Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Review: Embrace

(The Violet Eden Chapters #1)
Jessica Shirvington
Paranormal Young Adult
367 pages
Sourcebooks Fire
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
It starts with a whisper: “It’s time for you to know who you are…”

Violet Eden dreads her seventeenth birthday. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. As if that wasn’t enough, disturbing dreams haunt her sleep and leave her with very real injuries. There’s a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms that wasn’t there before.

Violet is determined to get some answers, but nothing could have prepared her for the truth. The guy she thought she could fall in love with has been keeping his identity a secret: he’s only half-human—oh, and same goes for her.

A centuries-old battle between fallen angels and the protectors of humanity has chosen its new warrior. It’s a fight Violet doesn’t want, but she lives her life by two rules: don’t run and don’t quit. When angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden…

Embrace is a maze made up of light and shadow, each step we take alongside our protagonist exposing us to both in equal measure as we twist and turn through a story where it seems as though we're the only ones denied a map to help navigate the labyrinth, and we tread carefully in a world of angels who defy all previous definition. One of the more fascinating elements of the story is the angel mythology itself, giving us beings free for the most part from any ties to organized religion and God who occupy a realm all their own where light and dark don’t necessarily correspond to good and evil, but rather each type muddies the waters and we must open our minds to a new interpretation full of blurred lines and complex lore.

For as interesting as Ms. Shirvington’s history of angels is–our naturally inquisitive minds itching for more of the fresh and new relationships between human, angel and Grigori while reading–protagonist Violet poses a rather unique set of problems for us. Her behavior through ninety percent of the book is confounding and at times downright frustrating, her seemingly illogical anger toward Lincoln for withholding information from her causing us to grit our teeth and groan out loud every time she opens her mouth to berate him. Yes, someone she loves desperately kept secrets that involved her, but his intent was never the slightest bit malicious, and so while we understand her initial pain and hurt, the intensity of her continued reaction to him tests the limits of our patience as she seems to grant extraordinary leeway to a stranger while denying the young man she supposedly loves even the smallest of courtesies.

It’s not until the very final pages that we come to understand Violet’s behavior fully and completely, and while the revelations suck some of the heat out of our ire, we’re given so little time to deal with the person Violet actually is as opposed to the one we’ve seen for the past three hundred pages that we’re left somewhat at a loss as to how to feel about her. We want to believe in her and disregard her words and actions based on our new information, but the end of this first installment finds us before our opinion of her can really change. Thus, we finish this story with a character who is a complete stranger to us despite all the time we’ve spent with her, and we now have to wait for the second installment to reintroduce ourselves to a young woman who will hopefully prove herself more worthy of our affection.

Overall, Embrace is a rather tricky read given our tumultuous relationship with Violet, Lincoln and Phoenix, but ultimately the world is interesting enough and the characters certainly written in a way that guarantees an emotional response whether positive or negative that our desire to pick up the next book is strong upon finishing.

Rating: 3/5


  1. I've read too many angel books lately - particularly since I don't like angels - so I'll probably skip this one. I just finished Wings of the Wicked and Hallowed. I liked the former a little better than the latter. Ironic, considering that I like Unearthly much more than Angelfire.

    I do hate when large amounts of revelations are sprung at us at the end rather than developing the plot well enough in a first book.

  2. I'm really eager to pick this up despite your confusion with Violet. I love Angel Stories and I'm so happy to hear it takes over a great deal in the story itself.

    I'm a little more wary now when I read it and I'm looking forward to see how I liked it compared to you. So often we agree :-))

  3. Books that the characters are written in a way that provoke response (good or bad) are always interesting to read the reviews of. I will watching for this one to pop up all over the blogsphere :)

  4. Not to be captain obvious here, but frustrating characters are frustrating. I mean, it's always good to get a reaction, but after 300 pages, you should know how to feel about the MC.

  5. I haven't read many angel books, but I really enjoyed the ones that I did read. I'll have to keep this one in mind. I love the cover.

  6. Alison - I'm excited to try Wings of the Wicked! Angel books are just hard for me, but my problems with this actually had nothing to do with the angel lore but with Violet. She was difficult for me to like.

    Danny - I'll be interested to see what you think! Violet tested me in this book, so I'm curious to see what I'll think of her in the next one.

    Felicia - I enjoy books like this that inspire mixed reviews, makes things interesting:)

    Amanda - Hahahaha yes. Yes they are. It was strange to get to the end and really know nothing about her because the girl we saw previously really wasn't her.

    Jennifer - I love the cover too, it's gorgeous. And I enjoyed her version of angels:)

  7. So many people are having the same disconnection with Violet, and I'm really sorry you felt that way too! Some of the things she did bothered me too (especially with Lincoln because I really wanted the both of them to be together LOL!), but I guess the twist on the end only made me excited what Jessica would do with the story! :) But I agree with you about the angel lore -- it was so fascinating to read!

    Awesome honest review, Jenny! I'll be crossing my fingers with you that the next book will be great! ;) <3

  8. You know me and angel books don't really get along. Hrm..I wonder what that says about the status of my soul. LOL! Anywho, you're frustrations seem to echo a lot of the reviews that I've read for this book. Cool concept, but the execution isn't quite up to par. I'm going to take a pass on this one. Thanks for your honest review, Jenny, it's always appreciated. :)

  9. Hmmm, I've been waiting for your thoughts on this one. I'm having a fit to read it. It's unfortunate about the frustrations with Violet and the too-short time to resolve them, but THANKFULLY this is one of those series where the next books will be released in quick succession. Hopefully that'll help with those feelings of frustration, Jenny!

    Thanks for your thoughts. I think I'm still hoping to find my way to a copy. For some reason, I'm one of those who tends to gravitate toward the angel mythology books, as long as the mythology and good vs. evil is done well. I'm anxious to try this one out. ;)

  10. Jenny! You brilliant wordsmith, you! I've already read several reviews for this book and have decided it's not for me. Violet's behavior just turns me off. But your review is beautiful, as usual.

  11. Oooh I'm getting ready to start this one soon! Well despite the disconnection with Violet at least you still had an emotional response right???

    I'm so in love with this cover!!

  12. Great review Jenny! It seems that angel books are hit and miss with me but since I've been seeing Embrace on all the blogs and I am interested in reading it and seeing how I will like it.

  13. Mimi - I wanted her and Lincoln to be together as well, that was part of my problem. She was just cruel to him at times, and while he may have deserved her hurt in the beginning, her continued attitude grated on my nerves. Still, it was a good story so I'll keep reading!

    Rummanah - They're really hit or miss with me. This one was a hit and a miss really. Loved the angel mythology, didn't love Violet so much.

    Asheley - It was a tricky read for sure. Definitely a lot of positives, but Violet herself was a huge negative for me, though I am looking forward to seeing her growth in the next books.

    Missie - Hahahaha I try ;-) I wanted to like Violet, I really did, and I think I will like her moving forward, but I couldn't deal with her treatment of Lincoln in this one.

    Ashley - Can't wait to compare notes! And yes, I was emotionally involved even though a lot of times that emotion was anger at Violet. But I'll take anger and frustration over being indifferent any day:)

    Jenny - Thanks! It's definitely worth a try, I love the books that get a variety of different reactions:)

  14. I liked the angel mythology in this one too even if I think it could be better sketched out. Why I'm looking forward to the sequel though is because I get a chance to meet a new Violet as opposed to the one who annoyed me in Embrace. Great review, Jenny!

  15. The angel mythology sounds fascinating, but I'm not sure how I would feel about the main character. Even though her behaviour is clearer to the reader towards the end of the book, I hate the thought of not connecting with her during the main part of the story. It can really ruin the reading experience for me if I don't like the MC. Still, I'm glad you think the world building is interesting enough to make this an enjoyable book. I will have to check it out when I can. :)

  16. Sigh...why is it so hard to find a wow book about mermaids and angels. I keep trying but most just fall in the average reads category. l like some or the fresh ideas you covered in this review and I am extremely curious about what happens to the protagonist at the end to elicit such a strong emotion from you Jenny. That might be worth checking out.

  17. Sounds like this one was a mixed bag for you, Jenny! I remember reading about these books when they were first out in Australia and thinking that I'd love them, but since then I haven't picked up a copy even though the first book was released over here a while back. I'll have to get to it soon.

    Your covers are so much prettier than ours!!

  18. I think Violets behavior would frustrate me a lot. And I'm kind of tired of frustrating MC's that act that way. I've heard mixed things about this book (nothing BAD, just a lot of just okay) so I'm not sure if I'll read it or not. Maybe if it falls into my lap then I'll give it a try.
    It IS a pretty cover!

  19. Z - I agree, I'm looking forward to meeting the new Violet too:)

    Sam - It was hard to deal with, I admit. I wanted to like her, but she just kept getting so inexplicably angry that I couldn't understand her:)

    Heidi - True. I've loved a couple angel books, but not many, and I'm still struggling to find a mermaid book that makes me go "wow". There are a bunch coming up in the next few months, so I'm holding out hope!

    Leanna - It definitely was! I liked many things, but Violet kind of overshadowed all the things I liked. I don't think that will be an issue in the next book though, so I'm really excited to read it.

    Candace - She drove me crazy, but it was an entertaining read despite my frustrations with her!

  20. oh, great review! All I've really heard is praise, and I've been thinking that NOBODY HATES THIS BOOK? how is that possible? I have a review copy of this, so I'm curious about it, definitely.

    Ashelynn @ Gypsy Book Reviews.
    Be sure to read my cover interview with THE LOST GIRL's author, Sangu Mandanna.

  21. I kinda guess that Phoenix was influencing her more than we thought, but still, you are right I don't quite know what to think about Violet. That is why I thought if the people closest to her were a bit more fleshed out, we might get a better insight. To me, they were as confusing as Violet. I'm most curious about Phoenix *waggles eyebrows* Oh that bad angel! LOL

  22. I am glad the world saved it for you. It must be a good world then

  23. Ok, after hearing from quite a few bloggers that the end justifies the means, I will finish this book. I stopped half-way through because Violet REALLY annoyed me. Hopefully, she will annoy me less by the end of the book.
    Truly Bookish

  24. Hmmmm I think Im on the fence with this one....:/

    But hey I love the name Violet!! I wanted to name my youngest Violet or Lily...but the hubs said NO WAY to both of those names **sad face** we wound up with a cute name though...:DAnyways now Im rambling on your blog..so goodbye...:)

  25. I'm not a big fan of angel books so I don't know about this one. I have it but something is stopping me from picking it up...

  26. I LOVED THIS BOOK! I really loved the way it was written differently! Thanks for sharing Jenny!

  27. This is one of the most fair and balanced reviews of this book I've read yet. I've had this book for awhile but have been hesitant to pick it up because many reviews are either very dismissive or gushing, so I'm glad to have your level-headed point of view! I'm going to go into it with an open mind. :)

  28. I started to read this and ended up putting it down. I like the characters and the story itself. I just didn't like how easily and fast Violet accepted the existence of angels, especially her involvement with it. I agree how her behavior toward Lincoln is rather infuriating. I hope to pick this up again and give it another try. Great review!

  29. I'm not really into angel books so I'll think I'll pass this one .. It sounds good but I've read too many negative reviews on this one !! Thanks for the great review Jenny :)

  30. Gah, Jenny, your reviews are always so well written! I'm completely envious of the way you can weave words together in a fair review. I love how even though you didn't love this book, you didn't completely shred it to pieces either, like some reviewers do. :) Violet was a character I definitely had problems with, and even in the end, I felt that she didn't really redeem herself. Your review is so spot on, Jenny! I love it. :)

  31. I've had this book for a while now and after having read your review I must admit that I am pretty hesitant to read it. The main doing a complete 180 on us? Yeah, doesn't sound all that appealing. Even the angel aspect doesn't make up for it (which is fairly bad since I am such an angel person)... :/

  32. "her seemingly illogical anger toward Lincoln for withholding information from her causing us to grit our teeth and groan out loud every time she opens her mouth to berate him. Yes, someone she loves desperately kept secrets that involved her, but his intent was never the slightest bit malicious, and so while we understand her initial pain and hurt, the intensity of her continued reaction to him tests the limits of our patience as she seems to grant extraordinary leeway to a stranger while denying the young man she supposedly loves even the smallest of courtesies."

    GOD, YES. That's it right there. My whole problem with this book. Violet just pissed me off continuously. And I couldn't... let go of that anger by the end of the book, even with the explanations. It just felt like excuses, as irrational as that is. But, Lincoln took verbal beating after beating and distance from someone he loves (though, I'm not totally convinced as to why, but then again, he's been exposed to a Violet we barely know at this point) and my frustration with her just... left me POed. Even though the Sexy Times with Phoenix were pretty, well, HOT.

    I'm hoping for better from Violet, more Lincoln, and then this series and I will be golden.


  33. I'm burned out on angels. I just don't think I can read another one, no matter how different or unique the lore is. I'm glad to know this one wasn't that one in a million can't miss book. I'll wait and see how the whole series pans out before I read it. Great review. Thanks for sharing why it was a three.


  34. While I love the purple and the cover's intriguing, I'm just not sure about another angel book, especially if the MC just didn't click with you. You're a pretty good judge and I haven't been steered wrong by you--if I run across this one, I might read it but it's not at the top of my TBR (mostly because it's so ridiculously towering at the moment...).

  35. I am way to curious about this one, but I'm still a bit scared. I've heard a lot of similar things as you just said. It does sound really good though, so I'll probably pick it up sometime in the future! I don't think I'll bump it up the pile yet though:)