Monday, November 26, 2012

Blog tour: Meet Dylan Kennedy - The Marked Son by Shea Berkley

Title: The Marked Son
Author: Shea Berley
Series: Keepers of Life #1
Release date: August 2, 2011
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Format: Egalley
Source: Provided by publisher
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Seventeen-year-old Dylan Kennedy always knew something was different about him, but until his mother abandoned him in the middle of Oregon with grandparents he's never met, he had no idea what.When Dylan sees a girl in white in the woods behind his grandparents' farm, he knows he's seen her his dreams. He's felt her fear. Heard her insistence that only he can save her world from an evil lord who uses magic and fear to feed his greed for power.Unable to shake the unearthly pull to Kera, Dylan takes her hand. Either he's completely insane or he's about to have the adventure of his life, because where they're going is full of creatures he's only read about in horror stories. Worse, the human blood in his veins has Dylan marked for death...
Entangled hasn't let me down yet. Everything I've read published by them has been good, and The Marked Son is no exception. I greatly enjoyed reading about Dylan and am excited to read more about him in The Fallen Prince!

Shea Berkley has created an interesting take on alternate dimensions that I quite liked. Dylan has dreamed of a mysterious girl all his life, telling himself she's not real yet hoping that she is. He is shocked when he sees her outside of his dreams and in the woods outside his grandparent's house. This leads him on a journey unlike anything he'd dare to imagine.

I always think there aren't enough male protagonists in YA, so I enjoyed reading about Dylan. He seems to be a genuinely nice guy who has just gotten caught in bad circumstances. He wants to do good but has just never gotten the chance. Despite his mom's countless failed relationships, Dylan grew into a compassionate and caring person, one that really shouldn't have happened. I'm so glad it did though. :) Shea does a good job making Dylan not only believable as a character, but she makes him sound like a male narrator rather than a female saying she's a guy.

I also enjoyed reading about Kera, though it did take me a little bit to get a good handle on the world she lives in, Teag. She's got some spunk and is definitely headstrong. One can't really help but like her.

There is so much to love in The Marked Son: interesting plot, great lead characters, well-developed secondary characters, a menacing villain, adventure, and, of course, loveee. I was entranced pretty much from the start and didn't want it to end. I"m so excited to find out the rest of Dylan's story.

About the Author:
Shea is an author of YA fantasy novels, which means she's the luckiest person alive because she gets to spend her day playing with her characters. Some are totally cool, others aren't so nice, but they all bring something to the party. Find out more about Shea here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Blog Tour: Bonded by Michelle Davidson Argyle

Title: Bonded
Author: Michelle Davidson Argyle
Release date: November 1, 2012
Publisher: Rhemalda Publishing
Format: Egalley
Source: Author
Pages: 380
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Rhemalda

What happened after Cinderella married her prince? How did the evil sorceress in Sleeping Beauty turn evil in the first place? Discover these stories and a world filled with magic, forbidden love, elves, sprites, dragons, and the most powerful creatures of all— the fairies —in Bonded, a collection of three fairy tale inspired novellas.

CINDERS: A Cinderella sequel. Money can’t buy love, but magic isn’t a sure bet either. Cinderella, now officially a princess, finds royal life is not what she once dreamed. When a mysterious elf from her past stirs up long-suppressed passion, Cinderella begins to wonder if there really is love beneath the spell that captured her husband’s heart. But undoing magic can be harder than casting the initial spell, and the results are even less predictable.

THIRDS: A retelling of the Grimm’s fairy tale, One-Eye, Two-Eyes, Three-Eyes. Issina is surrounded by magic, yet none of it belongs to her. Despised and abused by her mother and sisters, she finds comfort when she meets the beautiful elves living in the nearby woods. The elves want to help her discover her own magic, but it’s not the kind of power she hoped for, and she learns there is more to magic than getting what you want.

SCALES: A Sleeping Beauty prequel. The sun never sets in the realm of the fairies. When the young fairy Serina looks into her sister’s eyes, she sees darkness for the first time. After her mother is murdered, Serina defies fairy law to follow her sister to the human realm. There she discovers the strength of a bond, the weight of a promise, and the darkness in her own heart.

I don't know that I've read any short story collection (if that's what you could call this) that I've loved as much as Bonded. Yes, the description basically tells you it's going to be continuations or retellings of stories you're already familiar with (or maybe not, in the case of Thirds) but I was completely taken aback by the strings connecting the three stories. That is what made them so special. They all take place within the same realm and build off of one another, bringing you in a full circle that is so satisfying and heart-breaking.

The first story, Cinders, was previously published, but I had never read it. I was quickly drawn into Cinderella's plight; she doesn't know if the prince loves her for herself or simply because of the spell, she is having dreams of stranger she thought was long gone, and there is unrest in her country. Here we are first introduced to the threads of story that continue through the other two stories that makes this book so good, but Cinders also stands alone as a fantastic story, one that I'd love without the other two stories in the book (though the addition of the other two just make this one better!)

Following Cinders is Thirds, a retelling of One-Eye, Two-Eyes, Three-Eyes, a Grimm fairy tale I had never heard of. It took me a little bit to get used to the idea of people with one or three eyes being beautiful, but Issina is another fantastic protagonist who struggles with things she can't find a way to change, her lack of magic, the treatment at the hands of her sisters and mother. When she finds her way into a magic she never dreamed of she struggles with the realization she will never become what she wanted, but could be even better.

I think my favorite story was Scales, though. This is the story that connects all of the dots from the other two and really dives deep into the magic that surrounds the other stories. Serina's story is also the one I found to be most resonant. She is a fairy, the most powerful of magical beings, and should be perfectly happy. But she struggles with secrets her sister has entrusted to her and with the knowledge that things are not as they probably should be. The unfailing love Serina displays is honestly just moving. She's resented her sister since her birth for her perfection, yet she loves her so deeply that she's willing to risk her way of life, safety, and anything else to help her. The ending of Serina's story is one so heartbreaking, I just didn't know what to do with myself. I adored it, though.

While wonderful stories on their own, Cinders, Thirds, and Scales are a near perfect collection. The themes of bonding and self-sacrificing love run throughout and make the reading experience all the better for it. I honestly don't know if I can come up with words that work well enough to explain how perfectly done this book is. Just read it and you'll understand!