Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost

Title: The Beautiful Ashes (Broken Destiny #1)
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Pages: 304
Source: Bought

Overall: 2 Stars

Summary:
In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate.

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse—her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who's bound by an ancient legacy to betray her.

Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn't mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn't: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side and Adrian on the other. And nothing but ashes in between… 

My Thoughts: 
When I first heard Jeaniene Frost had written a New Adult paranormal novel, I was very excited. NA fiction is still very much comprised of romantic contemporary novels, so I couldn't wait to read a NA novel set in a different genre. Unfortunately, The Beautiful Ashes fell flat for me, which was very surprising because I normally love reading Jeaniene Frost's books. While the world building and a paranormal novel centered around angels and demons was enough to pique my curiosity and interest, The Beautiful Ashes lacked character development, lessening my enjoyment of the book.

It absolutely annoys me when a main character suddenly makes a too stupid to live decision. If it seems like a natural progression of events, then okay, I'll accept it, but when this action is a blatantly obvious plot device to create some sort of suspense, then it frustrates me to no end. Over and over again, Ivy relies on Adrian to save her from demons; there's nothing wrong with that. Adrian has been raised in the demon realm and has been trained to incapacitate and kill them whereas Ivy is completely unfamiliar and unprepared for the situation she finds herself in. What I have a problem with is when she abruptly decides not to trust Adrian and that she can find her missing sister on her own. Seriously? AS IF, IVY, AS IF. Cue major eye rolling.

I struggled to finish The Beautiful Ashes, I really did. I typically read a book within a few hours, but it took me several days to finally finish it. I would find myself setting the book down even during the very middle of action scenes, which just shows how much difficulty I had in staying connected to the story. I simply wasn't emotionally invested, I guess. We knew nothing about Ivy's relationship with her sister Jasmine and she's not even really mentioned all too often because Ivy is too busy searching for an ancient weapon to defeat the demons. Jasmine felt like a stranger, so I didn't feel a real sense of urgency to find her. I don't mind instalove romances when they're done right, but the one between Ivy and Adrian lacked believability. I didn't understand how Ivy and Adrian could so strongly have feelings for one another when they barely knew each other and didn't have time to really build an emotional connection. 

Jeaniene Frost's The Beautiful Ashes was a disappointing introduction to the Broken Destiny series. The Beautiful Ashes reads more like a YA novel, which I have absolutely nothing against, but the series is supposed to be pitched as a New Adult one, so I had to adjust my expectations. While The Beautiful Ashes ends on a note that teases of more dangerous tasks ahead for Ivy, I'm not really feeling compelled to continue the series.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Title: Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5)
Author: Richelle Mead
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 416
Source: Bought

Overall: 5 Stars

Summary:
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.
 

In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.
 

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.
 

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .
 

Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off. 

My Thoughts:  
After The Fiery Heart played havoc on my heart by ending with a cliffhanger, I was impatient to get my hands on a copy of Silver Shadows. I had no doubt Richelle Mead would deliver another amazing installment in the Bloodlines series, but I just had to know how Adrian and Sydney would find a way to be together again. Silver Shadows was everything I hoped it would be and more, and I absolutely loved that the novel was narrated in dual perspectives!

After the Alchemists discovered Sydney and Adrian's forbidden relationship, they have taken her away to one of their re-education facilities against her will. To the Alchemists, she has committed a horrible crime: falling in love with a vampire. However, Sydney can no longer blindly follow the doctrines of the Alchemists anymore... and the only way she'll ever possibly taste freedom again is if she can survive her re-education.

I absolutely admired Sydney's strength and resilience in Silver Shadows. She never gave up hope that she would be reunited with Adrian, even when she had every right to crumble under the duress she faced. I don't think I could ever endure what the Alchemists did to her and keep my sanity. Sydney's only hope for rescue lies in finding a way to contact Adrian in her dreams, but she's also smart and resourceful enough to try and discover any weaknesses from the Alchemists too. Sydney is definitely a fighter, even if it's not in the physical sense.

Without Sydney to anchor him, Adrian feels completely lost and his life is spiraling out of control. Sydney's support and faith in him has always inspired him to be a better person, but now that she's gone and the Moroi won't help him find her, he's fallen back to old vices to deal with the pain. Adrian has never been as put together as Sydney, so I was worried at times about how he was handling her crushing absence. While Sydney was essentially being tortured, Adrian was wrapped up in his own melancholy and I wanted him to take action sooner rather than later. Adrian has always tried to mask his low opinions about himself, but when he puts his mind to it, he's much more capable than he realizes.

Prepare yourself for all the feels! Silver Shadows is the most intense and suspenseful novel yet, but the danger is far from over for Sydney, Adrian, and their friends. The Ruby Circle, the sixth and final novel in the series, is sure to be an epic conclusion! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Book Trailer! - Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

The book trailer for Becca Fitzpatrick's upcoming YA thriller Black Ice premiered earlier today on CountdowntoBlackIce.com, the official website for the book!

There are definitely not enough YA thriller/suspense novels, so I'm absolutely looking forward to reading Black Ice! The premise sounds fantastic... and the book trailer just makes me want to read the book even more.

Becca Fitzpatrick will also be visiting Canada soon on her Black Ice book tour! Her book signing will be at Chapters Brampton on Thursday, October 16th at 7pm. Don't forget to mark it on your calendar! 

Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads

Summary (from Simon & Schuster Canada):
Danger is hard to resist in this sexy thriller from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga.

Britt Pheiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn’t prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.

Britt is forced to guide the men off the mountain, and knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there…and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.

But nothing is as it seems, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

Black Ice is New York Times bestselling author Becca Fitzpatrick’s riveting romantic thriller set against the treacherous backdrop of the mountains of Wyoming. Falling in love should never be this dangerous…

 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Chasing Before by Lenore Appelhans

Title: Chasing Before (The Memory Chronicles #2)
Author: Lenore Appelhans
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 368
Source: ARC provided by publisher

Overall: 3 Stars

Summary:
Perfect for fans of The Matrix and Inception, Chasing Before follows Felicia as she grapples with a futuristic afterlife in this riveting sequel to The Memory of After.

It’s been four months since Felicia saved Level 2 from the Morati, the corrupted angels who trapped her and her boyfriend, Neil, in the afterlife. Now, she and Neil are finally ready to move on to the mysterious Level 3, an afterlife training facility where humans pick a career to pursue until they supposedly retire to the next level.

Shortly after arriving, Felicia learns some shocking truths about her life that make her question everything. Neil wants to focus on the future, but Felicia insists on looking for answers about her past. Just when Felicia thinks things can’t get any more complicated, deadly explosions begin to rock Level 3, and Julian—her charming former love who might still be aligned with the Morati—reappears.

Felicia has a choice: Will she do everything in her power to expose the Morati and end the destruction of Level 3, even if it means never knowing who she really is? Or will she chase after the desires of her heart and risk losing her past humanity, her present afterlife, and a future with Neil?
 

My Thoughts:  
After absolutely enjoying Level 2, now renamed as The Memory of After, I couldn't wait to finally read the sequel, but it pains me to write these next words: Lenore Appelhans's Chasing Before disappointed me. It was like being told to expect fireworks and then being handed a sparkler instead. Still nice and fun, but not nearly as exciting.

Felicia frustrated me in Chasing Before. I could understand why she was so driven to recover her lost memories, but what I hated was just how dependent she was on Neil to feel secure about herself. The Morati were threatening the peace and security of Level 3, but Felicia was more upset that she wasn't spending enough time with Neil. Girl, you need to sort out your priorities! Felicia drove me crazy at times in Level 2/The Memory of After as well, but I thought she would have learned from her mistakes by now.

And the romance! Ugh. I was never a Felicia and Neil shipper in the first book and I'm still not. I just feel they have no chemistry together, which was unfortunate because most of the novel is centered around their relationship, which definitely becomes strained in Chasing Before. After learning that the Morati tampered with her memories of the night she died, Felicia is unsure of her past and wants answers, but Neil doesn't feel the same way. He just wants to move on and choose a fulfilling career for their time in Level 3.

After replaying her memories of Neil when Felicia was still alive so often in Level 2, she has placed him on a pedestal. I felt she was more in love with this perfect version of him that she had in her mind than who he really was as a person. Neil doesn't support her decisions in Chasing Before, and he completely shuts her out when she tries to ask him about his past, but I think the real deal-breaker for me was learning he's an utter hypocrite who preaches ideals that he's already broken. 

Neil was so set in his ways and unwilling to compromise that it always made Felicia feel like a bad person for not feeling the same way. And because Felicia was always seeking Neil's approval, it often seemed like she couldn't truly be herself because she didn't really see herself as good enough for him in the first place. I don't mind a little tension to add drama in a novel, but if a girl can't be comfortable around a guy she supposedly loves, then something is obviously not right. And it seemed like Neil didn't even try to understand her! 

That being said, I still really do like the concept for The Memory Chronicles series as a whole. Level 2 was such a futuristic take on the afterlife with the hives and video networks that I couldn't wait to see how Lenore Appelhans had envisioned Level 3. It was very surprising that while Level 2 was so technologically advanced, Level 3 felt rather like a university campus where humans trained for special careers and lived in dorm-like rooms. I just really wish that Felicia's narration had been less centered around Neil because it limited how much readers could learn and explore Level 3.

With the Morati hiding in plain sight and posing as humans, I was definitely suspicious of every new character whom Felicia met. When I wasn't having problems with Felicia, Neil, and their relationship, it was the suspense of learning who was the villain that really drove me to turn the pages of the book with an addictive need. (And, okay, I was so totally on the lookout for any scenes with Julian, too.) I wanted to fall in love with Chasing Before, I really did, but when your expectations don't match the outcome, it hits you harder and this is just one of those times.  

Thanks so much to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing this review copy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cover Reveal: Covering Kendall by Julie Brannagh

I'm so excited to be helping participate in the cover reveal for Julie Brannagh's latest novel in her Love and Football series!

Covering Kendall sounds like a perfect addition to this adult contemporary romance series. I've really enjoyed the previous novels, especially Catching Cameron, so I absolutely can't wait to read Julie Brannagh's new book! If you're a sports romance fan, I'd recommend checking out the Love and Football series. They're sweet and fun to read.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the cover!

  Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: Avon Impulse

Summary (from HarperCollins): 
Kendall Tracy, General Manager of the San Francisco Miners, is not one for rash decisions or one-night stands. But when she finds herself alone in a hotel room with a heart-stoppingly gorgeous manwho looks oddly familiarKendall throws her own rules out the window…and they blow right back into her face. Drew McCoy should look familiar, he’s a star player for her team’s archrival the Seattle Sharks. Which would basically make Drew and Kendall the Romeo and Juliet of professional football…well, without all the dying. Not that it’s an issue. They agree to pretend their encounter never happened. Nothing good can come from it anyway, right? Drew’s not so sure. Kendall may be all wrong, but he can’t stop thinking about her and he finds that some risks are worth taking. Because the stakes are always highest when you’re playing for keeps.  

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