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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Book Review: Echo of an Earth Angel by Sarah M. Ross

Echo of an Earth Angel (Earth Angel Trilogy #1) by Sarah M. Ross
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal/Fantasy Romance)
Date Published: June 12, 2012
Publisher: Self

18 year old Tessa Copeland barely survived the worst year of her life—in fact, it was a miracle. After making it through the tragedy that killed both of her parents, she’s left to pick up the pieces of her life. Combating the holes in her memory and the concern of her friends was hard enough, but a new talent threatens to destroy everything she’s trying to reclaim. 
David Allegri didn’t mean to ruin Tessa’s life. She was the brightest soul he’d seen in centuries and he couldn’t let her die, so the fallen angel used his abilities to heal her—only he took it too far and changed Tessa forever. Now, he has to figure out a way to explain what’s happening to Tessa and somehow protect both of them from the consequences.

His choice made them targets for the Hunters, who will use any means necessary to capture their prey. Only a desperate plan can help them escape, and sacrifices will be made. Time is ticking. Will they make it, or will they be lost to the echoes of fate?

Echo of an Earth Angel is the first book in the Earth Angel Trilogy by Sarah M. Ross. I was a bit on the fence about this one. I liked Tessa and David as characters quite a bit. Tessa has compelling history. What we know of David is still quite mysterious, but he is intriguing and a sweet heart. I felt like this story shed a pretty unpleasant light on angels. Even the good ones are questionable. God was alluded too, but again it wasn't necessarily in a good way. So, these things bothered me. There was a balance system in place between good and bad. There had to be so much good and so much bad allowed to happen in the world or the balance was messed up. So, even when angels go rogue because they want to do more good, they are hunted and punished. That doesn't seem very fair. It made me think that this version of God was corrupt, and I just didn't like that at all. This was a unique and suspenseful spin on the spiritual world.

Echo of an Earth Angel by Sarah M. Ross was provided to me by the author for review. The opinions are my own.

Sarah started her obsession with reading at an early age, often sneaking BabySitter Club and Nancy Drew books into math class. She would read any book she could get her hands on. Her love of reading quickly evolved into a love of writing and stories began to pour out of her.

She grew up in Pittsburgh, graduated from The University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English, and taught 8th graders to love reading as much as she does for several years. Sarah will always be a proud member of the Steelers' Nation, but couldn't take the cold and moved her frozen tush to Florida where she now lives with her family and two cats. You will find her now with her trusty Kindle in hand and toes in the sand!

Sarah's debut novel, AWAKEN, released in January, 2012. Other novels include AVENGE, ATONE, ECHO OF AN EARTH ANGEL, and INHALE EXHALE. Check out my interview with Sarah M. Ross!!

To learn more about Sarah M. Ross and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Forgotten Ones Black Friday Extravaganza!!

The Forgotten Ones (The Danaan Trilogy #1) by Laura Howard
Genre: New Adult (Paranormal/Fantasy Romance)
Date Published: April 28, 2013
Publisher: Self

Allison O'Malley just graduated from college. Her life's plan is to get a job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She doesn't have room for friends or even Ethan, who clearly wants more.

When Allison's long-lost father shows up, he claims he can bring her mother back from the dark place her mind has sent her. He reveals legends of a race of people long forgotten, the Tuatha de Danaan, along with the truth about why he abandoned her mother. Check out my review!

Laura Howard lives in New Hampshire with her husband and four children. Her obsession with books began at the age of 6 when she got her first library card. Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High and other girly novels were routinely devoured in single sittings. Books took a backseat to diapers when she had her first child. It wasn’t until the release of a little novel called Twilight, 8 years later, that she rediscovered her love of fiction. Soon after, her own characters began to make themselves known. The Forgotten Ones is her first published novel.

To learn more about Laura Howard and her books, visit her blog.You can also find her on GoodreadsFacebook, and Twitter.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tour! A Review of Sia by Josh Grayson

Sia by Josh Grayson
Genre: Young Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: November 20, 2013
Publisher: Self

When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse yet, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the “geek” she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she’ll become the bully she was before…and if she’ll lose Kyle.

Sia is the debut novel by Josh Grayson. Sia's friends reminded me of Mean Girls, and Sia herself was one of the Mean Girls before she lost her memory. I liked the Sia we got to know. She was caring, brave, and strong. Her life on the streets in the beginning was eye opening. The conflicts were easily resolved within the plot. That took away some of the realistic feel for me. I would liked to have seen a little more Umph. Sure, we have seen similar stories, but this was a nice and fun read with a good message. I'm a sucker for stories where the popular girl falls for the nerdy guy. Kyle was just the kind of nerdy guy a girl could easily fall for too. He may not have been popular, but he didn't let it change him. He stood up for himself and those he cares about. Sia spreads a beautiful message on how one person can make a difference. It's an appropriate read for a young adult audience.

Sia by Josh Grayson was provided to me by the author for review. The opinions are my own.

Josh Grayson was born in Mexico, raised in Massachusetts, and now lives in Virginia. It was his move to the South that stirred his imagination and gave him the courage to start writing. During his free time, Josh enjoys reading, jogging, swimming, and watching YouTube videos.

Sia is his debut YA novel.

To learn more about Josh Grayson and his books, visit his website.You can also find him on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Review of Fragile Brilliance by Tammy Blackwell, Giveaway & Character Guest Post!

Fragile Brilliance (Shifters & Seers #1) by Tammy Blackwell 
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal Romance)
Date Published: November 26, 2013
Publisher: Self

Maggie McCray has worked her whole life for the opportunity to attend Sanders College. It’s her one chance at becoming a world-renowned artist, and she’s determined nothing will get in her way. But when a murder brings Maggie and her powers to the attention of the Alpha Pack and the tragically handsome Charlie Hagan, her carefully planned future hangs in jeopardy.

Charlie Hagan isn’t happy when the Alpha Female assigns him as Maggie McCray’s personal bodyguard. Just being near the Thaumaturgic threatens to unleash the primal instincts he’s been suppressing for so long. Charlie knows if the coyote is uncaged, then the person he’ll most need to protect Maggie from is himself.

Fragile Brilliance is the first book in the Shifters & Seers series by Tammy Blackwell. This is one of those books that captured my attention from the beginning. The characters were fun and believable, and the more I read the more I liked them. Maggie knows what she wants and she's not about to let anything get in the way. Charlie was entertaining as he fought his emotions. I enjoyed his inner turmoil about it. The plot was fast and engaging. I figured out pretty quick who was bad, but that didn't keep me from enjoying the story. I like shapeshifters, and I like that we not only have wolves, but we have coyotes too. I've never heard of a Thaumaturgic. They were completely new to me so, I'm going to Google them after I finish this review to find out more. Fragile Brilliance had suspense, drama, and romance with some humor thrown in, making this an all around enjoyable read. I'm looking forward to more, and I'm going to have to check out some of the authors other books too.

Fragile Brilliance by Tammy Blackwell was provided to me by Mark My Words Book Publicity for review. The opinions are my own.

With every breath they were drawing closer and closer together. Maggie’s entire body buzzed and tingled in anticipation.

“Who am I, Maggie?”

“You’re Charlie Hagan. Stratego of the Alpha Pack.” She breathed in the scent of him. Cinnamon and male. “You’re a fighter of demons and protector of innocents.”

Unable to stop herself, she finally did what she’d been dreaming of since she first met him and placed her lips against his. It was just a fleeting caress, but she felt it deep in her soul. “You’re beautiful,” she said, knowing it wasn’t a strong enough word to describe him.

Holiday Survival Guide: The Family Road Trip By Charlie Hagan

Unless you’re one of those lucky people whose parents grew up down the street from one another and then built a house one block over when they got married, you’re probably familiar with the holiday road trip. It’s the one time of the year when your immediate family crams into the minivan or SUV, the vehicle overloaded with luggage and gifts and your parents’ unresolved childhood issues.

It’s supposed to be the most magical time of the year, but those hours spent racing towards (and then running away from) your extended family’s annual festivities can be the exact opposite of holly and jolly.

If you’re already dreading this year’s sojourn to overly familiar near-strangers, don’t worry. As someone who has been there and done that more times than his fragile psyche can handle, I’ve got you covered. Here are my tips on how to survive the family road trip.

1. If you have a minivan, take the back seat. From this position it will be harder for your parents to drag you into conversations or force you to read road. 

2. Never, ever forget your headphones. And then never, ever take them out completely. If you must, you can pull one out on occasion to hear what someone is saying, but otherwise, stay plugged in.

3. Bring snacks. Don’t think, “I’ll just wait an grab some empty calories when we stop for gas.” Either your parents are going to wait too long to stop, or they’re going to refuse to let you get anything based on some stupid theory that you can actually ruin your appetite. 

4. Know when to offer assistance. If you’re old enough to drive, about thirty minutes after leaving your front door ask if they want you to take over for a little while. It’s too early for whoever is driving to actually take you up on it, but you’ve put in an effort. On the opposite end of the spectrum, wait as long as possible before offering to help load or unload the car. Taking a bathroom break is the best stalling technique. Hide out as long as possible, and then when there is only one or two things left to carry, wander out and say, “What can I carry?”

5. Bring the proper amount of entertainment. A good rule of thumb is that one normal hour equals fifteen road trip minutes. Therefore, if you can easily play 2 hours of GTA at home, know it will occupy you for about 30 minutes in the 6. If you’re a parent, pass these helpful tips on to your child and then forget you read them. You can entertain yourself in the car by getting a head start on your taxes or whatever it is adults do to occupy themselves.

Charlie Hagan is a comic book fan who happens to turn into a coyote under the light of the full moon. You can find out more about him in Fragile Brilliance, the first book in the new Shifters and Seers series by Tammy Blackwell.
Check out my review of another book by this author!

YA librarian by day; Caped Crusader by night. (Oh, and I write the Timber Wolves books, too.)

To learn more about Tammy Blackwell and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Blog Tour! A Review of Run for the Roses by Rachel Schieffelbein!

Run for the Roses by Rachel Schieffelbein
Genre: Young Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: November 2013
Publisher: Swoon Romance

Abigail Conrad has spent her whole life training for one goal: to win the roses at the Arabian Youth Nationals. She’s given up friends, a social life, and doesn't have time to even think about guys -- much less date!

Now that she’s headed off to college in the fall, it’s her last chance to be a Youth National Champion, and she won’t let anything distract her from that dream.

Except maybe Chase, the older brother of Abigail's biggest rival. He’s charming, funny, and possibly Abigail's biggest problem. How can she focus on riding when her mind keeps wandering to Chase’s green eyes and confident smile?

With her dream on the line, Abigail had better learn to fight her growing attraction to Chase, or she might end up losing the roses and the guy.

Run for the Roses by Rachel Schieffelbein is an awfully addictive story for such a short book. Sometimes, I feel like I'm missing something with novellas, but that wasn't the case here. I got to know the main character and her situation fully. She was fun and easy to relate to. The romance was sweet and clean. It was plain cute! I feel like I got to know the supporting characters pretty well too. It was a story I would have enjoyed in high school as well. I recommend it for any girl who loves horses and swooning ages middle school and up. Run for the Roses was an adorable story that took me off to the horse shows for a few hours.

Run for the Roses by Rachel Schieffelbein  was provided to me by YA Bound for review. The opinions are my own.

Rachel grew up in a tiny town in Minnesota. She still lives there, with her husband and their four kids. She coaches high school speech and theater, rides Arabian horses, reads as much as she can, and writes stories.

To learn more about Rachel Schieffelbein and her books, visit her blog.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Re-Release of The Secret of Isobel Key, Plus a Guest Post by the Author, Jen McConnel!!

With a new name and a snazzy new cover, THE BURNING OF ISOBEL KEY will be re-released on December 19, 2013 as THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY by Bloomsbury Spark!
The Secret of Isobel Key by Jen McConnel
Genre: Adult Fiction (Contemporary Romance/Historical Fiction)
Originally Published: September 14, 2012 by BrightFish Press
Re-Released: December 19, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark

Lou is in the middle of a quarter-life crisis. Fresh out of college, she’s unemployed and unsure of herself. But when she gets the chance to escape to Scotland with her best friend, it could be the answer to her quest for self-discovery. The trip is not at all what she expected, especially when her tour guide turns out to be the dreamy historian Brian, and together they embark on a hunt for information about Isobel Key, a woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century.

They set out to learn the truth of the condemned witch, but Lou isn’t prepared for the knowledge that awaits her. She must face her own demons if she has any hope of righting the wrongs of the past.

Flashing between seventeenth century Scotland and a contemporary romance, THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY is a mystery that will please readers of all ages. Check out my review!

What’s in a Name? Character Names by Jen McConnel

I don’t have any kids, but I keep ordering baby name books. Why? Because I like to choose character names that mean something, and often times, the name of the character helps me figure out who they are. This holds true for the cast in THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY, and today I wanted to let you in on the secrets behind some of the character’s names.

First up, Lou: she’s actually names Louisa, but she’s always hated her formal name. I named her for one of my favorite authors, Louisa May Alcott, and in an early draft, I thought Lou might become a writer (living up to her name and all that). Louise and its many variants means “warrior maiden”, and I like to think that in her way, Lou becomes a quiet warrior in THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY.

Next, Brian: according to my favorite baby name book, Brian means “virtuous and honorable.” And he really is! The character certainly fits his name; I don’t think I’ve ever written such a nice, wholesome, handsome guy as Brian. That doesn’t prevent him from being smexy as hell, though; there’s something about the good guys...

Finally, Isobel: although I changed the spelling, I actually did come across many women named Issobell in the lists of accused in the Scottish witch trials, and there was even an Issobell Key.

The name Isabel also means “dedicated to God”, but even a religious name wasn’t enough to stop countless men and women from facing accusations of witchcraft in Scotland (and around the world).

There’s a host of other characters running around in THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY, and I took time with each of their names, too. I swear, if I ever have kids, I’ll have used up all the good names in my books!

What’s your favorite character name? Do you think names matter for characters?

Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn't crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches college writing composition and yoga. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time. Her debut NA novel, THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY, is coming December 2013 from Bloomsbury Spark .

Check out my interview with Jen McConnel!

To learn more about Jen McConnel and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Book Review: Back to You by Priscilla Glenn

Back to You by Priscilla Glenn 
Genre: New Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: October 20, 2012
Publisher: Self

When Lauren Monroe first laid eyes on Michael Delaney back in high school, she had every reason to stay away from him; within minutes of their first encounter, his volatile actions confirmed his notorious reputation. But Lauren saw something in him that caused her to question his bad-boy persona, and against her better judgment, she took a chance. She had no way of knowing that the unlikely friendship they formed would become so important to her.

Or that it would end so painfully.

Eight years later, when Lauren begins her new job at Learn and Grow Day Care, Michael is the last person she expects to see. Refusing to revisit the hurt and confusion of their past, Lauren vows to keep her distance from him. But staying away from Michael proves to be more difficult than she thought, despite her lingering grief and her instincts for self-preservation.

As Lauren and Michael recall the friendship that changed them forever and the events that tore them apart, will they finally be able to heal? Or will the ghosts of Michael’s past prove to be too much to overcome?

Back to You by Priscilla Glenn was a sweet love story that begins when Lauren and Michael are in high school. The story is told from both of their perspectives and fluctuates from when they are both in high school to present day. I loved how this story was told. It gave you a full view of the character growth and the relationship as it grew and fell apart. Lauren was a believable character. It shows how such a love and betrayal can effect a person and their future relationships. It changes her life. It took me a little while to warm up to Del. He's pretty much a man whore in high school, but I really enjoyed the man he grew into. This is pretty fitting though, as this is a lovely story about redemption, forgiveness, and of course, love.  

Back to You by Priscilla Glenn was provided to me by the author for review. The opinions are my own.

Priscilla Glenn lives in New York with her husband and three children. She has been teaching English Language Arts for the past eleven years while moonlighting as a writer, mom, coach, student, and professional laundry-doer. 
If you catch her when she's feeling sophisticated, she'll tell you her favorite things are great books and good wine. In the moments in between, she'll admit her love for anything Ben and Jerry's, UFC fights, and Robert Pattinson. 
Glenn is the author of the contemporary romance novels Back to You and Emancipating Andie.

To learn more about Priscilla Glenn and her books, visit her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Book Review: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal/Fantasy Romance)
Date Published: March 19, 2013
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

Tessa Gray should be happy – aren't all brides happy? Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shaodwhunters of the London Institute.

A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.

Clockwork Princess is the third book in The Infernal Devices Trilogy by Cassandra Clare. Each book in this series got progressively better and better. This book was amazing! Seriously amazing! This trilogy was well on its way to being my new favorite series after finishing Clockwork Prince, but now The Infernal Devices is officially my new favorite. After having the same favorite for five years, I never expected to say that, but it's true. There are many subplots that branch out from the main plot. All are engaging, and add to the main plot which is both heart wrenching and gut wrenching. We are given different view points from many of the characters. Each character has a story. Each story plays into the bigger picture. This was some of the best character and world building I've ever found in a book. The series as a whole builds this world and the people in it so completely that it becomes real for the reader.

Clockwork Princess far exceeded any expectations I had prior to reading it. With this being the final book in the series, there is very little I can say in regards to any details without giving away some spoilers. There is so much within the details, I thought it'd be impossible to wrap everything up in just one more book, but the author did it flawlessly. If you've read The Mortal Instruments Series, you'll get to see the origins of some things, and you'll love how other things from that series are explained and/or alluded too. It really brings the two series together in a way. Everything that made you fall in love with Jem and Will in the previous two books is that much more powerful and endearing with this last book. I loved seeing a whole new side to Will, and he still maintained the snarky-ness and humor that first attracted me to him. I fell in love with Jem too. There really aren't words to adequately do him justice. My heart broke again and again for both Will and Jem. I don't think I've ever cried so much while reading a book. The epilogue? It almost did me in. Holy cow!

Cassandra Clare's exquisite writing completely immersed me into this world. I literally needed recovery time after I finished reading. It was that good. Even now, twenty-four hours later, I still have to fight back tears when I think about it. A book has never had that effect on me. Ever. Not like this one did. This book has stayed with me, and it will be with me for quite some time. Don't let my crying deter you from reading this book. I normally hate when a book makes me cry, but this story was phenomenal and worth every tear. Clockwork Princess is tragic, bittersweet, and beautiful.

Jem drew the bow back and let the arrow fly; it struck the creature in the side. The massive demon worm writhed in agony, undulating as it swept its great, blind head from side to side, uprooting shrubbery with its thrashings. Leaves filled the air and the boys choked on dust, Gideon backing up with his seraph blade in his hand, trying to see by its light.

“It’s coming toward us,” he said in a low voice.

And indeed it was, the arrow still protruding from its wet, grayish skin, humping its body along with incredible speed. A flick of its tail caught the edge of a statue, sending it flying into the dry ornamental pool, where it shattered into dust.

“By the Angel, it just crushed Sophocles,” noted Will. “Has no one respect for the classics these days?”

Check out my review of the other books in this trilogy!

Have you read the Mortal Instruments Series yet? Check out my reviews!

Don't Forget The Dark Artifices!

Cassandra Clare was born overseas and spent her early years traveling around the world with her family and several trunks of fantasy books. Cassandra worked for several years as an entertainment journalist for the Hollywood Reporter before turning her attention to fiction. She is the author of City of Bones, the first book in the Mortal Instruments trilogy and a New York Times bestseller. Cassandra lives with her fiance and their two cats in Massachusetts.

To learn more about Cassandra Clare and her books, visit her website and blog.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.