Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Siren's Secret by Heather Ostler

**The cover is what attracted me to this book hands down. After all, I am a proclaimed cover whore, so when all aspects of the cover blend and relate to different aspects of the story...I get REALLY excited. This is an ebook I got in exchange for an honest review and one I will definitely be adding to a hardcover copy to my book shelves. Just so you know. The first book in the series The Shapeshifter's Secret's cover is JUST as gorgeous. Even though I do love The Siren's Secret's a little bit more since green is one of my colors!**

Book Blurb

Julia's life has gone from complicated to nearly impossible! When Julia loses her shapeshifting powers and her appearance changes in alarming ways, she flees to Sirenity, where she learns an incredible secret about her mother. In this thrilling sequel, Julia must take greater risks and make bigger sacrifices as she discovers who she really is and what she can really become.

My Review

4.5 Stars

In the second book The Siren’s Secret, Julia finally discovers who she is at her very core. The Shapeshifter’s Secret took readers on Julia’s journey finding out what she was and some truths about her mother. Heather Ostler made The Siren’s secret follow Julia down the hardest road we’ll ever travel. The road that reveals parts of yourself you never knew existed and it was no different for Julia Levesque. The Siren’s Secret connected beautifully to The Shapeshifter’s Secret and will definitely make reader’s want more. She did a great job building not one, but two completely separate lands and filling each with painstaking details and keeping them unique to Julia's world.

In the beginning of this book on multiple occasions I really wanted to slap Julia for her choices and way of thinking, but I had to consider the multitude of obstacles Julia was facing and how her fear at that point was really in control. Ostler did an amazing job describing things and aspects of Ossai that played into Julia’s fear and showing her personal growth throughout the story. Her imagery throughout the entire book enabled me to see what was happening even though I was just reading and the further I read the more I felt like I was pulled into Julia’s world.

In The Siren’s Secret, you see Julia use the skills she learned in the first book, the truth ring Caleb gave her, and of course Sierra and Gabe standing by her side. Some of my favorite parts were the aftermath of a plot twist that stole my breath and kept me turning the page. I enjoyed how as Julia’s story progressed things became more intense between the characters, the plot lines and the decisions Julia had to make before Ostler wrapped it up with a bang, which left me wanting to know more.

I will be waiting patiently for the next installment because I’m officially hooked on Julia. The way she grows throughout The Siren’s Secret put me on her cheer team and I can’t wait to read her next journey.

An Interview with Heather 

What are you listening to right now? Do you listen to music while you write?

I actually don’t listen to music while I write (I’m weird like that), but I do love hearing the pitter-patter of rain while I’m working.

Would you mind explaining a little about your writing process? (Things you need or like to have with you. Any fun rituals?)

My dogs are always with me when I write, and they’re usually snoozing. I like to have my heater next to me in the winter months (and winter in Utah seems to last from October through May), and in summer I like to write outside. I love having chocolate around me while I’m typing, whether it’s hot chocolate, chocolate ice cream, or chocolate cake bites. Something about writing and chocolate just goes together!

When did you first start writing? Did you always lean toward the paranormal genre?

I started writing in jr. high school, and I always loved creating stories with paranormal creatures. I just thought the hero’s journey was more fascinating when it involved a hidden world or mythical creatures. I think growing up I always wished I was a mermaid, fairy, or something from a magical world. That translated into my writing.

How did you come up with Julia’s story?

Julia’s character was a long time in the making. I started out with the idea of a girl who could shapeshift and would have to learn to control her ability, and from there I started thinking of all the adventures and conflicts she would go through. I realized that she would discover her family’s dark past, she would embrace her paranormal side, and she would fall in love.

Did Julia or her comrades ever take you down a different road then you had planned while writing?

Definitely. So many characters have changed, and one character in particular was going to betray Julia, however I stopped him. Sometimes you have to go with your gut, and your outline goes to the trash. It takes more time, but you have to write the story until you feel good about each scene and each character.

What book are you reading right now?

City Of Bones by Cassandra Clare.

Okay, if I asked you to recommend me three books to read, what would they be?

Oh that’s so hard, I have so many favorites! For Fantasy: Harry Potter, for middle grade: Holes, and for young adult: The Hunger Games.

 I love Ossai and Sirenity. How did you develop those worlds? Did somewhere you visit inspire those worlds?

Thank you so much. Yes, my traveling adventures have definitely inspired the settings for my books. England and Italy helped to shape Ossai, and Sirenity was largely influenced by The Caribbean and The Mexican Rivera.

What was the hardest thing about writing The Siren’s Secret?

Editing. I love free writing and letting an idea run wild, but it’s hard for me to get down to the fine details of grammar and punctuation. I have to take time to write as ideas are coming, and then go back and edit later.

Would you mind sharing about whatever you’re working on right now?

I would love to. I’m working on the third and final book for The Shapeshifter’s Secret series, and I’m also writing a new young adult, paranormal series.

Have you considered ever writing a novella from different character’s perspective to accompany the series?

I’ve thought many times about writing from Alexis’s perspective. I like getting into the villain’s head and seeing what drives them to do the things they do. I like villains that are complex and unpredictable.

Who was your favorite character from the series and why?

I really love Sierra because she’s such a good friend to Julia. She’s kind, sympathetic, and loyal, but she’s also fun and witty. She’s a compilation of a lot of different people in my life, and I love writing her character.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing?

I love reading, spending time with family, catching up on my favorite shows, and traveling.

Reese Cups or Reese Pieces?

Reese's cups!

And now, before you go back to the writing cave, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us? Or even a deleted scene?

Yes, definitely! Here’s a snippet from Chapter One:

Julia sat down at the dinner table across from several other soldiers, who were busy conversing about Ossai, Lockham Castle, and the Guild. “This is for you, sir.” She looked up and saw a young soldier with blond hair carrying a messenger bag. He had been coming by once a week to drop off Lancer’s mail and never stayed longer than ten minutes. He reached into his pack, pulled out a stack of envelopes and a brown package, and gave them to Lancer, Julia’s father.
“Thank you, Radley,” Lancer replied. He flipped through the envelopes absentmindedly and divided them into stacks.
“What’s in the package?” Julia asked. Even though she knew it wasn’t for her, her imagination ran away with fun possibilities. What if it was a care package from Terrence? Or maybe Scarlet had sent a box full of sweet treats? Julia’s father glanced at the address on the parcel.
“It’s nothing,” he said. “It’s probably files from the Ossain government.” He picked up a letter opener and cut across the top of the box. Before opening it, however, he paused. “Actually, I should wait for Liam. These might be the papers he requested.”
He picked up the box and tossed it to a smaller table against the wall. The box flew five feet in the air, landed on the table, and then exploded with a deafening boom. Julia watched as the table underneath the package blew apart, sending wood, drywall, and dust out from the explosion.
“Get down!” Lancer yelled, pushing her back. She almost fell out of her chair as she scurried away from the blast.
The room fell silent as the group of soldiers ducked and waited to make sure the explosion was over. After thirty seconds, Lancer glanced around. “Everyone okay?”
As the dust settled, Julia saw that the blast had made a gaping hole in the wall with scorch marks that would forever serve as a reminder of the explosion. Below the hole was a pile of wood, what was once the table. A few soldiers inched near the wood and began looking for any more explosives or dangerous items.
“Radley,” Lancer said, turning to the solider. “Who gave you that package?”
Radley shook his head nervously. “It was just at the Ossain government building waiting for delivery. I promise, sir, I had nothing to do with this.” The color had drained from his face.
Lancer held up a hand. “I know, I know. I’m not blaming you.”
As Julia stood up, she realized that she was shaking. Her father was just about to open that package; if he hadn’t tossed it aside, then it would have blown up in his face. She felt like a brick had hit the pit of her stomach.
“Who was it from then?” she asked in a dry voice.
Lancer wiped some drywall dust from his sleeve. “It was from the Guild,” he answered.
“So they know where we are?” She looked at the hole in the wall and realized she could see through to the living room now.
“No, but they knew I’d take mail from the government. That package was a message from the Guild. They don’t want us to feel safe. They want to make sure we know they’re still in control.”

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