To help celebrate the upcoming release of Sierra's fourth book, TORN FROM THE SHADOWS, I stopped by several blogs during this month to chat about different things and answer some very cool interview questions.
Since the Tour has now come to an end, I thought I'd post all the links together. In case you wanted to check them out.
Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She’s one of the privileged – she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever.
So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat’s world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all...
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book from Bloomsbury, and was intrigued by the concept. So I decided to give it a go. I'm really glad that I did.
Catherine Hunter lives in Anglya. She's the daughter of a government official so she's living a privileged life while the common people suffer hard lives. This also means she's never considered for Collections, which other kids thirteen and over are forced to face. Except, her life isn't as peachy as most think. She might have pretty, clean clothes, food to eat and a lavish home but her father is a strict, mean and violent man. He barely tolerates her, and is anticipating marrying her off to the son of a fellow government man.
Her mother has been sick for years, bedridden and always sleeping. So the only real companionship she has is with the family servant and mecha, Sam. She maintains him and has conversations with him, but doesn't have much interaction with anyone else. That's why she spends most of her days sneaking out of the house and looking for adventure in the streets of Anglya.
The day her father is going to make her arranged marriage official, she decides to run away. She chops her hair off, takes a few belongings and stows away on a skyship called the Stormdancer. When she gets discovered, she pretends she's a boy and the crew actually welcome her onboard. As long as she's willing to help out, there's a place for her with the small crew. As the days go by, she starts to really like and even care about the crew members--especially the handsome scoundrel, Fox. But what will happen when they find out she's really a girl?
On her travels with this smuggling crew, she visits another country. One that is supposed to be at war, and that's when she figures out that the propaganda being broadcast back home is all a lie. The government is manipulating the news and by telling the people there are ongoing wars in other parts of the world, they keep the common people poor and take their children for Collection to serve in this fabricated war. But if there isn't a real war and they're still taking kids, what are they really doing with these children?
That's when Cat's adventure leads back to Anglya. In a desperate attempt to find out exactly what the government is hiding, they sneak into the building and discover not only the horrifying truth about the kids, but that her father has a deeper role in all of this than she could have ever imagined...
I got into this book right away. Cat might have been born into privilege and wealth, but her struggle is one anyone can relate to. She just wants to belong, to help people and feel like she's a part of something bigger, something that really matters. And when she meets the crew of the Stormdancer, it's almost like everything she's ever wanted to achieve clicks into place. Not only does she find a new family, adventure and danger, but also discovers love.
A bunch of strangers willing to give her an opportunity to prove her worth teach her more about life, love and truth than her father ever did.
It's just a shame that in the end, she's forced to once again face the one thing she was trying to escape. I'm not going to say any more than that, but I will say that Lucy Saxon does something in the conclusion of this book that is very brave, because some authors would have shied away from the heartbreaking events. But it's written very well, and winds up affecting the reader as deeply as the characters.
Take Back the Skies is a fun and wild adventure into a fantasy world that becomes more vivid with every new word. It's a fast-paced story filled with tension and danger, one that kept me turning the pages as fast as I could because I wanted to see what was going to happen next. The cast of characters is great and the worldbuilding strong. Cat is such a likeable character that I felt her heartache when her adventure comes to an end and she comes full circle.
This is a great book!
Take Back the Skies, June 2014, ISBN 9781408847657, Bloomsbury Childrens
The penultimate book in my Sierra Fox urban fantasy series is out today!
All it takes is one goddess-affiliated demon to seal the deal.
Sierra Fox, Book 4
Sierra Fox knows better than to believe the demon-obsessed freakshow has given up on her. She’s settled into a nice routine of living with her sister, enjoying her relationship with a sexy werewolf, and staying on top of work—and always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Predictably, things start falling apart as she’s suddenly swamped with surprise visits and unwanted advances, and someone she despises wants her help.
When a spook-catching training session goes horribly wrong, she encounters a man who’s not quite as dead as she’d hoped. Mace is now more than human and still determined to get his hands on her. But not if Sierra accepts the strengthening gifts her grandmother bestowed at her birth.
Having the good guys put a price on her head is enough to ruin anyone’s day, but Sierra refuses to give up or give in. Even if it means exercising the last option on earth she wants. But claiming the ultimate power may not be enough to save the man she loves before his werewolf past destroys him.
Phantasms, pookas, werewolves, and demons, oh yes! And a spook-catching heroine who must choose to take what’s rightfully hers—even if it means walking the shadows with a demon.
"I love it when a series mythology blossoms and the Sierra Fox series gets really juicy in this respect in TORN FROM THE SHADOWS. Everything is really building to a head, which will hopefully come to an amazing conclusion when the fifth and final book in the series comes out."
"This is the fourth Sierra book and quickly takes you deeper into her life. I would recommend reading the earlier books to appreciate the full extent of complexities woven within this world of magic, deceit and loyalties from the strangest of places. Ms. Sfetsos has a unique ability to mix the mystical with reality, strength with vulnerability, and adding a layer of magic all her own."
"Hear what?" I stepped onto the sidewalk and past the streetlight. I scanned the area behind the big rectangular, peaked warehouse and focused on the overhead train lines. The train tracks were dark, but I could definitely hear something. It sounded like…sparks.
"I can hear a sizzling sound," Lavie whispered, standing under the streetlight.
My skin prickled at the same time as white, blue and green sparks appeared along the overhead train wires. They moved quickly, getting closer.
"Lavie, get away from the streetlight," I said, never taking my eyes off the wires.
"Just move away, into the dark!"
The electric arcs had already jumped the train lines. Some were slipping in through the warehouse’s wiring, others were racing towards us.
"Sierra, what the hell’s going on?"
As I turned to push her away, a rush of energy reached the power lines crisscrossing over our heads. The white, sparkly lights raced into the streetlight, causing the bulb to fizzle out and leave us in the dark.
Lavie finally took a step, but it was too late. She stood too close, so when the spark manifested into a phantasm, it engulfed and zapped her with enough current to knock her off her feet.
I watched as it took off, headed straight for the warehouse.
An ethereal explosion lit the night with green sparks. The warehouse was buzzing with energy. I could see the glow from the square windows.
The night watchman ran outside but was zapped in the back of the head. He collapsed in a heap on the driveway
"Lavie," I called, stepping closer. "Lavie, are you okay?"
She didn’t answer. I crouched beside her to make sure she was still breathing. She was, and her pulse was steady. I didn’t want to leave her alone out here but the others might need my help. I had to get inside.
I pushed her backpack away to make sure she was lying flat on the sidewalk, took off my jacket, and threw it over her body so she’d stay warm on this cool September night.
"Sierra!" That was Ebony. "We need your help!"
TORN FROM THE SHADOWS will be available on APRIL 22, 2014:
I really like this series, and since the next book is coming out real soon I thought it was time to read this one. :)
Zoey Donovan is an Aegis. Actually, the only one left because the others have disappeared. And now a bunch of Hidden have migrated to her house seeking shelter and protection. When several of them turn up injured, with tranq darts still attached, and missing loved ones, she realises something terrible is happening. Someone is hunting the Hidden, and when one of her own family members is taken Zoey is even more determined to save these supernatural creatures.
But it's hard to balance being responsible for so many monsters of myth and legend with running a successful business. At least her best friend is always there to help. When her personal life and her job collide in the worst possible way, the stakes are even higher.
I enjoyed this installment as much as the ones before it. This series is a lot of fun, but don't let that fool you into believing that serious issues/situations won't arise...because they do. Something very sad happens in this one.
At least Zoey and Riley's relationship heats up. ;) And I enjoyed meeting Kam and Darius. Maurice is always cool, but his life gets a little complicated too.
Can't wait for the next one. And Maurice's short story is already waiting to be read...
The fourth book in my Sierra Fox series will be released next week. Here's where it all starts...
“You’re going to be home later, right?”
“Of course I am, Papan.”
“Are you going to be alone?”
“It’s a weeknight, so my sister will be here. But she’ll be
having an early night…” A breathy sigh choked me as a wave of desire struck
deep in my lower abdomen. “Besides, her bedroom’s too far to matter.”
“That’s music to my ears because I really want to get you alone.
We’ve got some catching up to do.” He paused long enough to growl into the
phone. “Too bad you haven’t got that trench coat yet, because I’m in the mood
for some role-playing.”
I rolled my eyes. Was he ever going to let this trench coat and red
high heels fantasy go? I doubted it. Papan could be very stubborn. “What’s with
you and the trench coat fantasy, anyway?”
“The thought of you wearing nothing but a coat and heels gets my
blood boiling. It’s a very vivid image. One I’ve had since the first moment I
saw you.” His breathing echoed through the line, making my spine tingle.
“Anyway, I don’t think now’s the time to be concentrating on this. I have to
meet with someone and my jeans are getting uncomfortably tight.”
“I’m alone now,” I whispered into the phone. “Maybe you should
His frustrated groan echoed in my ears. “Don’t tempt me, Foxy
Lady. I’m so close to cancelling so I can get over there and f—”
“No, don’t cancel.” As much as I enjoyed flirting with him, I
didn’t want to interfere with his scheduled appointment. Not when this could
turn out to be a new case, and our work routines had been relatively smooth for
months. “Go to your meeting. We’ll talk later.”
“I don’t think we’ll have much time for talking.”
“Then we’ll do whatever else comes to mind.”
“I’m holding you to that.”
“You better,” I said with a laugh.
“See you soon, Foxy.”
“Bye.” I pulled my mobile phone away and held it for a moment so
I could stare at the snapshot I’d set as Papan’s profile pic. It took up the
whole screen and I couldn’t look away from his infectious smile. The corners of
his eyes crinkled as he flashed the cheeky grin that always made his dimples
appear. He was shirtless and the blond stubble on his face caught the sun,
while the colorful sunflower patch in the background made him look like the
epitome of summer. He was beautiful. Sometimes, I still couldn’t believe he
wanted to be with me, but our friendship had blossomed into a passionate
relationship. We’d now been a couple for over six months.
Months filled with teasing, flirting, and a whole lot of heat.
But it wasn’t all fun and games. Papan encouraged me to get my gun license,
become a member of a shooting club, and even taught me how to shoot. Now I
could actually use the revolver Oren had given me.
Papan also trained me in self-defense. It was great to have
incantations and spells at my disposal, but he constantly insisted that getting
my hands dirty was a necessity. I was getting pretty good at it, and the fact
most of our sparring sessions ended with us naked was enough motivation.
Jason Papan was a good man, and we’d been through a lot.
I couldn’t get enough of him.
Reluctantly, I hit the Home button and tucked the phone into the
back pocket of my sweatpants.
I eyed the locked closet door I hadn’t opened for ages. My
archive closet was where I stored old stuff—clothes that didn’t fit, formal
gowns, photo albums, that kind of thing. But today I wanted something in
particular and I was pretty sure it was in there. I vaguely remembered Grandpa giving
me a khaki trench coat that belonged to Grandma. In my teens I didn’t have any
need for the garment, but if I found it now…I could finally bring Papan’s
fantasy to life.
The thought of role-playing with him always got my heart
pumping. Making it his birthday surprise sweetened the deal, especially since
it was only a week away.
In June, he’d made my birthday special and had given me a
beautiful, customized boline with a moonstone handle, silver guard and straight
double-edged blade. A Hecate’s Wheel symbol was inscribed on top of the pommel.
I took it everywhere, and not just because it was a present from Papan. There
was something else. Every time I held it, a sense of raw strength flowed
through me—and it felt stronger during the full and waning moon.
“I commissioned this especially for you. No one else in the
world has one like it,” he’d said. I’d wanted to ask him so many questions
about it—especially why one side of the thin blade bore a key and the other
said Hecate—but was taken aback by his attention to detail.
Papan’s gift fit in my palm perfectly—just felt right.
Since my biological grandfather gave me a silver dagger at the
beginning of the year, I’d taken a keen interest in short blades.
I crossed the carpeted expanse of my bedroom and paused at my
bedside table, habitually glancing out the window. Nothing looked out of place
on this Thursday afternoon. The sun shone on the quiet street
My bedroom was on the third story of the split-level house and
directly above the garage, so I could see a long way up and down the street.
This also happened to be the only room on this floor. My grandparents used it
as their own for decades, but I’d inherited the room and the house shortly
after escaping the clutches of the Spook Catcher Council.
My queen-sized bed sat in the middle of the room, with the
beautiful antique gilded mirror Oren had given me for my birthday placed across
from it—a position Papan had suggested. A small wooden desk pressed into the
far corner had my laptop on top, and a comfortable armchair was positioned near
I only had one destination in mind at the moment, but I needed
the key I’d dumped on the bedside table when Papan called. I scooped it up and
admired the ornate brass, the kind they didn’t make anymore. I continued to the
closet, inserted the key into the matching lock, and turned it once. The door
clicked and I opened it, sending a flurry of dust around me.
When was the last time I’d opened this?
I coughed several times and waited for the dust to settle before
taking inventory. Several garments hung from coat hangers, some covered in
plastic for preservation. I shuffled through them but couldn’t find what I was
looking for. A pair of stretchy blue jeans I hadn’t seen since high school sat
on the top shelf. They were perfect for my upcoming sewer-cross-training with
my friend and demon hunter, Lavie Grye.
I grabbed them and threw them on the armchair.
Where the hell had I put the coat?
TORN FROM THE SHADOWS will be available on APRIL 22, 2014:
As you can see from the picture, I've been busy. Most of my days have been spent writing stuff down, brainstorming, adding new words, and even coming up with ideas/snippets while trying to get to sleep. O.o That last bit is actually pretty shitty because I hate getting in a comfy position and then having to get up to write something down so I won't forget...
Bad thing is that actually happened. The other night I fell asleep thinking about two things, and when I woke up I only remembered one. Boo!
So anyway, I spent the last three weeks writing the first draft of a novella I probably shouldn't have written but couldn't ignore because it was so ready to be told and the characters insisted I told this story. LOL. In the end, I ended up with a 47,507 word draft that I'm pretty sure will end up being 50k by the time revision is done.
And although this story is a huge secret that I haven't told anyone about, and spontaneously appeared out of nowhere when I wasn't expecting it, I have to admit that I'm super excited about it. I'm happy with how the events unfolded, how the characters dealt with the situation/s, and how it ended. It's also a great segue into another two stories I can't wait to write!
The writing process never ceases to amaze me. It's like magic sometimes.
I've been so busy writing up a storm that even my reading slipped. But as you can see below, I actually read two YA books last week. They were both great! I'm hoping to get myself back into a reading groove...
My daughter's got school holidays now. She'll be home for two weeks, and since those weeks will be peppered with public holidays, I don't have any solid writing plans. I do have things on my to-do list and if edits come my way I will tackle them, but mostly I'm not putting any pressure on myself. Besides, Sierra's fourth book is almost here, so I'll be busy promoting that too. ;)
My daughter borrowed it from the library and read it last week, so I decided to read it before returning it. And I'm SO glad that I did.
Hazel is sixteen and has been living with cancer for several years. When she's diagnosed with depression, she starts attending a cancer survivor support group for teenagers. That's where she meets a boy with eye cancer called Isaac, and his gorgeous friend called Augustus Waters. ;)
Augustus is funny, good looking and has a larger-than-life personality. His energy is infectious. Even though Hazel has trouble breathing, she wants to keep up with him. Together, they embark on a wonderful, exciting, and heartbreaking adventure. They share each other's dreams and interests, as well as questioning life itself.
Wow. What a love story! It was beautiful, sad, uplifting, courageous, and wondrous. I loved Hazel and Augustus. They were as awesome together as they were apart. I got attached pretty early on, so there were plenty of tears as the events unfolded. :,(
This book tore my heart out and then stepped all over it, but I loved every single minute of it.
Fiona Tarsis is a legend. Her world was ravaged by a lethal virus, her family separated. Her friends were turned into ferocious beasts by an even deadlier vaccine. Mindless monsters now raid the streets. But Fiona has survived.
Jacqui Bloom needs Fiona’s help. Two years ago, Jacqui’s brother, Dean, left the safety of his home to guide Fiona’s mother to a safe haven. He never returned. Jacqui has been hiding away in the family house, disguised as a boy, and hoping Dean will come back. But she can no longer live like this. She has to find him.
Even with the two men Fiona loves most by their side, leading Jacqui into the desert will be risky. Raiders are everywhere – they will do anything to prevent the beast-cure her group are carrying from being spread – and knowing who to trust is near impossible. Lone traveller Kevin is sexy and self-assured, and has caught Jacqui’s attention, but he is hiding his past. Is he also hiding the truth about what he really wants from them?
Last year I read STUNG and really enjoyed it, so when I received the sequel I was curious about where this story would go.
Jacqui--or Jack as everyone calls her--still lives in her family home. They've been there since they were refused entry behind the wall, after the fall of society. They have all become efficient guardians of their house and each other. Each knows how to use weapons, are fast, suspicious of everyone, and their father is a dentist. In this world being a dentist is great currency. They don't have much food or belongings, but what little Jack has she's willing to spare enough for anyone worse off than them, which she does with the homeless guy who often comes around.
Oh, and everyone thinks she's a boy because in this brutal world being a woman is dangerous and can lead to a life sentence worse than death. But Jack's brother left two years ago and never came back, and she can't wait any longer. Even though she knows she'll be walking straight into danger, she leaves the house to search for her brother. She knows she'll need help and finds it behind the wall in Fiona, Bowen and Jonah who are keen to find Fiona and Jonah's mother.
Their journey leads into a barren world, and puts them in the path of Raiders, Beasts and Sirens. And meeting a handsome stranger that feels familiar could lead to their salvation...or damnation.
I really enjoyed Jack's story. It starts out a bit slow as we get to know her and her family, but soon becomes a fast-paced race to survival. Although her intentions are good, Jack often makes stupid mistakes that make life harder for everyone. It's frustrating at times but without those mistakes, she wouldn't have met Kevin and found out the truth about a few things along the way. :)
It was also cool to catch up with Fiona, Bowen and Jonah. Their story might have been told in Stung but they now have a new mission.
Cured is an intriguing and very intense, action-packed sequel set in a dark and dangerous future world. It's addictive and hooked me in to the very end. I just had to know where Jack was going to end up, and I wasn't disappointed. Also, Kevin was a nice addition. Loved the chemistry between them.
Cured, March 2014, ISBN 9781408842959, Bloomsbury Childrens