Thursday, February 28, 2013

Interview + Giveaway: Jessica Shirvington and Emblaze

Today I'm thrilled to welcome young adult author Jessica Shirvington to the blog to talk a little bit about the third book in her Violet Eden series, Emblaze (releases March 5th from Sourcebooks). This is a series that, for me, has gotten better and better with each installment, and Emblaze is definitely the best one yet. I was a gloriously emotional mess by the time I reached the last page (my review will be posted soon), and I'm strongly considering moving to Australia just so I can get my hands on book four already. Who's with me?

If Lincoln was to sit down with Violet as part of the promotional tour for Emblaze, what’s the first question he would ask her?

Do you love Phoenix?

*Jenny dies a little inside at this answer*

What one piece of art might Violet say adequately summarizes her emotional journey since the events of Embrace?

I don't know that any one art piece sums up Violet. But I have often found myself looking at this depiction of The Last Judgement and thinking of my characters and the roles they play.

There’s something undeniably appealing about a bad boy, and Phoenix wears that label rather deliciously. Would Phoenix attach a different label to himself if asked?

At times I think he would be very comfortable with the bad boy image. But really, I think Phoenix is often looking for something with more substance. He just struggles to make the appropriate changes to get there.

What is one quirk Lincoln has that he’d be embarrassed by if Violet found out about it?

He can dance. Like really dance - ballroom dance! And she will find day. ;-)

All the books in the series have single word titles that begin with the letter “e”. Were there any other title frontrunners for this third book that you can share?

I think EMBLAZE found its title fairly easily. I remember we almost called ENTICE, EXILE instead but there were a few books around with that title. I think for EMBLAZE we considered ENTRAP and maybe ENDURE but EMBLAZE was an easy pick in the end (once you've read it you'll know why).

Let’s say your characters get to spend a half hour with you in which they can ask you any questions they want about their world or how you wrote them; whose questions would you fear answering most?

Probably Steph. She would come at me all guns blazing wanting to know what the hell I was thinking and how I could have made things so hard for Vi. Yep, definitely Steph (never mess with a gal's bestie!).

If Violet were to paint a mural based on Emblaze, what color would be predominant in her palette?

Red. Things get more than a little fiery in this book!

Thanks so much Jessica for stopping by!

• • • • • • • • • •


One day, instead of picking up a new book, I started to write. The first name that came to mind was Violet. From there the rest naturally followed. I can honestly say, once Violet was discovered – she really did write the rest of the book!

Writing this book has drawn on my life experience – in my travels around the world and the different people I have met. It draws on love and loss and the overall confusion that comes with growing up. It also looks to many of my friends and their experiences.

I have always loved ancient history – tales and stories of the best kind.

More information on Jessica and her books can be found here:

• • • • • • • • • • 


Once again Violet Eden faces an impossible choice ... and the consequences are unimaginable.

Violet has come to terms with the fact that being part angel, part human, means her life will never be as it was.

Now Violet has something Phoenix - the exiled angel who betrayed her - will do anything for, and she has no intention of letting it fall into his hands. The only problem is that he has something she needs too.

Not afraid to raise the stakes, Phoenix seemingly holds all the power, always one step ahead. And when he puts the final pieces of the prophecy together, it doesn't take him long to realise exactly who he needs in order to open the gates of Hell.

With the help of surprising new allies, ancient prophecies are deciphered, a destination set and, after a shattering confrontation with her father, Violet leaves for the islands of Greece without knowing if she will have a home to return to...

Can't wait to read Emblaze? Then check out an excerpt HERE.

• • • • • • • • • •


Thanks to the fabulous people at Sourcebooks, I have one copy of Emblaze to give away on the blog today! To enter, please just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US and Canada only, good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Interview: Kasie West + Pivot Point


I'm hugely excited today to welcome young adult author Kasie West to the blog to answer a few questions about her recent release, Pivot Point. I'll be honest. Pivot Point was originally not high on my "must have" list for this year, but my good friend and fellow blogger Danny from Bewitched Bookworms told me I had to read it, and as usual, she did not lead me astray. This book sucked me in immediately and I die a little inside at the thought that I almost missed out on such a gem (you can read my full review here). If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, I honestly can't recommend you buy it fast enough!

If you could have the ability of anyone in the Compound aside from Addie and Laila, which one would you most want and what's the first thing you would do with it?

The answer to this question changes on a daily basis depending on the week and my needs. Today I would’ve wanted the Lie Detector ability because my 14 year old daughter was trying to get out of going to school by claiming sick and I couldn’t tell if she was faking or not. And speaking of sick, a few weeks ago, my whole family got sick, so I would’ve loved the ability to Heal that week. 

Let's say you are temporarily gifted Addie's ability as a Searcher in order to help you make a choice between living with the knowledge that people with supernatural gifts exist and continuing on blissfully ignorant. When conducting your Search, what might you find to be the benefits of each option?

Hmm, interesting question. I think the benefit of living in ignorance to supernatural abilities would be that I wouldn’t feel sub-par. I mean if all these people had abilities and I didn’t, that would not be cool. I’d be jealous. Plus, I wouldn’t have to worry that people were manipulating me in some way. It would probably make me a lot less trusting.

On the other side, maybe it would actually make me feel better about myself because I’d know that I accomplished things without the added help of a mental ability. And knowing people with mental abilities exist might make me safer from those with bad intentions.

In Pivot Point, we explore Addie's life both living with her mother in the Compound and her father in the real world through alternating chapters. Did you actually write Addie's two separate lives in alternating order, or did you write one of her stories in its entirety before going back to the second one?

I wrote about half of each story without alternating. But once I realized the stories were going to need to overlap, I put them back together and started writing them exactly like you read them. It let me know exactly what the reader knew and exactly what Addie knew at any given point. The hard part came though in working with my editor. Because there were certain chapters she wanted me to combine and certain things she wanted me to cut. So then what would happen was a whole chapter would be eliminated (making the alternating chapters not so alternating anymore) and I had to figure out how to make it still work by rearranging or cutting a bit from the other side. It was like a huge puzzle at times.

What one fictional character do you think might wish they had Addie's ability as a Searcher given the way their story turned out?

I do use a few quotes in the book from A Tale of Two Cities. I’m a huge Charles Dickens fan. So I would think, that given the outcome, Sydney Carton, from A Tale of Two Cities might have liked to see the future. Although, he is very much at peace when he is executed at the end. He made the choice willingly. So even if he had seen the future, I’m sure for the sake of friendship and what he felt was redemption, he would’ve made the same choice. 

Though Addie has two very swoon-worthy romantic options in Duke and Trevor in this tale, let's just pretend for a moment that she doesn't want to limit herself to the boys of Pivot Point. What other YA character might she have a romantic interest in?

My list of swoon-worthy YA boys that Addie might like (and by Addie, in this case, I mean me)?? Is that what you’re asking me to compile?? Oh, this is a very extensive list. For the sake of time though, I’ll limit it to three. Perry from Under the Never Sky. Yes, please. Jace from the Mortal Instrument series. And, gah, how can I limit it to three?! Okay, okay, last (for today) how about a “Norm” boy with no extra powers—Wes from The Truth About Forever. (That was really hard to limit)

Is there any other character in Pivot Point whose point of view you're itching to write from, or are you content to stay in Addie's head?

Funny you should ask. Book two actually does have another POV character. So the chapters alternate between Addie and this other person (it may or may not be a certain outspoken best friend). So yes! I was definitely itching to write from another character’s point of view. And I’m also contemplating writing a book 3 that would be from totally different POVs but still in the Pivot Point world……we’ll see. 

If you had a friend like Laila with the ability to Erase, do you think you would ever be tempted to have her use it on you?

All the time. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m so glad I don’t have abilities because I’d totally abuse them. I’d be using them every other second. I’d be like, Laila, ew, I just saw a dead dog on the side of the road. That was very disturbing, can you please Erase that from my mind. Ha. This is why Laila wouldn’t be my friend. I’d annoy her too much. :-)

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Kasie! 

• • • • • • • • • •


I write YA. I eat Junior Mints. Sometimes I go crazy and do both at the same time. My debut novel, Pivot Point, will be published by HarperTeen on February 12, 2013, followed by its sequel in 2014. I also have a contemporary, The Distance Between Us, coming out in the Fall of 2013 with HarperTeen. My agent is the talented and funny Michelle Wolfson.

More information on Kasie and her books can be found here:

• • • • • • • • • •


Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: Boundless

Unearthly #3
Cynthia Hand
Paranormal Young Adult
438 pages
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California - and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfill her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.

Boundless is a book we open with equal parts eager anticipation and nervous trepidation, our desire to know how things end for Clara, Tucker and Christian combining with our fear at the fact that these pages are the last we’ll get to spend with them to guarantee we’re on edge chapter to chapter. Not only are our nerves alight, crackling and jumping with every page as we wonder when the foreshadowed darkness of the prologue will catch up to us in real time, but our emotions are raw, the pain of Tucker’s noticeable absence something compounded by every lonely beat of our ravaged hearts. Luckily for us though, we have a protagonist in Clara who stands strong even as our own knees threaten to buckle, and she remains a pillar of strength until the very end.

Clara is the type of heroine those of us who read a great deal of young adult literature crave; someone who doesn’t cave under enormous emotional and physical pressure or seek to play games with the young men in her life. Though things are definitively over with Tucker from page one of this final installment, Clara never attempts to numb her obvious pain by accepting the love and affection Christian repeatedly offers, instead she gives herself time to come to terms with the dissolution of one relationship before immediately throwing herself into the complexities of another. While she sorts through the hurt and confusion she also never once leads Christian on or makes promises to him she’s not sure she can keep, she simply reminds him again and again how much his friendship means and what an important figure he is in her life even if he's not in the role he might wish.

Christian, for his part, handles the emotional fragility between he and Clara with equal grace, never pushing her to make a decision or admit feelings for him she’s not capable of voicing just yet, and our hearts hurt for him all the more for the respect he shows her. It would be far easier for us to exult in our love for Tucker and our desire for Clara to choose him were Christian to rage and fight and be cruel, but his quiet acceptance even as his hope that things will eventually change nearly undo us. Tucker’s role in this last book is brief but memorable, his clear hurt when Clara returns home from Stanford adding precariously perched weights to our already unstable emotional pile–threatening to topple everything and leave us reeling–but still our love for him never wavers, and we can’t help but wish for an ending that sees happiness spread far and wide for all three of them.

One complaint with this book is with regard to a bevy of unanswered questions we’re left with by the time we close the back cover, something we don’t worry about in the moments after finishing when our euphoria (or disappointment, depending on which way one is romantically leaning) over the resolution of things between Clara, Tucker, and Christian has us in its grip, but once we’ve had ample time to think, we realize not much besides their relationship was actually resolved. Questions still abound as to what the villain was actually trying to accomplish, and how exactly the triplares were going to assist in that endeavor, and the final battle with him lasted but moments. Granted, this story has always been more focused on Clara and the other angel-bloods individual purposes rather than the larger heaven vs. hell fight, but it remains unclear at the end just what the villain was fighting for, specifically. Despite those questions, Boundless is still a thrilling and emotionally intense read, and I’m greatly looking forward to what Ms. Hand will move onto next.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: Shadowlands

Shadowlands #1
Kate Brian
Young Adult
336 pages
Disney Hyperion
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived… and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a goodbye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

Shadowlands is an extraordinarily creepy tale, our time with protagonist Rory interrupted periodically by the terrifying thoughts of a severely disturbed individual as he briefly details his fixation on–and plans for–the girl who got away. At first glance this first book of a trilogy seems like a fairly straightforward thriller, but the more time we spend in the small vacation resort town of Juniper Landing the more blurred the genre line becomes, until soon the questions as to what exactly is off about Rory's new world become as thick as the fog that envelops the seaside village nearly every evening. It's with hearts frantically pumping and breaths escaping in shallow bursts that we devour chapter after chapter, our fear of the unknown a constant companion that keeps our nerves raw until the very last page.

Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of this story is that we know the identity of the killer from the very first chapter, our anxiety then stemming not from wondering who's after Rory, but rather how long it's going to take for him to find her and what he's going to do when he does. Our brief forays into his mind let us know just how sick Steven Nell truly is, this intimate knowledge creating a thriving conduit between us as readers and Rory herself, what we know of him making Rory's fear all the more real to us. Her nightmares then become our own, and her terror feeds our imaginations until the thought of closing our eyes in the dark of night causes us to break out in a cold sweat.

Rory is someone we easily connect with, our witnessing of her brush with death, however separated by paper and ink, linking us together inextricably from page one. Her father and sister's seeming nonchalance with regard to her safety only serves to strengthen our bond, our desire to throttle them every time they bemoan the lengths they must go to protect Rory almost overwhelming at times, but our anger and disgust over their reactions slowly turn to curiosity as the conundrum that is Juniper Landing slowly consumes us. Rory is an unreliable narrator, her diagnosis of PTSD after her mother's death rearing its head again after her experience with Steven Nell, making the way she relays events end in question marks rather than periods. Her possible instability only serves to dirty already murky water further, holding us captivated as we try desperately to find clarity amidst all the mental and emotional debris.

The only thing keeping Shadowlands from a much higher rating is the conclusion itself. We're left dangling with a cliffhanger not jaw-droppingly surprising given the subtle clues throughout, but it does kick us out of the story at a key moment of revelation, thus abandoning us to the monstrous list of burning questions raised by the final parting words. Certain pieces have been identified for us in the last chapter, but we have no idea yet how they fit together, the final line like the corner piece of a puzzle—perfect for us to build off of yet the blank page following those haunting words denies us all the remaining connecting pieces necessary to create a full picture. As a result, we part with Rory at essentially a starting point, our toes caressed and teased by the lapping waters of a sea of questions, with absolutely no answers to be found on the horizon no matter how hard we stare. Despite a frustrating end, Shadowlands is still beautifully chilling; a read that carves itself a place in our memories and refuses to budge.

Rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mini Review of Double Crossed + Ally Carter Signing

Ally Carter
Contemporary Young Adult
60 pages
Disney Hyperion
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Macey McHenry—Glamorous society girl or spy-in-training?

W.W. Hale V—Heir to an American dynasty or master thief?

There are two sides to every coin. Whether these two can work together is a tossup.

Born into privilege, Macey and Hale are experts at mingling with the upper class. But even if they’ve never raised an eyebrow at the glitz, neither teenager has ever felt at home with the glamour.

When Macey and Hale meet at a society gala, the party takes a dangerous turn. Suddenly they’re at the center of a hostage situation, and it’s up to them to stop the thugs from becoming hostile. Will Macey’s spy skills and Hale’s con-man ways be enough to outsmart a ruthless gang? Or will they have to seek out the ultimate inside girl to help?

The worlds of Heist Society and the Gallagher Girls collide in Ally Carter’s fast-paced, high-stakes and tantalizing new story. Get a behind the scenes glimpse as Ally delivers an irresistible thriller that is full of her signature style and savvy twists.

Double Crossed is a quick jaunt into the combined world of Ally Carter's two young adult series, giving us a brief and pleasurable reminder of how much fun her books can be. Even those (like me) who haven't read both series will easily be able to immerse themselves in this novella, and will likely come out of it with a strong desire to pick up whichever of the two series they have yet to experience. Lovers of The Heist Society novels will thrill at the presence of both Kat and Hale in this story, their relationship delightfully addressed even though the focus is as always on the current law-breaking situation, and will close the back cover with a smile and a hope that future books will only continue to bring them closer together.

(I'm not assigning a rating to this one because it's just a fun and free little novella, you can download it here)

• • • • • • • • • •


A little over a week ago I had the privilege of attending a signing for Ally Carter in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was awesome. And also terrifying. Let me tell you why. The wonderful people at Disney Hyperion contacted me and asked if I'd like to take part in an author/blogger meet-up prior to the signing, and after I stopped flailing about like a complete fangirl, I replied with a still-excited-but-less-scarily-enthusiastic yes.

It was my understanding from the email that this would be a small, informal get together with Ally and a few other people, and I was really thankful for the group setting because it meant said other people would likely handle the question asking portion and I could then just sit back, smile, and not have to open my mouth and risk exposing everyone to my social ineptitude. A win-win for all parties involved.

Cincinnati is about a two hour drive from Columbus, and Cathy, my mother-in-law and ever-patient bookish event companion, graciously agreed to drive down with me so I wouldn't have to go it alone. A little after we arrived at Joseph Beth Booksellers, we were approached by none other than Ally herself and her media escort for the event. Cue Jenny grinning like an idiot. After the introductions were made, the media escort suggested we find a quiet corner away from the crowd so I could talk to Ally. I looked at Ally. Ally looked at me. I looked to both sides and behind me. Aside from Cathy, there was no one else there. No other bloggers. No other people joining us. Realization that I was going to be speaking with Ally one on one as opposed to in a group dawned, and I'm pretty sure my face did this:

I tried to smile even as I was inwardly panicking due to the fact that I came with exactly zero questions prepared. Not one. I didn't think I'd need them when my plan was to sit quietly and observe like a boss of an introvert. I tried not to let the fear show on my face and have no idea whether or not I was successful in this endeavor, but Ally kindly didn't make mention of it if I wasn't.

I feel like at this point in the post I really just need to profess my love for Ally Carter. She was incredibly genuine and friendly, and, once my nerves settled a bit, I had an absolute blast taking advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend a half hour with a New York Times best-selling author all to myself. We chatted about anything and everything, from her experiences flying from place to place on tour, to book cover design, to what I did for a living and finally to her books, and I honestly can't thank her enough for carving out a not-insignificant chunk of time to speak with me. She actually made a point of asking me questions as opposed to waiting for me to simply grill her, and as a result she immediately put me at ease. I would have hugged her if I thought my leaping at her like a crazy person wouldn't have scarred her for life, so I opted to play it cool instead ;-)

After my time with Ally was up, I went and joined the very large crowd waiting for her and jotted down a few notes as she answered everyone's questions:

•      She has always seen the Heist Society series as being open-ended; meaning she entered into it without a set number of books in mind and continues to approach the series that way. There will definitely be more books, she just can't say how many exactly.

•      She says one of the challenges with the Heist Society series is that it's what she calls “unrealistic realistic fiction”. She has to continually come up with heists/cons/settings that are believable as part of the real world, but at the same time she has to create the places (museums, casinos, galleries, etc.) herself in order for her to be able to successfully write the cons. If she used real places, she said the heists would never work given she's not a criminal mastermind ;-) and she wouldn't have the first clue about how Kat and her team could bypass existing security. By creating fictional places, she has control over all the individual pieces and can have the cons unfold as she needs them to.

•      She writes chronologically, always starting with the first chapter and ending with the last.

•      Uncle Eddie is her favorite character. She called him her Dumbledore and wishes someone would show up at a signing with a Team Uncle Eddie t-shirt ;-)

•      She knows what the W.W. stands for in Hale's name, but she's not telling. She said she's been hugely surprised at how readers have latched on to that tiny aspect of the books and continue to obsess over it. She said it was something she just sort of threw in initially and she seemed delighted that it turned out to be something fans ask her about again and again. We will find out what his full name is before the series ends, and Kat has not yet been correct in any of her guesses.

•      She likes to torture her readers. I haven't read the Gallagher Girls series, so I wasn't familiar with any of the characters she mentioned when she was asked questions about the books, but I was able to gather that the Hale of that series, so to speak, is a young man named Zach. A girl in the audience asked her something (the exact question eludes me) about the final book in the series to which Ally replied “Well, after I wrote Zach's funeral scene...” and literally 5 girls around me burst into tears. It took Ally a few minutes to get everyone calmed down and comforted with reassurances that she was not in fact killing Zach off in the final book. The whole situation endeared her to me a little more, as I love an author who isn't afraid to tease and have a little fun at her readers' expense.

•      She said her goal not to provide happy endings with her books, but rather satisfying ones. Some of the girls in the audience looked a little concerned at this pronouncement after the previous mention of Zach's funeral :)

A few pictures from the event:

(Me and Ally)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Review: Unremembered

Unremembered #1
Jessica Brody
Young Adult/Science Fiction
320 pages
Farrar, Straus + Giroux
Available March 5th
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe.

Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.

Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?

Unremembered starts with a shock of cold water and a slew of questions and from there barely gives us a moment to breathe, catapulting us forward as a young woman with a blank canvas for a mind struggles to fill it once again with color. What's instantly noticeable and infinitely more intriguing than the amnesia alone is that Sera doesn't simply struggle to remember her past, she struggles to understand her environment as well; technology, slang, food and so many other things utterly foreign to her when they should be familiar. The classification of this story as sci-fi tips us off to the fact there's more at play with Sera than memory loss, so her curiosity with regard to day to day life after her release from the hospital has our minds churning out possibility after possibility as to what exactly it all means, and we eagerly turn the pages to hurry alongside Sera as she attempts to find out.

Sera is a young woman it's nearly impossible not to like, an innocence and utter guilelessness to her that charms us immediately and brings a smile to our faces as she attempts to sort out what she doesn't understand in her head, often arriving at an amusingly incorrect conclusion. For all that she is brilliant intellectually, she's awkward socially, inexperienced with the nuances of conversation and often stumbling her way through face to face interactions much to our delight. She does have some serious trust issues, but as the story unfolds it's not difficult to understand why, and we find our own ability to trust something we clutch to our chests and protect fiercely, waiting for certain characters to earn it and recognize it for the gift it is.

Zen is someone we don't come to know all that well over the course of this first book, but we what we do know is enough to satisfy the romantic in us, his deep abiding love for Sera apparent to us long before it is to her. Their relationship is an interesting one, neither new nor old, but something in between; Sera's broken memory making their every interaction a first for her even as her heart recognizes the familiarity of every smile, every meaningful glance, and every whispered plea to try and remember. As a result there's a certain level of comfort that exists side by side with the tense newness of it all, a combination that has us fairly vibrating with the desire to peek inside Zen's head in order to help us fill in the blanks we find in Sera's.

Overall, Unremembered is an extremely quick read with a protagonist we look forward to spending a great deal of time with despite the swirling mass of confusion that is her head for most of this first installment. There are certainly unanswered questions by the time we reach the last page, but they are more the kind that stem from simple want rather than need, and so we find ourselves content to wait for the next book when we close the back cover.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lycan Unleashed: Interview + Giveaway

I have the pleasure today of welcoming author Tiffany Allee to the blog to answer a few questions about the latest installment of her paranormal romance series, Lycan Unleashed. It's no secret that lycans/werewolves are a favorite paranormal entity of mine, so I'm greatly looking forward to meeting Mason and seeing what trouble he and heroine Astrid are going to get themselves in!

If you were a detective policing a world full of all things supernatural, what paranormal being would you most want for a partner?

Oh, good question! I’d have to say a lycan. Like vampires, they have enhanced strength and speed, but they are far less likely to look at me like I’m dinner if I get shot and start bleeding everywhere.

A salamander would be a fun choice too. The ability to start things on fire with your mind would totally come in handy if my lunch got cold.

Let's say that for one day Astrid is able to swap her ability as a sensitive for any other paranormal ability. What ability would she think might help her most as a detective?

Well, Astrid’s current power is pretty effective for bringing in bad guys, so I think that if she were to swap abilities she might lean more toward a power she could use to defend herself. Something tough. Maybe a vampire or lycan’s powers. Knowing Astrid’s taste, I’d guess she would go lycan.

What is your all time favorite werewolf/lycan book?

While the main character isn’t a werewolf, Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series is fantastic, and my favorite werewolf-focused series. She does an amazing job with the world building, especially when it comes to the wolves and their social structure and behavior. It’s fabulous and fun.

If roles were reversed and Astrid was to sit down to write a story about you, how might she describe your character?

Oh, you don’t believe in easy questions, do you? I guess she’d describe me as being of average height and build, snarky attitude, but a heart of gold. Okay, maybe gold is an exaggeration. Silver? …Ish.

You're in a dark alley with two vampires blocking the way to freedom. The only thing you have on you is your purse and all its current contents. How do you escape?

I’d turn to the sexiest one, look him up and down, and say, “How you doooiiin?” in a Joey Tribbiani accent.

If that didn’t work, I guess I’d toss my gum at the closest one, prepare to use my keys as a replacement for brass knuckles, and scream my head off. And I’d run. There’d definitely be some running.

What is one thing you learned about police procedure while writing Astrid's character that you didn't know before you started?

Since Lycan Unleashed is the third book in the series, I’d already done quite a bit of research prior to starting the book (I promise, not all of it was from watching cop shows!). But, I did have to research how evidence might be stored while not in use for Astrid’s story, since a piece of evidence being stolen is a pivotal moment in the book.

The books in the Files of the Otherworld Enforcement Agency series all have very sexy covers. If Mason were to see the cover of Lycan Unleashed, what might the first words out of his mouth be?

“Where the hell is my shirt?” :-D

A good question indeed. But not one I particularly need answered. *stares at Mason's bare chest* Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Tiffany! More information on Tiffany and her books can be found here:

• • • • • • • • • •


Detective Astrid Holmes is a sensitive, a human capable of feeling the energy of otherworlders. When she is dispatched to the horrific murder scene of a local vampire, she expects it to be just another day on the job. But when evidence is stolen on her watch, she is removed—not only from the investigation, but from her job as a member of the Chicago police department’s paranormal unit.

Astrid’s only hope of reinstatement lies with her ex co-worker and almost-lover, lycan Mason Sanderson. But convincing the OWEA agent to let her assist with the investigation isn’t nearly as difficult as staying alive when the murderer realizes that Astrid may hold the key to unlocking his identity.

Fighting to take down a killer could have deadly consequences for Astrid and Mason, but working together puts their already fragile relationship in jeopardy.

• • • • • • • • • •


Thanks to Tiffany and Entangled Publishing, I have an eCopy of either Banshee Charmer or Succubus Lost (books 1 and 2 in the series) to give away on the blog today! Please note when entering that these are adult paranormal romance books, not YA. Because these are eCopies, this giveaway is international, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck everyone!
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cover Reveal + Giveaway: These Broken Stars

I'm super excited today to be able to share with you the cover for These Broken Stars, a new young adult science fiction novel by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner set to release in December from Disney Hyperion. I also have the pleasure of introducing you to Tarver, war hero and love interest extraordinaire, so get ready to add this one to your "must have" lists!

Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
December 10th, 2013
Disney Hyperion

It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

The first in a sweeping science fiction trilogy, These Broken Stars is a timeless love story about hope and survival in the face of unthinkable odds.

Early praise For These Broken Stars:

"Absolutely brilliant. This is the sci fi I've been waiting for! Action, romance, twists and turns–this book has it all!" – New York Times bestselling author of Across The Universe, Beth Revis

• • • • • • • • • • 


Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner are longtime friends and sometime flatmates who have traveled the world (but not yet the galaxy), covering every continent between them. They are sure outer space is only a matter of time. Meagan, who is also the author of the SKYLARK trilogy, currently lives just outside DC, while Amie lives in Melbourne, Australia. Although they currently live apart, they are united by their love of space opera, road trips, and second breakfasts.



• • • • • • • • • •


You see that gorgeous photo up there? One of the things we adore about our cover is how well-cast the models in the photo shoot were. It’ll be a while before most people get to meet Lilac and Tarver completely, but we thought that since you’re all getting a little glimpse at them on the cover, it’d be a good idea to tell you a little more about the stars of the story! Meet Tarver--for Lilac, click here!

Age: 18
Height: 6’2”
Hair: Dark brown
Eyes: Brown
Rank: Major

Bio: Tarver Merendsen is a decorated war hero. He enlisted when he reached his majority at sixteen, and by eighteen has been promoted with unusual speed to the rank of Major, acquiring a chest full of medals along the way. Raised on a quiet planet in a rural area, he’d rather spend an evening with his platoon than facing down a room full of cameras, and he’s uncomfortable in the spotlight. High society makes his teeth hurt. But despite appearances, he’s about to discover that Lilac LaRoux isn’t like the rest of them. And if they’re going to survive, they’re going to have to work together.

• • • • • • • • • •


Five other fabulous blogs are participating in this cover reveal extravaganza, each with unique content about the making of the cover, the characters themselves, and the story behind the title, so be sure and visit them so you don't miss out on any info and enter for a chance to win an ARC!

Cuddlebuggery: See what the cover COULD have looked like, plus a live interview with Amie and Meg!

The Book Smugglers: This is all well and good, but what do the authors REALLY think about their cover?

The Midnight Garden: Where did the title come from?

Pub(lishing) Crawl: Check out this exclusive interview from cover designer Whitney Manger!

Mundie Moms: Want to know more about the characters on the cover? Click for more about Lilac!

• • • • • • • • • •


Thanks to Amie, Meg and Disney Hyperion, I have one ARC of These Broken Stars to give away on the blog today! To enter, please just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US/Canada only. Good luck everyone!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Review: The Goddess Inheritance

Goddess Test #3
Aimee Carter
Paranormal Young Adult
Harlequin Teen
384 pages
Available February 26th
Received from publisher via NetGalley

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Love or life.
Henry or their child.
The end of her family or the end of the world.
Kate must choose.

During nine months of captivity, Kate Winters has survived a jealous goddess, a vengeful Titan and a pregnancy she never asked for. Now the Queen of the Gods wants her unborn child, and Kate can't stop her--until Cronus offers a deal.

In exchange for her loyalty and devotion, the King of the Titans will spare humanity and let Kate keep her child. Yet even if Kate agrees, he'll destroy Henry, her mother and the rest of the council. And if she refuses, Cronus will tear the world apart until every last god and mortal is dead.

With the fate of everyone she loves resting on her shoulders, Kate must do the impossible: find a way to defeat the most powerful being in existence, even if it costs her everything.

Even if it costs her eternity.

As befitting the final installment of a trilogy, The Goddess Inheritance is action packed from beginning to end, building on the physical and emotional intensity of the previous two installments and bringing everything to a dramatic and tearful conclusion. We pick up nine months after the brutal cliffhanger of book two, our concern for Kate returning with shocking clarity as our minds play catch up, and our nerves remain exposed throughout – the battle between the council, Cronus and Calliope wreaking havoc on characters and readers alike.

Kate has been a challenging character from book one, her instinctual reaction to fall on her sword as the solution to any situation that demands payment in the form of violence or sacrifice one that has plagued us from the beginning, but it is particularly strong in this last book. Despite both James and Henry calling her on this tendency, Kate simply acknowledges their comments and then disregards them when a new opportunity to save others arises, and while we at first applaud a mother's need to do anything and everything to save her child, the repetition of Kate's actions seems to gradually distort the grand gesture from a noble one to something else entirely.

Initially we can't help but see Kate's willingness to do what Cronus asks of her in order to spare her child and Henry further pain as the selfless act it appears to be, but it doesn't take long before red flags begin to wave themselves madly in our field of vision–suspicions that are later confirmed by Kate herself–to make us question her motives. We come to realize her actions are both admirably selfless and extraordinarily selfish; the decision to lay down her life for those of her family not simply about wanting to protect them, but even more so about wanting to protect herself, the weight of loss a burden she prefers to hand off to someone else because she's not strong enough to bear it herself. That realization–that she'd rather leave Henry and her family to deal with the agony of her death, especially knowing what Henry's already suffered prior to their marriage, than simply be honest and communicate with them to try and find an answer to their problems that doesn't result in her martyrdom–darkens and twists our perception of her into something we can't quite move past no matter how much we wish to.

Despite the issues with Kate, The Goddess Inheritance is as captivating as its two predecessors, the emotional dramas of the inhabitants of Olympus painfully riveting, and Ms. Carter does a beautiful job of deftly tugging on our heartstrings each and every chapter. Though Kate and Henry's relationship still doesn't feel quite as genuine as we might like, the love between them still feeling somewhat fragile and delicate even after all they've been through, they present a more unified front in this final book to give us a little hope that their romance will achieve that solidity in the future even if we're not able to witness it for ourselves.

Rating: 3.5/5

Monday, February 18, 2013

Shadows in the Silence Blog Tour: Will and Cadan Extras

Today I'm really excited to welcome back to the blog the promotional tour for Courtney Allison Moulton's paranormal young adult novel Shadows in the Silence! You can check out my first stop HERE for an exclusive (and smoking hot) teaser, and enter for your chance to win copies of the entire series.

For this second stop, I have the pleasure of sharing with you a sneak peek at the exclusive Wings of the Wicked (book 2) short stories, complete with an introduction by Courtney herself:

As with the paperback "Extras" edition of Angelfire, Wings of the Wicked also contains short stories exclusive to the paperback "Extras" edition. They aren't found in the hardcover edition or in the ebook - only in the paperback edition marked with "Extras!" I'm very lucky that my publisher enjoys these scenes from different points-of-view as much as I do and enough to add them in the paperback editions of my books for my readers to enjoy as well. To read the rest of the short stories, check out the paperback "Extras" edition of Wings of the Wicked!

• • • • • • • • • •


I entered through the revolving door and headed for the elevator, which shot me toward the sky and stopped at my floor. The moment the doors slipped open, I sensed demonic energy. It pulsed in my brain—against the walls and floor and ceiling like heavy pressure threatening to blow away these barriers if it were to build even the most miniscule amount more. The presence of the energy seemed to call to me, “I am here. This is what I am capable of and willing to do if I am displeased. All that exists in this world remains only because I have not yet destroyed it.” Only my father was ever that arrogant.

My keys jangled in my hands to announce my own presence. I didn’t realize I’d been holding my breath until I unlocked my apartment and pushed open the door. The lamp on an end table bathed the living room in low, steady light. On the other side of the room, Bastian stood with his back to me, gazing out the floor-length windows overlooking the city. I had to force myself to cross the threshold and enter my home which Bastian had violated and claimed. This was supposed to be my refuge from the carnage of my demonic purpose. This was where I could feel human.

“Where have you been?” Bastian’s voice was a cold steel knife through the silence. “You smell like blood.”


Frank Meyer drew a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “I promise you, it’s her. I wouldn’t get this wrong. Some faces you never forget.”

He led me outside and into the sunlight. Across the green lawn dotted with trees were students intermingling after classes had ended, lingering to spend time with friends before departing or waiting for their rides.

“She’s around here somewhere,” Frank said distantly. “She’s usually picked up by her mother.”

But I had already spotted her before he finished that sentence and all the breath had been stolen from me. She was there, seated on the grass beside a blond-haired girl in the shade of a tree. She was laughing. Her smile crippled me. I struggled to stay standing and to not make a scene, but my knees wanted to buckle from my overwhelming emotions. She looked just as I remembered her. Her hair was a gleaming waterfall of cherries and dark chocolate, a color so unreal that sometimes I’d had to touch it to prove to myself it wasn’t some vision of dark fire. She was beautiful.

Thanks so much for sharing these with us Courtney! More information on Courtney and the Angelfire trilogy can be found here:

Amazon Buy Link
Barnes and Noble Buy Link
IndieBound Buy Link

• • • • • • • • • •


Your strength in heart and hand will fall. . . .

Ellie knows that the darkest moments are still to come, and she has everything to fight for:

She must fight for Will.
The demonic have resorted to their cruelest weapons to put Will in mortal danger, and Ellie makes an unlikely alliance to save him and to stop Lilith and Sammael, who seek to drown the world in blood and tear a hole into Heaven.

She must fight for humanity.

As the armies of Hell rise and gather for the looming End of Days, Ellie and her band of allies travel to the world’s darkest and most ancient regions in her quest to come into her full glory as the archangel Gabriel.

And Ellie must save herself.

Her humanity withers beneath the weight of her cold archangel power, but Ellie must hold tight to who she is and who she loves as she prepares for the ultimate battle for Heaven and Earth.

In this final installment in the Angelfire trilogy, Courtney Allison Moulton brings her dark world of epic battles and blistering romance to a blazing bright conclusion.

• • • • • • • • • •

Don't miss out on any of the previous or remaining tour stops! Each one has fun and exclusive content as well as a chance to win a complete set of the Angelfire trilogy.

1/30 - Once Upon a Twilight
2/1 - thebookcellarx

2/4 - supernaturalsnark
2/6 - MundieMoms
2/8 - Fiktshun

2/12 - PageTurnersBlog
2/13 - Once Upon A Twilight
2/15 - thebookcellarx

2/18 - supernaturalsnark
2/20 - Fiktshun
2/22 - MundieMoms

Friday, February 15, 2013

Review: Losing It

Losing It #1
Cora Carmack
New Adult Contemporary Romance
288 pages
William Morrow
Available February 26th
Received from publisher via Edelweiss

THE STORY (from Goodreads)

Bliss Edwards is about to graduate from college and still has hers. Sick of being the only virgin among her friends, she decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose it as quickly and simply as possible-- a one-night stand. But her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she freaks out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed with an excuse that no one with half-a-brain would ever believe. 

And as if that weren’t embarrassing enough, when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, she recognizes her new theatre professor. 

She’d left him naked in her bed about 8 hours earlier.

Losing It is a story that brings an enormous smile to our faces, the protagonist’s penchant for landing herself in the most awkward situations imaginable something we know would only add to her humiliation were she aware of us as additional witnesses, but her embarrassment causes not a single laugh directed at her to escape our mouths, instead we always laugh with her, invisible partners to share the burden of her repeated romantic misfortunes. This book is one to read for pure enjoyment, Bliss and Garrick highly entertaining characters despite the fact that they don’t necessarily bring anything new to the contemporary romance table, and we find in their story the simplicity of a spectacularly fun read.

Bliss is endlessly amusing, someone who embodies those moments we’ve all had where mysterious gremlins intercept the words we want to say when they leave our brains, twist them around completely, and then release them from our mouths, laughing all the while in maniacal glee at what they’ve done. There’s an extreme disconnect between her brain and mouth when she gets nervous, and her bumbling actions and frantic excuses have us laughing aloud even as our cheeks turn bright red in vicarious mortification. As the story progresses her awkwardness throttles down several gears, ensuring she doesn’t become a caricature of quirkiness and allowing us to really connect to her emotionally instead of simply finding ourselves amused at her antics.

Garrick is as adorably swoon-worthy as they come, a sexy accent accompanied by intelligence, patience, and charm to make Bliss’s (and our) hearts beat double-time. As mentioned previously, he’s not a new character by any means, many of his traits things we’ve seen before several times over, but his familiar feel doesn’t detract from his romance with Bliss, and we’re easily caught up in the little lies and the huge teacher-student relationship danger that exists between them. The possibility of their being caught has us strung tight the entire second half of the story, waiting for the inevitable moment when everything they’ve begun to build starts to crumble around them. Luckily for us though, there is absolutely no game playing for our leading couple, and while things for them are hard and painful at times, we always have faith that the rather blunt approach they’ve taken throughout in terms of communication will see them through.

Overall, Losing It is a joy to read even if it’s not blazing a new romantic trail, and both Bliss and Garrick are characters whose memory warm our hearts every time we think of them.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Review: Nobody

Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Paranormal Young Adult
400 pages
Available Now
Received from Media Masters Publicity for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
There are people in this world who are Nobody. No one sees them. No one notices them. They live their lives under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away.

That’s why they make the perfect assassins.

The Institute finds these people when they’re young and takes them away for training. But an untrained Nobody is a threat to their organization. And threats must be eliminated.

Sixteen-year-old Claire has been invisible her whole life, missed by the Institute’s monitoring. But now they’ve ID’ed her and send seventeen-year-old Nix to remove her. Yet the moment he lays eyes on her, he can’t make the hit. It’s as if Claire and Nix are the only people in the world for each other. And they are—because no one else ever notices them.

Nobody is a bit of a strange read, almost as though the story itself takes on the qualities of the Nobodies themselves, becoming something our minds can’t quite wrap themselves around and hovering in a sort of intangible state where we’re never clearly able to determine how we feel about it. A Nobody is someone who goes essentially unnoticed, taking up space but never truly filling it as not a single person around them recognizes they’re there; not truly invisible but for all intents and purposes, transparent just the same. Much the same way, we read Claire and Nix’s story with a kind of detachment, finding ourselves intrigued and fascinated by what’s unfolding chapter to chapter, but for some reason the events and characters themselves don’t quite brand themselves in our memories, and we’re able to move on to the next book without thoughts of Claire and Nix lingering.

Claire is someone we can’t help but like instantaneously, her inner monologue as she humorously despairs of her social invisibility both at home and school bringing a big smile to our faces. Once she meets Nix some of that humor slips away as the seriousness of her Nobody status is brought to her attention, but she remains a young woman who keeps a level head and approaches revelation after revelation with an admirable positivity and maturity. Though her attraction to Nix can be described as instant and powerful, the fact that she’s gone virtually unseen throughout her entire fifteen years in existence provides a believable explanation as to why finding someone whose eyes don’t simply focus somewhere over her shoulder is such a heady thing for her.

Nix is a bit harder to connect to, his brutal life as an assassin and pawn of a powerful society rendering him a shell of a human being, a strong and unbreakable carapace protecting a heart that by design and nurture is empty of love, compassion and feeling in general. He is simply his job until he meets Claire, and as his world is turned upside down, we have the pleasure of watching as Claire finds a tiny crack in that hard outer shell and begins to fill the empty spaces with all the affection and understanding they’ve both been denied for so long.

Overall, Nobody is an entertaining read, though those who like clear explanations for any paranormal abilities may find themselves a touch frustrated with the lack of information regarding Nobodies and Nulls. The romance, after the initial instant attraction, settles into something a bit more subtle, both Claire and Nix trying to navigate the heavily potholed road of young love, a road made all the more difficult given their deeply rooted loneliness and sense of unworthiness. The ending is neither wide open nor perfectly wrapped up, leaving us in the same kind of odd limbo we’ve been in throughout, everything about Nix, Claire and this world having a slightly blurry edge to it where no matter how long and hard we stare, nothing ever becomes perfectly clear.

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Series Review: The Heist Society Novels

Contemporary Young Adult
Disney Hyperion
Available now
Bought/Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (Heist Society, book #1, from Goodreads)
When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's history--and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

Fun and flirty, the Heist Society novels are quick and entertaining reads, jetting us all around the world as we follow a teenage crew of thieves–characters in the truest sense of the word–who keep us laughing even as we wonder how they’re possibly going to pull off their next job. A certain level of disbelief must be suspended before picking these books up, as Kat and her team get in and out of terribly difficult situations with relative ease, making it clear that these books are meant simply to be enjoyed rather than read critically for their criminal believability. Reading any book in this series brings a smile to our faces, and we open the first page prepared to settle in for a little travel, a little moral ambiguity, and a whole lot of mischief.

Kat Bishop, teenage thief and leader of a crew that features a billionaire inside man, a pair of brothers with a penchant for explosives, a stunningly attractive young woman who excels at distraction, and a computer genius, isn’t someone we necessarily get to know all that well during the course of her exploits, but someone we look forward to reading about just the same. She does have a tendency to be completely and frustratingly self-reliant in the first two books, pushing best friend and love interest W.W. Hale the Fifth away again and again despite his blatantly obvious desire to be whatever she needs him to be, but by the time we reach Perfect Scoundrels, Kat’s hands no longer exert force to push him away and instead thankfully try to pull him closer.

Those looking for an epic romance will likely be left wanting with these books given the focus is always on the heist itself, leaving the various character relationships to simmer warmly in the background. The more subtle nature of Kat’s relationship with Hale fits these stories beautifully though, their friendship and occasional flirtation a refreshing departure from grand gestures and too-soon declarations of love, and we can’t help but revel in the levity of their interactions. Perfect Scoundrels is perhaps the most emotional of the three, the difference between Hale’s world and Kat’s world brought into sharp focus and stark contrast as their two separate upbringings collide in a very personal way, making our hearts beat a little faster as the depth of certain feelings tangle irreparably with the con itself.

Overall the Heist Society novels are perfect for a sunny afternoon in between dark dystopian or gut-wrenching contemporary reads, guaranteed to charm and delight readers with a myriad of playful and memorable characters.

Rating: 4/5


For those of you in the southern Ohio/Northern Kentucky area, Ally Carter will be signing books tonight at 7pm ET at the Joseph Beth Booksellers at Rookwood Pavilion. I'm hugely excited to be able to attend and will be making the trip from Columbus to do so. I plan to take lots of pictures and generally be an Ally fangirl, complete with moments of awkward social behavior because it's well known that I'm unable to be cool in the face of authors whose books I enjoy. *pats self on back for being awesome* Hope some of you who are nearby can make it!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review: Notes From Ghost Town

Kate Ellison
Paranormal young adult
336 pages
Available today!
Received from Media Masters Publicity for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
They say first love never dies...

From critically acclaimed author Kate Ellison comes a heartbreaking mystery of mental illness, unspoken love, and murder. When sixteen-year-old artist Olivia Tithe is visited by the ghost of her first love, Lucas Stern, it’s only through scattered images and notes left behind that she can unravel the mystery of his death.

There’s a catch: Olivia has gone colorblind, and there’s a good chance she’s losing her mind completely—just like her mother did. How else to explain seeing (and falling in love all over again with) someone who isn’t really there?

With the murder trial looming just nine days away, Olivia must follow her heart to the truth, no matter how painful. It’s the only way she can save herself.

Notes from Ghost Town is one of those reads that lets us know from the first page that our hearts are going bear a few new scars once it’s done with us, our knowledge of Stern’s death thanks to the synopsis and prologue made an even heavier burden to bear given he’s alive briefly in the first chapter. Those few precious moments with him–a young man full of color, life, and love for his best friend–makes the abrupt transition from life to death all the more painful, the color we could have sworn we saw on those few pages we spent with him suddenly a stark black, a haunting echo of Livie’s own colorblindness.

Livie is someone we come to care for instantaneously, her nervousness over the subtle changes taking place between her and Stern something we wrap around our shoulders to preserve heat and ward off the chill we know is coming. The Livie we find waiting for us just one chapter later and almost ten months after Stern's murder is a very different young woman, someone we stare at long and hard searching for remnants the sweet and nervous art lover we just embraced, but ultimately finding a grieving, angry and painfully lost little girl in her place. While it’s hard to bear witness to the continued downward spiral Stern’s death has caused, we more than understand her inability to control how her hurt escapes the tight lockdown she tries to keep on it, often erupting with more volatility in order to get past her vise like grip than it would if she simply released it on her own.

Though she often lashes out at any who dare get close to her, Livie never comes across as needlessly cruel or gets to the point where her anger pushes us away as it does those around her, instead her words and actions only have us opening our arms up wider in the hope she might find some comfort in them despite her fictional status. Behind the pain of a two-fold loss in both Stern and her mother, Livie is also dealing with the appearance of Stern’s ghost, something that seems for her to be the confirmation of a very real and profound fear that her mother’s mental illness is beginning to manifest in her. Just when it seems as though we can’t possibly bear any more darkness in Livie’s life however, Ms. Ellison grants us a bit of beauty and light thanks to Stern’s presence, however real or imagined, their time together heavy with words unspoken and promise unfulfilled, causing grateful tears to well in our eyes just to see them reunited even knowing it’s only for a short time.

In addition to a stunning relationship between two best friends who ran out of time to be anything more, Ms. Ellison gives us a truly engrossing murder mystery, the circumstances of Stern’s murder suspicious at best and growing more so with everything Livie learns as he guides her with cryptic memories. With romance (both of the ghostly and real-life variety), heartache, action, and complicated family dynamics, Notes from Ghost Town delivers on every possible level, and I cannot wait to get my hands on whatever Ms. Ellison writes next.

Rating: 4/5