Posts Tagged: harlequin teen

YA Content Review- Ink by Amanda Sun

09 Jul, 2013 by in urban fantasy, YA Content Review Leave a comment

by Amanda Sun
Paperback, 326 pages
Published June 25, 2013
by Harlequin Teen
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Papergods #1
Book Source: BEA
3 Stars

Summary From Goodreads: I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.

Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.

A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.

And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.

On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they’ll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

Review: I first spotted this book on Netgalley and LOVED the cover as my grandmother is a Japanese watercolor artist and I spent a summer living in Japan. But, I figured I would hold off until BEA to get a paper version and see if there were other illustrations inside. (There are a few  illustrations inside, but they were not at all like the cover…very elementary) 

I finished out my only day there and didn’t see a copy. Then Katie from Katie’s Book Blog reached into her bad as we were waiting for the shuttle and pulled out a copy “Would you be interested in a copy INK?” Can you say serendipity? Thanks Katie!

What drew me to Ink? The multi sensory writing that immerses you in the art, culture and nature of Japan.  Since I lived in a Shinto shrine I found the premise fascinating, but I wish it would have been expanded on much, much more.

The mythology of a Kami, a Japanese God that can make drawings come to life and the girl who makes the ink more powerful and dangerous by her presence.

The Japanese language used throughout the entire book which drew me back there and was authentic. However, at times it was heavy handed and would be a huge turnoff for a reader not at all familiar with Japan.

Use the glossary in the back of the book! I had no idea it was there until I was all done reading.

The characters are very multi faceted and well written. There are some magical scenes when you can just see it all coming to life. I think fans of Manga/ Japanese illustrated novels will like Ink.  

What I struggled with? The main character Tomohiro, kendo star and bad boy with a  reputation. He keeps doing things that are down right jerky. I keep thinking the relationship he has with Katie will tip his behavior to the plus side and he will become more caring. Doesn’t happen! Even at the end of the book and character arc,  I want her to stay FAR FAR away from him. Why, oh why do you see and hear him doing scary things and you keep following him?!

Katie, main heroine is drawn to Tomohiro and ditches her good friends to be with him even though there are so many red flags. She starts breaking rules and lying to her aunt and guardian, then comes back to him repeatedly when he himself warns her to stay away.

Content wise there is a lot of swearing, pretty serious violence including sword and guns, teenage pregnancy, a couple sleepover without parents, mention of a love hotel and a dark overall feel.

Would I buy it? No, this is a check it out from the library or borrow it kind of book because as you read the reviews they are very polarized… you will either love it or hate it.

Author Bio:  I’m a YA author and proud Nerdfighter. I was born in Deep River, Canada, a very small town without traffic lights or buses, and where stranger safety is comprised of what to do if you see a bear—or skunk. I started reading fantasy novels at 4 and writing as soon as I could hold a pencil. Hopefully my work’s improved since then.
​In university I took English, Linguistics, and Asian History, before settling into Archaeology, because I loved learning about the cultures and stories of ancient people. Of course, I didn’t actually become an archaeologist—I have an intense fear of spiders. I prefer unearthing fascinating stories in the safety of my living room.
​The Paper Gods is inspired by my time living in Osaka and travelling throughout Japan. That and watching far too many J-Dramas. I currently live in Toronto with my husband and daughter. When I’m not writing, I’m devouring YA books, knitting nerdy things like Companion Cubes and Triforce mitts, and making elaborate cosplays for anime cons.

Book Preview- Spellcaster

26 Mar, 2012 by in spellcaster 2 comments

by Cara Lynn Shultz
E-book, 376 pages
Publication Date: March 27th , 2012
by Harlequin Teen
ISBN 0373210507
Book Source: publisher
3 Stars
Book summary from Goodreads: Finding your eternal soulmate – easy.

Stopping a true-love-hungry evil – not so much…

After breaking a centuries-old romantic curse, Emma Connor is (almost) glad to get back to normal problems. Although…it’s not easy dealing with the jealous cliques and gossip that rule her exclusive Upper East Side prep, even for a sixteen-year-old newbie witch. Having the most-wanted boy in school as her eternal soul mate sure helps ease the pain-especially since wealthy, rocker-hot Brendan Salinger is very good at staying irresistibly close….

But something dark and hungry is using Emma and Brendan’s deepest fears to reveal damaging secrets and destroy their trust in each other. And Emma’s crash course in über-spells may not be enough to keep them safe…or to stop an inhuman force bent on making their unsuspected power its own

Crystal’s Review: How far would you go to protect your one true soul mate? This is exactly what Emma must decide in Spellcaster, book number two, of Cara Shultz’s Spellbound series. There is something evil out destroy Emma and Brendan and only Emma can stop it. The one thing she has going for her is that she is a witch so she has magic on her side. She is a new witch though and she has not quite mastered her powers. Every chapter of this book keeps the reader on their toes. There is never a dull moment for Emma, Brendan and her best friend Angelique. Will she be able to learn to control and use her powers before its too late? You are going to have to read Spellcaster to find out! On a side note while you do not necessarily have to read the first book in the series to be captivated by this one I would suggest you do as I know it is just as good as this one.
Content: mild sexual situations, moderate swearing.

About the author: Cara Lynn Shultz’s love of supernatural writing began when she was 7 and wrote a play about ghosts, which she and her friends acted out on her grandparents’ porch. Since then, her work has appeared in Teen People, Alternative Press, Stuff, InStyle, Us Weekly, and The Guardian UK.She is a proud graduate of Fordham University and is currently a senior editor at lives in her native New York City with her husband, tuxedo cat and 8 million other people. Spellbound is her first novel.

Book Review- Allegiance by Cayla Kluver

02 Dec, 2011 by in Uncategorized 1 comment

Legacy #2
by Cayla Kluver
Expected publication: February 28th 2012
by HarlequinTeen
Source: Netgalley
4 stars

Only I saw Narian for who he truly was: a young man with courage and an independent mind, and made to pay for what was outside his control. He couldn’t help his past any more than he could help the way those intense, deep-blue eyes pierced me and held me captive.

An eighteen-year-old queen in love with the enemy as their countries pass the point of no return…

Bound to a man she cannot love, Queen Alera of Hytanica must forget Narian, the young man who holds her heart. For Narian is destined to conquer Hytanica at the behest of his master, the powerful magic-user known as the Overlord. Alera doesn’t truly believe Narian will fight against Hytanica-until Cokyrian troops attack with Narian commanding the charge.

Faced with the greatest betrayal a heart can know, Alera must set aside personal feelings and lead her kingdom through its darkest time. And when all hope, will and courage seem lost, she must find strength and remember that even the blackest night must have a dawn….

I have to admit I requested Allegiance from NetGalley without realizing there was a book one to the series, so I’m sure my impressions will be different than others who are familiar with Legacy. The cover and book description pulled me in! Fans of the Girl of Fire and Thorns, Shannon Hale’s Books of Bayern or Maria V Snyder’s Study Series will enjoy this one. It’s a mix of historical YA fiction and fantasy. The author published the first at age 17- holy moly folks!  I was impressed after reading her interview and am sure the writing will continue to get even better as she matures.

Allegiance starts out with Alera and Steldor being newly married an crowned King/ Queen of Hytanica. It is painfully obvious that Alera is still in love with someone else and does not welcome the marriage in any way. To be honest since Narian, her true love barely shows up in this installment and I didn’t know the back story I had a hard time empathizing. I was disappointed in Alera’s hardness toward Stledor, even when human empathy would dictate something else. What little interactions they did have I found to be the most fascinating parts of the book. There is lively batner and tension which added to the personality of the plot. I sympathized with Steldor and think he was acting as any other 22 year old man placed in charge of a kingdom would act. He is passionate and though has temper, I could see he was truly trying his best to be patient with Alera’s complete shunning. When he becomes badly injured Alera just stands by…WHA!?

There is very strong character development in Allegiance. I particularly liked Canaan and London. The women seemed to be purely victims which did not bode well with me. The only exception being Alera and the High Priestess, neither of which I connected with. I couldn’t sympathize or agree with the way things turned out.

But bottom line….Did I enjoy the book? You bet! The cover is goregous, the writing and the depth of character were spot on. I can’t wait to read book three, Sacrifice. I’m hoping Steldor gets some reward and that I see some of why Alera is so head over heels with Narian. There is some heavy war related violence and talk of sex between husband and wife, though not explicit. The tone becomes a little dark in places, so may be best for 14 and older. Thanks so much to Harlequin Teen for the sneak peek!

About the author-Cayla Culver is a YA author represented by Kevan Lyon of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Her first three books, Legacy, Allegiance, and Sacrifice, will be published starting in July 2011 by HarlequinTEEN. The trilogy (or parts thereof) has also sold in 16+ foreign countries.

Find Cayla on her website, twitter, goodreads, and tumblr.

Dancer Girl Blog Tour & Giveaway

28 Nov, 2011 by in Uncategorized 19 comments

Fire and Ice is Today’s stop on the official blog tour for Dancergirl hosted by Kismet Book Tours, Carolyn Tanzman and Harlequin Teen.

Book Summary: Ali Ruffino loves to dance. When her friend posts videos of her online and they go viral, she thinks her unexpected fame might propel her straight to center stage. But along with some real admirers she gets some nasty detractors—and a stalker who isn’t content to watch from afar.

Special Post- Interactive Map

The main character in the YA thriller DANCERGIRL, 16 year-old modern dancer Ali Ruffino, lives in Brooklyn, NY. She and her friends at Washington Irving High School, WIHi for short, have a definite list of fave foods. Here are the places they love, along with their twitter/website addresses. They are:

Ali’s Top Ten List of Favorite NYC Foods

1. Black and white cookie—half chocolate icing, half vanilla. As big as your hand. Lassen & Hennings, 114 Montague St. Brooklyn Twitter: @lassencatering

2. Red Velvet Cupcake Crumbs 109 Montague St. Brooklyn Twitter: @CrumbsBakeShop

3. Egg cream (okay, this is a drink not a food…), Seltzer water, U-Bet chocolate syrup, little bit of milk. Sounds gross – but it’s foamy and delicious. Park Plaza Diner, 220 Cadman Plaza West, Brooklyn

4. Italian ices Uncle Louie G 233 Smith St. Brooklyn Twitter: @UncleLouieG

5. Pizza –thin crust, gooey cheese Frascati 80 Henry St. Brooklyn Twitter: @seriouseats

6. Falafel (fried chickpeas) in pita bread with hot sauce, tahini sauce, and pickled vegetables. Hummus on the side. Tutt Café 47 Hicks St.

7. Cheesecake. Creamy. No fruit on top. Junior’s 389 Flatbush, Brooklyn, Twitter: @JuniorsCheeseck

8. Potato Knish from the Hot Dog stand in Brooklyn Heights (Knish = dough with filling inside). MUST be eaten with mustard. Clinton near Montague

9. Pies and Thighs- Chicken Biscuit and Choco Peanut Butter Crunch Pie! 166 S. 4th Street, Brooklyn Twitter: @piesnthighs

10. Fried rice (chicken, vegetable, pork). For takeout! Great Wall Kitchen, Best 60 Henry St. Brooklyn

Click to see an Interactive Map of Ali’s Favorite Food Places!

About the Author- Carol M. Tanzman – website, twitter, facebook, goodreads, tumblr

Carol M. Tanzman’s performing arts career is eclectic. She was a dancing poppy in a production of the Wizard of Oz that toured to the Soviet Union, an abstract chicken in a New England mime company, and the assistant director for a play in Germany where her major responsibility was making sure the sheep entered and exited on cue. She’s directed regional and Off-Broadway productions of new plays, was the artistic director of a children’s theatre company in upstate NY and has been honored (twice!) by the Bravo Awards for her work with the Los Angeles Unified School District.Her first YA novel, The Shadow Place, was on YALSA’s Quick Pick List of Recommended Books, the National Council of Teachers of English ALAN List of Best Books, and the CA Collection for Middle & Senior High Schools.

Be sure to check all the stops on the Dancer Girl Blog Tour for chances to enter the awesome giveaway!

Monday, November 14th – The Unread Reader
Wednesday, November 16st – YA Liberian Tales
Friday, November 18rd – ChicaReader
Monday, November 21st – Musings of a Reader Happy
Wednesday, November 23th – Alice Marvels
Friday, November 25th – A Cupcake and A Latte
Monday, November 28th – Fire and Ice Reviews
Wednesday, November 30th – Books with Bite
Friday, December 2nd – Well Read Wife

Contest Info: Carol and Harlequin are offering two giveaways for his tour!

1.) The first give-away is copy of Dancergirl. Enter by leaving a comment on this Tour Stop (and then confirm that you left a comment via Rafflecopter)

2.) The second give-away is an iPod nano, skinned in the Dancergirl artwork!

Simply enter via the Rafflecoper widget (click the arrow under post that says read more) and get extra entries for tweeting (once per TourStop), following Carol on twitter,”Liking” her on facebook, leaving your mailing address (for faster shipment of the prize) and for leaving a comment at each Tour Stops (one extra entry for each TourStop) See full contest rules here. Good Luck!

Blog Tour- The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

22 Nov, 2011 by in Uncategorized 2 comments

Fire and Ice is honored to be part of the official Iron Knight Blog Tour. Today we have author Julie Kagawa on board for an exclusive Q&A.

About the Book: Unable to survive in the kingdom of his beloved due to his supernatural nature, a warrior prince sets out to turn himself human. But first he must cross deadly lands and overcome nightmarish obstacles before reaching the fabled testing grounds, where he will endure a series of challenges. He is joined on his quest by a team of fantastical creatures, each with an agenda of their own—one, a faery prankster whom the prince has vowed to kill for past misdeeds; another, a wise-speaking cat who claims to be a truthful guide; the third, a legendary and villainous beast pulled right from the fairy tales; and finally, the last, a seer who appears to be the resurrection of the prince’s former love, long thought dead but now restored to life and as beautiful and tempting as ever. With these dubious allies by his side, the prince sets off to achieve his ultimate prize, but to do so will require overcoming the greatest challenge of all in his quest for a human soul—himself.

When exiled faery prince Ash swears an oath to his love, Meghan Chase—the half-human ruler of the Iron Fey realm—to return and be with her forever, he knows what that promise entails. Her Iron Kingdom is anathema to a fey creature such as himself, and in order to survive in it he must renounce his powerful supernatural nature and acquire a mortal soul. Only then will he be able to return and be with his love. But even as a prince of the fabled Winter Court, Ash knows only rumors of how an immortal can become human. Ash needs help, even if that help comes from the last set of creatures in the entire Nevernever realm that he would ever want to join him.

The first to join Ash on his quest is his best friend and fiercest, most annoying rival, Robin Goodfellow—better known as Puck the mischievous prankster. Despite their friendship, a bitter chasm exists between them—Puck is also in love with Meghan Chase, and Ash has vowed to one day kill his friend as payback for a past action. To aid them on their quest, they turn to one of the wisest creatures in the mythical realm of Nevernever—Grimalkin, a talking cat who agrees to help in exchange for a future favor. They set out to find a seer to show them the route that they must take, but on the way they encounter a legendary monster—the Big Bad Wolf. The Wolf is perhaps the most dangerous creature ever to walk the wilds of Nevernever, but now it seeks to join them on their journey so it can increase its own legend and power. The last member of the quest, however, is the most shocking of all to Ash. The very seer they have been seeking turns out to be Ash’s first love, Ariella, a fey princess long thought dead. Not only is she not dead, but Ariella is now an oracle who promises to aid Ash on his quest to be with his new love. But can Ash trust Ariella or will she sabotage their mission in order to win him back for herself?

Ariella advises the party that they must follow the treacherous River of Dreams to the final barrier at the End of the World. There, in an ancient place known as the Testing Grounds, a guardian who holds the key to becoming human awaits. But in order to claim it from him, Ash will first have to endure a deadly series of tests.

As Ash gets closer and closer to fulfilling his quest, he finds it more and more difficult to go on. He is being pulled in many directions—by his two loves, by visions of a deadly future, and by indecision that could destroy him, his allies and all of Nevernever. Ash is under oath to Meghan to complete his quest, but can he do it? After all, in some fairy tales, the hero gets eaten by the monster and doesn’t get to live happily ever after.

Q&A with Julie Kagawa: What is your favorite part of being an author? I don’t know if I have a favorite part; I just love it all so much. This was what I always wanted to do, and now that I’m here, it’s a dream come true for me. =)

If you could pick one of the characters from The Iron Fey series to have dinner with, who would it be and why? I’m going to have to go with Ash, because I know he’d at least be polite. Unlike a certain faery prankster, who might put something in my food or turn the waiter into a hedgehog. Meghan would also be a good choice, we could catch a movie afterwards. Grim…not so much; he’d order the most expensive thing on the menu and then turn up his nose at it.

Being that the Iron Knight is written from Ash’s point of view, was it easier or harder to switch over and tell his story? It was a little harder, initially. I knew Meghan; after three books I knew her voice and her personality and her quirks. It was difficult with Ash, because he was such a guarded character, and he never was really chatty. And because he’s lived such a long time, and is an Unseelie fey, he’s done some things in his life that might change how some people view him. It was actually kind of scary putting his story out there; what will people think now that they know the real Ash? But I wrote his story as honestly as I could, and I hope they will come to love the Winter Prince as much as I do.

Do you have a favorite line or two you could share with us from The Iron Knight?Certainly! Here is an exchange between Ash and Puck:
Hey, ice-boy, you okay? You’ve got your brooding face on again.”
“I’m fine.”
“You’re so full of crap.”
Puck lounged in the cradle of a tree, hands behind his head, one foot dangling in the air.
“Lighten up already. We finally found the cat—which we should get a freaking medal for, the search for the Golden Fleece wasn’t this hard—and you look like you’re going to engage Mab in single combat first thing in the morning.”
“I’m thinking. You should try it sometime.”
“Ooh, witty.”
About the Author: Julie Kagawa was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel.
When not swimming for her life, Julie immersed herself in books, often to the chagrin of her schoolteachers, who would find she hid novels behind her Math textbooks during class. Her love of reading led her to pen some very dark and gruesome stories, complete with colored illustrations, to shock her hapless teachers. The gory tales faded with time, but the passion for writing remained, long after she graduated and was supposed to get a real job.

To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dogtrainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full-time.

Julie now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where the frequency of shark attacks are at an all time low. She lives with her husband, two obnoxious cats, one Australian Shepherd who is too smart for his own good, and the latest addition, a hyper-active Papillon puppy.
Thanks so much to Julie for being with us today! Read our review of The Iron Knight here.

Book Review- The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

01 Aug, 2011 by in netgalley, YA book reviews 4 comments

Paperback, 304 pages
Expected publication: October 25th 2011

by Harlequin Teen
ISBN 0373210361
series: Iron Fey #4
source: Netgalley
4.5 stars

Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.

Unless he can earn a soul.

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.

To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.

And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Once again Julie Kagawa absolutely blows me away with her masterful storytelling. She takes myth and fairytales of old and mixes in characters of her own creation then sets them in a world only she could build. Everything feels so real and vivid. In this final bookend to the Iron Fey series, Ash is out to keep his promise to be with Meghan forever. He must find his way from the Never Never to the River of Dreams to The End of The World and The Testing Grounds then face his demons and ghosts of the past. His quest begins with Puck and Grim and along the way several new characters are added in. Ones the reader will never guess!

It took me a while to get used to hearing the story from Ash’s perspective instead of through Meghan’s voice but I enjoyed seeing a whole new side to Ash. He must face the dark side of who he once was and his biggest fears that come with a soul. The Iron Knight explored the importance of keeping stories alive and atoning for past mistakes as well as the power of loyalty and love. Each character is forced to make some tough decisions.

I’m sad to see the ending of one of my favorite stories but am happy Julie has announced two new series. She never ceases to amaze me. Thanks so much to Net Galley and Harlequin Teen for a wonderful journey through the forest with the fey, red caps, the big bad wolf and even Baba Yaga. I can guarantee Ash, Puck and Meghan will long live on in readers’ imaginations!

Teaser Tuesday- The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

19 Jul, 2011 by in Teaser Tuesday 2 comments

Paperback, 304 pages
Expected publication: October 25th 2011

by Harlequin Teen
ISBN 0373210361
series Iron Fey #4

Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.

Unless he can earn a soul.

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.

To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.

And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Miz B. of Should Be Reading.

This is how it works: Grab a book that you are currently reading. Turn to any page and grab teaser sentences from that page. Make sure it’s not a spoiler in case anyone wants to read the book. Include the author and name of the book.

“Because remembering Puck as something more than a rival only reminded me of my vow, the one spoken in a flash of despair and rage,the one that had turned us into bitter enemies for years to come. And of course, I couldn’t think of Puck that way without remembering…her. Ariella”- p 39 The Iron Knight

Book Review-The Goddess Test

09 Mar, 2011 by in paranormal YA fiction 4 comments

Paperback, 297 pages
by Aimee Carter
Expected publication: April 19th 2011
by Harlequin Teen
ISBN 0373210264
series: Goddess Test #1
4.5 stars

Every girl who has taken the test has died.

Now it’s Kate’s turn.

It’s always been just Kate and her mom–and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld–and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy–until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails…

The Goddess Test is one of the most engaging reads of 2011 thus far. Aimee Carter’s writing from page one is beautiful and poignant. After getting my copy from NetGalley I was transported into the world of Eden Manor and finished it in less than 24 hours. The story opens as Kate Winters is taking her dying mother home from New York to Eden City Michigan to die. The last four years Kate has spent as a caretaker to her mom who has cancer. Kate’s not lived the life of an average carefree teen. So when she arrives at Eden High she is confused by all of the unwelcome attention she receives from classmates James, Ava and Dylan. Ava, class cheerleader is immediately jealous of Kate and takes her on an outing that turns deadly. There Kate meets mysterious Henry who answers her call for help. Henry is my favorite character of all. He’s polite and timeless while remaining a bit wounded at the same time. As the god of the underworld he has the power to bring back the dead for Kate who must, in exchange, trade 6 months a year of her life as his guest.

Patterned after the tale of Persephone and Hades, The Goddess Test brings greek mythology into the 21st century. Carter’s underworld is fascinating as are the 7 tests Kate must pass in order to become who she is meant to be. Kate is self sacrificing and selfess. Her love for Henry and her mother overrules all. My biggest hesitation with the book was suspending disbelief in Kate’s relationship with James and Ava. I have to agree with blogger Book Faery who said ” I could not believe some of the friendships that were so easily accepted by Kate. There were no reasons whatsoever for Kate to feel such loyalty to some of the characters she just met. There was no reason for her to sacrifice her life for a girl who wanted to harm her. ” My second disappointment was the test of lust that Kate and Henry go through. It fit well with the plot but added a twist that makes an otherwise clean book more suitable for mature readers.

My overall impression is one of praise for The Goddess Test. I stayed up late into the night reading it and could not put it down. The pace is fast and there are tons of surprises in plot. Aimee Carter is one talented young lady and I predict big things for this series. I’ll follow up on the story when Goddess Interrupted, book 2 is released in February 2012…can’t wait to see what kind of a life lies ahead for Henry and Kate. Thanks so much to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for the sneak peek!

Outside In by Maria V Snyder

07 Jan, 2011 by in maria v snyder, outside in 5 comments

Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: March 1, 2011
by Harlequin Teen
ISBN 0373210116
series; Inside Out #2
4.5 stars

Summary: Me? A Leader? Okay, I did prove that there’s more to Inside than we knew. That a whole world exists beyond this cube we live in. And finding that led to a major rebellion – between worker scrubs like me and the snobby uppers who rule our world. Make that ruled. Because of me, we’re free. I thought that meant I was off the hook, and could go off on my own again – while still touching base with Riley, of course. He’s the one upper I think I can trust. But then we learned that there’s outside and then there is Outside. And something from Outside wants In.

In this second installment of Maria V Snyder’s Inside Out series Trella “the pipe queen” has led a rebellion against the uppers and the Trava’s. Divisions between the two are supposed to be smoothed over by a committee of 19 leaders but things aren’t going so hot. No one wants to work, old prejudices abound and squabbles turn into more, bombs begin to rock the Inside. Their lives may be in danger as they hurdle through space in a giant cube and systems are down. It’s up to Trella, Riley, Logan and their crew to find out who is threatening them and bring order t0 their community.

Trella has some important decisions to make about who she is and how much responsibility she wants to take on. Her character is forced to do a lot of growing up to shift into position as leader. All the old cast is back but you’ll be on the edge of your seat trying to figure out who is sincere and who is evil. Plus we meet a fun new character named Bubba Boom. Duplicity and high tension is riddled throughout Outside In. We learn more a lot about Dr. Lamont and grow to see a different side of her. But, my favorite character this time around is Logan, TechNo extraordinaire.

Outside In had me hooked despite the technical descriptions of quadrants and time which I had a hard time with in the first book. Snyder does an excellent job of crafting personalities and pitting them for and against each other. She adds much more sci-fi to the mix which makes it more than just dystopian.

The climax caught me completely by surprise. I had NO CLUE who was controlling things on the Inside until it was spelled out to us. The only set back for me in the book was the two sex-y scenes that seemed to literally come out of the sky. One minute Riley and Trella meet, then they barely have time to spend any time together. The next thing they are fighting and two seconds later comes more than I think the plot suggested they were ready for. Unfortunately, this makes for a mature teen read of 16 and over.

Overall, I thought the writing of Outside In was ingenious. Maria Snyder captures details and creates a world like no other we have seen. Thanks so much to HarlequinTeen and NetGalley for introducing me to book two. I enjoyed it more than the first, Inside Out, and I fell head over heels for Riley’s sheepy. So, here’s your chance below to win one or get your own beacon device just like Trella’s….

Review: The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

13 Nov, 2010 by in Uncategorized 8 comments

Paperback, 384 pages
Coming February 1, 2011
from Harlequin Teen
ISBN 0373210183
series Iron Fey #3
5 stars

In less than twenty-four hours I’ll be seventeen.

Although, technically, I won’t actually be turning seventeen. I’ve been in the Nevernever too long. When you’re in Faery, you don’t age. So while a year has passed in the real world, agewise I’m probably only a few days older than when I went in.

In real life, I’ve changed so much I don’t even recognize myself.

My name is Meghan Chase. I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who’s sworn to stay by my side. Drag me into the core of a conflict so powerful, I’m not sure anyone can survive it.

This time, there will be no turning back.

WOW. Julie Kagawa pulled up so many emotions with this third installment of her Iron Fey series. Her writing is absolutely incredible. The Iron Queen starts off as Meghan and Ash have been exiled from Never, Never and the paths of faery sealed forever. It is just the two of them in the quest for a stolen memory, back to New Orleans and finally hiding out. Meghan comes to the realization that she will have to fight, so she asks Ash and Puck to help her train. Learning to wield a sword, and balance the glamours that lie within, Meghan will be prepared to overcome whatever new forces are against her. There is plenty of warfare interlaced in beautiful vistas as iron meets magic. All of your favorite characters are back and readers will become enveloped in Julie’s writing which appeals to all of the senses “he smelled so good a mix of frost and something sharp like peppermint.” p.93

Ash is my all-time favorite fictional hero. I have been Team Ash since day one. The Iron Queen reinforces all that I have felt along the way, that he is so much more than an Ice Prince. He has a heart, and he is capable of deep love and loyalty. He has a history. He finally tells that story, opening up his heart and developing his soul. There’s not much for me to say without spoliery, but I cried more than once while reading this book. I loved the way Meghan and Ash can feel each others emotions and as they grow closer; they are better able to sense each other.

Once I got a copy there was no turning back on finishing the book. You will stay engulfed in faery until the very last page. The Iron Queen is fantasy, myth, technology, romance and action all rolled into one.

Reading The Iron Queen reminded me why I fell in love with Young Adult fiction in the first place. I’m thrilled Julie is writing book number four from Ash’s perspective. The more his story unravels the better, and here’s to hoping time ticks by swiftly until The Iron Knight.

Click here to see the new Iron Fey Series book trailer and read Julie’s blog.