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Mini Review: “Elemental (Elemental #0.5)” by Brigid Kemmerer

Elemental (Elemental, #0.5)Elemental by Brigid Kemmerer

Kindle Edition, 1st Edition
Expected publication: April 24th 2012 by K Teen (Kensington)
Review Copy: Purchased
Purchase: Amazon
Description from Goodreads:
Earth, Fire, Air, Water – they are more than you dream. As an air Elemental, 17-year-old Emily Morgan doesn’t have much power. That’s okay—she knows what happens to kids who do.

Like Michael Merrick. He’s an earth Elemental, one with enough power to level cities. Which makes him sexy. Dangerous. And completely off limits. At least according to Emily’s family.

But her summer job puts her in close contact with Michael, and neither of them can help the attraction they feel. When forces of nature like theirs collide, one misstep could get someone killed. Because Emily’s family doesn’t just want her to stay away from him.

They want him dead.

My Review:

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of “Storm” ever since I stumbled upon it on Goodreads. So when I saw that there was an eBook prequel being released ahead of “Storm”, I went ahead and pre-ordered it. As this is a short introduction to the Elemental series, I don’t want to actually summarize the story. Instead, I’ll try my best to explain why I enjoyed this prequel, and why you need to read it:

Emily Morgan: I wasn’t so sure what to make of her at first. I was worried that she would turn out to be a useless character. But after the scene with the putter and the tires? I’m convinced otherwise. She is, as Michael puts it, definitely not predictable, and I like that about her character.

Michael Merrick: Michael is mysterious, deadly and yet warm all at once, if that even makes sense. I have a feeling that the Merrick brothers may very well be topping the “YA Boyfriend” lists soon.

The Elementals: I think Kemmerer has a really interesting story here. While we don’t learn too much about the Elementals in this prequel (to be expected, given its length), Kemmerer does provide enough information concerning their backgrounds to keep us interested. I can’t wait to see how the story develops, and just what these characters are capable of, when “Storm” releases in April.

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{Blog Tour} Review: The Guardian’s Wildchild by Feather Stone

The Guardian's WildchildThe Guardian's Wildchild by Feather Stone

Kindle Edition, 277 pages
Published: Sept. 27th, 2011 by Omnific Publishing
Review Copy: From Publisher
Purchase: Amazon
Description from Goodreads:
Caught in a reckless attempt to stop Dark forces, Sidney Davenport, a young, rule breaking, spirited member of the secret paranormal community of Guardians, finds herself imprisoned on a naval ship and slated for execution. Her struggle with the unfamiliar emotions of fear and anger becomes even more complicated when she can no longer fight her attraction to the very man who has orders to perform her execution.

Captain Sam Waterhouse, a meticulous naval captain who’s suspected of treason, teeters on a precipice between Darkness and Light. When he receives an unusual prisoner, a paranormal journey begins to unravel his disciplined life. All the while, humanity is unknowingly at great risk when two Dark forces team up to acquire control of an elusive power. Sidney and Sam attempt to quiet their powerful feelings for each other, only to discover they can save each other, and in doing so, they might even save the world.

Through stunning imagery, an intricate and adventurous plot, and a strong cast of characters, Feather Stone gives readers a fascinating glimpse into the future—a future that is chilling, yet full of hope.

My Review:

Published September 27th 2011 by Omnific Publishing
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wasn’t sure what to make of The Guardian’s Wild Child at first. It was a book I kept stumbling upon on Goodread’s but ultimately one I found myself skipping over. So when the wonderful people at Omnific informed me that there was an upcoming blog, I figured it was time to finally give this one a shot. And while it may not make my favorite reads of the year, it’s certainly a story worth checking out.

The Guardian’s Wild Child is a truly unique book. I can honestly say I’ve yet to read a book like this one. The opening line hooked me, and I was eager to read more. Unfortunately, alternating viewpoints and slow pacing turned a would-be amazing story into just a good story.

I will say this, if you’re looking for an exciting paranormal read in a market crowded by vampires, werewolves, and other beasts…you should undoubtedly make it a point to check out The Guardian’s Wild Child.

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Review: “Chopsticks” by Jessica Anthony, Rodrigo Corral

ChopsticksChopsticks by Jessica Anthony

Mass Market Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 2nd 2012 by Razorbill
Review Copy: ARC
Purchase: AmazonBarnes & Noble
Description from Goodreads:
After her mother died, Glory retreated into herself and her music. Her single father raised her as a piano prodigy, with a rigid schedule and the goal of playing sold-out shows across the globe. Now, as a teenager, Glory has disappeared. As readers flash back to the events leading up to her disappearance, they see a girl on the precipice of disaster.
My Review:

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Chopsticks” is a truly unique novel, one that is rather difficult to review. The story is told through visual representations, with only the slightest use of actual words. But as the saying goes: “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

The story is about Gloria “Glory” Fleming and Frank Mendoza, two teenagers in love. But their relationship isn’t easy. Glory is a piano prodigy, and her father, Victor, is afraid that Frank will hurt her career. He doesn’t approve of Frank, especially after he’s expelled from school, but that doesn’t stop them. Neither Glory or Frank are willing to give up on one another, no matter what, as evident by the ending.

The way that the story is told is quite different. There are chapters, yes, but there are hardly any words used throughout the novel. Which actually, I think helped the story move along, mainly because it left it open for the reader. What little text was there helped moved the story along, and to explain what was taking place, but the photographs themselves told a story and I loved that about “Chopsticks”.

It’s a very fast read, and the photographs are absolutely stunning. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, but I was pleasantly surprised. Reading “Chopsticks” is an experience in itself, you won’t find another book like it, that’s for sure.

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Review: “Drowning Instinct” by Ilsa J. Bick

Drowning InstinctDrowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick

Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 1st 2012 by Lerner Publishing Group
Review Copy: NetGalley
Purchase: AmazonBarnes & Noble
Description from Goodreads:
There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.

There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)

Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain…magnetism.

And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)

Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.

My Review:

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are books that stay with you long after you finish them; “Drowning Instinct” is one of those books. In the beginning of the story, we meet Jenna and Detective Pendleton (aka Bob). We know something has happened. We know that Jenna has been pulled from the water, and we know that the detective insists that she’s a victim, but we don’t entirely know why. Until she tells her story into the recorder.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, but after reading “Ashes”, I’ll pretty much read anything Bick writes. “Drowning Instinct” is, in all honesty, a story about a group of broken characters. And in this one, there are no happy endings.
Since there are a lot of shocking revelations throughout this novel, I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers. I will say this, in most stories, there is that happy ending. There is a time when the hell the characters go through begins to seize, and eventually, everything is okay. And really, in life, things don’t always work out that way. Bick manages to convey this wonderfully as she explores the personal demons Jenna, her parents, her teacher, and even her school mates are battling.
Jenna’s life is far from perfect – she’s falling apart, all while watching everyone that she cares about fall right along with her. Her family is falling apart. She can’t stop thinking about the feel of a blade pressed against her skin. And the fire. And Matt. She’s created this fantasy, because she knows that if she accepts the truth, she won’t be able to take it. But when Mitch comes along, eager to help her, eager to fix her…Jenna opens up. She allows the fantasy to fall, to face reality, but reality isn’t much better.
The characters are each facing their own struggles. They all want to ignore the truth that’s staring them in the face, because they are fearful of what will become of it. But everyone has a breaking point, and they all manage to reach theirs. It isn’t a happy story. No, in fact, it’s far from a happy story. But I couldn’t put this one down.
I will say this, I will continue to read anything that Bick puts out.
Here’s a quote from “Drowning Instinct” that I think sums up the story rather well:
“Everybody breaks sooner or later, Bob. Anyone can drown. Sometimes you see it. Most often, you don’t because the body protects and the skin hides, so drowning doesn’t look like drowning and some people scar so nicely.
Take it from an expert.”

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Review (+Giveaway): Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror #1) by Karina Halle

Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror, #1)Darkhouse by Karina Halle

Paperback, 326 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Createspace
Review Copy: From Author
Purchase: AmazonBarnes & Noble
Description from Goodreads:
Enter the world of the highly-acclaimed Experiment in Terror Series by visiting…the Darkhouse:

There’s always been something a bit off about Perry Palomino. Though she’s been dealing with a quarter-life crisis and post-college syndrome like any other twenty-something, she’s still not what you would call “ordinary.” For one thing, there’s her past which she likes to pretend never happened, and then there’s the fact that she sees ghosts. Luckily for her, that all comes in handy when she stumbles across Dex Foray, an eccentric producer for an upcoming webcast on ghost hunters. Even though the show’s budget is non-existent and Dex himself is a maddening enigma, Perry is instantly drawn into a world that both threatens her life and seduces her with a sense of importance. Her uncle’s haunted lighthouse provides the perfect catalyst and backdrop for a mystery that unravels the threads of Perry’s fragile sanity and causes her to fall for a man, who, like the most dangerous of ghosts, may not be all that he seems.

My Review:

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first heard of “Darkhouse” from another blogger who couldn’t stop raving about how wonderful it was. And while I was eager to read it, I just never found the time. But then Karina contacted me, asking me if I’d be interested in reviewing “Darkhouse” – I managed to push aside my other reads and dive into this one…and let’s just say that I’m glad that I did.

Self-published authors tend to get a bad rep for (mainly for poor editing/poor writing). And yes, there are some indie titles out there that are choppy, and poorly edited. But this book is the perfect example of an indie title done right. If you’re someone who would rather overlook “Darkhouse” because it’s a self-published title, I can assure you that you’d be missing out. This is a truly fantastic book, and honestly, I now see why so many bloggers have been raving about this book/series. Halle has created likeable characters and a truly enjoyable story. It’s hard not to love this one.

And I kind of adore Perry. She isn’t your typical heroine. She isn’t described as perfect – in fact, she’s not stick thin, which is definitely something worth nothing because it makes her seem more realistic…more, believable. It doesn’t hurt either that she’s just plain awesome. In fact, I think she may actually be my new favorite heroine (Sorry, Alex).

I’m beyond glad that I’ve already purchased the rest of the series, because it’s truly addictive.

Don’t pass this one up. “Darkhouse” is a perfect start to what I’m rather sure will be an awesome series. And yes, I will be squeezing in the rest of the books ASAP.

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I know this post is super late, but I only just got home.

Now, onto the giveaway:

I’m giving away 5 Kindle copies of “Darkhouse”. How can you win one? Simple, the first five people to comment below with their e-mail address will receive a Kindle copy of “Darkhouse”.

Audiobook Review: Skinned (Cold Awakening #1) by Robin Wasserman

SkinnedSkinned by Robin Wasserman

Published: Sept. 9th, 2008 by Brilliance Corporation

Review Copy: Library

Purchase: AmazonBarnes & Noble

Description from Goodreads:

The Download was supposed to change the world. It was supposed to mean the end of aging the end of death, the birth of a new humanity. But it wasn’t supposed to happen to someone like Lia Kahn.

And it wasn’t supposed to ruin her life.

Lia knows she should be grateful she didn’t die in the accident. The Download saved her–but it also changed her, forever. She can deal with being a freak. She can deal with the fear in her parents’ eyes and the way her boyfriend flinches at her touch. But she can’t deal with what she knows, deep down, every time she forces herself to look in the mirror: She’s not the same person she used to be.

Maybe she’s not even a person at all.

My Review:

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Last year, someone recommended that I read Skinned by Robin Wasserman. I hadn’t heard much about Skinned, or the rest of the trilogy before then, but it sounded interesting. And so, on my to-read list it went. It probably would’ve stayed there had I not come across the audio book at the library. It’s not that I didn’t plan on reading the series, but more so the fact that my TBR pile at home is already insane (over 80 books piled in front of my bookshelves…yeah…) But an audio book? That I could squeeze in.

I will admit that I wasn’t a Lia fan for a good portion of the book. She was a spoiled brat before the accident, and that still shows through after the surgery (as to be expected, given her personality was installed in the new body). I think that’s what knocked the book down to 3.5 stars for me. I didn’t actually care about her, or what was going on in her life until the end.

But even though I didn’t care for Lia, or a lot of the secondary characters (hello, Zo), I did still enjoy Skinned. Wasserman has created a world that runs on technology, yet is fearful of “mech heads”. It reminds me of our world in a way. We’re so dependent upon technology.: mp3 players, cell phones, computers, e-readers, etc. But we’re also fearful of change, much like the characters in Skinned. I think that’s what I enjoyed most about Lia’s story – that it’s something that makes you wonder, what is it that makes us human? And why are we so afraid of change?

The narrator:

The audio book for Skinned was read by Kate Reinders, and while I found she was a nice fit for Lia’s voice, I found myself distracted when words were omitted or changed (as I did read along during some chapters). It forced me to backtrack to make sure I’d heard that correctly (example: there’s one part where she should say patients and she says parents).

Would I recommend Skinned? Yes.

FYI: Skinned has been re-published as Frozen (actually, the entire trilogy has received new titles and covers).

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Links to purchase the re-release versions of the trilogy (the link above will lead you to the original edition of Skinned):

Book Review: Everneath (Everneath #1) by Brodi Ashton

Everneath (Everneath, #1)Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Hardcover, 370 pages
Published: January 24th, 2012 by HarperCollins
Review Copy: NetGalley + Purchased
Purchase: Barnes & NobleAmazon

Description from Goodreads:

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld… this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she’s forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s..

My Review:
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The beautiful cover for “Everneath” is originally what drew my interest to the story, and while I didn’t completely love it, I did enjoy it.

Nikki Beckett vanished one night, without a trace. Everyone thought she’d run away, that she was on drugs. But Nikki is being held in the Everneath, where she’s being held as part of the Feed. When she finally wakes up in Cole’s arms, she finds herself unable to remember much of anything other than a boy’s face. A boy that isn’t Cole. When he tells her to come with him, to rule the Everneath, she decides to return home – in search of the boy, in search of her old life. But after her return, she only has six months until the tunnels come looking for her, and this time, there will be no returning.

I think the thing that I love most about Nikki is just how selfless she is. She has the chance to rule the Everneath with Cole, to live forever – all she’d need to do is feed. But she chooses the tunnels, an eternity of hell, instead because she doesn’t want to have to feed off of others as Cole has done to her.

I’m not a huge fan of love triangles, mainly as I feel as though most of them are forced. But with Cole and Jack, it worked. You have Jack, the best friend turned boyfriend, and then you have Cole, the mysterious guy who is there when Nikki needs her. Jack goes crazy when Nikki disappears, unwilling to give up on her returning. And Cole, who seems to have been changed by Nikki, refuses to give up on making her his queen. Both boys are complete opposites, but they are both in love with Nikki.

Jack’s decision in the end seemed a bit predictable, but I am eager to see what happens next. There’s no way Nikki is going to give up, and it’s evident that Cole isn’t willing to leave without Nikki. And I can’t wait to see what Ashton does next.

My final thoughts: Ashton has created a terrific story with intriguing characters that’ll leave you eagerly awaiting the next installment.

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{Blog Tour} Review: Time Gangsters by Berin L. Stephens

Time Gangsters by Berin L. Stephens

Paperback, 296 pages
Expected publication: February 8th 2012 by Cedar Fort, Inc.
Review Copy: NetGalley
Pre-Order: AmazonBarnes & Noble
 
Description from Amazon:
When Billy discovers a hidden cache of ancient coins, it isn’t long before a gang of thugs swipes them right from under Billy. Plotting to use the magical properties of the coins to seize power in the past, these power-hungry gangsters will do anything to reach their goal. Their future threatened, Billy and Danny must race through time to steal back the coins—before history is changed forever!
 
 
My Review:
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

TIME GANGSTERS opens with a gangster standing over Billy’s bed asking where Marlow is. Little does he know that the same gangster paid a visit to his cousin Danny’s house next door in search of coin’s. But they aren’t your normal coins the gangster is in search of; the coins he’s in search of contain a special kind of magic. And the gangster will stop at nothing to find them.

At first, Billy and Danny don’t really get along. They even have a sort of prank war going on between the two of them. But when Billy reveals that a gangster broke into his room the night prior, Danny finds herself shocked. She thought she’d imagined the gangster in her room, but with Billy’s story, she begins to think otherwise. In order to stop the gangster from seizing the power of the coins, Billy and Danny will need to work together.

Talk about a fun story! I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of TIME GANGSTERS at first. I actually hadn’t even heard of it until Cedar Fort contacted me about the blog tour. I will say this: if you’re looking for a fun middle grade read, TIME GANGSTERS is your book.

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Follow along with the rest of the tour here!

Some links you may find useful:

Review: dancergirl (WiHi series #1) by Carol M. Tanzman

dancergirl (WiHi series, #1)dancergirl by Carol M. Tanzman

Paperback, 248 pages
Published November 15th 2011 by Harlequin
Review Copy: NetGalley
Purchase: Amazon Barnes & Noble
Description From Goodreads:
A friend posted a video of me dancing online and now I’m now longer Alicia Ruffino. I’m dancergirl—and suddenly it’s like me against the world—everyone’s got opinions.

My admirers want more, the haters hate, my best friend Jacy—even he’s acting weird. And some stranger isn’t content to just watch anymore.

Ali, dancergirl. Whatever you know me as, however you’ve seen me online, I’ve trained my whole life to be the best dancer I can be. But if someone watching has their way, I could lose more than just my love of dancing.
I could lose my life.

My Review:
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I requested “dancergirl” from NetGalley, I wasn’t entirely sure of what to expect. While it sounded intriguing, I certainly was not expecting it to enjoy it as much as I did. The story is about Alicia Ruffino, a young girl studying dance. She lives for it. Until she becomes dancergirl and she unexpectedly finds herself being watched by a stranger. The story does start off rather slow, but once the first video goes viral, you will find yourself consumed by Ali’s story.

While out with friends, Ali finds herself lost in the music – and the focus of her friend’s video camera. Charlie later uploads the video online, and overnight, Ali transforms into dancergirl. The video managed to go viral and Charlie talks Ali into recording a few more. But when a video finds its way online of Ali dancing around in her room – in her underwear – things begin to unravel, and she’s suddenly desperate to break free of dancergirl.

Tanzman created realistic, likable characters. Each and every one of them had their flaws, including Ali, but that’s what made them real. The way that Ali reacts after finding out about the stalker – the fear, the anger, the distrust – it felt real. You feel it as you read along. Same with the secondary characters. They weren’t just thrown in for the sake of dialogue. They all had stories, each just as important as Ali’s (especially Jacy and Charlie). I really enjoyed that about “dancergirl”.

dancergirl” kept me on the edge of my seat. I had my guesses on who was responsible – most of which were wrong. And I absolutely loved that. While “dancergirl” is the beginning of a series, it’s tied up rather nicely in the end (which is why I’m eager to see where this series goes from here). I’d highly recommend this one.
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Review: Borrowing Abby Grace (The Shadow, #1) by Kelly Green

Borrowing Abby Grace (The Shadow, #1)Borrowing Abby Grace by Kelly Green

ebook, 47 pages

Published October 17th 2011 by Backlit

Review Copy: Gifted From Backlit

Purchase: Amazon Barnes & Noble

Description:

Smart and sassy Abby Grace is a seventeen-year-old with a talent for getting out of trouble. Sent to repair the lives and loves of teenagers on the edge of disaster, Abby is the perfect girl for the job. She has everything going for her… except one thing: a body.

This fast-paced and exciting episode is the first installment in an ongoing mystery series with a supernatural twist.

Episode 1: The Shadow

When Abby Grace wakes up in the back of a van, she has no idea who she is, how she got there, or why anyone would want to kidnap her. After escaping her masked captors, she hurries home, only to discover that she unknowingly left her younger brother behind in the van. Unable to answer the police’s questions with her memories gone, she retreats to the safety of her bedroom where she tries to reconstruct her life. Just as she is settling into the belief that things will one day return to normal, she looks in the mirror—and sees a stranger’s face.
As Abby learns next, she has become a Shadow, sent to inhabit the lives of strangers in trouble. With nothing to go on except the vague hints of her cute but maddening Guardian, a 19th century ghostly teenager named Will, Abby sets out to rescue the missing brother. But she will need all of her intelligence, fearlessness, and wit, because if she fails to find him in time, she will remain trapped in this unfamiliar body forever.

My Review:
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I started “Borrowing Abby Grace”. Given the description of the story and the short length, I couldn’t help but wonder if the author would be able to successfully tell the story [within 47 pages] without rushing it too much. I was happy to see that the story flowed quite smoothly, even at the fast pace in which the events take place.

The story begins with Brooke – well, Abby as Brooke – escaping from a van. She isn’t sure what happened or where she is. She can’t remember where she lives, or who she is. All she remembers is waking up in the back of a van.

When she finds herself at Brooke’s house, she meets Will, who explains that she’s a Shadow – someone who borrows other peoples bodies to complete a task. Her real name is Abby Grace. Her reflection is hers, but her outer appearance is Brooke’s. She was sent to fix something in Brooke’s life, which she assumes is locating her brother, Paul. She has less than two days to fix things for Brooke, or else she’ll be stuck in her body.

There were moments where I did wish certain scenes were more fleshed out, especially the ending with Paul, but overall I did enjoy the story. I think the idea, Abby borrowing Brooke’s body to help her fix something in her life, is interesting. It’s something I haven’t really read before.

If I had to sum up “Borrowing Abby Grace”, I’d say that it is a short and exciting story that leaves you wondering what comes next (enter: “Girl Steals Guy”).

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I’d like to say thank you to Backlit for gifting this e-book to me, along with The Dig (review this weekend). I will be checking out the next two episodes to see where Abby’s story goes!

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