Monday, July 29, 2013

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. MaasReading Level: Ages 13 and up
Hardcover: 432 Pages
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Narration: Third Person: Celaena
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal
Challenge: Paranormal
Source: Netgalley

The Throne of Glass Series:
Book One: Throne of Glass
Book Two: Crown of Midnight
Book Three: Untitled (2014)
Book Four: Untitled
Book Five: Untitled
Book Six: Untitled

Order On Amazon: Hardcover
                              Kindle
Order On Barnes and Noble:
Hardcover and Nook

Author's
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Goodreads Synopsis:

An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.
But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice. 

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

My Review:

I read Crown of Midnight quite a while ago and decided to put off the review until we were closer to the release date. Unfortunately, since all this time has passed, I've forgotten some of the details. Suffice to say, I won't be waiting this long to write a review ever again. xD However, even after all this time, Crown of Midnight still holds a candle above all the other novels I've read this year, even surpassing Siege and Storm, a book that I wrote a nearly hysterical review on earlier in the year. For some reason, when I first read Throne of Glass, I marked it off as an alright read...nothing special or even close to remarkable. But after reading it over again, my views have definitely changed, kind of the same case that Angelfall by Susan Ee was for me. Since I loved Throne of Glass oh so much and reread it over and over again like a bajillion times, I had super high expectations for it's sequel. I was ecstatic when it didn't suffer from "second book syndrome" like many trilogies do nowadays and that it went above and beyond my original expectations.

In this novel, Celaena Sardothien was as bad-ass as ever. She knows how to fend for herself and hates it when she has to rely on others for support. She is, by far, the most independent and fierce heroine I've ever had the pleasure of reading about. However, even though she's definitely more courageous and brave than most, she still has her weaknesses. For one thing, she still hasn't gotten over her arrogance, although some light is shined on why she's so confident of herself to begin with. And even though she has a fierce, no BS, mess-with-me-and-I'll-slit-your-throat sort of persona, she's still as vulnerable as any other girl when it comes to matters of the heart. And Holy Crap, the secret that's revealed about her? Mind-Blown. I had speculated about it and even guessed it near the beginning, but immediately wrote it off as impossible, something I shouldn't have been so quick to do.

The romance was a bit confusing. If you've been keeping up with this series, you'd know that there are two love interests, Dorian, the prince and current heir to the throne, and Chaol, the head of the Guard. From the beginning I knew who I wanted her to pick and had no doubt as to who it would be, but now? Not so sure. Dorian....he's growing on me a bit. He's gone through a lot of character development, and although he's still a bit dependent on others to protect him, he's grown a backbone, can stand up for himself, and fights for what he believes in. With Dorian growing up before our very eyes and after what transpired between Chaol and Celaena, I'm not too sure which direction the last installment is going to take. Heck, I'm not even too sure if I know which side I'm on anymore.

This novel never had a dull moment! Every page was filled to the brim with nail-biting and seat-clinging suspense. The action scenes were marvelously written and I felt as if I was watching everything unfold before my very eyes. I was constantly gasping at every little detail and awed by all the amazing secrets that were revealed. We get a lot more history and world building in this one, something that was definitely needed and beautifully done.

Overall, Crown of Midnight definitely did not disappoint or suffer from "second book syndrome." If you came up to me today and asked me whether I liked this novel or it's predecessor better....I would say sort of. Both novels are amazing, but in there own special ways. I wouldn't be able to choose between them. If you've already read Throne of Glass and loved it, this is definitely one book you do NOT want to miss. If you haven't heard of this series yet or have been putting it off for a later date, STOP PROCRASTINATING AND START THIS SERIES NOW!

*An ARC was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

Cover- 3/5
Not really into this new cover scheme.
Trailer- 3/5
Heroine- 5/5
Comedy- 6/5
Action- 6/5
Romance- 4.5/5
A bit confusing
Writing- 5/5
Overall- 6/5

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Book Blast + Giveaway: Ixeos Rebellion by Jennings Wright

About The Book:
Release Date: June 1, 2013
 Add To GoodreadsGenre: Dystopian
Series: Ixeos Trilogy #2

ixeos rebellionIxeos Rebellion With rebel leader Darian free at last, the humans and outsiders on Ixeos must find a way to join forces and defeat the Firsts. The problem? All slaves are tracked with GPS, the Firsts are the only ones with power, and roving gangs hate the rebels just as much as they hate the aliens. As Darian and the outsiders from Earth travel the globe through the mysterious tunnels in Paris, they learn that the Firsts are preparing to launch another wave of biological warfare. With a transporter that will allow the aliens to target any city, anywhere on the planet, the rebels know they must stop them at all costs. As things get more dangerous on Ixeos, the outsiders find that they're pushed to their limit. Will they fight for freedom, no matter the price?   

Find The Book:
Release Date: February 13, 2013
Genre: Dystopian
Series: Ixeos Trilogy #1

The McClellands are enjoying a lazy summer vacation at the beach when they are lured from our world into Ixeos, an alternate Earth. Finding themselves lost in a maze of tunnels under Paris and surrounded by strangers, they discover that they have been brought to Ixeos for one purpose: to take the planet back from humanoid aliens who have claimed it. With the aid of the tunnels and a mysterious man named Landon, the teens travel the world seeking the key that will allow them to free Darian, the long-imprisoned rebel leader. But the aliens aren't the only problem on Ixeos -- the McClellands have to deal with brutal gangs, desperate junkies, and a world without power, where all the technology is owned by the aliens, and where most of the population has been killed or enslaved. The worst part? There's no way home.

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About The Author:
 
Jennings Wright
Author Jennings Wright Born and raised in Florida, Jennings spent her early years reading anything she could get her hands on, when she wasn't spending time in and on the water. She won a prize in the 6th grade for her science fiction stories. Jennings attended the University of Tampa, graduating with a B.A. in Political Science, and almost enough credits for B.A.s in both English and History. She attended graduate school at the University of West Florida, studying Psychology. She spent time over the years doing various kinds of business writing, editing, and teaching writing, but mostly having and raising her family, homeschooling her children, owning and running a business with her husband, and starting a non-profit. Thanks to a crazy idea called NaNoWriMo Jennings got back into creative writing in 2011 and hasn't stopped since. She currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, also a business owner and writer, and two children, and travels extensively with her family, and her non-profit in Uganda.

Find The Author:
Facebook ! Twitter ! Website ! Blog ! Amazon ! Goodreads )

iXEOS R copy


Book Blast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 7/28/13 
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.    

Friday, July 12, 2013

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Insignia by S.J. KincaidReading Level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 446 Pages
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Narration: Third Person: Tom
Genre: Sci Fi/Dystopian
Challenge: Dystopian
Source: ARCycling

The Insignia Series:
Book One: Insignia
Book Two: Vortex
Book Three: Untitled (2014)

Order On Amazon: Hardcover
                              Kindle
Order On Barnes and Noble:
Hardcover and Nook

Author's
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Goodreads Synopsis:

The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S.J. Kincaid’s fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy. The planet’s natural resources are almost gone, and the war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning.

The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn’t seem like a hero. He’s a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.

As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom’s life completely changes. Suddenly, he’s someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there’s a price to pay...

My Review:

“There really was nothing firm, nothing certain. Even here, even at this place where he thought he’d found something permanent—everything could change in a day. Everything could be lost so quickly.”

Insignia takes place in the middle of World War III, a war that's fought with robots on different planets to avoid ecological disasters on Earth, and of course, the most important reason of all, to avoid human deaths. In order to direct the robots in outer space, exceptional teenagers are combed out of the overall population to undergo an operation that will essentially make them half computer as well, therefore enabling them to establish links with other machines and control them through their neural processors. Why not adults, you ask? Because their brains are already fully developed and reject anything foreign added to them, whereas teenage brains are still malleable and will adapt to any changes made to its environment. This idea was developed pretty well. It felt realistic, as if this could actually happen in the world today. If we did advance our technology enough to be able to travel robots to and fro the solar system, then the next logical choice would be to fight our wars somewhere that wouldn't harm the human population.

Our main character was Tom, a young and talented gamer who is forced to move from town to town in order to make the money that his father usually wastes gambling. Tom is headstrong, clever, idiotic around girls, and a bit arrogant at times. He constantly rebelled against authority, which impressed me at first, because authority was so obviously corrupted, but then annoyed me later on, because he didn't pick and choose which battles were worth fighting. Instead, he rebelled against anyone who was in charge or anyone who asked him to do something he didn't want to do (You'll see more of this in Vortex). He brought so many conflicting emotions out of me, because he's both strong and weak and clever yet stupid. There wasn't much character development in Insignia, but there is a little bit more in Vortex, which I decided to read before writing this review. xD

Some of the supporting characters....surprised me. I judged a lot of them at first glance, but then realized I was completely wrong when Kincaid turned their personalities around on me. There was a bit of romance, but since all these kids are around fourteen or fifteen, it didn't really progress into anything serious. There were your average crushes, which the boys were oblivious to, and then there was a computer girlfriend, which doesn't really count as a "relationship" in my book, at least not until they meet face to face.

Insignia was pretty well paced. It took a few chapters for me to get interested in what was happening, but once I did, it was smooth sailing from there. I actually did pick this book up around seven or eight months ago and chucked it back onto the shelf, because it failed to catch my attention. When I saw it at ARCycling, I decided to give it another shot because of all the high ratings on Goodreads and all the praise I've been hearing around the Internet. I was definitely glad I did, because this is a pretty good dystopian novel in the making. I was literally up to 4 A.M., desperately trying to finish this novel, because my brain wouldn't send the signal to my fingers to close the book. I blame my burning eyes on you, Kincaid! xD

Overall, Insignia was a great dystopian novel with a realistic premise that made sense. I felt like this could actually happen someday in the world. The main character has a lot of potential, but before he reaches it, he has a lot of growing up to do, which I'm fine with, because he's still pretty young. Another thing I forgot to mention in my review is that Insignia was not scarce in the comedy department. All the characters had their very own special kind of humor, whether it's an astounding wit or adorable ignorance, Insignia will definitely bring out a few laughs from even the most stoic of people.

Hero- 3.5/5 Has a lot of potential.
Romance- 3.5/5
Action- 4.5/5 Fast paced after
you get into the heart of the story.
Comedy- 4.5/5 Hilarious
Trailer- 4.5/5 Epic and informative
Overall- 4/5

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Blog Tour: The Children and the Blood by Megan Peterson

The Children and the Blood Blog Tour

The Children and The Blood by Megan Joel PetersonReading Level: Ages 12 and up
Paperback: 350 Pages
Release Date: February 28, 2013
Publisher: Self-Published
Narration: Third Person:
Ash, Cole, and Police Officer
Genre: Fantasy/Magic
Challenge: Paranormal/Debut Challenge
Source: Xpresso Book Tours/Author

The Children and the Blood Series:
Book One: The Children and the Blood
Book Two: Unknown
Book Three: Unknown

Order On Amazon: Paperback
                              Kindle
                           
Order On Barnes and Noble:
Hardcover and Nook

Author's
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Goodreads Synopsis:
A forgotten life.

A secret war.

Eight years ago, an exploding gas main killed Ashley’s family and left her with a childhood she can’t remember. Eight years later, the forgotten past is behind her and life on her isolated farm is all she knows.

Until that past comes looking for her.

Until men with superhuman powers hunt her down in the night, determined to take everything she loves away from her again.


My Review:

I was truly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. When I began The Children and the Blood, I was a bit skeptical as to if I would be able to get into the story, because you never really know with Self-Published authors. Sometimes they're a huge success and make you wonder why they weren't picked up by a publishing company. Other times, the majority of the time, their writing needs a bit more polishing before they can actually call their novel, a well-executed novel. However, Megan cleared up my lingering doubts immediately! Within the first few chapters, I was caught up in her writing, anxiously flipping pages to discover what happens next.

If your main issue with Self-Published novels is the grammar and spelling, don't fret! Although I'm nowhere near a Grammar Wiz by any means, I do know enough to tell you that there aren't any glaringly obvious spelling errors, if there were any at all to begin with. Megan's writing style reminded me of that of a much more experienced author. Heck, her writing style is a lot more refined than many published authors period. Her sentences flowed smoothly and she transitioned between viewpoints flawlessly, which is definitely no easy feat to accomplish. I never had any trouble discerning the perspective the story was being told from. In fact, the constant switch between characters was probably the reason why I wasn't able to set the book down. Most of the time, she ended her chapters with a sort of epic cliffhanger that left you grasping at straws. And of course, with my meager self-control with anything book related, I found myself dodging sleep to read just one more chapter.

Now that brings us to the action. For me, action and premise usually share a direct relationship. Look at that! I brought math into this. Curse you, Algebra 2! Basically, the more interesting the premise, the more interesting the action. Makes everything seem all the more....involving, for lack of better term. The synopsis made it pretty obvious that magic was involved, that I knew was coming. However, what I didn't expect was the way Megan incorporated that magic into the story. I loved learning about the origins and history on her innovative twist on magic and how everything came to be in an otherwise contemporary, mundane world. She answered the questions that were forming in my mind, yet left just the right amount unanswered to give it that mysterious and cryptic edge. I don't want to give anything else away, but I will include that her version of magic is pretty darn cool, like control over fire, nothing lame like some stories I've come across.

Since I read this novel about a month ago, the details on the characters are a bit fuzzy. The POVs were told by a police officer whose name alludes me at the moment, Ashley, and Cole. This resulted in a much more diverse read, since we were able to see the story through more than one perspective. Although the police officer's part did sort of aggravate me a bit. Let me explain...Since I was privy to Ashley and Cole's story, I was able to perceive truth from downright lie, and since the police officer had the misfortune of running in the wrong circles, his source of information tended to fall towards the lie side. I wanted to scream, "There innocent!" to him a countless number of times, but I understand why he made the decisions he made. There wasn't a strict switching back and forth rule between the characters, but Megan usually kept the POVs between Ashley and Cole, because they were the main focus in the story.

I admired how quick Ashley was on her feet and how she managed to repress her fear and control her emotions, even when she had no idea what was happening to her. She was a strong and likable person who I would love to read more about! She grew in character as the story progressed, and instead of staying a meek, fearful young girl, she turned into a strong and brave young woman who wasn't afraid to fight for what she believed in. Cole, on the other hand, I didn't like as much. I respected him for looking after Ashley's little sister and taking care of her, but I felt that he was way too impulsive in his actions. He didn't wait and think things through, he just did. He walked into dangerous situations even when he knew they had a high probability of being traps. I mean, even if you wanted answers that desperately, you could at least devise a sneaky way of getting them instead of walking head-first into, I don't know, an ambush? There were so many times when I just wanted to smack some common sense into him. *Shakes head*

Overall, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed my time with The Children and The Blood! In the beginning, I really wasn't sure what to expect since it was a Self-Published book. With those, it's usually just a toss up and all you can do is hope that it's one of the good ones. Thankfully, it was! I loved the unique premise Megan created in an otherwise overused genre and the twists she added to make it uniquely her own. The action was stimulating and I enjoyed reading about most of the characters, with one exception. :P I can't wait to read the sequel! This series is one that should not be missed, especially for those who are drawn towards magic and fantasy.

*An ARC was provided by the author and Xpresso Book Tours 
in exchange for a honest and thoughtful review.

Heroine (Ash)- 4/5 Strong, Brave
Hero (Cole)- 2.5/5 Impulsive, Rash
Action- 4.5/5
Romance- N/A
Comedy- N/A
Writing- 4/5
Overall- 4.5/5

About The Author:

Megan Joel Peterson lives somewhere between the cornfields of Illinois and fantasy worlds filled with magic and wizards. She has a degree in English Literature from the University of Illinois, and has worked a little bit of everywhere over the years. Now she spends her days and nights creating new stories, and thinks writing is the best job she ever could have asked for. The Children and The Blood is her first published novel.


Find The Author:
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Monday, July 8, 2013

Promo Post: Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki


About The Book:
Release Date: June 28, 2013
 Add To GoodreadsGenre: YA Dystopian Romance
Series: Branded #1
Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki
Twenty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadliest sins were the downfall of our society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.

Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me.   I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now, every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.
The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.

My name is Lexi Hamilton, 
and this is my story.

Find The Book:
Amazon ! Barnes and Noble )

About The Author:

Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.

Find The Author:
Website ! Twitter ! Facebook )

Excerpt:
Chapter One

I’m buried six feet under, and no one hears my screams.
The rope chafes as I loop it around my neck. I pull down on it, making sure the knot is secure. It seems sturdy enough.
My legs shake. My heart beats heavy in my throat. Sweat pours down my back.
Death and I glare at each other through my tears.
I take one last look at the crystal chandelier, the foyer outlined with mirrors, and the flawless decorations. No photographs adorn the walls. No happy memories here.
I’m ready to go. On the count of three.
I inhale, preparing myself for the finality of it all. Dropping my hands, a glimmer catches my eye. It’s my ring, the last precious gift my father gave me. I twist it around to read the inscription. Picturing his face forces me to reconsider my choice. He’d be heartbroken if he could see me now.
A door slams in the hallway, almost causing me to lose my balance. My thoughts already muddled, I stand, waiting with the rope around my neck. Voices I don’t recognize creep through the walls.
Curiosity overshadows my current thoughts. It’s late at night, and this is a secure building in High Society. No one disturbs the peace here—ever. I tug on the noose and pull it back over my head.
Peering through the eyehole in our doorway, I see a large group of armed guards banging on my neighbors’ door. A heated conversation ensues, and my neighbors point toward my family’s home.
It hits me. I’ve been accused and they’re here to arrest me.
My father would want me to run, and in that split second, I decide to listen to his voice within me. Flinging myself forward in fear, I scramble up the marble staircase and into my brother’s old bedroom. The door is partially covered, but it exists. Pushing his dresser aside, my fingers claw at the opening. Breathing hard, I lodge myself against it. Nothing. I step back and kick it with all my strength. The wood splinters open, and my foot gets caught. I wrench it backward, scraping my calf, but adrenaline pushes me forward. The voices at the front door shout my name.
On hands and knees, I squeeze through the jagged opening. My brother left through this passage, and now it’s my escape too. Cobwebs entangle my face, hands, and hair. At the end, I feel for the knob, twisting it clockwise. It swings open, creaking from disuse. I sprint into the hallway and smash through the large fire escape doors at the end. A burst of cool air strikes me in the face as I jump down the ladder.
Reaching the fifth floor, I knock on a friend’s window. The lights flicker on, and I see the curtains move, but no one answers. I bang on the window harder.
“Let me in! Please!” I say, but the lights darken. They know I’ve been accused and refuse to help me. Fear and adrenaline rush through my veins as I keep running, knocking on more windows along the way. No one has mercy. They all know what happens to sinners.
Another flight of stairs passes in a blur when I hear the guards’ heavy footfalls from above. I can’t hide, but I don’t want to go without trying.
Help me, Daddy. I need your strength now.
My previous desolation evolves into a will to survive. I have to keep running, but I tremble and gasp for air. I steel my nerves and force my body to keep moving. In a matter of minutes, my legs cramp and my chest burns. I plunge to the ground, scraping my knee and elbow. A moan escapes from my chest.
Gotta keep going.
“Stop!” Their voices bounce off the buildings. “Lexi Hamilton, surrender yourself,” they command. They’re gaining on me.
I resist the urge to glance back, running into what I assume is an alley. I’m far from our high-rise in High Society as I plunge into a poorer section of the city where the streets all look the same and the darkness prevents me from recognizing anything. I’m lost.
My first instinct is to leap into a dumpster, but I retain enough sense to stay still. I crouch and peek around it, watching them dash by. The abhorrent smell soon leaves me vomiting until nothing remains in my stomach. Desperation overtakes me, as I know my retching was anything but silent. My last few seconds tick away before they find me. Everyone knows about their special means of tracking sinners.
I push myself to my feet and look left, right, and left again. Their batons click against their black, leather belts, and their boots stomp the cement on both sides of me. I shrink into myself. Their heavy steps mock my fear, growing closer and closer until I know I’m trapped.
Never did I imagine they’d come for me. Never did I imagine all those nights I heard them dragging someone else away that I’d join them.
“You’re a sinner,” they say. “Time to leave our society.”
I stand defiant. I refuse to bend or break before them even as I shiver with fear.
“There’s no reason to make this difficult. The more you cooperate, the smoother this will be for everyone,” a guard says.
I cringe into the blackness along the wall. I’m innocent, but they won’t believe me or care.
The next instant, my face slams into the pavement as one guard plants a knee in my back and another handcuffs me. A warm liquid trails into my mouth. Blood. Their fingers grip my arms like steel traps as they peel me off the cement. The tops of my shoes scrape along the ground as I’m dragged behind them until they discard me into the back of a black vehicle. The doors slam in unison with one guard stationed on each side of me, my shoulders digging into their arms. The handcuffs dig into my wrists, so I clasp them together hard behind me and press my back into the seat, unwilling to admit how much it hurts. My dignity is all I have left.
Swallowing hard, I stare ahead to avoid their eyes.
Did they need so many guards to capture me?
I’m not carrying any weapons, nor do I own any. I don’t even know self-defense. High Society frowns on activities like that.
The driver jerks the vehicle around and I try to keep my bearings, but it’s dark and the scenery changes too fast. Hours pass and the air grows warmer, more humid, the farther we drive. The landscape mutates from city to rolling hills. They don’t bother blindfolding me because they escort all the sinners to the same place—the Hole. Twenty-foot cement walls encase the chaos within. There’s no way out and no way in unless they transport you. They say the Hole is a prison with no rules. We learned about it last year in twelfth grade.
To the outside, I’m filth now. I’ll never be allowed to return to the life I knew. No one ever does.
“All sinners go through a transformation,” one of the guards says to me. His smirk infuriates me. “I’m sure you’ve heard all kinds of stories.” I don’t respond. I don’t want to think about the things I’ve been told.
“You won’t last too long, though. Young girls like you get eaten alive.” He pulls a strand of my hair up to his face.
Get your hands off me, you pig. I want to lash out, but resist. The punishment for disobeying authority is severe, and I’m not positioned to defy him.
They’re the Guards of the Commander. They’re chosen from a young age and trained in combat. They keep the order of society by using violent methods of intimidation. No one befriends a guard. Relationships with them are forbidden inside the Hole.
Few have seen the commander. His identity stays under lock and key. His own paranoia and desire to stay pure drove him to live this way. He controls our depraved society and believes sinners make the human race unforgivable. His power is a crushing fist, rendering all beneath him helpless. So much so, even family members turn on each other when an accusation surfaces. Just an accusation. No trial, no evidence, nothing but an accusation.
I lose myself in thoughts of my father.
“Never show fear, Lexi,” my father said to me before he was taken. “They’ll use it against you.” His compassionate eyes filled with warning as he commanded me to be strong. That was many years ago, but I remember it clearly. My father. My rock. The one person in my life who provided unconditional love.
The vehicle stops, and I’m jerked back to reality. “Get out,” the guard orders while pulling me to my feet. The doors slide open and the two guards lift me up and out into the night. A windowless cement building looms in front of us, looking barren in the darkness.
The coolness of the air sends a shiver up my spine. This is really happening. I’ve been labeled a sinner. My lip starts to quiver, but I bite it before anyone sees. They shove me in line and I realize I’m not alone. Women and men stand with faces frozen white in fear. A guard grabs my finger, pricks it, and dabs my blood on a tiny microchip.
I follow the man in front of me into the next room where we’re lined up facing the wall. Glancing right, I see one of the men crying.
“Spread your legs,” one of the guards says.
They remove my outer layers and their hands roam up and down my body.
What do they think I could possibly be hiding? I press my head into the wall, trying to block out what they’re doing to me.
“MOVE!” a guard commands. So I shuffle across the room, trying to cover up.
One.
Two.
Three.
Four.
Five of us sit in the holding room. One by one, they pull people into the next room, forcing the rest of us to wonder what torture we’ll endure. An agonizing amount of time passes. I lean my head back and try to imagine a place far away. The door opens.
“Lexi Hamilton.”
A guard escorts me out of the room, and I don’t have time to look back. As soon as the door closes, they pick me up and place me on a table. It’s cold and my skin sticks to it slightly, like wet fingers on an ice cube. Then, they exit in procession, and I lie on the table with a doctor standing over me. His hands are busy as he speaks.
“Don’t move. This will only take a few minutes. It’s time for you to be branded.”
A wet cloth that smells like rubbing alcohol is used to clean my skin. Then he places a metal collar around my neck.
Click. Click. Click.
The collar locks into place, and I struggle to breathe. The doctor loosens it some as I focus on the painted black words above me.

The Seven Deadly Sins:
Lust ¾ Blue
Gluttony ¾ Orange
Greed ¾ Yellow
Sloth ¾ Light Blue
Wrath ¾ Red
Envy ¾ Green
Pride ¾ Purple

“Memorize it. Might keep you alive longer if you know who to stay away from.” He opens my mouth, placing a bit inside. “Bite this.”
Within seconds, the collar heats from hot to scorching. The smell of flesh sizzling makes my head spin. I bite down so hard a tooth cracks.
“GRRRRRRRRR,” escapes from deep within my chest. Just when I’m about to pass out, the temperature drops, and the doctor loosens the collar.
He removes it and sits me up. Excruciating pain rips through me and I’m on the verge of a mental and physical breakdown. Focus. Don’t pass out.
Stainless steel counters and boring white walls press in on me. A guard laughs at me from an observation room above and yells, “Blue. It’s a great color for a pretty young thing like yourself.” His eyes dance with suggestion. The others meander around like it’s business as usual.
I finally find my voice and turn to the doctor.
“Are you going to give me clothes?” A burning pain spreads like fire from my neck to my jaw, making me wince.
He points to a set of folded grey scrubs on a chair. I cover myself as much as I can and scurry sideways. Grabbing my new clothes, I pull the shirt over my head and try to avoid the raw meat around my throat. I quickly knot the cord of my pants around my waist and slide my feet into the hospital-issue slippers as the doctor observes. He hands me a bag labeled with my name.
“Nothing is allowed through the door but what we’ve given you,” he says.
I hide my right hand behind me, hoping no one notices. A guard scans my body and opens his hand.
“Give it to me,” he says. “Don’t make me rip off your finger.” He crouches down and I turn to stone. I don’t know what to do, so I beg.
“My father gave this to me. Please, let me keep it.” I smash my eyes shut and think of the moment my father handed the golden ring to me.
“It was my mother’s ring,” he’d said. “She’s the strongest woman I ever knew.” With tears in his eyes, he reached for my hand. “Lexi, you’re exactly like her. She’d want you to wear this. No matter how this world changes, you can survive.” I turned the gold band over in my palm and read the engraving.
You can overcome anything… short of death.
“You’re going to take the one thing that matters the most to me?” I say, glaring into the guard’s emotionless eyes. “Isn’t it enough taking my life, dignity, and respect?”
A hard blow falls upon my back. As I fall, my hands shoot out to stop me from smashing into the wall in front of me. The guard bends down and grabs my chin with his meaty fist.
“Look at me,” he commands. I look up and he smiles with arrogance.
“What the hell?” He staggers a step backward. “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with your eyes?”
“Nothing,” I respond, confused.
“What color are they?”
“Turquoise.” I glower at him.
“Interesting,” he says, regaining his composure. “Now those’ll get you in trouble.”
Reality slaps me across the face. I have my father’s eyes. They can’t take them from me. I twist the ring off my finger and drop it in his hand.
“Take the damn ring,” I say. I walk to the door. He swipes a card and the massive door slides open to the outside.
“You have to wear your hair back at all times, so everyone knows what you are.” He hands me a tie, so I pull my frizzy hair away from my face and secure it into a ponytail. My neck burns and itches as my hand traces the scabs that have already begun to form. Squinting ahead into the darkness, I almost run into a guard standing on the sidewalk.
“Watch where you’re going,” he says, shoving me backward. His stiff figure stands tall and I cringe at the sharpness of his voice.
“Cole, this is your new assignment, Lexi Hamilton. See to it she feels welcome in her new home.” The guard departs with a salute.
“Let’s move,” Cole says.

I take two steps and collapse, my knees giving out. The unforgiving pavement reopens the scrapes from earlier and I struggle to stand. A powerful arm snatches me up, and I see his face for the first time.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rush by Eve Silver

Rush by Eve SilverReading Level: Ages 13 and up
Hardcover: 361 Pages
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Narration: First Person: Miki
Genre: Sci Fi/Dystopian
Challenge: Dystopian/Debut/Paranormal

The Game Series:
Book One: Rush
Book Two: Push (2014)
Book Three: Crash (2015)

Order On Amazon: Hardcover
                              Kindle
Order On Barnes and Noble:
Hardcover and Nook

Author's
Goodreads  Website  Twitter  Facebook
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Goodreads Synopsis:

So what’s the game now? This, or the life I used to know?

When Miki Jones is pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game—her carefully controlled life spirals into chaos. In the game, she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures. There are no practice runs, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says the game isn’t really a game, that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival, and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn’t. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn.

My Review:

Rush was something of an impulse read. I found it while scrolling through recommendations, thought, "Why the hell not," and checked it out of the library the next morning. (That's a bit of an exaggeration considering that I had to wait a whole grueling week on the waiting list, but hey, that's not the point.) I forcibly restrained myself from reading the synopsis or any reviews and decided to jump, head-first, into Rush with absolutely no expectations. Boy, was I happy that I decided to give this a try.

Rush was based on the most brilliant idea that I ever had the pleasure of encountering. After reading book after book of the same thing, recycled in thousands of different ways, over and over again, I've grown sick and tired of you're everyday Twilight/Hunger Games knockoff affair. Rush was a breath of fresh air that I desperately needed to get me excited about reading again. Although it definitely was not without its flaws, the premise and plot were so intriguing and enthralling that I found myself overlooking those pesky details and focusing on the wonderful world Eve created. After reading this, I eagerly logged onto my Goodreads account, and without thought, gave it a five star rating, because this awesome videogamey world made me forget all of the little things that annoyed me. So the premise? I give you a bajillion stars, because I'm 100% sure that Rush had the best theme out of the hundreds and hundreds of books that I've read. Kudos to you, Eve. Kudos to you.

I had no problems with the protagonist for the most part. For the first one or two chapters, I found her a bit slow in the head, but I was wrong and grew to like her fast-thinking and bad-ass Kendo (Sword-Fighting) skills. I literally jumped off of my bed and did a little victory dance when I discovered that Miki did not fall under the category of whimpering damsel in distress, but instead knew how to take care of herself and was a natural born leader, even if she had a hard time believing it herself. 

When she first got pulled into the "game," she was confused, as anyone would be, and asked tons of questions. One of the greatest feelings you get while reading a book is that moment when you ask yourself a question at the same time the protagonist does. It made me feel connected to Miki in a way I rarely connect with others, and it felt great knowing that we were on the same page, quite literally. Even though she was scared out of her wits when she met her first Drau monster, she still fought back with everything she had. Although she did freeze up a little at first, which in turn scared me out of my wits, she conquered her fears and did what was needed to survive.

As much as I hate to say it, there was a bit of an Insta-Connection between Miki and Jackson Tate. It wasn't a full on Insta-Love moment, but it was enough so that the romance progressed a little faster than realistically believable. Oh, and before I forget, there was a slight love triangle. However, it's no doubt who she's going to choose in the end, so I really don't see the point of it at all. But if you're able to overlook that, then I thought that the romance was wonderfully done. I definitely need me my own Jackson Tate in real life! 

Jackson was the leader of their little team and gave off this aura of mysteriousness. He never takes off his sunglasses, blames it on an "eye disease," and doesn't answer questions, except for Miki, and that's only when he's in a good mood. Although I did like the whole sunglasses tidbit, I also found it a bit unbelievable. His team has known him for months and they never question him about it? Miki asked the same questions, so I'm a little placated by that. Anyways, underneath Jackson's assholeyness, he was just a troubled kid with a tortured past. You know, now that I think of it, he kind of reminds me of Daemon from Jennifer Armentrout's Lux Series.

The action was non-stop! After I got through the first chapter, which sadly didn't pull me in at all, the pacing sped up, and sooner rather than later, I was clinging to every word exchanged and flipping pages so fast that I actually ripped one in my haste. The beyond engrossing premise did help, but even without it, I probably would've still been that anxious to finish it. There was never a dull moment, and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of my time with Rush. The only part that nearly made me break out crying, was the ending. That. Cliffhanger. Nearly. Ended. Me. Even though I knew, without a doubt, that what Eve insinuated couldn't possibly be true, my heart still broke alongside with Miki's. I turned into a rambling mess for the better part of the afternoon, walking up and down the stairs, trying to deduce what would happen next.

Overall, I'm so overwhelmingly happy that I decided to grab this one from my recommendation tab on impulse. In fact, I might turn it into a weekly event, called "Impulse Reads" or something. (Not a very creative name, I know) The premise was the best I've ever read and will now have me scouring Goodreads for anything remotely similar to it. If you guys know any, then please do not hesitate to leave a comment or email me the title! I will be eagerly awaiting for the second installment! Meanwhile, I'll be trying to keep myself from going mad, trying to figure out what might happen after that cliffhanger.

Heroine- 4.5/5
Premise- 6/5 AMAZING Premise
Romance- 4/5
Progressed a little too fast.
Action- 6/5 Nonstop Action!
Comedy- 4/5
Trailer- 2.5/5
Didn't really tell me anything.
Overall- 4.5/5

Author Interview: Samantha Durante

Today, at Reading Until Dawn, we have with us the marvelous and talented, Samantha Durante, author of  the Stitch series!

Author Interview with Samantha Durante

1. Have you always dreamed of becoming an author? 
If not, what inspired you to become one?

I always loved to write, but the thought of penning an entire book was always overwhelming to me.  (I remember I decided to do it once in middle school, and then I sat down to write and 30 pages later my story ended, and I was like, "Hmm, I guess it's a novella?" lol.)  It wasn't until I started freelancing a few years ago and ghost-wrote a non-fiction book for one of my clients that I realized I could use the same process (break it down into manageable pieces with an outline) to write fiction.  That's when I started pursuing my dream with the Stitch Trilogy!  :-)

2. Did you enjoy reading books as a child? 
If so, which ones were your all time favorites?

I read The Secret Garden as a kid more times than I can count - just the thought of discovering a garden like that still gives me butterflies!  I was also a big fan of Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham (after all, "Sam I am!").

3. Who are your favorite authors, 
and have their works effected your own?

I admire SO many authors - Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Suzanne Collins, George R. R. Martin, Christoper Paolini, to name a few.  I would never have even considered pursuing writing as a career if not for the magic these authors have brought into my own life, so I owe them a great debt for inspiring me to pursue this path.

4. When you're writing a novel, do you ever get distracted by sparkly things on the Internet and end up doing something else?

Haha, actually, I'm a REALLY good non-procrastinator.  I write fiction on the weekends almost exclusively, so I have very limited time to write and I always sit down with a plan and in the mindset to be productive.  If anything distracts on the internet, it would have to be www.thesaurus.com - sometimes I just can't find the right word!

5. Do you ever read reviews for your own novels?

Absolutely - I've read every review I can get my hands on.  How else will I improve?  Sometimes negative reviews hurt, but they're learning experiences, and have been invaluable in strengthening my craft.  And plus, the good ones make up for it.  :-)  There's really nothing like knowing there are fans of your work out there!  You guys are the best!

6. If you could have one superpower for the day, which one would it be?

Time travel, definitely.  There would be so many people I'd want to meet, both in the past and the future (mostly relatives).  Plus, then couldn't I just keep doing the day over so I wouldn't have to give up my superpower?  Loophole!





Speed Round:
Hardcover or Ereader?
Can I go with paperback?  Hardcovers are too heavy, and as much as I appreciate my Kindle, there's nothing like that new book smell!
Cat or Dog?
I love both!  Had a dog growing up and a cat now, and both behave somewhere between a typical dog and cat - like perfect hybrid pets!
Countryside or Citylife?
Okay, this one I can pick: country.  I just moved up to the 'burbs from NYC and it's just so damn pleasant here.
Vanilla or Chocolate? 
Swirl!
Cupcake or Cookie?
Cookie, chocolate chip, every time.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions Samantha! 
Good luck on your novels. :)

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher

The Obsidian Mirror by Catherine FisherReading Level: Ages 13 and up
Hardcover: 384 Pages
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: Dial
Narration: Third Person: Everyone
Genre: Fantasy/Time Travel
Challenge: None
Source: ARCycling

The Chronoptika Series:
Book One: The Obsidian Mirror
Book Two: The Slanted Worlds (3/18/14)
Book Three: Untitled

Order On Amazon: Hardcover
                              Kindle
Order On Barnes and Noble:
Hardcover and Nook

Author's
Goodreads  Website
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Jake's father disappears while working on mysterious experiments with the obsessive, reclusive Oberon Venn. Jake is convinced Venn has murdered him. But the truth he finds at the snow-bound Wintercombe Abbey is far stranger ... The experiments concerned a black mirror, which is a portal to both the past and the future. Venn is not alone in wanting to use its powers. Strangers begin gathering in and around Venn's estate: Sarah - a runaway, who appears out of nowhere and is clearly not what she says, Maskelyne - who claims the mirror was stolen from him in some past century. There are others, a product of the mirror's power to twist time. And a tribe of elemental beings surround this isolated estate, fey, cold, untrustworthy, and filled with hate for humans. But of them all, Jake is hell-bent on using the mirror to get to the truth. Whatever the cost, he must learn what really happened to his father.

My Review:

Catherine Fisher is a pretty famous author, best known for her novel, Incarceron, which follows the story of a boy and his dashing escape from a futuristic prison that seems to take on a life of its own. Once upon a time, a long long time ago, I attempted reading it, and in result, became nothing but befuddled by her wacky characters and overwhelming plot. Back then, I blamed my utter confusion to my young age, but now, I'm not entirely sure that my reason was correct. Because even while reading The Obsidian Mirror at the age of sixteen, I had trouble understanding the message Catherine was trying to convey and what tone she wanted her characters to take on. This was, by far, the most confusing novel that I've ever read.

The premise was nothing short of fascinating, introducing innovative elements to the YA world such as time-traveling mirrors, Shee, Djinn, and Replicants of past people, or animals for that matter. Unfortunately, the author executed these intricate ideas very poorly, and I had no idea what she was trying to say the majority of the time. She threw way too many complicated ideas at you at once, not bothering to explain why or how they came to be, which in turn overwhelmed the reader and left you grasping at straws. In fact, if you asked me right now, I still wouldn't be able to explain to you what I just read. 


The one thing that annoyed me the most was the writing style. I was fine, though nowhere near ecstatic, with the way Catherine strung sentences together. They flowed alright and never felt stilted or awkward, but I wasn't a fan of the constant changing of point of views. Although the story always stayed in third person, the author's focus switched between more than six characters with absolutey no warning preceding it. One paragraph could focus on Jake while the next one focused on his godfather, Oberon Venn. There were even a couple of cases where she switched point of views within a single paragraph, which only served to confuse me even more than I already was. At times, you only had the knowledge of the character being talked about and at others you had an omniscient point of view.


Since there really wasn't a main character, because the novel's focus jumped around so much, I'll just tell you my overall feel for all of them. They had no depth whatsoever. While the novel had a theme and writing style that even a freaking genius would have a difficult time understanding, the characters were two-dimensional and confined to their specific archetypes. None of them were even the slightest bit sympathetic to one another's goal throughout the whole length of the novel. Two in particular were ready to sacrifice the fate of the ENTIRE world, for one person, without a single feeling of remorse or regret. And the others? Didn't even seem to feel concerned about the coming apocalypse and did nothing to try and stop it, with the exception of one. 
I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure this is NOT how a normal and realistic person would react in a situation like this. They all had one-track minds and would stop at nothing, no matter the cost, to achieve their ultimate goals.

There was always something happening to move the plot along, but for some reason, I always felt detached from it. As if I was watching myself read it on the sidelines. In the beginning, I was alright with the action, because I actually understood what was happening, but as the novel progressed, things became more and more confusing. And the more confusing the plot got, the less I felt invested in reading it.


Overall, this book had a super interesting premise, but unfortunately, it fell flat to me because of how poorly it was executed. The characters were all two-dimensional, had absolutely no depth, and apparently weren't capable of feeling sympathy. If you're a fan of Catherine's Incarceron series, you might enjoy this one more than I did, but if you aren't, I urge you to find something worth your time
.

Romance- N/A
Comedy- N/A
Action- 2.5/5
Writing- 2.5/5
Overall- 2.5/5

Promo Post + Giveaway: Shadow of The Mark by Leigh Fallon


About The Book:
 Add To GoodreadsRelease Date: July 9, 2013
Genre: Paranormal
Series: Carrier #2

Leigh Fallon’s Shadow of the Mark, the sequel to Carrier of the Mark, is a captivating love story set against the lush backdrop of Ireland.

Megan knew she was destined to be with Adam from the first moment she saw him and now they are determined to be together. But Megan and Adam are Marked Ones, and a romance between two Marked Ones is strictly forbidden…and could cause worldwide devastation.

Leigh Fallon’s Shadow of the Mark is a great choice for readers who love Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush.


Find The Book:

About The Author:


I was born in South Africa, raised in Dublin, Ireland and moved to Cork in my 20’s. While living in beautiful Kinsale, Co Cork I discovered a love of writing. I write mainly for the young adult market. My current book, The Carrier of the Mark, prompted me to abandon my ‘riveting’ career in corporate treasury and have been writing ever since. I have another three books in the Carrier series and a few other projects I'm working on. My family and I now share our time between Ireland and the US.

Find The Author:
Goodreads ! Website ! Twitter ! Facebook )

Giveaway:

Grand Prize Winner will get:
- 1 Autographed ARC of SHADOW OF THE MARK
- 3 CARRIER OF THE MARK Bookmarks
- 3 SHADOW OF THE MARK Bookmarks
- 2 Buttons for each book
- 1 Irish Bookmark
- 1 Postcard for each book
open to US Only

1 Runner Up will receive a $20.00 Gift Card to Amazon or B&N, their choice!
open internationally

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