Mar 29, 2013

{Blog Tour} Book Review + Giveaway: There Comes a Prophet - David Litwack

Thanks for dropping by my stop for the There Comes a Prophet blog tour! You can follow the tour here.

Title: There Comes a Prophet
Author: David Litwack
Release Date: July 9th 2012
Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing
Source: finished copy for blog tour
Who among us will cast aside a comfortable existence and risk death to follow a dream?
A world kept peaceful for a thousand years by the magic of the ruling vicars. But a threat lurks from a violent past. Wizards from the darkness have hidden their sorcery in a place called the keep and left a trail of clues that have never been solved.
Nathaniel has grown up longing for more but unwilling to challenge the vicars. Until his friend Thomas is taken for a teaching, the mysterious coming-of-age ritual. Thomas returns but with his dreams ripped away. When Orah is taken next, Nathaniel tries to rescue her and ends up in the prisons of Temple City. There he meets the first keeper of the ancient clues. But when he seeks the keep, what he finds is not magic at all.
If he reveals the truth, the words of the book of light might come to pass:
“If there comes among you a prophet saying ‘Let us return to the darkness,’ you shall stone him, because he has sought to thrust you away from the light.”
There Comes a Prophet is a true example of a book that builds. Characters and concepts—like how the vicars came to power—weren't introduced well, making it confusing and slightly boring at first. The world-building was excellent from the get-go, but although hints that concerned the "darkness" long past indicated that the story was post-apocalyptic/dystopian, it wasn't clear enough for me to be sure.

But soon, the mystery kicked in, upping the ante and everything else about this book. The search for the keep was a thrilling ride, with the three main characters going through ups and downs as they searched for the keepers and the clues that they, well, kept with them.

The characters I've mentioned were adventures themselves. Three best friends since birth: Nathaniel, Orah, and Thomas. They were very different from each other, and I had to wonder how they even became friends in the first place. To make this easier for you, my dear reader, to understand, I'll say that they're comparable to J.K. Rowling's Golden Trio: Harry, Hermione, and Ron, in that order. Like I said, how their friendship had formed wasn't established, but along the way, I still felt its genuineness. Theirs was a path that brought about trials and divisions in their beliefs, but that only added to the feeling of their real-ness, especially when their flaws came out.

Aside from the truly unique concept of an apocalypse brought about by religion, what made this book memorable was the lyrical and imaginative yet crystal-clear writing. Add to that a handful of thought-provoking quote-ables, high stakes, plus a realistic and satisfying ending, and I have nothing to do but recommend this book to everyone.

MY FAVORITE PART was the trio's summer at the keep. It reminded me of just how much knowledge we're taking for granted.

RATING:
 
About the author: 
The urge to write first struck when working on a newsletter at a youth encampment in the woods of northern Maine. It may have been the night when lightning flashed at sunset followed by northern lights rippling after dark. Or maybe it was the newsletter's editor, a girl with eyes the color of the ocean. But he was inspired to write about the blurry line between reality and the fantastic.

Using two fingers and lots of white-out, he religiously typed five pages a day throughout college and well into his twenties. Then life intervened. He paused to raise two sons and pursue a career, in the process becoming a well-known entrepreneur in the software industry, founding several successful companies. When he found time again to daydream, the urge to write returned. There Comes a Prophet is his first  novel in this new stage of life.

David and his wife split their time between Cape Cod, Florida and anywhere else that catches their fancy. He no longer limits himself to five pages a day and is thankful every keystroke for the invention of the word processor.

Giveaway!

Mar 28, 2013

Cover Reveal: The Last Hour - Charles Sheehan-Miles


The Last Hour photo TheLastHourcouple_zps3193fe25.jpg
Title: The Last Hour (Thompson Sisters #3)
Author: Charles Sheehan-Miles
Expected release date: May 15th 2013
Publisher: Cincinnatus Press
Cover Designer: Okay Creations
Goodreads Button photo goodreads-badge-add-plus_zps5d68ec23.png   
Twenty-seven year old Carrie Thompson-Sherman has the life she always wanted: her PhD, a prestigious fellowship, and an amazing husband.
Her life begins to unravel as a jealous colleague puts her fellowship in jeopardy and a haunting secret Ray Sherman carried home from Afghanistan comes to light.
Hounded by a federal investigation and the ensuing media feeding frenzy, Carrie and Ray desperately lean on each other, until a disastrous accident puts both Ray and her sister's lives at risk.
In the last hour, Carrie and Ray will each find themselves faced with a choice. A choice that will change everything.
About the author: 
Charles Sheehan-Miles has been a soldier, computer programmer, short-order cook and non-profit executive. He is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books, including the indie bestsellers Just Remember to Breathe and Republic: A Novel of America's Future.

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Mar 27, 2013

DNF Books {2}

DNF = did-not-finish.
These posts aren't meant as reviews, but only to state why you might have seen me reading a book through my Goodreads gadget on the sidebar, but never got a review for it (because I do want to review every book I read).
Title: The Midnight Spell
Author: Rhiannon Frater & Kody Boye
Release Date: February 28th 2013
Publisher: Self-published
Source: ecopy for blog tour
Goodreads
How far I got: 6.8%
Why I didn't finish this: The prose felt... cluttered. Example: I'm fine with "she got ready for school", not "she got out of bed, brushed her teeth, took a shower, got dressed"—you know what I mean.
Do I recommend this: If you're fine with what I complained about above.

Title: Love Unscripted (Love #1)
Author: Tina Reber
Release Date: September 8th 2012
Publisher: Atria Books
Source: NetGalley
How far I got: 34%
Why I didn't finish this: Looking back at the notes I made while reading this, I didn't have a problem with the slow pace... at first. I thought it was perfect to make the romance more believable, but I soon realized that that could be done while making progress with the other aspects of the book.
Do I recommend this: If you can handle the length. I normally could, but not with this one.

Title: Finding Out
Author: Sheryn MacMunn
Release Date: April 7th 2012
Publisher: Self-published
Source: ecopy for blog tour
How far I got: No way to check now, but two or three chapters, if I remember correctly.
Why I didn't finish this: Didn't like the main character's helplessness after her break-up with her long-time boyfriend, and just too Adult for my taste.
Do I recommend this: If you're looking specifically for an Adult contemporary.

Title: If You Find Me
Author: Emily Murdoch
Release Date: March 26th 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: NetGalley
How far I got: 12%
Why I didn't finish this: The narration, the characters, the story—it all bored me.
Do I recommend this: I'm in the extreme minority here, so you really should give this a try.
(covers and book data from Goodreads.com) 

Mar 26, 2013

{Blog Tour} Book Review + Giveaway: Transfusion - Nikki Jefford

Thanks for dropping by my stop for the Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter tour! You can follow the tour here.

Title: Transfusion (Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter #1)
Author: Nikki Jefford
Release Date: December 9th 2012
Publisher: Self-published
Source: ecopy from author
If there is one thing eighteen-year-old Aurora Sky wants, it’s to get off the iceberg she calls home. Being kissed before she graduates wouldn’t hurt either.
Then a near-fatal car wreck changes everything. Government agents step in and save Aurora’s life in exchange for her services as a vampire hunter. In Alaska. Basically she’s a glorified chew toy. All thanks to her rare blood type, which sends a vampire into temporary paralysis right before she has to finish the job… by hand.
Now Aurora’s only friends are groupies of the undead and the only boy she can think about may very well be a vampire. And if he’s a vampire, will she be forced to kill him?
I read and loved the first book in Nikki Jefford's Spellbound series, Entangled, so when I found out about this new book of hers, I immediately grabbed the chance to review it. Sadly, Transfusion didn't quite amaze.

Aurora Sky's life wasn't going all too well: her only friend was leaving her for the in-crowd, her dad often went MIA on her and her mom, and to top it all off, she even got in a fatal car crash. But thanks to her rare blood type (AB negative), Aurora was chosen by a secret government agency to be revived, in exchange of her working for them as a vampire hunter.

In the first few chapters before Aurora's second life, she was spunky and sarcastic, two characteristics that almost always make me love a character. The same was true with Aurora, so I was beyond excited for the vampire hunter part of the plot to kick in. But instead, she went downhill when she learned of it. She felt trapped by the service required of her when she hadn't even chosen it, so she decided to live a careless life. She irritated me by making quite a few stupid decisions, I must admit.

But the story started picking up when Fane, the hot goth who turned out to be a real gentleman, came swooping into Aurora's new hopeless life. He was sweet and, at the same time, he knew how to sweep Aurora off her feet. But he wasn't an open book, keeping a lot of things to himself. Honestly, I can't imagine this being a surprise for everyone so I'll just get it out: he's a vampire. His diet wasn't like Edward Cullen or Stefan Salvatore's, but he drank fresh blood just enough to quench his thirst and had never killed anyone, so he's still one of the good vamps.

Fortunately, Aurora—and everything about this book—got better when her hunter training started, and even more so when she started taking on missions. As expected, she was daunted by the thought of killing even if they were evil vampires, but she was good at it, nonetheless. 

Although the characters fell flat for the most part, the climax didn't feel climactic at all, and the twist in the end somehow confused me, I still enjoyed this book. The right word to describe it would be addictive, because I read this for hours on end. The "science" behind this take on bloodsuckers was truly unique and interesting, and Jefford's clear and simple writing has me looking forward to the sequel.

MY FAVORITE PARTS were Aurora and Fane's happy couple moments.

RATING:
    
About the author:
Nikki Jefford is a third generation Alaskan who loves fictional bad boys and heroines who kick butt. She is the author of the Spellbound Trilogy and upcoming Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter series. Nikki married Sebastien, the love of her life, while working as a teaching assistant in France. They now reside in the not-so-tropical San Juan Islands, 70 miles northeast of Forks, Washington.

Giveaway!

Mar 23, 2013

Book Review: Through the Ever Night - Veronica Rossi

Title: Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky #2)
Author: Veronica Rossi
Release Date: January 8th 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Bought
It's been months since Aria learned of her mother's death. 
Months since Perry became Blood Lord of the Tides, and months since Aria last saw him. 
Now Aria and Perry are about to be reunited. It's a moment they've been longing for with countless expectations. And it's a moment that lives up to all of them. At least, at first. 
Then it slips away. The Tides don't take kindly to former Dwellers like Aria. And the tribe is swirling out of Perry's control. With the Aether storms worsening every day, the only remaining hope for peace and safety is the Still Blue. But does this haven truly exist? Threatened by false friends and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night? 
In this second book in her spellbinding Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi combines fantasy and sci-fi elements to create a captivating adventure—a love story as perilous as it is unforgettable.
At the time of this writing, it's been a little more than an hour since I finished reading this book, and the only right way I can think of to start this review is by saying Why did I let this sit in my TBR pile?!

Under the Never Sky ended with Aria and Perry reuniting, but in the first book, it was brief. Through the Ever Night starts with that same scene, but longer and more emotional, and I had to stop myself from rush-reading to the part where they crash into each other's arms. Okay, enough of me. So Perry brought Aria home to the Tides, but as they'd both expected, she wasn't welcomed. But they kept on trying until they realized that, yet again, they had to go on separate paths to do what they had to do. 

I sure hope that last part wasn't spoiler-y.

I loved seeing how much Aria had grown during her time away from Perry. She's strongerboth physically and emotionallyand wiser, which helped her in dealing with the Tides and other Outsiders. Perry, on the other hand, surprised me because in the first book, he'd been the fierce and mighty one. Here in the second book, we got to see past his strong facade as he led his uncertain tribe.

With a wider array of characters, there was also a whole lot of created and rekindled relationships. It was fun to see them all because these relationships were, for me, the heart of this story. We saw deeper into what these characters were made of especially when they're up against something worse than each other: Aether.

As was the first book, Through the Ever Night was a harsh story set in a harsher setting, but lightened up with romance and friendship. There was so much internal and external dilemma for every character, and those were expertly woven together by Rossi's beautiful writing. And I don't know how I missed it before, but I really love how this series combines futuristic with primitive. 

MY FAVORITE PART was right before the Marking ceremony.

RATING:
I also gave the first book a solid 5, but this is so much better.
(cover and summary from Goodreads.com)

Stacking the Shelves {5}: February 2013

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews, where we share recently bought, borrowed, won, and gifted books (print or ebooks)!

PRINT BOOKS:
Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2) by Tahereh Mafi - bought
Unearthly (Unearthly #1) by Cynthia Hand - bought
Obsidian (Lux #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout - bought
Onyx (Lux #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout - bought
Opal (Lux #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout - bought
There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack - from author for blog tour
Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo - won from Fierce Reads
What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1) by Kat Zhang - won from Mr. Book Wonder and HarperCollins
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler - bought


Unravel Me and Miss Peregrine's are signed because of Tahereh Mafi and Ransom Riggs' back-to-back book signings here in Manila! ♥

NETGALLEY:

Mar 22, 2013

Novella Mini-Review: Roar and Liv; Destroy Me

Title: Roar and Liv (Under the Never Sky #0.5)
Author: Veronica Rossi
Release Date: October 30th 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
We met Roar and Liv in Under the Never Sky and learned about their saddening backstory. So when I started reading this novella, I thought I was ready for all the feels because I knew where this was headed. Turns out, one can never be ready for heartache. 

Sweet and sad at the same time, Roar and Liv made me tear up starting at chapter three (yes, three), and then in every few chapters after that. It wasn't all sobs though, because in here, we also got a deeper look into Roar and Perry's friendship which brought moments of laughter. 

I guess my only complaint about this one is that it's very short, even for a novella, but that also means the plot was extremely tight and the pace extremely fast.

MY FAVORITE PART was every single one with Roar and Liv together in it. This whole novella, basically.

RATING:


Title: Destroy Me (Shatter Me #1.5)
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: October 2nd 2012
Publisher: Harper
You can't imagine how loud I squealed when I learned about this novella. I loved Warner in Shatter Me, but after reading this, well, as Warner said, "I've fallen. So hard. I've hit the ground. Gone right through it."

Here in Destroy Me, we get to know Warner a whole lot better. We learn the real reasons behind some things he did that made Juliette abhor him - because yes, he's not wicked just because he's the spawn of a futuristic devil.

When I re-read Shatter Me before I reviewed it, I fell for Adam, but now, I am solidly in Team 62 *waves flag*

MY FAVORITE PART was the scene with the dog. I think that revealed so much about Warner's character.

RATING:
(covers from Goodreads.com)

Mar 21, 2013

DNF Books {1}

DNF = did-not-finish.
These posts aren't meant as reviews, but only to state why you might have seen me reading a book through my Goodreads gadget on the sidebar, but never got a review for it (because I do want to review every book I read).
Title: UnEarthed
Author: Rebecca Bloomer
Release Date: July 2nd 2012
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Source: NetGalley
How far I got: 21%
Why I didn't finish this: I couldn't tolerate the main character. Now, you might have seen this being my same reason for hating books but still finishing them i.e. here, here, or here, but in this case, the writing didn't make the story appealing for me, so I just didn't have a reason to go on. 
Do I recommend this: If you're really into sci-fi.

Title: Tempestuous: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare's The Tempest (Twisted Lit #1)
Author: Kim Askew & Amy Helmes
Release Date: December 18th 2012
Publisher: Merit Press
Source: NetGalley
How far I got: 25%
Why I didn't finish this: The story was slow to take off. For me, it's important to immediately entice the reader to continue reading, especially with contemps. The first 20% of Tempestuous was spent introducing a myriad of unessential characters, and by the time the snowed-in part of the blurb happened, I still couldn't find a reason to sympathize with the main character. Also, said main character often felt superior to her "geeks and misfits" co-workers at the mall, and that irritated me.
Do I recommend this: Only if you're patient.

Title: Cephrael's Hand (A Pattern of Shadow & Light #1)
Author: Melissa McPhail
Release Date: September 22nd 2010
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Source: ecopy for blog tour
How far I got: Can't check anymore.
Why I didn't finish this: Slow. Too much vagueness right off the bat. Just too damn long
Do I recommend this: If you can handle the length (like GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire books, but FYI, I loved those books).

Title: Talisman of El (Talisman of El #1)
Author: Alecia Stone
Release Date: May 20th 2012
Publisher: Centrinian Publishing
Source: NetGalley (for blog tour)
How far I got: 19%
Why I didn't finish this: I honestly don't know. The story, writing, and characters were all good, but I got bored.
Do I recommend this: Yes. This just wasn't for me, I guess.

(covers and book data from Goodreads.com)

Mar 20, 2013

{Blog Tour} Book Review: Scarlette - Davonna Juroe

Thanks for dropping by my stop for the Scarlette blog tour! You can follow the tour here.

Title: Scarlette
Author: Davonna Juroe
Release Date: October 12th 2012
Publisher: BumbleB Media, Inc.
Source: ecopy from author
Scarlette, an 18-year-old peasant, lives under a dark threat. A nightmarish creature lurks in the surrounding forest, killing the villagers one by one. When Scarlette's grandmother survives an attack, Scarlette learns that her grandmother hasn't suffered the bite of just any normal animal.
Now desperate, Scarlette searches throughout her province to find a cure. But there are those who want to keep their pasts hidden. As she begins to uncover the dark secrets of her village, Scarlette is befriended by a local nobleman and a woodcutter who share a gruesome history with the beast. To save her grandmother, Scarlette must unravel their mystery and solve an age-old crime. But as she pieces together the clues, Scarlette finds herself torn between the two men, both of whom want to be more than friends and hold the key to the cure.
What if Little Red Riding Hood was Real?
Based on both the Grimm and Perrault versions of Little Red Riding Hood and set against the terrifying, historic Beast of GĂ©vaudan attacks, this dark YA retelling blends two epic legends, giving the fabled girl-in-the-red-cloak a new, shockingly real existence.
I'm not sure, but I think Scarlette is the first fairy tale retelling that I read. Based on Little Red Riding Hood, I expected something simple, so this one's a very nice surprise.

Scarlette lived with her hateful mother and loving grandmother. Times were hard in their little town because of wolf attacks, but they survived. At least until her grandmother became the next victim.

Scarlette was an okay character for me. She had a good heart and a wise mind, but problems kept coming for her one after another, testing her resolve to save her grandmother and complicating her already tragic circumstances even more. Still, I felt like I wasn't able to connect to her. 

My mind probably skipped through it when I read the blurb, so I was surprised to find the romance that later turned into a love triangle. Don't be put off by that, though, because it's very minimal, not occupying even a quarter of the book I think, but it was good. Scarlette wasn't torn by love more so than trust, but as the reader, truths were more transparent for me than her.

Up until the end, Scarlette was full of mystery and suspense, and almost everyone of the secondary characters became prime suspects for me. The ending was a little bit rushed, but it still had me at the edge of my seat.

MY FAVORITE PART was the epilogue.

RATING:

About the author:
Davonna Juroe stays up way too late, has a severe garlic food allergy, and loves all things 80’s. She wonders if all this could actually mean she's a vampire. 

In high school, she wore way too much glitter eye make-up. And in between many Disneyland visits and reading R.L. Stine’s Fear Street Series, she joined the high school drama department and may have developed crushes of the serious kind on many a theater boy. After many a broken heart (*sigh*), Davonna moved to the quaint, wooded village of Kalispell, Montana. 

When she’s not writing, she shops @ thrift stores for hot-pink-Jem-and-the-Holograms-inspired-outfits, eats gluten free desserts, drinks tea out of antique teacups, and spends too much time on deviantArt, Pinterest, and Goodreads. 

Scarlette is Davonna’s debut novel of epic-historical-fairy-tale-proportions, which she knows the Brothers Grimm would say is wicked cool. 

Currently, she's represented by fabulous independent agent Roxanne McHenry who is waving wands to make all of Davonna's dreams come true. 
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Shelfari | Pinterest

Instead of a giveaway, Davonna has something better. On the last day of this blog tour, March 23rd, Scarlette will be free on Amazon! Make sure to mark your calendars for that ;D

Mar 15, 2013

{Blog Tour} Book Review + Giveaway: Ever - Jessa Russo


Title: Ever (Ever #1)
Author: Jessa Russo
Release Date: October 1st 2012
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Source: ecopy from author
Seventeen-year-old Ever’s love life has been on hold for the past two years. She’s secretly in love with her best friend Frankie, and he’s completely oblivious.
Of course, it doesn't help that he’s dead, and waking up to his ghost every day has made moving on nearly impossible.
Frustrated and desperate for something real, Ever finds herself falling for her hot new neighbor Toby. His relaxed confidence is irresistible, and not just Ever knows it. But falling for Toby comes with a price that throws Ever’s life into a whirlwind of chaos and drama. More than hearts are on the line, and more than Ever will suffer.
Some girls lose their hearts to love.
Some girls lose their minds.
Ever Van Ruysdael could lose her soul.
Ever van Ruysdael had never been able to get over Frankie, her first love and best friend, who'd died in her arms in a car accident two years ago. How could she when, since then, Frankie's ghost had never left her and instead became a permanent fixture in her house? She had no problem with that, though, because she didn't want to move on... at least, that was until her hot new neighbor showed interest in her.

This book entertained me enough. The story flowed smoothly and was funny, sweet, and swoon-worthy where the author intended it to be. The mystery in the form of Toby kept me guessing and curious, but I wish the suspense was kept consistent and present throughout the whole novel.

The only problem I had were with the characters who, with the exception of Frankie and Toby, I thought were a little one-dimensional and sometimes just downright forced. Especially Ever who, with her questionable thoughts and actions, made me raise an eyebrow every so often, especially because of her fast-moving relationship with Toby and how lovesick she was.

Like, if I were the one with the dead best friend who was warning me not to date the new guy, I would pester him until he told me why. And it irked me how every time Ever caught sight of Toby, all her worries would move to the backseat - everything, except for the guilt she felt because for her, it was like she was cheating on Frankie. Lastly, she was bothered when she'd realized she didn't know a lot about Toby, but for all the wrong reasons. 

Overall, Ever was an okay book for me. Although I didn't particularly like the main character, she didn't infuriate me and she did grow somehow by the end. I do plan to check out the sequel, Evade, but it's not particularly near the top of my TBR list right now.

MY FAVORITE PART was when Ever started to know more about Toby.

RATING:
 
About the author:
I'm an unashamed super fan of all things paranormal romance. I read, write and breathe paranormal YA, rarely straying from my comfort zone. Seriously. I love the stuff.

When not writing or reading, I'm out and about making memories with some seriously awesome people - for an introvert, I'm pretty extroverted. ;-) You can bet that I'm also ALWAYS secretly planning my next trip to New Orleans. (If my eyes glaze over, I'm in one of my stories, or NOLA.)

I have a husband I love as much now as I did when we first fell in love over ten years ago, and a daughter we're doing our best to raise with manners, values, and spunk.

Southern California will always be home, but I'm open to suggestions.
 


Enter Jessa's int'l giveaway for signed paperbacks of both Ever and Evade!