Monday, June 30, 2014

June Wrap-Up

Hello and welcome to my June wrap up!


What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
4 stars


Take Me On by Katie McGarry
5 stars


Foreplay by Sophie Jordan
3.75 stars


Alienated by Melissa Landers
4 stars


Tease by Sophie Jordan
4 stars


Easy by Tammara Webber
3.5 stars


Poison Princess by Kresley Cole
5 stars


Ex-Factor by Elisa Dane
3.5 stars


Hexed by Michelle Krys
5 stars


Coin Heist by Elisa Ludwig
4 stars


We Are The Goldens by Dana Reinhardt
3.75 stars


Unbreakable by Elisa Dane
4.5 stars


(Once) Again by Theresa Paolo
4 stars

I read 13 books this month and a total of 4078 pages which averages 136 pages per day.  
Thanks for reading!
Amber





It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Welcome to It's Monday, What Are You Reading!  This is a weekly feature hosted by Book Journey in which you plan out your reading week, as well as let others know what you're currently reading!

This week I read 1 book and posted 5 times.


  1. Interview With Aerenden Series Author Kristen Taber
  2. Review of We Are The Goldens by Dana Reinhardt
  3. Review of (Once) Again by Theresa Paolo
  4. Review of Ex-Factor and Unbreakable by Elisa Dane
  5. Friday 56

Grace also posted once.


I'm currently reading a couple of books.


Forbidden by Lori Adams


Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge


Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian


The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

And my goals for this week are to just to finish what I'm currently reading.

Amber












Saturday, June 28, 2014

Smoke By Ellen Hopkins



Smoke
By Ellen Hopkins
Published Sept. 10, 2013
Published by McElderry Books
543 pages
Sequel to burned
5 Stars


Pattyn Von Stratten’s father is dead, and Pattyn is on the run. After far too many years of abuse at the 
hands of her father, and after the tragic loss of her beloved Ethan and their unborn child, Pattyn is desperate for peace. Only her sister Jackie knows what happened that night, but she is stuck at home with their mother, who clings to normalcy by allowing the truth to be covered up by their domineering community leaders. Her father might be finally gone, but without Pattyn, Jackie is desperately isolated. Alone and in disguise, Pattyn starts a new life, but is it even possible to rebuild a life when everything you’ve known has burned to ash and lies seem far safer than the truth?

Opening Thoughts

I went into this book knowing I would love it. Her first book in the series was so amazing that I knew the sequel would be just as good. I thought Burned was finished when I was done crying over it but I was so glad to find out she had another book about it. I knew I was going to cry in this book because of how much Burned had crushed my soul. I was right because by the time the climax hit I was in tears reading just to see what happened. I went into this book confident it would give me what I wanted and I was not disappointed. 

Characters

In the first book I fell in love with Pattyn and I was excited to see her again in Smoke. It was not all from her point of view though. When I found out that her sister, Jackie,was narrating part of the story I felt a little unsure about it. The impression I got of her from the first book was that she was a good mormon girl was was nothing like Pattyn. I was wrong though, I fell in love with her story as much as her sister's. I really did not like their mom at all. She was to dependent on her husband, soft, but the biggest thing about it is how she threw Jackie under the bus. No one should ever do that to their child. I could fell how betrayed Jackie felt after she found out the truth. She kind of redeemed herself at the end of the book but I don't think it was enough to make up for what she did.  Then you have Angel from Pattyn's side of the story. I did not love him as much as Ethan from the first book. He really didn't strike me as an important character until close to the climax. I never got any real characterization from him either. She tells us he's a poet and romantic but nothing else really. I would like to learn more about him considering he was really important in the end of the book. The biggest character flaw though is Deirdre. I knew she was going to do something but I never thought it would be like what she really did. I never saw her as someone who would be a big part in the climax. Then you never hear anything about her after that. Also you have a big questions on why she was doing what she was doing. There was never any explication on any of that. I would have really like to have known about what provoked her to. Besides her, all the characters have mostly met my expectations for the book. 

Plot

My favorite part about this how the climax sneaks up you. It always seems like a normal scene until you know it's happening. Though, for me it was too similar to the climax in Burned. I would be nice if it was a little bit different. Also, I can see how some people can find some slow parts in the book. It never really bothered me because of the suspense, but I could see how it would bother someone. One other problem is that it's written in verse. It didn't bother me a lot but I could see where it can bother someone. I know people who would not be able to read it just because it's in verse format. In addition, this book could also have some religious issues. I have a friend who has a lot of mormon pride and I would never recommend this book to her. She would have a freak out and yell at me for reading and liking such a bad book.So just be aware that it might be a little insulting. In conclusion, I didn't have that many problems with the plot line but there are somethings that might bug some people.


Overall, the book really stole my heart. If I had to chose between burned and smoke I would chose burned. For me most of the time sequels are not as good as the first book. The characters again are my favorite part in the book. I loved her sister just as much as I loved her. I hope she can make a third book about everyone again. I highly recommend the book.

Hope you keep reading,
Grace

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ex-Factor and Unbreakable by Elisa Dane Blog Tour




Ex-Factor 
By Elisa Dane
Published: April 22, 2014
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Book 1 in the Diamond Girls series
3.5 stars

Nevaeh Evan’s life is uprooted after her father’s death, when she moves in with her aunt and cousin, Livvie. Her plan to lay low at her new high school isn’t working. Her friend’s jerky boyfriend keeps asking her out, the guy she likes treats her like garbage, and the thought of tumbling again makes her want to hurl. So when her aunt pushes her into joining the elite X-FACTOR cheer leading squad, Navaeh goes along with it. But Nev feels she doesn’t deserve to be happy. Not after what happened the night her father died. Bodie Scott knows about grief all too well. Critically injured in an alcohol related accident the year before, Bodie struggles with the fact that he’ll never play football again, and he’s so far behind in credits he can’t see straight. That is, until he meets Nev. Haunted by their bloody pasts and wary of a shared future, Nev and Bodie turn to one another for comfort and support, and realize they’re not so alone after all. And when the party scene at school threatens the life of a loved one, the two stop at nothing to keep the past from repeating itself.


Links:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19031631-ex-factor?ac=1
http://www.amazon.com/Ex-Factor-Diamond-Girls-Elisa-Dane-ebook/dp/B00JPRUYBO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398108444&sr=8-1&keywords=elisa+dane
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ex-factor-elisa-dane/1119273776?ean=2940149489558

Opening Thoughts
I thought that overall, this was a very good book. I went into it kind of skeptical, but it had been getting such great reviews that I just had to sign up for the blog tour. 

Characters

One of the first things that really struck me about this book, and one of the things that I absolutely loved was that Nev wasn't whiny, or a brat, and she didn't complain all the time about how horrible her life was, even though she has a lot of shitty things that have happened to her in the past, and that she has to deal with. Yet, throughout the book, Nev remained strong, and she healed and she went to therapy, which characters in YA novels never, ever, do, because they think that it won't help them or that they don't need it, but Nev went to it and it helped her and it was wonderful, and I really appreciated that. Bodie, while completely the stereotypical, brooding troubled YA love interest, is the kind of guy that you can't help but fall in love with, despite his rash decisions, and overprotective streaks.

Plot
My absolute favorite things about this book was the focus on drinking and driving. That is something that is so, so important and is most definitely not addressed enough in young adult fiction. I loved the way Elisa Dane incorporated it into both Nev and Bodie's backstories and used it as a kind of catalyst for their relationship. I also loved the way she fit it in in the end with Callie. I won't say what it was for anyone who hasn't read it but if you've read it, then you'll know what I'm talking about. I also found out about the Every Fifteen Minutes program through this book, which I now have approached the principal at my school about holding a session of this in my school, because I think it's such a real and raw way to show students how drunk driving actually affects people and not just someone preaching to you from the front of the classroom with no one actually paying attention.
There were a few things that didn't work for me in this book. One of them was the insta-love. I felt like, though by the end of the book I completely bought Nev and Bodie's relationship, it did a total one-eighty in the span of a couple of weeks which is one of my biggest pet peeves. I also felt like there were a couple of moments where I was a little bit bored, and the writing dragged a little bit. 

This book is definitely a slower paced book, nothing for a readathon but if you have the patience to read for a little bit before getting hooked and the plot sounds interesting to you, then I'd definitely go for it. This book was a leap out of my comfort zone but I'm glad that I went for it and I'm super excited to start the sequel, Unbreakable.





Unbreakable
By Elisa Dane
Published: June 10, 2014
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Book 2 in the Diamond Girls series
4.5 stars

Perception is everything to sixteen-year-old Olivia Brown. With her freakishly hot boyfriend, volunteer work at the local animal shelter, successful beauty channel on YouTube, and well-earned spot on X Factor Cheer's elite level five Diamond Girl team, Livvie's the girl every other girl wants to be. At least, that's the illusion she's aiming for. But Livvie's seemingly perfect life is anything but. Lying about the bruises her boyfriend gives her, and cowering beneath his raging temper becomes a regular way of life until she unwittingly witnesses her drunken neighbor beating his step-son, the town bad boy, Reid Tate. For Reid, vulnerability is the enemy. Opening up, and letting people in gives them the power to disappoint. Growing up with a co-dependent mother and an abusive alcoholic father, Reid has endured all the disappointment he can stomach. But when his pretty, do-good neighbor witnesses his step-dad beat him to within an inch of his life, and not only call the cops, but keeps quiet at school about what she saw, Reid wonders if maybe, just maybe, he's found someone he can finally trust.


Links:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21860508-unbreakable

http://www.amazon.com/Unbreakable-Diamond-Girls-Book-2-ebook/dp/B00KSG1ADW/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1402124266&sr=8-2&keywords=elisa+dane
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/unbreakable-elisa-dane/1119688739?ean=2940149416233



Opening Thoughts
I have to be honest, I wasn't sure how much I was going to like this book because, while I did enjoy the first book in this series of companion novels, I wasn't ever hooked. However, this book had me hooked so completely that I couldn't put it down. I read it in about five hours and I was absolutely addicted. 
The books in this series can be read as stand-alones but I personally feel that you should read them in order of publication, though if you do only choose to read one I recommend that it be Unbreakable because I did enjoy that one more than the first one. Something that I really enjoyed in this book were the cameos from a lot of the characters I loved in Ex Factor like Bodie, Nev, and Erin. 

Characters
Livvie was a character that I loved from before the beginning, as in I loved her whenever we saw her in Ex Factor, so I was already going into this book loving Livvie. I loved the way that she handled the situation that she was going through, I felt that it was a very realistic way to deal with something like that, whereas sometimes authors do a horrible job portraying something like that, an example that comes to mind is Dreamland by Sarah Dessen. 
I thought that J.P. was a very realistic portrayal of an abuser. I could completely understand why Livvie kept wanting to take him back or at least give him the time of day, even though everyone around her was telling her that she absolutely shouldn't and that she was ridiculous for even considering it. Even though J.P. could be mean and cruel at times, he could also be charming and sweet, and there were times where I even found myself sympathizing with him, even though I obviously know that I shouldn't be. There were times when I was actually scared for Livvie because of the things that J.P. was doing to her. 
I loved Reid so, so, so, so much. He has most definitely earned a place on my book boyfriends list. I loved him from the very beginning, even though he was a complete and total asshole at the beginning. I did get kind of irritated at times because he was so hot and cold for the first part of the book before him and Livvie start warming up to each other but the times when he was cold were definitely overshadowed by the times when he was hot, and let me tell you, he was hot a lot. His relationship with Livvie was one of my favorite relationships I've read in a while and I shipped them so hard from the very beginning, even before they realized it.

Plot
I don't want to say too much about the plot, because I feel like it's better to go into this book just knowing that it's about a girl who's in an abusive relationship, and that's it. This book, as well as Ex Factor, is so short that if you find out too much about what happens inside them, then they're kind of ruined for you, and these books are very good so you really don't want that to happen. Even though I was familiar with this world, and the school and the experiences that Nev and Livvie go through are very similar, not in terms of the issues they experience, but just in their everyday lives, but seeing it through two different sets of eyes was really interesting. I really loved seeing the cheer team, because I'm an ex-cheerleader and that just brought back some really good memories. The only thing that caused me to knock this book down from five stars to four point five stars was the insta love. Now I did enjoy this insta love in this book more than the one in Ex Factor because it was written in a way that it didn't feel like insta-love, it felt like it was slowly developing, even though it wasn't, which I liked, but I wish the insta-love hadn't existed at all, though it seems to be a theme in Elisa Dane's book. 

Overall, I really, really enjoyed this book. I was captured and sucked in and it was just wonderful. I can't wait for the next book in this series. There is going to be another book right? I'm hoping for Erin's story personally, but I'd be happy with anyone, I just want more of Elisa Dane's books. Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone, even people who feel like contemporary isn't really their thing.


***GIVEAWAY***
1 ebook of Ex-Factor; $10 Amazon gift card (INT)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author
I'm a lover of books (YA & Adult romance), chocolate, reality television, and am a proud mother to three All Star cheerleaders. Woot! I write Contemporary YA romance with cheerleaders. Yep. I write what I know, and it's my hope that my stories will not only take you on a romantic journey that will warm your heart, but that you'll find a new respect and interest in the sport of Cheerleading you may not have had before.

Author Links: 

PUBLISHER LINKS
@swoonromance

Blog Tour organized by YA Bound Book Tours

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

(Once) Again by Theresa Paolo


(Once) Again
By Theresa Paolo
Published: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Pages: 217
Book 2 in the Again series
4 stars

Josh will have to reconcile his past…

In order to make Kat his future.

After surviving a real-life nightmare, Josh Wagner is sent home from his dream college on crutches. Bedridden and tormented by flashbacks, he’s just seen his world shattered and his baseball scholarship go up in smoke. Josh’s family hires a health aide to help take care of him, but when he opens the door, the last person he expects to see is his biggest regret…

Katherine Singleton is the only girl Josh has ever loved. Now, even though she’s only taking care of him because it’s her job, Josh is determined to win her back. But Kat had to move on after their breakup two years ago, and despite her feelings for Josh, a lot has happened since he left…

When Kat’s past comes back to haunt her, Josh decides it’s his turn to take care of her. But protecting her—and redeeming himself—will put Josh in the line of fire again. Will he survive this time?


*Novel received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Opening Thoughts
I went into this book expecting a super sweet, adorable, light contemporary, and while parts of this book definitely fit that description, overall this book was a lot deeper than I expected.  I knew going into this book that I wasn't in the mood for those tortured souls that have all these deeprooted emotional issues and they won't open up at all, not that there's anything wrong with those books, it's just not what I'm in the mood for right now.  But this book, which is centered around a guy who was caught in a shooting at his college and was shot in the leg, and him dealing with that, and that was just an aspect I really enjoyed.

Characters
I loved both Josh and Kat so, so much, and I can say that I am a huge shipper of their relationship.  I think that my favorite part of their relationship was that they both opened up to each other and talked about what they were feeling, because they have both been/ are going through some pretty serious stuff, and cheesy or not, it does help to talk about it to someone.  This was something that made their relationship really unique because characters in most romances but particurally new adult books never open up to each other.  Kat did have a harder time opening up than Josh which was why I think I liked Josh's character more than Kat's.  I loved being in Josh's head.  It's so rare that we get a book from the point of view of the guy, so it was great getting to hear all of his thoughts.  He was super funny, and had great dialogue and some amazing one liners that really made the book for me.  

Plot
I loved, loved, loved the fact that Josh was involved in a school shooting.  I found the emotional and psychological effects that it had on him to be super fascinating.  Unfortunately, I wasn't near as impressed with Kat's storyline.  It was pretty unoriginal and overdone, though I was extremely impressed with the way that she had dealt with the first of her problems, the one from before the start of the book.  That was not so with the problem that occurs later on in the book, but oh well, you can't have everything.  As for the romance, it followed the standard new adult blueprint, pretty able, though I really like that they didn't have that much sex, while in most new adults, that's all they ever do.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  It was still pretty much the standard new adult book, but it was definitely starting to break out of the mold.  I don't think I will go back and read the first book because they can be read as standalones, but I don't know, never say never.  And now I'm quoting Justin Bieber so I guess that's my cue to wrap it up.  I would recommend this to people who like new adult, and think they'll like this.

Thanks for reading!
Amber





Monday, June 23, 2014

We Are The Goldens by Dana Reinhardt


We Are The Goldens
By Dana Reinhardt
Published: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Pages: 208

Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellayla. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They're a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell's a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she's happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it's wrong, and she must do something about it.

*Novel received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

My Rating: 3.75 stars

My Thoughts:
This book is about bonds between people, familial, romantic, and friendly.  Yes, there's some other stuff that goes down, but overall, it's about bonds.  It does focus mainly on the bond between Nell and Layla but there are so many different inds of bonds that are explored in this book.
Now, I have a younger sister and I love her, but she is one of the most annoying people I know, so I could definitely relate to Layla getting annoyed with the way that Nell was constantly tagging along and she wanted to know every single detail about every single aspect of Layla's life, and as an older sister, I was getting irritated with her as well.
I really liked that, though this story has been done over and over and over again, the story of a girl whose in high school who falls in love with one of her teacher, administrators, etc. and they don't think that it's wrong and it's just that no one understands how they feel, and that their love is real and true, and it will stand the test of keeping it a secret, I felt that Dana Reinhardt brought a really unique twist to it by narrating the story from Layla's younger sister, Nell's perspective, someone who's on the outside, not in the relationship and can see that it's wrong.
The plot overall was pretty bland.  I was never hooked, and I never felt like I couldn't put the book down but it is super short, just over two hundred pages, so I did manage to read it in the span of a couple of days, whilst reading a few other books as well.  I did feel that Dana Reinhardt handled the subject matter very well and I was very pleased with the way the book ended, and the conclusion that Nell came to, even if it took her forever to come to it.  This book didn't really have much of a plot, I mean it did and didn't at the same time.  It's definitely more of a kind of self-discovery book, but it's not even really that, though that's probably the closest that I could come to putting it into a category, because this is just one of those books like Eleanor and Park that are nearly impossible to fit into a category.  There weren't any big plot twists, the author didn't really rely on the shock factor to draw you in.  This book has a dark, morbid feel to it from the very beginning that sparks your curiosity and makes you want to see where the book is going.
Nell's voice was really realistic for her age, as well as the things that she struggled with.  She didn't quite have that brash, I'm going to do whatever the hell I want attitude of a sixteen, seventeen, eighteen year old, but she wasn't still in that timid, follow all the rules manner of a child.  Her loyalty to her sister had her conflicted between doing what her sister wanted, and doing what Nell thought was right for Layla, but in the end I think that she made the right decision, though I wish that we had gotten two or three more chapters to see the results of that decision play out.
I loved the role that Layla and Nell's parents played in their lives.  That relationship was very realistic, especially with one parent being the "responsible one" and the other parent being the "fun one".  However, they were both involved in the girls' lives, if not to the extent of most realistic parents, but still more than most parents in YA.  Felix's relationship with Nell was amazing.  I was so excited to see a book in which a guy and a girl can be just friends, up until the very end where that kind of died.  But until then, it was great, even though some of the things they did I thought took their relationship a little bit past friends, even if they didn't actually feel that way.  Like, they kiss each other on the lips?  I don't know about you, but my guy friends and I don't kiss.
Overall, I thought this was a very good book.  I had some issues with it but they were easily overlooked for the most part.  I loved that the book was written in second person point of view, because it's not something you see very often, even if it became hard to follow at times.  I'd recommend this to fans of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

Thanks for reading!
Amber

Interview with Aerenden Series Author Kristen Taber


Aerenden Series (The Child Returns, The Gildonae Alliance and The Zeiihbu Master)
by Kristen Taber

Book One: The Child Returns

Seventeen-year-old Meaghan has no idea her perfect life has been a lie — until she witnesses her parents’ brutal murders at the hands of red-eyed creatures.

After nearly sharing their fate, she escapes with her best friend, Nick, who tells her the creatures are called Mardróch. They come from another world, and so does she. Now that the Mardróch have found her, she must return to her homeland of Ærenden or face death.

Left with little choice, she follows Nick into a strange world both similar to Earth and drastically different. Vines have the ability to attack. Monkeys freeze their victims with a glare. Men create bombs from thin air. Even Meaghan’s newly discovered empath power turns into a danger she cannot control.

But control becomes the least of her worries once the Mardróch begin targeting her. When Nick confesses he knows the reason they want her, she learns the truth behind the kingdom's fifteen-year civil war — a long-buried secret that could cost Meaghan her life.



Book Two: The Gildonae Alliance

Several months after Meaghan’s return to Ærenden, the kingdom’s war has taken a turn for the worse. The Mardróch army hunts the new King and Queen, destroying villages in its wake. And Meaghan and Nick, training for battle in their remote section of wilderness, are far from safe. Danger hides in shadows and behind innocent faces. Allies become foes. Each day is a fight to survive. But in the end, only one threat matters. And it’s a threat they never see coming.






Book Three: The Zeiihbu Master

Separated and on opposite sides of the kingdom, Nick and Meaghan face different pursuits which could change the balance of power in Ærenden forever.

While Nick trains the villagers to be soldiers, Meaghan and a small rescue party venture into Zeiihbu to find Faillen's young son, before Garon can use the boy's power to destroy those still fighting against his rule.

Everyone knows Meaghan could be on a suicide mission, but when Nick stumbles upon a secret concealed in one of the southern villages, he realizes that Garon might not be Meaghan's greatest foe. The enemy most likely to kill her is someone who has also promised to keep her safe.

Here's an excerpt from Book 1, The Child Returns!

Meg,” her father spoke again and her eyes filled with tears. His voice was no more than a whisper. “Trust Nick. He’ll keep you safe.”

She nodded, and then shook as her father gathered his last breath. The footsteps reached the top of the stairs. Her father shuddered into stillness, but she had no time to mourn before Nick grabbed her hand and yanked her out the front door.

Cold air bit her face. Black clouds gathered overhead, shadowing the day in darkness. A gust of wind whipped leaves across the yard, building small funnel clouds, but she ignored them. She focused on the back of Nick’s head, then on her car when she realized they would need it to escape. They had nearly reached the driveway before she remembered she did not have her keys. She skidded to a stop. Turning back toward the house, she caught her breath when she saw their pursuers exiting the front door.

There were three of them, each taller than the last. Dark brown cloaks covered them from head to foot and they all carried heavy wood clubs stained with blood. They moved with an unnatural speed and disjointed grace, as if they floated instead of touching the ground. A putrid, rotting scent emanated from them in waves. It rolled Meaghan’s stomach, pitching her breakfast mid-way up her throat before she controlled the reaction. Nick grabbed her arm and pulled her toward her parents’ SUV.

INTERVIEW

1. How did you come up with the title? It actually took me a while to figure out what I wanted to call the first book in the series. I simply called it Æerenden at first, but realized soon that it would be difficult to type into a search engine. Then I called it The Aurean Prophecy after a prophecy that threads through the series. It didn’t take me long to realize that would be too confusing, so I settled on The Child Returns. The child referenced is Meaghan, of course. The names for the second and third books sort of popped into my head, but the fourth book is being a little difficult. Hopefully I’ll have a name by the time I finish writing it.


2. How much of the book is realistic?
The Ærenden series is set in an alternate world, but I believe it’s important to create lands that are both believable and realistic. Ærenden has many aspects that are similar to Earth, so I wanted to allow for similarities that cross over, particularly since the world’s histories overlap. In addition, the issues that the people of Ærenden and Zeiihbu face (racism, power-struggles, hidden truths, loss) are real to most people’s experiences.

3. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
It’s a tie between Stephen King and J.R.R. Tolkien. In my humble opinion, Mr. King is one of the most gifted writers of all time. I’ve loved his books since 4th grade. He’s also been my writer-hero since around that time. J.R.R. Tolkien is equally as brilliant, but in a different way. His imagination is one of the most creative I’ve ever read. He’s the reason I fell in love with fantasy and why I write epic fantasy today.
4. What book are you reading now?
I have several books on my reading list currently. My book club read for this month is Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. I’m also reading Joy Land by Stephen King and The Wolf’s Cry by Natalie Crown (a friend of mine). I always like having different types of books on my list, so that I can pick one up that matches my current mood.

5. Can you share a little of your current work with us? I’m currently about fifty pages into writing the fourth book in the Ærenden series. The scene below is from Chapter six. Nick, Max, and Caide are on an important mission within the kingdom.

“He’s a boy. Why are we bringing him along?” Nick glanced at Caide, a few paces behind them and shook his head. He had no desire to entertain this conversation, especially not with Caide listening. “He’s going to get hurt,” Max continued. Nick sighed. “Knock it off, Max.” “Knock what off? I’m serious.” “He’s stronger than both of us combined. You know that.” Max turned around, keeping pace as he walked backward. “Are you?” he asked Caide. “I know a Spellmaster is strong, but I’ve never been told how strong.” Caide shrugged. “My power’s stronger than Nick’s, but I don’t know about yours. What is it?” Max grinned. “I weaken powers.” “So if you wanted, you could make mine weaker than yours.” “Maybe. I’ve never tried, but I imagine it wouldn’t be an issue. You’re no more than a child, really. What are you? Twelve?”
This time, a smile tugged at the corners of Max’s mouth and Nick realized his friend was trying to rile Caide. Most likely because he had grown bored. A year ago, Nick would have enjoyed Max’s joking, but today it irritated him. “Fifteen,” Caide said, his voice stiff. “But age doesn’t define maturity.” “Sure it does. I bet you haven’t even kissed a girl yet.” Caide’s cheeks flared red. Nick punched Max in the arm. “I said cut it out.” “Ow,” Max protested, and rubbed his bicep. “That actually hurt.” “It was supposed to. Caide is more than suited for the job and I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t second guess my judgment.” “Fine.” Max turned back around, then glared at Nick. “Who put stinging nettles in your cloak this morning?” Nick stared ahead. “I’m not wearing a cloak.” “I’m not wearing a cloak,” Max mimicked. “Geez, Nick, it’s an expression. You weren’t on Earth long enough to forget that.” Nick had not forgotten. He had intended for the remark to irritate Max. When his friend pushed his shoulders forward and shoved his hands into his pockets, he knew it had worked. Other than a short growl of annoyance, Max remained quiet as they continued their trudge onward. Nick preferred it that way. This part of the kingdom, though still forested in spots, gave way too frequently to fields. Nick did not want their conversation traveling in front of them in case Mardróch searched the area for victims. Fields gave way to even rows of trees. Each green and brown giant filed in line, an army waiting to step from the earth and march after their commander. No one would be coming for them. This area had once been filled with similar forests, tree farms replenished by the strongest gardener powers and maintained by seven close-knit villages. Those same villages had fallen early to Garon’s war.

6. Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I don’t travel specifically to research my books, but I’ve found that my travels do influence my writing. A kayak trip brought about a scene within The Zeiihbu Master. Travels throughout Europe influenced the Celtic tones and some of the historical elements. Trips to the Pacific Northwest became forest scenes within all three books. I find that traveling is a wonderful muse for new and exciting scenes.
7. Who designed the covers?
The front cover on The Child Returns was designed by Katerina Vamvasaki, a lovely artist out of the U.K. She’s responsible for our delightfully creepy first look at the Mardróch. The paperback cover (spine and back) for that book were designed by Lance Ganey (www.freelanceganey.com). Lance also designed the complete covers for The Gildonae Alliance and The Zeiihbu Master.

8. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Letting it go. I tend to get attached to my stories and characters and want to make them 100% perfect. I’d edit forever if I gave into that tendency, but at some point I have to publish them or my readers would probably come hunt me down. I also would never get to my next book J.

9. Do you ever experience writer's block?
Oh, most definitely! I’ve actually been suffering a pretty bad one recently. My life has changed a lot with the introduction of my baby, so I’m having trouble finding time to write and when I do, I’m overtired so it takes me a while to get into the “zone”. It will pass, I’m certain J. Writer’s block always does. Sometimes blocks are about burn-out and taking a break from the story fixes them. Other times it’s about self-doubt or overanalyzing what I’m writing. Finding a way to overcome the emotions usually fixes the issue. I don’t know if it’s a rite (or “write”? lol) of passage or just part of my process, but it happens with every book. I’ve come to expect it.
10. Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Oh goodness, that’s a loaded question. I have a file of the oldest short stories I’ve written, from middle school and high school. I read those every now and again and cringe, but I try to remember that growth is the most important aspect of life. Practice means improvement and improvement means next year’s work should be better than the current year. I also find that when I’m done writing a book, I can’t stand to look at it anymore. It’s a side effect of working with it every week for a solid year (and dreaming about it at night). At the end, I really don’t hate it; I just need a vacation from it. Once I come back to it and hit “submit” for publication, I love it again.





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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Coin Heist by Elisa Ludwig


Coin Heist
By Elisa Ludwig
Published: June 10, 2014
Publisher: Adaptive Studios
Pages: 304

The last place you’d expect to find a team of criminals is at a prestigious Philadelphia prep school. But on a class trip to the U.S. Mint – which prints a million new coins every 30 minutes – an overlooked security flaw becomes far too tempting for a small group of students to ignore.

United by dire circumstances, these unlikely allies – the slacker, the nerd, the athlete, and the "perfect" student – band together to attempt the impossible: rob the U.S. Mint. The diverse crew is forced to confront their true beliefs about each other and themselves as they do the wrong thing for the right reasons.

Elisa Ludwig's Coin Heist is a fun, suspenseful, and compelling thriller, told from the revolving perspectives of four teens, each with their own motive for committing a crime that could change all of their lives for the better—if they can pull it off.

*Novel provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

My Rating: 4 stars

My Thoughts:

I picked up this book because it sounded a lot like Heist Society by Ally Carter, which I love, so I figured I would pick it up, and I'm so glad I did because I really enjoyed it.

The group of friends in this book were really diverse which I really liked. I was able to relate to pieces of each of them, though I definitely related to Alice the most. I loved the relationships that grew between the four characters formed, both platonic and romantic. Yes, this book is about a heist, but the highlight for me was seeing the relationships develop, even if there wasn't quite as much development as I would have liked, due to the four points of view.

You could tell that Elisa Ludwig put a lot of thought and effort into planning the heist and this book definitely made me want to visit the U.S. Mint. I thought that the group did a really good job planning out the heist .

It was really easy to forget how young the characters are because they never act immature or young. There's little to no angst which was wonderful because I'm so sick and tired right now of overly angsty teen romances so if that's how you're feeling, definitely pick up this book.

I wish it had ended a little differently, though the ending was really realistic and it definitely wasn't the worst way that Elisa Ludwig could have ended it, but it wasn't the exact way that I wanted it to end.

Overall, Coin Heist is funny and clever, with witty dialouge, relatable characters, and and an interesting and engaging plot. I really enjoyed it and I'd recommend it to anyone who thinks the plot sounds interesting. If you liked this, I recommend you pick up the Heist Society series by Ally Carter that I mentioned earlier, the stories are similar and that series is super underhyped.


Thanks for reading!

Amber

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hexed by Michelle Krys


Hexed 
By Michelle Krys
Published: June 10, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 384
Book 1 in Hexed series

If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blackwood has it made. Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won’t stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school. Who wouldn’t want to be her?

Then a guy dies right before her eyes. And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen. But it’s when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie’s world that she learns her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties. If she doesn’t get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die. And that’s seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she’s a witch too.

Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie’s about to uncover the many dark truths about her life—and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid.

*Novel provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

My Rating: 5 stars

My Thoughts:
I loved this book so, so much.  I can see where a lot of people had problems with it, but everything that didn't work for them, worked for me.
I think that one of the biggest problems most people have with this book is that they think Indie, the main character, is super shallow and yes, I can see where they might think that, but a. she does grow and become less shallow over time and b. I think that people don't want to read about shallow or mean people because they see themselves in that character and they don't want to think of themselves in that light.  But in my mind, I loved that Michelle used a character that isn't used often at least in books that I've read, but is just as realistic as the nerdy, overly deep character that can sometimes be really unrealistic (cough, cough *Augustus and Hazel* cough, cough).  I also really liked Bishop.  I thought he was so funny and clever and I loved his relationship with Indie because guys, there's no insta-love!  
The plot was fast-paced and addicative.  There were so many times when I wanted to put the book down so I could sleep or whatever and I'd be like, okay I'm going to read until the end of this chapter and then I'll go to sleep, but I ended up getting too sucked into the story and I would have read another 50 pages before I even realized I had.  There were so many twists that I never saw coming and I can't wait for the sequel to come out so I can read it and love it and it will be wonderful.

Thanks for reading!
Amber

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell


Eleanor and Park
By Rainbow Rowell
Published: February 26, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 328

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor
... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

My Rating: 4 stars

My Thoughts:
I first read this book back in April of last year and recently picked up the collector's edition that was recently released by Barnes and Noble so I decided to give it  reread.  
I think that I enjoyed this book about the same amount the second time as I did the first time.
This book reminds me that I really am a closet romantic and that I do enjoy romance contemporaries when they're done well, which I do believe this book was.  I love Eleanor and Park's relationship, and the writing is wonderful.
My biggest problem with this book was that I couldn't relate to Eleanor and Park.  I think that had this book been in first person point of view I would have enjoyed it a lot more.
I feel like there isn't much to say about this book.  It's cute, and fluffy, with just the right amount of serious tones.  I definitely recommend it to anyone.

Thanks for reading!
Amber

Monday, June 16, 2014

Poison Princess by Kresley Cole


Poison Princess 
By Kresley Cole
Published: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Book 1 in the Arcana Chronicles
Pages: 369

She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen-year-old Evangeline "Evie" Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they're still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can't do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can't totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it's not always clear who is on which side.

My Rating: 5 stars

My Thoughts:
This book was a beautifully crafted, well developed, enticing, compelling page-turner!  This was my first book by Kresley Cole and what a great one it was.  I'd say that this book is similar to Mara Dyer, but post-apocalyptic.  
This is one of the most unique books I've ever read.  There are twenty-two teens who all have special powers.  Sounds super stereotypical doesn't it?  But here's the catch, all of these characters are based off of characters from tarot cards.  Add this to a post-apocalyptic world with zombie-like creatures, slavers, and militias intent on sucking anyone they meet into their forces, you're in for one epic read.
Evie was such a strong protagonist.  She has so much going on, and still she tries to remain upbeat and positive, even though most of the time she feels completely helpless because she can't hunt or fish or really defend herself at all, even though both Evie and the reader can tell that there's something powerful about her just simmering under the surface, waiting to be unleashed.  She also has these hallucinations, you don't know what they are or what they mean or if maybe, they might be real. She also dealt with the apocalypse in such a real way.  She facing a lot of really hard things and she has to learn to survive, she's not one of those characters that's already a supreme survivalist and has no issues whatsoever, you know, actually surviving.
 Jackson, though I was a little bit unsure about him at first, ended up being a fabulous character, one of my favorites from the book.  He was kind of mean, and overly obnoxious, at times and this boy can go from hot to cold faster than anyone I've ever met, but by the end of the book, he definitely redeemed himself.  I was also not completely on board with the Evie/Jackson romance for the first hundred pages or so, then I  was kind of on and off for most of the book, till the last fifty to seventy-five pages where there were things happening and I couldn't deal with it and I ship it so freaking hard now.  
I don't want to talk about the plot too much because I definitely feel that this is one of those books that it's better to go into not knowing a whole lot about.  The summary is fairly vague for a reason people!  But I will say that the plot is fast-paced and draws you in so much that you won't be able to put it down.
Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone.  I absolutely loved it and I can't wait to get my hands on book two!

Thanks for reading!
Amber

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?




Welcome to It's Monday, What Are You Reading! This is a weekly feature hosted by Book Journey in which you plan out your reading week, as well as let others know what you're currently reading!

This week I finished four books.

Alienated 
By Melissa Landers
Published: February 4, 2014
Pages: 344
4 stars








Easy 
By Tammara Webber
Published: November 6, 2012
Pages: 321
3 stars








Poison Princess 
By Kresley Cole
Published: October 2, 2012
Pages: 369
5 stars








Ex Factor
By Elisa Dane
Published: April 14, 2014
Pages: 213
3 stars






I am currently reading 3 books actively.

Eleanor and Park
By Rainbow Rowell
Published: February 26, 2013
Pages: 328
Currently on Page: 86







The Destiny of Violet and Luke
By Jessica Sorensen
Published: January 7, 2014
Pages: 336
Currently on Page: 141







Breakable 
By Tammara Webber
Published: May 6, 2014
Pages: 368
Currently on Page: 90






This week I hope to read:

Coin Heist 
By Elisa Ludwig
Published: June 10, 2014
Pages: 225








Hexed
By Michelle Krys
Published: June 10, 2014
Pages: 384







Thanks for reading!
Amber