Cover Reveal: Steam by Jessica Fortunato

I'd like to introduce you to a short story from one of my dearest authorly friends and a fabulous writer, Jessica Fortunato.  She's already written The Sin Collector and The Sin Collector: Thomas, two gems in her super original paranormal series.  Check out her new story, a clever steampunk romance that I can't wait to dive into.  (Also the cover is gorgeous, isn't it?)  Enjoy!  

Charlotte Amelia Caprice may seem like an ordinary girl.  She has a job she hates, a boss she despises, and zero romantic prospects.   Her friends call her Charlie, when she can keep one for more than a few weeks.  Though Charlie may seem ordinary, she is anything but.  Charlie doesn’t have a heart.  Instead, she has a steam driven machine in her chest, always making her feel less than human.  Gears and pistons have been using her own body heat to pump her blood for over a decade.  There is one small problem.  Her heart is beginning to break. When Charlie meets a brilliant man, one who could save her life, she must choose between being heartless and being alive.  A simple choice for some, but for Charlie living on steam isn’t easy.

Steam is a new short story from author Jessica Fortunato.  Also from Fortunato is The Sin Collector, The Sin Collector: Thomas and the short story Banished which can be found in the Nocturnal Embers Anthology.  She lives in Pittsburgh PA with her family and ever-growing menagerie of pets.

You can find Jessica:
Website     Facebook     Twitter     Pinterest

Find Steam, exclusively for Kindle February 1st, 2013 (and look for a review on Sarcasm & Lemons soon)!


Review: The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis

title:  The Informers

author: Bret Easton Ellis

pages: 225

format: Paperback

isbn/asin: 978-0679743248

buy it: Amazon

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 7/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  People who can handle trippy narration, nonlinear plot, and character studies.  Fans of Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk, only weirder.  Fans of poetry and modern art.

In this seductive and chillingly nihilistic novel, Bret Easton Ellis, the author of American Psycho, returns to Los Angeles, the city whose moral badlands he portrayed unforgettably in Less Than Zero. This time is the early eighties. The characters go to the same schools and eat at the same restaurants. Their voices enfold us as seamlessly as those of DJs heard over a car radio. They have sex with the same boys and girls and buy from the same dealers. In short, they are connected in the only way people can be in that city.

Dirk sees his best friend killed in a desert car wreck, then rifles through his pockets for a last joint before the ambulance comes. Cheryl, a wannabe newscaster, chides her future stepdaughter, “You're tan but you don't look happy.” Jamie is a clubland carnivore with a taste for human blood. As rendered by Ellis, their interactions compose a chilling, fascinating, and outrageous descent into the abyss beneath L.A.'s gorgeous surfaces.

the basics
And so my love affair with Bret Easton Ellis continues. Shh, don't tell him.  The Informers is Less Than Zero if you add a bunch of characters, take away the plot, and make everyone really sad and vapid.  I know that doesn't sound good, but trust me.  If you like art pieces, you'll appreciate what Ellis is doing here.  It's nihilism at its best.  These aren't people with futures and plans and endgames.  They're drifting through life much like the reader drifts from scene to scene, soaking in one hazy snapshot before going to the other.  It's not always clear where, who, what you are.  It doesn't have to be.  More than telling a story, Ellis is painting a picture.  And he paints with a violent realism and a moral deadness that only he can master.

plot . ?
I don't even know what to rate this.  There really isn't a plot, per se.  Things happen.  People change.  Stories link together in odd ways that you'd never expect.  But it's much more like a collage than a filmstrip.  Each story has its own characters and setting.  You start in the middle and leave before the end.  Because this isn't a book about narrative.  It's a book about ennui.  Nihilism.  Stagnation.  The whole point is that no one is moving--and so no one goes anywhere.  If you want a story, read Less Than Zero.  

concept . 5/5
The collected short story idea isn't new, but this is more than that.  Like I said, it's collage.  It's like art film in book form.  Obviously that's a bit mind-boggling in a not-so-good way for many people, but it worked for me.  It was harder to read and to get into than a book with standard story form.  But it grabbed me anyway. It was like the poetry of urban decay, to get all fancy and hipsterish.  It is much more like reading free verse poetry than reading a book.  Or maybe watching a bunch of short films.  It fits the theme perfectly.

characters . 5/5
They're all so different and yet all with the same Ellisian core:  vapid, morally devoid, emotionally ambiguous. These are people drifting from drug to drug, bed to bed, looking for the next thrill because it's the only thing that reminds them they're alive.  They're decadence embodied.  They're likable, some of them, but you also want to strangle half of them and tell them to get away from Spago and go eat a burger.  They're caricatures, slightly, but you can still see real people in them.

style . 5/5
I can't get enough of Ellis' style.  It's the original gritty and raw.  Some of it is poetic, but in a sparse, minimalistic way.  Some of it is rambling and frenzied like an acid trip.  And it's all infused with a kind of tense boredom.  It makes you want to write, want to go do something, want to tear down walls.  Okay, I'm being dramatic.  But seriously.  Ellis is a master at painting a clear picture with the strangest, cleverest words.

mechanics . 5/5
Beautifully polished.  Nothing to complain about.

take home message
A nihilistic collage of 80's L.A., with a frightening relevance and timelessness.

Note: I purchased this copy.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


Bizarre Fantasy Writing Prompts: Volume II

The first Bizarre Fantasy Writing Prompts has gone over so well that I thought I'd write another one!  Enjoy, and I hope these inspire you.  

Also, if you have a prompt idea, submit it to me by email and you could be included in Volume III (with your name as credit and a link to your website of choice!).  Feel free to submit prompts for any genre.  I'll be making many more lists of prompts for romance, horror, contemporary, etc.!  

The Prompts

1. An Earth in which fantasy creatures are everyday things and coexist naturally with humans.   

2. Write your story from the evil villain's perspective.  

3. Pick your favorite historical figure. Now write a story about them assuming they have bizarre fantastical powers that were never recorded by history.  

4. Pick a pantheon of ancient gods and write a story in which they have all been reincarnated as humans.  You're not allowed to use the Greeks, Romans, or Egyptians.  Let's branch out here.  

5. The hero's great deeds are actually performed by his/her imaginary friend.  Go.  

6. Create a lovable motley band of heroic adventurers.  Kill them all by the end of the story.  

7. Wizards in space.  Go.  

8. A fantasy epic (or short story) told from the perspective of the super awesome magical object that will save everyone.  

9. A cataclysmic struggle between the forces of good and good.  

10. The only people with magical powers are those with physical or mental disabilities.  

Happy writing!


What are some ways to make these prompts even more bizarre?  


Obsidian Blog Tour

Its day nine of the Obsidian Blog tour and C. J. has been kind enough to host me on her blog. Today we’ve got a calendar page reveal and we are going to learn more about Jesse Sutton, one of the love interests of the main character, Ava Tanner. Also, don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom!
Before we talk about Jesse Sutton, let’s first reveal the calendar page:

Alright, now for the really fun stuff!

Jesse Sutton looks a lot like Mathew Bomer (the guy from White Collar).

He’s rich, he’s mysterious and he’s never been one to fall in love--that is, until Ava comes along.
Jesse lives in Los Angeles with two of his friends who help him keep his secret. Latoria Gray and Perry Eberly (Who just happens to be a vampire) are the only ones who know about his secret, but when Ava stumbles upon it, he has no choice but to tell the whole group.

What is his secret? Well, I can’t say, but you can find out by reading Obsidian. Trust me; it’s quite different from anything you’ve probably ever read.

Here is a little excerpt from when Ava and Jesse first meet:

Ava noticed right away that Jesse’s appearance was superior. He was extremely handsome with dark hair that fell freely around his face. There were lighter highlights throughout the untidy mess of hair. It came to the middle of his cheek, and some of it was swept back out of the way. He had a small amount of facial hair that was well groomed and made him look somewhat rough. His eyes were dark green and deeply set, framed by eyelashes that no man should ever be allowed to flaunt.

She made herself take her concentration from him and tuned out a little after she learned who was who. After a while her eyes noticed Jesse Sutton again, sitting on the chaise lounge. He looked statuesque. He sat very still and she saw that his eyes were the only part of him that moved frequently. He had no nervous ticks, no itches, no moments of repositioning and he only said a few words—none of which were directed at Ava, although, she did feel his stare every once in a while, but when she would look over, his eyes darted elsewhere.

He seemed very bored with the conversation. His arrogance troubled Ava—she couldn’t see how he could be so nonchalant about the subjects they were discussing. Soon he stood up and announced that he was going to ‘retire’ even though the sun hadn’t even set. Although it was almost dark, it was only about eight o’clock. Ava thought it was an early bedtime for someone who didn’t even have to work a day in his life. It was obvious that Jesse was well off. His house was filled with things you’d see in a museum and the way he dressed was opulent.

Ava watched as Jesse left the room. The rest of them continued to talk. Making some plans but nothing concrete. They would have to wait until morning to finalize anything because Jesse had to approve. Apparently, Jesse governed the rules in the house. It was strange to Ava that he didn’t seem to care about anything that was going on, yet he was to make the decisions. Ava pushed the thoughts out of her mind. She had more to worry about than the business of a complete stranger. Soon, the conversation turned to lighter subjects and everyone was just trying to get to know each other.

Thanks for reading! Enter the giveaway before you go!
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Obsidian buy links:
Kayla Curry links:

You can see the Obsidian Tour Schedule HERE to see what you've missed and what is coming up!


Books by Theme: One-Shot Wonders (Contemporary Young Adult)

See what I did there?  

Everything comes in series these days, or at least in pairs.  Trilogies abound, but they don't stop there.  Authors are stretching for six, seven, even more.  That's great...sometimes.  When you're in a world like Harry Potter or the Shadowhunters, you crave more.  You ache for that next installment.  

But sometimes, you feel overwhelmed by all those series you just heard about that are now on book 3.  You mean, I have to blaze through two books before I can read this nifty thing everyone is shouting about?  You mean, the story isn't done?  

That's where the one-shot comes in.  It's a complete package all in one book.  It makes you think, makes you cry, and invites multiple re-readings.  And, to be honest, many of my favorite books are one-shots!  Here are a few special ones in the contemporary genre...using a loose contemporary.   I'll try to feature some that I haven't before, especially.  

One-Shot Wonders: 

Contemporary Edition

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
 I cannot express enough my love for this book.  Green captures the awkward sweetness of a first romance and interweaves it perfectly with the pain of death, decay, and oblivion. It's a story of Hazel, a girl who happens to have cancer, and Augustus Waters, a boy who also happens to have cancer, and how the two of them come together over the unfinished story of a reclusive writer.  The writing is beautiful, the characters are quirky and full, and it will stick in your head a long time after it's closed.
Read my review

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
So this is a stretch on contemporary, but the style is very much contemporary and the story is, dare I say, timeless.  Pony Boy is your average cherry-cheeked high schooler in a gang who gets into brawls with a gang of rich kids...oh, and someone dies.  Greasers and socs or punks and jocks, it's something you've heard before. Hinton tells the tale with authenticity and a plot that keeps you hanging on the edge.  Also, it's a classic. So read it. 

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Melinda can't speak.  Something so horrible has happened to her that she can't even find the voice to express it.  The worst part: no one knows, and everyone thinks she did something wrong.  School when your friends and strangers alike hate you is bad enough.  But then there are the memories, and getting through the day.  Written in witty, darkly humorous fragments, the story follows Melinda as she deals with her secret and moving on.
Read my review

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
Again, contemporary...ish.  But impossible to avoid if you have any literary sense at all.  Clay comes home from college and struggles to reconnect with ex-girlfriend Blair and best friend Julian.  Only Clay's L.A. is a haze of cocaine, prostitution, and fancy parties that take a little bit of everyone who comes.  When you're rich and morally unconcerned, it's not long before you find yourself in the dark.  Minimalist writing with absolutely cutting passages and a plot just as dreamy as all the drugs you'll read about.  For older and mature YAs, of course.

Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein
You thought your prom was bad?  Amy gets arrested at hers, for being in possession of marijuana.  Suddenly, her fun prom night with a mystery hottie is weeks of community service, disappointed parents, and manipulative ex-friends.  But there's this guy who seems to make everything better.  Right?  A tale of growth and self-discovery through the tough times, and finding the love that's good for you, not the love you think you need.
Read my review

Click the book titles to find out more! 

What are some contemporary YA one-shots that you love?  Anything a little obscure? 


Musing: I never win anything...usually

So, I never win anything.  Ever.  I'm like, immune to winning.  I'll win things once in a while if there are, like, nine applicants.  

So this week has been a crazy surprise!  Not only did I win SimonTEEN's 31 Days giveaway (I got a copy of The Story of Us by Deb Caletti that will be in the mail soon!) but I also got several amazing things in the mail.  

First there's a cool Beth Revis signed bookplate for my new copy of Across the Universe, which came with some awesome bookmarks that I am now using in my copy of Perks of Being a Wallflower.  Okay, I guess I didn't win that, but Beth Revis is just awesome enough that she sends them out for free to fans!  

Look at the awesome bookmarks!  

Oh hey, there's my new book that I really really want to read right now only I have 5,001 things to read (including, ya know, my homework...).  

Book plate affixed!  I put it on a blank page up front because I just couldn't cover up all the beautiful inside-cover art.  


I don't know if you've read Lichgates or Treason by S.M. Boyce (click the titles for my reviews!), but you should.  They're amazing.  And because I'm obsessed with them and obsessively do stuff related to Boyce's street team, I won my choice of a prize in one of her very frequent giveaways!  I was hankering for a signed book but I just couldn't say no to a beautiful shiny replica of Kara's Grimoire pendant, so that won.  Look how pretty it is!  And it came with surprise art cards and TWO PENS (not pictured).  

Look at the pendant!  Isn't it gorgeous?  You can get it with a blue stone too (for when it's activated!).  I wore mine to school today and felt all hipstery cool. 

So, yes.  Authors who give back are amazing.  Because, hey.  We're out there slaving to buy and review the books.  We worship and drool over them.  So it's nice to get some acknowledgement, whether it's just a reply to a tweet, a signed bookmark, or even something unique and snazzy like a themed pendant!  I can only hope that one day, I sell a book and have enough time and money to give away a LOT of stuff.  Because some day,I'd love to read posts like this.  

And in case you doubted the size of my TBR pile....  Note: This does not include Kindle books or the dozen or so books currently lining the floor of my bedroom.  

Note that my floor is slowly being taken over.... 

Look for a review of Drain You by M. Beth Bloom soon!  


What's the coolest thing you've ever gotten from an author you love?  (Either physical or digital)  

Giveaway: January New Release (INT)

welcome to the happy new year giveaway!

In collaboration with I Am a Reader Not a Writer, I'm giving away a new January release from the Book Depository or Amazon!

Don't forget to go to the rest of the hop for more great prizes! 

International as long as TBD ships to your country! 

This giveaway will run until January 31st. 

This giveaway is open to anyone whom Book Depository ships to.  

The winner of the giveaway must respond to my winner e-mail within 48 hours to claim the prize. 

Thanks for stopping by!  

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ARC Review: The Believing Game by Eiriann Corrigan

title:  The Believing Game

author: Eireann Corrigan

pages: 384

format: Kindle Netgalley ARC

isbn/asin: 978-0545299831

buy it: Amazon

rating: 4/5 [in the genre] or 6/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of thrillers, crime shows, and suspense. Readers of Ellen Hopkins, Speak, teen issue books, Easy, Pushing the Limits, and similar fare.

A private academy. A cult leader. A girl caught in the middle.

After Greer Cannon discovers that shoplifting can be a sport and sex can be a superpower, her parents pack her up and send her off to McCracken Hill-a cloistered academy for troubled teens. At McCracken, Greer chafes under the elaborate systems and self-help lingo of therapeutic education. Then Greer meets Addison Bradley. A handsome, charismatic local, Addison seems almost as devoted to Greer as he is to the 12 steps. When he introduces Greer to his mentor Joshua, she finds herself captivated by the older man's calm wisdom. Finally, Greer feels understood.

But Greer starts to question: Where has Joshua come from? What does he want in return for his guidance? The more she digs, the more his lies are exposed. When Joshua's influence over Addison edges them all closer to danger, Greer decides to confront them both. Suddenly, she finds herself on the outside of Joshua's circle. And swiftly, she discovers it's not safe there.

the basics
I had pretty high hopes going into this book.  I like cult stuff.  It's just creepy and psychological and awesome.  The Believing Game was pretty creepy and psychological, but it fell just short of awesome.  Not that I didn't enjoy it.  Greer was a fantastic viewpoint character.  She's got a lot of inner strength paired with a lot of insecurities and issues that make her complex and very real.  The supporting cast is well fleshed-out and represents a lot of different maladies of the human psyche.  What fell flat for me was the extent of the cult stuff.  I thought the creation of the whole group went a little too quickly to be realistic, and I still have no idea why there's a knife on the cover because it makes it look a lot more deadly than it is.  However, I did think Corrigan did a great job of showing how cult leaders worm their way in to vulnerable people's lives.  Overall, it was an enjoyable read and I'd pick up more from this author.

plot . 4/5
We start with Greer's fall, which I like.  Right into the action.  Except then there's this bit where we go into storytime mode and Corrigan describes Greer's first few months in summary fashion before we go back to action.  It was jarring for me.  Either we should have lived some of those first few months, or the story should have started when Greer meets Addison several months into her treatment (in that case, summary would have made sense).  After that, it picks up a lot.  I had a hard time putting it down.  It's the kind of frustrating read where you can see the characters being idiots, but it's so believable because it's set up in such a realistic manner.  It's creepy.  It's intense, and at times, horrifying.  So good-frustrating.  As I mentioned, I thought the "cult" formed a little too quickly.  We see a lot more of Greer's descent into it than the others'.  The end is quick, too, and I was bummed not finding out what happens to Greer's friends.  However, the epilogue was great.  It was clearly not a fairy tale ending but it wasn't melodramatically tragic either.  And overall, I thought the events and the characters' reactions to the cult leader, Joshua, were believable.

concept . 5/5
A manipulative guy taking advantage of troubled teens to form his own little mini-cult?  What a fantastic concept.  It's no Manson craziness either.  It feels like something that could happen, and probably does.  Adults with a touch of crazy who get off on being worshiped.  Teens with no direction looking to someone who seems to care and latching on--and getting pulled in too far.  The setting at the teen rehabilitation school was therefore perfect, I thought.  Joshua's mission for the cult is also hysterically ridiculous, but since the characters all comment on it, it becomes funny instead of eye-rolling.

characters . 5/5
The characters were the strongest part for me.  Greer's voice is super clear in the writing.  I felt like I was reading someone's inner monologue sometimes.  She's also so complex, but not a teen soap opera kind of way.  She has problems but they're not that outrageous and she recognizes a lot of her own faults, even as she falls prey to them.  She's also torn between craving belonging and knowing that being close to Joshua is dangerous, which keeps the tension high throughout the plot.  Addison is beautifully broken--not in a Damon Salvatore bad boy OMGLOVE way, but in the way that you can see why Greer likes him, but you just know something is horribly wrong.  And the secondary characters don't feel secondary.  Jared is a little thrown-in, but Sophie, Hannah, Wes, and obviously Joshua are fully explored and are major players in their own right.  Their have their own problems that drive the plot along and I really felt connected to them.  Except Joshua.  Whom I wanted to punch in the face.

style . 5/5
Not all writers can write teenagers.  Corrigan nails it.  Greer's voice is authentic and compelling, a mix of angst, snarky humor, and some stabs towards the profound.  She's an intelligent voice, allowing Corrigan to explore some deep issues without beating you over the head with them or making them sound too grown-up.  It's also a style that paints a picture and pulls you along.

mechanics . 5/5
Beautifully polished.  Nothing to complain about.

take home message
A creepy tale that begs to be told, with thrills enough to keep you up at night.

Note: I received this copy free from the publisher in exchange for a review.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


Giveaway Winner: Happy New Year Giveaway

we have a winner! 

Thanks to everyone who entered the Happy New Year giveaway!  I'm happy to meet all my new followers and I'm so grateful to everyone for participating and sharing with others.  

Didn't win?  Look no further than the Giveaway Page for more chances to win great prizes! 

                     congratulations to
jennifer r! you won a copy of your choice of a $13 book from the book depository!

( the winner has 48 hours to respond to the winning e-mail, otherwise a new winner will be chosen ) 

look out for the next giveaways and more reviews coming soon!  you know, once c.j. survives hell week.


Musing: The Irish are Killing Me

7 - 35

I think I'm going to go hide under a blanket for a while.  

Also, look for a review tomorrow. Still working on getting myself back on track. 

Yay grad school. 



ARC Review: The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

title:  The Assassin's Curse

author: Cassandra Rose Clarke

pages: 320

format: Kindle Netgalley ARC

isbn/asin: 978-1908844019

buy it: Amazon

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 8/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of Harry Potter (JK Rowling), Throne of Glass (Sarah J. Maas), Tamora Pierce, or just plain well-done fast-paced magical action-packed fantasy. Fantasy fans looking for something fresh. Hopeless romantics who like a slow build rather than a quick burn.

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

the basics
Remember when I said that Throne of Glass is the fantasy I've been waiting for?  Well, here's its best friend.  Clarke has brought my childhood of Tolkien and Tamora and Diana crashing back with her classic (with a twist) high fantasy.  The book starts with some staples: girl on the run from a marriage, mysterious assassin, clever and conniving pirate, untrustworthy magic.  The way Clarke lays them out is anything but predicable.  Her heroine is lifelike, clever, and more than a match for her assassin counterpart.  The hints of romance are believable and satisfying; they feel real, not thrown in just for effect.  The world?  It feels like it was always there, waiting to be written about, deeply imagined with a fully-realized magical system and flavors of Middle Eastern and Polynesian culture--a far cry from your typical medieval Europe overhaul.  The plot and world played off of each other to lure the reader along.  I had a hard time putting this one down.  If I had the time, I'd read it again right now.  It makes the kid in me laugh and better yet, it makes me want to write.

plot . 5/5
You don't get much of an introduction before you're thrown into the pirate world.  Just like I like it.  Ananna becomes instantly endearing.  She's not your typical tomboy.  She just wants to go her own way.  And she's a little lost as how to go about it.  Enter Naji, cursed assassin, bound to protect the life of the one who saves his.  Even if they save it very accidentally.  It's clear there's something bigger than just their journey, some deep magic bubbling under the surface.  Half of me wanted to speed up and find out all the secrets, the other half wanted to slow down and learn more about this incredibly detailed world.  Which for me, means I was obsessed.  It all crashes into a cliffhanger that still has me reeling.

concept . 5/5
I don't know why it took me so long to read this.  I love all the elements; I think I was afraid it wouldn't live up to my hopes.  Fat chance.  Clarke is like Tamora Pierce reimagined.  Her world is every inch as powerful and legendary as Tortall, but nowhere near the same.  Magic has its own strange ways--relationships with the sea, herb concoctions, people moving in shadows.  The history and the people is completely new, but with just enough familiar hints to seem like you've known it forever.  There are hints of good vs. evil, but for the common man, those are dark, old things not to be trifled with. Everyone else is just worried about getting ahead and making a quick buck.  The perfect backdrop for two of fantasy's most storied professions.

characters . 5/5
Ananna reminds me so much of my old Pierce favorites.  (Seriously, if you read this and love it, go read Tamora.)  She's fiery and a little foolhardy but not in an annoying way.  She's just young.  She's desperate to make her own way without being some man's trophy wife.  And she has some skills of her own that make her more than a match for her surroundings.  Scrappy and smart, you'll love her instantly.  Naji is you basic bad-boy, without the basic part.  He's disfigured, but we don't know why.  He's an assassin, but we don't know how.  He's suave and clever but also a bit of a baby.  And he's definitely got a selfish streak that plays off Ananna's own self interest.  They make the perfect team, sometimes united but often fighting to eke out their own interests.  And their relationship feels organic, not forced. The side characters...some a little too thinly described for now, but I hope to meet them more.

style . 5/5
Magical.  Clarke writes like she's writing an old tale, but with fresh, snarky teenage eyes.  Ananna feels like a presence, not a cardboard cut-out with a name.  No typos, no strange wording, just very clean writing that knows when to stop for a pretty description and when to rush forward.  It makes the world come alive.  It's also got a bite and it'll make you laugh as much as it'll make you gasp.

mechanics . 5/5
Beautifully polished.  Nothing to complain about.

take home message
Fantasy's newest hero is Cassandra Rose Clarke with her fresh beginning right out of old-timey fantasy, but far from stale.

Note: I received this copy free from the publisher in exchange for a review.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.