Thursday, July 10, 2014

Beasthood by A.Z. Green

TITLE - Beasthood
SERIES –  The Hidden Blood Series, #1
AUTHOR –  A.Z. Green
GENRE – Paranormal romance/ dark fantasy/ new adult
PUBLICATION DATE –  17th Feb 2014
LENTH (Pages/# Words) – 390 pages
COVER ARTIST –  A.Z. Green (the author) 

The bloody, raw meat was tantalizing her; calling to her. She hated it and yearned for it all at once.
Stop, she ordered. What are you doing?!
So hungryyyyy, snarled a primal voice deep within her.
Don’t you dare! she screamed back.
But the primal hunger ignored her pleas and took over her body, forcing her rational voice deep within the crevices of her mind.

What would you do if you discovered you weren't human? That you turned into a bloodthirsty monster against your will?
What if your instincts, emotions and desires were torn between your own and the dark, dangerous animal lurking inside of you?
If it could make you yearn for someone you shouldn't, make you say and act in ways you wouldn't and overwhelm your whole existence?
If everything you'd ever known about your life was a lie?

In a world where a deeply hidden community is swathed in mystery, deadly secrets, betrayal and murder, Jaz Barker struggles to fight against the dangerous Beast within her and the emotions and desires it thrusts her way.

When tensions ride high and people she cares about are put in danger, she will have to decide how much of her newly awakened animal-side she's willing to let in.

And if it is worth the risk...

     “For the fourth round, the judges have decided that the two opponents must face each other in their Beast form, starting now!”
     The crowd drowned out his rumbling voice and went manic.
     Jaz stared in disgusted awe as Kain's body contorted and twisted and crunched until he turned into a Beast. His roars and howls were spine-chilling, sending shivers through every inch of her. But she realized her reaction wasn't because of him.
     Something was wrong with Nik.
     “Why isn't he Changing?” Alf barked. “Why the fuck isn't he Changing?!”
     Jaz gaped at Nik who was standing completely still. Kain's spine cracked and dark brown hair began pushing through his skin, covering his Changing body. His jaw crunched as it lengthened.
     “He can't Change,” she uttered in a low voice, mostly to herself. The air in her lungs suddenly felt like a ball coated in spikes.
     “He can't bloody Change! He must be too weak!” She clamped her hands to her mouth just as Kain lunged straight for Nik.
     Before she knew what she was doing, she jumped forward, tripping over the thigh-high barrier. She felt Alf's hand whip past her, missing a grip on her arm before she saw the sand floor of the arena below her, rushing towards her. She held out her hands just in time to try to soften the fall before she slammed into the ground; the wind was knocked out of her and she grunted.
     Half the crowd turned in her direction, some pointing at her, the other half who hadn't yet seen her still had their eyes glued to the cage. She cocked her head up, saw the Beast's teeth about to shred Nik's shielding arm to pieces, when her view was blocked by someone's back as they pounded towards the cage. One by one, five more Weres jumped down from behind her, dodging her as they raced towards the metal dome. She stared in bewilderment as two more sprang out from the barrier containing the pulsing crowd on the other side. The increase of Weres on the arena floor caused an uproar in the crowd and Judges Stand.
     Jaz saw the two cage guards knocked out on the floor just before she felt an arm around her, yanking her to her feet. She wheeled round to face the cold, beautiful eyes of her enemy.
     “Fraya!” she barked, teeth bared. Njord's note had confirmed the feeling in her gut that the cold-hearted bitch standing in front of her had killed Lora and her unborn child. Jaz wanted to squeeze the life out of her and enjoy watching it. But the guilt-stricken look in Fraya's eyes stopped her.
     “Need a hand?” Fraya offered.
     Jaz studied her suspiciously but urgency kicked her into action. She pushed her emotions aside, ignoring Fraya as she bolted across the sand floor, sprinting over and around Weres fighting and throwing punches at each other. She couldn't tell who was with her or against her. She didn't care. She just needed to see if Nik was alive.
     Beast Kain was roaming around the cage, pacing back and forth. Nik was in the middle still standing and Jaz exhaled with relief. Alf was pushing others back from the cage. The wispy-haired judge was screeching into his microphone, calling for order.
     It was then that the balls of fire shot out of nowhere.
     Jaz screamed as one hurled in her direction. Those in front of her path ducked, and she dived to the side just in time. Then there was another from a different direction, coming from her left this time. She ran forward. Then came another, and another all being shot from guns fixed into the stone barrier just below the crowd. Jaz spotted square holes that had been opened for the guns to fire through, before she had to dive again.
     The heat of the balls turned the arena into Hell itself. She ran towards the cage but was stopped in her path as more fireballs in quicker succession exploded out into the arena. The fireballs bounced off the wall of glass protecting the crowd. Jaz had no idea when or how the glass wall had appeared.
     As she ducked down on the ground she noticed the balls of fire seemed to purposely miss the cage, aiming only at those who'd disrupted the fight. Some of the people dispersed as quickly as they could. But others weren't so lucky.
     Jaz cried out when a man next to her, not much older than she was, was hit in the chest by a fireball. He fell back screaming like a banshee. She jumped away, falling onto her butt as she gawked at him. His clothes were melted to his torso and the skin was burnt off like candle wax. He held his burnt flesh, and it was then Jaz saw the enormous hole in his body; his intestines, stomach and liver burnt away; his spine was visible, charcoal black and smoking. She sagged over her bent knees, clutching her stomach as the unbearable stench made her retch.
     He was gasping as his hands scrambled around his stomach, as if trying to hold himself together. More skin slid away like red-hot melted cheese from his touch. And then he held up his burnt hands screaming because he'd rubbed away the flesh and muscle from them, leaving nothing but charred bone. Then he gurgled as he choked on his own blood, unable to breathe.
     Jaz sprang to her feet, holding her hand to her mouth. Her eyes widened to saucers when she saw the fireball hurtling towards her. Before she was a human barbecue, someone knocked her down from behind and the fireball flew past her, hitting the wall.
     She swung round to find Fraya again. She should have shoved Fraya into the path of a fireball but the horror of what she'd seen stupefied her. She peered down at the dying man and saw he was no longer moving. The foul stench and smoke in the air made her cough and her eyes burn.
     “Go!” Fraya bellowed, shoving her up.
     Jaz jumped to her feet, avoiding the charred bodies, dodging the one-on-one combats still going on despite the raging fireballs shooting out. She wanted to scream at them to get out of there, but she needed them to be distracted because she knew at least half of them would try and stop her. Fraya was the first to try as she yelled at Jaz to come back, before Jaz pulled open the enormous bolt on the door of the cage and jumped in.

The cover had me with the words "Even death cannot hide the truth. . .", talk about an attention grabber.  When I read the summary, I was intrigued.  By the time I got to chapter one, I was already invested and couldn't wait to turn each page.

The characters are well written and unforgettable, especially Jaz.  Sometimes, you need to refresh your memory when reading a series when there is time between installments but I can safely say you won't be needing to do that here.  No matter how long a wait it is before the next one, and I hope it's not too long, everything will have stayed with you.

When I found out that this is the author's first work, I was amazed at how smoothly everything fell into place.  A true must read for paranormal lovers.  Definitely an author to watch for.

Rating:  4 1/2 Stars

Character Bios:
Jasmine 'Jaz' Barker (Kormak)
She's a complicated one. The name proves that much. Born to Eliza and Thorpe Kormak, adopted by John and Rachel Barker, she is brought up to believe she is human. Then when she's taken to Deer Creek (unwillingly) she discovers she's in fact a Werebeast. A shape-shifter that are their own species, with their own laws and society. She struggles with the changes around her, and within her, fighting like a stubborn mule against her unwanted feelings. After a year of insomnia, haunted by the nightmare of dying in childbirth, her outer shell has hardened. She's sarcastic, stubborn, abrupt, loving, loyal, brave, passionate and persevering. She has feelings for Nik but finds it difficult to express them and continues to deny them to everyone including herself. She has suffered from severe iron-deficiency anaemia most of her life, doesn't like dogs after she was attacked by one, loves horses, children, music and recently developed a fondness for running and kick-boxing.

Nikolas 'Nik' Driver- Pack Leader of Deer Creek
Nik Driver is a strict but nurturing Pack Leader who many admire, respect and look up to. Because of this, he has a lot of enemies who are jealous of his popularity. He became Pack Leader at a young age when his father was murdered. He was a witness to it and has never got over it. It still haunts his dreams.
He has a brother and sister, but treats everyone within his Pack as his own family. He's ruthless at times, but fair and forgiving. It's not very often that he reveals his true emotions -or smiles- and he has impeccable self-control. Around Jaz, however, he is different and allows her to see him for what he is the more he's around her. He was in love and mated with Lora, Jaz's twin sister. Neither Lora nor Nik knew Jaz existed at the time. Lora died in childbirth, losing their son in the process. He vows to avenge her and his son's death, as he knows that it wasn't a natural tragedy.
He's a skillful fighter, an avid reader, farmer and intelligent leader.

Lora Kormak
Twin sister to Jaz; she was not adopted by the Barker family but was raised by her real parents, Eliza and Thorpe. At around the age of 18, Lora left her parents to visit her wider family in Deer Creek. She met Nik and they fell in love, but not everyone was happy with their romance. She began to suspect something was wrong, and that she was being watched. She died in childbirth, heavily pregnant. The event was witnessed by her sister, Jaz, in spirit as Jaz dreamt it whilst Lora was dying. Their sisterly twin connection is what allows Lora to remain alive through Jaz in some way.
She enjoyed reading, writing (especially in her diary) and the countryside.

Edda is Jaz's carer and mentor. She helps Jaz to overcome her fears and to understand her nature. She watches over her to help Jaz through the Change, which is the term used for shape-shifting. The process to bring on the first Change is excruciating and takes time, causing them to be weakened and sick from the pressure it puts on their body. Edda's job is to care for them during this difficult time. She and Jaz become close through this. Edda has two daughters, Kenna and Kelda, who are close friends of Jaz.
She's direct, unwavering, she keeps her personal life personal, she doesn't let her emotions affect her work and she's loyal to her Pack and family.

Garik Kormak
Jaz's uncle, brother of Thorpe Kormak, son of Maria Blom-Kormak (Jaz's grandmother). An abrupt, anti-social Were with the flair of making people dislike him. He's good at collecting information and regularly leaves the Pack to conduct missions outside by the order of his Pack Leader, Nik. He pretends to care little about people but proves himself later on to feel the opposite. He cares for Jaz, and his family but puts his duties first; his mind is always prepared for future events that threaten to destroy the Pack.

Author Bio:
A.Z.Green was born in 1989 and raised in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. She met the love of her life aged 16 and moved to London, finally settling down near Brighton.

She has written various novels and short stories in her lifetime but has only recently decided to publish. She writes a wide range of genres such as dark fantasy, romance, thriller, historical fiction, dystopian, horror and paranormal. Her books tend to fit better into the New Adult genre as they usually have a more mature theme.

Beasthood is her first published novel.

Besides writing she also loves designing blogs, websites, covers for others' books as well as her own and various graphics. She has four blogs/websites and counting. Pinterest and Tumblr keep her busy, as does reading, drawing, painting and watching films. That's if she gets time to do any of these things with a three-year-old jumping around.

When asked in an interview, 'What books have inspired you to write?' she replied, 'I write books I wish existed, not because I'm inspired by a book that already exists.'

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