**Notice** Due to transfering back from a godaddy hosted wordpress blog back to blogger, reviews published before june 2017 don`t all have a pretty layout with book cover and infos. Our apologies.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Stacking the Shelves [58]


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


  • Create your own Stacking The Shelves post. You can use my official graphic or your own, but please link back to Tynga’s Reviews so more people can join the fun!

  • You can set your post any way you want, simple book list, covers, pictures, vlog, sky is the limit!

  • I am posting Stacking The Shelves on Saturdays, but feel free to post yours any day that fits you.

  • Visit Tynga’s Reviews on Saturday and add your link so others can visit you!

  • Visit other participants link to find out what they added to their shelves!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


Hello, everyone! Once again it's been over a month since my last post and I have yet to master moderation. There have been some great e-books sales and the summer is when all of my favourite authors have at least publication coming out so I expect my wallet will be weeping for the next few months. But my brain will be happy and hopefully you will be too, since I'll be sharing my thoughts on these titles!

I was really excited to receive my copy of HOT BLOODED since it's signed by Amanda Carlson (yay!) and I got it as part of her review blitz. I'm also really excited to read CLUB MONSTROSITY and I've already read all of the Jennifer Estep books (reviews to come closer to the publication dates).

As usual, e-books are marked with an asterisk (*). Remember to add your links to the Mr. Linky at the end!

For Review:

The Shambling Guide of New York City by Mur Lafferty Arrow in the Mist by Christina Mercer Club Monstrosity by Jesse Petersen Heart of Venom by Jennifer Estep (Elemental Assassin #9) Hearts of Shadow by Kira Brady
Hearts of Shadow by Kira Brady
A Spy to Die For by Kris DeLake*
Spartan Frost by Jennifer Estep*
Heart of Venom by Jennifer Estep*
Bitter Disenchantment by Shawntelle Madison*
Bad Mouth by Angela McAllister*
Arrow in the Mist by Christina Mercer*
Gone with the Wolf by Kristen Miller* [my thoughts]
The Shambling Guide of New York City by Mur Lafferty*
Family Pride by Sheryl Nantus*
Club Monstrosity by Jesse Petersen*
A Cursed Embrace by Cecy Robson*
Storm Force by Susannah Sandlin*
Ghost Light by E.J. Stevens*
A Captain and a Corset by Mary Wine*


Against the Dark by Carolyn Crane
Against the Dark by Carolyn Crane* (on Under the Covers)


Now You See it by Cait Donnelly Oath Bound by Rachel Vincent (Unbound #3) A Soldier’s Duty by Jean Johnson Bronze Gods by A. A. Aguirres Grimoire of the Lamb by Kevin Hearne
Bronze Gods by A. A. Aguirre
Rogue Descendant by Jenna Black
The Sweetest Temptation by Amanda Bonilla*
The Sweetest Mercy by Amanda Bonilla*
Now You See it by Cait Donnelly*
A Hint of Frost by Hailey Edwards*
Grimoire of the Lamb by Kevin Hearne* [my thoughts]
A Soldier’s Duty by Jean Johnson* [my thoughts]
Deadly Trio by Jon F. Merz*
Dark Nights Dangerous Men (collection) by Elizabeth Naughton, Cynthia Eden, Katie Reus, Alexandra Ivy, Laura Wright, and Joan Swan*
Soul Sucker by Kate Pearce*
Heart of the Jaguar by Katie Reus*
Demon Bait by Moira Rogers*
Split at the Seams by Yolanda Sfetsos*
Unbreakable by Sydney Somers*
Stripped Away by Sydney Somers*
A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious by Mary Wine*
Oath Bound by Rachel Vincent [my thoughts]
Kithra by Dani Worth*


Hot Blooded by Amanda Carlson
Hot Blooded by Amanda Carlson [my thoughts]
The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox

So, what did YOU add to your shelves this week?


Random Act of Kindness–June Edition

Want to learn more about RAK? Visit the Book Soulmates blog!

It’s my birthday in just a few days, so if you are in the mood ^^ here’s my wish list!

Prized - Caragh M. O'Brien
Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead
MacRieve by Kresley Cole
 Forsaken by the Others by Jess Haines


The Falconer by Elizabeth May
A Fool's Errand by Maureen Fergus

If you want to offer me one, email me (tyngauf(a)gmail.com) and I’ll provide my mailing addy :)
Thank you!

Gone with the Wolf by Kristin Miller

Gone with the Wolf by Kristin MillerGone with the Wolf by Kristin Miller

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
E-book: 207 pages
Genre: Paranormal romance
Publisher: Covet
Release date: April 23, 2013

Series: Seattle Wolf Pack #1

Source: eARC via Netgalley

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

CEO and alpha werewolf Drake Wilder has given up the search for his one true love. When he discovers that she’s a secretary in his company, Drake’s primal instincts kick into overdrive.

What he wouldn’t give to have her fingers rake over his body instead of the keyboard…

Free-spirited bartender Emelia Hudson wants nothing more than to make her Seattle-based bar succeed. But when profits decline, she slips into a dress suit and secures a nine-to-five. After learning that her bar has become property of Wilder Financial, Emelia is determined to get some answers.

Two can play the ruthless business game. If only her attraction to the boss wasn’t so intense…

When Drake’s twin brother senses that Drake has found his match—and now inherits their father’s billion dollar estate—he hatches a plan to take Emelia out. Drake vows to protect her at all costs, but he might have to pay with his own life.

GONE WITH THE WOLF has been making the rounds on the blogosphere lately so I had to give it a try, especially after all of the good things I heard. This novel is a lot of fun but the romance didn't resonate for me as much as I had hoped it would.

Let's start with what I liked. Emelia is a great heroine. She's feisty and determined and independent, all traits I love in a clear character. And she's just a regular old human who gets dragged into the werewolf world when she goes after the mysterious CEO of Wilder Financial to try to get her bar back after Wilder Financial bought the building out from under her. She meets cute with Drake at a company party, not realizing that he's the man she needs to talk to, and their chemistry just leaps off the page. It took me a little while longer to warm up to Drake because I felt he was a little cocky and autocratic but I was definitely won over as the novel progressed. His personal history is nicely complicated, and it added a lot of excitement in the latter part of the novel. I also really liked the way Emelia wasn't afraid to stand up to Drake in all of his alphaness, but not too stubborn to understand her vulnerabilities as a human in this world. Despite this, I didn't feel emotionally connected to these characters the whole time, which was a bit of a disappointment.

The werewolf society that Miller has created is also pretty interesting. I liked the way we learned about it gradually, as Emelia learns more and more about this secret world she finds herself in. I hope that we'll get to see more of this universe in future novels, since Goodreads tells me that this is the first book in a series. I like what I've seen so far but there's still a lot to be explored.

My final point is a small quibble. This cover really doesn't match my mental pictures of Drake and Emie. It's not such a big deal because covers are rarely exact matches for what's going on in my brain but this seems really off to me. Emelia looks really petulant and Drake looks really young. I realize that authors don't a say in their covers but I feel like this cover lets the novel down.

Although GONE WITH THE WOLF didn't completely win me over, I did generally enjoy it. I'd suggest reading the excerpt linked below and decide for yourself. There's some good stuff in this novel, even if the execution wasn't perfect for me.

Read an excerpt (scroll down)



Thursday, May 30, 2013

Eve by Anna Carey

Eve by Anna Carey

Eve by Anna Carey

Book stats:
Reading level: Young Adult  
Trade paperback: 318 pages  
Genre: Dystopian  
Publisher: HarperTeen  
Release date: December 1, 2011

Series: Eve, #1

Source: Purchased

Reviewed by: Helen

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.
Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust...and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.
Eve totally fell flat for me. Although the basic premise actually had the potential to be really interesting: in a future dystopia, girls and boys are isolated and raised separately. The girls are raised in an academy where they are taught that when they reach their 18th birthday, they will move across the river and choose a trade to work in for the rest of their lives. Boys are raised in their own separate work camps. The girls are taught to believe that men are evil and the only man who is honest and trustworthy is their King.
But soon, Eve finds out a terrible secret about the world around her. The girls aren't going where they've been told after their 18th birthdays. They are headed for a much darker fate. When Eve discovers the horrible truth, she piggybacks on another girl's escape plan to get out while she can. The two girls continue on a strangely paced, and much-too-convenient path that leads them to Caleb, the predictable love interest who will show Eve that boys aren't truly evil. Yawn.
Eve's character was frustrating for me. I didn't outright dislike her, but I didn't feel any true sense of connection with her either. She was sort of wishy-washy. Eve suddenly upends her entire world view in about 3 minutes and leaves the school and all she has ever known immediately. And yet, she doesn't seem to have a whole lot of guilt or inner turmoil about having left behind the rest of the girls she grew up with. She mentions it here and there, but overall, I needed her to be much more interested in rescuing the other girls she left behind in order for me to actually like her and not feel that she was shallow and self-serving.
Next comes another so-called plot twist involving Eve and the King of the land - problem is, it is completely under-developed and makes virtually no sense. It was a poor attempt to create drama, and it really just fell off the page as superficial and not at all probable. The 'why' and 'how' are never explained, and it just reads like a very obvious plot device to move the story towards the end. Unfortunately, this ill-built plot twist becomes the main driving force - it is what is supposed to drive the series and really ramp up the reader's adrenaline and pique their interest.
Here's the problem - it just didn't work. It was kinda boring, kinda out of nowhere, didn't really make all that much sense, and completely lacked any sort of explanation.
The entire book read like a first draft - that's really the best way I can think to describe it. The skeleton of a great story was there, but the execution was way off. This book could have been great with a few more critical eyes on it and maybe a little more back story and explanation as to why the world has gotten to the why it has (and also what the future plan is?).
I was expecting to love this series, but unfortunately, I don't feel very excited about continuing on with it. I will likely read the next book in the series, since I already own it, and hope that the writing and world-building have been better developed in the coming instalments. Fingers crossed!


Daring You To Read… The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross


This week, I’m daring you to read a book I’ve recently discovered myself. THE GIRL IN THE STEEL CORSET by Kady Cross is without a doubt an interesting book that can’t be overlooked. As the first book of the Steampunk Chronicles, it starts off with quite a bang. Even thought this is the first full book of the series, a prequel called THE STRANGE CASE OF FINLEY JANE is also available and should probably be read first.

I’m not sure what I liked the most about the series but one thing’s for sure, both the characters and the steampunk setting are impressive. Finley Jane is such a great protagonist. Despite her mysterious abilities, she’s not overly confident. On the contrary, she’s simply trying to fit into a society that expects young women to be pretty, dull and submissive. However, when she gets the strange urges to use her abilities (superstrength and speed among them), she does the complete opposite of what society might expect—like punch a sleazy lord in the face. Since puberty, she’s been dealing with her ever increasing abilities and until the beginning of THE GIRL IN THE STEEL CORSET, she thought she was the only one with strange abilities. So when she meets a gang a misfits that have their own special talents, the real adventures begins.

London 1897 is the setting of the book but it’s unlike the London we know today or back then. Automatons are everywhere, clockwork gadgets are being created daily and most importantly, the steampunk fashion is not to be missed.

If you’re a fan of the genre, this book will surely please. The only thing is, I feel guilty for recommending this series even if I haven’t read past book 1. However, since I enjoyed both the prequel and the first book so much, I’m sure the rest of the series is as entertaining as these two.

Here’s a bit more about THE GIRL IN THE STEEL CORSET:

kady cross 1In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one...except the "thing" inside her.When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no "normal" Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch....

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of "them." The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help--and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on—even if it seems no one believes her.

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

The series in order, so far:

kady cross 0,5 kady cross 1 The Girl in the Clockwork Collar kady cross 2.5 kady cross 3

Daring You To Read is a weekly feature here on Tynga’s Reviews where we dare you to read some of our favorite older releases (at least 6 months old). All the books/series we choose to feature are titles we adored and think you should give them a shot! We think it’s a super awesome way to discover that special book who might have slipped off your radar!

You’ve already read the book? Let’s us know what you thought!
You are accepting the dare? We’d love to know!
Have a dare of your own? Leave a comment ^^

What do you think? Have you read this series?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer

Spirit by Brigid KemmererSpirit by Brigid Kemmerer

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 301 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Release Date: May 28, 2013

Series: Elemental #3

Source: From Publisher for Review

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

With power comes enemies. Lots of them.

Hunter Garrity just wants to be left alone. He’s learned the hard way that his unusual abilities come at a price. And he can’t seem to afford any allies.

He’s up to his neck in hostiles. His grandfather, spoiling for a fight. The Merrick brothers, who think he ratted them out. Calla, the scheming psycho who wants to use him as bait.

Then there’s Kate Sullivan, the new girl at school. She’s not hostile. She’s bold. Funny. Hot. But she’s got an agenda, too.

With supposedly secret powers rippling to the surface everywhere around him, Hunter knows something ugly is about to go down. But finding out what means he’ll have to find someone he can trust...

Brigid Kemmerer is back with the third book in her amazing Elementals series and she does not disappoint! I have to say that I was slightly worried going into this one because Hunter isn’t a Merrick brother, but the Merrick’s still played a large part in this one and Kemmerer took advantage of that and decided to steer this story in an entirely new direction.

And by that, I mean that this story was heartbreaking at times. Hunter’s misunderstood and trouble seems to follow him. He can never pick a side because he does love the family make-up of the Merricks, but being a Guide is in his blood. His family situation is falling apart, his life is out of control, and the girl he may have feelings for is a player. Let’s just say that it’s really easy to realize why he is perhaps the most complicated character in this series. While Gabriel is deliciously complex, Hunter is complicated in an intriguing way. His confusion and inability to trust people easily are explained in this one and I can honestly say that I don’t mind his issues anymore because they are so believable when put into situations such as he is.

But I have to say that the best part of this novel was the progression of certain characters...two in particular. Obviously, Hunter. Hunter’s storyline was taken on a really unconventional route that I never would have expected, so I applaud Kemmerer for taking a literary risk that ended up paying off. I can’t explain anything without ruining the plot line for you, but Calla’s back and she’s more aggravating and vile than ever and Hunter also has terrible luck with the ladies.

The biggest surprise in this novel was Michael Merrick. I really, truly love him now. He was inadvertently Hunter’s guiding light in times of need--showing up whenever necessary the way a true big brother and guardian should. And I started to love him for it. It’s making me extremely excited for Michael’s book, book five in this series, when book four has yet to be released! While I understand Hunter and pity him greatly, my love for him does not compare to my love of the Merrick brothers because I think that their struggles to survive and characterizations are absolutely delicious. They are among my favorite characters ever, and Michael has joined his three younger brothers because of this novel. I’d say Hunter is the perfect sidekick to the amazingness that is the Merrick brothers, but you can’t tell Hunter that or there’ll be an all out brawl. So despite the great characterization leap in him, he’s still somewhat the same!

In the end, the new direction that Kemmerer took in this one was well done. Both Chris and Gabriel’s book had a similar overall story arc though the process to getting to the end differed greatly. And if you read Kemmerer’s recent novella, BREATHLESS, Nick’s story is going to differ completely, but Hunter’s story was the perfect way to set this new plot progression of dropping bomb after bomb into motion. While I can’t say I loved it as much as Chris or Gabriel’s story, I greatly enjoyed this one and will definitely always be a loyal Kemmerer fan. I recommend this one to absolutely anyone who is willing to pick this series up, though the first two books must be picked up first.



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"When I'm not writing" with Jen Grayson

Jen Greyson Today's guest is Jen Greyson, author of the upcoming adult fantasy novel, LIGHTNING RIDER. Jen is one busy lady -- she has a degree in Equestrian Studies, she writes university courses and corporate training material, and more. To find out just how she keeps busy, stick around and get to know Jen a bit better!


A huge thanks to the superstar ladies of Team Tynga for letting me come ramble about what I do when I'm not writing. Sometimes deadlines get overwhelming and since I write for my not-making-stuff-up-for-books job, there's not a lot of time in the day that doesn't involve the computer, so when I do get a break, I'm usually headed outside.

We live in Utah, and there's no shortage of amazing things to do around here. With two little boys, my Spring is filled with baseball games (seriously--we're averaging 4 nights a week with games!), but we do manage to cram in lots of yard work, and once the weather gets nice (which for Spring in Utah is anything over 58 degrees!) we hit the lake.

Jen Grayson greenhouse Jen Grayson yardwork

We live about 20 minutes from the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. Utah Lake is a crazy huge lake that's about 10 feet deep -- perfect for wakeboarding. I just learned how to wakeboard last year and I'm horrible at it, but it's a blast and my element must be water because I'm just completely at home on the lake. I love being out there.

Jen Grayson wakeboard

Or maybe it's just because I love the break from yard work :)

We have a tradition to go camping on Memorial Day weekend -- which usually results in lots of snow because we always go way up in the Uinta mountains by the Utah/Wyoming border. But I don't camp without a generator and about a billion propane tanks and those huge patio heaters, so we manage to make it fun--and warm. You'd think we'd pick another weekend to ring off the camping season, but it's become a bit of a challenge now to try and outsmart Mother Nature. We're totally losing so far.

Summers are usually split between camping and boating, with the occasional camping/boating trip thrown in. We are seriously the Swiss Family Robinson when it comes to camping...it's a rare weekend when we're home. (I do take my computer with me though, so that's technically not a "when I'm not writing" event, but there's no better place to write than in the middle of a huge forest with nothing but creatures and nature surrounding me.)

Jen Grayson camping

Once Fall hits, we're usually putting the boat away *major sad face* but we try to camp as long as we can (since we're obviously not afraid of snow).

You're probably asking yourself when the heck I do write, but that's what Winter's for :)

I'd love to know how everyone else spends their free time -- and especially any tips about how to get better on a wakeboard. Thanks again for listening to me ramble...my writer's life is a great one.


Thanks for stopping by, Jen! It's been great getting to know you. =)

For more information about Jen and her books, check out her website or follow her on Twitter.

You can also check out the other stops on the tour (scroll down to the bottom of the page):

Lightning Rider tour banner


Here's the scoop on LIGHTNING RIDER:

Lightning Rider by Jen GreysonFor Evy Rivera, thunderstorms have always caused her physical pain, but she's never known why. When a record-setting storm arrives on the same night her father finds ancient ancestral documents, Evy is set aglow with mysterious tiny lightnings she can command.

Even worse, she alerts some people in the universe who've been looking for her family for a very long time.

Thrown back into ancient Spain and tasked with killing a Spanish legend, she must train alongside Constantine, a sexy yet obstinate Roman warrior. He teaches her how to wield her lightning as a weapon, through more errors than trials. With a relationship as explosive as their late-night training sessions, Evy and Constantine battle their push-pull relationship while trying to ignore the two-thousand-year difference in their birthdates.

Ilif Rotiart, her quasi-mentor, is appalled at Evy's skill. He would prefer to train her father and keep Evy on the sidelines—where women belong. Evy has a feeling Ilif is keeping something from them, but she must play nice until she uncovers the truth. And if he's lying, it will be the worst day of his four-hundred-year life.

Penya Sepadas claims she's Evy's rightful trainer, and she has the prophecy to prove it. Penya doesn't share Ilif's misogynistic attitude, but she does have her own agenda...and her own secrets.

Evy must sort through the lies and find the truth behind her family's time-traveling past before the wrong history obliterates the future. She’s spent her whole life fighting for her place. Now, as the first female lightning rider, she'll dedicate her existence to fighting to save the world.

But will Evy learn to manage her lightning and find the truth before it's too late?

Read an excerpt


Do you guys have suggestions for who you’d like to see featured on the blog? If so, you can make your suggestions on this page. No guarantees that your favorite authors will be able to participate but we’ll try!

Authors, would you like to visit and share with us? Please email me at jennblogs (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll set it up!


Monday, May 27, 2013

Seanan McGuire just kicked off a new Amazon Serial called Indexing?!

Jenn here with some exciting news to share! The title gives it away but here's the longer version: It seems one of my favourite authors, Seanan McGuire, is trying her hand at serial fiction with 47North! I don't know how I missed it but I'm super excited to see this happening because she is one of the smartest writers out there. Her Kindle Serial is called INDEXING and it deal with fairy tales intruding on our reality (and the team that tries to stop them). Here's the scoop:

Indexing by Seanan McGuire“Never underestimate the power of a good story.”

Good advice…especially when a story can kill you.

For most people, the story of their lives is just that: the accumulation of time, encounters, and actions into a cohesive whole. But for an unfortunate few, that day-to-day existence is affected—perhaps infected is a better word—by memetic incursion: where narratives the rest of the world considers fairy tales becomes reality, often with disastrous results.

A motley team struggling with their own unfolding narratives, they are tasked with identifying potential outbreaks using the Aarne-Thompson Indexing and making sure the story doesn’t reach “ever after”…because if it does, someone is usually dead, broken—or worse. When you're dealing with fairy tales in the real world, it doesn't matter if you're Cinderella, Snow White, or the Wicked Queen: no one gets a happy ending.

Indexing is bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s new urban fantasy where everything you thought you knew about fairy tales gets turned on its head.

I'm new to serial novels -- I wanted to try Susannah Sandlin's Storm Force Kindle Serial but couldn't get it because I'm in Canada -- so here's how it will work:

As a Kindle Serial, INDEXING will be published in a series of bi-weekly episodes. The first episode (“Attractive Narcolepsy”) came out on May 21 so you can expect the next instalment on June 4, etc. The final episode will be published in October, at which point the full story will be collected and published as a full novel. Right now INDEXING is available on Amazon.com for $2.99 and can be purchased any time between now and the end of the serialization, with past and new episodes automatically delivered to readers Kindles or Kindle apps. I assume the price of the novel will go up once they publish it as a complete story, so now might be a good time to give this a shot. I'm sure McGuire's fans will be jumping all over it (if they can) but this is also a nice way to try out McGuire's writing on the cheap.

Here's the scoop on Episode 1:

Episode 1: Released on May 21, 2013. 36 pages. The men and women of the ATI Management Bureau are here to keep you from noticing the fairy tales threatening the fabric of existence on a daily basis. But when those fairy tales start changing their approach to fit the modern world, can the Bureau's field team find a way to keep us all from dying happily ever after?

In case you need some more incentive, here's the first half of Episode 1, courtesy of Amazon:


Attractive Narcolepsy

Memetic incursion in progress: estimated tale type 7.90 (“Snow White”)

Status: ACTIVE

Alicia didn’t feel well.

If she was being honest, she hadn’t been feeling well for a while now. The world was spinning, and everything seemed hazy and unreal, like she was seeing it through the filter of a dream. Maybe she was. Dreaming, that is; maybe she was dreaming, and when she woke up, everything would be normal again, rather than wrapped in cotton and filled with strange signs and symbols that she couldn’t quite understand. Maybe she was dreaming…

In a daze, she called a cab and left the house, the door standing open and ignored behind her. The dog would get out. In that moment, she didn’t have the capacity to care. Alicia didn’t feel well, and when you don’t feel well, there’s only one place to go: the hospital.

Alicia was going to the hospital, and when she got there, they would figure out what was wrong with her. They would figure out how to fix her, and everything would be normal again. She just knew it.


My day began with half a dozen bluebirds beating themselves to death against my window, leaving little bloody commas on the glass to mark their passing. The sound eventually woke me, although not before at a least a dozen of them had committed suicide trying to reach my bedside. I sat up with a gasp, clutching the sheets against my chest as I glared at the windows. The damn things had been able to get past the bird-safety net again, and I still couldn’t figure out how they were doing it.

A final bluebird hit the glass, making a squishy “thump” sound. Feathers flew in all directions, and the tiny birdie body fell to join the others. I glared at the bloody pane for a few more seconds before turning my glare on the clock. It was 5:22am—more than half an hour before my alarm was set to go off, which was entirely unreasonable of the universe.

“Once upon a fuck you people,” I muttered, shoving the covers off of me and onto the floor. If I wasn’t going to get any more sleep, I was going to get ready for work. At least in the office, there would be other people to receive my hate.

Wildflowers had sprouted from the hallway carpet again, this time in a clashing assortment of blues and oranges. I didn’t recognize any of the varieties, and so I forced myself to step around them rather than stepping on them the way that I wanted to. Research and Development would be able to figure out what they were, where they originated, and what tale type variants they were likely to be connected to. The wildflowers were usually random as far as we could tell, but they had occasionally been enough to give us a lead. Rampion flowers meant a three-ten was getting started somewhere, while the strange blue-white blooms we had dubbed “dew flowers” meant that a three-oh-five was underway. It wasn’t an exact science, but very little about what we did was anything like exact.

Turning the water in my shower all the way to cold produced a freezing spray that chased away the last unwelcome remnants of the previous night’s dreams and left me shivering, but feeling like I might have a better day than the one indicated by the heap of dead bluebirds outside my window. Really, if all that went weird today was a few dead birds and some out-of-place flowers, I was doing pretty well.

I work for the ATI Management Bureau. Our motto is “In aeternum felicitas vindactio.” Translated roughly, that means “defending happily ever after.” We’re not out to guarantee that all the good little fairy tale boys and girls get to ride off in their pumpkin coaches and on their silver steeds. They’ve been doing that just fine since the dawn of mankind. They don’t need any help from a government-funded agency so obscure that most people don’t even suspect that we exist. No, our job is harder than that. Fairy tales want to have happy endings, and that’s fine—for fairy tales—but they do a lot of damage to the people around them in the process, the ones whose only crime was standing in the path of an onrushing story. We call those “memetic incursions,” and it’s our job to stop them before they can properly get started. When we fail…

When we fail, most people don’t hear about that, either. But they do hear about the deaths.

There’s no dress code in my office, not even for the field teams, since many of us have reasons to avoid the more common suits and ties. I still liked to keep things formal. I pulled a plain black suit out of my closet, selecting it from a rack that held ten more, all of them virtually identical. Pairing it with a white button-down shirt and a black tie left me looking like an extra from the set of Men in Black, but that didn’t bother me much. Clichés are relatives of the fairy tale, and tropes aren’t bad; they go with the territory.

My gun and badge were on the nightstand next to my SPF 200 sunscreen. I scowled at the bottle. I hate the smell of the stuff—it smells like a shitty childhood spent locked in the classroom during recess because the school couldn’t take responsibility if I got burned, but also like trying to find the right balance between flesh-toned foundation and sun protection. None of that changed the fact that if I went out without lathering up, I was quickly going to change my complexion from Snow White to Rose Red. “Lobster” is not a good look for me.

My phone rang as I was finishing the application of sunscreen to the back of my neck. I glanced at the display. Agent Winters. “Answer,” I said curtly, continuing to rub sunscreen into my skin.

The phone beeped, and Sloane’s voice demanded, “Where are you?”

“In my bedroom,” I said, reaching for a tissue to wipe the last of the clinging goo from my fingers. “I’m getting ready for work. Where are you?”

“Uh, what? Are you stupid, or just stupid? Or maybe you’re stupid, I haven’t decided. Have you checked your texts this morning?”

I paused guiltily. I hadn’t taken my phone into the bathroom while I showered, and I could easily have missed the chime that signaled an incoming text. “Let’s say I didn’t, to save time. What’s going on?”

“We have a possible seven-nine kicking off downtown, and management thought that maybe you’d be interested in, I don’t know, showing the fuck up.” Sloane’s voice dropped to a snarl on the last few words. “Piotr sent everyone the address ten minutes ago. Most of the team is already en route.”

Full incursions are rare. We usually get one or two a month, at most. Naturally, this one would kick off before I’d had breakfast. “I’ll be there in five minutes,” I said.

“You don’t even know where—”

“Goodbye, Sloane.” I grabbed the phone and hit the button to hang up on her with the same motion, pulling up my texts as I bolted for the door. Even obscure branches of law enforcement can break the speed limit when there’s a good reason, and a Snow White starting to manifest downtown? Yeah, I’d call that a damn good reason.


There are a few things you’ll need to know about fairy tales before we can get properly started. Call it agent orientation or information overload, whatever makes you feel more like you’ll be able to sleep tonight. It doesn’t really matter to me.

Here’s the first thing you need to know: all the fairy tales are true. Oh, the specific events that the Brothers Grimm chronicled and Disney animated may only have happened once, in some kingdom so old that we’ve forgotten whether or not it ever really existed, but the essential elements of the stories are true, and those elements are what keep repeating over and over again. We can’t stop them, and we can’t get rid of them. I’m sure they serve some purpose—very little happens without a reason—but it’s hard to focus on that when you’re facing a major beanstalk incident in Detroit, or a gingerbread condo development in San Francisco. People mostly dismiss the manifestations, writing them off as publicity stunts or crazy pranks. It’s better that way. Not many people have the kind of iron-clad sanity that can survive suddenly discovering that if you’re born a seven-nine, you’re inevitably going to wind up poisoned and left for dead…or that rescue isn’t guaranteed, since once you go inanimate, the story’s focus switches to the Prince. Poor sap.

We use the Aarne-Thompson Index to map the manifestations as much as we can, cross-referencing fairy tales from all over the world. Not every seven-nine has skin as white as snow and a thing for short men, even if Snow White is the best known example of the breed. Not every five-eleven is actually going to snap and start trying to kill her stepdaughter or stepsisters, although the urge will probably rear its ugly head a time or twenty. Like any rating system, the ATI has its flaws, but it mostly gets the job done, and it’s better than running around in the dark all the damn time.

Some folks say using the ATI dehumanizes our subjects, making it easier to treat them like fictional creatures to be dealt with and disposed of. Then again, most of them have never put in any real hours in the field. They’ve never seen what it takes to break girls like Agent Winters out of the stories they’ve gotten tangled up in before the narrative consumes them. Me, I got lucky; I got my sensitivity to stories by being adjunct to one, rather than being an active part. My mother was one of the most dangerous ATI types—a four-ten, Sleeping Beauty. She was in a deep coma when my twin brother and I were born, the misbegotten children of the doctor who was supposed to be treating her injuries and wound up taking advantage of her instead.

She slept through our birth, just like the stories said she should. We didn’t pull the poisoned needle from her finger when we tried to nurse; we pulled her life support cable. Mom died before the ATI cleanup crew could figure out where the narrative energy was coming from, leaving us orphans. Under normal circumstances, the narrative would have slammed us both straight into the nearest story that would fit. The cleanup crew didn’t let that happen though, despite the fact that I was already halfway into the Snow White mold, and my brother was just as close to becoming a Rose Red. In a very real sense, I owe them my life, or at least my lack of singing woodland creatures.

Most of the subjects we deal with are innocents, people who wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time and got warped to fit into the most convenient slots on the ATI. Others are born to live out their stories, no matter how much damage that does to the world around them. It’s not a choice for them. It’s a compulsion, something that drives them all the way to their graves.

That’s the second, and most important, thing you need to know about fairy tales: once a story starts, it won’t stop on its own. There’s too much narrative weight behind a moving story, and it wants to happen too badly. It won’t stop, unless somebody stops it.


Whoever had initially scrambled the field team was following the proper protocol: I started driving blindly toward the address Piotr had sent to my phone, only to come up against a cordon nearly half a mile out from my destination. It was disguised as a standard police blockade, but the logos on the cars were wrong, and the uniforms were straight out of our departmental costume shop. Anyone who knew what the local police were supposed to look like would have caught the deception in an instant. Fortunately for us, it was early enough in the day that most people just wanted to find a clear route to Starbucks, and weren’t going to mess around trying to figure out why that officer’s badge had the wrong motto on it.

I pulled up to the cordon and rolled down my window, producing my badge from inside my jacket. A fresh-faced man in an ill-fitting policeman’s uniform moved toward the car, probably intending to ask me to move along. I thrust my badge at him.

“Special Agent Henrietta Marchen, ATI Management Bureau,” I said sharply. “Tell your people to get the hell out of my way. We’ve got a code seven-nine, and that means I’ve got places to be.”

The young man blanched. “I’m sorry, ma’am,” he said. “We were told to stop all cars coming this way, and we thought all agents were already inside the impact zone.”

“Mmm-hmm. And while you’re apologizing, you’re not moving anything out of my way.” I put my badge back inside my jacket. “Apology accepted, sentiment appreciated, now move.”

He nearly tripped over his own feet getting away from my car and running to enlist several more of the “officers” in helping him move the barrier out of my way. I rolled my window back up to discourage further conversation, sitting and drumming my fingers against the steering wheel until my path was clear. I gunned the engine once, as a warning, before hitting the gas and rocketing past the cordon like it had personally offended me—which, in a certain way, it had. I detest lateness. When you’re late in a fairy tale, people wind up dead. And not true-love’s-kiss, glass-coffin-naptime dead. Really dead, the kind of dead you don’t recover from. I am notoriously unforgiving of lateness, and being late myself wasn’t improving my mood.

The control van was parked at the absolute edge of the probable impact zone. I pulled up next to it. The door banged open barely three seconds later, and five feet, eleven inches of furious Goth girl threw herself out of the vehicle, already shouting at me. At least, her mouth was moving; thanks to the bulletproof, charmproof, soundproof glass in my car windows, I couldn’t hear a damn thing. I smiled, spreading my hands and shaking my head. It was a shitty thing to do, but considering the morning I’d been having, winding Sloane up a little was perfectly understandable.

She stopped shouting and showed me the middle fingers of both her hands, an obscene gesture that was only enhanced by the poison apple green nail polish that she was wearing. It clashed nicely with her hair, which was currently an unnaturally bright shade of red with black tips. Nothing about her could be called “subtle” by any conventional means, and that was how she liked it. The more visible she was, the less she felt at risk of sinking back into her own story.

“Getting a little saucy today, I see,” I said, finally taking pity on Sloane and opening my car door so that she could shout at me properly. “What’s the situation?”

“Andy’s working with the grunts to clear out as many of the local businesses as possible before shit gets ugly,” said Sloane. “And you’re late.”

“Yes, but if we’re still clearing coffee shops, I’m not late enough that you’ve been waiting for me at all.” I took another look around the area. In addition to our control van, I could see four more vehicles that were almost certainly ours, going by their paint jobs and lack of identifying features. “Who called it in?”

“Monitoring station,” said Sloane. She shoved her hands into her pockets, slouching backward until her shoulders were resting against the side of the van. The resulting backbend made my own spine ache in sympathy, but she continued as if she weren’t trying to emulate a contortionist, saying, “They started getting signs of a memetic incursion around two o’clock this morning, called it in, didn’t get the signal to wake us because there was nothing confirmed. The signs got stronger, the alerts kept coming, on alert ten they woke me, I came into the office and sifted the data, and we started mobilization about twenty minutes later.”

I nodded. “And you’re sure it’s a seven-nine?”

“She has all the symptoms. Pale skin, dark hair, affinity for small animals—she works in a shelter that takes in exotics and half the pictures we were able to pull off of her Facebook profile show her with birds, rats, or weird-ass lizards hanging out on her shoulders.”

The image of the bluebirds committing suicide via my window pane flashed across my mind, there and gone in an instant. I managed not to shudder, turning the need for motion into a nod instead. “Have we identified her family members?”

“Yeah. No siblings, father remarried when she was nine years old, stepmother owns a beauty parlor and tanning salon. She’s pretty much perfect for the profile, which is why we’re here.”

“Mm-hmm.” I considered Sloane. She was our best AT-profiler; she could spot a story forming while the rest of us were still looking at it and wondering whether it was even in the main Index. But she was also, to put it bluntly, lazy. She liked knowing where the stories were going to be so that she could get the hell out of their way. She didn’t like knowing the details behind the narrative. Details made the victims too real, and reality wasn’t Sloane’s cup of tea. “And we’re positive about her tale type?”

Irritation flashed briefly in her eyes, there and gone in an instant. “Jeffrey confirmed my research, and he said we haven’t had a seven-nine here in years. We’re due.”

“If that’s all we’re going by, we’re due for a lot of things.” Some stories are more common than others. Seven-nines are thankfully rare, in part because they take a lot of support from the narrative. Dwarves aren’t cheap. Other stories require smaller casts and happen more frequently. Sadly for us, some of the more common stories are also some of the most dangerous.

Sloane’s expression darkened, eyes narrowing beneath the red and black fringe of her hair. “Well, maybe if you’d shown up when we were first scrambling this team, you’d have been able to have more input on what kind of story we’re after. You didn’t show up for the briefing, so the official designation is seven-nine.”

I bit back a retort. Another promptly rose in my throat, and I bit that back as well. Sloane didn’t deserve any of the things I wanted to say to her, no matter how obnoxious she was being, because she was right; I should have been there when the team was coming together. I should have been a part of this conversation.

“Where’s Andy?” I asked.

“Behind you,” said a mild, amiable voice. It was the kind of voice that made me want to confess my sins and admit that everything in my life was my own fault. That’s the type of quality you want in a public relations point man.

I turned. “What’s our civilian situation?”

“I’ve cleared out as many as I could, but this isn’t an area that can be completely secured,” said Andy, as if this were a perfectly normal way for us to begin a conversation. Tall, thick-waisted, and solid, he looked like he could easily have bench-pressed me with one arm tied behind his back. It was all appearances: in reality, I could have taken him in either a fair or an unfair fight, and Sloane could mop the floor with us both. What Andy brought to the table was people skills. There were very few minds he couldn’t change, if necessary, and most of those belonged to people who were already caught in the gravitational pull of the oncoming story.

Put in a lineup, we certainly made an interesting picture. All three of us were dark-haired, although Andy and I were both natural, while Sloane’s black came out of a bottle. Andy had skin almost as dark as his hair. Sloan was pale but still clearly Caucasian. I had less melanin than your average sheet of paper, and could easily have been mistaken for albino if not for my blue eyes and too-red lips—although more than a few people probably assumed that my hair was as dyed as Sloane’s, and that my lip color came courtesy of Cover Girl. We definitely didn’t look like any form of law enforcement. That, too, was a sort of truth in advertising, because the law that we were enforcing wasn’t the law of men or countries. It was the law of the narrative, and it was our job to prevent the story from going the way it always had before—impossible as that could sometimes seem.


We set the junior agents and the grunts to holding the perimeter while we walked two blocks deeper into our isolation zone, trying to get eyes on our target. We found her getting out of a cab that had somehow managed to get past the cordon—not as much of a surprise as I wanted it to be, sad to say. Most of the police didn’t have any narrative resistance to speak of, and our junior agents weren’t much better. If the story wanted her to make it this far, she’d make it. The obstacles we were throwing in her way just gave her tale one more thing to overcome.

There are times when I wonder if the entire ATI Management Bureau isn’t a form of narrative inertia, something gathered by a story so big that it has no number and doesn’t appear in the Index. We’d be a great challenge for some unknown cast of heroes and villains. And then I push that thought aside and try to keep going, because if I let myself start down that primrose path of doubts and disillusionment, I’m never coming back.

Our target paid her cabbie before turning to stagger unsteadily down the sidewalk. She was beautiful in the classical seven-nine way, with sleek black hair and snowy skin that probably burned horribly in the summer. She looked dazed, like she was no longer quite aware of what she was doing. One of her feet was bare. She probably wasn’t aware of that, either.

Andy pulled out his phone, keying in a quick series of geographical tags that would hopefully enable us to predict her destination before she could actually get there. Finally, he said, “She’s heading for the Alta Vista Medical Center.”

I swore under my breath. “Of course she is. Where else would she be going?” Alta Vista was the largest hospital in the city. Even if we’d been able to close off eighty percent of the traffic coming into our probable impact zone, we couldn’t close or evacuate the hospital. Not enough people believe in fairy tales anymore.

“Shoot her,” said Sloane.

“We’re not shooting her,” said Andy.

Sloane shrugged. “Your funeral.”

“Let’s pretend to be professionals…and pick up the pace,” I snapped. Sloane and Andy exchanged a glance, briefly united against a common enemy—me. They knew that I wanted them to be mad at me rather than each other, and they accepted it as the way the world was meant to be. Besides, we all knew that our job would be easier this way.

We followed the target all the way down the road to Alta Vista, hanging back almost half a block to keep her from noticing us. Our caution was born more of habit than necessity; she was deep into her narrative haze, moving more under the story’s volition than her own. We could have stripped down and danced naked in front of her and she would just have kept on walking.

“If we’re not going to stop her from getting where she’s going, why are we even bothering?” Sloane walked with her hands crammed as far into the pockets of her denim jacket as they would go, her shoulders in a permanent defensive hunch. “She’ll play out whether we’re here or not. We could go out, get breakfast, and come back before the EMTs finish hooking her to the life support.”

“Because it’s the polite thing to do,” said Andy. He was always a lot more at ease with this part of the job than Sloane was, probably because the only thing Andy ever escaped was a respectable profession that he could tell his family about. Sloane missed being a Wicked Stepsister by inches, and she’s always been uncomfortable around the ATI cases that tread near the edges of her own story. I can’t blame her for that. I also can’t approve any of her requests for transfer. Jeff’s fully actualized in his story, and I’m in a holding pattern, but Sloane was actually averted. That gives her a special sensitivity to the spectrum. She’s the only one who can spot the memetic incursions before they get fully underway.

“She’s a seven-nine,” snarled Sloane, shooting a poisonous glare in Andy’s direction. Metaphorically poisonous: she never matured to the arsenic-and-apples stage of things. Thank God. Once a Wicked Stepsister goes that far, there’s no bringing them back to reason. “You can’t do anything for them, short of putting a bullet in their heads. Even then, the dumb bitches will probably just get permanently brain-damaged on the way to happy ever after.”

Andy raised an eyebrow. “Gosh, Sloane, tell us how you really feel.”

The target approached the doors of the Alta Vista Hospital. Even at our half-block remove, we saw them slide open, allowing her to make her way inside. If the story went the way the archivists predicted, her own Wicked Stepmother would be waiting inside, ready to hand her a box of poisoned apple juice or a plastic cup of tainted applesauce. That would let the story start in earnest. That’s the way it goes for the seven-nines. All the Snow Whites are essentially the same, when you dig all the way down to the bottom of their narratives.

Sloane shifted her weight anxiously from one foot to the other as we waited, looking increasingly uncomfortable as the minutes trickled by and the weight of the impending story grew heavier. Then she stiffened, her eyes going wide in their rings of sheltering kohl. “There isn’t a five-eleven anywhere inside that hospital,” she said, and bolted for the doors.

Swearing, Andy and I followed her.

Sloane had been a marathon runner in high school, and she’d continued to run since then, choosing it over more social forms of exercise. She was piling on the speed now, running hell-bent toward the hospital doors with her head slightly down, like she was going to ram her way straight through any obstacles. Andy had settled into a holding pattern about eight feet behind her, letting her be the one to trigger any traps that might be waiting. It wasn’t as heartless as it seems. As the one who had come the closest to being sucked into a story of her own without going all the way, Sloane is not only the most sensitive—she’s also the most resistant. She could survive where we couldn’t.

“Sloane!” I bellowed. “If it’s not a seven-nine, what is it?”

She didn’t have time to answer, but she didn’t need to. She came skidding to a stop so abruptly that Andy almost slammed into her from behind, both of them only inches from the sensor that would trigger the automatic door. Those inches saved them. I could see the people in the lobby through the glass as they started falling over gently in their tracks, all of them apparently sinking into sleep at the same moment.

I let momentum carry me forward until I came to an easy stop next to Sloane and Andy. “Great,” I sighed. “A four-ten.”


Unfortunately, you'll have to purchase INDEXING on Amazon.com for $2.99 to get the rest of the episode. And make sure to come back and share your non-spoilery comments if you give it a try!


Binding the Shadows by Jenn Bennett

Binding the Shadows by Jenn Bennett (Arcadia Bell #3) Binding the Shadows by Jenn Bennett

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Trade paperback: 384 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Pocket
Release date: May 28, 2013

Series: Arcadia Bell #3

Source: eARC from author

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Renegade mage and bartender Arcadia Bell has had a rough year, but now the door to her already unstable world is unhinging. When a citywide crime wave erupts, Cady’s demon-friendly tiki bar is robbed by Earthbounds wielding surreal demonic abilities that just flat-out shouldn’t exist. With the help of her devilishly delicious boyfriend, Lon Butler, Cady sets out to find the people who wronged her—but her targets aren’t the only ones experiencing unnatural metamorphoses. Can Cady track down the monsters responsible before the monster inside her destroys everything—and everyone—she loves? If she survives this adventure, one thing is certain: it’s last call for life as she knows it.

In BINDING THE SHADOWS, the third novel in the Arcadia Bell series, Jenn Bennett tackles some big ideas: Cady's Moonchild abilities develop, her relationships with Lon and Jupe are tested, and her friendship with Kar Yee faces new challenges. As a result, this is probably the most emotional book in the series thus far. Bennett's characteristic ribald humour is still present but there are some seriously heavy moments in BINDING THE SHADOWS. I wasn't expecting the book to be so emotional, or to be so very wrapped up in the emotion myself. Bennett excels at writing great characters and inspired plots but she's never gotten my heart so involved in one of her stories before. I think it's a testament to the strength of her writing and also a very bold move for the author since BINDING THE SHADOWS has a different and somewhat darker tone from previous stories in the series.

Relationships are a big part of BINDING THE SHADOWS and some of my favourite scenes in BINDING THE SHADOWS are the interactions between Kar Yee and Cady. I've been a Kar Yee fan for quite some time and it's great to see her get more page time, even if she and Cady are having difficult conversations. As much as I adore Cady, Kar Yee makes some excellent points in their harsh heart-to-heart and I'm very invested in seeing what happens between them on a personal and professional level in CROSSING THE ÆTHYR. BINDING THE SHADOWS also introduces some of Jupe's family on his mom's side. I've long wondered what kind of family Yvonne came from and it's nice to see that they're warm and wonderful people. Their presence really add to the story and gets Cady to reflect on her relationships with Lon and Jupe.

Bennett really dives into Cady's Moonchild abilities in BINDING THE SHADOWS and there are some revelations that I can only describing as startling and troubling. I don't want to spoil it for you since the book isn't out yet but Cady learns a lot more about what her powers can do and where they come from. It's going to make her life a lot more interesting and scary and I have no idea how she's going to get out of the trouble she's in with her growing powers. But the real OMFG part of BINDING THE SHADOWS is definitely the ending. I actually punched a pillow because I was so shocked and kept trying to flick through the pages on my e-reader to find the rest even though I knew i wasn't there because I couldn't believe how Bennett has ended BINDING THE SHADOWS. It's not a cliffhanger in the sense that the main storyline gets wrapped up but it is a cliffhanger in the sense that I NEED TO KNOW WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO CADY RIGHT NOW AND I DON'T THINK I CAN WAIT A WHOLE YEAR TO FIND OUT WHAT COMES NEXT. I love me some Jenn Bennett but right now I'm too busy feeling tortured by that edge-of-the-seat ending and the fact that we have to wait until next May to get some resolution. In fact, I'm getting agitated just writing this post and it's been a few days since I finished the novel. Damn you, Jenn Bennett, and your crazy brain!! (I say this with respect and adoration.)

Bennett's writing has hit an emotional peak with BINDING THE SHADOWS and the way she's ended this latest instalment will leave readers panting for more. This third novel in her Arcadia Bell series really raises the bar in terms of emotion, danger, and magical possibilities and I'm in awe of Jenn Bennett's talent and moxy. If you've been on the fence about this series, BINDING THE SHADOWS is sure to win you over!

Read an excerpt



Sunday, May 26, 2013

Guest Post: Reviews by Cassi Carver + Giveaway


In celebration of her most recent release, Dark Flight, Cassi Carver graciously accepted to stop on the blog during her virtual blog tour, and share her thoughts on book reviews. I think it’s a great post since it reassures me, as a blogger, that my reviews aren’t lost in cyberspace. Some authors, like Cassi, really appreciate our thoughts on the books they’ve written. So check out down below what Cassi thinks about reviews!

Also, don’t forget to enter Cassi’s giveaway at the bottom of the post!


Hi, everyone! I’m so happy to be back on Tynga’s Reviews today! You guys have been so supportive since the very beginning of The Shadow Slayers series, and I wanted to talk today about something I rarely discuss: reviews.

Yes, I’m a writer, but I’ve been a reader for most of my life. Although reading seems pretty easy, there was a time when I thought reviewing was another matter entirely. When Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads came into my life, bringing with them those little boxes yearning for my words of wisdom on a recent read and five empty stars to fill, I shied away—overwhelmed at the task and underwhelmed at my ability to write a review.

But reviewing a book should be easy, right? Maybe, but I know several people, even in my professional writers group who still cringe when they’re asked to write a review. I’ve had several people ask me, as though I should be an authority on the matter, “How does one write a review?” And when that happens, my mind goes blank for a moment as I frantically search the wrinkly gray matter inside my skull for an answer.

Then I realize that I don’t really have a perfect answer because reading is such a personal experience, and every review is going to be as unique as the reviewer. When I read a book, for instance, I usually connect on an emotional level. Because of that, I may not point out every metaphor or plot device, but I can tell you what I liked about it and what I didn’t. I can tell you if it was satisfying or if I wish it would have ended differently. I may not be able to draw comparisons to great literature, but I know if the story worked for me. And I think that’s all we need to do.

Trust me, as an author, I want to know what you think. Authors don’t mind if reviews are gut level reactions or beautiful works of writing themselves. What we want to know is that you took the time to read our book and what it made you feel. Were you dancing on air? Did you want to chuck your e-reader across the room?

Every author should know that the best way to sell a book is still word of mouth. That takes some pressure off of readers because even if you give a book three stars, you don’t have to feel bad. You may say the book has “way too much sex in it,” but when you post that review, there may be another reader who sees it and thinks, “Yes! Finally enough sex!” Most any review is better than a book not being talked about at all.

So to help the reader who is unsure of how to review a book, I want to give you a very brief checklist of stuff you might want to include in your reviews.

  • Have you ever read this author before?
  • Is this book in a series or does it stand alone?
  • What is the genre and page (or word) count?
  • What was your initial reaction to the book? What did you like about it?
  • Who were your favorite characters and why?
  • How was the pacing? Did it seem slow or action-packed?
  • How would you describe the spice level? Did it seem to fit the story?
  • Was there anything confusing about the book that was never answered?
  • Did you want to keep turning the pages to see what happened next up until the very end of the book?
  • Did the book turn out like you were hoping? If not, what would you have changed?
  • Would you be interested in reading another book from this author?

So those are a few ideas to get you started, and you can include as many or as few of them as you like. That’s the beauty of it—your review is up to you!

I have a few helpful tips though, for both authors and reviewers. Reviewers—try to keep your comments about the book and never personally attack the writer, even if you think the book stinks like a rotting road kill and only a weenie would have written it. Authors—don’t ever respond to a bad review. It never helps, and besides, people are entitled to their own opinions. Just be happy readers are talking about your book.

So…do you ever review books? If not, I suggest you check out Goodreads. It’s a really cool forum to meet friends and discuss the books you’re reading. Check it out here.

Now you’ve heard my thoughts on reviews—what are yours? Comment and be entered to win a copy of Dark Flight, the third book in my spicy urban fantasy series. And of course, if you get around to reading The Shadow Slayer series, I’d love to hear what you think!


Thank you Cassi for stopping by!

Here’s more about Dark Flight:cassi carverDark Flight

Kara has been training for months to help take down Brakken—the merciless black-wing who is making life hell for the Demiáre. But when Julian discovers a scout has been tracking Kara, he wants her out of the fight—even if it means breaking her heart in the process.

Gavin isn’t much better. He’s already lost so much to Brakken and has no intention of allowing the woman he loves to be the next sacrifice. He and Julian have their hands full trying to fight Brakken’s army and keep Kara safe, especially after her recent visit to the mythical white-wings. Since her return, she’s been acting decidedly…strange.

With a terrible battle looming, Kara doesn’t have time to think about her conflicted feelings for Gavin and Julian—or the fact that she’s developed an unnatural taste for Gavin’s blood. But if she thought it was complicated evading mysterious scouts and fending off vicious black-wings, she’s learning that’s nothing compared to loving two strong-willed men.

Product Warnings

This book contains angels that aren’t what they seem, a heroine with mad midwifery skills, and a metamorphosis that will change life as we knew it.

Purchase: Amazon

My thoughts

Read an excerpt


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More about Cassi Carver:

cassi carver 2She lives in sunny Southern California with her two dogs, four kids, five chickens, and one hubby who gives great massages. She gets to the Gaslamp for research (okay, happy hour) as often as possible. She’s never saved the world, but keeps sexy boots on hand just in case the opportunity arises.

When not busy plotting and writing, she enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends, caring for pets, getting outdoors, and trolling makeup counters for that elusive shade of eye shadow and lip gloss that will finally bring her lasting cosmetic fulfillment.