Book Interviews, Books, Interviews

Traveler exclusive interview with Arwen Elys Dayton … and a giveaway!

Hi everyone! Last month we featured the new release Traveler, which is the sequel to Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton. We love Arwen, and were excited to talk Traveler with her in this exclusive video interview. We’re also giving away a copy of Traveler AND a set of both books!

But first, what’s Traveler about? Here’s the summary:

  51YGc3Kv0WL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_  Quin Kincaid is a Seeker. Her legacy is an honor, an ancient role passed down for generations. But what she learned on her Oath night changed her world forever.
Quin pledged her life to deception. Her legacy as a Seeker is not noble but savage. Her father, a killer. Her uncle, a liar. Her mother, a casualty. And the boy she once loved is out for vengeance, with her family in his sights.
Yet Quin is not alone. Shinobu, her oldest companion, might now be the only person she can trust. The only one who wants answers as desperately as she does.
But the deeper they dig into the past, the darker things become. There are long-vanished Seeker families, shadowy alliances, and something else: a sinister plan begun generations ago, with the power to destroy them all.
The past is close. And it will destroy them all.

This book was such a great read. The story shifts to a lot of history of the Seekers and why things are the way they are. What’s awesome in this book? A lot. It was rich with story and Seeker culture, along with the struggles of being a good human when your world has been turned upside down. Here are a few of my favorite things:

  • The truths that the main characters encounter really take them through the ringer, and it’s really fun to see how that part of the story unfolds.
  • There are some really interesting new additions to the tools that help the Seekers do what they do, mainly in the form of an awesome helm that messes with the mind. There’s also this shield that takes the lighting-like energy from the disruptor weapon and not only protects the holder but sends it flying back the way it came. So cool.
  • There are some amazing fight scenes, lots of great tension written in the voice that I came to love in the first book. The main characters have all been trained to fight, and it’s really fun to see them using their skills.
  • I really loved that we get inside the head of some characters who were just a mystery in the first book, and watching the separate plots come together at the end of the book was super rewarding.
  • My favorite part of this book is the absolute ringer that my emotions took with the characters’ journeys.There is no black and white with any of them. It’s like all the preconceived ideas I had were flipped on their head. It was delicious to experience, and I definitely found myself shouting in frustration, gasping in shock, and shaking my head in wonder.

If you enjoyed Seeker you won’t be disappointed with Traveler. It really takes you deep into this world and its characters, and it leaves you hanging, holding your breath. Don’t miss out!

Okay! So, here’s the interview with the lovely Arwen. We had a bit of a technical glitch in the middle, but I included a link in the video that allows you to jump past the minutes of silence. We definitely dig into the story, so don’t watch if you don’t want any spoilers! And don’t forget to enter in the giveaway below for your chance to win the books!

Giveaway!

We will choose two winners at random. Winner one will get a hardback of Traveler. Winner two will get a set of both Seeker and Traveler. Don’t miss your chance to win! Enter below:

Rules:

Entries are US only.

The giveaway lasts until 11:59 pm EST February 29th, 2016.

 

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Book Events, Books, Events

Lytherus Book Club: THE REMNANT CHRONICLES by Mary E. Pearson!

August

I couldn’t be more excited to cover this series! People seem to love these books with an obsession that isn’t often seen, and I definitely want to see what all the fuss is about.

Here’s the official summary of book 1 to get us started:

1391213154In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight–but she doesn’t–and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom–to a prince she has never met.
On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive–and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets–even as she finds herself falling in love.
The Kiss of Deception is the first book in Mary E. Pearson’s Remnant Chronicles.

We will be dividing each book in half in our posts, to break up the info. We want you to read along with us and add your two cents to our posts. What are you loving? What predictions do you have for the book? At the end of the month we’ll be interviewing Mary, and asking her all your burning questions. Don’t miss out! We’ll also have some great goodies for you. Stay tuned over the next few weeks, we can’t wait!

Book Interviews, Books, Interviews

Lytherus Book Club: Interview with Melissa Grey, author of THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT!

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This interview was so much fun! Melissa and I talked about all sorts of fun things, including the relationships between her characters, coming up with the uniqueness of the world, books she’s into, and more! Don’t miss this great chat.

Also, we’re giving away a copy of THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT to one lucky person. US/Canada only! Don’t miss your chance to enter below the interview. The giveaway runs from June 30th until 11:59 EST on July 6th.

Without further ado, here you go:

Don’t forget to enter in the giveaway below!

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Book Editorial, Books, Editorials

Lytherus Book Club: Emmy Laybourne talks genrebusting books in YA!

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We wanted to feature Emmy this month in more than just her amazing book SWEET. She was awesome enough to write up a cool guest post, dissecting genre-bending YA books and what she loves about them. Enjoy genre mash-ups? Read on!

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My favorite YA Genrebusters

I’m so honored that Lytherus is featuring my new book Sweet this month. As you may have already learned, Sweet tells the story of a luxury cruise to promote a new diet sweetener that makes you lose weight. When the sweetener turns out to be highly addictive, things go from comic, to tragic to terrifying – all on a seven day cruise! At the center of the book are two teens who, for different reasons, each decide not to take the sweetener. They also happen to fall in love and, they’re pretty funny about it, so at the center of this dark tale of rising addiction and horror is… a romantic comedy!

Why did I do this? Well, I love a good genre mash up, I really do. As soon as I hand in the first draft of my current work-in-progress to my editors at Macmillan, I’m going to work on a synopsis of Sweet to pitch to movie producers. I think I’m going to really amp up the romantic-comedy/horror paradigm – aiming for a tone in the realm of “Shaun of The Dead” (everyone’s favorite buddy comedy/horror film).

Have I whet your appetite for some mash-ups? Hope so, ‘cause here are four of my very favorite genre-bending novels:

PPZGenre: Regency/Undead  Title: Pride And Prejudice And Zombies

Seth Grahame-Smith took Jane Austen’s venerated novel and made it absolutely delicious. It’s filled with lines that match Austen’s wittiness and see her one. Here’s one of my favorites, “Upon entering Meryton… the eyes of the younger ones were immediately wandering up in the street in quest of the officers, and nothing less than a very smart bonnet indeed, or the wail of the undead, could recall them.” Ha! This book has made plenty Regency fans squirm – in delight or disgust or maybe a bit of both. I think it just gets better and better. The moment when Darcy and Elizabeth confess their love for each other is a beloved scene. But when afterwards, they join hands and dismiss a pack of the “sorry stricken” together, it really makes you appreciate the depth of their love in a new way.

cinderGenre: Fairy Tale/Cyborg  Title: Cinder

Cinder is the first book in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. Each of the four books has a heroine based on the classic Grimm’s fairy tales – but they live in a fabulously-built future world that’s filled with androids, spaceships, people with unearthly powers and, yes, cyborgs. (Hint: it isn’t her slipper that Cinder leaves behind on the steps of the palace – it’s her whole dang foot.) With each new book in the series, I kept wondering how Meyer was going to keep it fresh and exciting – but she does it beautifully. If you like your fairy tales with a side of axle grease and nanochips, Cinder is for you.

nogginGenre: Coming Of Age/Cryogenic Sci-Fi Title: Noggin’

This is a sensitive and finely-told account of a teenage boy coming back to school after a difficult illness – with his head on a different body than he was born with. Travis Ray Coates’ body was riddled with cancer and so he allowed his head to be removed and cryogenically frozen. Five years later his head is attached to a donor’s body and he is reanimated, only to find that a lot has happened since he was put to sleep. This book is realistic and touching and, in the tradition of many of our best sci-fi novels, also brings up questions about morality and mortality.

beauty queensGenre: Satire/Survival Title: Beauty Queens

Oh, Libba Bray, you make me laugh so hard. This brilliant send up of the beauty industry features a planeful of teen pageant contestants getting stranded on an island that’s home to a secret military operation. Away from civilization the girls go from manicured and beauty-brainwashed to powered-up and fierce in record time. You. Must. Read. If only to familiarize yourself with “Lady ‘Stache Off,” my favorite fictional beauty product ever.

There you go – four genre-bending reads to get your mind spinning. Many thanks to Lytherus for having me over today. I’m so excited that Sweet is being featured here in June! You can find me on twitter and instagram @EmmyLaybourne if you want to tell me what you think about these books – or anything!

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Thanks Emmy! Be sure to let us know your favorite genre-bending books in the comments below, and check out part 1 of our review of SWEET. 

Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Lytherus Book Club: SWEET by Emmy Laybourne, part 1

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Hey all! I’m excited to be digging a bit deeper into SWEET by Emmy Laybourne in today’s post. I read this book in one sitting, and it was a quick easy read that was fun, funny, creepy as hell, and surprising! I’m covering the first half of the book today, which takes us up to around page 137. Here’s what’s happened that’s worth noting in the first half:

Like a lot of the books I’ve done this year for the book club, this story is told from the point of view of a guy and a girl, Laurel and Tom. Tom is a child star turned interviewer in his late teens, on the ship to cover the events of the revealing of the amazing Solu diet powder. Laurel is the bestie of rich gal Viv who invites Laurel to join her on this amazing cruise.

From the start, I could see what was coming (in the best way possible) Laurel doesn’t try the Solu, and her bestie Viv takes her shares. Tom doesn’t try Solu, as he’s all about getting fit the healthy way. Everyone else on the ship pretty much is head-over-heels in love with this product and what it’s doing to them.

The two protagonists meet at the start, when Laurel pukes on Tom’s shoes during an interview on day 1 thanks to motion sickness, though he noticed how pretty she is right before that happened. And then that night at the club Tom accidentally crashes into Laurel. And then kisses her straight after (for publicity, even though he didn’t really mind). During their next encounter Laurel reams him a new one about it. And so they go, back and forth, for their first few encounters]. And all the while, all the people around them are happily ingesting Solu and losing weight and feeling excited about the results.

Slowly they become more friendly, with Tom making an effort to get to know her and Laurel trying to be herself in the face of a hot celebrity. And during this we start to see a shift in those around Laurel and Tom. Viv is more irritable. Rude. Just generally off. Tom’s manager is more brusque than usual. People start getting a bit aggressive involving Solu, wanting more. Laurel notices Viv craving the snacks and describing Solu like an addict. And everyone seems to be partying harder too. And then Viv starts to look sickly, hollow and ragged. She passes out. Tom carries her to their room, where they tuck her into bed and Laurel and Tom end up kissing.

That’s where we leave off today, but let me tell you, there was no way I was going to stop reading right there!

Emmy has created some fantastic voices with these two main characters.I love Laurel. She’s a practical, level-headed gal who can totally hold her own. And Tom, I love his self-awareness, being famous but not really loving all it brings. They feel relatable and their reactions felt very realistic. It’s pretty great. I also love the plot she’s set up. I can see generally what’s coming, and I anticipate it with glee. I cannot wait to see how she plays out the story within the confines she’s created. They’re isolated from communication for a few days (Tom’s forced to pre-record a bunch of stuff at one point) so no one outside of the ship is going to know what’s happening. And something’s definitely going to be happening!

Stay tuned soon for part 2! We’re also lucky enough to have an awesome guest post from Emmy which I’ll be posting in the near future. Don’t miss it. And don’t forget to post any questions you might have for the author in the comments or on our social media feeds!

Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Lytherus Book Club: SWEET by Emmy Layborne

For our June book selection we’re changing things up a bit and are tackling a horror book! SWEET is the new book from Emmy Laybourne, author of the MONUMENT 14 series, and it is seriously creepy. Horror isn’t usually my thing, but I read this book in one sitting, it was so good!

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Here’s the official summary:

sweetIn order to launch a new diet sweetener called Solu, the drug’s manufacturers have decided to host a week-long juggernaut on a luxury cruise ship.

Tom and Laurel, two teens who for very different reasons decide not to take Solu, watch as the people around them are overjoyed at first – the product works! They’re losing weight! But the drug is highly addictive, and when the people in charge try to ration out the Solu, Tom and Laurel watch in growing horror as the passengers go from miffed, to mutinous, to murderous.

Will Tom and Laurel make it off the ship alive? And how will they warn the main-land about Solu’s deadly side effects?

We will be dissecting this book into two different posts throughout the month, tackling the first and second halves. We’re also excited to feature an exclusive interview with Emmy at the end of the month, along with a giveaway of SWEET. Stay tuned for more posts, and be sure to read this amazing book along with us!

Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Lytherus book club: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, part 2

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We’re deep in the middle of SHADOW SCALE, the sequel to SERAPHINA by Rachel Hartman. And wow, the second half of this book … it’s fantastic.  I absolutely loved the path the story took. Let’s dive right in, but not before I remind you to comment below with any questions you might have for the lovely author, as we have an exclusive interview looming on the horizon!

Okay! So, We left off with Seraphina and Ingar visiting with the priest half-dragon Pende and Cambra, his half-dragon acolyte. Pende removed Jannoula from Ingar’s mind, and Cambra is caring for him to help him find himself again. Here are the major goodies that happen in the second half of this book:

  • Seraphina takes the little book to Ingar to translate, to distract his mind. Camba and Ingar weren’t home, and as she leaves she spots a half-dragon with wings above. Seraphina tries to talk to her but she just flies away. Over the next few weeks she tries repeatedly to see Cambra but is met with excuse after excuse and never gets in.
  • She heads to the part of the city that housed dragon exiles to look for her uncle and Eskar, his dragon guardian and girlfriend. She talks to a dragon and he confirms that Eskar has been there, but she’s been gone for two weeks without word. And he knows Orma but hasn’t seen him.
  • Abdo is in bad shape. Pende can’t unhook Jannoula while Abdo fights with her, so they’re forced to wait the battle out. Abdo is in a half-state.
  • She sets off to find the other half-dragons. They all avoid her or are unreachable. After she steps in the path of one she learns that the priest won’t let them talk to her, he worries she’ll take them away. They can’t disobey, but she’s looking for a loophole.
  • She finally is invited into Camba’s. All the local half-dragons are there, excited to talk to Seraphina. She learns about how Pende took all of them under his wing and helped them. But they all have disappointed him in some way, leaving the temple and his god for other paths (except Camba). There’s a familiarity between them that Seraphina has dreamed of for her kind. Ingar also reveals that the book she gave him is the only known testament of the heretic saint. Ingar promised to write up a translation for her to read.
  • Glisselda told her that Kiggs and Comonot were traveling to her, with the plan to have the dragon leader head into the mountains to the dragon capital, where dragon politics required he be listened to. Kiggs was to take her home with the other half-dragons.
  • Kiggs revealed that he came with Comonot to see Seraphina, which has him feeling guilty about keeping it from Glisselda.
  • She’s summoned to a meeting of dragons, where we meet a teenage dragon who is determined to identify with the country she’s in, not the dragon one. Eska also shows up, and encourages them to take over a censor lab up the valley on the way to the dragon capital, to help them hide, etc. She also reveals that Orma is there.
  • the next day a ship is pursued into the harbor. It’s filled with the knights who were training to fight dragons, escaping their island home that was attacked by Josef. They’re forced to leave the following day to head for Glisselda’s kingdom, and Kiggs goes with them. Seraphina decides to go with the dragons up into the mountains to try and save her uncle.
  • Before they leave Seraphina takes Abdo to Pende to get Jennoula unhooked. But as Pende tries to remove her she tricks them all and not only stays hooked in Abdo but manages to hook into the old priest too.
  • On her way home she passes a gathering where the teen dragon and her friends reveal that some of the dragons are leaving, and that there are enemy ships in the harbor that they can help with. They turn into dragons and, working together, burn down the enemy fleet. They are subsequently banished for essentially starting a war.
  • The dragons and Seraphina leave, heading up into the mountains. When they get to the censor lab a group of four head in, Eskar and Seraphina being two of them. Eskar tells Seraphina that she was mated to Orma.
  • They sneak in through the sewers, where they run into quigs (the smaller dragons). The leader says he’s been waiting for them and that everything is in place. Eskar tells them they have two days to get all the sabotage finished and that Seraphina and the teen dragon (Brisi) will help them.
  • Once inside she asks a quig to help her locate Orma. He takes her to a computer room, and though there’s a file on him they can’t seem to locate him in the lab. In conversation he says in passing that there was a half-human trapped here, that the censors raised it from a baby and did experiments on it. He says that she wasn’t released, but that the war dragons used her because she became amazing at strategy. He reveals that she’s actually the famous General Laedi, a brutal war general. This also revealed that she was working for the enemy dragons.
  • The battle happens. While the dragons are fighting a quig takes Seraphina to question a doctor dragon about Orma. He has a message for her from Jannoula, that her uncle was sent to her, at Seraphina’s home, and that she was done playing.
  • She follows Comonot and Eskar to the archives where they talk to the old archivist about Jannoula. She’s been manipulating all sides for a while, encouraging the old thinking dragons to challenge the peace. She even knew about Imlann, hidden as a spy.
  • The archivist reveals something called the Great Mistake. 700 years prior dragons experimented, breeding with humans. As Orma suspected, these had to be the saints. They were meant to be an army against humans, but they sided with the humans and created the martial art that kills dragons instead. After this failure dragons created the censors to not only eliminate the memories of this but to also make sure something like it never happened again.
  • The five teen dragons fly Seraphina back to her home. On the way they encounter a hostile dragon and work as a team to take him down, something dragons usually don’t do.
  • She lands in a field with the knights. Kiggs is there, and she says she wants to talk to the queen. He informs her that Jannoula got there before he got back and he’s not allowed in the city. Lars snuck her in. And worse, she’s declared herself a saint and the people are buying it. They decide to sneak Seraphina into the castle to befriend Jannoula and see if she can free the queen from her influence.
  • She hops into Neduard’s mind that night, and he reveals that she’s gotten him too. And that all the foreign ones are there except Abdo. She checks in on most of them and confirms this. Abdo is in the woods outside the city. Everyone else seems trapped by Jannoula’s mind except Camba.
  • Seraphina and Kiggs sneak in that night. They try to get to the queen but Seraphina can’t bluff her way in. So they wait in a room off the council chambers till the following day’s meeting. They share a passionate kiss.
  • In the meeting the next day Seraphina reveals herself and also that Jannoula is the famous General Laedi. Everyone buys her explanation, that it was all to get her to Seraphina, everything she’s done, to unite all the “saints”.
  • She settles in with the other half-dragons, biding her time while she tried to figure out what was going on. She witnessed the others making a net out of the mind-fire and how everyone fell to their knees when they saw it. Jannoula had also preched about Seraphina to the masses, calling her the counter-saint (which back in the day was the dude who challenged the power-greedy saint leader and was subsequently buried alive).
  • Phina confers with Kiggs and it seems like he’s getting swayed too. He says that the net will help stop dragons and protect the city and that the country was more important and that getting rid of Jannoula could wait. He gets caught following her one night, seems swayed by Jannoula’s charm, and is integrated back into castle life like it was nothing.
  • Seraphina is given the translation from the book that was passed to Ingar while he was recovering. It’s the testament of the heretic saint. Her lover was the original anti-saint, Pandowdy. Her brother was Abastar, the saint who craved power and had him buried alive and others killed who disagreed with his doctrine. There’s also mention of Pandowdy defeating Abastar during a casting of the net by reflecting it back on him. Seraphina decides to attempt this with the few half-dragons she can seem to trust the next time they all cast it. If Jannoula is knocked out Camba can unhook the others from her mind.
  • But, before it happens, Jannoula takes her to breakfast with Kiggs and Glisselda, where she states that someone is in love with Seraphina, making Selda flee from the room looking sick, Kiggs following.
  • Jannoula takes Seraphina to the roof with them, which makes Phina suspicious, but not until she throws the powers into Neduard and Ingar does she learn that Jannoula was spying in Neduard’s head without him even knowing about it.
  • She reveals all the parts of the upcoming war to Seraphina, how she’s basically manipulated all the sides to her end, which she wants to be a bloody one where they all destroy each other.
  • Seraphina’s locked away in a tower, away from the fighting. The net is bringing down all dragons, good and bad, and there’s a battle on the back side that the humans are up against. Then, to make things worse, Orma shows up to visit her … and has no idea who she is. His memories have been erased. Seraphina is devastated by this.
  • That night the queen’s personal guard frees Seraphina and leads her to the queen, who helps her escape.  Before she does Glisselda kisses Seraphina, and we learn that the queen is in love with her.
  • She heads off to the shrine Abdo was hiding in, but he’s not there. She reads an inscription and realizes it’s about the anti-saint Pandowdy, and she wonders if he was buried nearby. It makes her think of the one half-dragon she’d had in her mind that she’d never met, also named Pandowdy, and wondered crazily if they could be the same. She sets off to find him. And does.
  • They talk. She asks him to help. He says he has but she hasn’t noticed. He won’t come and be the monster for her, or the peace maker, he says. She leaves, frustrated.
  • She opens a present from her friends, a mirror, and it gives her the idea to try and reflect the light back on Jannoula. Her plan requires her to run in between the fighting armies and wave a flag of peace, like a lunatic.
  • As she talked to representatives of all sides Jannoula appears on the tower and captivates all of them with her mind fire. Seraphina, thinking over everything, decides to break down the door in her garden to where she had put Jannoula, and steps through. It frees her mind fire. Suddenly she’s huge and can see it all, all the filaments that connect to Jannoula. She tries to fight, but weakens. But then Abdo joins his mind fire to hers. She then summons Pandowdy, who rises from the swamp. He takes Jannoula and severs all her ties.

That’s pretty much the end of the book. I know I basically did a summary, but so much stuff happened, and all of it was important! There were a few other important things that happen, including the epilogue, where she’s hanging out with Orma and he starts to want to figure things out. That gives me hope for his future.

The thing I liked about this book is that Seraphina’s path wasn’t predictable to me. I mean, yes, I knew she was going to try and find the other half-dragons, etc., but the way it pans out wasn’t at all what I expected. Things were not easy for our heroine for most of this book, but the way things happened had a fresh feel to me. And Jannoula, wow. She’s a really great villain. The end, where we really learn that it’s all been about payback for what happened, was really heart-wrenching (especially the stuff that happens with Orma). But at the end of the day she’s just a sad, broken person.

I’m really glad things work out for Seraphina and Kiggs, though I’m a bit sad about Glisselda not getting what she wants. But, then again, the end of the book is written rather ambiguously on this subject, and though we know for sure that Seraphina and Kiggs end up together, and that Glisselda and Kiggs get married but plan to keep it a friendship, we don’t actually know what happens with the two girls. What is clear is how close the three of them are, almost like a solid unit, and that’s enough.

This series was always meant to be two books, from my understanding, so this is probably the last we’ll see of these guys. I will admit that this makes me sad, because they are such wonderfully complex characters set in a rich world, but there’s so much wonderful stuff in the books that I’ll be able to return to them and enjoy them time and again.

So, I’m really curious. For those of you who have read SHADOW SCALE, did you enjoy it? Was it what you expected? Anything you want to know from the author? Be sure to post your questions in the comments today, I’m interviewing her tomorrow!

Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Lytherus book club: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, part 1

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*Don’t forget, I’m interviewing Rachel sometime in the next week or so, so get your questions in! Feel free to write them in the comments below*

This long-awaited sequel to SERAPHINA was something I was excited to read. And it didn’t let me down. These books together tell a wonderful story, and I really enjoyed the direction the second book went. So, today let’s dive into the first half of SHADOW SCALE and see what goodies Rachel Hartman had in store for us!

First up, here’s the blurb of SHADOW SCALE. If you haven’t read SERAPHINA there will be some mild spoilers, be warned!

61KW8eu2uVL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?

SERAPHINA leaves off with a dragon civil war brewing between those that want peace with humans and those who don’t. We also see our main character, Seraphina, planning on setting off into the world to try and find the other half-dragons like herself. There’s also the hidden love between her and the Prince Kiggs.

Here are the main points in the first half of the book (chapters 1-17):

  • Three months have passed since the end of book 1.
  • Eskar, a warrior dragon, returns to the kingdom with news of uncle Orma, who is in hiding from the censors who want to clear the emotion out of his brain. In a letter to Seraphina he mentions discovering something about half-dragons being able to blend their minds together into a web of sorts.
  • Discussing the net with the others, Abdo reveals that he can see their energy (he calls it soul-light), and speculates that this must be what is combined to make the net. Also, all of them have strands connected to Seraphina. She, however, seems to be missing her soul-light.
  • They try to weave the soul-light net and succeed, so Seraphina sets out to find the others, with Abdo in tow.
  • Lots of journeying happens next. First stop is Dame Okra’s area, and they find Neduard, a plague doctor with a good soul and a finch beak. He agrees to join their cause.Next they come across the hermit gal, Blanche, who tentatively agrees, with convincing from Abdo. Then off to find the painter, Od Fredricka, who vehemently refuses.
  • They head off to a nearby mountain to find a giant half-dragon, Gianni Pato. Everyone’s scared of him as he comes into town, and then, to make things worse for himself, he kills an assassin priest who followed the group after visiting Od Fredricka. But not before the priest throws a knife, which severs the tendons in Abdo’s hand. Also disturbing, he calls out Seraphina’s name, which he shouldn’t know.
  • Seraphina realizes it’s Jannoula, and reflects on her story. Jannoula is a half-dragon with a terrible real life, so when Seraphina was younger she used to offer her a peaceful place to escape in her mind. But slowly Jannoula took over her mind without Seraphina realizing, becoming her, and eventually Seraphina locked her away into a dark stone cabin in her mind where she couldn’t come out. That had been years ago, and she’s still scared of Jannoula’s powers, especially now that she’s back. She seems to leave the giant for the time though.
  • They get back to Dame Okra’s, and as they tried to take Gianni Pato into the city he roars, and Josquin, their friend and guide on the first part of the journey, falls off his horse and breaks his back, becoming paralyzed. Seraphina realizes Jannoula is back.
  • The next day, talking to Dame Okra, Seraphina realizes with horror that Jannoula is in her mind now too. She’s controlling Dame Okra, saying that they have the same goal, to bring the half-dragons together, but Seraphina doesn’t trust her a bit. To confirm it, Od Fredricka shows up, saying she wants to join them now. Jannoula got to her too and changed her mind. Seraphina is appalled and scared. She warns Glisselda and Kiggs about Jannoula and all she’s up to.
  • Before they set out to find more half-dragons Seraphina gets a letter from Orma. He sends a pearl ring along with it, saying it’s important, but not explaining. He also says he has things to tell her when he sees her.
  • Abdo reveals in passing the next day that Jannoula visits the minds of the half-dragons where he’s from, but the head priest half-dragon can unhook her from their minds. Abdo says he knows how to do it too. He tries to unhook Dame Okra, but not only fails but has to battle Jannoula in his mind. He says he’s free of her.
  • They head to a city in the next country, where all the Earls are scheduled to report on a certain day, and Seraphina hopes to find one of the half-dragons among them. On the way Abdo grows more and more listless.  That night Abdo was taken over by Jannoula while he slept. She let him believe he was free of her, but she hooked him too. He continues to fight her, though it’s taking its toll on him.
  • The group heads to the capital (on a dubious lead from Jannoula), and upon arrival notice that an army has camped around the city. Alarmed, they head for the leader and discover that it’s Josef, the thought-to-be villain in book 1. He’s marched his army right in and taken over as king. And worse, Jannoula is his right hand man, so to speak.He had cancelled the earl meeting so that no one could vote against him. And he’s not sharing the info with Glisselda.
  • Jannoula has him in awe. She projects her soul-light out for people to see and they think she’s a living saint. She’s also hooked another half-dragon, Ingar. She convinces Josef to let them continue on, but not before he takes away the devices that allow Seraphina to to communicate with home, and she sends Ingar with them (“to help” she says, but really to keep an eye on things, since he’s fully hooked).
  • On the trip Ingar reveals that Lars is also hooked. She contacts Lars to warn Glisselda and Kiggs about Josef as the new leader before Jannoula can figure out what she can do.
  • Once on land Abdo takes them to his home, where he doesn’t get out of bed. Seraphina gets another device to communicate with home and passes on all the news she’s learned about Jannoula.
  • To discract Ingar while she sets off to find the half-dragons in the city Seraphina takes him to the library. While there she discovers a book of her uncle’s, with notes inside about his research on human-dragon breeding. He speculates that the saints everyone worshipped were, in fact, half-dragons. She also finds an old book he mentions, though it’s in a language she doesn’t understand. She takes it.
  • As she’s leaving she’s confronted by half-dragon Cambra, who works for the priest half-dragon, Pende. She takes them both to him. Ingar fights, as Pende is known to be able to unhook Jannoula from minds, but Cambra captures him anyway.
  • The priest looks into Seraphina’s mind to prove she’s not with Jannoula, and he tells her that she used to have power but she’s locked it up. They can’t even see her soul-light at all. She sets free the little bit of Pende she has from her mind as his request. He then frees Ingar from Jannoula, which throws him into a state of shock.

It’s really hard to sum up Rachel’s books, because there’s just so much that happens! All of it is relevant, and interesting, and propels the story forward. This book is all about the half-dragons and what it means to find them and bring them together. It’s also become clear that, even though there’s a dragon civil war brewing, Jannoula is the villain of the story. She says she has the same goals as Seraphina, and yet she’s terrifying with her ability to take over people’s minds and control them. At this point she seems like an unstoppable force. She won’t get Seraphina as long as she’s blocked off, but slowly she’s taking hold of all the other half-dragons around her.

Most of these 275 pages or so have been a journey, a slow burn building up characters and situations that pull from bits of the first book, but mainly add to the richness of the knowledge we already have of this world and its characters. Stay tuned, for we’ll cover the second half of the book this week as well, and I can’t wait to see where the story takes us. There are a lot of loose ends at the moment, and things are feeling pretty hopeless. This should be good!

Don’t forget, I’m interviewing Rachel sometime in the next week or so, so get your questions in!! Feel free to post them in the comments below. We really want to hear what you have to say about these books and characters!

Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Lytherus book club: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, part 2

april book club header

First, let’s get all the feels on the table: I love this book so much. I think SERAPHINA is brilliantly written and the characters are wonderful. If you haven’t read it, and you love dragon-y things, don’t miss out, it’s wonderful.

Now, onto the second half! I’m going to just jump right into my summary. There was lots of crucial info that was dumped, so I tried the collect the most important points below:

  • on their way out to search, Kiggs and Seraphina find a dress hidden in a cave; speculate it’s a maid’s from meeting her lover.
  • they discover proof of a dragon via its toilet, and the dead uncle’s horse in there.
  • they visit the banished knights, who confirm the dragon was indeed Seraphina’s grandfather, and they show off their lost martial art of dragon-fighting.
  • on their way home the dragon in question reveals himself. She bluffs their way out of it (awesomely!), talking to him and making him think she was a full dragon.
  • She had called her uncle to come and help, which she denied, and Kiggs suspected her of lying to him. In all this madness they hug, and she realizes that she loves him.
  • The dragon leader learns of Seraphina’s existence and demands Orma return home and have his memories erased, or be killed. He says he’ll run before he’s to forget his sister and Seraphina.
  • Seraphina’s blasted into a memory of her mother’s where she overheard dragons talking treason, saying they were going to overthrow the dragon leader and break the peace treaty. One of them was Seraphina’s grandfather. We also learn these rogue dragons infiltrated the knights and caused their banishment.
  • Her boss, the music master, reveals that he knew who her mother was, that he invited her to study with him once he heard her play.
  • She’s tricked into the laundry where the older princess and Selda’s guardian cut her wrist to prove she’s a dragon. But her blood is red not silver, and she’s saved by dame okra.
  • The princess helps her change out of her bloody dress and sees the scales on her waist, but thinks its a chastity belt.
  • She meets with Orma to tell him about her new vision of treason from her mother’s memory, and they speculate that part of the plan was to eliminate the knights all together. They also speculate that it’s going to come to older generation of dragons against younger generations, wanters of war vs those raised with peace as the ideal.
  • They are busted by Basind, the dragon Orma was helping adjust to human life. He’s actually there to inspect Orma, to see if he’s been corrupted by emotions. He wants to take Orma away to have his memory cleaned, but Seraphina helps Orma escape before that happens.
  • While hiding in a church, she bumps into the Comonot, the leader of the dragons. While they talk someone tries to kill her, stabbing her in the back. Thankfully the dagger hits her scales. The Comonot interjects, killing the would-be assassin.
  • When Kiggs questions her later she confesses she knew the assassin. He threatened her previously when he saw her give to a poor quigutl (other dragon species) and get a talking quig toy in return, saying she was a sympathizer.
  • She talks to Comonot about her vision, trying to convince him. He doesn’t buy it. He also wants her to help him understand human emotions.
  • She then tries her luck with Kiggs and Selda. They don’t fully believe her theory that the evil dragon is hiding in plain sight as an Earl, but they agree to up his security at the ball. Seraphina also lines up the other half-dragons (there are three around besides her) to be on the watch.
  • She meets Abdo in person, finally. Yay!
  • The Comonot comments at the end of the evening, when it looks like they’re all in the clear, that Kiggs isn’t watching their royalty as closely as they are watching him. They get to his aunt, and she’s been poisoned.
  • Seraphina contacts the other half-dragons, and with the help of Dame Okra’s intuitive gut they find the queen and Selda in the tower. Everyone suspects it’s the Earl, but on impulse Kiggs sets off the quig toy, and the princess’s teacher, Lady Corongi, is the only one who stands, listening. This reveals her to be the hidden evil dragon, Seraphina’s grandfather. He escapes with Glisselda over his shoulder.
  • They follow, and Seraphina reveals her secret in front of her grandfather and friends to stall him till help comes, from both the half-dragons and her uncle, who she called with a secret device. But not before she kisses Kiggs impuslively, of course. They free the princess with the help of Abdo and Lars, and as Imlann turns to breathe fire at them Orma appears in dragon form and battles him in the skies.
  • There’s a dragon battle in the sky. Eventually others come to help and kill Imlann, but not before he hurts uncle Omar pretty severely. Abdo made it though, jumping to Omar from Imlann.
  • Seraphina, with the help of Lars, confirms her words as truth to Kiggs and Selda. She shows them her scales.
  • Days later there’s a meeting. The queen is dying from the poison, so Selda takes over. She also reveals a letter sent that confirms there are dragons who are starting a war to break up the peace. They all decide to go to war against these dragons to preserve the peace, ironically. They also decide that Seraphina will find the other half-dragons, because together she thinks they could be something formidable.
  • At the end she talks to Kiggs, and he confesses that he loves her too. But they decide to put it on the back burner till the war is over, and hope that Selda will release him from his obligation to marry her.

Man, those are a lot of points! But this part of the book was so rich with details that there was a lot I wanted to include. There are all the twists with the villain, the love story, the half-dragons, the uncle, the dragons, all of it. And even as I read it again I’m reminded about why I love this book so much. It’s complex, detailed, with a rich world around interesting characters. That’s sometimes a hard balance to find, and SERAPHINA definitely handles it well.

Now, on to the love story! I love that Kiggs loves her mind. That’s really prevelant throughout the story. He says at the end that, even through her lies he could see her heart and the truth of who she was in her soul. Vary rarely these days in YA are there romances that don’t focus on the hotness of the other person first. Theirs has always been a meeting of the minds, and it’s just perfect. And the connection they have with both being outsiders in their own way, it was inevitable that they’d find a connection with that. It seems like such a specific, unique sort of exclusion they both have experienced, and the struggles they have both had with it connected them together as friends. It’s pretty much perfection.

So. Going into SHADOW SCALE, we have a brewing dragon civil war. Selda is acting as queen. Orma is on the run from the censors trying to clear his memories. and Seraphina is going to find the others of her kind. I cannot wait to see what they are like, and how the beings in her mind connect with the real people.

Stay tuned for our coverage of SHADOW SCALE this week. And don’t forget, we’re interviewing Rachel super soon, so don’t forget to submit some questions! Is there anything you’ve ever wanted to ask a New York Times bestselling author about? Now’s your chance, don’t miss it!

 

Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Lytherus book club: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, part 2

Lytherus book club header March

Hi all! We’re playing catch-up on this book review. The authors are under deadline, so we postponed the interview with them, but it’s still on the docket, so feel free to submit any questions you might have!

In case you want to catch up, I’ve already covered Part 1 and part 2 of THESE BROKEN STARS, and Part 1 of THIS SHATTERED WORLD. I am excited to wrap these books up in this post. And let me say again, as a gal who isn’t as big a fan of scifi as I am of fantasy, I absolutely adored these books. I thought they were well-written, had great pacing, were creative, and had some great romances in them. I highly recommend them, especially to people who might be like me, not as much into this genre.

Okay! So, Before we jump into the second half of this book, here’s the summary:

downloadJubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met. Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. His sister died in the original uprising against the powerful corporate conglomerate that rules Avon with an iron fist. These corporations make their fortune by terraforming uninhabitable planets across the universe and recruiting colonists to make the planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.Desperate for any advantage against the military occupying his home, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape base together, caught between two sides in a senseless war.The stunning second novel in the Starbound trilogy is an unforgettable story of love and forgiveness in a world torn apart by war.

We left off with the main characters in serious trouble. And things really go crazy in the second half. Here are the main points I think are important from the second half of the book:

  • Flinn hides out with an old friend, the daughter of the man who blew up the barracks. She swears he would never do that.
  • He sends Sofia out with a note for Lee.
  • Flynn sneaks onto the base to talk to Lee in disguise.
  • Lee is asked to escort someone around, and it’s her old captain, there to help her, under the ruse of inspection.
  • They run into Flynn, and the three of them discuss what’s happening. Lee reveals all to Tarver.
  • They call in Lilac to do a little digging around to figure things out. She and Tarver conclude there are whispers involved, based on what Lee said. They’re what’s causing the Fury. They need to find proof, find the lab.
  • Tarver looks at Lee’s gun and proves it wasn’t fired recently, so she couldn’t have killed the rebels.
  • Lee and Flynn make out, hard-core. They basically share they they have feelings for each other, but at what cost? At the end, who will Flynn choose, her, or his people?
  • Lee talks to her commander, who she knows knows something. The commander confirms that it was a LaRoux facility out there, not a military one. And she’s freaked about the whispers, though she doesn’t know what they are. As she tells Lee more, something warps her mind and makes her forget the conversation.
  • Molly’s is burned to the ground. Molly is killed, shot before the fire started.
  • After questioning one of the rebels, all three of them come to the conclusion that McBride shot Molly, and shot the other rebels in the cave.
  • Merendson is forced to leave on the last shuttle, since the enemy is now blowing ships up. Lee pilots since she’s his security, and Flynn comes along.They make it off the planet.
  • The plane is searched, and Flynn hides, but is discovered. They fight, and knock out guards, which makes Lee a traitor.
  • They read Lilac’s note, and it says that there were shipments 10 years prior to three places, one of which is Avon, one of which is Lee’s home planet.
  • They head back to find the hidden lab. They’re almost shot down but they make it.
  • In the swamp at night they encounter lights called the wisps. It leads them to the island, and they realize that the lab has been hidden from sight all this time.
  • They sneak in to find incriminating evidence against LaRoux industries. But in the process the whispers take over and invade Flynn, talking to Lee through him. They needed them because all the employees have had their brains tampered with and aren’t susceptible to the whispering.
  • They say that they’re working independent of LaRoux, and that they need Lee. They also tell her that they’re one entity and that LaRoux separated them, which is agony. He’s basically been torturing the whispers.And now they’re over it and basically want to destroy all humans.They force Lee to release them or they’ll kill Flynn. She agrees.
  • At the last minute Flynn is taken over by a different whisper, a nice one who is fighting the others. It tells them they destroyed Flynn’s mind. It also tells them that they interacted when Lee was young, that it’s the ghost Lee thought she had as an imaginary child. This interaction has made her stronger and able to withstand them in her mind.
  • The whisper also confesses that it has stolen Lee’s dreams all these years, to selfishly experience what it’s like to be a human.
  • The whisper asks Lee to kill them, not release them. That will really set them free, and also might free Flynn’s mind without damage. This will also free up the communications tower so they can broadcast a message out to the universe about this place.
  • Flynn sends it. Everyone stops. He calls out McCormac, who loses it. Lee shoots him. And then everyone agrees to a tenuous cease-fire to talk about what’s happened here.
  • At the end LaRoux comes and offers basically a bribe in the disguise of charity, denying the truth. But Lee realizes that this planet is the tip of the iceberg with what he’s most likely planning.

The first half of this book was a slow burn. Lots of world building, character introductions, all that. It didn’t move as fast as the first book, but since that book basically started with a crash landing to an alien planet, the stakes were higher then. But once things really get going in THIS SHATTERED WORLD, they really don’t stop all the way to the end. It’s one thing after another, building up until the truth is revealed.

I also love how in this book, like the last, there’s something between all the chapters. For most of the book I had no idea what they were, though I had an inkling, but once the whispers die and Lee’s dreams come flooding back to her I know for sure that is what we’ve been experiencing: her stolen dreams.

One of my favorite things with series like this is when characters you love from previous books show up in the current one. And not just in passing, but they are present and help with the immediate problem. It’s wonderful visiting with those old friends again, and I really do think it adds some wonderful complexity to the story- and ties the books together nicely.

This series isn’t done yet. Man oh man, I cannot wait to see what the authors are planning. Because I have a feeling that we have yet to see the worst of what LaRoux has done. I cannot wait to see this villain fall.

Did you enjoy these books? I’d love to hear your thoughts on them. What did you love? Did they feel scifi-enough to you? What did you think about the characters coming back together from the first book and joining those in the second? I’d love to know! I’m also taking questions for the authors for their upcoming interview, so please send them our way!

We’ll be catching up with April’s books, SERAPHINA and SHADOW SCALE by Rachel Hartman, this week, so stay tuned for that!