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on March 18, 2011
Taking a much-loved genre and reworking it--in a way that is both innovative and amusing--is both very difficult, and highly in demand (especially in young adult literature). You've seen it in fairy-tale retellings (ever since Robin McKinley kicked things off); now, get ready to see it in Supernatural Romance.

Supernatural Romance has its structure (normal teen meets mysterious teen, discovers magic, enter third party--for the purposes of a love-triangle), just as Fairytale does (prince/princess, evil magical being, and breaking an enchantment). And you may think that, by now, you've seen all the Supernatural Romance genre has to offer (because, honestly, if you see another Stephanie-Meyer-wannabe-bishie-vampire, you might just jump off a cliff. Well, think again!

In place of Heroine Generica, you have Scout, a rural girl with her feet planted firmly on the ground, and a wit to match her strongly-held beliefs in logic and reason. In place of New York, San Francisco, or one of those cliche small towns (that was obviously written by someone who'd never lived in a small town), Destiny Binds is set in rural Western Kentucky, nestled between sports-obsessed Marshall County, and the Land Between the Lakes State Park (a refreshingly original setting that Tammy Blackwell makes great use of, pulling readers into a setting so real--and amusing--they can feel it). Add seers, a likable and well-developed cast of characters (to quote the author, "It's time the teens in YA literature were actually like the teens who read YA literature."), territorial shapeshifters, and an amusingly witty voice, to the mix, and you one heck of a fun novel.

Destiny Binds, is one of those impossible-to-put-down books that leaves you with just enough questions to make you long for a sequal without leaving you so many points unanswered you want to murder the author. To sum it up: Great setting, lovable cast, and a pure fun. Check yes!
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on September 22, 2011
I really liked the characters. I loved Scout. She wasn't one of those idiot heroines that seem to be populating all the YA novels lately. She had a good head on her shoulders, and she didn't make stupid decisions that made you want to strangle her halfway through. I loved Alex. He was a great love interest. I really liked that he wasn't an over-protective idiot that wouldn't allow Scout to make decisions on her own in the beginning, only to become sappy and pathetic halfway through. That happens A LOT in YA also. Talley was lots of fun and very likeable, too. I even enjoyed Jase and Charlie. I really did love the characters, and wanted to keep reading to find out more of their story.

The problem came about 90% of the way through the book. I felt like the author rushed the ending, and just threw together the rest of the plot in a few pages. I HATED that the author made the whole thing a huge cliffhanger. I hate when authors don't finish the story, just so you'll pick up the next book to find out what happens. Each book should be able to be independent of the others. They should compliment each other and fit together well, but cliffhanger books are a huge pet peeve of mine. If you feel similarly, you won't like this book.

There were quite a few errors in the Kindle version, and that was annoying. I could overlook those because the book was $.99. I couldn't forgive the ending, though. I'm unsure whether or not I'll pick up the sequel.
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on July 3, 2011
I really enjoyed this book! Scout is a believable and likeable person. She's smart and makes realistic choices, so that you feel like the story is unfolding naturally. I love the plot and am looking forward to a next book.
I'm also pleased that it was well edited and my reading rhythm didn't stutter over incorrect words, spelling or punctuation. As another review stated, it was much better than I had a right to expect for a 99 cent book.
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VINE VOICEon November 22, 2011
STORY BRIEF:
This is told in first person by Scout, a high school senior, valedictorian. She considers herself odd looking. Alex and his older brother move to town. Alex is a senior and gorgeous. He stares at Scout. Scout's stepbrother Jase hates Alex for some unknown reason and tells Scout to avoid him. She tries to avoid him, but it's hard because they have classes and school activities together.

Scout has loved Charlie all her life, although they never turned it into a boyfriend-girlfriend thing. Now Scout finds herself also falling for Alex. She learns that Alex is a wolf shape shifter, and she begins learning more about that world.

REVIEWER'S OPINION:
Refreshing dialogue! This is rare! Many, many times I was chuckling out loud. Read this for the author's conversation style, her voice, whatever you want to call it. It's not that she's being an obvious comedian. The humor is more about the unexpected or subtle. Below are three examples.

"I wanted to go lie down next to him. I wanted to feel his arms wrapped around me and discover what his lips taste like. I wanted to tell him I had been secretly in love with him since I was two years old. So, I did the only thing I could do. I hit him in the head with Guido, my sock monkey."

She was lost in the woods during a storm and thought she might die. She heard her name being called and felt her body being lifted off the ground. She is thinking it must be the Angel of Death lifting her. "Apparently, he decided if I wasn't going to get up and follow him to Heaven, he would just carry me through the Pearly Gates. Of course, that was assuming I was going to Heaven. According to what Reverend Jessup taught from the pulpit every Sunday, I was good to go, but what if God wasn't Southern Baptist?"

"Charlie attempted to engage James in conversation, but that went over about as well as a Joan Crawford parenting manual."

As to plot, this is typical young adult high school teens, first loves, and shape shifters (wolves and coyotes). The parents exist but the story doesn't show interaction with them. Plot was fine but nothing we haven't heard before.

Characters are good. They include the different types of kids that we all remember from high school, the jocks, the weirds, the beauties, the smart ones, etc. They were well done.

This is the first in a trilogy. Sadly the author used a cliffhanger ending which bothered me. But it wasn't horribly bad-sad. The reader knows good things are coming. She ended the book with questions about a stranger and Liam's whereabouts was which I thought provided enough motivation to buy the sequel. What I did not like was what she did with Alex to create the cliffhanger. Still, I plan to get the sequel as soon as it's out. According to her Facebook page, the sequel is called "Time Mends," but I don't know when it's coming.

Minor problem. The author needs a grammar editor. Several times she used the word "that" instead of "who." For example "Mrs. Sole was the only one that talked about him." There were a few other blunders for example using "he had went" instead of "he had gone."

DATA:
Story length: 223 pages. Swearing language: moderate, including religious swear words. Sexual language: none. Number of sex scenes: none. Setting: current day Timber, Kentucky. Copyright: 2011. Genre: young adult paranormal romance.
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on February 23, 2012
I am glad this is 'book one' because that means there must be more to the story. And I'm glad book two is available because I had to know that there was something more intriguing to this tale. Needless to say, Destiny Binds was Ok in that I was able to finish it and at times during the book I was entertained. There were also times when I was bored and wondering "where is this story going because I'm almost at the end and nothing that great is happening".
The characters are kind of cute but there were parts that I didn't think were very believable (even for a fantasy type book about people shifting into canine type species) and it didn't have as much detail as I like. With all that said I wasn't totally turned off because I ordered the second book right away - I really needed to know if this saga was going somewhere deeper than where first book took me.
So I've started Time Mends and I have to say that I am not disappointed. There is definitely more to this tale and I've finally become intrigued. Apparently book one sets the ground work for the twist coming in the next installment. I'm actually finding it hard to put down, so the moral of my story is that I think this book is worth reading if only to get to the good parts in the second book.
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on July 23, 2011
Characters

Scout is a sarcastic, unpopular high school senior who doesn't let much bother her. She uses her dry humor and carefree attitude to get through life.

Alex Cole is a friendly, sweet and good looking guy, who also happens to be a werewolf in love with Scout Donovan.

Jase is Scout's overprotective popular jock of a step-brother. Jase and Scout are very close, but his secrets are beginning to cause some serious brother-sister conflict.

Charlie is Jase's cousin with whom Scout has been in love with for as long as she can remember. Charlie is in my opinion a rather undeveloped character for playing such a large role in the story.

Talley is Scout's chubby but beautiful socially-awkward best friend, who unbeknownst to scout has quite the secret of her own.

Plot

The plot is without-a-doubt cliche, as werewolves and the like are such a done and done again topic. However I didn't mind this, as the story itself did a good job of keeping me reading. If you're going to do something that's been overdone, it's important to make sure it's worth the read. I believe Blackwell has done this with her clever characters and attention-grabbing story ending.

The ending was heart-breaking and I definitely shed a tear. However, Blackwell did an excellent job of at the very end, leaving me with a sliver of hope. This was an excellent method to make readers want to read more, and I myself cannot wait for the next book.

Design

The looks of the book itself are unimpressive. The cover is average at best and I probably wouldn't have given it a second look while browsing through reading options. However, the back-story of the cover, which can be read at the end of the book, is rather sweet.

Writing

Blackwell is definitely an excellent writer. The dialogue she created was amazing and so entertaining to read. I was constantly laughing out loud at scout's dry humor and the witty banter throughout the book. Though I found an occasional typo and a few sentences that didn't make sense, the few flaws were hardly noticeable amidst the clever writing style.

World Creation

I can't say much for Blackwell's abilities when it comes to world creation. I'd have to say describing the book's setting was Blackwell's biggest weakness. There were very few times in the book in which descriptive terms went beyond simple words like "forest" and "lake".

Overall

I loved this story. Any book that makes me quite literally laugh and cry is well worth the read, in my opinion. Using Sarah's 5 Star system, I'd rate this book at 4 stars.

Recommended For

People looking for an easy, witty, and intriguing weekend read.

Review by: Kayelee of Sift Book Reviews
Sift Book Reviews received a free copy for review from the author. This has, in no way, affected the reviewer's opinion.
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on December 13, 2011
(cross-posted from Wading Through Electronic Ink blog)

The Plot

Scout Donovan has an ordinary life in Timber, Kentucky until Alex Cole moves to town. Her step-brother and his family instantly hate Alex and insist that Scout stay away from him. But Scout, being the heroine of a YA paranormal novel, finds herself inexplicably drawn to him anyway. She soon discovers that not only is Alex a werewolf, but that her closest friends and family have been keeping their true natures a secret from her for her entire life.

The Good

I began this project with the intention of finding self-published books that were as good as published books. (By which I mean good published books. We've all read one or two... or many... that may not have deserved that honor.) By the time I started reading this, my fifth book, I was starting to doubt whether there were any self-published books that would merit a 5 - or even a 4 - star rating. Maybe, I thought, a book really does need to be edited by a team of experienced professionals in order to warrant large-scale reading.

I am pleased to say that Destiny Binds has laid my concerns to rest. Here is a book that I could have picked up off the shelf at Barnes & Noble without asking, "Why can this get published when I can't?". The characters were likeable and interesting, and I laughed aloud in a few places. And I'm not even a huge fan of werewolves. So, please, people who have qualms about buying self-published books, download this book with my assurance that you will not regret the dollar you spent on it.

It even has a Laurell K. Hamilton joke. Oh, Laurel K. Hamilton. I remember reading you back before your books turned into porn.

The Bad

I could nitpick this or any other book to death, but I don't think Destiny Binds warrants it, and I'm sure you don't want to read it. So I will just mention the couple of things that bothered me most.

First off, at one point, Scout says that the topic of socialized medicine is boring. She does a lot of research on it and still finds it uninteresting. Maybe it's my years of working in public health, but I just don't see how anyone could think that. Pandemic flu? Yeah, that gets boring. But the question of whether to socialize healthcare is one of the most important facing our society today, and to describe it as boring is just incomprehensible to me.

Okay, my other comment, which is actually about the book, is that the ending doesn't feel very done to me. When I first read the book, I thought it was going to be a stand-alone novel (for reasons that I cannot tell you without massive spoilers), and I was quite frustrated with the way the book just stopped. After some internet research, I have discovered that the book is the first in a trilogy, and the lack of closure bothered me less. But I still feel as if the author just ran out of story to tell and stopped writing. I like to see a little denouement.

The Romance

Like just about everything else in Destiny Binds, the romantic set-up was far above average. The overall set-up was a love triangle, but it was not of the two-opposite-boys how-can-I-choose variety. Scout has always been in love with her brother's cousin Charlie, but she does not think that he feels the same way. (And that is not as creepy as it sounds. He's really her step-brother, but they've been siblings for so long that... You know what? It'd be faster for you to just read the book than for me to explain.) Then she meets Alex, who is very much interested in her, and she comes to return his feelings. Over the course of the novel, Scout learns that there is no such thing as "one true love," which just makes the romantic journey in the book all the more satisfying.

Will I Read More?

NEEDS MOAR NAO!!

I mean, yes. Yes, I will be reading more. I very much want to know what happens next. But I shall be patient in waiting for the next installment in hopes that it will be of equally high quality as Destiny Binds.
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on April 9, 2012
If I were to rate the first three-quarters of this book, I'd give it a two star rating. The last quarter however would get four stars, so I'm going to compromise and give the book 3 stars.

I had such a hard time getting into this novel. It had a lot going for it - likeable characters, hints of mystery, and interesting world building.

The protagonist, Scout, is sarcastic, and fun and I thoroughly enjoyed her relationship with her brother, cousin, best friend, and little sister. The romantic lead of the story, Alex, is also admirable. He has an interesting back story, only hinted at in this story that leaves us wanting to know more about him and his enigmatic older brother, Liam.

What I did not enjoy was Alex and Scout's relationship. I felt the author took every cheesy high school romantic fantasy cherished by girls everywhere and crammed them into her story. We have the different, somewhat geeky, social outcast girl, and the new transfer student who is oh-so-incredibly-hot-and-dreamy that for some unknown reason is utterly obsessed with her. Through a series of very fortunate and unrealistic events, they end up coming together and falling madly in love. Their secret torrid romantic affair can only be described as utterly sappy and gag inducing. I lost count of how many times I groaned and rolled my eyes throughout this story. I even read certain particularly cheesy passages out loud to my husband so he could laugh at my pain.

This love story is Twilight 2.0 but not as well executed. In addition to the sappiness, another thing that made this romance fail where other equally cheesy love stories succeeded is the fact that both of the people involved seem utterly perfect as characters and perfect for each other from the very beginning. There was no character-driven friction (just outside friction from family members), no realistic build-up of romance, no suspense. In the absence of flaws and friction, characters end up feeling wooden and the romance between them comes off as utterly unrealistic. These aren't characters I cheered for, I didn't bite my nails hoping they'd end up together, or swoon when they kissed the first time, because I just didn't care.

With such an inauspicious beginning, I almost quit reading the book numerous times, but in the end, I was glad I persevered. There are some rather huge, and fairly traumatic things that happen at the end of the story. I'm assuming these changes caused some readers no end of sadness, however I thought the end was fantastic, and it actually gave me hope for the series.

Having read both this book, and the second novel, I think Destiny Binds suffers from first-book syndrome. The author's writing style, and skills improve greatly through the series. The awkwardness of her prose, and formulaic approach to romance are completely gone in Time Mends. That story is markedly more complex, and interesting. I think it just took Ms. Blackwell a bit to find her stride as a writer. So, if you are an adult, that enjoys YA fiction, this series might be worth a shot. Just skim through the first 75% of the first book and you'll be in for a treat with book 2.
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on July 14, 2011
Forbidden love can be even that more sweet. Alex has been dreaming of Scout for as long as he can remember. Scout thinks she's in love with Charlie until Alex shows up and turns her world upside down. While Alex makes Scout annoyed and happy at the same time, her brother forbids her to spend anytime with him (which of course causes her to hide the relationship like any other teenager would do, instead of breaking it off). All the while her relationship with Alex is developing she starts to discover that some of those closest to her aren't quite human. Soon all the secrets start slipping out and Scout's relationship with Alex can't be hidden forever.

This book was amazing! I laughed and I cried (I think my husband thought I was going crazy). I absolutely loved the dry wit and humor of the characters in the story (totally things teenagers would say). It had me laughing out loud. I also loved Scout's journey- discovering herself and love along the way. She really gets under your skin. The author does an AMAZING job of getting you so involved in Scout's story that you experience her emotions right along with her (there were many times when I felt just as frustrated and confused as she did). The author leaves you breathless when Scout discovers that with love there is the opportunity to experience great pain, and all endings are not happy.

The book is definitely left open for a sequal (which I CAN'T WAIT to read!). There are several mentions of Scout being different, special, or under protection for reasons you never discover, which leads you with more questions and eager to have them answered in the sequal. You'll also be left questioning exactly what happened to Scout that night just as she herself is unsure.
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on February 12, 2012
I absolutely could not put this down. I loved Scout, and I adored Alex. What great characters and Liam really intrigues me.

This book has good solid characters, a little romance, shifters and Surprises! How much more could you ask for.

There were definitely some twists I did not see coming. I don't like to give a lot of info about the book b/c I hate having too many preconceived ideas when I start reading. Then when I read I am almost waiting for what I THINK will happen and don't actually enjoy the book.

Scout is a very solid character and I will be following her story for awhile. There is a second book, and I so enjoyed this one I went online from my kindle and grabbed that one as soon as I finished this book and read that too. There are not many authors I can do that with b/c there will be a phrase often repeated that you pick up on when you read back to back. Not the case with this one!

When you buy this one, buy the sequel too :)
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