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Short Hiatus

Monday, April 29, 2013
Finals are coming up. I'm going to try and get a couple reviews up for books that I've read. However, for the next couple weeks or so, I'll be absent for the most part.

Pretty Dark Nothing Tour: Review & Giveaway

Thursday, April 25, 2013
Today, as a part of the Pretty Dark Nothing tour, I have for you my review of the book and a giveaway.

Pretty Dark Nothing
by Heather L. Reid

3 Stars: A Good Read
Paperback: 256 Pages
Publication: April 9, 2013 by Thomas Nelson

It’s been twenty three days since Quinn has slept for more than minutes at a time. Demons have invaded her dreams, stalking her, and whispering of her death. The lack of sleep and crippling fear are ruining her life. Energy drinks and caffeine pills don’t make a dent. When Quinn dozes off in the school hallway, Aaron, an amnesiac with a psychic ability, accidentally enters her nightmare. The demons are determined to keep them apart, and Aaron from discovering the secret locked away in his memory. Together, they could banish the darkness back to the underworld for good. That is, unless the demons kill them first.(less)

I was drawn to this book because of the creepy paranormal factor, and it didn't disappoint in this regard. At the beginning, we are introduced to Quinn as she attempts to stay awake, something most of us would love not to have to do. My friends and I talk about how we need to have a national naptime. Of course, the human body can't resist sleep forever, and Quinn does fall asleep, and we find out why she doesn't want to sleep. Enter her dark world.

This is a tension-filled book, as Quinn tries to figure out what's going on and how she can solve the mess that is her life. She's a decent enough character, and it's fairly easy to sympathize with her. However, she does tend to wallow in self-pity. It's not like she was always like this. She was a normal teen before her life fell apart. I think I would have been able to relate to her more if we saw more of her other side even as she slips into her tendency to pity herself. Though she does tend to rely a lot on the people around her though, she isn't a total damsel in distress. She has her moments.

My favorite character does have to be Aaron. He goes through a lot as well, and he still manages to be so supportive of Quinn even though she pushes him away. I really wanted to see more of his character and abilities developed--and, well, more of him in general.

The characters and their relationships feel like one big high school drama, something I'm not particularly fond of, and the characters lack the depth that would help me sympathize with them more in a high school drama setting.

On the whole, the best part of this book is the paranormal focus, which we really start getting into midway into the novel. I really enjoyed exploring the dark world that consumes Quinn. By the end, I was engrossed enough into this that I would read a sequel if there were one. (Though I do admit this is partly also because a new twist was added at the end that I wasn't expecting and I feel should have been introduced earlier if this is going to be a standalone.)

I recommend this book if you love a good creepy paranormal book.

About the Author

Heather's Website | Twitter
Heather L. Reid eats mayonnaise on her fries, loves men in kilts, and met her husband playing Star Wars Galaxies online. This native Texan now lives with her Scottish hubby in North Ayrshire, Scotland, where she wanders the moors in search of Heathcliff and William Wallace.

Echo Tour: Excerpt & Giveaway

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The countdown clock reads ten days until the end of the world. The citizens are organized. Everyone's been notified and assigned a duty. The problem is . . . no one knows for sure how it will end.

Energy-hungry Mages are the most likely culprit. They travel toward a single location from every corner of the continent. Fueled by the two suns, each Mage holds the power of an element: air, earth, fire, metal, water, or ether. They harness their powers to draw energy from the most readily available resource: humans.

Ashara has been assigned to the Ethereal task force, made up of human ether manipulators and directed by Loken, a young man with whom she has a complicated past. Loken and Ashara bond over a common goal: to stop the Mages from occupying their home and gaining more energy than they can contain. But soon, they begin to suspect that the future of the world may depend on Ashara's death.

Rey flashed me his trademark lopsided grin. “So how was your first day as an Ethereal?”

I considered flinging an ether ball at his smug face. Sadly, I had no idea how to do that. So instead, I leaned back into the vehicle cushion. The leather sighed as it accepted my weight. “I’m the worst Ethereal ever.” The exhaustion that had chased me most of the day finally caught up. I let my eyes drift shut.

“But you are an Ethereal?” Excitement rang in his voice.

“That’s what they tell me.”

The smooth motion of the vehicle lulled me into something that resembled relaxation. It was hard to be completely at ease with my comm pressed against my waist. Its countdown clock ticked closer and closer to the end with each second that passed.

Rey shook me so hard I thought my brain would smash into my skull.

“What?” My eyes flew open and I shoved him away.

“Why aren’t you excited about this?”

“It’s not that I’m not excited.” I yawned and stretched my arms. The yawn went on longer than expected, and Rey stared at me with raised brows as he waited.

“Are you done?”

“Maybe. It’s just that I’m more tired than I am excited. Did you know you have to channel your own energy into elemental manipulations?”

He gave me a blank expression.

“Right, of course. You knew that. You’ve been a practitioner most of your life.” My gaze scanned up and down his body; his excited expression, the nervous drumming of his fingertips against the armrest. “How come you’re not exhausted?”

“You get used to it.”

About the Author

Alicia's Website | Facebook | Twitter
Alicia Wright Brewster is a mild-mannered lady of average height and above average paranormal obsession. By day, she works in an office. At night she is an author, an electronics junkie, and a secret superhero. In her virtually non-existent free time, she loves to read, watch movies, and eat food. She is particularly fond of the food-eating and makes a point to perform this task at least three times per day, usually more.

Review: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Reconstructing Amelia
Kimberly McCreight

4 Stars: A Great Read
Hardback: 384 Pages
Publication: April 2, 2013 by HarperCollins

Litigation lawyer and harried single mother Kate Baron is stunned when her daughter's exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn, calls with disturbing news: her intelligent, high-achieving fifteen-year-old daughter, Amelia, has been caught cheating.

Kate can't believe that Amelia, an ambitious, levelheaded girl who's never been in trouble would do something like that. But by the time she arrives at Grace Hall, Kate's faced with far more devastating news. Amelia is dead.

Seemingly unable to cope with what she'd done, a despondent Amelia has jumped from the school's roof in an act of "spontaneous" suicide. At least that's the story Grace Hall and the police tell Kate. And overwhelmed as she is by her own guilt and shattered by grief, it is the story that Kate believes until she gets the anonymous text:

She didn't jump.

Sifting through Amelia's emails, text messages, social media postings, and cell phone logs, Kate is determined to learn the heartbreaking truth about why Amelia was on Grace Hall's roof that day-and why she died.

Reconstructing Amelia is about the importance of open communication between parents and children. It's also a book about the dangers of keeping secrets and the need to feel fit in at school. The book teaches us that we need to get more involved in our children’s lives and listen to them. We can't take our relationships with them for granted.

Amelia is smart and funny. She is the intellectual girl that every mother dreams of. Kate is a single mother and a litigation attorney at a big Manhattan law firm. Kate thinks they are as close as a mother and daughter can be. That is, until she gets a call at work that Amelia has been accused of cheating on a paper and has been suspended. The school wants Kate picks up Amelia as soon as possible. When she finally gets to the school, police officers have surrounded school. Amelia has jumped off the roof and killed herself.

Later, Kate receives an anonymous text said Amelia did not jump. With the help of a lieutenant from the NYPD, Kate begins going through Amelia’s email, texts, Facebook posts, and the Gossip Girl-eque school blog called gRaCeFULLY. Kate finds out Amelia was tapped to join a secret society of girls, that she fell in love for the first time, and that she had a Manti Te’o-type correspondence with a gay boy Ben. All of these happened without Kate’s knowledge. Kate soon realizes there is a lot she doesn’t know about Amelia.

I can feel Amelia’s pain on the pages. I also can see why Amelia makes bad decisions, because all she wanted deep down was to belong. Her experiences are eye opening.

As a mother of two teens, it makes me wonder that what they do on the internet, who they chat with on Facebook, and who their friends are. I don't really know. I want to trust them and let them grow up without me nosing into their business, but this book shows just how much about parents don’t really know about their own children. It scares me that I may not be able to protect my children from all the horrible things out there in the world.

Reconstructing Amelia is a heartbreaking story. I enjoyed this book from beginning to the end. The book addresses many important issues such as bullying, single parents, posh private schools, homosexuality, ethics, secret clubs, adultery, and role of technology and social media in teen culture. It is a good read, and I highly recommend this book to read and share with your teens.

An ARC was provided by Harper Collins for review.

Rock Harber Search and Rescue Tour: Review & Giveaway

Friday, April 19, 2013
Today, as a part of the Rock Harbor Search & Rescue tour, I have for you my review of the book.

Rock Harbor Search and Rescue
by Colleen Coble and Robin Caroll

3 Stars: A Good Read
Series: Rock Harber Search and Rescue #1
Paperback: 256 Pages
Publication: April 9, 2013 by Thomas Nelson

Emily O'Reilly is obsessed with all things Search and Rescue. She volunteers with the team and goes on rescue missions with her stepmom. She is even selling homemade jewelry to save up for her own Search and Rescue puppy. But when an expensive necklace is stolen from a renowned jewelry artist at Rock Harbor's fall festival and Emily is accused of the crime, it looks like she'll never get her puppy and be able to join the Rock Harbor Search and Rescue team.

Emily isn't willing to give up on her Search and Rescue dreams that easily, and she sets out to find the real culprit and to restore her reputation. With a few suspects in mind, Emily is determined to uncover the truth, but she isn't prepared for the secrets she and the Search and Rescue dogs sniff out in the process.

I love big furry creatures, and dogs rank high up on the list of my favorite animals. It was an absolute joy to read about Search & Rescue and to see Emily's passion for the job. The story opens in the midst of a search, allowing us to get to know key people in Emily's life and how much she values the job. I love how Emily is a strong character in that she stands up for herself without going so far as to get into trouble that she can't handle despite her insistence on clearing her own name. At the same time, her youth and vulnerabilities also come out in moments of weakness, such as when the topic of her mother comes up and with her fear of the Windigo.

Add to that the strong support from those around her. Emily's younger brother Timmy and best friend Olivia are always there to cheer her up and help her out. I also love Bree and Emily's step-mother Naomi. In time, I grew to like her father as well, though I can't forgive him for being so quick to suspect Emily of stealing Mary Dancer's necklace initially. I don't want to believe that a parent can put down his or her own child like that, but he does. And she still loves him.

I do feel as though the relationships in the novel could be straightened out more, especially early on in the novel. We never do find out why Emily's father is so suspicious of her initially when she is accused of stealing the necklace, and Josh is never more than that boy Emily is interested in. I also never really felt a sense of urgency about Emily's biological mother. Though Emily fears her mother, we don't find out until late in the book why she is. I also wonder what role Greg plays in the novel and why he bothers to make an appearance in the novel when he was never brought up before and he doesn't play much of a role in the story.

The emotions could come off a bit clearer as well. It falls flat at times, which is especially noticeable because there are times when Emily's emotions really come off the page, like when she feels betrayed by her father and when she remembers the time she went to the beach with her mother.

On the whole, this was a solid read with strong dialogue and an amazing cast of characters. The novel does get a little too much on the religious side for me in the second half with the subject of God coming up more frequently; it isn't over the top, but there were too many similar references, especially in such a short novel. The ending is a bit anticlimactic. After all the searching for the true thief, Emily stumbles upon the truth by chance, and everything wraps up pretty nicely afterwards. I would have liked to see more suspense and action surrounding the mystery. At the same time, the ending is believable. Not every mystery has a big bad guy waiting at the end.

An ARC was provided by Thomas Nelson for review.

About the Authors

Colleen's Website | Facebook | Twitter
Carol Award winner Colleen Coble lives with her husband, Dave, in Indiana. She is the author of dozens of novels including the Rock Harbor Series, the Aloha Reef Series, the Mercy Falls Series, the Hope Beach Series, the Lonestar Series and two Women of Faith fiction selections, Alaska Twilight and Midnight Sea. She has more than 2 million books in print.

Robin's Website | Facebook | Twitter
Born and raised in Louisiana, Robin Caroll is a southerner through and through. Her passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others. She gives back to the writing community by serving as Conference Director for ACFW. Her books have finaled/placed in such contests as Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice, Bookseller's Best, and Book of the Year. To learn more about this author of deep South mysteries of suspense to inspire your heart.

Unplug and Read Tour: Review of The Flame in the Mist

Monday, April 15, 2013
Today, as a part of the Unplug & Read tour, I have for you my review of The Flame in the Mist.
For more about Books Unplugs, check out Random House Children's Youtube videos here!

The Flame in the Mist
Kit Grindstaff

3 Stars: A Good Read
Hardback: 464 Pages
Publication: April 9, 2013 by Delacorte Press

Fiery-headed Jemma Agromond is not who she thinks she is, and when the secrets and lies behind her life at mist-shrouded Agromond Castle begin to unravel, she finds herself in a chilling race for her life. Ghosts and misfits, a stone and crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient prophecy—all these reveal the truth about Jemma's past and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than she could have imagined in her wildest fantasies. With her telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, and her trusted friend, Digby, Jemma navigates increasingly dark forces, as helpers both seen and unseen, gather. But in the end, it is her own powers that she must bring to light, for only she has the key to defeating the evil ones and fulfilling the prophecy that will bring back the sun and restore peace in Anglavia.

Jemma believes that she has a weak constitution and is an utter failure to her family. She has been raised to believe so by the Noxes, a family specializing in the dark arts that has raised her since she was a little babe. However, right as she is preparing for her Initiation, which is to happen on her thirteenth birthday, Jemma learns that the Noxes are not her true family and, worse, plan to sacrifice her to strengthen their dark hold over Anglavia. Frightened, she escapes from Agromond Castle on a quest to find her real parents and get Initiated into the Light before the Noxes steal her powers for themselves.

Jemma is what I look for in a middle-grade protagonist. She's at the tender age where she still wants to believe in the adults she's grown up thinking were always in the right. Upon finding out that they aren't perfect after all, she must struggle on her own to find her way in the suddenly very big and scary world. She does depend on greater powers a lot in the story, and it was conflicting to me because I really wanted to see her do more on her own. In the end, however, I'm okay with it because she is still a child, and it's very realistic for her to need to depend on others before reaching the end goal, where she must stand on her own to protect those she cares about.

The supporting character were a joy. I have an especial place in my heart for the rats. I had one that I was very fond of as a child, and I was so sad when she died. I haven't had a rat since, but they're warm, intelligent critters. I have a soft heart for mammals, generally larger ones but these rattusses are special. Digby is strong, pure-hearted, and very supportive of Jemma. I wish that there was more of him in the story. He isn't present as often as I thought he'd be given the synopsis. Marsh is someone I'd love to have as my aunt or grandmother even. She's a bundle of warmth and someone I imagine would be fierce to face off against. (In short, don't.)  To my surprise, I ended up sympathizing with a couple of the Noxes, though I wouldn't change their endings. They deserve what they get in the end.

The plot was predictible, but that is to be expected when there is a prophecy about good defeating evil. I knew from the beginning that Jemma would be the one to defeat the Noxes, and she must do so on her own without outside help. The heart of the story lies in Jemma's journey to finding her powers and the strength to defeat the Noxes. It was a bit frustrating that it took Jemma two parts of the book to escape, as the synopsis hadn't suggested that she'd be alone for so long. It bogs the story down, though it does provide context and developments that help pull the story together in the end.

What didn't work for me is how lucky Jemma is. When she gets into bad situations, all she needs to do is call upon the crystals for help, her rats will help her, or some other lucky coincidence will provide aid to her. Jemma does have to raise her fighting spirit in order to get out of scrapes, but I would have liked to see her work out more things for herself. This is a coming-of-age novel about a girl coming into her powers that were always meant to be. Not to mention that she is the prophesized Fire One who will defeat the evil residing in Agromond Castle. There needs to be more of her struggling to fend for herself for me to believe in her story.

Overall, this is an enjoyable fantasy read with epic elements that will delight upper middle-grade readers. While there are predictable elements and lucky coincidences, and the pacing is slow, the characters are a joy and the overall writing is strong for a debut work. This story is very light on the whole and a good fit for younger readers seeking to start reading larger books.

A copy was provided by Random House for review.

About the Author

Kit's Website | Facebook | Twitter
Kit Grindstaff was born near London, and grew up in the rolling countryside of England. After a brush with pop stardom, she moved to New York and embarked on her career as a pop song writer. Kit now lives with her husband in the rolling countryside of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the SCBWI. The Flame In The Mist is her first novel.

Imagine Weekly: Mailbox #47

Sunday, April 14, 2013
Imagine Weekly is a weekly feature where we share a summary of what has taken place on the blog the previous week and show off books that we got.


Click on the cover to view a book's Goodreads page

* Check out more book hauls through Tynga's Stacking the Shelves *

Previous Week

Upcoming Week
  • Tours: The Flame in the Mist, Rock Harber: Search & Rescue
  • Reviews: The Flame in the Mist, Dead River, Rock Harber: Search & Rescue, more TBA

What did you get this week? Leave a link in the comments section, and I'll check out your week's haul!

Review: The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

Thursday, April 11, 2013
The Eternity Cure
by Julie Kagawa

4 Stars: A Great Read
Series: Blood of Eden #2
Hardback: 446 Pages
Publication: April 30, 2013 by HarlequinTEEN

Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.

Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.

The last time we saw Allie, she decided to leave Eden to protect the ones she love. Her choice to continue to care about and live for others continues to haunt her months later as she tracks down her mentor Kanin, who is at the mercy of a psycho crazy vampire with a vendetta against him. Though she fears Sarren (if he was able to outsmart and overpower a master vampire like Kanin, what chance does she have against him?), her loyalty towards her mentor is stronger, and she is prepared to risk her life to save him. Just when she catches up to him in her old home New Covington, she finds the humans dying of the Red Lung virus and she has a time limit to find the cure.

Allie is one of the bravest, most human protagonists I've met. She has been through more pain and suffering in her short life than most of us can ever hope not to meet, and yet she always pulls through, strong and not-always collected but always willing to hope for the future. When she chose to keep her humanity as a vampire and to open her heart once more, I predicted that there would be more heartbreak for her in the future. There is only so much one vampire girl can do.

And the emotions.

It is so easy to love or hate the characters. Their personalities just leap off the page. I am especially fond of Jackal, ex-raider king with a penchant for playing mind games with people, making enemies of them in the process because of his sharp tongue. Call me silly, stupid even, but I can't help but be drawn to sadistic characters with a talent for wordplay. The atmosphere always lightens for me when Jackal is around, though I doubt his poor victims would say the same.

While I have a new favorite guy (well, old-enemy-brought-back-as-a-comrade favorite guy), no review would be complete without a mention of the romantic interest. Especially an angel like Zeke. Only, he isn't an angel anymore, unless you'd describe an angel as a hot, trained vampire killer armed with a stake-bearing crossbow. Zeke is all grown up now and hotter than ever, though he's still sweet on the inside. That's what I love about him. No matter what he grows into, what he must become to protect those he cares about, he'll stay true to his beliefs. He gives me hope for the future of Allie's world.

This book is a tad bit  on the epic romance side as reminiscent of  Kagawa's Iron Fey series. Allie makes some decisions that I hadn't expected. Some come from her feelings for Zeke. Some come from a reckless side to her that I should have known existed. It threw me off a little, though it wasn't enough to take too much from my overall enjoyment of the novel. Fans of Kagawa's flair for playing around with romance and danger will love Allie's daring nature and the swoon-worthy kiss scenes. They didn't quite work for me after all the action of the first part of the novel, though I did enjoy them. Even  vampires like Allie need a break from saving humanity.

The imagery is beautifully detailed, portraying a broken world that's struggling to rebuild itself. Just what I love to see in a post-apocalyptic novel. Sometimes, it gets grotesque. This isn't a pretty world. Terrible things have happened and are still happening, and I love how Kagawa isn't afraid to show all the nasty details to us.

What's really exciting, and what made this book all the better for me in the end, leaving me hungering for more Blood of Eden, is the end. You'll know what I mean when you've read it. Kagawa wraps up the plot of The Eternity Cure nicely while sneaking in a nasty turn of events that has me bouncing up and down like a little girl who's been promised a sweet... and told that she has to wait only so long to receive it. It promises more heartache and more kickass action. So much is at stake for Allison and the world. I'll definitely be picking up book three when it comes out!

A copy was provided by HarlequinTEEN for review.

Bargain Books

Sunday, April 7, 2013
Today only, the Maximum Ride novels by James Patterson are available for $2.99!

Also, today only these books are available for $1.99

Monthly Bargains



Imagine Weekly: Mailbox #46

Imagine Weekly is a weekly feature where we share a summary of what has taken place on the blog the previous week and show off books that we got.

For Review

Click on the cover to view a book's Goodreads page

Thanks to Harper Collins & Random House!

* Check out more book hauls through Tynga's Stacking the Shelves *

Previous Week

Other News
If He Had Been With Me Tour: Interview with Laura Nowlin

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Upcoming Week
  • Review of The Eternity Cure

What did you get this week? Leave a link in the comments section, and I'll check out your week's haul!