Friday, October 24, 2014

Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst

368 p.
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Published: 10/14/14
Source: From NetGalley and author for review
Lies, secrets, and magic — three things that define Kayla's life. 
Sixteen-year-old Kayla plans to spend her summer hanging out on the beach in Santa Barbara and stealing whatever she wants, whenever she wants it. Born with the ability to move things with her mind — things like credit cards, diamond rings, and buttons on cash registers — she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up a safety net, enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again. Well, that, and the thrill of using her secret talents. 
But her summer plans change when she's caught stealing by a boy named Daniel — a boy who needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Daniel has a talent of his own. He can teleport, appearing anywhere in the world in an instant, but he lies as easily as he travels. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel's kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family — and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive... or survive.

My thoughts:
The book starts off with a girl that has a telekinetic power and her best friend hanging out and abusing her power by stealing. Her secret is not just her power but the fact that her father wants to kill her. So when she meets Daniel she sets out on an adventure she didn't expect, finds out what she really wants in life and meets the challenge of whatever is thrown at her.

Sara Beth Durst usually gives us some great standalones in the YA genre. Usually you have series and a standalone is rare so I think that is one reason her books stand out for me. The other is the fact that I really end up enthralled with her stories. I enjoy her writing so I was excited to get this book. I was not let down.

I did enjoy the characters of Kayla and Daniel but who really shined was Kayla's best friend, Selena. She is the girl you want to befriend. She is loyal, snarky, smart, and witty. She stole the show and I think that is my biggest complaint... not enough Selena. Kayla and Daniel did have their moments as well. Kayla has incredible growth into maturity within this story and Daniel learns to finally listen. There is romance, but no insta-love.

I give this book 4 stars. I really enjoyed the adventure as well as these characters. One other complaint is that while I do like the cover in it's simplicity, it does not fit at all with the book. So, don't look for clues there. :) I recommend this book to those that love a good YA adventure filled with magic.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lailah by Nikki Kelly

Series: The Styclar Saga #1
352 p.
Published: 11/7/14
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Source: From NetGalley and publisher for review
The girl knows she’s different. She doesn’t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel. 
On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and the few like him, are fighting with help from an unlikely ally – a rogue Angel, named Gabriel. 
In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom?
Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is.
My thoughts:
The book starts with a prologue that sets up what we believe Lailah's parentage and what happened to her. It's an interesting beginning and I was looking forward to a great story. Right away I saw the resemblance to the Twilight series. There were other resemblances but this one really stood out for me. I kept thinking that perhaps I was seeing similarities where there was none, but when Gabriel actually sparkled I could not think that it wasn't purposeful in some way.

It is a very readable book, but the problems for me started when the worldbuilding took a sharp turn. Usually that is something that is consistent in a book but this one wasn't. It starts out with angels/ demons (vampires) within the Judeo-Christian mythos. Suddenly there was an extra terrestrial element thrown it. If this was at least hinted at in the beginning I wouldn't be bothered by it. I will give the author props for really being able to weave this element well into the worldbuilding, but because it seemed like such a departure for me I had problems with it.

My second big problem was with Cessie/Lailah and her "romances". First, I felt this was an very unsuccessful attempt at a triangle. I didn't see the appeal to Jonah at all. In fact he was anything but a demonic bully and he put her in direct harm more than once. Because of the danger she would be so fearful of the vampires she "befriended" but one instance on extreme jealousy with Gabriel had her running back into the arms of Jonah, no fear at all. This is the point I had to stop. The inconsistencies of her behavior was just too much for me so I decided to dnf.

I will however recommend it to those that enjoy a YA PNR. Checking the goodreads reviews it seems that you will either love this one or hate it. Might be one to try at the library for the first book.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blog Tour with Giveaway: Embers by Karen Ann Hopkins

Series: The Wings of War #1
357 p.
Published: 10/21/14
Source: From Kismet for review
There are descendants of angels walking among us. Ember is one of them. And she may be the only hope mankind has as the rapture approaches and evils rises. 
Embers is an epic paranormal adventure about a seventeen year old girl who discovers that she's immune to fire and any other injury when she’s in a horrific car crash that kills her parents. Following a violent episode with her aunt's boyfriend, Ember flees Ohio to live with an old relative in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Ember's exuberance at escaping a bad home life soon turns to trepidation when she finds out that she's a Watcher, a descendant of angels. While Ember learns about her heritage, and the powers that go along with it, she strikes up friendships with two teenagers who live in a frightening walled compound in the forest. Inexplicitly drawn to one of the young men in particular, an impossible romance develops. But it is cut short when Ember discovers that her new friends are fighting on the opposite side of a war, one that’s been raging between two factions of Watchers for thousands of years. When the compound’s inhabitants threaten the townspeople, Ember takes action, sealing her fate in the ancient battle of good versus evil, and the grayness in between. Ember is up to the challenge, until she realizes that she isn’t only fighting for the lives of the locals and the souls of her new friends. She also might be one of the few champions who will make a stand for all of mankind as the rapture approaches and the end of days begin.
My thoughts:
Of course I can't start this review without mentioning the cover. Another great cover by Jenny (Supernatural Snark and Seedlings). Of course I jumped at reviewing this book because of the beautiful cover. It also fits the story very well.

I did enjoy all the characters but would have liked a few of the secondary characters fleshed out a bit  more. I would have loved to know a bit more about Aunt Ila especially and her brother who we only see at the beginning of the book. I would also like to see more secondary characters in general with Ember's quest and I have a feeling there will be more forthcoming.

My biggest problem with this book is with her romance with Sawyer. In the human world he is obsessive, abusive, and a danger to Ember and her loved ones. So while she straddled the line between the supernatural and the mundane I had a problem with her gravitating toward him. However, when she was just involved in the supernatural world I had no problem with him at all. It had to do with context. In this world he was a demon and that was his nature. It made sense.

I give this book 3 stars. I did enjoy the writing and once the supernatural world took over I seemed to enjoy it even more. I'm looking forward to the continuation of this series and finding out what happens next.
About Embers:

About Karen Ann Hopkins:

A native of New York State, Karen Ann Hopkins now lives with her family on a farm in northern Kentucky, where her neighbors in all directions are members of a strict Amish community. Her unique perspective became the inspiration for the story of star-crossed lovers Rose and Noah. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, giving riding lessons or tending to a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats, she is dreaming up her next romantic novel.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

There will be two winners for this giveaway. One lucky person will get a $100 gift card and the other will receive a signed Temptation Series book set, including Temptation, Belonging & Forever and 10 other winners will get eCopies of EMBERS. Giveaway is sponsored by the Kismet Tours.

Please enter via the Rafflecopter form. Giveaway is open internationally for the gift card and ebooks. US/Canada for the book set!

Tour Schedule:
Monday, October 20th Unabridged Bookshelf & Book Briefs
Tuesday, October 21st A Thousand Words A Million Books & Books and Things
Wednesday, October 22nd Sweet Southern Home & Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews
Thursday, October 23rd the unofficial addiction book fan club
Friday, October 24th A Dream Within A Dream & Becoming Books

Monday, October 27th The Avid Reader & Lost in Ever After
Tuesday, October 28th Lose Time Reading & So Bookalicious
Wednesday, October 29th Such a Novel Idea & Reading Addict
Thursday, October 30th Curling Up With A Good Book & Coming at YA
Friday, October 31st Actin' Up with Books & To Each Their Own Reviews

Monday, November 3rd GenGen's Book Blog & A Bookish Escape
Tuesday, November 4th Sassy Book Lovers & Bittersweet Enchantment
Wednesday, November 5th Nay's Pink Bookshelf & The Nocturnal Library
Thursday, November 6th The Book Faery Reviews & Bumbles and Fairy-Tales
Friday, November 7th Books in the Spotlight & Her Book Thoughts!

For more info go to the Tour Page

Monday, October 20, 2014

Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Series: ?
288 p.
Published: 9/9/14
Publisher: Egmont
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
A romantic, historical retelling of classic Gothic horror featuring Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee, from a New York Times best-selling author. 
Summoned to her father's home in 1820's Philadelphia, a girl finds herself in the midst of a rash of gruesome murders in which he might be implicated. She is torn romantically between her father's assistants-one kind and proper, one mysterious and brooding-who share a dark secret and may have more to do with the violent events than they're letting on.

My thoughts:
 I'm actually not sure how to rate this one. I have a feeling you will love or hate it but I sort of felt somewhere in the middle with this one. I was looking forward to some gothic piece with Edgar Allan Poe but didn't quite get that. There were aspects of him and his work, but other horror retellings also made their way into the book and I think that is where the book lost me a bit.

First I wasn't too invested in Annabel. I felt distant from her even though I did enjoy her character. The introduction of the other horror tales were not subtle and I thought distracted from what could have been a more interesting story. Either make it an amalgamation of Poe's stories or a total retelling of horror stories. My feelings might be just about unmet expectations and may be quite unfair to the book as a whole.

I give this book 2 1/2 stars. It was quite readable but the elements didn't quite come together for me in the end. I do believe it is a series and I would pick up the next book just to find out what happens. If it isn't a series I believe me rating would go down because of the unanswered questions. Still, if you like a dark gothic atmosphere, you might want to try this one. You may love it so much more than I did.