27 August 2012

ARC Review: Don't Turn Around - Michelle Gagnon

Release Date: August 28th 2012
Hardcover: 310 Pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Sixteen-year-old Noa has been a victim of the system ever since her parents died. Now living off the grid and trusting no one, she uses her computer-hacking skills to stay safely anonymous and alone. But when she wakes up on a table in an empty warehouse with an IV in her arm and no memory of how she got there, Noa starts to wish she had someone on her side.

Enter Peter Gregory. A rich kid and the leader of a hacker alliance, Peter needs people with Noa’s talents on his team. Especially after a shady corporation threatens his life. But what Noa and Peter don’t realize is that Noa holds the key to a terrible secret, and there are those who’d stop at nothing to silence her for good.
A fast-paced enthralling novel that you will keep you hooked till its very last page. It has been awhile since I've read such an exciting novel that I couldn't even sleep before finishing the whole thing! Gagnon totally succeeded in captivating me with a story full of twists and turns filled with mystery.

The Plot: What surprised me most about Don't Turn Around was the lack of romance (don't worry, there is enough of platonic love) and yet it had the capacity of completely grabbing my attention and not letting it go one second. Gagnon's writing is a match made in heaven for a novel like this one and I would be certainly reading anything this author throws my way. Furthermore the suspense and action is just plain exciting!

The Characters: All characters fit perfectly the genre of this book. Noa was an independent, strong main character who often remembered me of Lisbeth from "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". Peter was the typical rebel. He is rich but doesn't have a good relationship with his parents since his brother died and he wants to make a different to the world with his hacker group. I loved the difference between them and the combination of their characters. The side characters complemented the story well and I found myself even liking them!

Don't Turn Around is a novel for those of you who are in search of an exciting novel with many action-filled scenes and suspense. If you are into such movies as The Bourne Identity or action movies and books in general, you shouldn't miss this one which is coming out tomorrow! Now is a great time to pre-order it, you won't have to wait so long for it to come out.

Huge thanks to HarperCollins for providing me with a copy for review! 

Michelle Gagnon is a former modern dancer, dog walker, bartender, freelance journalist, personal trainer, model, and Russian supper club performer. To the delight of her parents, she gave up all these occupations for an infinitely more stable and lucrative career as a crime fiction writer. Website / Twitter

20 August 2012

ARC Review: Defiance - C.J. Redwine

Release Date: August 28th 2012
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

Admittedly, the first thing that got my attention in Defiance was the main character's name, Rachel! But after reading the synopsis on Goodreads and reading many amazing reviews, I just knew that I had to get my hands on it. And boy, it sure was worth getting excited over it. Redwine's writing will have you reading Defiance in one sitting.

The Plot: Defiance starts rather quickly and not once did things slow down. If you enjoy many action and suspense scenes, you should certainly check this one out. Furthermore the post-apocalyptic and dystopian aspects of the story didn't feel repetitive to me, which could certainly happen as so many of my reads fall in this genre. However, certain aspects of the story were too superficially explained like the Cursed Ones' existence. But since Defiance is set to be a trilogy, hopefully everything will be explained. Overall, Defiance has an action-packed and enthralling plot.

The Characters: I'm not going to lie, I was going to love the main character either way, I mean, she is called Rachel! But I really loved the character's determination and resilience, though with time she became a bit too stubborn for me. Logan was an interesting character, but what got my attention the most, was that he is the complete opposite of Rachel. While she is more spontaneous, he likes to calculate everything and be certain of the outcome. The dual perspective was a great idea but after the romance starts to bloom, I felt like both their voices became too alike and lacked distinction.

Redwine's Defiance was an amazing summer read. Full of action, suspense and a sweet romance, this one will please almost everyone. Strong characters, awesome plot, what else do you need?

A big thanks to Balzer + Bray for providing me with a copy of Defiance for review.

C.J. Redwine loves stilettos, lemon bars, any movie starring Johnny Depp, and books. C.J. holds a degree in English Literature from Pepperdine University and now lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, four kids, two spastic cats, and one long-suffering dog. Website / Twitter

08 August 2012

(ARC) Review: Spark - Brigid Kemmerer

Release Date: August 28th 2012
Paperback: 432 Pages
Publisher: K-Teen

Gabriel Merrick plays with fire. Literally.
Sometimes he can even control it. And sometimes he can’t. Like the fire that killed his parents.
Gabriel has always had his brothers to rely on, especially his twin, Nick. But when an arsonist starts wreaking havoc on their town, all the signs point to Gabriel. Only he’s not doing it.
More than Gabriel’s pride is at stake -- this could cost him his family, maybe his life. And no one seems to hear him. Except a shy sophomore named Layne, a brainiac who dresses in turtlenecks and jeans and keeps him totally off balance. Layne understands family problems, and she understands secrets. She has a few of her own.
Gabriel can’t let her guess about his brothers, about his abilities, about the danger that’s right at his heels. But there are some risks he can’t help taking.
The fuse is lit…

I have no words, literally. Spark blew me away and I really don't think any other novel from the Elemental series will be as good as this one. Gabriel was already my favorite character in the prequel, Storm, so you can imagine my eagerness to get my hands on this one when I found out that the sequel would revolve around him. Spark didn't disappoint me at all and it was totally worth getting excited for!

The Plot: Kemmerer's writing is just amazing and if you read Storm, you know she can write every kind of scene perfectly. The romance scenes are as good as the action scenes and so on. Spark is the perfect mix of romance, action, tension and well, everything. Nevertheless I have to say that Spark wasn't in any way similar to Storm. Gabriel and Chris are completely different, therefore their stories too, which for me is a positive thing. Spark gave me the impression of being more serious and sad and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Characters: Gabriel is an interesting character; fire being his element, Gabriel is explosive and unlike his brothers, cannot use his element frequently. He struggles a lot and has to learn how to handle things alone. I think the tension between the brothers was a good twist and I loved how it all played out. Gabriel certainly grows up in Spark and we get to see another side of his character, a more sensitive one. So after reading Spark, I love Gabriel even more! Layne was a nice match for Gabriel because she is his complete opposite. The romance scenes were sweet but not the best in the book.

Spark totally made my list of favorite reads in 2012 and I most certainly will be rereading it soon. Gabriel was such an amazing and different character and I would love to read more about his twin, Nick, because I don't think he is as perfect as Gabriel thinks he is. I'm sure everybody will enjoy Spark: fans of paranormal, romance, contemporary, you name it. If you haven't read Storm yet, I can't emphasize this enough: read it now!

 Thanks to K-Teen for providing me with a copy of this wonderful book for review!

Brigid Kemmerer finds the time to write somewhere between caring for her family and working at her day job, but sometimes she ends up mothering her coworkers and managing her family. Storm: The Elemental Series is her first novel. Website  

07 August 2012

(ARC) Review: Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas

Release Date: August 7th 2012
Hardcover:416 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.
Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

I was ├╝berexcited to get my hands on Throne of Glass and it was totally worth getting excited about. Firstly because I read the first novella and absolutely fell in love with the main character's fierceness. Secondly because Maas' writing is amazing. Thirdly because I was in need of immersing myself in a great adventure, and Throne of Glass certainly fits the bill. All these reasons should already have you running to pre-order it! Nevertheless keep reading to learn more about this great novel.

The Plot: If you haven't read the novellas, I strongly recommend you to read them; besides being awesome and short, they give you a great insight into the main character's life and how she ended up in prison. The story and its development was done amazingly. The story gets better and better the further you read. Maas writes a story full of action, adventure and mystery yet with all that, there is still time for a lot of romance. I do have to admit I was a bit confused about the magical aspects of the story but hopefully we will learn more about it in the sequel. Nevertheless I was expecting more of a connection to the novellas like her relationship with Arobynn and avenging Sam (you should read the novellas!).

The Characters: Celaena is badass! Probably one of my favorite heroines ever. She is an assassin, and not just any assassin, she is the best there is! Besides being a determined, strong and a bit sarcastic, what I enjoyed most about her is that she also has a sensitive side. She is the typical hard shell on the outside, soft on the inside. I enjoyed how her story was told in pieces, so we didn't get to know everything about her from the start, however I still do have some questions about her past. The prince, Dorian, was a nice character but who stole my heart was the captain, Chaol. So I should warn you that there is a love triangle but it shouldn't be a problem since it wasn't overdone. I also enjoyed another badass character: Nehemia. She doesn't look the type but she can totally take care of herself. Hopefully she will play a bigger part in the next one.

Overall, Throne of Glass was a page-turner. Even though it has 400 pages, I read the whole thing in one sitting. It was really refreshing to read something so original and different from what I've been reading in the YA genre nowadays. Maas' novel has everything someone looking for an adventure seeks: badass characters, amazing plot and world building (yes, it even has a map!) and a riveting mystery. Throne of Glass is like Game of Thrones or even Lord of the Rings for the young adult genre; so if you are a fan of these novels or fantasy in general, you should certainly check this one out. 

A billion thanks to Bloomsbury UK for allowing me to review this amazing novel!

                                    (to be precise: 4.75 stars)

I’m a 25 year-old YA fantasy author living in the desert in Southern California. My debut novel, Throne of Glass, will be published by Bloomsbury Children’s on August 7th, 2012.
I was born/raised in Manhattan, but traded freezing winters and sweltering summers for No Winter Ever Weather when I followed my then-boyfriend (now husband!) out to California in 2008. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College with a degree in Creative Writing, and a minor in Religious Studies. I’m represented by Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency.

04 August 2012

Review: Fall For You - Cecilia Gray

Release Date: February 10th 2012
E-book: 128 pages
Publisher: The Alpha Division, LLC

Jane Austen meets Pretty Little Liars in this fresh, new young-adult series!

To say Lizzie and Dante are polar opposites is the understatement of the century. He's a snooty Exeter transfer with more money than Google. She's a driven study-a-holic barely keeping up with tuition. It's obvious that Dante thinks he's way too good for Lizzie. And Lizzie knows Dante is a snob with a gift for pushing her buttons.

But things are changing fast this year at the Academy. And when Lizzie's quest to stop those changes blows up in her face, taking her oldest friendship with it, she has nowhere else to turn but to Dante, with his killer blue eyes, his crazy-sexy smile, and his secrets... Secrets Lizzie can't seem to leave alone, no matter how hard she tries.

I'm a huge Jane Austen fan, so for me Fall For You was a must-read when the author mentioned that it was a retelling of Pride and Prejudice (my favorite Austen novel ever!). I know that probably many of you are afraid of reading a retelling of such a beloved novel but I can assure you that this one is worth it!

The Plot: Well, if you have read Pride and Prejudice, I'm sure you know how the story is going to unfold. However Fall For You takes place in present times and has a more modern feel to it. I loved how I could relate more to the retelling because, well, we live in 2012 and not in the 19th century! Even though I knew how everything would turn out, I found myself completely captivated by the story.

The Characters: All the characters are similar to those of Pride and Prejudice and they all have the same or similar names, so you won't have a problem to connect them to Austen's characters. I really loved the modernisation of the characters and their somewhat new characteristics. Furthermore Lizzie was even more likable for me because I also want to become a Journalist! Being a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice, I don't have any bad things to say about the other characters.

Gray did an awesome job retelling Austen's beloved novel in a way that will attract even more people nowadays. It tells the story in a way that stays true to the original but holds its own. Certainly some of you who love Jane Austen won't enjoy a retelling but I do advise you to give Fall For Me a chance! Gray's novel was a great summer read: light, easy and quick. Do get this one before the summer is over!

A huge thanks to the author for giving me a copy for review!

Cecilia Gray lives in Oakland where she reads, writes and breaks for food. She also pens her biographies in the third person. Like this. As if to trick you into thinking someone else wrote it because she is important. Alas, this is not the case.
Cecilia has been praised for "instilling a warmth and weight into her characters" (Romancing The Book Reviews) and her books have been praised for being "well-written, original, realistic and witty" (Quills & Zebras Reviews). Website / Twitter

02 August 2012

ARC Review: Auracle - Gina Rosati

Release Date: August 7th 2012
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

16 year old Anna Rogan has a secret she's only shared with her best friend, Rei; she can astrally project out of her body, allowing her spirit to explore the world and the far reaches of the universe.

When there's a fatal accident and her classmate Taylor takes over Anna's body, what was an exhilarating distraction from her repressive home life threatens to become a permanent state. Faced with a future trapped in another dimension, Anna turns to Rei for help. Now the two of them must find a way to get Anna back into her body and stop Taylor from accusing an innocent friend of murder. Together Anna and Rei form a plan but it doesn't take into account the deeper feelings that are beginning to grow between them.

From its very first page Auracle completely captivated me. There was something so sweet and yet still feisty about the main character, Anna, that interested me a lot and made the book even more enjoyable. Furthermore I enjoyed the fresh and exciting premise of astral projection; for me it was something utterly magical.

The Plot: There was a certain lightness to the plot. I never had the feeling that the action was mindblowing and the tension never made me bite my nails; For me Auracle was the perfect summer read, just plain irresistible. It wasn't by any case slow or boring, just unique. Nevertheless I had a hard time putting this one down to eat or sleep. I have to say that astral projection was what got my attention from the start. What if you could travel to a place you always dreamed of but leaving your body safely behind under the covers of your bed? It would be completely amazing and something I never read in any novel. The romance was slow-building, just the way I like it. You can imagine how a relationship between best friends would bloom: full of awkwardness yet full of sweetness.

The Characters: Anna was an amazing main character. She is both sweet and feisty which made it easy to relate to her. Furthermore Rosati adds some depth to the story by adding a dysfunctional family to her character. It is understandable then that she uses astral projection as a way to enjoy and escape her real life. Rei, her neighbour and best friend, was also a breath of fresh air to love interests in the YA genre. He was certainly swoon-worthy (I mean, he is half Japanese! I would love me some Rei) but he was an earthbound, sincere character. Plus being an Asian he had to cope with a really strict family. The other characters like Seth, the other best friend, and Taylor, the villain, made the story the even more enjoyable and added more fuel to the already amazing fire of this novel.

Auracle was an utterly captivating read with many exciting and fresh twists. I will certainly be reading anything Rosati publishes in the future, since her writing was unbelievably good. With plenty of humor, suspense, romance and paranormal aspects, Auracle is a novel you should be sure not to miss!

A unbelievably huge thanks to Gina Rosati for providing me with a copy of Auracle for review, and for being willing to send it internationally: It made my day!

I have a husband, an 18 year old son and a 13 year old daughter who are very patient and understanding...it’s not easy to live with a writer. I used to be a secretary. And a cake decorator. And a PTA mom. And I still volunteer at the middle school library one day a week because I love it there. As part of my research for AURACLE, I got a tattoo. Now I have 3 and counting...I cannot astrally project. I tried. But I am excellent at procrastinating! Website / Twitter