Sunday, March 31, 2013

BREATHLESS by Brigid Kemmerer

Brigid Kemmerer

Rating: A
Release Date: 04/30/13
Too many secrets. Not enough time.

Nick Merrick is supposed to be the level-headed one. The peacemaker. Since it’s just him and his three hotheaded brothers against the world, that’s a survival tactic.

But now he’s got problems even his brothers can’t help him survive.

His so-called girlfriend, Quinn, is going quick as mercury from daring to crazy. Meanwhile, Quinn’s dancer friend Adam is throwing Nick off balance, forcing him to recognize a truth he’d rather shove back into the dark.

He can feel it—-the atmosphere is sizzling. Danger is on the way. But whatever happens next, Nick is starting to find out that sometimes nothing you do can keep the peace.

My thoughts on the book:
Breathless shocked me a bit, but I must commend Kemmerer for taking on controversial social issues in this novella. The pages flew by, and I couldn't put this book down. The character development was INSANE considering how short this story was. I can't believe how much I learned about Nick and Quinn in such a short installment. 

I feel like I understand Quinn better now, but she's still not my favorite character in the series. I don't dislike her, and I can relate to her, but I wish she'd move past her anger. I know it's not a quick process, but I'd like to see her find some peace before the series is out. Hopefully that happens. 

I also want Nick to find some peace and self-acceptance. I had no idea the kinds of things he was dealing with. I feel really badly for him. It's just shocking that in this day and age, people are still treated in such a way that they feel the need to lie to themselves in order to stay safe. I hope Nick works things out and that life works out for him, and I hope we get to see that happen before the series finale. 

Adam was an interesting character that I'd like to see more of. I know that Spirit is a Hunter book, and he hasn't met Adam yet, but maybe we can still get to know more about him. He's had it rough, too, but he seems like a fantastic character. 

In order not to spoil this for those who haven't read it yet, I'm going to end my review here. This series is a must read for all YA paranormal fans, and this novella is extremely important to both the series and society. Well done, Brigid. 

Pre-order Breathless today!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

RAPTURE Promo + Guest Post!

Guest Post:

Pet peeves of the publishing industry
In the course of my writing career, I’ve had almost 50 books published by mainstream publishers. Publishers include Penguin, Macmillan, Pearson, Oxford University Press and Cengage. These, admittedly, are mostly educational books for children and books to help teachers teach the writing process.
In terms of my commercial fiction, I’ve recently become an indie writer. My Rapture Trilogy was published by Pear Jam books, a small publisher based in New Zealand. I got my rights back in January, 2013 and decided to go Indie because of the trouble a small publisher faces in terms of distribution. They struggle to get their books in mainstream bookstores. Many of these bookstores are reluctant to take on stock not produced by a major publisher. 

Not only that, but my books are difficult to buy in print where they need to be – the U.S.  The Rapture Trilogy is set in the States and I believe the content appeals more to American audiences than any other. It’s also difficult to get reviews in popular review spots such as newspapers, magazines etc. I had many reviews by bloggers and in all fairness, bloggers target my demographic much better. It’s a fantastic way to get word out to potential readers. But still – it would be nice to see my books in the review pages in the Sunday papers. 

There are so many good books out there by small presses and indie authors but many people have never heard of them. I believe the industry is changing however – for the better.  Indie and self published authors have a lot more control now, especially with the advent of the e-book and the ability of these authors to sell their books on-line. Mainstream review sources are starting to sit up and take notice but it’s still very difficult. Kirkus, for instance, offers a review service for Indie authors but it’ll cost you. From memory, I think it costs around $500 for a Kirkus review. I know it’s impractical for them to review every book but it would be nice if they offered the same free service they offer to mainstream publications. Perhaps when a book has received enough attention, Kirkus could produce a free review. Maybe the criteria could be a certain amount of reviews from bloggers or a certain amount of ratings from sites like Goodreads. Food for thought.
Regardless, I have fully embraced my Indie status and I’m looking forward to publishing my next few books myself. With Apocalypse, I will have five novels available as e-books. I’ve got one chapter book that I want to put up as well as two picture books. In addition, I’m currently working on my sixth novel. It’s going to be a busy year!

About the Novel:

Genre: YA Dystopian
Date Published: 12/01/2011


The Rapture has occurred - the end of the world. The faithful have risen up to Heaven. Those left behind are in a living hell. Armed only with his swords and his wit, a teenage boy wanders this post-apocalyptic world alone, separated forever from everyone he loves. Cursed by his demonic heritage, he must now embark on a quest that will take him across the US to the City of Angels.

Buy Links:

About the Author:

Phillip W. Simpson is an author of mostly children's books - both fiction and non-fiction.

As well as being a writer, he is an elementary school teacher. Career highlights include being in the
army, gaining a Masters in Archaeology, owning a comic shop, becoming obsessed with martial arts
and oriental weapons and turning down a job at the British museum.

His YA novel RAPTURE (the first in the Rapture trilogy) was released Sept 1st, 2011 by Pear Jam
books. RAPTURE is a dystopian/post-apocalyptic story about the end of the world featuring demons,
angels and a half demon protagonist caught in the middle. RAPTURE was shortlisted for the Sir Julius
Vogel award for best Youth novel.

Book 2, TRIBULATION, was released in December, 2012. The final book, APOCALYPSE, will be out
early 2013.

On a personal note, he is married to Rose, has a son (Jack) and two border terriers, Whiskey and
Raffles. He loves fishing, reading, football (soccer) and single malt Whiskeys.

As soon as this thought entered his mind, it was interrupted by a demonic presence to his left. A cluster of Lemure surged out of what had once been the local coffee house, screaming as they advanced. Sam sprinted around a wrecked SUV to give himself some breathing room, drawing both swords.
He swung around to his left, still at full stretch. Whether by good luck or by displaying a higher than usual level of intelligence, three of the Lemure hadn’t fallen for the ploy. They met him on the other side of the SUV, running as hard as he was. Sam didn’t even pause. He struck high then low and spun around to deliver a double blow to the third Lemure. All three turned to ash in his wake.
He kept sprinting, skirting around the wrecks in the middle of Main Street, heading east. It was opposite to the direction he wanted to head in but he would double back later in order to confuse his pursuers.
Sensing that the demons were falling behind, Sam slowed to a fast jog. He could keep this pace up for hours if he needed to. Before the Rapture, he had often run into the Rockies and back before the sun had even snuck up over the horizon. Night-time was when he always trained, away from prying eyes. He always felt stronger in the dark. Hikari had told him that his night vision was much better than any other humans, something he had suspected when he realized he could see almost perfectly in all but the most absolute darkness.
It was just as well because now the only light came from the moon, which was hardly a great source of illumination. Normally, street lights, the frontages of residential homes, the odd shop open for a late night and the occasional car would provide ample light for the average resident. It was odd running through the small town like this, guided only by the malevolent red glow from above.
Disturbingly, despite his injuries, Sam felt even stronger right at that moment, almost as if the moon was energizing him. He looked up, hoping to catch a glimpse of a star in the now cloudless sky. There were none. Had been none since the Rapture. The stars, once beautiful and sparkling in the clear country air, had all fallen. Where they had landed, Sam had no idea. He just knew that they weren’t in the sky anymore.
Suddenly a shadow fell across the moon, a strong wind buffeting him from above. He’d sensed the presence of the Astaroth but he was far, far too late. Too late and too slow. Cursing himself for his lack of concentration, Sam attempted to roll but felt something lift him off his feet with a powerful jolt. It was the Astaroth alright. Clearly, those wings weren’t for show, he thought wryly as the Astaroth slowly gained height. Luck had been on his side though. Instead of those mighty talons piercing his skin, they had merely jagged his backpack.
Then Sam remembered what were in his hands. What had been in his hands all the way down Main Street. His swords. He swept both up at the same time, each aiming for a different leg, and felt a savage surge of satisfaction as the iron weapons both connected and bit deeply. The Astaroth roared so loudly that, if Sam had been able to, he would’ve covered his ears.
Instead, he found himself falling. Surprisingly quickly. He thought, rather belatedly, that he hadn’t actually planned this out very carefully.
The ground rushed up to meet him.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

TAKEN by Erin Bowman

Erin Bowman

Rating: C-
Release Date: 04/16/13
Synopsis:There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

My thoughts on the book:
I had high hopes for Taken, and the first part was captivating. However, as the book continued, the intrigue settled down and completely fizzled out by the ending. The characters weren't all that likable, and the pacing was a bit off. The writing was okay, but nothing to get too excited over. Unfortunately this novel fell a bit flat for me. 

Gray was a bitter and angry character. At first, I could sympathize. If I was going to disappear when I was eighteen, and if I was dealing with my brother about to get Heisted, then I'd be angry, too. I don't agree with his actions, but I could at least understand them. I expected him to change, grow less self-absorbed, and become a good and decent character - or at least be on that path - by the end of the book. Nope. He's just a selfish jerk, but then again, everyone in this freaking novel is. Not one character was likable. The further I got into the book the more I realized that these people were simply awful and didn't deserve anyone's sympathy. After that epiphany, I just didn't care what happened to any of them. 

The plot was completely captivating at first. I could not figure out what was going on or why. However, most of the secrets were given away in the first part, and all of the suspense went with them. By part three, I was totally bored and had to force myself to finish the book. Also, the pacing is off. The beginning flies by, the middle slows down, and then the ending moves so slowly that I thought we were going backwards at times. Not a good way to write a book. Additionally, the language use was awkward and some words were misused. For instance, when Gray was implying a double-standard, Emma told him he was being "two-faced." Totally not the same thing at all. Two-faced is when someone is nice to your face and talks crap about you behind your back. A double-standard means that something is all right for one person but not another. Most people know this. I hope the editor caught it and that mistake isn't in the final edition. 

Overall, I'd say give this one a try at the library. The concept is unique at first, though it quickly becomes a typical Dystopian. Many people love it, but unfortunately I am not one of them. 

Want to order Taken?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Interview with Kasie West, author of PIVOT POINT!

Hey guys, I am super excited to have Kasie West here today, answering a few questions. Pivot Point is one of my all-time favorite books, and I was thrilled that Kasie agreed to do this interview!

Check out my review for Pivot Point here!

Amber: The concept behind PIVOT POINT is extremely unique. How did you come up with it?
Kasie: After that set up, I wish I could say, 'well, I'm so clever that I thought of it all on my own.' But that wouldn't be true. My inspiration for Pivot Point is the movie Sliding Doors. If you haven't seen it, you should. It is amazing. I took the basic premise of a choice being the hinge for two different futures/alternate realities and made it my own. I love the idea that one choice can change everything. And I find alternate realities so intriguing.

Amber: What kind of research did you have to do in order to write this novel?
Kasie: I spent a lot of hours looking at pictures of cute guys. It was very important to put me in the right frame of mine. Ha. Just kidding. I did, however, spend a lot of time googling Texas (even took a trip through there). And football. I'm actually a big football fan (unlike Addie) but I wanted to make sure I got the details right. I also spent some time researching different technological advancements that are on the horizon. But as for "research" there isn't a whole lot you can "research" about mind powers. I did spend a lot of time thinking about the different advancements that a mind might potentially develop. That was really fun to explore. 

Amber: I think the hot guy research was probably the most important and rewarding :). Was it difficult to pace this book with the two conflicting story lines going on simultaneously? 
Kasie: Yes!! You have no idea. I mean, trying to naturally develop two relationships was hard. I didn't want to rush them. But at the same time where I'd normally have a good 50 pages to develop a relationship, I knew I didn't have the same luxury with essentially two stories going at once because that would put me at 100 pages in and I knew people wouldn't have the patience for the "development" stage of the book for 100 pages. Because of that, I had to leave out some things that would only slow the story down. Plus, of course, on top of the relationships, I had two separate plots going that converge toward the end......wait what was the question?? Oh, pacing. Yes, it was difficult to pace. :) 

Amber: Your characters all read like real, complex people. Which character was the hardest to create? Which was the easiest?
Kasie: Aw, I like this question. Funny enough, both my boys, Duke and Trevor, are the answer to this question. Duke was soooo easy to write. He just jumped off the page. He told me all his secrets. He flirted. He was so obvious. :) Trevor was very hard to write. I had to figure out who he was. He doesn't say much in the book and when someone isn't a big talker and they aren't your POV character, it takes a lot of reading of body language and finding out through other characters, etc, who they are. He's kind of private. 

Amber: Do you have a playlist for this novel? If so, what are some of the songs on it?
Kasie: I actually don't listen to music while I write. I know a lot of authors do, but I get so caught up in the lyrics that they distract me. But, I am inspired by music. And I often listen to music before I write to get myself in the right mood. Some songs that either remind me of Pivot Point or that I listened to around the time I was writing it, are: "Little Wonders" by Rob Thomas, "Timing is Everything" by Garrett Hedlund, "Over My Head" by The Fray. And so many more. 
Amber: That makes sense. I always wondered how the authors who listen to music while they write don't end up writing the lyrics instead of the story, haha. Who are some of your favorite authors? 
Kasie: Sarah Dessen, Cassandra Clare, Charles Dickens, Kristin Cashore, to name a few. There are so many authors I love and appreciate.

Amber: What book releases are you looking forward to?
Kasie: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (someone give me this book already), Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (because, hello, it's Stephanie Perkins), Insomnia by JR Johansson (I love to be scared), Relic by Renee Collins (I got to read this book early and it's amazing!), Transparent by Natalie Whipple (yes to super powers!)

Amber: If you had to choose one of the supernatural powers from PIVOT POINT, which one would you choose and why?
Kasie: As you can imagine, I get asked this question a lot. And every time my answer changes depending on my mood that week. Ha. This week, I think I'd like to be Telekinetic because I'm feeling exceptionally lazy and I really don't want to have to get up to retrieve the remote for the television. I just want it to float to me. 

Amber: Good choice, haha! For those who haven't had the chance to read your book yet, can you describe it in 5 words or less?
Kasie: No I can't. (That was three words) :) Fine. I'll try. Hmmm. The funny thing about this question is that writing less words is harder for me than writing a lot of words. Kind of like the whole idea of writing a novel being easier than writing a query letter. Five words: Powers, football, boys, friendship, and choices.  

Amber: I figured that would be a difficult question. It's always interesting to see what words authors choose when condensing their work into a few words, though, so I had to ask. If you could have dinner with any literary character, which one would you choose?
All of them!! As long as they pay for themselves. That could get very expensive. I don't have a favorite character. Just like I don't have a favorite book. Usually my favorite book/character is the one I'm reading at the moment. So if that's the case, then I will have dinner with Hale (from Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter). And since he's loaded, he will definitely be paying.

Amber: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Kasie!
Kasie: Thanks for having me, Amber! That was fun.

APOLLYON by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Jennifer L. Armentrout

Rating: A+
Release Date: 04/09/13
Fate isn’t something to mess with… and now, neither is Alex.

Alex has always feared two things: losing herself in the Awakening and being placed on the Elixir. But love has always been stronger than Fate, and Aiden St. Delphi is willing to make war on the gods—and Alex herself—to bring her back.

The gods have killed thousands and could destroy entire cities in their quest to stop Seth from taking Alex’s power and becoming the all-powerful God Killer. But breaking Alex’s connection to Seth isn’t the only problem. There are a few pesky little loopholes in the whole “an Apollyon can’t be killed” theory, and the only person who might know how to stop the destruction has been dead for centuries.

Finding their way past the barriers that guard the Underworld, searching for one soul among countless millions, and then somehow returning will be hard enough. Alex might be able to keep Seth from becoming the God Killer… or she might become the God Killer herself.

My thoughts on the book:
This series just keeps getting better and better! Apollyon is an emotional thrill-ride that cannot be missed. This book is nonstop action and suspense that will suck you in from the first page and keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last word. Every character shined and many problems were solved in this novel. However, through the course of the book, more problems presented themselves as well. It's hard to believe that there's only one more book left in this series. I don't know how everything is going to end up, but I can't wait to see what Alex has to face next. 

Alex goes through many changes in this book. At the very beginning, we are inside her head as she deals with being connected to Seth. As the novel progresses, she grows and changes and actually becomes quite mature... sometimes. She's willing to sacrifice for the greater good, and that's respectable. Seth, on the other hand, is a sad case. I actually felt bad for him this time. Poor guy wasn't hugged much as a child obviously, and now he's going to cause the apocalypse. Aiden was fantastic and he grew on me even more during this book. I'm glad I switched to team Aiden because he's much stronger than I gave him credit for in the beginning. 

The plot is amazing and action-packed. Relationships strengthen, grow, and change. There is a lot of suspense and there are many horrific situations. The ending was a bit of a cliffhanger, but this one wasn't as intense as the ending of Deity. I put down the book with some semblance of an idea as to how the next book will go. I have on idea about everyone's fate, but it was more clear what I should expect at the beginning of Sentinel at least. The ending did make me cry like a baby, though. It's a tear-jerker. You have been warned. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book and series to fans of JLA and fans of mythology inspired books. While this is based loosely on Greek mythology (the Greek gods are characters in the book), it's not a retelling of any mythological story. It's a unique view on the mythological, and it's quite refreshing. If you haven't checked out this series, you are missing out. And for people who have read and loved this series, Apollyon is not to be missed. You will not be disappointed. 

Pre-order Apollyon today!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

STUNG by Bethany Wiggins Review, Giveaway, and Character Interview with the Dreamy Bowen! *Swoon*

Bethany Wiggins

Rating: A+
Release Date: 04/02/13
There is no cure for being stung.

Fiona doesn’t remember going to sleep. But when she opens her eyes, she discovers her entire world has been altered—her house is abandoned and broken, and the entire neighborhood is barren and dead. Even stranger is the tattoo on her right hand—a black oval with five marks on either side—that she doesn’t remember getting but somehow knows she must cover at any cost. She’s right.

Those bearing the tattoo have turned into mindless, violent beasts that roam the streets and sewers, preying upon the unbranded while a select few live protected inside a fortress-like wall, their lives devoted to rebuilding society and killing all who bear the mark.

Now Fiona has awakened branded, alone—and on the wrong side of the wall.

My thoughts on the book:
Stung is one of the best novels I've ever read. It is definitely in my top 5 favorite Dystopians of all time. Wiggins does not disappoint in this thrilling novel. The characters are believable AND likable, the world-building is phenomenal, and the plot is nonstop action and suspense. And of course, there is a super hot, swoon-worthy guy. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat from the first page until the last. Be prepared to lose some sleep with this one. 

Fiona is an incredibly strong and likable character. I could relate to her instantly, and I respected her ability to survive and keep her wits about her. She woke up in a world that had completely changed overnight, in her view. Everything was different, including herself. But instead of crying about it and feeling sorry for herself, she takes care of herself and she survives against all odds. I'm now convinced that Wiggins is a master at creating strong yet likable females. 

Bowen is swoon-worthy, and I want to have his puppies. I don't even want puppies, and he's a fictional character, but wow. He's just wow. Ahem... anyway... He, too, is strong, yet somehow vulnerable. He doesn't shut people out, but he's not a jerk either. He's willing to be kind when he can be, but he's not afraid to kick some ass either. He isn't some clingy emo creep, like a lot of YA male leads are. He's just amazinggggg. I think he's my new favorite YA guy (sorry Daemon).

The world-building is amazing. Wiggins does a terrific job of showing how awful this post-apocalyptic society is. A lot of Dystopians have characters who just whine about how awful things are, but the authors never actually show how bad it is, so it's hard to understand and/or believe it's as bad as the characters think. Wiggins, however, shows us little details along the way. She expertly weaves these details in with the action, so you gain a full picture of the society in which the main character is living. Because of that, I felt like I was in this creepy version of Denver instead of just hearing about it second-hand. 

The plot is intense and action-packed. The romance is sweet and a little steamy. The pacing is perfect. I could not put this book down. It's over 300 pages long, and I finished it in around 4 hours. There are so many mysteries, fight scenes, etc., that I wasn't bored for a second. Every time I thought things had calmed down, something else happened, and I was on the edge of my seat again. There are tons of betrayals throughout this book, too, and many characters surprised me. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves good writing... especially if you're looking for a unique and action-packed Dystopian with excellent world-building, a strong and likable heroine, and a swoon-worthy love interest. This is one book that you do not want to miss.

Find Stung:

About the Author:
Bethany Wiggins has always been an avid reader, but not an avid writer.  She failed ninth grade English because she read novels instead of doing her homework. In high school, she sat alone at lunch and read massive hardback fantasy novels (Tad Williams and Robert Jordan anyone?). It wasn't until the end of her senior year that the other students realized she was reading fiction--not the Bible.
Once upon a time, Bethany's sister dared her to start writing an hour a day until she completed a novel. Bethany wrote a seven-hundred page fantasy novel that she wisely let no one read--but it taught her how to write.  She is the author of Shifting, Stung (April 2013), and Cured (2014).

Find Bethany:

Click read more to see my interview with Bowen and enter the giveaway!

Friday, March 22, 2013

STRANGELETS by Michelle Gagnon

Michelle Gagnon

Rating: F
Release Date: 04/09/13
17-year-old Sophie lies on her deathbed in California, awaiting the inevitable loss of her battle with cancer…
17-year-old Declan stares down two armed thugs in a back alley in Galway, Ireland…
17-year-old Anat attempts to traverse a booby-trapped tunnel between Israel and Egypt…
All three strangers should have died at the exact same moment, thousands of miles apart. Instead, they awaken together in an abandoned hospital—only to discover that they’re not alone. Three other teens from different places on the globe are trapped with them. Somebody or something seems to be pulling the strings. With their individual clocks ticking, they must band together if they’re to have any hope of surviving. 
Soon they discover that they've been trapped in a future that isn't of their making: a deadly, desolate world at once entirely familiar and utterly strange. Each teen harbors a secret, but only one holds the key that could get them home. As the truth comes to light through the eyes of Sophie, Declan, and Anat, the reader is taken on a dark and unforgettable journey into the hearts of teens who must decide what to do with a second chance at life.

My thoughts on the book:
I was super excited to read Strangelets, but unfortunately this book was a big disappointment. To me the plot was unique, but not planned out very well. The switching points of view were awful and distracting. The pacing was too slow. The characters were super annoying. The writing was dull. You get the idea. I just really didn't like this book. 

When I first started the book, Sophie seemed brave and likable. Well, that got blown out of the water pretty quickly. She's a total Mary Sue and super whiny. I wanted to smack her for the majority of the story. Declan was a jerk, and I really couldn't stand him either. There was just nothing likable about him. He wasn't even one of those hot and tough, but somehow still lovable jerks... He was the kind of jerk that you wanted to kick in the face so he'd shut his jerky mouth. Anat was self-absorbed and dull. The secondary characters were all cookie-cutter and plain. Nothing stood out (in a good way) character-wise. 

The plot was a big mess, in my opinion. The book moved so incredibly slowly at first, and barely sped up after the first 25-30%. The ending was pretty convenient and somewhat perfect. Annoying. Also, Gagnon's writing was so boring. Every sentence had about the same cadence, even. Even though there were three points of view, none of the characters voices really varied. Sure, Gagnon affected awful pseudo-Irish dialogue for Declan, but it wasn't believable. His sentences were still structured exactly like Sophie's and Anat's. Also, there was a stupid romance involving insta-love. Yuck. 

Overall, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone, but that's just my opinion. I think that this book will have a very specific set of fans who enjoy a certain type of book that I just don't like. If you want to give it a try (some people like it), then check it out at the library first. Don't spend your money on it until you're sure this novel is for you. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

THE DARKLING by R.B. Chesterton

The Darkling
R.B. Chesterton

Rating: D
Release Date: 04/01/13
In the 1940s, Coden, Alabama, was a hideaway for movie stars - an isolated playground tucked among live oaks and placid bay waters where pleasure and vice could be indulged. By the summer of 1974 Coden's glamour has faded, but it doesn't bother Mimi Bosarge, who is just happy to have a job as a live-in tutor with the wealthiest family in town, the Hendersons. When the Hendersons generously open their arms to Annie, a troubled teenager with no recollection of her past, Mimi's greatest concern is creating a curriculum for the family's new ward.But it soon becomes obvious that something is wrong. Annie seems suspiciously savvy for her young age, and Mimi can't quell the unnerving sense that there is something malicious about the waif-like beauty.

My thoughts on the book:
The Darkling had the recipe for a successful thriller/mystery type novel, but fell short for me in many ways. The pacing lagged, the plot was predictable, and the characters annoyed me. The writing itself is good, but the rest of the book is pretty bad. I would recommend checking this one out from the library before you buy it. 

Mimi is obnoxious and a bit too passive for my tastes. She just doesn't assert herself nearly enough. She thinks a lot of things, but she doesn't really do enough, in my opinion. Annie is obviously creepy and obnoxious, and I couldn't stand her. Margot gets on my nerves until she disappears because she is such a brat... you get the idea. Everyone was just annoying in some fashion. 

The plot could have been good, but it is so repetitive and the pacing is so slow that I just couldn't get into it. The writing drew me in, and Chesterton has some good descriptions, but I felt the world-building was lacking and the plotting was off. Chesterton overdoes the tension aspect, and in doing so basically repeats the same "intense and mysterious" scenes constantly in an effort to keep the reader interested. Because of this, it felt like the story didn't progress much, or at all, for long periods of time, which led to me getting SO FREAKING BORED. Also, I got so annoyed with the tension-building parts that I didn't even care what happened by the end. I just wanted to finish it.

As I said, if the synopsis of the book interests you, check it out from the library first. 

DEADLY STING by Jennifer Estep

Deadly Sting
Jennifer Estep

Rating: A-
Release Date: 03/26/13
Red is definitely my color. Good thing, because in my line of work, I end up wearing it a lot.

Most people shy away from blood, but for an assassin like me — Gin Blanco, aka the Spider — it’s just part of the job. Still, it would be nice to get a night off, especially when I’m attending the biggest gala event of the summer at Briartop, Ashland’s fanciest art museum. But it’s just not meant to be. For this exhibition of my late nemesis’ priceless possessions is not only the place to be seen, but the place to be robbed and taken hostage at gunpoint as well. No sooner did I get my champagne than a bunch of the unluckiest thieves ever burst into the museum and started looting the place.

Unlucky why? Because I brought along a couple of knives in addition to my killer dress. Add these to my Ice and Stone magic, and nothing makes me happier than showing the bad guys why red really is my color.

My thoughts on the book:
I enjoyed Deadly Sting much more than I did Widow's Web. This novel is a fast-paced and intense thrill ride. Every time you think the adventures are winding down, Estep throws another curve ball to keep Gin and the readers on their toes. There are no dull moments in this installment, and I cannot wait to see what Estep has planed for Gin and company next. 

The character development in Deadly Sting surprised me. I thought that after this many novels the character evolution would slow down, but Estep manages to make her characters even more complex with each addition to this series. Gin softens a bit, in my opinion, and shows that she is a better person than most catty women would be. Her reaction to the death of a certain character shocked me, and I really admire her for feeling guilty about it. Yes, she needs to let go of her guilt, but little things like this show that she's not some sociopath. It's these little hints at what lies beneath her cold exterior that make her a likable character who people can relate to. The rest of Gin's friends and family also show more of their true colors, and I couldn't help but love each of them even more. Bria and Finn's relationship is even growing on me. 

This story is executed a bit differently than the rest of the series. Most of the book takes place at Briartop in what feels like real time. There's an "action movie" feel to things as Gin works her way through the museum and figures out a way to save her friends. I liked this change, and the plot kept me fully engaged for the entire duration of the novel. Also, because the setting is the place of the crime, this book is action-packed. There isn't a dull moment from the first chapter until the last. I seriously couldn't put this book down. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book and series to lovers of Urban Fantasy. If you like bad-ass heroines who save the day, then you'll love Gin Blanco and the Elemental Assassin series. If you haven't given this series a try yet, then you're missing out. For those of you who have already read and loved this series, you will adore the latest installment. It helps clarify things and will give you hope for Gin's future. This is one novel that can't be missed. 

Pre-order Deadly Sting!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

CURSED by Jennifer L. Armentrout is only $1.99 on Kindle today!

Hey guys, if you haven't gotten to read this amazing novel yet, here is your chance! For today only, Cursed by JLA is only $1.99 for Kindle!

You can buy it here:

Curious as to what I thought about it? Read my review here

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

GOING VINTAGE by Lindsey Leavitt

Going Vintage
Lindsey Leavitt

Rating: A-
Release Date: 03/26/13
When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in 1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars). The List:

1. Run for pep club secretary
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree
3. Sew a dress for Homecoming
4. Find a steady
5. Do something dangerous

But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far.

My thoughts on the book:
Going Vintage is an adorable tale of a young girl finding her independence. On the surface, this book seems deceptively simple, but there is a lot going on underneath the cute plot and charming characters. Leavitt addresses straight-forward, but important issues such as romanticizing the past, the importance of trust and open communication in relationships, and the difficult journey of finding oneself during adolescence. This is one coming of age tale that you won't want to miss. 

Mallory is an inspirational and real leading character/narrator. She is fairly mature for her age, but still comes across as a teenager. Also, instead of drowning in misery because her boyfriend of a year (not a couple of weeks... yea I'm looking at you Bella Swan) cheats on her, she beings an odd, yet intriguing path to find her own identity. The people she interacts with along the way are entertaining as well. Her parents are a bit odd, but her sister is extremely supportive. I really loved her grandmother, too. And Oliver is fantastic. I totally fell in love with him. The dialogue between the characters is extremely natural and, at times, hilarious. Leavitt definitely excels in characterization and character interactions. 

The plot is interesting and unique, but the pacing is a bit slow in the beginning. However, after the first 20%, I was completely invested in this story and could not put the book down. I read this entire novel in one sitting because I had to see the outcome of Mallory's social experiment... and I also had to find out what would happen between her and Oliver. The ending threw me for a bit of a loop, but I really liked it. Leavitt took a different route, and I feel that it worked better than the ending I envisioned. 

Overall, I'd recommend this story to anyone who wants a light, yet meaningful read. This is one of those "feel-good" books that you won't want to end. If you enjoy contemporary YA at all, give Going Vintage a try. You won't be sorry. 

Pre-order Going Vintage

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Sweetest Dark
Shana Abe

Rating: A-
Release Date: 4/2/13
Synopsis from
“With every fiber of my being, I yearned to be normal. To glide through my days at Iverson without incident. But I’d have to face the fact that my life was about to unfold in a very, very different way than I’d ever envisioned. Normal would become forever out of reach.”

Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.

England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.

Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.

Filled with lush atmosphere, thrilling romance, and ancient magic, The Sweetest Dark brilliantly captures a rich historical era while unfolding an enchanting love story that defies time.

My thoughts on the book:
The Sweetest Dark is a heartbreakingly beautiful story set during WWI. It's a unique take on fantasy and the time period chosen for the setting is also different from most YA books that I've read. I thoroughly enjoyed the setting, world, characters, and plot of this story. Even though the beginning was a bit slow and the ending crushed my soul, I'd still recommend this book to anyone who loves a good historical romance or fantasy. 

Lora is a strong heroine. She's had a rough life as an orphan, and because of that she's not some silly simpering miss. I really admire that about her. She doesn't swoon over guys, and she is independent. She always tries to survive, no matter what happens. She's no stranger to pain, and she never wants to give up, no matter how badly things may hurt. She adapts, grows, and carries on. There should be more YA heroines like her. 

Jesse... oh Jesse, you are the sweetest guy ever. I actually liked you more than the arrogant boy, and that's a first. The thing I liked most about Jesse is that he treats Lora with respect and like a person. He is her best friend, and he loves her. He never once pushes her, objectifies her, insults her, or tries to take advantage of her. He treats her as his equal in every way. The dynamic between these two characters is beautiful. 

I didn't hate Armand. I liked him just fine... I just liked Jesse more. I did feel bad for Armand, though. He wanted something more in his life than he had. I can definitely relate to that. He was an interesting addition to the story, and things were never dull when he was around. 

The secondary characters were all interesting in their own ways, and all of them were as complex as the leading characters. 

The plot was captivating, and I could not put this book down once I started it. The world that Abe has created is intriguing and unique. A girl who turns into smoke and then into a dragon is not something that you hear of every day. There wasn't a lot of action until the very end, but there was a lot of suspense, and that kept me reading. Also, the time period is different from any story I ever read. I'm used to either Victorian era or present day. Grave Mercy was set in the Middle Ages, and that was a different setting as well. It is refreshing to read novels that take place in different time periods. Abe obviously did her research because everything read true to life. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something a little bit different in the YA genre. Sweetest Dark is a heartbreaking, beautiful, unique, captivating, and intriguing story that you won't want to miss. 

Want to pre-order Sweetest Dark?

Friday, March 15, 2013

For you romance fans out there, here's a new book + giveaway!

Surrender Your Love
By: Jessica Reed
Release date: March 15th, 2013

Meeting Jett was like lightning. Dangerous. Better left untouched. And better forgotten. But lightning always strikes twice.

Brooke Stewart, a realtor in New York, doesn’t do relationships. When she’s sent to a remote estate to finalize a real estate deal, she discovers her new boss is no other than the guy she left naked in bed.

Sexy, dangerously handsome, and arrogant Jett Mayfield attracts trouble, and women, like a lightning rod. But the night he meets Brooke he gets more than he bargained for. The green-eyed millionaire playboy isn’t used to taking no for an answer, and he isn’t about to start now.

When he proposes two months of no strings sex, Brooke is intrigued and accepts his proposal. Little does she know Jett’s determined to claim the one woman he can’t have, pulling her deeper into his dangerous world.

A man who doesn't take 'no' for an answer.
A woman afraid to surrender to love.
Two lives that are about to cross...and secrets laid bare.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 14, 2013

WIDOW'S WEB by Jennifer Estep

Widow's Web
Jennifer Estep

Rating: C+
I used to murder people for money, but lately it’s become more of a survival technique. Once an assassin, always an assassin. So much for being plain old Gin Blanco. With every lowlife in Ashland gunning for me, I don’t need another problem, but a new one has come to town anyway. Salina might seem like a sweet Southern belle, but she’s really a dangerous enemy whose water elemental magic can go head-to-head with my own Ice and Stone power. Salina also has an intimate history with my lover, Owen Grayson, and now that she’s back, she thinks he’s hers for the taking. Salina’s playing a mysterious game that involves a shady local casino owner with a surprising connection to Owen. But they call me the Spider for a reason. I’m going to untangle her deadly scheme, even if it leaves my love affair hanging by a thread.

My thoughts on the book:
So far Widow's Web is my least favorite book of the series. The romance aspect of the novel disappointed me, and the pacing was about 50 times slower than the rest of the series. I alternated between bored and frustrated for most of the book. This is a must read for fans of the series because it's important to the series as a whole, but the book by itself just did not impress me. If I didn't already love this series, I would not be continuing it. 

Gin doesn't do much growing in this novel. I know that in a series this long, there are going to be some books that are slower than the rest, and there will be some books that involve virtually no character growth. This is one of those books. I still don't like Finn and Bria together, so they didn't brighten things up for me at all. Also, Owen is a freaking idiot in this installment. I seriously wanted to smack him the majority of the time. I still like him as a character, but this novel was not his finest hour. 

The plot isn't that mysterious or intriguing. Things are pretty easy to figure out this time around. Also, there is very little action, so I got bored a lot. The pacing is extremely slow, and I just wasn't that interested in finding out what happened. Considering how I devoured the previous novels, I was surprised at how difficult it was for me to get through this one. I can only hope that the next book in the series is better. 

Overall, I'd still recommend this series to all lovers of Urban Fantasy, but this book itself didn't blow me away. 

Order Widow's Web