12 Days of Giveaways – Day 11 For the Young Adult Fantasy Reader

For day 11 of our 12 Days of Giveaways, we’re sticking with a young adult vibe. Today we’re offering up fantasy/adventure novels for teens. This year, I’ve read some really amazing series that were reimagined fairy tales. The Splintered Series by A.G. Howard and The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer are among my favorite to recommend at the bookstore. Both are filled with incredibly artistic renditions of fantasy worlds, with great attention paid to character development. The heroines of the stories really grow and develop incredible depths that make them absolutely irresistible reads. With that in mind, I hope you’ll give the books below a shot. Giveaway instructions follow the book blurbs.

wadWrecked by Anna Davies – Ever since the death of her parents, Miranda has lived on Whym Island, taking comfort in the local folklore, which claims a mysterious sea witch controls the fate of all on the island and in its surrounding waters. Sometimes it’s just easier to believe things are out of your control.

But then a terrible boating accident takes the lives of several of her friends, and Miranda is rescued by a mysterious boy who haunts her dreams. Consumed by guilt from the accident, she finds refuge in late-night swims—and meets Christian, a boy who seems eerily familiar, but who is full of mystery: He won’t tell her where he is from, or why they can only meet at the beach. But Miranda falls for him anyway…and discovers that Christian’s secrets, though meant to protect her, may bring her nothing but harm.

Seductive and compelling, Wrecked brings a contemporary, paranormal twist to a classic enchanting tale.

(Giveaway is a paperback ARC)

oljOmega by Lizzy Ford – In a modern world ruled by territorial Greek gods, the human race has been oppressed, exploited and now, nearly destroyed by the constant infighting of gods.

However, a human girl with the power of a goddess is coming of age. Alessandra is the Oracle of Delphi – the last prophesized – and bears the mark of the double omega. Soon after she turns eighteen, Alessandra is told her destiny: to step between the warring gods and the human race and save her world from certain ruin.

For the gods, her appearance marks the beginning of the end – their end. They and the Triumvirate – leaders of the human elite – who serve them will stop at nothing to preserve their power.

Alessandra emerges from the forest where she spent her life hidden from gods and men and immediately plummets into a race against time, gods, and herself to discover who and what she is in a world where everyone she meets has a hidden agenda, and those pulling the strings remain in the shadows.

Before she can determine exactly what kind of savior her world needs, she must first master her power by completing three trials devised by the Triumvirate to enslave her.

One lone girl stands between warring gods and the people she’s destined to protect, but it’s the battle to understand who she is that she must win first.

(Giveaway is a paperback ARC)

vsjVanish by Sophie Jordan – To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable: She betrayed the most closely-guarded secret of her kind. Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing she might never see Will again—and worse, that because his mind has been shaded, Will’s memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone.

Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for both her sake and her family’s. Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride’s heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate. Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on—that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both. Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again. When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love?

(Giveaway is a hardcover)

Giveaway Instructions – (Special thanks to Simon and Schuster and Captured Press for our giveaway ARC copies!)

Three lucky winners will have the opportunity to win ONE of the three books listed above! For your chance to win simply leave a comment below about a young adult novel you’ve enjoyed reading.  Comments will be accepted through midnight on Thursday, December 31, 2015.  The winner will be picked at random and announced on Friday, January 1, 2016.  Open to US residents only. Good luck!

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12 Days of Giveaways – Day 10 For the Young Adult Reader

In the grand scheme of literary history, the young adult genre is relatively new. When I was a young reader, there was no genre aimed at young adults. Adolescents moved to “adult” literary genres relatively quickly. Now, there is a rich and diverse world of books for not only young adults, but anyone who wants to see what this great genre has to offer. I’ve fallen in love with tons of young adult books, as you may have surmised if you’ve read my review of FangirlSee below to check out how you can win one of the two awesome packages we have up for grabs this time.

Young Adult Package 1:

troujlhThe Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness – What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

(Giveaway is a paperback ARC)

cpgChangeling by Philippa Gregory – Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

(Giveaway is a hardcover)

Young Adult Package 2:

vdmVelveteen by Daniel Marks – Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that’s not the problem.

The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it’s not a fiery inferno, it’s certainly no heaven. It’s gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.

Bonesaw.

Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she’s figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his days.

It’ll be brutal… and awesome.

But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.

Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules… or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.

(Giveaway is a paperback ARC)

mtshmMary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan – There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.

Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them–Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna–must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.

A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: “Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY.” A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror.

Once is not enough, though–at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary’s wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.

A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary–and Jess–before it’s too late?

(Giveaway is a paperback ARC)

Giveaway Instructions – (Special thanks to Hyperion, Delacorte, and Harper Collins for our giveaway copies!)

Two lucky winners will have the opportunity to win ONE of the two packages listed above! For your chance to win simply leave a comment below about a Young Adult author you enjoy and would recommend to others.  Comments will be accepted through midnight on Thursday, December 31, 2015.  The winner will be picked at random and announced on Friday, January 1, 2016.  Open to US residents only. Good luck!

12 Days of Giveaways – Day 5: For the Teen Fantasy Lover

We’re already at day 5 of the 12 Days of Giveaways! Today’s offer is for Gillian Philip’s entire Rebel Angels series. I’m a huge fan of teen fantasy/adventure novels. Reading about dystopic worlds (Hunger Games), science fiction fairy tales (The Lunar Chronicles), or even adventures in space (Across the Universe) makes me want to run out of my house and go explore something. As a bookseller it’s so much fun to be able to recommend books from this genre and see teens get excited about the newest adventure that they’re about to read. (And seeing them come back in to the store to buy the next books in the series is pretty stellar too.) With that in mind, I hope the Rebel Angel series will excite you about the genre and become a rabbit hole into the genre for you! Giveaway instructions follow the book blurbs.

fgpFirebrand by Gillian Philip – At the end of the sixteenth century, religious upheaval brings fear, superstition, and doubt to the lives of mortals. Yet unbeknownst to them, another world lies just beyond the Veil: the realm of the Sithe, a fierce and beautiful people for whom a full-mortal life is but the blink of an eye. The Veil protects and hides their world…but it is fraying at the edges, and not all think it should be repaired.

Discarded by his mother and ignored by his father, sixteen-year-old Seth MacGregor has grown up half wild in his father’s fortress, with only his idolized older brother, Conal, for family. When Conal quarrels with the Sithe queen and is forced into exile in the full-mortal world, Seth volunteers to go with him.

But life beyond the Veil is even more dangerous than they expected, and Seth and Conal soon find themselves embroiled in a witch-hunt—in which they are the quarry. Trapped between the queen’s machinations at home and the superstitious violence of the otherworld, Seth must act before both of them are fed to the witch-hunters’ fires…

Brimming with intrigue and rebellion, Firebrand is the first book in the Rebel Angels series by Gillian Philip, the Carnegie Medal–nominated author of Crossing the Line and multi-award-nominated Bad Faith.

(Giveaway is a hardcover)

bgpBloodstone by Gillian Philip – Bloodstone is the second novel in Gillian Philip’s critically acclaimed Rebel Angels series, debuting in the United States for the first time.

For centuries, Sithe warriors Seth and Conal MacGregor have hunted for the Bloodstone demanded by their Queen. Homesick, and determined to protect their clan, they have also made secret forays across the Veil. One of these illicit crossings has violent consequences that will devastate both their close family, and their entire clan.

In the Otherworld, Jed Cameron, a feral, full-mortal young thief, becomes entangled with the strange and dangerous Finn MacAngus and her shadowy uncles. When he is dragged into the world of the Sithe, it’s nothing he can’t handle until time warps around him, and menacing forces reach out to threaten his infant brother. In the collision of two worlds, war and tragedy are inevitable, especially when treachery comes from the most shocking of quarters….

(Giveaway is a hardcover)


wgpWolfsbane 
by Gillian Philip – 
It’s tough being the foretold savior of your race. Rory MacGregor, kept a virtual prisoner in his own father’s dun and hunted by the Sithe queen, needs a break now and then—and what better fun than tearing the Veil no one else can tear and escaping to the Otherworld?

In that dangerous Otherworld, Hannah Falconer is as trapped by circumstance as the strange wild Sithe boy whose horse nearly kills her. When Rory tricks her into crossing the Veil and entering his world, she’s sure it can’t be any worse than her usual home life.

Meanwhile, Seth MacGregor is fighting to keep his clan safe from the malevolent queen Kate. When an attack comes after years of stalemate, he is shocked to discover who is leading it…and who else is conspiring against him.

Wolfsbane, the third novel in Gillian Philip’s Rebel Angels series is enthralling and suspenseful, with a range of characters appealing to every age.

(Giveaway is a hardcover)

igpIcefall by Gillian Philip – Death stalks Seth MacGregor’s clan in their otherworld exile. Kate NicNiven is close to ultimate victory, and she is determined that nothing will keep her from it. Not even the thing that took her soul: the horror that lurks in the sea caves. But Kate still needs Seth’s son Rory, and his power over the Veil. And she’ll go to any lengths to get him. Seth’s own soul is rotting from the wound inflicted by Kate, and survival for his loved ones seems all he can hope for. But might a mortal threat to his brother’s daughter force him to return to his own world to challenge Kate? And will Rory go with him? Because Rory suspects there’s a darkness trapped in the Veil, a darkness that wants to get out. But only one Sithe knows how near it is to getting its way: Seth’s bound lover, the witch Finn. Nobody gets forever. But some are willing to try…

From critically acclaimed author Gillian Philip, Icefall is the final installment in the Rebel Angels series.

(Giveaway is a hardcover)

Giveaway Instructions – (Special thanks to Tor/Forge for our giveaway copies!)

One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win all four books listed above! For your chance to win simply leave a comment below about a character you’d like to take with you on an adventure.  Comments will be accepted through midnight on Thursday, December 31, 2015.  The winner will be picked at random and announced on Friday, January 1, 2016.  Open to US residents only. Good luck!

Spotlight + GIVEAWAY: Bloodwitch (The Maeve’ra Trilogy #1) by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

baarLooking for a new paranormal series to introduce to your young reader? How about Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’ new series, Maeve’ra? Thanks to Random House we have an ARC of the first book in the series, Bloodwitch to give away! The first installment is about loyalty, power, and the rules of survival. For instructions on how you can win a copy, follow the book and author blurbs below. Good luck!

From Goodreads:

A gripping tale about loyalty, power, and the quest for freedom
Vance Ehecatl was raised with every luxury he could imagine in a beautiful greenhouse within the powerful empire of Midnight. Vampires are the only guardians Vance has ever known since he was abandoned by his shapeshifter family as a baby quetzal, and he is grateful to them for generously providing for all of his needs. When an act of violence forces Vance from his sheltered home, he is startled to meet Malachi Obsidian, a fellow shapeshifter with conflicting ideas about Midnight and its leader, Mistress Jeshickah.

Malachi claims Vance is a bloodwitch, who Jeshickah and her trainers, Jaguar and Taro, are trying to control. Vance doesn’t know anything about the rare and destructive magic Malachi says he possesses, and he can’t believe Jeshickah would use it to hurt others. But when his friends begin falling ill, Vance starts to realize his perfect world may not be as flawless as it seems. Now Vance must decide who to trust-the vampires he’s always relied upon, or the shapeshifters who despise them.

About the Author

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes wrote her first novel, In the Forests of the Night, when she was thirteen. Other books in the Den of Shadows series are Demon in My View, Shattered Mirror, Midnight Predator, Persistence of Memory, Token of Darkness, and All Just Glass. She has also published the five-volume series The Kiesha’ra: Hawksong, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and a VOYA Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Selection; Snakecharm; Falcondance; Wolfcry, an IRA-CBC Young Adults’ Choice; and Wyvernhail. Her most recent novels are Poison Tree and Promises to Keep. Visit her at AmeliaAtwaterRhodes.com

Giveaway – Special thanks to Random House!

One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win an ARC of Bloodwitch by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes!  For your chance to win simply leave a comment below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight on Thursday, May 29, 2014.  A winner will be picked at random and announced on Friday, May 30, 2014.  Open to residents of the US and Canada only.  Good luck!

Spotlight + GIVEAWAY: Revelations (The Elysium Chronicles #2) by J.A. Souders

rjasYA readers listen up! We have a giveaway for you! Thanks to Tor Teen we have a copy of J.A. Souders latest Elysium Chronicles release, Revelations. If you like reading Young Adult novels with a flair for science fiction then see below for book and author information, followed by instructions on how to enter.

Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evie Winters has believed that everything is just about flawless in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. As the adopted Daughter of the People, she has been trained to take over by Mother, the community’s leader. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she has believed that everything is perfect. Her world. Her people. The Law.

The antithesis to her perfect world is the Surface, a waste land of death and corruption (or so Evie has been taught) the founders of Elysium fled years before. But when a Surface Dweller named Gavin Hunter mistakenly infiltrates the community, events are set in motion that lead Evelyn to realize her paradise is a mirage hiding something far more terrifying. With Gavin’s help she uncovers the truth and together they escape Elysium – but at a significant cost…

In Revelations we find Evie six weeks after her arrival to the Surface but no closer to unlocking the memories that were stripped from her as she fled. Isolated in a strange new society, Evie has only Gavin to remind her of who she once was. But when Evie’s elusive memories begin to collide with reality, people and images from her past begin appearing in the most unlikely places, she and Gavin set off to find answers. They’ll have to journey across the Outlands of the Surface, and in the end, their search may just lead them back to the place it all started…

Part romance, part psychological thriller, and filled with intrigue and suspense, Revelations is an enthralling page-turner that will captivate and delight readers.

About the Author

J.A. Souders is the author of the Elysium Chronicles and lives with her husband and two children in the land of sunshine and palm trees, where she spends her time writing about the monsters under the bed, daydreaming about living in an underwater colony, and failing miserably at playing video games. She can be found wandering around the internet at her website.

Giveaway – Special thanks to Tor Teen!

One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a hardcover copy of Revelations by J.A. Souders!  For your chance to win simply leave a comment below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight on Sunday, April 20, 2014.  A winner will be picked at random and announced on Monday, April 21, 2014.  Open to US residents only.  Good luck!

Sam’s Review of Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin

alpomhI wonder what it’s like to be Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriend. I’m not talking about the likes of Joe Jonas or John Mayer. What about that high school kid with the pick up truck? The one whose pictures T-Swift so publicly burned on her first album. Do the people back home know him? Make sideways glances when they see him at the local diner? What’s his life like now? Does he keep it a secret or does he let the world know that he really does think of the curly-haired blonde whenever he hears a Tim McGraw song? Well, it seems that I’m not the only pop culture obsessed fangirl, because in Another Little Piece of My Heart (based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion), author Tracey Martin explores this very idea.

From Goodreads:

What if your devastating break-up became this summer’s hit single? In this rock-and-roll retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, music can either bring you together or tear you apart.

At her dying mother’s request, Claire dumps Jared, the only boy she’s ever loved. Left with a broken family and a broken heart, Claire is furious when she discovers that her biggest regret became Jared’s big break. While Jared is catapulted into rock-star status, another piece of Claire’s heart crumbles every time his song plays on the radio.

The summer after her senior year, it’s been months since the big break-up, and Claire is just trying to keep her head down and make it through a tense trip to the beach with her family. But when Jared shows up, and old feelings reignite, can Claire and Jared let go of the past? Or will they be stuck singing the same old refrain?

What I loved about this book: it’s unapologetically YA. What I had trouble with about this book: it’s unapologetically YA.

Claire is a delight as a narrator. She is down to earth, unsure of herself, and still dealing with the aftermath of a bad break up. In a nutshell, she’s a girlfriend, someone you’ve known your whole life. Claire tries desperately to hide her past with Jared. She doesn’t want to be the girl who broke his heart. Imagine what Justin Bieber’s fans would do to a girl who hurt him? Yea. I wouldn’t want to be that girl. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with someone famous the world seems a little smaller. His face is everywhere. The song is on the radio. How can you escape? It’s bad enough that Claire has to worry about running into this boy back home, but she should be safe while on vacation several states away, right?

This is where YA takes a few liberties. Of all the beaches in world, Jared, the superstar, just so happens to coincidentally be spending the summer at the exact same one as Claire? Also, he just so happens to be living in a college dorm with a buddy from home? With no security? With NO ONE TWEETING ABOUT IT? Yea. Right. That’s how I knew this was most certainly a fiction. It’s 2014. The hot guy with several Grammys to his name would never be able to camp out and write songs for an entire summer without people bombarding him. All Jared had to contend with was a few respectful and well-meaning fans who quietly asked for autographs and respected his privacy. Ok.

At its heart I have to say that this was a very well executed piece. I found myself very wrapped up in the story. My teenage self was all about it. I liked the idea of Claire’s story, the girl who made her ex-boyfriend’s fame possible.

We all know that the best writers of songs and books draw on their real life experiences. It’s what makes the stories so compelling; they are grounded in truth. What sometimes gets lost in translation is that there are actual, non-famous counterparts on the other sides of those stories. People with hopes, dreams, and feelings. Is it fair to vent on paper and become famous off of a shared life experience? Who is the owner of something that happened behind closed doors? If these are questions you want to grapple with on a Sunday afternoon I highly recommend this ah-dorable, fast paced tale.

4 out of 5 Stars

Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin
Harlequin (2013)
eBook: 304 pages
ISBN: 9781459254749

Special thanks to Ms. Martin for my review copy!

Emerald Green (Edelstein Trilogie #3) by Kerstin Gier

emkgSo I’ve been harping on all of you to start reading the beautifully covered Edelstein Trilogie for months now (seriously those covers are GORGEOUS.) I hope you listened to me, because here comes my spiel on book three, Emerald Green, just released in the US on October 30th!  (If you’re in need of recaps of Ruby Red, book one, and Sapphire Bluebook two, just click on the titles for direct links to my previous reviews.)

From Goodreads:

Gwen has a destiny to fulfill, but no one will tell her what it is.

She’s only recently learned that she is the Ruby, the final member of the time-traveling Circle of Twelve, and since then nothing has been going right. She suspects the founder of the Circle, Count Saint-German, is up to something nefarious, but nobody will believe her. And she’s just learned that her charming time-traveling partner, Gideon, has probably been using her all along.

This stunning conclusion picks up where Sapphire Blue left off, reaching new heights of intrigue and romance as Gwen finally uncovers the secrets of the time-traveling society and learns her fate

As expected, Emerald Green wowed me page after page with its never-ending twists and turns.  The action, adventure, intrigue, danger, and romance that hooked me when I first began Ruby Red was definitely still present here.  Gwen’s narrative voice was just as funny as ever, but we also get a glimpse of the hidden depths to her personality.  She’s intelligent and good at problem solving.  She can think on her feet, as evidenced in several conflicts present in Ruby Red, Sapphire Blue, and Emerald Green.  I also enjoyed getting to know Gideon better.  He’s always been present, but on the outskirts of the story a bit.  He steps into his own in Emerald Green and proves that he isn’t just a pawn being moved by the Elders.  He definitely becomes a character worthy of your affection in this conclusion.

The only things that disappointed me were the translations and the ending.  The trilogy was originally written in German, then translated to English.  Unfortunately, some of Emerald Green reads as if this translation is incomplete, which in turn took me out of the story at parts.  Besides that, the ending seemed a bit unfinished.  You spend three books investing yourself in these characters, their lives, their tragedies and triumphs, only to end with what I felt was a weak ending.  I don’t mean that the book ended in a way I was unhappy with, but the characters’ stories aren’t really wrapped up.  The main conflict is concluded, but there is no final conclusion to the lives of all the other characters we’ve met along the way.  Despite this, I do believe that this conclusion to the Edelstein trilogy was a fitting end to a great story.  If you’ve followed Gier’s works thus far, you won’t be disappointed in how action packed the conclusion is.  If you’re new to the series, I highly suggest that you start with Ruby Red.  It’s an adventure you won’t want to miss!

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my seventh completed review for the Color Coded Challenge

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
Henry Holt and Co (2013)
Hardcover: 464 pages
ISBN: 9780805092677

Adam’s Review of The Crone’s Jewels (Pantheons #3) by E.J. Dabel

tcjejdThe Godfather 3, Mockingjay, and Scream 3 are all third installments that failed to live up to their predecessors. What is it about the third book or movie that just leads to such disappointment? Was it laziness on the author’s part or was it, as an audience, that we just didn’t care about the series anymore? Whatever the cause, I was hoping that Pantheons: The Crone’s Jewels by E.J. Dabel would break my third installment curse and equal the quality of the first two. Would my 27-year streak continue or would it be broken?

As referenced at the end of the previous book in the series Isaiah made six clones of himself, each of which had to complete a mission. The first clone’s mission is to travel to see Odin, accompanied by Amanda Golden, to get access to the Sleipnir so they can gain access to Taraturs. They do this so they can discover the fate of Cronos after his battle with the Balor of evil. Along the way we are introduced to new gods, hailing from Norse, Aztec, and even Japanese mythology. Through it all, we see the clone constantly tortured by Amanda, who calls him clone and often talks down to him. Will the mission be a success or will they fail to do what Isaiah had set out for them?

I will admit, this installment of the series didn’t grab my attention as quickly as the previous two. Perhaps it’s because I started reading it at the wrong time (in the middle of a very chaotic move, both personally and job-wise), but it took me a few attempts to really get in to this book. However, once I got over the bump of starting over and over, I really did enjoy the story. Once again, Dabel makes you care for the characters. He allows you the emotion of rooting for the underdog and you find yourself happy when something goes in their favor and upset when they are knocked down. I really enjoy that about his writing, because so often you read about characters that seem so distant and clearly fictitious that you can’t root for them. However, in this particular story, you find yourself rooting for Clone 1 to finish his mission and you want to see where the story goes next.

Another thing that I found really interesting about this book was the incorporation of the characters of Thor and Loki. As we’ve seen them in other forms of entertainment as two of the main characters in The Avengers, it was fun to see them in a story containing mythology. I feel that with the comics and the movies, both characters are so watered down with regard to their mythological side.  That being said, I really enjoyed seeing this new side to them. It was almost like watching a movie you love but from a different perspective. Different aspects were highlighted and as the reader I got a better understanding of the characters and more of their history. As a side note, if a movie is ever made of this novel, please do not cast Chris Hemsworth as Thor. He is about as dull as watching paint dry. Tom Hiddleston as Loki can be allowed, because he was pretty awesome in the role.

All in all I am really glad that I saw this book through to the end, as I was really nervous based on my initial reaction to the work. I really enjoyed the other two other books in this series, and I was looking forward to reading this work. I think that it is a little bit slower initially than the first two, but it picks up quickly. I still like the second installment the best so far, but I am glad I continued with this journey and finished up part three. I eagerly await reading part four, which as I saw on Goodreads, will be out in the fall.  Keep your eyes open!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Crone’s Jewels by E.J. Dabel
Sea Lion Books (2013)
eBook: 190 pages
ASIN: B00DZF439G

Special thanks to Sea Lion Books for my review copy!

Sam’s Review of The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison

trtmihWhen I first started reading The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison, I have to admit that I was pretty excited. The cover art was lovely and the summary on the back was enough to get me started.  The story sounded right up my ally.

The plot from Goodreads:

Ailsbet loves nothing more than music; tall and red-haired, she’s impatient with the artifice and ceremony of her father’s court. Marissa adores the world of her island home and feels she has much to offer when she finally inherits the throne from her wise, good-tempered father. The trouble is that neither princess has the power–or the magic–to rule alone, and if the kingdoms can be united, which princess will end up ruling the joint land? For both, the only goal would seem to be a strategic marriage to a man who can bring his own brand of power to the throne. But will either girl be able to marry for love? And can either of these two princesses, rivals though they have never met, afford to let the other live?

The fantasy genre has long been a favorite for readers – magic, romance, princesses, ancient prophecies, etc.  It might start to feel like it’s all be done before, but thankfully this story is different. Harrison has gone to great detail and effort to create a world that is new and never seen before.  There are two types of magic here. One is Anger and Death, given to men: taweyr. The other is Nature and Beauty reserved for women: neweyr.   In order for there to be a happy kingdom there must be a balance of both magics.

The two main characters Ailsbet and Issa are just delightful in this carefully crafted story. It is clear from the onset that Ailsbet, the musically gifted princess of Rurik, would be a great leader. She is passionate and kind, clever and careful. Yet, because she is a woman with no magic she is unable to rule. As the story goes on a secret is revealed about Ailsbet’s magic, one that even she wasn’t expecting. This secret has the power to threaten not only her chances at the throne but also her life. I found myself really drawn to her as she struggled with her new identity. In many ways she was already trapped by her title as princess, one without magic. But once she truly comes into herself she has to make some choices that have implications beyond herself.

Issa is a princess from the other island. The journey from Ailbet’s castle to Issa’s takes a long and dangerous month. In her kingdom, Issa has been in charge of the feminine magic in her lands since the passing of her mother. She would like the opportunity to lead in her own kingdom, but it doesn’t seem possible for her. Ailsbet’s father has more power and thus more control. When Kellin, a handsome messenger, arrives with a proposal of marriage from Ailsbet’s kid brother, Issa knows what she must do, for everyone’s sake.

Much of the plot is driven by what the ladies have to do for political advancement. As a reader I liked seeing the girls struggle with the decisions they had to make because it really grounded them. Ailsbet’s father, the terrible King Haikor of Rurik, is obsessed with his power and magic and often taxes men a portion of their magic, which he sucks from them in quite a grotesque way. Ailsbet’s mother, Queen Aske, has been asked for years to suppress her own magic so that the magic of men would be stronger still. This leaves Anger and Death to run rampant in Rurik. With these two as parents, Ailsbet takes on quite a bit of responsibility for her brother, Edik, often putting his needs and political strategy ahead of her own. She knows that a marriage with Issa will unite the two kingdoms but she struggles with whether this would be good or simply an invitation for her father to increase his power and realm at the expense of Issa’s people. Issa has to grapple with just the same problem with an added layer, she has fallen in love with a Duke of Rurik. Should she choose love? Can she? It’s this question that both women really have to consider. Who’s happiness is more important and at what cost?

What I really loved is the balance between the seriousness of the prophecy and decisions both ladies have to make and the sweetness of the romance mixed in. Issa’s love story unfolds slowly at first, then all at once. This was one of my favorite parts of the story, and I’m not really a romance girl! I never felt overwhelmed by it or that that piece of the puzzle overshadowed any other part. I admit that it initially worried me based on the cover! That girl looks like a damsel in distress if I’ve ever seen one!

Really, my only complaint was that the language was a bit much at first. Harrison invents many words to describe her magical world and if you’re not paying close attention you might miss a meaning and become totally lost. As I kept reading I got more and more used to the strangeness of the language and found that eventually (after two or three chapters) I slipped easily into the zone.

I realized just a few pages from the end that I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to these characters yet. It’s always a good sign when that happens! All in all it’s a solid, girly, summer read!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison
EgmontUSA (2013)
Hardcover: 400 pages
ISBN: 9781606843659

Special thanks to EgmontUSA for my review copy!

Kim’s Review of Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

e&prrIt’s true what they say, you never forget your first love.  No matter how old we get the joy and pure innocence of our first love remains with us.  I saw so many of my blogging friends discussing first loves and realized it was all due to a book by Rainbow Rowell entitled Eleanor & Park.  Wishing to re-live my first love and ALL THE FEELINGS I got myself a copy of this read and jumped in.

Taking place over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor and Park begins by introducing us to some atypical high school students.  Eleanor is a transplant who is new to the area, having lived with family friends for a year after being kicked out by her mother’s abusive husband.  Now back with her mother and step-father, she begrudgingly begins attending a new school, surrounded by strangers.  Park, on the other hand, is the son of a Vietnam veteran father and Korean mother.  He is awkward and quiet and is a huge music fan, carrying his Walkman and headphones with him constantly.  Eleanor and Park first meet on the bus, as Eleanor is refused a seat and must take the only other open one, next to Park.  They eventually become regular seat-partners on the bus, and Park eventually begins to make Eleanor mix tapes, after letting her borrow his Walkman and noting her interest in music.  However, there is much more than music that begins to connect the two, as they try to fight a mutual attraction that begins to pull them together ever so slowly.  What will become of these new-found feelings?

There are so many things to say about this book, yet I find myself without any words adequate enough to even describe how I feel.  I don’t know how Rowell did it, but her work is a perfect description of first love.  It’s a reflection of the feeling that you would do anything and everything to remain with this person for the rest of your life.  This book is like a time capsule, a specimen of nostalgia that has been perfectly preserved over the years.  From the copious references to 80’s culture, Eleanor and Park is like a slice of the past, with the imagery of mix-tapes and The Watchmen comic books sprinkled throughout.  Rowell’s character development is on point, as both Eleanor and Park evolve according to the situations that they are thrust into.  They are forced to be more mature than typical high school students, as they both feel the effects of Eleanor’s abusive and negligent household.  These excellent characterizations added a depth to the story that definitely filled it out.  Coupled with the wonderful nostalgia, these elements made this book irresistible and hard to dislike.  If you’re in the mood for an intriguing read with a soft spot for the 80’s, Eleanor and Park is a perfect fit.

4 out of 5 Stars

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin’s Press (2013)
eBook: 336 pages
ISBN: 9781250031211