13-year-old Kyra has grown up accepting that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters. She’s grown up isolated from the outside world, cut off by a fence and told that the people in her compound are The Chosen Ones, pure in Gods eye and saved from the devil who has corrupted society outside of the community. She’s grown up in a world where books, television and anything that could corrupt the mind are strictly banned. She’s grown up knowing you never question the prophet, who lives in a huge mansion on the outskirts of the settlement and to fear The God Squad, the security who patrol making sure none of The Chosen Ones step out of line.
But Kyra has begun to question the rules of the polygamist cult where she lives. After coming across Patrick- driver of a mobile library, on one of her secret trips beyond the fence, she’s discovered a love of books. Then there’s fifteen-year-old Joshua and the increasing attraction between the two in snatched secret meetings. They hope to be allowed to ‘choose’ each other rather than have a husband ‘chosen’ for Kyra. But when the Prophet declares god has chosen Kyra’s sixty-year-old uncle, she’s forced to make an agonising decision. One that will take every ounce of strength and courage she has, knowing that saving herself could endanger those she loves most.
Sometimes a book grabs you so forcefully that you can’t stop reading until you’ve turned the very last page. The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams is one of those books. Yes, at just over 200 pages it’s quite short, but this is a huge and powerful book nonetheless and Kyra’s story will stay with you for a long time after you’ve finished.
Brought up in a polygamist religious cult Kyra is expected to follow the laws laid down by leader, Prophet Childs. She can’t read books, watch TV or use a computer…they’re all banned to stop the members of the cult being influenced by the outside world. Yet Kyra is curious and strong enough to question this. She knows how she’ll be punished if she’s discovered reading, yet she still does it. She knows she’s not supposed to feel the way she does about Joshua, even though it feels so natural to her and she cannot accept that it’s right to become one of her sixty-year old uncles many wives at just thirteen years old. But unlike the others her human spirit cannot be tamed and ruled, not when deep down she feels the rules her community live by are wrong. I had nothing but admiration in this thirteen-year girl in who Carol Lynch Williams captures the very essence of what it is to be human. To question. To make choices. To Love. To be free.
The Chosen One is shocking from the very first page. The tyranny with which the cruel Prophet Childs leads the cult is disturbing, violent and upsetting. Uncle Hyrum is the stuff of nightmares, only you know that people like this exist. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so repulsed by two characters in a book as I did with these two. Of course the sick irony is that while dictating and brain washing the vulnerable and subservient lower members, the Prophet is living in luxury. I was angry reading this book. Angry for Kyra and angry for the others, those who had had their spirit beaten out of them.
With violent and disturbing scenes, The Chosen One isn’t the most pleasant book to read, but it’s one that should be read. Kyra’s story is one of hope and courage and reminded me how lucky I am to have my life, where I have freedom, so often taken for granted. Carol Lynch Williams writing is straight to the point, there’s no words wasted and she lays it down bare. Once I started, I couldn’t stop reading. I had to know what happened and finished it in one sitting. Once I’d read the last page I felt stunned, emotional and just sat and thought about it for a while. I’m still thinking about it twenty-four hours later. I feel I truly connected with and cared for Kyra and desperately want to know what happened next for her, once the story ended. The Chosen One is an extraordinary and affecting book and one I’ll not forget in a hurry. a must read for everyone.
Published in the UK 5th august 2010 by Simon and Schuster
Thanks to Book Chick City for passing me this book for review on behalf of the publishers.
For Rachel, freshman year had been a bit of a failure. She had thought high school was going to be all about coming into her own and helping people around her realize what a truly incredible and talented person she was. Instead, every time she raised her hand to give the – always correct – answer in history class, her fellow classmates rolled their eyes; every time she went to the front of the room to answer – correctly – the algebra problem on the board, she’d be tripped; and whenever she volunteered to act out one of the parts – usually the lead – in whatever Shakespeare play they were reading in Mr Horn’s English class, she’d be heckled. Only in Lima would someone be ridiculed for aspiring to get out of Lima.
Glee: The Beginning.
Glee: Road to Sectionals DVD
A month ago, Mackie might have told them to buzz off. But now, with a budding relationship with tough, wounded, beautiful Tate, Mackie has too much to lose. Will love finally make him worthy of the human world?
Alex Patton tries to live as peaceful a life as she can, but it’s difficult when there are all those dead people hanging around wanting to chat. Distancing herself away from everyone seems the best thing and stops the inevitable freak out when people realise she can speak to ghosts. But then Alex is called on a secret mission by the US military to travel back in time to Ancient Briton 60 AD where, finding herself caught up in Boudica’s Celtic battle against the barbaric Romans, she faces danger, heartache and the most difficult decision of her life.
I have to be honest here and say, I did have some misgivings when I started this book. I’ve not read much in the adult paranormal romance genre and had some pre-conceptions. Surprisingly though I thoroughly enjoyed The Avenger and found it a real page-turner from beginning to end.
The Avenger starts off with Alex, stressed, unhappy; trying to block out the ghosts she hears all the time and lonely because it’s just too difficult to explain to anyone her strange gift. I liked Alex right away, she’s snarky and straight talking, I loved her interactions with the ghost Andred and the fact she thinks they’re all a load of gossips and nags. I love the idea of gossipy ghosts. But there’s also a vulnerability to her as well that makes her approachable and interesting.
When Alex lands herself in 60 AD things really do become fascinating. Here Alex’s psychic gifts aren’t seen as strange at all, she’s called a soul speaker and passes herself off as a priestess to the Celtic goddess, Andraste. But what begins as a rouse soon turns into a journey of self-discovery as she finds her spirituality. Old pagan beliefs and rituals fascinate me and The Avenger is full of them! Cast writes in a very atmospheric way so I became completely caught up in Alex’s experiences with the Goddess and The Otherworld and absolutely believed in them.
There’s also a lot of bloodthirsty action in The Avenger, with Celtic warriors battling ruthless Romans. At times it was a little gory, especially for the squeamish like me, but certainly gave some authenticity to the book. I don’t know much about Boudica, but after reading this I really want to find out more and her daughter’s story is truly heartbreaking. Caradoc, a mysterious and handsome druid also has a tormented and touching story and I really didn’t blame Alex for her growing interest in him.
So, the romance. And the part I was most unsure about pre-reading. I’m not against a sex scene or two…although to be honest I can live without them and prefer a suggestion rather than a detailed description. Phew, are the sex scenes when they happen full on here! …I found myself blushing profusely on the bus. But, my worries were unfounded. I was expecting this book to be all about the sex but it wasn’t. It was much more fascinating story with a couple of steamy scenes, although I admit to giggling childishly at ‘woman’s core’. I really liked the passion between Caradoc and Alex and was pleased that it added to the story rather than overpowered it.
The Avenger isn’t without its flaws. A lot of the detail about Alex’s time travel is glossed over leaving huge gaping holes. The language used in Ancient Briton is unauthentic to say the least. Alex apparently has some kind of chip in her head, which translates for her, but not a lot of details are given about this. If you’re the type of reader who just can’t look past this kind of holes, then The Avenger is probably not for you. I looked on it the same way I do when watching DR. Who and just accept the fascinating story rather than questioning why aliens on a different planet have bizarre British accents, or ancient Celts are responding easily to someone with a modern American accent in this case. Personally I would also have also loved more historical detail, but then P.C Cast hasn’t written an historical novel here and that’s just my preference.
I’m really glad I was sent The Avenger for review, as I probably would never have picked it up for myself. This is the first book in Nocturne’s Time Raiders series, with follow up books from other authors in the paranormal romance genre. I’ll definitely be checking them out, as well as P.C Cast’s other Goddess novels. The Avenger is fun, gripping, exciting, passionate, fast paced and intriguing and an incredibly easy read. Yes it’s a bit cheesy at times, especially at the end, but I LOVED it! I’d recommend it to fans of the genre and also those who like me were a bit unsure, as well as older fans of Cast’s House Of Night books.
Thanks to Nocturne for providing me with this review copy.
Glee: The Beginning by Sophia Lowell
CALLING ALL GLEEKS! Get more of your favourite characters in this official Glee prequel! All great performances deserve a warm-up! Enroll early at McKinley High to find out what went on before New Directions was even a
glimmer in Mr Schuester's eye. When did Rachel first decide Finn was more than just a jock? When did Puck and Quinn start their secret romance? And how did the fledgling Glee Club function without a fearless leader? Hint: It wasn't exactly a perfect melody. Break out the gold stars and refill the slushies: it's time to find out what happened to all your favourite characters before the show-mance began These novels contain additional storylines to those featured in the hit TV show.(Headline)
“So. Were you glad, deep down? Were you glad to be rid of her? Your perfect sister? Were you secretly glad when she was killed?”
17-year-old Katherine Patterson has moved city, changed her name and started a new school. She wants to forget the tragic murder of her sister and the media circus surrounding her family that followed and live in quiet anonymity. Keeping herself to herself she makes sure she doesn’t attract any attention and doesn’t socialise with any of her new classmates.
Then Alice decides to take her under her wing. Beautiful, fun and confident, Katherine is soon swept up by her charming and exciting ways and the two become close friends. Maybe she can start enjoying life again after all and not be defined by that one awful night she forever feels guilty for.
But there’s more to Alice than meets the eye, and as the two become closer Katherine starts to notice the sinister and cruel twist to her new friend. But distancing herself isn’t going to be easy; Alice doesn’t like being dumped.
You know how sometimes you read about a book and instantly know you’re going to love it? Well Beautiful Malice was one such book for me. But as I’m well aware, sometimes when you over anticipate something, it can turn out to be a let down. This certainly wasn’t the case here and Rebecca James’ debut novel was every bit as brilliant as I’d hoped. From the very first page, Beautiful Malice sucks you in and just doesn’t let go. It begins with a short prologue and immediately creates questions you desperately want to know the answer to.
Told in the first person from Katherine herself, it’s easy to connect with her right away. It’s obvious she’s had a traumatic experience, I felt sorry for this lonely and damaged girl despite not knowing what it was that had happened to her. When Alice takes an interest in her, I was as intrigued and delighted by her as Katherine herself is and could completely understand her becoming so caught up in her new friendship. I loved seeing Katherine emerge from her barricade under Alice’s influence.
Alice herself is a fantastic character. She’s impulsive, exciting, generous and larger than life. At times a little intimidating and forceful, but mostly the type of person whose glow we’d all like to bask in. But little by little we see her façade slip and a sinister turn to her character creeps in. This is done very slowly, with just a look or a strange comment that on it’s own could be dismissed. But as the story grows, so does the creepy feeling you have towards Alice making her absolutely terrifying, without even knowing why.
The book is punctuated with flashbacks to the past and the evening when Katherine’s sister was killed. Again, this information is trickled in slowly to the reader and while you know the eventual outcome quite early on, you have no idea what happened and why Katherine feels so much guilt. We’re also served with glimpses of the future, five years after the story is set. I found this style fascinating as it added to the intrigue, creating even more questions I was desperate to know the answers to. It astonishes me how James has created so many dimensions and layers of past, present and future and manages to weave them all up together perfectly. I think it’s also a great achievement and testament to how well executed this novel is, that there’s absolutely no confusion or disruption to the story, it flows beautifully and is constantly suspenseful and intriguing.
While Beautiful Malice could be considered a book aimed at Young adults, because of the main protagonists age, I think this book is one that has a huge crossover appeal and will be appreciated by anyone who enjoys a very good psychological thriller (I’m not sure it’s being marketed as a YA novel in the UK as I found it amongst the adult fiction in our local bookstore) In fact, I’d go as far to say that it probably isn’t that well suited to a younger audience at all (something I don't say lightly as I'm not one for censorship). There’s some very disturbing scenes throughout the book, often quite graphic and I found myself shocked at times. I also felt that the characters seem very mature for their age, and most of the time I forgot they were teenagers. 99% of the book is set away from a school setting, which is really only used to introduce Katherine and Alice, and if I didn’t actually know their ages I may have presumed them to be in their early twenties. For these reasons I’d be cautious about recommending this book to a younger teen reader and would urge those who wouldn’t usually consider this book because of the characters ages and setting to put aside any misgivings and give this a try.
Beautiful Malice lived up to my expectations and more. Once I started this book I didn’t want to put it down and not once in it’s 350 pages did I become bored. The writing is beautifully descriptive, creating suspense and tension in the subtlest way then completely hitting you when you least expect it. The book leaves you with a lot to think about; how much responsibility should we take for others actions, how we must live with our choices even when we feel they’re the wrong one’s and how no matter how well we think we know someone, chances are we don’t know anything. There are also some incredibly touching and beautiful scenes that had tears rolling down my face and a sense that despite everything, there’s always a place for hope and love. With a debut like this, I can’t wait to read more from Rebecca James. Highly recommended.
Hi, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions!
You are very welcome!
Firstly could you tell us all about your new book The Avenger and your inspiration behind it?
THE AVENGER is a wonderful paranormal romance that was a pleasure to write. It’s a time travel/ghost story/love story. I send my heroine, ex Air Force sergeant Alexandra Patton back in time to try to retrieve a piece of an ancient medallion that had been hidden in Boudicca’s torque. Alex has the unique (and often troubling!) ability to communicate with the dead – a handy skill in ancient Briton. She thinks she’s going to go back in time – accomplish her mission – and return to the modern world to go on with her life. What she doesn’t expect is to meet a druid warrior who will change the course of her destiny!
I am an ex Air Force Sergeant, so I patterned Alex, the heroine of THE AVENGER, after a mixture of my military friends and me. Historical research inspired my interpretation of Boudicca; dreams and fantasy brought my hero, Caradoc, alive.
Your phenomenally successful YA series, House Of Night, has gathered many fans way beyond the teen market. Did this surprise you and have any impact on your decision to carry on the connection into an adult novel?
I have been surprised by the incredible success of the HoN! I love that it’s helped a new group of fans find my adult books. Yes, the HoN did kinda bring me to Boudicca and THE AVENGER, as I’d already decided Boudicca’s daughters began the HoN Dark Daughter’s.
I read that you think of Scotland as your spiritual home. What is that draws you to this area and how much of an influence does it have on your writing?
I have Welsh ancestors (Bowman Cast left Wales for American in 1748); I think my DNA recognizes that part of the world. And my life partner is a Chieftain of Clan Wallace, so that’s even more of a connection for me. Yes, it definitely influences my writing! All of my Partholon novels have Celtic influences, as well as GODDESS OF THE SEA (a Goddess Summoning book that will be released in the UK this coming spring), and of course I brought the HoN to the Isle of Skye in the last book, BURNED.
You wrote The House Of Night series along with your daughter Kristen. Does she still influence your writing even when not directly involved? How different do you find writing adult fiction alone? Does she still influence your writing even when not directly involved? What did she think about The Avenger?
Actually, I don’t really co-author with Kristin. She serves as my teen voice editor. I do all the writing, and when I’ve finished she goes through the manuscripts and comments on voice and pop references. So, no, she doesn’t influence any other writing. The truth is she doesn’t read my adult books. She says, “No, Mom. The sex is just too gross.”
The premise behind The Time Raiders series (for which The Avenger is the first book) is that military heroines have to go back in time to retrieve pieces of a medallion. If you could go back to any time and place in history would it be to ancient Briton and the time of Boudicca? Or somewhere/time else?
Can I take penicillin and a gun?
I know it’s not ancient history, but I’d like very much to have been alive during WWII.
If you could spend just one day as one of your characters, which one would it be?
Shannon Parker from DIVINE BY MISTAKE, DIVINE BY CHOICE, and DIVINE BY BLOOD. She’s embarrassingly like me already, and I adore her hero, ClanFintan.
You're a prolific writer with many published and well loved novels under your belt. If you had any advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?
Treat writing like a JOB. Research the publishing process. Be professional about the career of being an author and don’t romanticize it.
Finally, do you have any plans for signings and touring in the UK in the future as I'm sure many of us would love the chance to catch up with you!
I’m going to be back in the Highlands the end of August through the first of September, and I would LOVE to do a few signing events. The problem is I’m also under tight deadline, so I have to see where I am with writing AWAKENED before I can commit to anything. Send me good writing vibes!
Thanks very much to both P.C Cast for taking the time to answer my questions and to Nocturne for inviting me to be part of the tour. Look out for my review of The Avenger coming later this week!
*Thanks also to my non blogging internet chums Eilidh and ChuggleBunny who are both huge House Of Night fans and inspired some of the questions!*