Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Sunday Symposium: Family Values

Sunday, September 30, 2012 with 4 comments

The Sunday Symposium is a weekly feature in which I'll be discussing various bookish topics and asking for your commentary, as well.  This week's topic is the presence of familial relationships in young adult novels...or lack thereof.

I'd like to assume that everyone has a great home life and that parents are present and accounted for...and more.  But let's face it, that's not a very realistic outlook.  Although I had a great childhood, it was anything but perfect.  My parents were over-bearing and supremely strict and this led to the twitchy, quiet mouse of a girl you see today.  (Gawd, I hope they aren't reading this.  :P)  But it could have been the other extreme, and they could have been emotionally unavailable or flat-out not around.

I've read a ton of YA novels, and family dynamics are presented in both manners, sometimes within the course of the same book.  I don't mind reading either instance, but it really chafes me when it seems that the parents are made to be absent simply to further the plot.  I get it; it's hard to get away with some of the antics in these stories with ever-present parental figures.  But trust me, it IS possible.  *insert sly grin*

My own family situation is proof of that.  I was everything my parents wanted and expected me to be:  I excelled in school, I helped out around the house, and I didn't get into trouble.  Seriously...I was only ever written up once in junior high and it was for such a lame reason -- I was in the cafeteria restroom before school in the morning, which wasn't allowed.  My mom wanted to fight the write-up, but it was the only time I'd ever gotten into trouble, and it made me feel kind of dangerous, so I wanted it to stay on my record.  Lame, I know.  I didn't get to experience that feeling again until my senior year of school.  I found out that I was going to be Salutatorian, not Valedictorian, due to a mere four thousandths of a point.  Color me devastated...and engraged.  I went a little crazy for awhile.  Attending parties every weekend and all but giving up on school.  I was even dating, which my parents did not allow yet.  (I told you, they were VERY strict.)

But I digress.  My point is, even with domineering parents, a teenager can get away with a lot.  It's not necessary to write them into a bad situation just so that they can.  I understand that sometimes the lack of parental figures is a result of a larger story, especially in post-apocalyptic and fantasy novels, but I know that it can work in a contemporary story, too, if it's handled well and doesn't feel forced.

Still, if a book's targeted audience is young adults, I'd like to see some semblance of a happy home life for the main characters, at least where applicable.  If we want to raise the youth of today to grow into wholesome, well-balanced individuals, shouldn't we show them examples of those?  I'm not saying every book is going to have a happy ending or even that the majority of the storyline should be light-hearted and fun because where's the honesty in that?  No, all I'm asking is that authors not include a bad home life and then give the character an unrealistic happily-ever-after.  If they come from a bad family situation, show them trying to overcome it and document their struggles and how it affects them.  Kids should be able to read and identify with characters.

Sigh.  This turned into a ramble and I'm not even sure I made the point I was trying to make.  I'd still like to hear your thoughts on family dynamics in young adult novels.  I'm of the mind that they should be realistically portrayed, but I can see how the more over-the-top types would be entertaining.  What say you?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

In My Mailbox #50

Saturday, September 29, 2012 with 11 comments

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  It's a weekly meme where we all get to brag about the books and swag we got in the mail, for review, won in contests, etc.

Look at me, being all "good" this week.  I guess I shouldn't really start patting myself on the back yet.  I still have three or four books that release on Tuesday that I haven't read yet.  D'oh.  If I get those read and reviewed by Friday, then I'll allow myself to feel accomplished.  Until then, here's what the book fairy brought me:

For Review:

The 13th Sign by Kristin O. Tubb - I requested this via Netgalley after Kristin at Blood, Sweat and Books posted her WoW this week.  I love the cover...there's just something about black and white and red that intrigues me.  (I loved The Night Circus cover, as well.  :D)  But I love astrology and the occult and throw in the fact that this is a middle-grade title, and I am sold that this book is going to be oh-so-much fun. 

Crewel by Gennifer Albin -  So, I had already received an egalley of this title from the publisher when lo and behold, a beautiful printed ARC arrived this week.  I've honestly been putting this one off, letting the hype build and build, until I just can't stand it any longer.  I can't wait to get started on it.  I've heard wonderful things, even from those who usually loathe the books I love.  Since it releases in a couple of weeks, I guess it's time I finally give in.  :)

Ironskin by Tina Connolly - Received a finished copy from the publisher even though I already had an egalley.  I've heard that in order to really enjoy this one, I need to forget that it's a reimagining.  Done.  :D

See?  I didn't do so bad this week.  Technically, I only requested one of these titles, and it doesn't come out until early next year, so I've got plenty of time.  Right?  Right?  =D

The Week in Review:

Current Giveaways:  Enter to win a PB boxed set of His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman in the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop and show those crotchedy folks that they can't tell you what to read!

Winners:  Lacey won a copy of Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan in the Stuck in a Good Book Giveaway Hop and Jenny from Mimosa Stimulus chose For Darkenss Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund as her prize in The Sunday Symposium #3 Giveaway

Cover Reveal:  Just for Now by Abbi Glines

Also, last week, I signed up for the Sweet Evil Read Along in October!  Won't you join us as we prepare to swoon over Kaidan?  I'm going to start reading the first nine chapters this weekend!  I cannot wait!

The Week Ahead:

The fifth post in my Sunday Symposium series will focus on familial relationships in YA novels.

If all goes well this weekend, I'll be reviewing Send Me a Sign, Through to You, and Ironskin later this week.  I hope I love them all.  The last couple of books I've read have resonated really well with me, so I'm optimistic.  =)

Also, I hope you'll stop by and enter the giveaway on my stop of the Fangs, Fur & Fey Giveaway Hop, which starts early next week.  It promises to be fangtastic. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Review: The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

Friday, September 28, 2012 with No comments
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Title:  The Crown of Embers
Author:  Rae Carson
Series:  Fire and Thorns #2
Publisher:  Greenwillow Books
Publication Date:  September 18, 2012
Source:  purchased
Purchase:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

I love fantasy.  I loved The Girl of Fire and Thorns.  I desperately wanted to read The Crown of Embers and be blown away, like I was with The Girl of Fire and Thorns.  Was I?  Oh, hells yeah.  Abso-freaking-lutely, I was!  It was amazing and perfect and captivating and when I was reading, the rest of the world dropped away and I had eyes only for this book.  (Seriously, I looked up that first night while reading and realized that everyone in my house had already gone to bed, and it was nearing midnight.  That's how fantastic this book is.)

So, The Girl of Fire and Thorns leaves us with quite the predicament.  (I shall try to remain as spoiler-free as possible for both books, but everyone has their own idea of what constitutes a spoiler, so if you have not read The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I suggest you read it and then come back to this review.  I really DO NOT want to spoil this awesome series for anyone.  Seriously.)  Anyway, quite the predicament, indeed.  You would expect Elisa to react as if her whole world has been decimated, but this girl picks up the pieces of her fractured life and moves on.  No hemming and hawing or "What'll I do now??" for Elisa.  She'll have none of that, and neither will her protectors.

I never thought of Elisa as immature.  Sure, she was jaded and world-weary when she began her journey in The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but she never lacked maturity.  Elisa was sensible and capable and really proved herself quite competent as a leader in the first book.  Even so, she has quite the battle ahead of her, and she only grows with each new challenge she faces.  I think Elisa is one of my favorite YA heroines because even though she IS young and faces youth-related trials and tribulations, she handles them so gracefully.  She constantly makes her guardians and protectors proud and leaves her enemies dismayed.

After the devastating losses in The Girl of Fire and Thorns, one has to wonder if Elisa will always be so unlucky in love.  And I'll be honest, it was certainly looking that way for awhile.  But lo and behold, her trusted protector steps up to the plate.  I liked Hector's character in The Girl of Fire and Thorns.  I actually even thought then that he and Elisa would make a great match, if she hadn't already been married to Alejandro.  At the very least, I knew they would be great friends and allies.  But, oh, they would make the most honest and fair rulers Joya d'Arena had ever seen...if things were different.  (By the by, the gall of that Ximena had me ready to ring her neck.  I wanted to tell her to quit mothering Elisa so much and just protect her, to let her figure things out on her own and stop meddling.)

Oh, that lovers quarrel or spat or whatever you want to call it near the end of the book was priceless.  But it really showed how much more Elisa had matured, that she could stand there and take that verbal tounge-lashing and remain calm.  Even at 30, I don't know that I would have reacted half as well.  And it was a testament to Hector's character, to how much he cares for Elisa, that he even allowed himself to show so much emotion and how hurt he was.  I love this fictional pairing ever so much and I can't wait to see what the next installment holds for them, especially after that shocking ending.  It is going to be so very interesting to see how it all plays out for Elisa and Hector.  ;0) 

I demand more swooning and less death and destruction, Carson.  Okay, I lie.  I am totally down for the death and destruction...that's what makes this author so awesome...she is sooo not afraid to go there.  But I still want more swooning, especially after all that talk about lovers and lady's shroud (birth control for those of you not in-the-know) between Elisa and her hand-maid Mara.  Oh my goodness...just the fact that Carson even approaches the subject of birth control in her fantasy novel puts her in my good graces.  Seriously, she created a totally responsible, intelligent teenage protagonist that I adore in every way possible.  Whodathunkit?  :P  Um, ME!  And I say unto thee, behold the brilliance that IS Rae Carson.  8-)

So much is revealed in The Crown of Embers, and yet so much still remains a mystery.  There is some serious world-building done in The Crown of Embers, even more than we saw in the first novel, and it is tantalizing, you guys.  Their God put these people in this world, but how long ago was that, and what was here before that?  Still so many unanswered questions about the godstones and the Invierne and the magic that surrounds them all.  It's thrilling, and it makes me want to crawl inside the author's head to see how she ever invented such a brilliant world and story to accompany it.  I never want Elisa's story to end.  NEVER!

Rating:  Photobucket ^nth  :D

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012 with 8 comments
From the American Library Association's website: "Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections. Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society."

It's amazing to me just how many great literary works have been banned over the years (including To Kill a of the greatest books ever written) and the reasons listed for the bannings.  Even some more recent favorites have made the list, including Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.  One of my favorite series ever --His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman -- last made the list back in 2008 due to political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence.

I disagree with the inclusion of any and all of the books on that list, but especially this series.  And so I'm going to give you guys the freedom to read it, to like it or hate it....just don't tell me if you hate it.  I'll be crushed.  :0(

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Published in 40 countries, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy – The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass – has graced the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Book Sense, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists.

The Golden Compass
forms the first part of a story in three volumes. The first volume is set in a world like ours, but different in many ways. The second volume is set partly in the world we know. The third moves between many worlds.

In The Golden Compass, readers meet 11-year-old Lyra Belacqua, a precocious orphan growing up within the precincts of Jordan College in Oxford, England. It quickly becomes clear that Lyra's Oxford is not precisely like our own—nor is her world. In Lyra's world, everyone has a personal dæmon, a lifelong animal familiar. This is a world in which science, theology and magic are closely intertwined.

The Subtle Knife is the second part of the trilogy that began with The Golden Compass. That first book was set in a world like ours, but different. This book begins in our own world.

In The Subtle Knife, readers are introduced to Will Parry, a young boy living in modern-day Oxford, England. Will is only twelve years old, but he bears the responsibilities of an adult. Following the disappearance of his explorer-father, John Parry, during an expedition in the North, Will became parent, provider and protector to his frail, confused mother. And it's in protecting her that he becomes a murderer, too: he accidentally kills a man who breaks into their home to steal valuable letters written by John Parry. After placing his mother in the care of a kind friend, Will takes those letters and sets off to discover the truth about his father.

The Amber Spyglass
brings the intrigue of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife to a heartstopping close, marking the third and final volume as the most powerful of the trilogy. Along with the return of Lyra, Will, Mrs. Coulter, Lord Asriel, Dr. Mary Malone, and Iorek Byrnison the armored bear, The Amber Spyglass introduces a host of new characters: the Mulefa, mysterious wheeled creatures with the power to see Dust; Gallivespian Lord Roke, a hand-high spy-master to Lord Asriel; and Metatron, a fierce and mighty angel. And this final volume brings startling revelations, too: the painful price Lyra must pay to walk through the land of the dead, the haunting power of Dr. Malone's amber spyglass, and the names of who will live—and who will die—for love. And all the while, war rages with the Kingdom of Heaven, a brutal battle that—in its shocking outcome—will reveal the secret of Dust.

These Yearling paperback editions each contain bonus material: the found papers, notes, and other archival material of Lord Asriel, Dr. Stanislaus Grumman, and Mary Malone. They also feature chapter-opening artwork by Philip Pullman.

And now I must find the time to fit in a re-read.  =D

  • US residents only, unless you can provide a US shipping address. 
  • One entry per household.
  • All entries will be verified.  Any entry found to be falsified will result in disqualification of all entries for that participant.
  • Winner will be notified via email.  Winner will then have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected.  And, people, check your SPAM folders...I've had to reach out more than once to some winners because they "didn't get the first email."  I don't want to, but I'm going to have to start just picking new winners.  :C
  • I am not responsible for lost packages.
And now on to the fun stuff!  You only have to follow my blog to enter, but all other entries/follows are appreciated!  :D

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now that you've entered here, be sure to check out the other 100+ giveaway stops on this blog hop:

Good luck & happy reading!

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Title:  Winter White
Author:  Jen Calonita
Series:  Belles #2
Publisher:  Poppy
Publication Date:  October 9, 2012
Source:  Southern Book Bloggers ARC Tours
Purchase:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Isabelle Scott and Mirabelle Monroe are still reeling from the revelation that they share more than just the roof over their heads. The media has pounced on their story and the girls are caught up in a flurry of talk-show appearances and newspaper interviews. They've put on a happy public face, but someone is leaking their true feelings to the press, and while it seems like the world is watching their every move, at least they have each other.

But with cotillion season right around the corner, Izzie and Mira have barely had time to process their newfound sisterhood. Mira has dreamed of making her debut in a gorgeous white gown forever-now, if only she could find an escort. Izzie, meanwhile, is still struggling to find her place in Emerald Cove and it's seeming ever more impossible with EC mean-girls, young and old, doing their best to keep her down. As cotillion preparations heat up, though, there are dance steps to learn, manners to perfect... and secret initiations to complete? As if sophomore year wasn't hard enough!

It's time for the gowns to go on and the gloves to come off.

I was really hoping Winter White would redeem the Belles series for me.  But it’s books like these that had me believing for so long that I wouldn’t ever enjoy a contemporary novel.  Sure, I now know that isn’t true, that there are some really superb YA contemporary novels to be had.  I’ve even reviewed some of them here.  But the Belles series simply continues to fall short for me.

First of all, it feels like these books lay on the Southern drawl just a tad too much.  I’m from Texas.  We have a bit of twang and drawl in our regional dialect, but there are only a few of us who sound anything remotely similar to the characters in these books.  I thought that maybe it was a fluke with Belles because I listened to the audio for that novel, but it’s still ever-present in Winter White and therefore not the product of whimsical narration on the audiobook.  It was cute at first, but after awhile, it begins to wear on one’s soul.

Also, I understand that these girls lead privileged lives and money is no matter, etc., etc.  But all of the brand name-dropping and product shilling is reminiscent of the House of Night series, and it’s just too much.  I read the first book in that series and the first chapter of the second book before I called it quits.  So, I guess that says something for the Belles books…that even though so much of the story perturbed me, I was able to read till the end of the second novel and not throw the book across the room.

So, on to the actual story.  It mostly focuses on the family’s troubles after the revelations at the end of Belles and how it all affects their father’s campaign and vice versa.  I think what troubled me the most was the fact that what Bill Monroe did, what information he withheld from the family, he did so at the behest of his imprudent campaign manager and out of his own misguided belief that he was doing the right thing.  And yet the girls simply can’t forgive him.  He’s been a pretty great father and uncle up to this point, and yet they just can’t let it go, can’t see it from his perspective.  Ah, to be an arrogant, selfish teenager again.  Well, I guess when I look at it like that, maybe the author did get that particular outlook correct.

I wanted to read Winter White because Belles left me curious at the end.  But just like Belles, Winter White was terribly predictable.  I had already anticipated the twist and how it would all turn out by the time I was a third of the way into the book.  And just like in Belles, just as everything seems to be wrapping up nicely at the end…blammo!  There are a couple of curveballs thrown in the last chapter, just enough to make you curious for the next installment.

There’s quite a bit more I could say, most of it of a derogatory nature, but I don’t want to rag on this novel any more than I have since I know plenty of people who enjoy this type of book.  Pretty much, this book wasn’t for me, but it might be more your style.  Regardless, I contemplated giving this novel only two stars, but the fact that I still kinda want to read more (assuming there is another book -- couldn’t find anything on Goodreads or on the author’s website) of Izzie and Mira’s story forced me to tack on another star.  Damn my curiosity!

Rating:  Photobucket

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's WoW selection is...

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Title:  Dark Triumph
Author:  Robin LaFevers
Series:  2nd book in His Fair Assassin series
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Publication Date:  April 2, 2013

Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella as one of their most dangerous weapons.

But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

This heart-pounding sequel to Grave Mercy serves betrayal, treachery, and danger in equal measure, bringing readers back to fifteenth century Brittany and will keep them on the edge of their seats.

Why I'm waiting:  This is the sequel to Grave Mercy, which I loved.  Actually, it's more of a companion novel than a sequel, as this is Sybella's story, not the continuation of Ismae's.  I really enjoyed seeing Ismae's fate as an assassin come to fruition in the first book, but something about Sybella always intrigued me.  I can't wait to read more of her story!

What are you guys waiting on this week?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Review: Covet by Melissa Darnell

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 with 6 comments
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Title:  Covet
Author:  Melissa Darnell
Series:  The Clann #2
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Publication Date:  September 25, 2012
Source:  Netgalley
Purchase:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Dangerous to be together. Painful to be apart.

Savannah Colbert knows she broke up with Tristan Coleman for the right reasons. Most of all, to keep from killing him with her new vampire abilities. But try telling her heart. Now, lost in a sea of hostile Clann faces, Sav tries to come to terms with what she's becoming and what that means for her future. And that someone is doing their best to bully her into making a terrible mistake.

Tristan can't believe Sav won't even talk to him. If being apart is her decision, fine. Just don't expect him to honor it. But even as he prepares to fight for the girl he loves, forces beyond their control take them both in directions neither could have foreseen or prepared for.

A reckoning is coming -- and not everyone will survive.

This cover had me worried.  The cover for the first book wasn't great, but at least it didn't scare me away from reading the book.  I know I shouldn't judge a book by its cover.  I know that.  But other than the forest in the background, I couldn't see what this cover had to do with the story.  Plus, Savannah has red hair.  I know the girl is in black and white and so her hair color is ambiguous, but it would have been more striking if the rest of the cover had been faded out and only the girl's hair was shown in red.  Just my two cents.

The story itself picks up right where we left off in Crave.  It's been about a year since I read that book, but there's a brief refresher in the first chapter before the story dives into old territory.  Yep, we're back to that "I love you, but I can't be with you" spiel.  At least we know there's a legitimate reason for it.  But does it have to last the entire book?

Covet takes an interesting turn half-way through, but unfortunately, it's one I saw coming from a mile away.  All of the twists were predictable and the story could have used better, more believable foreshadowing, especially if it has any hope of sneaking anything by the well-read reader.  If it weren't for the brief moments of levity and some of the giggle-inducing situations Sav found herself in, this book might not have been as enjoyable.

As it was, I still found Savannah a little annoying in her naiveté, but Tristan's determination to find a way for them to be together made up for it.  Savannah was steadfast in her decision to remain apart from Tristan for his own good, which kind of made me respect her a little more, even if she did grate on my nerves with her inability to draw basic conclusions.  I also found Anne irritating as the tough, in-over-her-head sidekick to Sav.  She proves a loyal friend to the gang, but she's a little inconsistent with her acceptance of certain weird goings-on in Jacksonville.

I didn't set out to write a negative review...I really didn't.  I actually had fun reading this book for the most part.  But I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the things that bothered me while I was reading.  I should also point out the things that I liked, the setting.  I've lived in East Texas practically my entire life and have been to Jacksonville many times.  The author does a great job of presenting the hot, wooded surroundings of this East Texas town focused on high school football.

All in all, I liked Covet.  It was entertaining and makes a great addition to this series.  It briefly gave a history of both the Clann and the vampire council, and it did so without a ton of info-dumping as many sequels are wont to do.  I'll definitely be picking up Consume when it's released next year...especially after that ending in Covet.  Sure, I expected it, but that doesn't make it any less fun!

Rating:  Photobucket 1/2

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week's teaser comes from the following book:

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Title:  The Crown of Embers
Author:  Rae Carson
Series:  Fire and Thorns #2
Publisher:  Greenwillow Books
Publication Date:  September 18, 2012
Source:  purchased
Purchase:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

My teaser:

He has a wonderful smile, with eyes that shine.  "A little bit," he agrees.  "But you forgot to step on my feet."  With that, he whirls away and disappears into the crowd. -- p. 214

Maybe there's hope for love for our Elisa yet!  After the devastating events of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I was beginning to wonder if she was doomed to wander the planet alone...sorta like The Hulk.  :P

Share your teasers in the comments!  Though I can't promise I can peel myself away from the pages of this book for very long, I'll still try to stop by and check out all of your teasers.  :D

Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick

Monday, September 24, 2012 with 6 comments
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Title:  Shadows
Author:  Ilsa J. Bick
Series:  2nd book in the Ashes trilogy
Publisher:  EgmontUSA
Publication Date:  September 25, 2012
Source:  Netgalley
Purchase:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Apocalypse does not end. The Changed will grow in numbers. The Spared may not survive.

Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she believed Rule could be a sanctuary for her and those she’d come to love. But she was wrong.

Now Alex is in the fight of her life against the adults, who would use her, the survivors, who don’t trust her, and the Changed, who would eat her alive.

Welcome to Shadows, the second book in the haunting apocalyptic Ashes Trilogy: where no one is safe and humans may be the worst of the monsters.

I had to take a minute to catch my breath and collect my thoughts before writing this review.  I have so much to say and I'm not sure where to start, but I know that I want to keep this one shorter than my Ashes review...that one was a novel in itself.  Suffice it to say, Shadows was one jaw-dropping moment after another, and though I feared for Alex, I never wanted it to end.

Shadows resumes right where Ashes left off, but I suggest that you re-read Ashes before diving into this second installment.  There are flashbacks and other methods used to refresh your memory, but they don't happen all at once in the first chapter like in so many novels, and so I found myself a bit confused in the beginning.  I rather liked that feeling, if I were in the thick of things right along with Alex, not knowing who to trust or where to turn.

Lies and betrayal.  Aside from running from/fighting off the Changed, the Chuckies, the zombies -- whatever you want to call them at this point -- that seemed to be the main theme.  In Ashes, we only read from Alex's point-of-view, and so we only knew people's motivations as she saw them.  But in Shadows, there are so many perspectives that it's hard to keep track of at times.  Some of them actually led to a better insight into character motivations.  Some led to comprehension of the environmental and behavioral changes as a result of the EMP blast that changed the world as these characters knew it.  Some just drove me crazy, despite any awareness or understanding they might have left me with.  All said and done, though, they all tell a very realistic, if not horrific, version of the events after the EMP detonation.

SOOOO much happens in Shadows.  So much running.  So much fighting.  So much hoping.  And although this novel is 528 pages, it never felt long.  The pacing was such that I could barely catch my breath between chapters and POV changes.  I was steadfastly attempting to figure out just what was going on, who was on who's side, but as much as I tried, I was constantly proven wrong.  This novel may be a lot of things, but predictable is not one of them.

I recently read Outpost by Ann Aguirre, and these two novels are based on very similar ideas, though they are executed in two amazingly different ways.  The writing styles are each unique and exciting to read, but without divulging too much of the plot, all I can say is that they maintain a similar premise when it comes to the evolution of the "zombies".  It was very interesting to watch the way the two worlds each evolved and how older citizens always seem to revert to the old ways.

Shadows was gritty and gruesome and terrifying.  But it was also another one of those emotional journeys that strikes you to the core, leaving you as vulnerable as the characters in the story.  Ilsa J. Bick really goes for the shock factor with this series, and if the increase in action and suspense just from the first novel is any indication, I might need a respirator on hand to read the last book in this trilogy.

Rating:  Photobucket

Be sure to stop back by at the end of October, as I'll have a guest post from the author as part of the Shadows Blog Tour!

I'm a very bad book blogger, guys.  I mean it.  I own all of the Sea Breeze series by Abbi Glines, but I haven't read a single one of them.  *ducks head in shame*  BUT, to rectify that, I'm going to share the cover (Mooney Designs) AND the book trailer (Hellion Works) for the fourth book in the series with all of you, thanks to AToMR Tours!

About the author:
Abbi Glines can be found hanging out with rockstars, taking out her yacht on weekends for a party cruise, sky diving, or surfing in Maui. Okay maybe she needs to keep her imagination focused on her writing only. In the real world, Abbi can be found hauling kids (several who seem to show up that don’t belong to her) to all their social events, hiding under the covers with her MacBook in hopes her husband won’t catch her watching Buffy on Netflix again, and sneaking off to Barnes and Noble to spend hours lost in the yummy goodness of books. If you want to find her then check Twitter first because she has a severe addiction to tweeting @abbiglines.   Facebook is also somewhere she visits a little too often. She blogs regularly but rarely about anything life changing. She also really enjoys talking about herself in third person.

And now, the moment you've been waiting for...drumroll, please....

Whoa, that's a hawt cover!  I love that each of these books focuses on a different main character...I'm trying to get to them very soon.  Though, maybe I should wait until that 5th book is out...

I have this feeling that all of these covers will get remade into that faded, hot couple thing they've got going on the first and fourth books, but I don't mind.  I liked the uniqueness of the old covers, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with the new covers.  In fact, they're hot and give off a vibe about what's inside the books.  (Though, I can't really speak from experience since I haven't read them yet. :C )

Add to Goodreads
Title:  Just for Now
Author: Abbi Glines
Series: Sea Breeze, book 4
Publisher: independent
Publication Date: October 23, 2012

The day Preston Drake figured out that wealthy women paid well for a set of tight abs and a pretty face his life turned around.

The run down rat-infested trailer he had shared with his alcoholic mother and three younger siblings was now only a place he visited to pay the bills and stock the pantry with food.

He no longer worried about his family starving or living without electricity. The money he made entertaining rich older women more than covered his family’s needs and his own. He had it all figured out. Except…

There was this girl.

She was as innocent as he was tainted.

Amanda Hardy wished her knees didn’t get weak when Preston walked into a room. She hated the fact her heart raced when he flashed his smile in her direction. He had a different girl in his bed every night. He was the kind of boy a smart girl ran from. So, why was she coming up with ways to get close to him? Even when it was obvious he wanted to keep her at a distance.

Maybe her heart knew something the world didn’t. Maybe Preston Drake was more than just a pretty face.

And here's the trailer, in case all of that wasn't enough to grab your attention:

So, what do you think?  Another must-read Abbi Glines novel?

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