Hush Money (Talent Chronicles)

Rated 4.52/5 based on 34 reviews
Be normal, invisible. Don’t get close to anyone. Kids with psychic abilities tend to mysteriously disappear when they get noticed. Joss has spent years trying to hide. Now she has an unasked-for best friend, who is the victim of an extortion plot by the school bully, who used to like Joss, who is best friends with her long-time crush, who is actually talking to her. Life just got complicated. More

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About Susan Bischoff

I’ve got a thing for love stories and superheroes. I'm working on something I call the Talent Chronicles. This series began with my desire for more superheroes! More romance! More Superhero!Romance.

Talents are people born with supernatural abilities, trying to find their way in a world that fears and wants to control them. I like to explore how the things that make us different from each other sometimes make life difficult, and sometimes are the making of us. These stories are for people who love Buffy, wanted more romance in Heroes, and thought Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor should have worked things out.

The first Talent Chronicles novel, Hush Money, is currently available with a sequel, Heroes 'Til Curfew, coming in 2011.

A Talent Chronicles short story, Impulse Control, appears in the Kiss Me, Kill Me Anthology with several other awesome indies. That's available here on Smashwords and proceeds go to charity. The story is also available singly as a free download.

Also in Talent Chronicles

Also by This Author

Reviews

Review by: Connie 13 on Aug. 17, 2012 :
First published here: http://readingwritingtwilight.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/hush-money-by-susan-bischoff-review.html

This book wasn't really what I was expecting.

When I first read the summary and started reading this book, I was expecting something different from what I got. Maybe I was missing that 'we're on the run from a horrible government organisation' feel. Instead I felt as if the characters were hiding from the local police. While this wasn't a bad thing, I didn't really got a feel for the direness of the situation these talented people were put in.

On a good note, I really liked the characterisation. They were written in a way in that I could distinguish each character by just listing their different qualities and not just their names and appearances. They were believable and I really like that. I could follow the story and the choices they made very well, and I didn't get very angry when the main characters did something (or didn't do something) that I wanted them to.

So overall, it was a very enjoyable book that I read quite quickly and couldn't put down. I didn't get bored and I wanted to keep reading. But it did lack that something that I was expecting.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: pj gracia on Aug. 13, 2012 :
GREAT BOOK LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Lexie Snyder on Aug. 01, 2012 :
So, I just finished both of the books in this series after getting them last night. There are several books out there with teenagers having powers; elemental powers, completely crazy unique powers, teenagers being transported to various worlds and gaining unique wizarding powers. However, The Talent Chronicles stands out from the pack through the character development of each of the characters and the intricate attention to detail that Susan Bischoff gives to her world.

If you had a special talent you’d want to show it off wouldn’t you? We’re born and raised to rise above the pack, excel, and shine. The Olympics, NFL, and NASA all have one thing in common, the people that are in these groups are special; they possess unique skills that most of the world doesn’t. We celebrate them. However, having unique talents in is something that is Hush Money , the first book in the Talent Chronicles, will get you sent to the State School by the government NAIC. Believe me, it’s not like public school it’s more like an experimental prison. In Farview, an unusual number of teenagers seems to have talents and are being hauled off to the State School.

So, when Joss’ dad realizes she has a talent for telekinesis, Joss is raised to stay off the radar. Her father teaches her to do everything she can to not attract attention. She doesn’t have any friends, she keeps to herself and is always in control of her emotions and actions, and above all she tries to always be on the lookout for potential problems and solutions to those problems. It’s worked since she was a child. What she never anticipated was how one girl was going to change her whole life. Kat is a pretty popular girl, who does what she wants and is used to getting her own way. So, when she goes out of her way to help Joss when Marco is picking on her she simply expects both Marco and Joss to accede to her wishes. Joss suddenly finds herself at the “popular table” with Maddy and her twin Matt, Heather, and Elizabeth. She has know idea what to say to this girl who is the complete opposite of herself. Kat keeps seeking Joss out, convinced that she’s going to draw her out of her shell. Joss finds herself being drawn towards Kat, almost like a magnet. Telling her things that she’s never told anyone. Could it be that Joss isn’t the only one with a talent?

At Kat’s birthday party NAIC agents bust in looking for a boy with laser vision. Kat stands up to them and suddenly Joss finds herself standing up to them as well. Suddenly several teenagers from the “popular table” as well as Joss’ secret crush Dylan are all standing up to the agents. Talents are being used back and forth as kids are trying to find exit strategies and protect one of their own. Joss has trained for this her whole life. The only catch is it was always supposed to be for herself and her family, never outsiders. But Joss begins to realize that her morality isn’t going to let her walk away from her friends and other “Talents.” It becomes an us versus them mentality. Only, not all Talents are looking out for one another.

Marco and his crew have their own plans in mind, and they don’t appreciate Joss and her friends getting in the way.
There are tons of action scenes, interspersed with banter that had me laughing out loud. It was so easy to visualize the characters in my head, because Bischoff describes them so perfectly. I could anticipate exactly what Kat would say to Joss, and how Heather would jump in with her own dialogue with Joss that Kat wasn’t privy to. Suffice to say, almost every kid in this book has a talent and they are seriously cool. The is it-isn’t romance between Dylan and Joss also added to the book. It reminded me of those feelings we all used to have in high school where you can’t think of the right thing to say and are constantly overanalyzing what was said and done.

Bischoff does an excellent job of weaving just the right amount of action, humor, romance all overlaying the seriousness of the situation everyone is living in. The lines are clear between who are the villains and who are the “heroes.” As everyone begins to look to Joss as a leader, will her strength of character and her Talent be enough to fight off the villain? And will the teenagers realize the true villains aren’t always who they appear? The undercurrents of Hush Money are powerful and you can tell that Bischoff is leading the reader onto a bigger adventure in the next book.

This was an excellent read. I absolutely loved it! Joss is a perfect heroine. She’s strong, kick-ass, strategic in her thinking, sarcastic, trying to find her way in a new social world with friends, and always lead by her morals. If I hadn’t already had the second one I would have bought it immediately, because I didn’t want to leave Joss’ world.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves urban fantasy. If you’ve never read urban fantasy and you’re looking for a book to try this is it. Believe me; you’ll be missing out if you don’t read this, and this is coming from someone who reads several books a week. Yes, it’s truly that good!
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Carol on July 12, 2012 :
Good YA story with an interesting heroine. Story is told with many points of view which are are labelled in sections to keep them straight.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Nicole Thornton on May 28, 2012 :
The teenage girl lead seemed believable and the romantic development between her and the lead male seemed believable. But mostly, I enjoyed the story of their powers. Plus the lead female actually had relationships with others, not just 2 or 3 characters. It was nice to see the interactions with her family and that whatever was happening was not just about her and the boy she liked (like most of these YA supernatural stories coming out lately). Characters relationship was more realistic and well-rounded than most books. Story didn't feel too long either, but that the author ended it at the right time.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Melissa Ramsey on April 13, 2012 :
I absolutely love these books! I fell in love with them right away, and read the first 2 books and the novella in 1 day. They are full of intense action, romance, friendship and teen angst. I think the most amazing thing about them is there are so many characters in this world and they are all interesting people that have their own identity - no one is typecast. I would love to read novella's about any one of them. I also love Dylan who doesn't have the greatest Talent, but is brave and hot anyways. Everyone who enjoys teen books should read these!
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Tahlia Newland on Oct. 21, 2011 :
I just loved this. It was the perfect read for me, not too heavy, not too light, a great story, good characterisation and a stunning ending, what more could you want?
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Kitana Black on Oct. 01, 2011 : (no rating)
This series is my new addiction! Could not put it down-immediately started reading the next book. The MC voice is funny and smart. There's humor, romance, and excitement. Extremely well written. I'm so glad I happened upon this site, and then this author!
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Lisa Lawler on June 19, 2011 :
(This is a copy of my review from Goodreads)

Loved it, loved it, LOVED it!
I was gripped by the story right from the start, completely immersed in the story world, deeply interested in the characters, and the romance element is just perfect.
I can barely wait for the the second book in the series, and I've just seen there's a 0.5 in the series, Impulse Control, so I much check that out!
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Elmira Kotsidou on April 29, 2011 :
I liked the setting. The story was great and it had me guessing all the time. And Marco a Talent? I totally didn't see it coming.
Although I have to say, I didn't like Joss much in the begining, I later came to understand her actions.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Tanya Contois on April 15, 2011 :
I really enjoyed reading Hush Money because I was a lot like Joss when I was in high school,doing everything possible to be invisible and to remain under the radar of the bullies but I didn't have the power to move things with just my mind and a flick of my finger.I was happy that Joss found a friend in Kat and the other girls who she was able to be herself with towards the end of the book.Throughout the book I was rooting for Joss and Dylan to get together and for Marco and Jeff to finally get exactly what they deserved.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Katja Rinne on March 27, 2011 :
Think about Heroes goes high school and you got a pretty good image what the book is like.

The story shifts telling the story from both Joss’s and Dylan’s point of view.

Jocelyn, Joss, is a young girl trying to live her life not getting noticed, since if someone would discover she has a Talent, she would be transfered to a prison like state school – it’s made pretty clear, that it’s anything but pleasant there.

Making the loneliness a life style choice Joss tries to stay out of trouble, but it sure seems to find her. She also become friends with Kat – another Talent – when the girl pushes herself into Joss’s life. Most of the kids seem to be Talents, so the reactions described in the beginning seems a bit odd. It’s told to us though, that Fairview does have more Talent kids than other places, but it’s not referred to after that, and you’re left wondering what’s behind it.

Dylan is about to get himself in a lot of trouble, mainly because of his friend, Marco – the story’s bad guy, the one already over the edge. He and his friends are using their Talents to enhance their criminal career. The relationship between Dylan and Marco was quite believable and it was well developed during the book.

Some things in the book were all but subtle, and it leaves the taste, that the students might not really be the brightest ones out there. For example the thing with the counselor didn’t really come as a surprise, when it was revealed.

I loved the way Bischoff made some of her secondary characters, them being more than just props, and especially the way she wrote the main antagonist, him being much more than your ordinary bully. That said, other characters would’ve needed more work with how they came off in the story, one being the counselor.

The book starts promising, weaving several plots and you just can’t wait to find the answer to some of them. That’s why it’s such a disappointment, that you don’t really get any, the most interesting plot twists never get opened up or followed more. The end of the book felt more like it should be the middle of it. I guess the fact, that the book is part of series makes it so, but even when that’s the case the book left a bit of an unfinished feeling. Wouldn’t annoy too much, if the next book was out yet, but there’s not even a release date for it.

Bischoff is a talented storyteller though and I enjoyed reading Hush Money, and I do think it’s well worth it’s price. Some people may want to wait until the next part of the series is out also.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Rabiah Rowther on Feb. 21, 2011 :
Superheroes with amazing powers? Check.
A Cute Romance? Check.
One of the Most Awesomest Butt-Kicking Books I've ever read? Check.


Susan Bischoff has created an amazing new world in her book Hush Money. If you have a Talent, you'd better hide.


I've never read a book with Superheroes in it. Well, Superheroes with an arrange of powers, to be exact. Unless you're going for comics or that sort of stuff, but you never really find a YA book today with Superheroes and their amazing abilities. It's kinda like Maximum Ride meets the The Incredibles, except more for teens. I love superpowers (who doesn't) and the world of the Talent Chronicles brought that to the world of YA Literature.

Read the rest of the review here: http://iliveforreading.blogspot.com/2011/02/hush-money-by-susan-bischoff.html
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Precious on Feb. 02, 2011 :
First off, I had never heard of the Talent Chronicles until I saw this in an IMM post. I’m so glad that I took the chance to request this because Hush Money is worth it. Bischoff created a story filled with fear and questions. As a fan of X-Men, I liked the vibe of Hush Money. It was both familiar and new. It was like at was at home, watching X-Men or even Heroes.
The people were moving under the weight of tension, avoiding the attention of NIAC as much as possible. I just wish that the presence of NIAC was more pronounced. And that the claws of NIAC were proven to be more dangerous by more incidents rather than just one.

Told in alternating perspectives, readers are let in into the secrets of Dylan and Joss, as well as their worries. The readers share the secrets and share the surprise of the characters with every revelation. Two heads are better than one in this story world where everyone has something up their sleeves.

Bischoff gave us a variety of character, all of whom are interesting and fun. The youthfulness in them was so real especially with the language. Dylan was sweet and loyal. Joss was protective and careful. Her training and her calculating moves worked well with the story. Being alone and having no friends was her normal life. To see Joss peeling off this mask of protection was great. The difference in her before and after reflects what kind of life she had as a Talent.

Hush Money is fun, thrilling and suspenseful. The YA version of X-Men won't fail to entertain.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Ana Lucía Arroyave on Jan. 31, 2011 : (no rating)
First thing that catch my eye about this book: the cover! And then I read a quote that says: "X-Men meets Smallville" and I knew I had to read this book. This is a very fast reading that keeps you entertained as you get to know all the characters.
I love X-Men (comics, cartoon, movies) and Hush Money reminds me a lot of X-Men. Lots of kids with superpowers who are persecuted because they are considered dangerous to society. That is why they have to be invisible and be careful not to your their powers in front of anyone.
Joss -the heroine of this novel- tries to be under the radar and her plan worked until the day Kat came into her life. I really liked her personality and her dress style, kind of tomboy but still looking pretty.
I liked how the story unfolds through the differents characters and all of them well developed, you won't find the tipical nice boy or sweet girl, I found that refreshing.
And I liked that the story was told from Joss and Dylan -male hero- perspective because I get to know both of their characters.

I was a little disappointed by the end, I would liked to read another chapter as a closer. But overall I really enjoy it and definitely leaves the door open for another book.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: V. J. Chambers on Jan. 06, 2011 : (no rating)
Hush Money is one of those brilliant indie finds that just makes you happy. It's a nifty mash up of superheroes, teen fiction, and romance. I fairly flew through it, and found it absolutely wonderful. Just the right bits of angst, tension, and some pretty fun action scenes.

There are two really fun things going on here. One is the fact that even though the characters are superheroes, with superhero powers, everything's pretty understated. No capes or masks or anything silly. The end result is that coupled with the voice of the narration, you get something that's much less X-Men and more X-Files. Well, the X-Files meets My So-Called Life maybe.

The next really cool thing is the threat of the fascist government organization, which is shadowy and shifty and really interesting. I completely dug that.

Judging from its reception, I'm not the only one who thinks it's awesome, but if you need more convincing, the price tag should do that just fine. Give it a chance. You can't even buy a bottle of coke at a convenience store for that!
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: CoreyReads on Dec. 27, 2010 :
My blog - http://coreyreads.blogspot.com/

Wow. I wish there were more books like this one. These types of books are rare. The type that can appeal to almost any readers.


There are so many different aspects to Hush Money. Some parts are very touching, while some are very action packed.


In Hush Money there are two main characters, Joss and Dylan. Joss is the kind of girl who would go out of her way to avoid trouble, but will stand up for herself if needs be. Joss is also very stubborn, which I can easily relate to. Dylan hangs around with the worst possible people. I find him to be quite relatable. The characters and their personalities were very well developed.


I loved Hush Money. It draws you in from the very beginning until the very end. It will leave you aching for more.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Reena Jacobs on Nov. 15, 2010 :
With Hush Money, I never knew what would happen next, so I just kept turning the pages. Pretty much each scene ended on an ‘OMG! I can’t believe that just happened’ moment. Then we get to the place where a lot of books have what folks call “the saggy middle.” In the case of Hush Money, this was where all hell broke loose. I didn’t even have time for a breather. This book was super fast pace and so intense, it left me exhausted. The only thing I hated about the plot was not being able to read it fast enough.

Read complete review on my blog: http://reenajacobs.com/blog/2010/11/novella-review-hush-money-by-susan-bischoff
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Reading Lassie on Nov. 10, 2010 :
Hush Money is a great introduction to a very refreshing series, Talent Chronicles. Its pace is fast and thrilling throughout most of the book. Packed with action and suspense, Hush Money is a very engrossing read.

Joss' world was crafted masterfully by Susan Bischoff I found myself drawn easily into it. It is a world where super-powered teenagers try to act as normal as they can to avoid anyone's attention, most especially, the attention of National Institute of Ability Control (NIAC)- research facilities run by the government where kids with supernatural powers were transferred when discovered.

Bischoff's writing is extremely rich and clear. I was entranced by the grace of her writing and the spare power of her style. She has produced an enormously original and moving work. The story is told from Joss and Dylan's alternating point of views, which is very helpful in understanding their feelings.

The characters are hauntingly real and deep. The protagonists are a likable bunch. Joss, an intelligent high school girl who does everything in her power to go unnoticed. She is mature and careful but full of inner strength- a perfect heroine for me. Dylan is protective and scaring. I love how he sees Joss- so sweet.

Taking everything into account, Hush Money is an immensely satisfying read, can't wait to read the next installment of the series!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Jenn S. on Oct. 04, 2010 :
Have you guys seen Pretty Little Liars? I can't talk about the books, I have yet to read them, but the show...each week the characters are dealing with a “smaller” problem, while the bigger issue always lies just outside there reach...they are always trying to conceal there secrets, because there sure, at this point if anyone found out, it would ruin them.

Hush Money reminded me of that, NOT because the stories are similar, but...

My Synopsis:
In Hush Money, we are introduced to Joss, a girl with a secret...but wait, though alternating points of view we also enter the world of Dylan a boy that Joss has always, basically ignored, but at the same time secretly crushed on...over the years.

Though, Dylan is not atypical, Joss tends to ignore everyone – she's been told since before she could walk or even understand that standing out, is NEVER a good thing...if your to popular or your grades are to high, people notice; but if your to standoffish and make bad grades others tend to look your way...so Joss prides herself at being just standoffish enough, while making B/C grades to maintain her ambiguity.

She likes it that way...or so she's told herself, she does not need people, or friends – she tried that once and it did not end well. Joss is sure that her family is all she needs, that's who can protect her, that's what her fathers always said.

But when Kat shows up, and takes on the mission of bring Joss out of her shell...she beings to wonder, just how much she's missing out on by her families imposed isolation but at the same time always understanding the risks she takes by revealing to much about who she really is.

After all, she's seen first hand what the government is capable of, when they even suspect someone of having a Talent – they don't ask questions, they don't gather evidence; they just come in, guns blaring, ordering you to surrender yourself, and no one ever sees you again! The last time that happened Joss lost her best friend, her only friend, and she's determined not to let that happen again!

But when Marco, the class bully, begins to blackmail Joss, her quiet world starts to slip away...she needs help, she needs to somehow learn to trust, she needs to remember what it's like to not feel so alone, but how – when at every turn revealing your secret could mean, exposing yourself, and with that comes the chance that her secrets could fall into the wrong hands; the governments hands.

Can Joss learn to trust in time, can she start believing that not everyone is out to hurt her, or is she just kidding herself?
Hush Money is a fast paced story, with superheros – honestly what's not to love? But it's not just that, it's got beautifully ingrained messages on friendship, hope and learning to trust. Susan Bischoff has created with her debut novel a winner! Honestly, I had no idea what to expect when I first read the synopsis for Hush Money – I had not seen any reviews, and when I found out that it's just over 100 pages – I did not hold out much hope.

Honestly, I have never read a book where I felt connected enough to the plot as well as the characters in a book so short! It's unheard of...however, Hush Money was different – I connected, within the first few pages, I was in love with Joss – her personality, her originality, and her spirit shine though. She's a heck of a character! Then we have Dylan, though, we did not get to know him as well as Joss – he's got an amazing heart, and a solid head on his shoulders, which I enjoyed! There are others too, like Kat, whom I believe would bend over backwards for anyone – especially someone she calls a friend!

Susan Bischoff has a writing style that's different from most, she's raw, and powerful; if your looking for a novel that's full of beautiful prose, full of explicit details, Hush Money is not for you...however if your looking for a truly harrowing story, full with mystery, the beauty of friendship and the unique power of love – Hush Money will not disappoint!


Bottom Line – Hush Money is a short, quick read – but don't let that fool you because it is a well thought out novel with truly wonderful characters, the action flows seamlessly off the page, yet the characters themselves are so loveable your laughing with them, and rooting for them! Towards the end, when things start coming together, I teared up for Joss...I love that girl! Susan Bischoff is a wonderful addition to YA Literature, I am thrilled to be able to recommend this one to all my friends! I give it 5 mushrooms, and I can NOT wait for Heroes 'Til Curfew!
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: misha mathew on Sep. 30, 2010 : (no rating)
Hush Money was a very engrossing read. After a long time, I read an original urban fantasy. There were no vampires, no werewolves or any other popular fantasy creatures.
On the other hand, there were people with superpowers..something I haven't read about before. I was addicted to the TV show Heroes and needless, to say, Hush Money was the perfect book for me.
I loved everything about Hush Money. The plot was fast paced, compelling and kept me at the edge-of-seat. There was lots of nonstop action. I didn't have a chance to get bored!
The writing style was great and the character development was very well-done. I liked how as the story unfolded, we get to know the characters more deeply.
I really liked the fact that the story has been told from Dylan and Joss's perspective. It helped me understand both their perspectives and interpretations. Their relationship has been depicted really well.Both of them were likeable characters.
I especially liked Joss. She was so relatable and also a kick-ass heroine - something we don't get a lot of , in YA fantasy novels where more often than not, the heroine is annoying and whiny.
What made Hush Money even more captivating was the suspense/mystery element. It kept me awake at night. The book has everything that makes a novel worthwhile for me - lots of nonstop action and excitement, a bit of romance and a great heroine.
Hush Money grabbed me from the first page and by the time I reached the end, I was craving for more. I look forward to the other books in the series.
Overall:
A great YA fiction with a dash of originality and a unique concept.



Recommended?
YES! To all those who love superheroes and want to read a great fantasy novel.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: mish on Sep. 27, 2010 :
Rating: 5 (I Loved It!)

I have one word for this book...awesome! I loved everything about it--the voice, the story, the writing style, the dialogue, and the characters. All were great. I really can’t think of anything I didn’t like.

The writing style and voice of this story grabbed me from the beginning. The teenage dialogue was fantastic and believable with just the right amount of snark. The characters were flawed but very likeable and fleshed out. You can see how Dylan and Jocelyn (Joss) grow and change throughout the story, both personally and in their relationship to each other.

The story narration switches back and forth between the first person point-of-view of the two main characters, Joss and Dylan. Each section where the POV switches begins with the character’s name and that was very helpful to keep focus on which character was narrating. I really enjoy the dual POV as it allows me to see how each character interprets what is going on in the story.

The plot moved along swiftly and was paced well with plenty of action and interaction between the characters. It kept my interest and I didn’t want to put it down.

I did sort of wonder if there is a reason for all these kids to have special powers. Usually there is something that triggers a superhero power like Spiderman getting bitten by a spider or the Incredible Hulk with the gamma waves. I also wondered why there is such a large concentration of Talents in this particular area. Hmmm… hopefully all will be revealed eventually in future books. I really look forward to seeing more of Joss and Dylan’s growing relationship and the adventures of the whole “Talented” gang. Though the story arc for this particular book was mostly wrapped up at the end, there are definitely some unresolved issues and a little cliffhanger action going on that will make you eager for the next book, Heroes ‘Til Curfew.

If you like YA fiction with a superhero type theme (think Heroes TV show or X-Men movies) and a wee bit of romance then I highly recommend giving this book a try.

http://indieparanormalbooksreviews.blogspot.com/
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: deniz bevan on Sep. 18, 2010 :
If you could have one talent, what would you chose? Super vision, total recall memory, the ability to read as quickly as Star Trek’s Data? Susan Bischoff’s debut novella Hush Money explores a world where talents are inherited, not chosen, and must be hidden at all costs. Unless you want to be sent to a government run State School? As protagonist Joss might ask...

The characters’ voices ring through loud and clear and the story’s heroine is strong without making the male protagonist seem wimpy in comparison. There’s definitely something to be said for reading outside your comfort zone; I don’t normally read paranormals but was drawn into Joss and Dylan’s world from the first page. Hush Money is a fast-paced tale with a fantasy element that's both consistent and believable, and a romance that's sweet and realistic, especially when... ah, you'll have to read it yourself!

The ending echoes Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies in that it both wraps up the main plot yet leaves the door open for further adventures. Readers will eagerly anticipate Susan Bischoff’s next book in the Talent Chronicles, tentatively entitled Heroes 'Til Curfew.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Mama Kitty on Sep. 15, 2010 :
I’ve been in kind of a reading slump lately. No, really. I haven’t been able to get into a book and have had to force myself through them for a couple of months now. It’s not the books I’ve been reading, because they’ve all been good, but I just haven’t been yanked into a story and kept there.

Until Hush Money.

From the very first sentence, I was drawn in and I literally couldn’t put the book down. Even knowing that I had to get up at the crack of dawn the next day, I stayed up until 2am reading this book.

Susan Bischoff creates a world where people are afraid to stand out in any way for fear of being carted off to special government schools. There are certain people who were born with special Talents, and the government wants to use them for their own purposes.

Joss is one such kid. Ever since she witnessed her best friend being dragged away years before, she’s terrified someone will discover her ability and the same fate will fall on her. So, when the guy she’s been crushing on for ages (Dylan) finally decides to take an interest in her, she’s understandably suspicious.

I loved Joss’s internal dialogue. She’s funny and sarcastic, smart, and remarkably grown up for someone who’s still in high school. She takes care of her little sister and helps out her parents with their store, even while she bemoans the fact that she can’t act like a normal kid because her father is too scared that she’ll draw too much attention to herself if she makes friends.

So, when someone at school decides to befriend her, it throws her world for a loop. Add in that Dylan is suddenly showing an interest in her, and everything is turned upside down.

Because Dylan is suddenly talking to her, his best friend Marco (who happens to be the biggest douchebag I’ve ever seen in my lief) decides to start picking on her. I kept ranting at my Kindle (sorry, Paige!) because I wanted someone to do something about him.

I didn’t like how Dylan caved to Marco’s demands or how Joss decided to take care of it the way that she did… but in order for the book to move forward and for the end to happen the way it was supposed to (which I loved), it had to be done. I guess I just wanted the HEA already. What can I say? I’m impatient. :)

Hush Money is the first installment of Susan Bischoff’s series The Talent Chronicles. I’m eagerly anticipating the next book in the series, since I’m dying to know what happens with Joss and Dylan, as well as all the other Talents introduced in the book.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Lisa Miller on Sep. 12, 2010 :
It's hard enough being a normal teen in Highschool, but when you have a "Talent" that you need to hide it's even tougher. About a group of teens with "Talents"- special abilities that most would refer to as superpowers. Only having a Talent in this town really isn't so super. Kids are hauled off by an agency called NIAC (National Institute for Ability Control) to be taken to a State School. None of the kids taken are ever seen or heard from again. Rumor has it the taken Talents are being abused.

Enter the world of Jocelyn (Joss for short). Trying to stay under the radar and keep to herself. Sometimes, however, life doesn't always work out as you plan, and through a series of unfortunate events she finds herself being offered silence in exchange for some Hush Money.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: A.M. Harte on Sep. 10, 2010 :
Hush Money is the very promising debut of Susan Bischoff‘s Talent Chronicles series, a YA urban fantasy series that — rather refreshingly — avoids any mention of vampires or sparkling (because teens are interested in more than just blood-sucking).

High school girl Joss has done everything in her power to go unnoticed. She eats alone, carefully controls her grades, and doesn’t even think about talking to her crush. Because Joss has a terrible secret: she’s has a Talent… and kids with psychic abilities tend to mysteriously disappear. Then new girl Kat joins the school, and puts herself into harm’s way whilst rescuing Joss from the school bully. In a world in which psychic abilities are punishable by imprisonment, Joss must choose between keeping her secret and doing what’s right to save a friend.

Susan Bischoff has played her cards right: she has managed to write a captivating, engaging tale perfect for teens as well as all of us who… errr… aren’t quite teens any more. In a YA market over-saturated with the same old stories, Hush Money is a breath of fresh air and more besides: it is a fast-paced, engaging introduction to the Talent Chronicles series which will leave you hungry for the sequel.

What truly sets Hush Money apart from its contemporaries are the characters. You’ve got the high school loneliness and angst of early Smallville, the large crew of cool X-men like-powers, but most importantly you have teenagers who are three-dimensional believable people. Joss and her crush Dylan are the protagonists, with the story alternating between their points of view, but the strong character depth extends beyond the main players, creating a fully-fleshed setting which you’ll enjoy sinking into. Furthermore, there is none of this “we were destined to be together” malarkey — in true awkward teen style, the romance is light-hearted, bumbling, and achingly sweet.

The plot had a good mixture of high school drama and larger overpowering (governmental) threat, and while the issue is partially resolved, Susan Bischoff has planted many small seeds which will lead to a gripping, addictive series. After all, while Hush Money is dedicated to introducing the characters, world and dangers, the novel hints that there will be far more at stake in times to come.

My only nitpick? While I enjoyed the alternating points of view — particularly because they were so distinct, and true to each character — the initial few pages felt a little forced. Joss’ use of ‘like’ felt a little contrived, a little “trying too hard to be a teenager”… but either the voice improved, or the story sucked me in soon after, because it didn’t bother me throughout the rest of the novel.

Overall, Hush Money is just the tip of what might become a very huge iceberg. Be careful if you skim past this novel, because even with the smallest scratch you might find yourself sinking right in. That’s where you’ll find me, waiting for the sequel.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: MissHavoc on Sep. 09, 2010 :
This is a great start to a brand new series about superheros. Well, about teenagers with superhero powers.

I love the world that Ms. Bischoff has created, and her characters are wonderful. Gosh, Marco is just SO EVIL! I'm very excited to see how this story progresses and how the characters will grow. I think it has the makings of a fantastic series that people will fall in love with.

Joss is such a strong characters, trying her hardest to remain anonymous and do what her fa ...more This is a great start to a brand new series about superheros. Well, about teenagers with superhero powers.

I love the world that Ms. Bischoff has created, and her characters are wonderful. Gosh, Marco is just SO EVIL! I'm very excited to see how this story progresses and how the characters will grow. I think it has the makings of a fantastic series that people will fall in love with.

Joss is such a strong characters, trying her hardest to remain anonymous and do what her family asks of her. Dylan the delinquent is tired of being on "the wrong side of the track", if you know what I mean. I think they have great chemistry and look forward to seeing them together more.

The ending was quite blunt, but at the same time there was action right up till the last sentence. I need more though, NOW. Go check this out if you like superheroes, or love stories, or stories about superheroes falling in love. It's awesome!

5/5 Stars!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Nan on Sep. 08, 2010 :
I received this book for free via a coupon from Susan Bischoff. The one condition of the coupon was that I agreed to review the book.

I don't think I'm a part of this book's target audience. What I mean by that is this--Hush Money will be popular with its target audience. However, the book didn't work for me. I'm a 34 year-old doctoral student working on a dissertation on 19th-century British Gothic fiction, so my standards are a little different from most of the people who will read this book.

Hush Money alternates between two first person narrators, Joss and Dylan. The story is set in an alternate modern country--unnamed, but probably the U.S. Things are different in this society because a portion of the population has been identified as having "Talents," similar to those of the mutants in the X-Men comics. The government has declared that it has the right to police and train these Talents so that they don't endanger others, creating a state of fear in the population. When teenagers disappear, everyone knows they've been taken by the NIAC, the secretive Talent police.

Joss is much like other YA heroines. She's quiet and friendless, trying not to get noticed. She's got a Talent of her own, and she doesn't want to get caught. However, she's had a crush on Dylan for ages, even though he hangs with the despicable Marco. Marco has been bullying Joss for years, all because she refused to date him. As these kids try to navigate the usual minefield of adolescent relationships, their Talents and their fears make their lives even more difficult.

This book is the first in a projected series, published as low-cost ebooks. The low cost will be attractive to teens and preteens, the presumed audience of this book, but their limited access to ebook readers may cause problems. The book was extraordinarily short, roughly 150 pages. Since the book itself is only $.99, that doesn't seem like a big problem. This reminds me of the sort of series books that I read as an early teen, so I can easily see it finding an audience.

Bishoff's world of Talents is fairly unique, although it does have a strong connection to the X-Men, as I noted above. Her writing is solid, and the plight of the characters seemed real. They were justifiably afraid, and Bischoff does a good job of creating tension. What she does next with the series will determine just how good it's going to be. It's off to a decent start here.

If you like this sort of book, I'd also recommend Holly Black's The White Cat (Curse Workers, #1).
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Evelyn Amaro on Aug. 27, 2010 :
This is a fantasy YA series that grabs your attention from the very first page. It is filled with an array of interesting characters that makes you want to be them, hate them, or just root for them to come out on top! This is the story of Talents. Talents are people with powers, and they are subject to government capture if they are discovered. This is why they hide their talents and try to stay under the radar, at least that's what Joss does. She is the heroine in this novel whose main focus in life is to go unnoticed. She is a Talent and she doesn't want anyone to know. If people find out what you are, the government comes and sends you to State school to conduct "research" on you - who wants that? Her plan worked until the day Kat came into her life. All of a sudden she finds herself with friends, a potential love interest, the target of a deadly threat, and in the middle of a government official vs Talents show down that is out of this world! This book has everything I love in a YA novel: mystery, love, danger, excitement, and a kick ass heroine who can't quite figure out just how kick ass she really is! This book is a must read! It is truly all kinds of awesomeness. If you want an exciting YA fantasy novel that grabs you from the intro and leaves you wanting more, then this is the book for you!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: beedee (astounding dreams . blogspot ) on Aug. 23, 2010 : (no rating)
Oh, my gosh! Oh, my gosh! Oh, my gosh! O_O I promise I don't have an echolalia. I just couldn't help it! The book was enthralling and never failed to give me palpitations from excitement, the thrill!!! I so loved it. I'm recommending it to people who love mystery, supernatural stuff, romance. Oh, everyone! There.

Can I just stop and only say IT'S TOTALLY AMAZING!?!

Seriously, it is so amazing my heart's still pounding hard just by thinking about it and looking at the book's cover. It's a book for all ages. :-) I guess I'll stop here before I spill some spoilers and ruining the fun you could have if you read it. And I urge! you to. :-D LOL

I'm so rating this book...

TWO THUMBS UP!!! (5/5) + more!
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Lauralynn Elliott on Aug. 20, 2010 :
I don't read a lot of YA books. They have to be really special to keep my attention. This one was good! I could relate to the characters, even though they were young enough to be my kids. Susan Bischoff did a great job building those characters. And the action scenes...VERY believable. The only complaint I have is that it left me wanting more. :) I would recommend this book to young adults and not so young adults.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Katarr Kanticles Press on Aug. 19, 2010 :
Hush Money is a good, fast paced introduction to the world of Talents. If you like YA and paranormal stuff, this looks like a good series to start reading.

The characters were entertaining and well-fleshed; the action smooth and well-handled.

Great read. =)
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Stacey Wallace Benefiel on Aug. 06, 2010 :
I just finished Hush Money and am totally jonesing for the next book already! Loved this book. The main character, Joss, is snarky, strong, insecure, and protective-all things that make her a realistic heroine. I enjoyed her voice and also reading things from Dylan's (her crush) point of view. The back and forth between the two really kept the story moving. The action sequences were written well-easy to imagine and quite exciting! I can't wait to find out more about all of the characters and how they use their super powers. Great debut!
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Kait Nolan on Aug. 05, 2010 :
You remember the early seasons of Smallville, back when Clark was mooning over Lana, they were all still in high school, and every week was an episode about stopping some isolated problem and the important thing was keeping his secret? If you’re like me and really miss those days, Hush Money is absolutely for you. In a market that’s positively flooded with stories about teen vampires or fairies, Bischoff provides a refreshing and absolutely believable world about teenagers with superpowers. Chloe Sullivan would have plenty of fodder for her Wall of Weird—in the best possible way!

In this debut novel, heroine Joss must come to question the deeply ingrained secret keeping behavior she’s always lived by in order to do the right thing and help a friend who’s being blackmailed by the class bully. Joss was so three-dimensional, I swear she had a locker next to mine in high school. She shared my disgust of the pink and girly, and she has this great crush on borderline bad-boy Dylan (who is exactly the right mix of rebellious and nice guy). I can’t wait to see what Joss and her friends get up to in the next installment!

An absolute must read from this up and comer in the YA genre.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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