Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan

Oddly enough it's become obvious to me that I've become quite predictable in my reading selections recently. Not that I'm complaining. If you've spent much time around here, you know how much I love me a well-written fantasy or an engrossing YA novel. It's just that it's been awhile since I branched out to any other genre and I wanted that to change. Which is why when I was approached with the opportunity of reviewing Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan, I immediately agreed. Firstly because of the rave review Maggie Stiefvater gave it but also because it can be fit within that nebulous strain of magical realism novels - where everyday life is recognizable and familiar, but spells and potions and curses are also just as real as a jar of mustard. This, I knew, would be the perfect book to push me to step outside my preferred genre-comfort zone.

Having been raised in a fictional town where spells, demons and sooth-sayers are an everyday reality, it was understandable, if not still unsettling to Meridia that she spent her childhood in a home surrounded by three different colored mists, each giving a physical manifestation to the tangible discord of her parent's unhappy marriage. At sixteen, Meridia falls in love and is eager to leave her cold, sterile house, in favor of the warmth and happiness she encounters in Daniel's home. The pair are soon married and with joy Meridia leaves her home to join her new husband's life. At first, Meridia is enchanted by how warm and welcoming Daniel's effusive family are. Yet over time Meridia also becomes acquainted with the many dark secrets and bitter betrayals lurking within the walls of Daniel's home - most of which can be laid at the feet of Meridia's mother-in-law, Eva (a woman whose very words can conjure up swarms of bees). Bolstered with love for her husband, Meridia silently endures Eva's subtly damaging words and controlling temperament until finally taking a stand one day. A fateful decision which will forever set the two women at odds and will ultimately reach across three separate generations of hurt and pain.

Setiawan's tale of family is a stunner. At times his story almost reminded me of a fable where you never think the truly horrible, awful step-mother is EVER going to get what's coming to her (but of course she does). Although full of beautiful metaphors and descriptions, Of Bees and Mist is essentially a character driven novel with each individual possessing life and a full personality. And best of all, each one is capable of change! I just loved watching the various paths Meridia and Daniel's family took as they each made choices for good or ill.

There are so many hidden treasures and surprises within Of Bees and Mist - starting with its lovely cover. Look close and see if you can spot a ring, a bird, a shovel, a bee... all items which feature prominently in the story itself. I truly was not expecting to find a book with such a simple yet complicated family dynamics yet Of Bees and Mist delivered on all fronts. Meridia, Eva, her two sister in laws and even Ravenna (Meridia's own mother) are all extremely complicated females and I had to keep reminding myself that a male author had written this story. Amazing!

For other Of Bees and Mist reviews, check out the TLC Book Tour page.
book source: TLC Book Tours

Split Tour: Deleted Scene

A few weeks ago, I reviewed the amazingly awesome Split by Swati Avasthi - a highly powerful novel about the effects of domestic violence - and today I am happy to have the author back for more. What sets The Before The Split book tour apart is that the author Swati Avasthi is donating $1 for every comment left on any tour post to the Family Violence Prevention Fund - so be sure to make your presence known today!


In lieu of a deleted scene, here is a second scene I wrote from Christian’s point of view. Again, this was never meant to go into the manuscript, but was the product of a writing exercise given to me by a mentor, Jim Moore. You can check out the first scene as well.

(Author-mystique-buster: This is all I get in 15 minutes and writing exercises are pretty shabby).

by Swati Avasthi

In October, it rains in Chicago. Inevitable, for at least 4 days. Steady rain. No flashes of lightning, no break in the clouds or even the temp of the big drops. It drowns the fall leaves, leaving them fragile under foot, to be torn by a boot as it passed over the seams in the pavement.

The year I was seven, I had my first pair of black rain boots with a red stripe across the top. My father thought that a boy of six no longer needed puddle jumpers with frog’s eyes on the top or picture of ducks on the side. Not even red or yellow ones. When my mother wanted to get them for me and I was begging in the store to have them, too, he put both hands on my shoulders and leaned into my face.

“Now, Christian,” he had said. “Those are for little kids, like her.” He glanced at a chubby little girl whose T shirt was sliding up over her mound of a waist and whose ponytail holder was just barely hanging on by a tangle. “You’re not like that anymore. A big boy. Daddy’s boy.”

I nodded and neither my mom nor I said anything else. He got the saleswoman and told her what I wanted. I smiled and nodded.

I looked over toward the window where Jace, my little brother, had crawled. He had hoisted himself into the window display. A one year old can, who can barely walk, but can climb like a cheetah.

I should get him out of there, I thought. A big boy would, I supposed. But instead, I watched him. He grabbed the first big boot ­– a pink boot with red hearts and I grimaced at my little brother’s taste – girl’s stuff. He tipped over the boot and studied it. Then, with his shoes on, he stuffed his little foot inside the boot. They came up to his chubby thighs. The next one was the boot my father picked out for me. He examined it and tossed it aside.

How come he got away with it? How come a baby knew his mind and wouldn’t let it be changed by anyone, and me, a boy of six, would nod and smile when I was told. Looking back, I wonder if it was at that moment that I first became jealous of Jace, not when he got into my toys, or at Christmas, but right then. Right then, I knew something but couldn’t really find the words for it yet: that Jace would end up with a freer spirit than me, and I would end up with dull, boring boots ­– boots that were right for me.

He would get the ones with ducks on the sides.


Blog Tour Auction

As part of the Split blog tour and charity auction, I'd like to highlight a couple of items up for bid from the amazingly fantastic list of items available. 

A SIGNED copy of Bull Rider and a phone consult or school visit, donated by Suzanne Morgan Williams.

A SIGNED set of five of Lynne Jonell's books donated by the author.

In My Mailbox: October 24

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren and was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. This meme is about books that you received or bought during the week.
Thankfully fall has finally come we're a few months behind out here in the desert, and am just getting so dang excited because we are *this close* to Halloween. I've been planning this years costume for quite some time, so watch for some pictures next week. That is, if I can remember to take some.

For books this week, I only got a few but they are a good few. Ever since I posted this I've been really looking forward to tracking down a copy of Vixen and was so very happy to receive a review copy - if only for that lovely cover. But really, who doesn't love a good roaring 20s novel?
for review:
Winter Bloom by Tara Heavey
Vixen by Lila Fine

my local library:
Maybe This Time by Jennifer Cruise

I've already read Maybe This Time but sadly wasn't as in love with it as I usually am with anything by Ms. Cruise. Maybe since it was more of a 'ghost' story I felt like it didn't contain as much of Ms. Cruise's trademark humor. Hopefully I'll get a full review of it up sometime this week.

Lastly, in totally non-book-related news (but still very exciting), my favorite UPS guy dropped off these happy yellow boots Friday - ones I have been salivating over for months now.
I already love them.
And now I just need the yellow slicker so I can truly look like Debbie Reynolds in Singin' in the Rain.

Freefall by Anna Levine

Don't let the cutesy cover fool you on this book.

As an 18 year-old girl living in Israel, Aggie is already gearing up for her two years required service in the Israeli army. Her parents are sure she'll make the 'smart' choice and opt for a safer position - hopefully somewhere way behind the scenes, pushing paper. But small, stubborn Aggie has other ideas. She wants to join a combat unit. No one seems to understand Aggie's bizarre choice - not her best friend Shira, who is hoping for fame and fortune and a spot on the entertainment squad and certainly not her self-righteous sister Hila, who can only see the benefit of her own humanitarian service. With only her Grandmother's tales of 'the old days' in her ears and her army issued pack on her back, Aggie sets off for a grueling three-day boot camp and further scrutiny. Under the watchful gaze of their tough commander, Aggie and her fellow recruits make the best of their extreme physical trials while forming lasting bonds with girls from all walks of life.

It's upon her return home however that Aggie finds herself truly facing the realities of war. Feeling frustrated that she hasn't yet received her assignment from the government, Aggie jumps at the chance to travel north where her fellow boot-camp friend, Lily's, town has been bombed with hopes of being able to help.

Freefall is a short novel but one I'd be happy to dive back into without hesitation. The smells of the home-cooked spicy food, the sweltering desert sun, the rhythm of music -- it all became so very vivid in just the brief time I spent with Aggie. Her compelling first-person narrative refuses to be anything but honest yet still retains that effortless quality of a young woman sitting down to confide in her best friend. Best of all, Aggie could be any teenager ready to move into the 'adult' world but unsure of their place in it. Anna Levine's prose strikes the right balance between scary real-life exposure to war, funny cultural anecdotes and a touch of romance to keep any reader engaged and flipping the pages.

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Abby (the) Librarian review
Becky's Book Reviews 
GreenBeanTeenQueen review

book source: provided by the author

My 12 year old self would have LOVED this

"Little Librarian provides book lovers with everything they need to transform their book collection into a library. Kids can practice the important skills of organizing, sharing, borrowing, and returning. Book pockets, check out cards, library cards, and bookmarks are just like the ones from the real library. Little Librarians will issue overdue notices and awards. Favorite books can be stored in the reading journal and shared with friends."
I'm pretty sure adult me would be all over it too.

spotted via Shelf Awareness.

The Jumbee by Pamela Keyes

Determined to finally escape from under the shadow of her late Shakespearean-actor father, The Great Legaurd, Esti Leguard is ready to prove to everyone (including herself) that she has what it takes. She's given a chance at a fresh start when she and her mother move to the remote island of Cariba, which features a renown high school acting program. But Esti's plans don't work out as nicely as she had hoped when a boy is found murdered on her first day at school during tryouts for the school play. Quickly the relaxed Carribean atmosphere Esti found so charming at first becomes dark and frightening as rumors of a malevolent spirit, or a jumbee, is thought to be haunting the theater.

As Esti tries to navigate the politics of a new high school and the ever-increasing depression of her mother, she finds herself becoming more intrigued and ever closer to the 'voice' she heard the first day of auditions. Introducing himself as Alan, Esti knows she must keep their odd 'relationship' a secret even as Alan offers such wonderful insight into her acting and the poetic words of Shakespeare. As events begin to spiral out of control, Esti longs for more from this friend she has never seen nor touched but someone whom she would go to great lengths to protect.

There were really only two reasons why I decided to pick up The Jumbee:

1. It's a Phantom of the Opera retelling.
2. See reason #1.

And I'm totally serious here folks. I really didn't need any other convincing whatsoever to pick up this book. Besides the totally unusual cover (which actually comes directly from the book! yay!), all I had to read was 'a modern Phantom..' and I was completely lost. OF COURSE I was going to pick up a book that focused on one of my all-time favorite musicals and even though I was (understandably) nervous about the direction Pamela Keyes would take Gaston Leroux's creep-tastic classic, I just knew it was something I couldn't pass by. And to be totally honest, I'm so incredibly glad I did read The Jumbee. Aside from my confusion with the whole prestigious-acting-school-in-the-Caribbean thing, The Jumbee was something really extraordinary.

Esti is a sympathetic character whose past weighs so heavily upon her, it has basically begun to suffocate her future as well. Enter Alan (our Jumbee, aka The Phantom) who through a series of well-placed Shakespeare quotes and blocking tips, is able to draw out the latent genius residing within Esti. Obviously this girl is going to fall hard for such a mentor, even if that mentor happens to only be a voice she's never once laid eyes on. One of my favorite aspects of the original Leroux story is Christine's fierce loyalty to (or love for) the Phantom - even when everyone around her is convinced she is crazy and that he is a monster. I was so happy to see this theme carried into Pamela Keyes version as I feel it is one of the most defining characteristics of the story.

Furthermore, Ms. Keyes does a fabulous job at recreating the mysterious and foreboding atmosphere from Phantom in The Jumbee. I wasn't quite sure how she would pull it off, having her story set in the Caribbean, but all the native superstitions and legends added nicely to Alan and Esti's tale. That said, there were many departures from the original story, such that the author was able to effectively make into her very own that at times I almost forgot I was reading a retelling. Almost. It's pretty hard to do that when you've got a constant Andrew Lloyd Webber soundtrack playing in your head.

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
All Things Urban Fantasy review
Amy Reads review
Dark Faerie Tales review
Forever Young Adult review
Good Books and Good Wine review

book source: provided by the publicist

In My Mailbox: October 17

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren and was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. This meme is about books that you received or bought during the week.
Well, well. To be completely honest, I've totally spaced doing an IMM post the past couple of weeks and so as a result, this one is going to be rather large. Things have been a little quiet around here of late thanks in part to some traveling, sickness, and a general mood of I'd-much-rather-read-than-write. Understandable, no? But hopefully I'm back on the wagon -- I've got a couple of fun things lined up for this week.

A few weeks ago, my library hosted a friends of library sale (love, love) and I scored pretty big. Most of these I've already read but are still YA classics and thus ones that I want floating around my house.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Witcomb
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
So Long and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams (for the hubby)
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Tex by S.E. Hinton
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

I am especially excited about this vintage copy of Little Women I found - it's one of my all-time favorites. I particularly love the awesome illustrations.
Love it!

I also got a couple of books for review and even won two books from Tera Lynn Childs blog: a signed copy of Forgive My Fins and Firelight - both of which I am very excited to read.
won from Tera Lynn Childs:
Firelight by Sophie Jordan
Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

for review:
Matched by Ally Condie
Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan

So that's everything -- quite a haul to be sure. It's gonna take me some time to make a dent in these I'm sure. Now tell me, what did you get this week?

Split by Swati Avasthi

At 16 years old, Jace Witherspoon already knows what it's like to lead a double life. To his friends and classmates, Jace is a smart and talented soccer star with a bright future and a devoted mother and father behind him all the way. The truth behind that pack of lies is that Jace and his mother live in constant fear of his father's violent and volatile temper. They've explained away countless 'injuries' and even moved several times in order to ensure that no one will ever discover the horrible truth.

After a particularly brutal fight with his father, Jace is forced to leave in the middle of the night with only a few dollars in his pockets and a scrawled address for his estranged older brother Christian. Jace hasn't seen or spoken to his only brother in the years since Christian ran away from home - cutting off all ties with his family - for reasons similar to Jace's own flight. Unsure of their newly reestablished relationship, Jace and Christian tip-toe around the truth of their painful history; while unconsciously uncovering landmines of memory and hurt at every turn. Try as the brothers might to make a clean split with their troubled pasts, they both know the one thing they have to do to move forward, is to go back.

Split is one of those novels that will utterly break you, then pick you up, give you a big hug and then proceed to hold your hand until the end. Domestic violence is never an easy topic to discuss, but Swati Avasthi manages not to simply capture the sensational aspects of such a horrible crime, but the resulting backlash of emotional trauma that inevitably follows in its wake instead. That said, although Split is definitely a serious novel with a serious message, Jace Witherspoon is such a relate-able and often even funny character, his story is not overwhelmingly depressing. It simply grabs you from page one and refuses to let you walk away. Take these few opening lines for example:
Now I have to start lying.

While I stare through the windshield at the building my brother lives in, I try to think up a good lie, but nothing comes to mind. "I was in the neighborhood"? Yeah, right. It's nineteen hours from Chicago to Alburquerque. If you drive all night. If you only stop for Mountain Dews and KFC extra crispy. By the way, KFC closes way too early in Oklahoma.

Maybe I should try "I'm just here to borrow a cup of sugar." Pathetic. How about "One more stop in the eternal quest for the perfect burrito." Unless Christian has gone blind in the last five years, no lie is gonna cut it. My split lip might tip off Clever Boy. I run my tongue over the slit and suck on blood.

My face will tell half the story. For the other half, I'll keep my mouth shut and lie by omission. Someday I'll fess up, tell him the whole deal, and then he can perform a lobotomy or whatever it takes. But right now, I just need Christian to open his door, nudge it wider, and let me stay.
Who is this boy? What has he been through and why does he need an excuse to see his own brother? If you are anything like me, these and other insistent questions pop up immediately.
From that very first line, you catch a glimpse of what a layered character Jace is. His echoes of self-doubt and fear come across loud and clear, yet at the same time you immediately understand that this is someone who has had to learn how to look out for himself. 

For a character who had suffered so much, I fully expected to pity Jace. I did not expect to fall in love with the kid. How could I not? He is a deeply layered individual with a passion for books and soccer with an exceptionally deep-rooted sense of loyalty to his family. And yes, he definitely is extremely screwed up in the head due to his father's influence. Perhaps the most moving passages from Split detail Jace's struggles to break the cycle of domestic violence in his own life. At different times, Jace's words are equally horrifying, poetic, and often even brutal in their honesty. Yet there is a hopeful underlying message and a satisfying ending that I truly didn't see coming whatsoever. A truly raw novel, Split is a must-read that should not be missed.


To honor National Domestic Violence Awareness month, author Swati Avasthi has combined a blog tour for her debut novel, Split, with a charity auction. Over 40 authors, agents and editors have donated manuscript critiques, personalized books, and more to an online auction that anyone – reader, writer, booklover -- can bid on and buy. All proceeds go to the Family Violence Prevention Fund. In addition to the auction, Avasthi is donating $1/comment on her 26-stop, month-long blog tour, coordinated by Kari Olson at Teen Book Scene. If she reaches her goal and cap of $250, she will double the donation. Follow the tour, get stuff you want, and make a difference.

Blog Tour Auction

As part of the Split blog tour and charity auction, I'd like to highlight one item up for bid from the amazingly fantastic list of items available. Pete Hautman and Mary Logue have generously donated a personalized and signed set of The Bloodwater Mysteries.

book source: provided by the publisher

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

A while back my good book friend Chachic asked me to participate in her very fun We Love YA feature and at the end, recommended several YA books that I hadn't yet tried. Among this great list was the Jessica Darling books by Megan McCafferty. This past week I was in great need of a happiness-inducing, pick-me-up read and so finally made my way to Sloppy Firsts. Let me tell you, it was a match made in heaven.

After the sudden departure of her best friend Hope, Jessica Darling is left floundering with a group of boy-obsessed girlfriends she hates, otherwise known as the Clueless Crew. Jessica doesn't expect to find any compassion for her situation at home as she's felt like an outcast her entire life - especially now that her perfect sister has turned into a world-class bridezilla planning her upcoming nuptials with the help of Jessica's equally incomprehensible mother. Running track and attending a school physically incapable of challenging Jessica academically seem to function merely as ways of taking up her time. That is until the "Dreg" Marcus Flutie begins showing up unexpectedly - and always with unnervingly accurate descriptions of Jessica's thoughts and personality. Feeling like she's losing herself to insanity, Jessica enters into a confusingly, bizarre 'relationship' with the one person who seems understand her completely although she can't even begin to figure him out.

Okay seriously folks. I am in love. Sloppy Firsts was like a revelation to me. Coming in at a time when I desperately needed to find some humor I was rewarded with a kindred spirit in Jessica Darling. I love this girl to pieces. She's smart, she's odd, she has the craziest sense of humor, she obsesses about the randomest situations, and tends to mope when things aren't going right in her life. And no topic is sacred - everything comes out in this blindingly honest teenage soul-searching diary for answers to questions on love, family, friends, and life in general. All of Jessica's random musings are quote-worthy -- but I particularly love her descriptions of trying to deal with insomnia:
My insomnia kicked in three months ago, right after Hope told me she was crossing the Mason-Dixon Line. Since then, I've learned to hate every inch of my body.

I'll be lying there in the dark urging myself to sleep, when I'll suddenly become excruciatingly aware of how sweaty my thighs get when stuck together in the fetal position. So I have to shift them. Then my thighs are okay, but a lock of hair falls across my forehead and I can't stand the weight of it on my brow. So I brush it aside. Then my forehead is okay, but the toes of my right foot get all cramped up. So I have to crack them. Then my toes are okay, but I get an itch on my butt. So I have to scratch it...

This goes on for hours with every conceivable combination of body parts and complaints. I've tried warm milk, counting sheep, even the I-dare-myself-to-stay-awake reverse-psychology trick. Nothing works. I've stopped short of Tylenol PM because I don't want to be a person who required drugs to get in and out of bed. As if Heath weren't enough of a warning, I've seen too many Behind the Musics to let that happen.

There is only one good thing about my middle-of-the-night restlessness. I have some crazy-ass dreams that are really easy to remember when I wake up.
Who has not experienced any or all of these symptoms during restless nights? Jessica nails each to a T and it simply cracks me up to no end. And as for her dreams... Well, you'll just have to read the books to find out what happens. hehehe. Plus the girl makes lists. And charts(!). I am so head over heels here it's not even funny. I can't begin to thank Chachic (and the many others) who suggested I give these books a go, because I adore Jessica. And Marcus. And now I am dying because I want to find out (LIKE RIGHT NOW) what happens between her and Marcus. An added bonus is that I hear the books actually continue through Jessica's college days -- a fact I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am about. So few good YA books follow characters as they get older and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for Jessica (and of course, Marcus).

And as a totally random aside can I tell you how happy these titles make me? First of all, they are just plain witty, but secondly -- NUMBERS! Scrambling around, trying in vain to identify the correct reading order for a series is always a major headache, so I must thank whatever genius decided to put the book number as part of the titles. My little OCD heart thanks you. I just wish every other series would follow suit.

series reading order:
~ Sloppy Firsts
~ Second Helpings
~ Charmed Thirds
~ Fourth Comings
~ Perfect Fifths

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
BookNAround review
Forever Young Adult review of the entire series
Liv's Book Reviews
Reading and Ruminations review

book source: my local library

Free Read! The New World by Patrick Ness

A big, hearty thanks to the lovely Holly over at The Book Harbinger for bringing this to my attention. Patrick Ness is one of the best dystopian voices out there and if you haven't read his incredible Chaos Walking series yet, well, why not?! It seems after the release of his third and final book, Monsters of Men (which I still have yet to read, but am dying to do so), Patrick Ness decided to gift his readers with a short story from Viola's POV set before she crashes (literally) into Todd Hewitt's world, entitled The New World. It's short -- but it's chock full of all the good things we've come to know and love about Patrick Ness' addictive writing. So be sure to head over and download it for free while you can!

Killbox by Ann Aguirre

Oh man, have I ever been looking forward to reading Killbox. Ever since Ann Aguirre was kind enough to stop by last month to give us a sneak peak at Jax's newest adventures I've been anxiously awaiting this newest ride. And what a ride it was.

Having just come off a mentally (and physically) grueling assignment as an ambassador for the Conglomerate to Ithiss Tor, Sirantha Jax would like nothing more than to rocket herself back into grimspace with March by her side. But with the alarming rise in recent Morgut attacks - a highly advanced, yet nasty group who leave no survivors - the Conglomerate is scrambling for a way to protect ships and remote outposts from utter decimation. As all-out war explodes, Jax and March must gather (and train) a rag-tag militia while Jax continues to test her body's limits as a jumper in hopes of gaining any advantage over the terrifying force of the Morgut.

I have no idea how Ann Aguirre keeps doing it. Really. The woman must be a mind-reader like my favorite dark hero March to be able to manipulate my emotions this effortlessly, because honestly, there wasn't a chapter where I wasn't afraid for, mad at, or elated for any one of her amazing characters. Nothing comes easy or without a struggle this time around (but really, when has it ever for Jax?) and Jax is especially feeling the strain of having to separate indefinitely from those who she has come to rely so heavily upon.

War is always a time for goodbyes and loss yet in no way could Killbox be described as a purely emotional book without any action. Whereas Doubleblind focused more on Jax learning how to control her impulses and learning to fight with words, Killbox returns once again to her trademark let's get this done fighting style. But she's also a more mature Sirantha Jax who weighs the outcome of her actions and decides to go to bat even when she isn't sure of the outcome. Time and again, we see a Jax who rationally evaluates a dangerous situation, makes the hard choice (which usually involves putting herself at risk), and then rushes forward with guns blazing. I'd say the woman is a machine to continue putting herself in danger like that, but truly she's not. Jax has so much heart that it makes her choices that much more admirable and extremely heart-breaking once you understand her reasoning for such crazy actions.

And as for the ending? Yeah, my tender emotions were pretty much already fried from the rest of the book, so it was nothing short of cruel to be left with such a crazy cliff-hanger ending! I honestly have no idea where Ann Aguirre is going to take Jax next but you better believe I don't want to miss a second of it. 

series reading order:
~ Grimspace
~ Wanderlust
~ Doubleblind - my review
~ Killbox
~ Aftermath (September 2011)
~ Endgame (September 2012)

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
The Book Pushers review 
Lurv a la Mode review
Tempting Persephone review

book source: my local library

Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

Hoping to basically fade into the woodwork living and working in the Broken (the non-magical world) for the last few years, William is startled when he is approached by an agent of the Hand - a group of spies who serve Adriaglian in the Weird - to once-and-for-all destroy the ruthless killer known as the Spider. Having dealt with the Spider before, William absolutely understands the importance of taking down the deranged killer for good. The Spider's trail leads William directly into the Mire - a portion of swampland that separates the Weird and the Broken called the Edge - and straight into the path of the warring Mar clan. At the head of her rag-tag family is Cerise Mar and she's currently only holding her rough and tumble family together by sheer determination. Cerise's parents were kidnapped and as the oldest and best-trained fighter, it's now up to her to make sure her fiercely proud family of Edgers can protect themselves. So even though she knows it's a bad idea to bring William into her family's conflict, she can immediately see him for the trained fighter he is and knows that he just might be the only chance her family gets.

Thank heavens Ilona Andrews decided to return to the fascinating world of the Edge, this time with a story for William. William played a bit part in On the Edge as Declan's shape-shifting army buddy and I just knew from the start that he'd be buckets more interesting than Mr. Perfect Declan could ever hope to be. For starters, William is a bit damaged. He's got these dark corners in his past and already is a bit behind emotionally due to his being born a changeling -- in this case a man who shifts into a wolf. But man, is he ever so likable. For the outset, it's obvious William's got himself on this tight leash -- he refuses to become the 'animal' so many people believe he is.

And then that's not even going into how much I loved Cerise and her off-beat family. Their magical talents range from deadly flashing sword skills to limitless good luck which can only be tapped after a bet has been placed upon the outcome. And once again Ilona Andrews showcase their trademark wit in the character of Cerise. She's smart and tough and I immensely liked her. I could have spent much more time in the Mire with the Mars family but was still immensely pleased with what I got. Whereas On the Edge often felt a little too formulaic and fluffy, Bayou Moon has some grit and substance to it -- The Spider and all of the Hand's minions are some scary dudes -- plus it's hefty. 447 pages hefty people! I'm not one to complain about that sort of thing. All total, Bayou Moon is a fabulous second novel with plenty of good things to recommend it. I for one am already waiting to see where Ilona Andrews will take us in the Edge next.

Even if, once again, Ilona Andrews got shafted in the cover department. Admittedly, Bayou Moon is light-years better than the artwork for On the Edge, but this one would be greatly improved by the removal of the pensive floating head of William.

series reading order:
~ On the Edge - my review
~ Bayou Moon

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Angieville review
Dear Author review
Dreams and Speculation review
Janicu review

book source: review copy from publisher