Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Review: Against the Darkness (Cimmerian Moon #1) by A. M. Griffin

Title: Against the Darkness (Cimmerian Moon #1)
Author: A. M. Griffin
Source: YA Bound Book Tours
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Apocalyptic
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

This one time, at band camp…aliens invaded earth. Sounds like a bad riff on an old joke, doesn’t it? Unfortunately for me and my friends, it’s all too true. I thought a mess like this only happened in the movies but, as I watch the alien ships hovering over the major cities, I suddenly realize I’m a thousand miles away from my Mom. From home. From safety.

Darkness may have fallen over the world, but I won’t let it claim me. I’ll do anything I have to get back to Michigan. Yet nothing could prepare me for what we find on our trek north from Tallahassee. There’s hardly anything the aliens haven’t bombed. Survival, at any cost, is the name of the game for the few people who haven’t been killed or captured. As if trying to stay free and alive isn’t enough, I think I just met the love of my life. And he’s just the kind of bad boy who’ll tear down the walls I’ve built around my heart—then break it.

Amazing.  That is the best way to describe Against the Darkness.  It was a brilliant mix of coming of age, science fiction, and alien invasion apocalypse.  Sinta was a very well built character and you can't help but love her.  She has plenty of flaws for readers to relate to, but has such an inner strength and fortitude that you admire her at the same time.  Watching as she turned from the bratty teen arguing with her mother into a formidable survivor was great.  I enjoyed watcher her recover from her mistakes and was thrilled that she didn't make them over and over again.

Now the aliens - we don't see too much of them, but they are this constant threat lurking everywhere.  And I really mean everywhere.  The first time you actually see them as a reader is incredibly intense and brilliantly written.  

There is a sort of love triangle, but the players all know where they stand with each other so it didn't really bother me.  Sinta is pretty sure who she wants, and even the times that it doesn't work out well for her, she sticks to it.  She's not the type to change her feelings easily.

There is one scene where I was afraid something beyond horrible was happening, but thank goodness it didn't - I think you will all recognize it when you get there as the kids were all rescued just in the nick of time.  I had a hard time putting this down and I loved the world that A.M. Griffin created.  Familiar, but at the same time strangely transfigured by the alien invasion.

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Review: Dreams and Shadows (Dreams & Shadows #1) by C. Robert Cargill

Title: Dreams and Shadows (Dreams & Shadows #1)
Author: C. Robert Cargill
Source: Self-Purchased
Genre: Paranormal
Release Date: February 26, 3013
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

A brilliantly crafted modern tale from acclaimed film critic and screenwriter C. Robert Cargill—part Neil Gaiman, part Guillermo Del Toro, part William S. Burroughs—that charts the lives of two boys from their star-crossed childhood in the realm of magic and mystery to their anguished adulthoods

There is another world than our own—one no closer than a kiss and one no further than our nightmares—where all the stuff of which dreams are made is real and magic is just a step away. But once you see that world, you will never be the same.

Dreams and Shadows takes us beyond this veil. Once bold explorers and youthful denizens of this magical realm, Ewan is now an Austin musician who just met his dream girl, and Colby, meanwhile, cannot escape the consequences of an innocent wish. But while Ewan and Colby left the Limestone Kingdom as children, it has never forgotten them. And in a world where angels relax on rooftops, whiskey-swilling genies argue metaphysics with foul-mouthed wizards, and monsters in the shadows feed on fear, you can never outrun your fate.

Dreams and Shadows is a stunning and evocative debut about the magic and monsters in our world and in our self.

While this story begins with the tale of two boys - this is definitely an novel geared towards adults.  The first part of the story tells the history of Ewan, Knocks, and Colby.  It all begins in the fairy courts - and eventually it seems to end there as well.  The story is full of new legends and lore that are based in some of the traditional faerie legends that I have read in the past.  It is at the same time both familiar and strange.  This wonderful mix was what kept the book going for me.  I loved the history and the interactions between the non-human folk.

The downfall of this book was that even once I finished - I wasn't quite sure where the story was going.  This is a series, so perhaps more will be "settled" in book two, but I was just confused as to what the point of it all was at the end of book one.  It was also much more violent than I had expected - so if you like your violence behind closed doors and glossed over - this isn't for you.  While it wasn't overly graphic, it was still quite descriptive and not my favorite.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: Collide by Christine Fonseca

Title: Collide (The Solomon Experiments #1)
Author: Christine Fonseca
Source: YA Bound Book Tours
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Release Date: July 7, 2014
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

The most dangerous secrets are the ones that kill.

When a surprising mental breakdown draws too much attention from a secret government group call the Order, 17-year-old Dakota discovers that her so-called boring life isn’t so boring after all. Between the lies, secrets and assassins out to kill her family, Dakota discovers there’s more to paranormal activity than ghosts and cheap mind tricks. Now she must uncover the truth before a new breed of terrorism takes everything away – including her life.

Collide was a bit of a mixed bag for me.  There were parts that I really, really liked.  There were also parts that just seemed a bit dull.  The beginning of the story was a little all over the place and the story dragged a lot until about half way through.  By then, I had gotten a little more into the rhythm of the author's writing and the way events were pieced together within the book and within the individual chapters.

There were several points of view - we had Dakota, The Architect, and a doctor's journal.  They all helped slowly piece together the history of five children with special powers.  The history of a grand experiment that went bad - wiping the memories of most of the kids and splitting them in protective custody.  But someone wants them back - for all the wrong reasons.  The story is their fight for freedom and understanding.

There seemed to be a few too many "I learned this just in time to save the day" scenarios.  I would understand a couple, but it seemed every time they got in trouble some really cool thing would help save the day.  There also didn't seem to be too much logical character growth.  While Dakota goes through a remarkable change - I had a hard time believing that it could have happened to her that quickly.

There really was no set ending.  I hope the sequel explains a little more about Dakota's past and the inner workings of her power and mind.  Perhaps it will make me understand her drastic change better.  The premise of the world and story were great - it just needed to be flushed out a little better for me to really get into it.

Cover Reveal: The Evolution of Emily by Kate Scott

The Evolution of Emily by Kate Scott 
Publication date: November 18, 2014

Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Designed by Vinnie Kinsella

Emily Charles knows how to run away. Away from her overprotective, agoraphobic mother. Away from her biology-obsessed, autistic sister. Away from her quiet sheltered claustrophobic homeschooled life. When Emily’s escape plan involves starting her junior year at Kennedy High School, she realizes she’s no longer running away.

Now she’s running towards. Towards her quiet thoughtful cross-country teammate, August. Towards her zany enthusiastic lab partner, Miles. Towards friendship, love, independence, and life.

Thanks to her sister’s special interest in biology, Emily knows all about the birds and the bees. Boys are a lot more confusing!

Readers who enjoyed Counting to D will enjoy Scott’s second title, also set at Kennedy High School.

Kate Scott lives in the suburbs outside Portland, Oregon with her husband Warren. Kate was diagnosed with dyslexia as a young child but somehow managed to fall in love with stories anyway. COUNTING TO D is her first novel. When Kate isn't writing, she enjoys listening to audiobooks, camping, and spending time with her friends and family. Kate also spends a lot of time doing math and sciency things and is a licensed professional engineer.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: Astral Tide (Otherborn #2) by Anna Silver

Title: Astral Tide (Otherborn #2)
Author: Anna Silver
Source: Self-Purchased
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Release Date: February 24, 2014
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

London and her friends are fugitives in a reprocessed world where anything New is illegal. But as Otherborn, they’re different. They can dream and create, which hasn’t gone unnoticed. After fleeing Capital City with an assassin on their heels, the Otherborn found nothing went according to plan. Now, they are down by two and on the run in the Outroads, but the Tycoons keep mysteriously gaining on them. And seven months later, London is no closer to her promise to go back for Rye, if there is anything left to go back for. But Zen is teaching London that there may be more to her heart than the pieces she left behind, and London can’t help but feel guilty about not looking back since they fled New Eden. Should she hold on to hope that Rye is more than just a memory, or embrace a new life and love with Zen?

In their race to outrun their enemies, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: they can only run for so long. Eventually, they’ll have to face what waits when the road runs out. Eventually, their fates will catch up to them.

This was a fantastic sequel.  The story picks up as London and her friends are on the run from New Eden, the tycoon paradise.  After discovering a betrayal, they are all a little out of sort and quite confused about what to do next.  There is tons of drama and excitement all the way through, and lots of development for the story line and the characters.

London's Otherborn skills need some work, but once she puts her mind to maxing out her abilities, she accomplishes some pretty amazing things.  The Otherborn "disease" of dreaming seems to be spreading, but the tycoons are dead set on stopping it and preserving their way of life.  London plays quite a key role and so much is going on that it's hard to really talk about it without giving away key parts of the story.

I love that the author isn't afraid to have her characters go through some pretty drastic changes.  It made them all so very real and at the end it gave me an enormous surprise (along with a cliffhanger)!!  Be prepared to read this book quickly, you won't want to put it down.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Expatriates by Corinne O'Flynn

The Expatriates #1 by Corinne O’Flynn
(Song of the Sending)
Publication date: October 15th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Designed by Steven Novak

Seventeen-year-old Jim Wales can communicate with animals, but his animal mind-tap ability isn’t why he lives with a traveling carnival. Turns out his family’s been hiding him there since he was little, when they learned someone was hunting all the Scholars. Jim’s a Scholar, and he has no idea.

When a falcon arrives with a message from Jim’s not-dead father from their not-destroyed homeland, Jim’s whereabouts are discovered and Jim’s brother is murdered in his place.

On the run with a strange glass map and a single coin, Jim finds himself racing to reclaim the father he thought he’d lost, plotting to avenge his brother, and finally discovering the truth about who he is.

But going home isn’t the same as being safe, and trust is everything.

I write books and stories with fantasy and magic, and sometimes creepy stuff. Ok, a lot of times creepy stuff. I also blog about my adventures over at my website.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Review: Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta

Title: Entangled
Author: Amy Rose Capetta
Source: Amazon Vine
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Alone was the note Cade knew best. It was the root of all her chords.

Seventeen-year-old Cade is a fierce survivor, solo in the universe with her cherry-red guitar. Or so she thought. Her world shakes apart when a hologram named Mr. Niven tells her she was created in a lab in the year 3112, then entangled at a subatomic level with a boy named Xan.

Cade’s quest to locate Xan joins her with an array of outlaws—her first friends—on a galaxy-spanning adventure. And once Cade discovers the wild joy of real connection, there’s no turning back.

This was an amazing sci-fi adventure with a nice theory about music behind it.  Cade is unique - she lives in a world filled with static, and only the right kind of music from her guitar can make it fade for a little while.  Then one day she seems to break through and it all goes away - but a strange man shows up with a bit of a history lesson for her.  The history of her life.  And it isn't anything like what she thought.

She is one of a pair of babies - bonded in a strange new molecular way called entanglement.  And her pair, Xan, is out there somewhere and she needs to find him before he is killed by the un-makers.  The un-makers are a strange new race that Cade has never seen before, and they are after her.  Her only hope is to trust in a strange group of new friends.

These new friends were amazingly written.  They had such unique personalities and ways of looking at life.  I loved how even the spaceship was portrayed - she was great!  Their search for Xan leads to several little side adventures and new information about Cade's past.  Each step closer, Cade manages to somehow unlock strange abilities that no one really knows how to control.

The ending was an odd mixture of sadness and hope.  At one point in time, I thought this was going to be a tragedy, but the author managed to miraculously turn it around just in time.  Not everyone comes out at the end unscathed, but their world is not a much better place because of what they've done.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Review: Bound (Bound Trilogy #1) by Kate Sparkes

Title: Bound (Bound Trilogy #1)
Author: Kate Sparkes
Source: Author Request
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: June 11, 2014
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Welcome to Darmid, where magic is a sin, fairy tales are contraband, and the people live in fear of the Sorcerers on the other side of the mountains.

Rowan Greenwood has everything she's supposed to want from life—a good family, a bright future, and a proposal from a handsome and wealthy magic hunter. She knows she should be content with what she has. If only she could banish the idea that there's more to life than marriage and children, or let go of the fascination with magic she's been forced to suppress since childhood.

When Rowan unknowingly saves the life of one of her people’s most feared enemies, that simple act of compassion rips her from her sheltered life and throws her into a world of magic that’s more beautiful, more seductive, and more dangerous than she ever could have imagined.

Rowan might get everything she ever dreamed of—that is, if the one thing she's always wanted doesn't kill her first.

This is a young adult fantasy novel that is geared for the upper end of that age category.  With a handful of violent scenes and budding relationship between two of our main characters, it may be a tad bit much for the younger crowd.  That being said, it was incredibly well written with very few points that I wasn't fond of - and nothing that I flat out didn't like.

A few times the author wasn't as clear as she could have been about who was speaking or performing some action and I had to go back a few sentences to try and figure it out.  This seemed to happen mostly when she was writing from Aren's point of view - so perhaps I just didn't pick up on his voice well enough.

I loved the character of Rowan.  Her fierce curiosity that often got her lectured on what topics were appropriate for her to read and learn about, her seemingly fearless nature, and her quick thinking were all traits that anyone would find themselves drawn to.  But at the same time, she wasn't perfect.  She trusted too easily and found it difficult to make the hard decisions on her own (such as if she should get married).  The way she matured and grew throughout the journey was amazing.  I didn't even realize how much she had changed until near the end.  She was a completely different and more confident person that she was at the beginning, and I liked her even more.

Aren is a person everyone in Darmid fears - he has magic and that means he's bad.  The people of Darmid really don't look any farther than that.  Aren was a small problem for me.  He was so hung up on what he was doing and why that I got just a little tired of his internal dialog.  It was an important part of the story, and much of it gave me some good insight into why he was doing things, but I heard it one too many times is all.

Rowan's journey was incredibly exciting.  It was a grand adventure and she got to see and experience so many new things.  It was everything she had ever dreamed about - but terrifying at the same time.  I loved the creatures they came across - Ruby especially was very fun.  I will be keeping an eye out for book two (sometime 2015 I believe) so that I can see how Rowan's journey continues.

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Review: The Winter People by Rebekah L. Purdy

Title: The Winter People
Author: Rebekah L. Purdy
Source: Entangled Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

An engrossing, complex, romantic fantasy perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore or Maggie Stiefvater, set in a wholly unique world.

Salome Montgomery fears winter—the cold, the snow, the ice, but most of all, the frozen pond she fell through as a child. Haunted by the voices and images of the strange beings that pulled her to safety, she hasn't forgotten their warning to "stay away." For eleven years, she has avoided the winter woods, the pond, and the darkness that lurks nearby. But when failing health takes her grandparents to Arizona, she is left in charge of maintaining their estate. This includes the "special gifts" that must be left at the back of the property.

Salome discovers she’s a key player in a world she’s tried for years to avoid. At the center of this world is the strange and beautiful Nevin, who she finds trespassing on her family’s property. Cursed with dark secrets and knowledge of the creatures in the woods, his interactions with Salome take her life in a new direction. A direction where she'll have to decide between her longtime crush Colton, who could cure her fear of winter. Or Nevin who, along with an appointed bodyguard, Gareth, protects her from the darkness that swirls in the snowy backdrop. An evil that, given the chance, will kill her.

I was a little lost at the beginning of this book - I'm sure I felt the same way Salome felt when she saw the strange figures and heard the voices.  I had no idea what was going on.  Slowly several boys make their way into her life and you begin to wonder which ones she should really trust.  You know they can't all be nice guys - there has to be a bad guy after all.

Salome's problem seems to be that winter (the season) hates her.  She's terrified of anything that has to do with the season - snow, cold, ice, etc.  Every winter it seems to get worse.  She has episodes where she swears she sees figures and glowing eyes in the woods and voices all around her.  This winter it has been much worse.  She is being attacked and she doesn't understand why - and the people that do know why aren't able to speak of it.

The story has a mystery wrapped up in it as Salome tries to figure out the three boys in her life - Colton, Gareth, and Nevin.  I kept going back and forth with all of them trying to decide which one was the good one.  All three were well written and Purdy did a good job of keeping the mystery alive for a very long time without making it tiresome.  

There is a lot of magic at play as well, but it is very subtle and plays around in the background of the story for the most part.  Towards the end it becomes much more prevalent, but since we've been toying with the idea of it for most of the book - it doesn't come as a shock to see it.  I really enjoyed this story - I wish I had known a bit more near the beginning so that I hadn't felt so lost as a reader though.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Trailer Reveal: Twelve by T.M. Franklin

Twelve Banner

Ava Michaels is gifted, powerful, and — whether she likes it or not — part of a plot to take over the world.

It’s only been a few months since Ava Michaels discovered she has ties to an ancient people living in the shadows of the human world, despite their superior gifts and abilities. A select few don’t like hiding, however, and think it’s time to take control.

Now Ava’s caught up in a conspiracy in the works before she was even born. In fact, her birth was an integral part of the plan. She’s one of the Twelve, the most powerful Race ever created, and they were created for a purpose.

Turns out, Ava doesn’t like being told what to do.

All she wants is to start a new life with her boyfriend, Caleb Foster, but before they can even think about that, they must join forces with former enemies, seek out some powerful new friends, and figure out what exactly the Twelve, and their power-hungry leader, are up to.
Then, they have to find a way to stop them.

About the Author:
TM Franklin

T.M. Franklin started out her career writing non-fiction in a television newsroom. An Emmy-Award winning Seattle TV news producer, Franklin is the author of the award-winning YA adventure, MORE, and its sequel The Guardians. In addition, Franklin penned the Amazon best-selling short stories A Piece of Cake and Window. Her new YA romance,How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You, is Franklin’s first love story without a paranormal element, although she believes love is the best kind of magic.
TWELVE, the final installment in the MORE Trilogy will be released October 9, 2014.

The Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway