The Purest of the Breed

The Purest of the BreedTitle: The Purest of the Breed
Author: Tracy Tappan
Series: The Community Series #2
Also in this series: The Bloodline War
Genre(s): Fairy Tales, Folklore, Legends & Mythology, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 324
Published by B Reed Publishing on 2014-06-27
Format: eARC
Source: author

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
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From the back cover...

Plagued by enemies from above and below ground, a group of Vârcolac warriors fight a desperate battle to keep their secret town safe from invasion

A different place to find her dreams…

The night Marissa Bonaventure is saved from vicious kidnappers by special operative, Dev Nichita, her life is changed in ways she never could have imagined. Brought to the safety of an underground “research institute,” she’s offered a hefty sum of money to stay on and work for a year, money that will allow her to fulfill her lifelong dream of owning a restaurant. But the surreal events that unfold in the strange community of Ţărână soon make her wonder if all is what it seems. When the shocking truth about Dev is exposed, Marissa faces an impossible decision. She loves Dev deeply, but committing to a Vârcolac is a forever proposition, and the only way she can be with Dev will require her to throw away her one chance to redeem a miserable past.

The man he wants to be…

The night Dev Nichita rescues Marissa from the claws of the Om Rău demon race, he knows she’s meant to be his mate. Lying to her about his true nature feels wrong, but he needs time to make her fall in love with him before he reveals that he’s a different breed of human being. When that secret finally comes out, their relationship is shattered in ways Dev hadn’t predicted. A 100-year-old betrayal rises up to threaten their future together—devastating every member of his family—and Dev’s own angry withdrawal becomes a nearly insurmountable obstacle. Then the Topside Om Rău enemy threatens a catastrophic breach of the hidden community, and Dev must call upon all his power as he races against the clock to save the most important people in his life.

My Review

I think I enjoyed this book even more than the first!  I am not usually into the whole alpha male concept, but the blend of the badass, hypermasculine men and the unexpected soft side really works.  Nowhere else but in a Community novel will you find such gorgeous specimens of man beasts who are quite so virginally innocent!

This one had some moments that were decidedly darker than the first, some situations that were almost hard to read.  Those moments brought us new characters and new storylines, a couple of which were left unresolved.  I am hoping that those stories will be told in future books.  One involves the horror of the things that happened to a Dragon female.  Another is a surprising revelation that was made almost in passing about the detective from the first novel.  There is another between Marissa and her sister, too, that I hope will be explored more at some point, too.  I shall say no more about that!

There is a lot of unexpected humor that makes the story fantastic to read.  There is a whole lot of steamy romance, too, but it is the humor that I truly love.  The story is fast-paced with lots of action and twists and turns, too, making it impossible to put down.  There was another story within the story, that of Dev’s mother, that really added a lot to the mythology of the community.  It was one that also brought a whole new level of frustration and angst to the story!!

Things to love…

  • The alpha males with the unexpected innocence.
  • The strength of the women.  No wilting flowers here!
  • The depth of ALL of the characters, not just the protagonists.

My Recommendation

The Bloodline War should definitely be read first to really know the story of the Community.  This is a great series with intrigue, action, humor, and no shortage of steaminess!

4Mugs

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.1

About Tracy Tappan

After earning a Master’s degree in MFCC, Tracy Tappan did clinical work before devoting herself full time to writing. She was born with a fertile imagination that has compelled her to write in several genres. During nearly a quarter of a century spent as a military wife, she lived all over the United States and in Europe, enjoying seven years overseas, first in Rome then in Madrid. She’s now settled back in sunny San Diego with her husband, a menagerie of pets, and two children who seem to think they can come and go as they please.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Dirty Wings

Dirty WingsTitle: Dirty Wings
Author: Sarah McCarry
Series: All Our Pretty Songs #2
Also in this series: All Our Pretty Songs
Genre(s): Fairy Tales, Folklore, Legends & Mythology, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on 2014-07-15
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
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From the back cover...

A gorgeous retelling of the Persephone myth, Sarah McCarry brings us the story of Cass and Maia--the mothers from All Our Pretty Songs--and how their fates became intertwined.

Maia is a teenage piano prodigy and dutiful daughter, imprisoned in the oppressive silence of her adoptive parents' house like a princess in an ivory tower. Cass is a street rat, witch, and runaway, scraping by with her wits and her knack for a five-fingered discount. When a chance encounter brings the two girls together, an unlikely friendship blossoms that will soon change the course of both their lives. Cass springs Maia from the jail of the only world she's ever known, and Maia's only too happy to make a break for it. But Cass didn't reckon on Jason, the hypnotic blue-eyed rocker who'd capture Maia's heart as soon as Cass set her free--and Cass isn't the only one who's noticed Maia's extraordinary gifts. Is Cass strong enough to battle the ancient evil she's unwittingly awakened--or has she walked into a trap that will destroy everything she cares about? In this time, like in any time, love is a dangerous game.

My Review

The first book in this series, All Our Pretty Songs, was a book that appealed to me for its uniqueness.  It was a weird and often disturbing read and those flavors extended to this book, a prequel of  sorts.  It answered so many questions, even questions that I didn’t even always  know that I had!

This is the story of Cass and Maia, the mothers from the first book.  In AOPS, there was a lot of wondering about why these two were the way the were, what made them into the people that they were.  These girls come from such different worlds.  One came from a privileged life with all the opportunities in the world.  The other came from a disadvantaged home, with little of even the most basics of things.  Against all odds, they bond, even if that bond is often dark and always codependent.

The story goes back and forth from the beginning of their friendship to the present time in that book, all of it before the timing of the second book.  That back and forth really illuminates the changes the girls go through, the way their lives transform over time.  Like the first book, the story is dark and disturbing, painful and raw.

Although this is part of a trilogy, it is an odd trilogy.  The first book is set considerably into the future from the second.  There is still a gap in time between the time of the second and that of the first.  I am hoping that the next book will cover that time because I think there is still a lot of story to tell between Cass and Maia.

Things to love…

  • The unique style to the story.  It feels like a chemically altered reality and it is fascinating!

Things I wanted more/less of…

  • The paranormal aspect.  The blurb touts this series as an epic story of the battle between good and evil.  There really isn’t any epicness to it.  There is the Persephone theme, but it really isn’t played up to the level that the blurb suggests.

My Recommendation

I really like this story.  I embraces its uniqueness, its weirdness.  It is different and fresh!

4Mugs

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.2

About Sarah McCarry

I’m Sarah McCarry. The Rejectionist is my blog. I’m the author of the novels All Our Pretty Songs, Dirty Wings (summer 2014), and About a Girl (summer 2015). I’m the editor and publisher of Guillotine, a chapbook series dedicated to revolutionary nonfiction. I’m the Media Coordinator for The Doula Project. I’ve written for Glamour, the Stranger, the Rumpus.com, and Tor.com, among other places. I was born in Seattle and I live in Brooklyn.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

All Our Pretty Songs

All Our Pretty SongsTitle: All Our Pretty Songs
Author: Sarah McCarry
Series: All Our Pretty Songs #1
Also in this series: Dirty Wings
Genre(s): Fairy Tales, Folklore, Legends & Mythology, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 241
Published by Macmillan on 2013-07-30
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
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From the back cover...

The first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.

Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can.

My Review

All Our Pretty Songs is a truly unusual book.  It is one of those rare reads that I am finding difficult to process, unsure of how I feel about it.  It is a dark and disturbing read in so many ways, something I generally appreciate as it is a more realistic look at life.  The prose is very lyrical, with a sort of altered state feel to it, appropriate to the themes of overindulgence in booze and drugs that are key to the plot.  There are moments when that prose just takes you away from anything and everything that makes sense, but  it always comes back around and sucks you back into the madness.

The two main characters, Aurora and our nameless narrator.  Not once is that narrator’s name revealed, not even in dialogue.  That was an odd choice, an original approach that I can appreciate.  I think it was a mark of the character’s inherent feelings about herself.  Aurora is continually described in an almost ethereal way, beautiful and free-spirited and flirting with danger.  The narrator sees herself as more of a tomboy, less feminine and beautiful than Aurora.  She puts Aurora on a pedestal and seems to see herself as less special, less worthy.

The two girls are extremely codependent with one another, after a lifetime of essentially raising themselves and each other.  Their mothers were once the best of friends, but have been estranged for years.  Aurora’s mother Maia is a junkie now, spending most of her time in a haze, while Aurora runs wild and free as a rich girl without boundaries.  Cass is the narrator’s mother, poor as dirt and a witch hippie with as little mothering skills as her former friend.  Then enters Jack, the older boy of indeterminate age.  He is mysterious and beautiful and talented in a way that seems magical.  So much of the narrator’s story waxed poetically about him and his music, with metaphors and similes galore.  But his presence seems to signal inevitable destruction… for himself, for Aurora, and for our narrator.

There are moments of clarity throughout the story, but most of seems to take place in a bit of an altered state.  Some of that is due to booze and drugs, but there are moments when it made me wonder about the mental health of the narrator.  It was like she continually lived in another world, another reality, one that was dark and disturbing and based in her own mind.  There is a lot of “stream of consciousness type prose which elevates that altered state sort of feeling.

I am not sure how it is possible, but throughout the second half of the book the story became more focused while the prose became increasingly more wandering.  That increased stream of consciousness prose lent itself to the feeling of chaos and further descent into destruction/madness that was taking place.

There was a paranormal aspect to this book, to be sure.  But the meandering prose and drug/booze themes sometimes made that aspect seem as much a result of those substances as anything else.

Things to love…

  • The lyrical, “altered state” prose.
  • The emphasis on the narrator’s lack of appreciation of herself seen in the lack of a name.

Things I wanted more/less of…

  • Maia.  There seemed to be some kind of back story with her experiences with Minos.

My Recommendation

This is such an unusual book.  If you like your reads straightforward and clear, this is not the book for you.  But if you enjoy the dark, the disturbing, and the mind trip… this is an excellent read.

4Mugs

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4

About Sarah McCarry

I’m Sarah McCarry. The Rejectionist is my blog. I’m the author of the novels All Our Pretty Songs, Dirty Wings (summer 2014), and About a Girl (summer 2015). I’m the editor and publisher of Guillotine, a chapbook series dedicated to revolutionary nonfiction. I’m the Media Coordinator for The Doula Project. I’ve written for Glamour, the Stranger, the Rumpus.com, and Tor.com, among other places. I was born in Seattle and I live in Brooklyn.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

The Kiss of Deception

The Kiss of DeceptionTitle: The Kiss of Deception
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Genre(s): Fairy Tales, Folklore, Legends & Mythology, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 496
Published by Macmillan on 2014-07-08
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In 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.

My Review

The Kiss of Deception is the first book in a new trilogy by Mary E. Pearson.  This is my first read by this author and I am a fan!  The story line is exciting and intriguing and the characters are fantastic.

Princess Lia is what royalty should be all about.  She is strong-willed and fierce, absolutely ready, willing, and able to buck tradition to avoid being forced into an arranged marriage to a prince she has never met.  Her best friend Pauline, and her handmaiden, runs with her, pure loyalty and friendship.  The two girls flee to a distant land and start over.  It is a life that is unlike that which they left behind, but for Lia, it is the happiest she has ever been.

This is a story about not only sacrifice and freedom, but about love and friendship and loyalty.  The first half of the book was very much like reading historical fiction.  But the second half became more of an epic fantasy read, quests and danger galore!  There is no end to the mystery and the intrigue and there are plot twists galore.  There are two mysterious men that appear in Lia’s life, men that keep you guessing right until the moment that things become clear.  There are so many levels of deception in this book, from the little ones conceived in a moment of the best of intentions to the huge ones that are life-altering!

Things to love…

  • The mystery between the prince and the assassin.  Who is who?  There are things about each that are oh, so misleading and that ramps up the suspense!
  • The fiercely strong Lia.  She is an amazing female lead, strong and loyal and full of honor.

My Recommendation

Fantastic epic-like fantasy!  There is love and mystery and intrigue and danger and I highly recommend this read!

4.5Mugs

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.6

About Mary E. Pearson

Mary E. Pearson is the award-winning author of The Jenna Fox Chronicles, The Miles Between, A Room on Lorelei, and Scribbler of Dreams. She writes full-time from her home office in California where she lives with her husband and two golden retrievers.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

The Bloodline War

The Bloodline WarTitle: The Bloodline War
Author: Tracy Tappan
Series: The Community Series #1
Also in this series: The Purest of the Breed
Genre(s): Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 352
Published by B Reed Publishing on 2013-12-17
Format: eBook
Source: author

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
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From the back cover...

A car accident changes everything for Dr. Toni Parthen. Her computer hacked hospital blood test confirms she's the carrier of a gene that's the key to salvation for a unique race of human beings. Abducted from her hospital room to a secret, underground community, Toni is asked to do the unthinkable: procreate with a man from a race called Varcolac-a species that must consume the blood of other humans to survive. Then bizarre turns dangerous, because a new, mysterious enemy also wants her special DNA, and Toni finds herself in the middle of an all-out war to possess her. It's the job of Jacken Brun, leader of the Warrior Class, to keep the captured women safe from a demonic race of humans who rule a neighboring part of their underground world. His challenges multiply when Toni inflames the women into mutiny, and then there's his biggest problem...his growing desire for the infuriating woman herself. Afflicted with a dark genetic makeup, Jacken can never be with a woman. Until Toni uses her scientific ingenuity to find a way for her and Jacken to be together. But then the new enemy faction unearths Toni and drags her to their hidden lair, where they'll inflict an unspeakable cruelty on her to gain access to her valuable genes. It will take every warrior skill Jacken owns to save the woman he loves, but only if he can find her in time...

My Review

The Bloodline War is the first in The Community Series by author Tracy Tappan.  It takes the lore of vampires and turns it on edge, creating a whole new and fascinating mythology.  The races of vampire are different from what we traditionally see in vamp fiction, as is the fey that also play a role in the mythology of this world.

There is some delicious, and steamy, romance in this book but what I loved was that it was much more than traditional “boy meets girl, boy gets girl, the story is over” formula.  The story keeps going, so much more than simple romantic fiction.  The men are alpha males, yes, but they are alpha males with heart and soul and more than their fair share of baggage.  The women are valued and necessary parts of the community, but often taken for granted and their personal needs dismissed as comparatively unimportant.  The women are intelligent, strong, and capable and use their minds to get what they need from the men in their lives.

What was surprising was the amount of humor that there was.  I didn’t expect that, but there was a lot of it and I enjoyed its irreverent flavor.  The blend of humor, plot, rich mythology, suspense, and action was absolutely intriguing.  The entire cast of characters was fantastic as well, dynamic and interesting and entirely relatable as three-dimensional people.

Things to love…

  • The irreverent humor!
  • The cast of characters, especially the bad boys with gooey insides.
  • The badassery of the alpha males.

My Recommendation

I really enjoyed this book!  I usually don’t really like the bodice-ripper reads of any time period and intense alpha males don’t usually do it for me.  But these guys were awesome.  They were funny, they were real, and they were piles of mush on the inside!  Great read!

5Mugs

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.8

About Tracy Tappan

After earning a Master’s degree in MFCC, Tracy Tappan did clinical work before devoting herself full time to writing. She was born with a fertile imagination that has compelled her to write in several genres. During nearly a quarter of a century spent as a military wife, she lived all over the United States and in Europe, enjoying seven years overseas, first in Rome then in Madrid. She’s now settled back in sunny San Diego with her husband, a menagerie of pets, and two children who seem to think they can come and go as they please.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: