Friday, May 31, 2013

Follow Friday (67)

Feature and Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read!

Q. What blogger would you most like to meet in real life? Tell us about him or her.

A. Okay I'm going to be truthful here. I could probably list a ton of bloggers that I follow or whatnot but honestly, if I could meet one blogger, I would very much like to meet my co-blogger Emily. Like actual meet, not the twitter/Facebook/texting relationship we have now.

Why? Because what I do know of her is that she is an awesome person with excellent taste in books. And I really want to get the in-person experience. Was this answer cheesy? Haha probably but it's true :)
I would want to meet my two Jen(n) friends: Jenn, my beloved co-blogger and Jen from The Starry-Eyed Revue. Both have become good friends of mine and they are just such sweethearts! I want to give them super awkward hugs and show them that I'm as weird in person as I am on the interwebz. I know I'll meet Jenn next year because I'm forcing her to join me at BEA. We'll eat sushi and Chipotle together. Nomnomnom
What blogger(s) would you like to meet in person?

Blog Tour: ARC Review: Spirit (Elementals #3) by Brigid Kemmerer

Today we are happy to be a part of the Spirit Blog Tour hosted by The Midnight Garden Blog Tours
Find the other tour stops HERE.

Spirit (Elementals #3) by Brigid Kemmerer
The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: KTeen
301 Pages

With power comes enemies. Lots of them.

Hunter Garrity just wants to be left alone. He’s learned the hard way that his unusual abilities come at a price. And he can’t seem to afford any allies.

He’s up to his neck in hostiles. His grandfather, spoiling for a fight. The Merrick brothers, who think he ratted them out. Calla, the scheming psycho who wants to use him as bait.

Then there’s Kate Sullivan, the new girl at school. She’s not hostile. She’s bold. Funny. Hot. But she’s got an agenda, too.

With supposedly secret powers rippling to the surface everywhere around him, Hunter knows something ugly is about to go down. But finding out what means he’ll have to find someone he can trust…

This review is spoiler free for the Elementals series.

I'm obsessed with this series. I have to admit, we had a rocky beginning, but after reading the first book? I was willing to offer my firstborn son. Now, after reading Spirit, the third book in the Elementals series, Brigid Kemmerer can have my soul.

Hunter's life is in the gutter. His friendships have fizzled after the events in Spark. His grandparents have made it clear that they couldn't care less about him. His mother is negligent and sick with grief over the death of Hunter's father. The boy is alone, his abilities make sure of that. The new girl, though, has caught his eye. It's obvious that she's hiding something big, but Hunter thinks he's found someone who understands, someone he can trust. 

I was not expecting a book from Hunter's point-of-view and was a bit taken aback when I realized that's what Spirit was. Hunter was not my favorite character, but I was definitely curious to learn more about him. His past was still pretty unclear after the first two books. We knew very little about Hunter, but his role in the series has grown a lot since the beginning so getting a chance to learn about him was necessary. 

The author continues to portray phenomenal storytelling. Her writing style is addictive, making her books "unputdownable." The plot moves very steadily. I had trouble putting it down! There's just something about this series that sucks in you in and doesn't let you go even after you finish the journey. It's like crack. Book crack. (And the withdrawal symptoms come after the end as well.) 

The emotional aspect of this series also rose in this novel. The level of intensity is almost overwhelming sometimes. I was surprised that Hunter's story was able to provoke a lot of emotions from me. Kemmerer handed out angst like it was candy in Spirit. I teared up more than once. This book pulls out other feelings as well. There were moments of frustration, of anger and some hilarious parts that will have readers laughing out loud. 

The characters… Sigh… These boys. I love them all. Nick may be my favorite, but I've come to love them all--even Michael, which was kinda shocking. (After you read this book, you will get what I mean.) While Hunter has been a character with many ups and downs, getting into his thoughts and emotions was really insightful. Reading from his point-of-view will give the audience a better understanding of why he has done what he has done and what he's learned from his actions. Who didn't I love? Hunter's love interest, Kate. I couldn't stand her and never grew to like her. Though her character definitely develops as the story progresses, she never made a place in my heart. If you read it, I'm sure you would at least understand why I feel this way. From the moment she is introduced to the very end, I thought Hunter deserved better. 'Cuz by the end of the book, my lukewarm feels for the boy turned red hot. (Insert awkward giggles.)

So would I recommend this series? Yes times ten billion. It's a fantastic series, and Spirit, although not my favorite, is a great addition to it. I'm eagerly awaiting (see: dying for) the next book in the series, as Nick is my favorite brother! Brigid has made a true fan out of me, and if you give it a shot, I'm sure she'll be able to hook you in as well!
I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review via Netgalley. Big thanks to Kensington Teen and The Midnight Garden Blog Tours for allowing me to join this tour!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

ARC Review: Dragonfly (Dragonfly #1) by Leigh Talbert Moore

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: June 6, 2013
Publisher: All Night Reads

Three bad things I learned this year:
-People you trust lie, even parents.
-That hot guy, the one who’s totally into you, he might not be the one.
-Things are not always how they appear.

Three good things I learned this year:
-Best friends are always there for you, even when they’re far away.
-That other hot guy, the one who remembers your birthday, he just might be the one.
-Oh, and things are not always how they appear.

Anna Sanders expected an anonymous (and uneventful) senior year until she crossed paths with rich-and-sexy Jack Kyser and his twin sister Lucy.

Pulling Anna into their extravagant lifestyle on the Gulf Coast, Lucy pushed Anna outside her comfort zone, and Jack showed her feelings she’d never experienced... Until he mysteriously withdrew.

Anna turned to her internship at the city paper and to her old attraction for Julian, a handsome local artist and rising star, for distraction. But both led to her discovery of a decades-old secret closely guarded by the twins’ distant, single father.

A secret that could permanently change all their lives.

When the illusive Kyser twins, Jack and Lucy, start attending public school they are the talk of the town. Why are they suddenly here and not at the private schools they’ve been attending since birth? Anna is immediately drawn to Jack. He’s tall, gorgeous, quiet, and extremely mysterious. With a little help from her new friend, Lucy, she begins a whirlwind romance that has more ups and down than a rollercoaster. But while Anna is trying to figure out what exactly is up with Jack, her longtime friend Julian starts turning his casual flirting into something more. 

I liked Anna’s character, even though she couldn’t keep a secret very well. She easily fell for Jack (but come on, who wouldn’t?) and even when she kept going back to him, she knew it was wrong. Her internal struggle over her head or her heart was very realistic and something easily relatable. Jack, however, was another story. I really didn’t get him. In the beginning, I understood why he kept Anna at a distance -he didn’t want to drag her into his family drama. But later in the book when he would pull away and then instantly come back, it just confused me. He was one giant game player and I could not figure out his end game. Then there was Julian who I adored from the beginning. 

This was a good little beach read. It was cute, easy to get through, and had just enough drama that you didn’t feel overwhelmed. I really didn’t want to stop reading it. Just a few little issues I had: First, I do not believe for a second that if a local newspaper found out a huge secret about one of their most powerful residents that they wouldn’t dig deeper or try to expose it. Second, it was extremely predictable. From Julian to the Kyser’s secret, I had it figured out towards the beginning of the book. But I enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next one to find out just what is in those journals Anna now has…

I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: The Fury & Insomnia (The Night Walkers #1)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading!
To participate, all you have to do is:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can ad the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!


"Someone in a car veered toward him, clipping his rear wheel. But he clung on for his life, weaving left, right, the swelling crowd surging after him like rats after the piper as he fled into the sun."
ARC Page 77
The Fury (The Fury #1) by Alexander Gordon Smith

"The white letters on Finn's dark shirt glowed in the firelight: 'Cancel My Subscription. I'm tired of your issues.'"

Chapter 10, 27% e-ARC

What are you reading this week?


Monday, May 27, 2013

ARC Review: Insomnia (The Night Walkers #1) by J.R. Johansson

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: June 8, 2013
Publisher: Flux
360 Pages

Instead of sleeping, Parker Chipp enters the dream of the last person he’s had eye contact with. He spends his nights crushed by other people’s fear and pain, by their disturbing secrets—and Parker can never have dreams of his own. The severe exhaustion is crippling him. If nothing changes, Parker could soon be facing psychosis and even death.

Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. Parker starts going to bizarre lengths to catch Mia’s eye every day. Everyone at school thinks he’s gone over the edge, even his best friend. And when Mia is threatened by a true stalker, everyone thinks it’s Parker.

Suffering blackouts, Parker begins to wonder if he is turning into someone dangerous. What if the monster stalking Mia is him after all?

Not going to lie, the cover is what initially drew me into this book. I mean, look at it. It’s the perfect blend of creepy and beautiful. Then I read the description. While it reminded me a lot about the Wake series by Lisa McMann, it was also just interesting enough that I had to take a look.

Insomnia is the story of Parker Chipp who doesn’t sleep. Instead, he enters the dreams of the person he last held eye contact with. He’s exhausted, his mother thinks he’s on drugs, and he feels like he’s losing it. That is until he meets Mia. Mia’s dreams are different and Parker can sleep inside of them. Then Mia gets a stalker and everyone thinks it’s Parker. 

This book was…interesting. I wanted it to be a lot creepier than it was. Parker’s obsession with Mia was downright disturbing, and not in the good thriller type way. It was no wonder everyone thought he was the stalker. I mean, he waited outside her classroom, soccer practice, showed up at her house, all just to look her in the eyes.

I felt the “darkness” aspect was an interesting twist, but one I felt wasn’t executed right. What started out as creepy darkness taking over Parker turned into a nagging conscious or an annoying bully. I guess I just really wanted to be scared by this, to be sucked into this psychological thriller and I wasn’t.

Johansson’s debut novel is a good read with an interesting idea. However, I felt it missed its mark slightly with just too many grey areas and the predictably of who the stalker was and how the mysterious skull man ties into everything. 

I will likely continue the series because I think this is a series that could grow and there were just too many unanswered questions. 

I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: The Pirate's Wish (The Assassin's Curse #2) by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
336 Pages

After setting out to break the curse that binds them together, the pirate Ananna and the assassin Naji find themselves stranded on an enchanted island in the north with nothing but a sword, their wits, and the secret to breaking the curse: complete three impossible tasks. With the help of their friend Marjani and a rather unusual ally, Ananna and Naji make their way south again, seeking what seems to be beyond their reach.

Unfortunately, Naji has enemies from the shadowy world known as the Mists, and Ananna must still face the repercussions of going up against the Pirate Confederation. Together, Naji and Ananna must break the curse, escape their enemies -- and come to terms with their growing romantic attraction.

The Pirate's Wish was definitely one of my most anticipated novels of 2013. I came to read these because of the glorious covers and stayed a fan because of truly engaging story. After the magnificent debut that Cassandra Rose Clarke released last year, and her stunning sophomore (and adult) novel published a few months ago, I knew there was no way that I would feel anything but love for The Pirate's Wish. Of course I was right. The Pirate's Wish is a fantastical conclusion to The Assassin's Curse duology.

The Pirate's Wish continues Ananna and Naji's story as they work together to free Naji of his curse. So far, they have been unable to complete any of the three tasks, but with the help of some unlikely allies, they may just be able to save Naji. Throw in a manticore, a rocky relationship and some evildoers that are up to no good, this novel will leave readers satisfied, but longing for more!

I will miss these characters so very much! Each of them gained a special place in my heart and I really hope Ms. Clarke plans to give at least Naji and Ananna cameos in her spin-off series. While the book/series ends perfectly for the two, I'm just so attached that I don't want to let go yet! Of course, the more minor characters are also just as wonderful and perfect editions to the story. I really loved the manticore, whose name I will not even try to spell (or pronounce). She was a great companion for Ananna and added some great humor. 

The plot moves steadily. There's great action and fun adventures. I was never bored and nothing felt drawn out. I read this book in a day because it was so entertaining! I wish I hadn't had to put it down, but alas, I had two classes that day. (Why did I think taking a full semester during the summer was a good idea?) The romance moved pretty quickly once it started. It was a bit disorienting at first, but the relationship between Naji and Ananna has been a long time coming. The tension between the two in the first book and the first have of this one will have readers going out of their minds! The couple balance each other out and their interactions are so sweet and genuine.

I have seen a lot of people struggle with the clarity of the setting, and I can definitely understand that. The author's prose is compelling, but her world-building needs work. The places are described beautifully. It's getting to those places that is the problem. I wouldn't be able to navigate my way through one of the ships, let alone travel the world. That was the only issue I had with this book and as you can see from my rating, it had no real affect on me.

Cassandra Rose Clarke has easily become one of my favorite authors. After giving her a third five-star rating, it's not an exaggeration to say I will read anything this woman writes. She can do no wrong in my eyes. Ms. Clarke is an excellent storyteller and I cannot wait to see where she takes her readers next. No doubt we will enjoy it! I definitely recommend this book and this series. (Excuse me now, while I go and reread them.)

I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review via Netgalley.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Interview with Emma Newman

Today, I'm happy to welcome author, Emma Newman to Book Jems for an interview. She's here to talk about her latest release, Between Two Thorns.

Describe Between Two Thorns in ten words or less.

Can I cheat and give something from a review that came in today? "JK Rowling meets Georgette Heyer." Actually, that's not enough words… ermmm, how about:
Dynastic families with supernatural patrons, mad sorcerers, evil faeries. Tea.
Wow, that's hard. I'm still not happy with that!

What made you decide to write a fantasy novel?

I don't think I ever made that decision. I wrote the story I needed to write and it turned out to be urban fantasy (with a soupcon of noir too).

Where did you come up with the idea of two worlds co-existing? What drew you to build a new world for the Fae? Did you have to do any research as you were writing?

Hang on, that's three questions! ;)

The two worlds that came into mind first were Mundanus (our world) and the Nether – which strictly speaking isn't a world as it's the place between the split worlds (the other being Exilium) but you know what I mean. It's a product of having an over-active imagination and walking around the city of Bath whilst wondering what it used to be like in its heyday. I was in the real world, but not, all at the same time. I walked into lampposts a lot.

As for building a world for the Fae, you know, I can't one-hundred percent remember where that idea came from. It's tangled up with the backstory about the Sorcerers and all kinds of stuff I can't talk about yet. It was also inspired by Irish myths and good old fairy tales too. 

What is your favorite, non-spoilery part of Between Two Thorns?

I think it's when Cathy has her first conversation with Lord Poppy. She has to be brave and clever and keep her wits about her. It's where Cathy starts to shine, I think.

What kinds of books do you read? Has what you read inspired you to write, or does your inspiration come from elsewhere?

Funnily enough, I don't read much fantasy other than a small number of urban fantasy novels that I could count on one hand. It's science fiction that I read more than anything else. 

I think it would be madness to say that my life-long love of reading is unrelated to my (almost) life-long love of writing but I don't think the former has necessarily inspired the latter. I think it's the urge to make other worlds and take people into them with me that drives me to write. And dissatisfaction with how normal and non-magical the real world is.

What would you like your readers to take from BTT? What do you hope they are left feeling?

I hope they feel like they have been elsewhere, like returning home after being somewhere exciting. Is it bad if I confess I'd like people to have that book hangover thing? I love that feeling of still partly being in a book after I've finished reading it. If I could achieve that with something I've written, I'd be very pleased.

What was the hardest part about writing this novel? The easiest? How long did BTT take you to write?

Getting Cathy right was the hardest part. I didn't want to get her wrong as she embodies a struggle that I'm rather passionate about, albeit writ large in this fantastical world. The easiest? Well, Sam was the easiest character to write, but the easiest part, generally speaking, was probably the politics and sniping that happens in the Nether. Once I'd made the place, the social structure, the families and characters, having them interact was a lot of fun.

As for how long it took… well I was building the world through stories, running a roleplaying game in it and letting it brew in my mind for at least a couple of years, if not more. The first draft was written in five weeks – when I'm working on a book's first draft I aim to write 4,000 words a day five days a week. Then it had to sit for a while before going through a total of eight or nine rounds of editing over several months.

What writing project(s) are you currently working on?

I'm horribly secretive about that kind of stuff I'm afraid. There are two books I'm developing at the moment and haven't started to write yet but it'll be soon. I have about eight knocking around at the back of my mind, so there's no risk of running out of stuff to write any time soon.

What is a book that has yet to be released that you are dying to read?

Yet to be released? Blimey, I have dozens I'm dying to read that have been out for ages! I'm finally reading "Blackbirds" by Chuck Wendig (took far too long to find time for it) and really enjoying it so far. After that, it'll be Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L. Powell (his space opera "The Recollection" was one of the best books I read last year) and then I want to read The Player of Games. And a zillion other books. You know how it is.

What is some advice you have for aspiring authors, or writers suffering from writer's block?

I usually say "Don't listen to any advice – especially from writers" because I firmly believe everyone has to find their own way. However, I recently wrote a post about how unhelpful the usual "just write" advice is, and that seems to have struck a chord with people. It's all about identifying how fear can stop us from sitting down and just writing – and if we can't find a way to work despite fear, we can't write. It's here, in case anyone's curious:

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Angry Robot
384 Pages

Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.
The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer.

There is a witness but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the enemy can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.

But can she be trusted? And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?

Jenn and I are so happy to have hosted Emma for this interview. Interested in what I have to say about Between Two Thorns? My review will be up next week!
What did you think of the interview?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Follow Friday (66)

Feature and Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read!

Q. The #FF is 150 weeks old! And we want to hear from you! What would you change about the hop? What do you like about it? Or just suggest a question to be used for next week!

I'm still fairly new to this blogging thing and the #FF, but from what I've seen I really like the layout and community feel about it. It's nice to have one question and see a multitude of answers. Seeing how people differ but also discovering new things. As of right now I don't really have any suggestions for changes or questions but give me a few more months and I just might. :)
I've been here a bit longer than Jenn and FF was the first meme I ever used. I love it. It's not only a create way to get new followers, but new friends as well. I've connected with several readers, and bloggers because of it. There's nothing that comes to mind that I'd change. It's fun and easy to join in! As for a question, I decided not to take a break between spring and fall semesters at college, so my question is school oriented: what books do you believe have the most realistic school settings and experiences?
How do you feel about the FF hop?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book Review: How to Kill a Rock Star by Tiffanie DeBartolo

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: September 1, 2005
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
417 Pages

Written in her wonderfully honest, edgy, passionate and often hilarious voice, Tiffanie DeBartolo tells the story of Eliza Caelum, a young music journalist, and Paul Hudson, a talented songwriter and lead singer of the band Bananafish. Eliza's reverence for rock is equaled only by Paul's, and the two fall wildly in love.

When Bananafish is signed by a big corporate label, and Paul is on his way to becoming a major rock star, Eliza must make a heartbreaking decision that leads to Paul's sudden disappearance and a surprise knock-your-socks-off ending.

Well, it took me almost three months to finally write this review, but it seriously took me that long to figure out what I thought about it. How to Kill a Rock Star came so highly recommended to me that it was one that I ended up looking forward to reading a little too much. Maybe my expectations were too high going in. Maybe this just wasn’t the book for me. 

How to Kill a Rock Star is the story of Eliza and Paul. Eliza comes to New York looking for greener pastures. Her brother lives there and he sets her up living in an apartment with his bandmate, Paul. As you’ve probably guessed, Paul and Eliza fall into this epic love – epic, angst ridden love – with more problems than your average soap opera. In the midst of all their drama, Paul’s band, Bannafish, gets signed to a major record label propelling him into instant fame. 

What I liked:

-The writing. DeBartolo has a very smooth, lyrical style of writing. The imagery was just beautiful and the way she wrote New York in the 90’s was very much alive. You could almost reach out and touch it. Just superb. 

-Paul in the first half of the book. He was free-spirited and so alive when it came to his music. His passion bled through each page like a papercut. I instantly fell hard for this t-shirt folder from the Gap.

-Loring. Ah, sweet little Loring. Here’s a man who wore his heart on his sleeve. He was a musician, but he was also a father, a musician’s son, and a man who fell in love with the wrong girl. There were times where I wanted him to stop being such a pushover and really stand up to both Eliza and Paul, but it really just wasn’t in his nature.

What I didn’t like:

-Paul in the last half of the book. His passion became obsession and his love became dependent. 

-Eliza. She started out as a strong-willed character and grew into this selfish, co-dependent person who used people like it was nothing. The way she treated Loring was disgusting. She didn’t want to hurt Paul but didn’t care how much she hurt Loring. Eliza, you are officially a horrible person.

-The ending. I don’t believe it had a “knock your socks off” ending like the blurb says. I believe it had the potential but it copped out and I ended up feeling jipped. 

So many people loved this book and I can see why. But the way it ended really didn’t sit with me right and changed my feelings on the book as a whole. Would I recommend it? Maybe, depends on the person. 
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