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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Review: Don't Look Now by Michelle Gagnon

Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: PERSEPHoNE #2
Young Adult
Pages: 336
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

The jaw-dropping sequel to breakout YA thriller Don't Turn Around, which Kirkus Reviews named a Best Book of the Year, calling it "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for teens, a surefire hit"

     Noa Torsen is on the run. Having outsmarted the sinister corporation Pike & Dolan, Noa and her friend Zeke now move stealthily across the country, protecting runaways before they become test subjects for P&D's horrific experiments. Noa knows all too well what that feels like: Whatever they did to her has left her exhausted and scared.

     Back in Boston, Peter anxiously follows Noa's movements from his computer, using his hacker skills to feed her the information she needs to stay alive. But he's desperate to do something more, especially when he learns what P&D has done to his ex-girlfriend Amanda.
     Then, in an explosive confrontation, Noa and her team are trapped in the one place they thought was safe. It will take everything Noa and Peter have to bring down the corporation before it gets them first. And with no one to trust and enemies hiding at every turn, they may be the only people alive who can.
     This stunning second book in the critically acclaimed Don't Turn Around trilogy raises the stakes to their absolute limit and will leave readers begging for the exciting conclusion, Don't Let Go.
*Digital galley provided by HarperCollins for an honest review*

Another daredevil of a novel, Don't Look Now takes up a little while after the first novel, Don't Turn Around, had ended off--with Noa safe, fighting along side Zeke on the front lines, and Peter working his way through the mainframe behind the scenes. It's all out war against the illicit company of Pike & Dolan, going around and testing on runaway children, murdering them in the end. Noa and Peter are fighting to save them all, but the stakes are amped up this time and child's play is finally over. It's all or nothing, and Peter and Noa have so much to lose this time around.

Action and adrenaline pumping thrills set this novel on the move from start to finish. I don't know which one claimed the title for giving me the most rush, Don't Look Now or it's predecessor. Character development did enhance a little more with Noa, I could get a good feel for her and how she felt--that she was still just a kid no matter how dominant and mature she had to act for the brigade she commanded. Peter was still the same, only the genius computer hacker, but now he was getting torn between his feelings. And this was where I gave a large, exasperated sigh.

As I was expecting, but hoping wouldn't happen, romance starts to seep its way into the characters. Whether it's between Peter and Amanda, Noa and Zeke, Teo and Daisy, or the idea of attraction towards each other in the thoughts of Peter and Noa, these little pesky romantic scenes show up continuously while reading. The lack of character development in Zeke and the few details given about his past with Noa and the Center makes for his cliched "I love you the moment I laid eye on you," last words before he sends Noa on her way to safety brushed right off me. There was no real feelings that could be generated out of any of these so-called "relationships." It was a sad attempt to try and help roll the plot along when it was doing find by itself in suspense and thrill. I worst fear happened to come true.
"Peter sighed. Girls should really come equipped with some sort of instruction manual. Computers were so much easier."
-quote taken from DON'T LOOK NOW uncorrected e-galley

The romance subplot creeping in every now and again bumped down the rating I was going to give for this book. I hated to do it, but I had too. I just didn't feel it this time around. And I wish that there was so much more back story given out on the PEMA virus that is infecting these teenagers. Vague details and untold pasts from the first book were still unanswered in the second. Where are my answers, Ms. Gagnon? I'm dying to know just an inkling more than I did in the last book, not left in the dark two straight books in a row. And I was very disappointed in Zeke and Amanda. Zeke being completely flat and underdeveloped it was upsetting. Amanda having this burning rage of jealousy towards Peter and his jumbled up feelings for Noa after she basically admitted that he was just a high school relationship that would dissipate after she entered college. I just felt like the awkward romantic elements could have been substituted for much more substance surrounding characters and information to help clarify the PEMA virus which happens to be the focal point for everything in this trilogy. The final novel will hopefully answer my prayers on the matter, but I was still hoping for a little more depth and back story in Don't Look Now.

Final Summation: Action hits this book out of the ball park, just like the first novel had. Characters and development/explanations were the weakest links of DON'T LOOK NOW. The ongoing romance being honed in on as a major construct of the novel rather than the underlying, unexplained subjects of PEMA, what it stands for and what the virus actually is and how one can contract it, and deeper indulgence of character back story. Unfortunately, DON'T LOOK NOW does not live up to the expectations that I was hoping for, but the intensity and the action does keep at a constant. There is always another twist coming around the corner to keep your heart quickly beating.

First Line: "I though California was supposed to be warm," Zeke grumbled, rubbing his arms.
Story: A
Cover: B

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Kindle Steals (8)

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Starglass by Phoebe North

Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Series: Starglass #1
Young Adult
Pages: 448
Genre: Science Fiction

Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a job that doesn't interest her, and living with a grieving father who only notices her when he's yelling, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she's got.

But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain's guard murdering an innocent man, Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath her ship's idyllic surface. As she's drawn into a secret rebellion determined to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares most about. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the decision of a lifetime--one that will determine the fate of her people.
*Digital galley was provided by Simon & Schuster for the blog tour and an honest review*

Jews in space.

If you wanted me to sum up Starglass in three words, there you have it folks. I can tell you, from the synopsis, I never would have guessed I'd be reading about a spaceship filled with an entire Jewish colony looking for a new planet to live on. Nevertheless, Starglass had its charm and it's quirk along with the weirdly strange.

The roughest patch of the novel had to be the pacing. It was dreary in the beginning, painfully slow with much to be told about the customs and the history. Between the Hebrew words that I did not know the meaning to as well as the customs that were tossed around from character to character, all I can say is that whenever I saw bar mitzva and maezl tov I finally felt like I knew what was being said. Now, like I said, that was the rough patch of the novel. If you really aren't accustom to the Jewish customs, like me, then it will be a bit of a challenge to want to keep at Starglass in the beginning.

Once the world on the Asherah carefully forms itself, Starglass gets heavily entertaining. The world building does not disappoint. At all. It will probably be one of your favorite things about the novel as it was mine.

In most YA novels of late, the society that the characters live in like to pick and choose the lives of those living within their jurisdiction. Sort of like in Matched by Ally Condie. It is typical in their society to be a full fledged by the age of like sixteen and married around the same year. Unlike the typical dystopianish novel out there, each couple is allowed one boy and one girl to keep the gender balance on the ship. And those babies are incubated not the natural way that mommies and daddies made you and me. No, they are made inside eggs, as I had mentioned before. Unlike Matched, at least the characters can pick who they want to marry as long as they go through all the precautions and such. Only the higher powers of the spaceship city deem what each newly adult will be working as for the rest of their lives up until they land on the planet they've been racing towards for almost 500 years.

Terra's vocation happens to be an extremely interesting one to read into and watch flourish. Botany. What I thought was going to be a rather dull addition to the slow cranking novel actually was rather insightful and fun. Following Terra's piqued interest in her new line of work, even after her debauched dream of being an artist, really brought the flow back for the book. Whenever Terra was working I found that kept on wanting to read Starglass.

Character-wise? Terra had her ups and downs. She grows much stronger as a character during the books slow progression. She starts to inherit realistic, moral qualities. She has lived a life where her mother died from a disease after she had been told that all the diseases had been eradicated. Her father, a violent man whose eye is directly locked on authority and honor through status, I felt impassive with, but the remorse and pity did leak away for his character during some scenes. Her brother had left her behind to start a family of his own. There is so much diversity in this novel than I was even expecting. North does a fantastic job at keeping the norm of most YA from really seeping into her characters.

Final Summation: Though STARGLASS really was a fascinating read towards the latter of the novel, I found it to have so much really going on all at once for one book that it can get a little confusing at times. I was, indeed, happy with how the book progressed. The second books is welcomed to my reading stack. Even though STARGLASS doesn't necessarily take precedence as a remarkable sci-fi YA novel compared to it's spaceship counterparts, it does have qualities that I hadn't expected it to really hone in on, like the heavy incorporation of  Judaism. STARGLASS makes for a slow-paced, informational, snowball effect read. Fans of the Across the Universe  or Inside Out series are welcome to take a crack at another trek through the starry abyss of space.

Story: A
Cover: S

Phoebe North spent the first twenty-two years of her life in New Jersey, where she lugged countless library books home to read in the bathtub, at the dinner table, in front of the television, and under the blankets with a flashlight when she should have been asleep.
After college, Phoebe went south, enrolling in the University of Florida’s MFA program to study poetry. But after studying children’s literature with kidlit scholars (and geniuses) Kenneth Kidd and John Cech, she started writing books about magic, robots and aliens for teenagers. And realized she loved it almost as much as she loved Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
Now, Phoebe lives in New York State with her husband, and many licensed novels. She likes to cook, watch Degrassi, sew, take her cat for walks, and, of course, write. Despite many soaked pages, she still loves to read in the bath.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (47): Wings

Wings by Elizabeth Richards
Series: Black City #3
Publication Date: 2014

I really need to get a move on and read this trilogy. The covers are absolutely stunning!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Mass

Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Young Adult
Pages: 432
Genre: Fantasy, Romance

An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.

But her heart never wavers.
     After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.
     Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice. 
     Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?
*Digital galley was provided by Bloomsbury USA Childrens for an honest review*

Sarah J. Mass has done it again. Another Celaena Sardothien adventure with enough magic, mystery, ghosts, talking magic door knockers, assassinations, jealousy, portals, and the cold, hard truth of the past to knock your socks right off. Crown of Midnight is the perfect book for those Game of Thrones fans needing a craving of high fantasy in a new form. You will not forget Celaena Sardothien. She takes heroine to a whole other level.

I have so much that I want to say about this book, but I don't want to spoil anything. Trust me, there is a whole hell of a lot happening in this second installment. So much that could be spoiled. So many secrets revealed. But I also don't want to make this such a vague review at the same time. That would not be a pleasing review, not for you or me or a great book like this.

There is much more at stake here in Crown of Midnight. Celaena's life still hangs on a thread when she goes against the kings orders to execute anyone in conspiracy against the crown, letting them live on in different places under different names. Right off the bat, Celaena's priorities are set with the matter of right and wrong by her defiance of the king. Being his Champion, she is to do exactly as he commands. If  the king ever found out, Celaena is a dead woman. But when an old friend from the assassin's guild come up on the king's hit list as a rebel, Celaena finds an interesting opportunity to find out answers that are to lead the famous assassin into not only mortal danger, but otherworldly as well. There is magic harboring itself in the castle when if should be extinct. The lost princess is alive, gathering an army. And Celaena finds herself piecing together every bit of mystery that the ghost of Elena, the first queen of Adarlan, cryptically relays the assassin about the king's dangerous plan. If Celaena cannot figure it out in time, Adarlan will pay the price.

Celaena keeps her usual spunk from the first novel, Throne of Glass, hot as a flame. She's much more lethal in CoM with the wire wearing thin and lives of those closest to her put at risk. How quickly it's revealed that Celaena can turn on someone so close to her when revenge and hatred root itself in her mind and bubbles through her fuming veins. The truth that is an cold-blooded assassin lies in the heart of this young girl of only seventeen. Not even living in the lap of luxury can hide away the beast that Celaena Sardothien can become when finally pushed over the deep end. Though living high and mighty inside the castle walls does happen to sand away some rough spots that the assassin had in the first novel. When she's not involved in her life's work, the assassin has a quirk for spending money on seemingly useless things that she might never use, wear, or read. Sometimes I found Celaena becoming spoiled by the riches.

But everything else that is the dark and deadly assassin cancels out that spoiled nature. Even sometimes the love looming between her and Chaol, the Captain of the Guard. There seems to be a constant battle between Chaol and the Crown Prince, Dorian for Celaena's time of day.

Jealousy sparks between the two old friends. There really isn't much love triangle in this book since Celaena quickly inches over to Chaol's side. But that doesn't stop Dorian for trying to keep the option of him open to his favorite little assassin. Even when Celaena finds the lust for an old assassin friend turning her cheeks red, it shows how the girl can be overtaken by the bouts of romance. That, a handsome face, and a winning smile seem to be the assassin's weakness. Who'd of guessed?

Chaol is given much more depth as a character. He cares deeply for Celaena just as much as she does for him. Her safety is a primary concern. His background and nobility status are revealed. His father enters into the story as well as his homeland.

Even Dorian has some secrets of his own that can prove crucial if told. The stakes are amped for the Crown Prince, and this time wooing his fair assassin is not the only dangerous game he plays. Though Dorian had a knack for acting like a moody girl around Celaena and Chaol, his jealous nature is not overlooked when reading. I'm glad he doesn't make a huge ass of himself about the matter. Dorian actually tries to be happy for his best friend, even if it means he cannot get the girl. There was the respect I have for Dorian; the humble Crown Prince. He was trying, and I gave him credit where credit is due.

The introduction to the iron teeth Witches & fortuneteller, Baba Yellowlegs, and even to the Fae was intoxicating. Information slowly weaving itself together. The mysterious and magical world that Mass has created. Little by little there are bits and pieces of Celaena's world being put together. Between the kingdoms, the hierarchy, languages, species, magic, other-worlds--I fall in love a little more with this series.

Mass had blown me out of the water with the huge secret revealed at the end of CoM. Even though I had seem something along the lines of that coming, I was still impressed and stupefied by what I had just found out. I couldn't believe what I'd just read! The series really does keep getting better by the book. I'm delighted to know that this series is a long one!

Final Summation: CROWN OF MIDNIGHT was a wonderful second installment to the Throne of Glass series. Though the beginning revolves around the attraction between Chaol and Dorian, it quickly sidesteps into a world of action and mystery where secrets abound fight their way to be revealed. Celaena packs much more of a punch, where her true violent nature is revealed, and so is much of her past. I'm hungry for more of Adarlan's assassin now that she is out of the glass castle and sailing to another kingdom. What misfortune awaits her there? I'm dying to find out.

First Line: The shutters swinging in the storm winds were the only sign of her entry.
Story: S
Cover: S

*To check out my review for THRONE OF GLASS, click here*

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Review: The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

Publication Date: April 2, 2006
Publisher: Gollancz
Series: The Heir Chronicles #1
Young Adult
Pages: 520
Genre: Fantasy

One March day, Jack Swift, a high school student in a small college town, forgets to take the medicine he’s taken daily since he was an infant. There ensues a cascade of events that puts him in mortal danger.

Jack discovers he carries a secret within him that has made him a target of the ruthless wizards of the Red and White Rose. Jack is a Warrior Heir, the last of a dying breed, sought after by the Roses to fight in the tournaments that are used to allocate power among the Wizard Houses. Unknown to him, Jack has lived all his life surrounded by members of the Magical Guilds: wizards, enchanters, soothsayers, and sorcerers. They are determined to save him from the Roses.

With the aid of his aunt, a beautiful enchanter, Jack desperately tries to acquire the skills that might save his life. Jack and his friends, Will and Fitch, unearth a magical sword from a cemetery and fight off the wizards who would take it from them. Jack begins training with the dark and dangerous Leander Hastings, a wizard with a mysterious past.

Meanwhile, Jack is torn between his attraction to Ellen Stephenson, a new student at Trinity High School, and Leesha Middleton, his former girlfriend, who decides she wants him back.

Discovered and besieged by treachery at home, he flees to the Lake District of England. There he is confronted by the greatest challenge of all.
*This novel was borrowed from my local library*

An engaging fantasy. Smoothly written and heightened with interesting places, enchantment, magical swords, battles, and a boy named Jack who is said to be a Warrior heir. Cinda Williams Chima wrote a fun and exciting tale that fans of Harry Potter would enjoy.

I liked The Warrior Heir more for the world-building than anything else. Different guilds with different powers. The Weir was quite a mystery when I first took to this book. I was happy with the build up and progression of the characters and the background information of the Weir.

Jack Swift was hit or miss with me. I don't really know why. Sometimes I found him very heroic and intuitive. Other times his boyishness took fold between the two girls in his life unappealing. His anaweir (normal) friends felt bland. I found myself asking what their purpose in the novel actually was. Ellen definitely made a huge comeback in my eyes for likeable characters. Leesha was interesting, but the stereotypical brooding bitch of an ex-girlfriend for the most part until she actually becomes an interesting surprise of a character.

I do wish that the Rose Houses were explained a bit more in the novel. It would have been nice to get a bit of a background about the War of the Roses in regards to it's history to The Warrior Heir's fantasy twist Cinda Williams Chima has given it.

The pacing did work fast at grabbing my attention. Secrets and mysteries in The Warrior Heir did take me by surprise. And I actually liked the idea about how wizards can call upon spirits of the dead in order to practice upon and such. The fascination of this middle world clambering with spirits of the deceased was awesome to say the least.

Final Summation: An engaging story for you Harry Potter fans. Though I cannot say that it lives up to HP standards, THE WARRIOR HEIR has its quirks, enjoyable characters, and an interesting new fantasy world. Cinda Williams Chima has a way with making you expect the unexpected, and spin your head around when secrets are revealed.

First Line: The scent of wood smoke and roses always took him back there, to the boy he was and would never be again.
Story: A
Cover: S

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Friday Hops (7/12/13)

*Leave a comment below with you're post. Follow and I'll follow back*
With Google Friend Connect going away, don't forget to follow up with the blog with e-mail and Bloglovin' and stay connected! 

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Alison Can Read Feature & FollowFollow Friday (#38)
Q: Activity: PHOTOBOMB!!!! Photobomb a picture with your favorite book. Share it of course.

I can't really participate on this one because I'm on vacation, my wifi is extremely sucky, and I don't have my favorite book with me! Sadpanda initiate (> o <). I can tell you that I have many favorites so I'll give you my recent favorite book: THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING by Robyn Schneider It comes out next month and it is well worth the wait! 

Link me your posts so I can see you and your favorite book :) 

Review: All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry
Publication Date: July 30, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Series: All Our Pretty Songs #1
Young Adult
Pages: 240
Genre: Magical Realism, Romance

The first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.
Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can.
*Digital galley provided by St. Martin's Griffin for an honest review*

Interesting. Confusing. Poetic. Haunting.

All Our Pretty Songs is a strange and short novel that I actually liked. The narrator, who was never given a name throughout the entire novel, and her childhood friend, Aurora, are inseparable. They grew up fatherless. Their mothers found refuge in drugs. Soon, the best friends find themselves on the fast track to parties, boys, alcohol, sex, drugs, and rest of the lot that leads to trouble. Until the narrator finds Jack, the musician with his guitar always by his side, at one of Aurora's famous parties and feels a connection as strong as the one she has for Aurora. This is her story. With love, friendship, and a journey to return the people she can't afford to lose.

Short and sweet. 240 pages is all All Our Pretty Songs has to offer for the first title in a trilogy. The poetic and lyrical prose was the zinger for this book. Gorgeous. Captivating. The page numbers were flying by without me even noticing.

The narrator has a tendency to compare herself to Aurora. Aurora is the beautiful one, the party girl, the one who all the boys fall for without asking. The narrator too is in love with her best friend. On every level that love possesses--friendship, family, a partner. When she meets Jack, after hearing him play the guitar, the nameless narrator motions on the lane towards insta-love, telling herself that she would pull a Juliet if she couldn't ever see him again or making a list of all the things she possesses that she'd give away to him and all he had to do was say the word. Between Jack and Aurora, the kissing and the deep feelings she has for the both of them, the narrator doesn't divulge her sexual orientation. She could be bisexual or she could just kiss Aurora out of endearment, curiosity, I don't know, but there are many other reasons that could be right or wrong.

Jack and Aurora didn't make the cut for characters that I liked. Raoul took that piece of cake. How he was always there for the narrator whenever she needed help or a favor. How his advice was hard and real and true. He seemed like more of a friend that Aurora could ever be for the narrator and a much more positive influence for her in the end. Aurora was always needing taking care of, looking out for by the narrator so she didn't take another leap towards suicide. Jack was just the boy who the narrator instantly fell for in my eyes. He had dreams through his music and a gift within the notes that he plays. But he didn't feel like the right fit for the narrator in a romantic sense. The only way I saw who the narrator really was was when she was with Raoul. She says that Aurora makes her who she is, but I think she's wrong. I think that Raoul makes her truly come alive and be her true self. Aurora feels more like poison, slowly taking the narrator down roads she should be led.

For the ending, I'm not sure what to make of it. As to what happened with Aurora and what happens to Jack and the dreams that the narrator has in the hospital. Who was Minos and the man with the ice-like eyes? Myths and magic seemingly come alive in this novel. It is painstakingly obvious throughout the course of this short novel. The mythical evidence in the ending pages reminded me of Orpheus's myth in her attempts to save Aurora from Minos and his "boss".  

Final Summation: ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS is a curious tale. Puzzling given the magical realism suctioned inside the story. The narrator is wishy-washy as she is tangled in a net of insta-love and purpose through her best friend rather than finding herself through herself. The fact that she doesn't even have a name exemplifies the lack of self she has been given. I did like AOPS, and I'm hoping that maybe the second installment to the trilogy will give more clarification and character development to the narrator, maybe even give us a name. And I hope there will be more Raoul, because without him, I don't think I'll continue reading this series.

First Line: Aurora and I live in a world without fathers. 
Three targets slayed. Here's looking at you, kid.

Book Blast $50 Gift Card Giveaway: IXEOS Rebellion by Jennings Wright

ixeos reb

Ixeos Rebellion 
With rebel leader Darian free at last, the humans and outsiders on Ixeos must find a way to join forces and defeat the Firsts. The problem? All slaves are tracked with GPS, the Firsts are the only ones with power, and roving gangs hate the rebels just as much as they hate the aliens. As Darian and the outsiders from Earth travel the globe through the mysterious tunnels in Paris, they learn that the Firsts are preparing to launch another wave of biological warfare. With a transporter that will allow the aliens to target any city, anywhere on the planet, the rebels know they must stop them at all costs. As things get more dangerous on Ixeos, the outsiders find that they're pushed to their limit. Will they fight for freedom, no matter the price?  

The McClellands are enjoying a lazy summer vacation at the beach when they are lured from our world into Ixeos, an alternate Earth. Finding themselves lost in a maze of tunnels under Paris and surrounded by strangers, they discover that they have been brought to Ixeos for one purpose: to take the planet back from humanoid aliens who have claimed it. With the aid of the tunnels and a mysterious man named Landon, the teens travel the world seeking the key that will allow them to free Darian, the long-imprisoned rebel leader. But the aliens aren't the only problem on Ixeos -- the McClellands have to deal with brutal gangs, desperate junkies, and a world without power, where all the technology is owned by the aliens, and where most of the population has been killed or enslaved. The worst part? There's no way home.
Author Jennings Wright

Born and raised in Florida, Jennings spent her early years reading anything she could get her hands on, when she wasn't spending time in and on the water. She won a prize in the 6th grade for her science fiction stories. Jennings attended the University of Tampa, graduating with a B.A. in Political Science, and almost enough credits for B.A.s in both English and History. She attended graduate school at the University of West Florida, studying Psychology. She spent time over the years doing various kinds of business writing, editing, and teaching writing, but mostly having and raising her family, homeschooling her children, owning and running a business with her husband, and starting a non-profit. Thanks to a crazy idea called NaNoWriMo Jennings got back into creative writing in 2011 and hasn't stopped since. She currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, also a business owner and writer, and two children, and travels extensively with her family, and her non-profit in Uganda.

iXEOS R copy


Book Blast Giveaway 
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 7/28/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday (46): Tsarina

Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick
aka Jackson Pearce
Publication Date: 2014

Natalya knows a secret.
A magical Faberge egg glows within the walls of Russia's Winter Palace.
It holds a power rooted in the land and stolen from the mystics.
A power that promises a life of love for her and Alexei Romanov.
Power, that, in the right hands, can save her way of life.
But it's not in the right hands.
Interesting cover. Not one of my favorites, but that doesn't stop me from finding the synopsis from being rather intriguing.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Anomaly by Krista McGee

Publication Date: July 9, 2013
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers
Series: Anomaly #1
Young Adult
Pages: 312
Genre: Science Fiction

Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.

Thalli is different than others in The State. She feels things. She asks questions. And in the State, this is not tolerated. The Ten scientists who survived the nuclear war that destroyed the world above believe that emotion was at the core of what went wrong—and they have genetically removed it from the citizens they have since created. Thalli has kept her malformation secret from those who have monitored her for most of her life, but when she receives an ancient piece of music to record as her community’s assigned musician, she can no longer keep her emotions secreted away.

Seen as a threat to the harmony of her Pod, Thalli is taken to the Scientists for immediate annihilation. But before that can happen, Berk—her former Pod mate who is being groomed as a Scientist—steps in and persuades the Scientists to keep Thalli alive as a test subject.

The more time she spends in the Scientist’s Pod, the clearer it becomes that things are not as simple as she was programmed to believe. She hears stories of a Designer—stories that fill her mind with more questions: Who can she trust? What is this emotion called love? And what if she isn’t just an anomaly, but part of a greater design?
*Digital galley provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers for the blog tour and an honest review*

Anomaly took some time to really get into. The beginning pulls you in from the get-go with Thalli's impending death due to annihilation. The rest of the book leads up to that scene and really takes its time. Between the science fiction and Christian incorporation, Anomaly was a captivating story with some minor bugs throughout.

The Earth has been destroyed by war. The topside is toxic. Living is out of the question. So a community lives inside the Earth, called the State. The old ways of living are sought out as "primitive." Emotions are a thing of the past. People are no longer conceived. They are genetically created. But if an anomaly arises, a person who defies the status quo and begins to show signs of human emotions, they are annihilated.

Thalli is one of those anomalies.

Anomaly has an extremely sound and enchanting premise. Along the way Christian beliefs are carefully woven throughout. Thalli is like a newborn child becoming exposed to religion. Slowly but surely, God finds her way in her when there is nothing left for her to believe in. When everything the State had told her seems to be a revolving lie. I'm not widely keen on religious elements in novels, but Anomaly did incorporate it relatively well. Some readers might find the elements to be uninteresting or unnecessary or something they didn't sign up for when diving into the novel. And even though I wasn't expecting to find myself face to face with Christian elements, I thought that McGee stuck it in the story quite nicely.

The length of the story has many steep hills as well as long flat roads to drive down. In laymans terms, some parts are really exciting while others take a while to really get there. Sometimes my interest in the novel was knocked around. I would find myself wanting to stop at times. Other times I would keep going only to find out that I couldn't stop because I needed to find out what happened next. It was always one or the other.

Thalli was an all-around OK character. She knew when to follow along to directions in order to remain undetected. She understood what she was compared to the people around her. She's smart. Berk, her Pod mate that is in training to become a top Scientist, I found playing his cards one too many times. For a smart boy he was said to be, he needed to come up with some new tricks. Though, I found him and Thalli a cute combination.

Final Summation: ANOMALY was a highly executed science fiction read. The ending happened to feel very rushed, but the epilogue blew me out of the water. I'm excited and high with anticipation to see what happens to the group in the next novel.

First Line: Fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds.
Story: S
Cover: A

Available from:
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Krista McGee’s passion to see teens excited about serving God is a driving force behind her novels. Ever since college when she spent a summer working at a youth camp, McGee knew she wanted to invest in teenagers. Since then she’s been involved in a variety of youth ministries and currently teaches at a Christian school in Tampa, FL.
McGee broke into the writing world during her time in Spain. A friend encouraged her to submit an article to a Christian girls’ magazine, and it got published. Once her family moved back to Tampa, she got the idea for her first novel, First Date, a modern take of the story of Esther. Her subsequent books, Starring Me and Right Where I Belong, are based on Rebekah and Ruth.
When Krista McGee isn’t living in fictional worlds of her own creation, she spends her days as a wife, mom, teacher and coffee snob.
Learn more about Krista McGee and her books at Readers can also become a fan on Facebook (krista.a.mcgee) or follow her on Twitter (@KristaMcGeeYA).


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Review: Our Song by Jordanna Fraiberg

Publication Date: May 2, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill
Stand alone novel
Young Adult
Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Olive Bell has spent her entire life in the beautiful suburb of Vista Valley, with a picture-perfect home, a loving family, and a seemingly perfect boyfriend. But after a near-fatal car accident, she’s haunted by a broken heart and a melody that she cannot place.

     Then Olive meets Nick. He’s dark, handsome, mysterious . . . and Olive feels connected to him in a way she can’t explain. Is there such a thing as fate? The two embark on a whirlwind romance—until Nick makes a troubling confession.

     Heartbroken, Olive pieces together what really happened the night of her accident and arrives at a startling revelation. Only by facing the truth can she uncover the mystery behind the song and the power of what it means to love someone.
*Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by Razorbill for an honest review *

A cute contemporary piece with hidden memories that kept me awaiting the huzzah moment when the mystery was finally revealed. Our Song kept me interested between the dashing British boy, Nick, and the prolonging mystery of what happened the night of Olives horrific car accident. It was sweet and enjoyable, I read it in one sitting.

The romantic side of Nick, that dapper British fellow with a grim past, made the book enjoyable for me. Even the strange and quirky meeting between Olive and Nick at a group where people have apparently died and then come back to life. The mysterious charm of Nick brings Olive to question and wonder who he is. The one thing that I give Olive credit for is not following him out the door, this strange boy she has seen once and only knows by name, on their first meeting. But, the romantic and adventurous Nick brings life to these different places that Our Song revolves around, and each place has more character than the last.

So Nick and the scenery of the novel give Our Song the invigorating character and personality that I found to really enjoy. I also really like British characters. It's fun to imagine them talking in their British accent :)

Olive became quite a frustrating character towards throughout the course of Our Song. She really needed to learn how to set her priorities. Then again, that is where her character development was sought out the most. The thing that I happened to dislike about Olive was her dependence on boys in her life. 

And I couldn't put a finger on what Olive really saw in Derek. Between ignoring her after the accident happened and then completely throwing their two year relationship out the window for the pompous, sleazy cheerleader (typical cliche) named Betsy, Derek is a dick with a capital D. And I'm using the font change to really emphasize how much of a douchenozzle the guy is in my eyes. So, I'm on Annie's side when I say that Derek is not worth Olive's time of day. Just his constant nitpicking at trying to weasel his way back into her life, trying to talk to her and say that "they're good" or "they're still friends" had me grinding down my teeth. And the last scene. I just can't. Let's just say that I'm proud of Olive's decision. She really gave me a change of heart, even through the constant infuriating, immature decisions she has made through the course of the novel.

Annie happened to be my favorite character of this entire book. She's a caring friend, funny, sassy when she needs to be, and know's what is right for Olive. It's such a shame the way she's treated by her best friend. Thrown out like trash whenever a boy takes precedence in her life.

There were some descriptions that didn't really work for me in the novel. I found myself writing question marks next to them in my ARC. I don't know if they were changed in the finished copy, but here'e what I have in mine.
"Classroom doors swung open like dominos."
 OUR SONG advanced readers copy, p.104

When I think of dominoes, I don't find them swinging open, I find them falling down. The image didn't really register in the way Fraiberg was conveying it. I think looking back at it now, maybe the doors and the way that they all opened, resembled dominoes being lined up? I felt like there could have been a better way to describe that image.
"When I took a sip, it had the vague and acrid taste of poison."

How does Olive know what poison tastes like? An ambiguous and exaggerated description.  There could have been some other way for Olive's character to describe the taste of the scotch her father was drinking that she happens to take a sip of. Poison seems melodramatic in Olive's case. 

Pacing flowed extremely well. Jordanna Fraiberg mastered the art of keeping secrets hidden, revealing bit by bit until slamming the truth in your face. I loved it. So that final scene with Derek and Olive, my jaw fell. I should have put the pieces together, but my mind was elsewhere when Nick's name came across the pages.

Final Summation: A fun and cute read. OUR SONG, though with it's flaws, still was an enjoyable story with vivid scenes and strong supporting characters who hold up the flaws of the main characters. Though I preferred Annie over Olive and Nick over Derek, I was still happy in the end with mostly every character. Still not Derek's biggest fan. A different take on modern young love that contemporary fans will enjoy. 

First Line: "Almost home," my father said, clearing his throat.
Story: A
Cover: A