexy self and always ready to come to her aid. Jake has become angrier and more volatile and he presents a danger to himself and those around him. Then that leaves Alex, who is no longer he co-sentinel and can pursue D.J. even though she seems hesitant to lose the friendship they have. This book has so much going on that I never got bored and loved the verbal tango between D.J. and all her male interests. Johnson crafts the romance, action and mystery in a way that grabs your attention. The end surprised me because I wasn't expecting that particular person to mastermind the killings and I didn't feel the punishment was sufficient enough considering they tried to kill D.J. The plot moves steadily and the characters are so fun to read. Overall, this is a great continuation of a fantastic story. Love it!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas @BloomsburyPub

Author: Sarah J. Maas
Title: Crown of Midnight
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Publication: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.
But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice. 

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

I love this girl! Celeana has the perfect balance of deadliness and vulnerability. She's just returned from an assassination assignment for the king and she knows how to make a big entrance. Celeana begins this book with a severed head and hand, proof to the king that she is his loyal servant. The prince heir Dorian and Chaol think her unfeeling because she kills so easily but what she hides will protect them from backlash if the king discovers what she's really doing. She's not the only one keeping secrets her friend Nehemia holds important information from Celeana that will set events into motion that will change her. 

The romance between Chaol and Celeana is sweet. They are completely oblivious to what everyone else sees when they are together. Dorian harbors jealous feelings towards what he perceives but he still wants her. Chaol is a good man bound honor and loyalty but sometimes that will lead to unwanted sacrifices, so much to the point that he risks any chance of being with Celeana. The king is dangerous and out for blood. 

The king believes that there is a group of usurpers trying to kill him within the city. This baffles Celeana because who would do such a thing so close to the castle. The king has a list the first name is like a blow because it's someone she knows. Determined to find out if the king's assumptions are correct, Celeana begins investigating the members of this group and what she finds will lead to more trouble, deceit and betrayal than she bargained for. 

Murder, mystery and romance... so much happens in this book with constant action. Celeana has grown in this book, she stills has room to blossom in the next one and she has moments on stubbornness but considering the life she has to live it's understandable. She gets a pocket of sunshine that hope will progress more. Dorian and Chaol are both good male leads, though I like Chaol more. Dorian has a secret in this one, too. Overall, the writing is good and steady. The plot moves quickly throughout. Maas sucks you in right from the start and will leave you panting for more. And that ending is oh my goodness! We learn something very interesting about our saucy assassin. I can't wait to get my hands on the next one! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sylo by D.J. MacHale

Author: D.J. MacHale
Narrator: Andrew Bates
Title: Sylo
Series: Sylo #1
Publication: 2013
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Length: 10 hrs, 42 mins
Source: Audiobookjukebox

Does Tucker Pierce have what it takes to be a hero when the U.S. military quarantines his island? 

Fourteen-year-old Tucker Pierce prefers to fly under the radar. He’s used to navigating around summer tourists in his hometown on idyllic Pemberwick Island, Maine. He’s content to sit on the sidelines as a backup player on the high school football team. And though his best friend Quinn tells him to “go for it,” he’s too chicken to ask Tori Sleeper on a date. There’s always tomorrow, he figures. Then Pemberwick Island is invaded by a mysterious branch of the U.S. military called SYLO. And sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for Tucker, because tomorrow may never come.

 It’s up to Tucker, Quinn, and Tori to uncover the truth about the singing aircraft that appears only at night—and the stranger named Feit who’s pushing a red crystal he calls the Ruby that brings unique powers to all who take it. Tucker and his friends must rescue not just Pemberwick Island, but the fate of the world—and all before tomorrow is too late.  #1 New York Times bestselling author D.J. MacHale brings his brilliant plotting and breathless pacing to SYLO, the first in this ultimate end-of-the-world adventure trilogy.

Tucker is the guy that never sticks out because he's afraid to take a leap. He's afraid of failure and rejection, which causes him to not take risks. His friend Quinn seems more adventurous and a little reckless. He is more of a free spirit than Tucker not content to let life pass him by and he tries to pull Tucker out his shell but usually things don't work out. One day things change when one of his teammates collapses on the field from a suspicious ailment and the military shows up to close off the town thinking it will spread to the outside. Tucker wants answers and for once, he's not settling for standing in the shadows. What they uncover makes no sense and many lives will suffer if they don't figure out a way to save them all.

This is the first book in a new series and it's an okay read for boys. As I listened to this I felt more lost than in tune to the story. Bates did a good job of narrating this work and giving the characters' individuality through his tone of voice. He has a good rhythm that keeps pace with the plot. I like the concept but I wasn't able to connect to the story or characters because it was too easy for me to lose focus on what was happening. Overall, I think this is a good book for boys about self-discovery and courage. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday #30:Perfect Lies by Kiersten White

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Perfect Lies by Kiersten White
Expected Release: February 2014

Goodreads Synopsis
Annie and Fia are ready to fight back.

The sisters have been manipulated and controlled by the Keane Foundation for years, trapped in a never ending battle for survival. Now they have found allies who can help them truly escape. After faking her own death, Annie has joined a group that is plotting to destroy the Foundation. And Fia is working with James Keane to bring his father down from the inside.

But Annie's visions of the future can't show her who to trust in the present. And though James is Fia's first love, Fia knows he's hiding something. The sisters can rely only on each other - but that may not be enough to save them.

  What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Author: Rae Carson
Title:The Bitter Kingdom
Series: Fire & Thorns #3
Publication: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

The epic conclusion to Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns trilogy. The seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.

Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she's never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion-a champion to those who have hated her most.

Elisa has grown so much into a capable, strong woman and Queen in this book. She begins to show everyone what type of leader, she will become. Her journey continues in this book with her and a few of her companions attempting to rescue Hector before her enemies do irreparable harm to him. Hector realizes he is a ploy to lure Elisa but he's not exactly sure to what end. The Invierne need her, she believes to get her godstone but what she uncovers is much more horrifying and harmful to everyone if they get there hands on her. War looms in the shadows if Elisa can't find a way to peace and be the "champion" they all need. 

I really love this trilogy. Elisa is a great female lead to root for because her emotions and actions are so realistic to how someone with her character would behave. She's not physically tough but considering everything she's endured, she's stronger than most. Hector is protective of Elisa but still stands aside to let her grow as a Queen. The romance between these two oozes a gentle sensuality, I could feel their need for each other without it having to overly steamy but sweet.

Overall, the characters developed nicely into this ending to a great story. The details and the writing flows throughout the plot. I felt the urgency of the characters plight through the pace of the work. I think that those that love the books will enjoy the conclusion to this trilogy.

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