Author: K. R. Conway

Review & Giveaway: Cruel Summer by K.R. Conway (YA Bound Book Tour)

Review & Giveaway: Cruel Summer by K.R. Conway (YA Bound Book Tour)Cruel Summer by K. R. Conway
on March 16th 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 231
four-stars

Kian O’Reilly is flawless as a killer. Well-practiced in the art of making murder look like an accident, he is selfish, wealthy, and totally arrogant as a soul-stealing immortal. But when he ends up stranded on Cape Cod with a stolen car and a dead drug dealer in the trunk, he thinks his luck couldn’t get any worse. That is, until Ana Lane shows up.

Gifted as a mechanic and surfer, feisty Ana is not a fan of the entitled Frat Boys who show up every summer, messing with local girls. Believing Kian is one of those typical rich brats, she fixes his car and ruthlessly dismantles his cocky ego . . . which intrigues the dangerous soul thief.

Determined to spend more time with the prickly mechanic, Kian sets out to understand what makes Ana so fierce. Soon, however, he uncovers the painful truth behind the real Ana Lane, and the decision to save her, may destroy them both.

Welcome to my stop on the Cruel Summer blog tour, hosted by YA Bound Book Tours! You can find the complete tour schedule here. There’s also a giveaway for the book at the end of this post, so be sure to enter.

Cruel Summer is a novella, written as a prequel to Undertow and Stormfront. However, it’s recommended that you read Undertow and Stormfront first. Cruel Summer is a standalone, so you can technically read it before those two, but because there may be a few spoilers (nothing too dramatic), I would recommend at least reading Undertow first.

Not only am I lucky enough to have met the author, K.R. Conway, but I very recently attended a YA panel that included Conway, Trisha Leaver, and A.C. Gaughen, among others. It was fantastic to see all these ladies together in a “Girl Power” panel at a library.

I loved Undertow (here’s my REVIEW), though I’m not a big urban fantasy fan, so when I saw the sign-ups for the Cruel Summer blog tour, I jumped on the bandwagon.

Illuminations:

First things first. I love all the references to REAL places on Cape Cod in the book! Whether it’s an ice cream shop or diner, you’ll enjoy the various locations and eateries the characters frequent. Conway specifically included the names of real places, and this is wonderful advertising for local businesses. I heard her say recently that you can actually have the people at some of these spots sign your book. How cool is that?

Cruel Summer starts off with a bang.

A body hidden in the trunk of a very expensive car procured by Kian himself. We open with Kian’s perspective—a character in Undertow as well. In Undertow we don’t really get Kian’s point of view, so featuring it in this novella allows readers to get to know Kian more. He is not human. He is a mortis, and that means that he can be very dangerous. But at the same time, readers will probably fall in love with Kian.

In the beginning of the book, Kian meets Ana, a tough mechanic with violet-streaked hair who is not to be messed with, and is unimpressed by Kian’s wealth and looks (though she soon realizes that she’s attracted to him). Ana has her own challenges to deal with—she’s got an abusive alcoholic father, and her friend MJ who works at an ice cream shop is probably the only friend that knows the truth of Ana’s situation. Until Kian finds out. And then things get pretty complicated.

What I found interesting is that not only is Kian a fascinating character as a soul-thief, and about 182 years old, but Ana has her own special abilities. She can read emotions. She senses something a bit off about Kian, but isn’t able to actually “read” him. I won’t give anything away, but the buildup to the reveal maintains a healthy pace to the narrative.

I really appreciated the switching of perspectives in this story–it didn’t feel disjointed. Rather, I enjoyed reading both Kian’s and Ana’s side of the story.

The dialogue and interaction between the two enriches the story by making you, the reader, want the two to acknowledge their feelings for each other. There are a few roadblocks to this happening. For example, Kian ends up staying the summer on the cape, but it’s much to the dismay of Ana, who doesn’t want to cultivate her feelings for this new friend. But as we all know, that isn’t necessarily going to stop these two from growing closer.

Who Should Read This Book:

If you like urban fantasy, are intrigued by the idea of killer humans with supernatural strength who feed on the souls of people, and want a quick read set on Cape Cod, this one is for you. If you read Undertow and/or Stormfront, I think you’ll be interested in knowing more about Kian and Ana, before they make their appearance in the other books. I really appreciated getting their perspectives—often you enjoy a book, but you wonder what was going on inside the head of those secondary characters. With Cruel Summer, I don’t have to wonder anymore—at least in terms of these characters’ back stories.

The Final Illumination:

Witty dialogue, a Cape Cod summer setting, killer soul thieves, and mystery are all dimensions of this story that had me turning the pages late into the night. I haven’t read Stormfront yet, but since Undertow ended on a kind of cliffhanger, that’s something I plan to get to soon.

I can imagine Conway’s series is popular with young adult readers–in Undertow she references the perils of high school and I can imagine Cape Cod teens would be very interested in Cruel Summer with its vivid shore settings and nods to local businesses and hang out spots.

Kian and Ana may not play center stage in the other two books, but I think getting their backstories and perspectives adds to the depth of a series that is sure to delight fans of urban fantasy, hungering for a bit of the paranormal by the shore.

“Dad used to say that the night sky was truly endless when you were out at sea. He said that when the water was dead calm and the moon was hiding beneath the curve of earth, it felt as though he was actually floating in space. On the blackest of nights, he said you couldn’t see where the ocean stopped and the universe began and suddenly you were one with the stars. On those night, you became your own constellation and a mere speck in a galaxy so vast, that no one else existed.”

** This is the prequel novella to UNDERTOW and is based on the story of Kian and Ana the summer they met. While it can be read at anytime in the series, it is meant to be read after UNDERTOW and STORMFRONT.** 

Add to Goodreads

Links for Undertow (Book One):

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Links for Stormfront (Book Two):

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 kr conway

About the Author

I have been a journalist for 15 years and serve on the Board of Directors for the Cape Cod Writers Center. I also drive a 16-ton school bus because I am ENTIRELY NUTS.

In addition to working jobs that should come with a warning label , I hold a BA in Psychos (Forensic Psych), torment the tourists about Jaws, and occasionally jump from the Town Neck bridge in an attempt to reclaim my youth.

I live on Cape Cod with two smallish humans who apparently are my kids, my fishing-obsessed husband, two canines (adept at both flatulence and snoring), and a cage-defiant lovebird that sleeps in a miniature tent. Nope – that’s not a type-o. The bird is quite the indoor camper.

Author Links:

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Book Tour Organized by:

YA Bound Book Tours

Now for the giveaway!

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four-stars
What Katie Read

Undertow (2013) by K.R. Conway

Undertow (2013) by K.R. ConwayUndertow by K. R. Conway
Published by Kathleen R. Conway on September 27th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 390
Goodreads
four-stars

Luckless Eila is unknowingly the last of her kind: Rare. Gifted. Breakable. Stunning Raef is her kind's historic enemy: Soulless. Lethal. Lost. A legendary death 160 years before would set their lives to collide, forcing a beautiful killer to become a savior, a simple wallflower to become a warrior, and ruthless destiny to become a death sentence. SUMMARY: Eila Walker knows luck is not a friend, so she is downright shocked to inherit a million-dollar Cape Cod home. And yeah, her new town isn't perfect: the cheerleaders are heinous clones, the local undertow can kill ya, and her Great Grams was supposedly fried by lightning in the harbor square. Still, Eila is hopeful her luckless days are in the past . . . until history decides to repeat itself. When drool-worthy Raef O'Reilly becomes her friendly, yet weirdly protective shadow, Eila thinks life is pretty darn perfect - until she is hauled beneath the waves by an unnatural undertow. Revealing coal-black eyes and iron-like strength as he rescues her, Raef can no longer hide what he is . . . or what she can do. Eila, last of her kind, can supposedly channel the power of human souls, while Raef is more adept at stealing them. Even worse, the legend about her ancestor isn't such a myth, since Eila's grandmother was one kick-butt warrior until her lightning-like power backfired. A power that is written all over Eila's DNA. Determined to stay one step ahead of a dangerous clan that is hunting her, Raef, along with three unlikely allies, will do all they can to protect her. But as hidden pieces of their brutal histories unravel, Eila begins to understand just what went down in the harbor square. She soon realizes that following in her grandmother's fearless footsteps may be the only way to save those she loves . . . including Raef.

Suggested Age Range: 14 and Up

When I read that one reviewer described this as Dawson’s Creek meets The Goonies meets Jaws, I thought: Ok.

yes

I wasn’t disappointed. This was an entertaining read! And there are definitely some fascinating dimensions that lend themselves to the notion of spirituality in the narrative.

Illuminations of Spirituality in Undertow:

For example, the book opens with a glimpse into the last moments of the life of Eila’s 4th great-grandmother. This opening scene establishes an air of mystery in the narrative. As the reader, you assume there’s something significant about Eila, the protagonist, due to the fact that her great-grandmother possessed some kind of supernatural ability. They’re family, right, so maybe there’s a link in their gifting and abilities? But, Eila doesn’t know anything about this supernatural aspect of her 4th great-grandmother’s life in the beginning of the story, so she doesn’t even consider the fact that she might be special.

This was a part of the story that I appreciated—this mysterious (at first) family history of Eila’s. It added a depth to the narrative that drew me in as a reader. It also reminded me of the potential strong connections between family members. There is definitely a kind of spiritual connection between Eila and her great-grandmother—eventually you realize she is dreaming her great-grandmother’s last moments. Over and over again. There is something Eila must know, and it seems to me almost a kind of transcendent moment when she is having these dreams that reflect the perspective of her great-grandmother.

To me, that’s a spiritual thing—when we can place ourselves in the shoes of someone else. This dimension of Conway’s story definitely leaves room for discussion about spirituality! And you know I’m into that.

Who Should Read This Book:

If you like any kind of YA Urban Fantasy, pick this book up. Seriously—give this series a try. You’ll probably want to read the second book. I know I want to—and there’s a prequel coming out in March, Cruel Summer. Conway’s characters are really well-developed, and the prequel focuses on two of the characters in Undertow, providing a deeper glimpse into how these two (Kian and Ana) met.

I really enjoyed the pace of this book—the end of chapters left me wanting to continue onto the next. Even though there is some resolution at the end of the first book, I definitely closed it wanting to know more. In some ways I wished the end had been a little longer with more wrapping up. There are quite a few open-ended issues that promise readers there are further installments to come.

One thing I did notice is that the characters don’t always use contractions when you think they should—but I’m looking forward to see if this changes in the second book or in Cruel Summer. That was really the only thing I noticed during my reading of Undertow that I would have changed.

The Final Illumination:

So Urban Fantasy isn’t usually my thing, but when I read the premise of this book and saw that it was like Goonies meets Jaws, I was hooked, to say the least. Also, since I met the author at a high school writing club I was visiting and REALLY liked the feedback she gave me on my own writing, I thought, “I have to read this book!” I was excited to buy a copy and get it signed for my Over 30 Blogger Secret Santa partner, Sarah, over at What Sarah Read. I then promptly bought the Kindle version of the book for myself.

I loved that this was the kind of book I could read and read–I needed to know more. Would Eila ever find out what was going on? Would the mystery be solved? Would dangers be avoided? What was the deal with this guy who seemed to always show up?

I felt like Conway’s premise was a refreshing one—though there some echoes of other Urban Fantasy stories I had encountered, this didn’t seem like recycled material. And after Twilight, that seems to happen a lot.

I liked these characters—they were dealing with some very dangerous circumstances and people (beings) but they were also high school students who cared about pizza and dressing up and hanging out at the beach. There are some laugh aloud moments (when Eila “accidentally” spills a milkshake all over that cheerleader snob) and nail biting ones as well.

Know any teens who are into this genre? Definitely consider gifting them with a copy of Conway’s book!

 

four-stars
What Katie Read
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