Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Young Adult

Blog Tour: Mary Weber’s Storm Siren

About

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse – and the girl – can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth – meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

Review

I’d been waiting to read this book from the first time I saw the cover released from Thomas Nelson, mainly because I am a huge fan of sci-fi/fantasy and YA. My thoughts:

What I liked:

The world-building. Weber managed to create a new world that I cared about. I cared about the war that was destroying lives and the people who could maybe save them. I cared about the fact that people were slaves, and some like Nym were really supposed to be dead. And I somehow found myself very invested in the politics going on and whether or not things would work out right.

The characters. Nym manages to become a very likeable and realistic narrator. I understand why she’s frustrated and angry. And for once, I found myself with a heroine who hasn’t set out to make stupid decisions. Also, I really liked the details of how Nym’s slavery has affected her physically, and how being an Elemental means she has white hair. Nym really came alive to me, and was able to drive the book in a way most heroines can’t handle. I thought the secondary characters were really amazing: Eoghan and Colin. They help make Nym who she is. And yet, they both had these interesting and incredible back stories that I just wanted to learn more about. Particularly Eoghan. I wanted more of him.

The romance. I’m so glad that it’s not insta-love and you can see them getting to know each other. I also liked the kind of forbidden aspect of it (not contrived!). It adds some nice tension to the story. I thought everything Weber threw at the couple made sense.

Spiritually, the novel doesn’t touch to much on this topic except to identify a Creator who has created us for a reason, but I’m interested to see where it goes in the next book.

What I didn’t like:

The Ending. Let me just preface this by saying I’ve never had this thought before, but I read the ending, and my first thought was, the publisher gave me the defective copy. For five seconds, I contemplated contacting Thomas Nelson and telling them they gave me the wrong copy, that surely there was another copy out there with a different ending. So….yeah….But. I have hope. I could have read something way wrong. But if I didn’t, there is hope.

Romantic Scale: 8

Overall, a very good fantasy novel. If you follow books like I do, you may be asking yourself, is it worth they hype? So I’m going to be honest with you, this book is good, it’s very good. But I got the feeling that it was almost more world-building and I have a hunch that now that we know the setup, the second book is going to be amazing. It’s engaging and creative, but don’t feel too bad if you think your copy is defective at the end.

*I received this novel from Thomas Nelson. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

Posted in Contemporary, Young Adult

Litfuse Blog Tour: Chelsea Jacobs’ Happy to Be Alive Because

About

Avery is a seventeen-year-old girl whose reality has just been shattered by the death of her mother. Feeling a desperate need to flee from what has become her life, she follows a travel plan meant for her mom and her that leads her to the little beach town where her mom grew up. It’s there that she meets a group of three adventurous friends who adopt her into their circle, allowing her to experience a summer she never thought would be possible after suffering such a great loss. Unfortunately, her summer full of experiences threatens to end abruptly when she realizes that one of the three has a secret that causes her to question everything about the new life she has been building. Avery must learn to balance her grief and her desire for a future in order to achieve her mother’s final wish for her: That she would be happy to be alive.

Review

I’m a huge lover of YA books, so when I saw this one, I decided to read it. My thoughts:

What I liked:

The premise. Avery has just lost her mother and so she goes to this place where her mother grew up and kind of follows this rabbit trail that her mother left her before she died. I found it to be creative and cool to read about. Not to mention, that in some ways it comes full circle.

Avery. She’s a heroine who is going through a lot. I like that she doesn’t totally forget her grief, but I like that she learns to move on. She’s also got this innocent quality to her that had shades of Christy (Robin Jones Gunn’s Christy).

The setting. Avery really gets to know this particular city in Florida and she takes the reader along. I’ve never heard of coconut coffee before, but I definitely have an interest in trying it now.

Her friends. The group that Avery runs into is very interesting. They look out for each other and take care of each other, and really invest in each other.

The idea of finding something to be happy about each day. Each day of life is a blessing and you can really see that here.

What I didn’t like:

Realistically, this novel put some questions in my mind. Now, I am unfamiliar with Florida law (I’m a lawyer, I think about these things), and we all know Florida law is different, but can a teenager rent a car? Can she book a hotel room without an adult? Can she maintain these two things for a long extended period of time? I was very confused. Also, Avery’s mom may have died, but she is not without family. So I was very curious as to why her family would allow a grieving, 17 year old, to go to another state, for a long extended period of time, without any adult supervision or at least someone calling every night saying “bring your butt home and go to college.” It left me wondering why the author chose the medium of YA, and why, if she wanted Avery to have this kind of freedom, she didn’t just make her a few years older?

The pacing. Sometimes the novel slowed down, and other times I turned the page and it said “3 weeks later”. Or Avery would meet a person one day and a couple pages later they were best friends. Things happened often either too slow or too quick.

Lastly, I didn’t connect to all the characters. I think it’s because some of the characters are very mysterious, and while that’s fine, I kind of wish there had been some bread crumbs so that I could guess why they were the way they were. When they finally revealed their secrets, I felt more like an outsider looking in as opposed to someone who was invested.

Overall, I said all that to say, that the novel is a very sweet, very cute read that would be perfect for the beach.

Romantic Scale: 7

**I received this novel from Litfuse. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/xlD3V
About the author: 
Chelsea grew up with an immense love for words—both reading them and writing them. She obtained her degree in English and has spent the time since then getting married to her high school sweetheart and chasing adventure so she’ll have something to write about. When she’s not drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing, she spends her time reading, playing with her puppy named Gatsby, and dreaming, always dreaming.
Chelsea can be found at: website, Twitter

Be sure and check out the rest of the blog tour!

6/5/2014
Jennifer | 5 Minutes for Books
Betsy | Glamamamas Goodies
Suzanne | Clicking Her Heels
Erin | For Him and My Family
Sarah | Life Isn’t a Fairytale
Zac | Zac Weikal (www.zacweikal.com)

6/6/2014

Kari | Alas 3 Lads
Dianna | Savings in Seconds
Cassandra | Cassandra M’s Place
Jalynn | A Simple Life, really?!
Lindsey | Books for Christian Girls

6/8/2014

Victoria | deal sharing aunt

6/9/2014

Nancy | Neatly-Packaged
Michelle | I HOPE YOU DANCE
Donna | Books and such

6/10/2014

Margaret | Frugal-Shopping
Wanda | A Book Lover’s Retreat
Amanda | Semel insanivimus omnes
Nancy | sunny island breezes
Tara | This Sweet Life
Jennifer | WordSmith
Veronica | Veronica’s ‘Views
Nicole | Gidget Goes Home

6/11/2014

Rebekah | Will Bake for Books

6/12/2014

Kristie | Moments
Cristi | Cristi’s Reviews
Kathleen | Reviews From The Heart
JoJo | JoJo’s Corner
JoyAnne | Deco My Heart

6/13/2014

Misty | The Lady Prefers To Save
Embassie | remain in his love

6/14/2014

Lori | Morning Glories and moonflowers

6/15/2014

Abbi | Christian Novels
Amanda | The Talbert Report

6/16/2014

Debra | 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
Edythe | Ski-Wee’s Book Corner
Andi | Radiant Light
Jayda | Two Children and a Migraine

6/17/2014

Melanie | Christian Bookshelf Reviews
Rayleigh | Accelerate The Jesus Movement
Kristin | Kritters Ramblings (blog)
Cindy | Cindy’s Book Reviews
Tressa | Tressa’s Wishful Endings

6/18/2014

Kellie | Nothing Less

6/19/2014

Blossom | North Laurel Home & School
Julie | More Of Him
Melina | Melina’s Book Blog
Heather | Misadventures of the Dynamic Uno
Margaret | The World As I See It
Ramona | Create With Joy
Sara | Sara Ella
Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Young Adult

Lisa T. Bergren’s Remnants‏

About
 
Our coming was foretold by the elders— Those who would change the future, just as the planet teetered on the edge of darkness.
Born on the prophesied day with birthmarks in the form of a crescent moon, they knew us immediately. Swaddled and screaming, we were spirited away by those who hid us, trained us, and kept us safe until our time came.
They poured their lives into us. Some died to save us.
And now we, the Remnants, protected by Knights of the Last Order, have gathered.
Called until we breathe our last … to save the world.
 
Review
 
As a lover of YA fantasy/dystopian novels, I have discovered that there are two ways in which a brand new series can start: one in medias res (or in the middle of things) and the other as world-building. I would classify this novel as world-building. It’s essentially a new world with a new way of life, and new groups of people, and much of the novel is Andriana coming into contact with different things and people. That is not to say that this novel was not fascinating (I’m very much looking forward to book two!)! Here’s what I noticed:
 
What I liked:
 
The world building was done fabulously. In no way, did I feel like the story stopped to explain things. Instead we got to experience and see things through the mostly sheltered eyes of Andriana. And what a world we encountered. It was both modern with the fantastical elements and medieval in the ways that people thought. It’s a great world to be in and I was extremely disappointed that every page I turned meant that I was closer to the end. I will say that it wasn’t always edge-of-your-seat exciting, but the writing was done so nicely, I still didn’t want to put the book down.
 
Andriana is great heroine. I never got annoyed with her, and that’s good because we’re in her head the whole novel. I liked the way she thought about things. I liked the way she reacted to things, and I liked the way she dealt with things. I also liked the idea of the romance in this. There’s actually a legit reason why they aren’t supposed to be together and that adds a lovely tension to the novel.
 
I also like the epic-like feel to the novel. I don’t feel like I’m being short-changed or that the author is rushing. There’s a lot going on it, but I was never lost. Furthermore, I like the whole idea of this special group of people who have amazing gifts.  I’m very excited to see what happens next.
 
Spiritually, there are a couple of principles here, but the one that stuck out in my mind is the importance of closing the door to darkness. Otherwise it will take a foothold and take you places you never wanted to go.
 
What I didn’t like:
 
My biggest critique would be Ronan. I liked Ronan. I just wished Ronan got a chance to speak more. Every time he spoke, it was like time froze for me. But there’s a huge amount of the novel where he is just this silent presence and while I knew Andriana’s history with Ronan, I felt like I didn’t know Ronan. And he seems like a great person to know. Let’s face it, the whole point of having a great hero is so that we readers can fall just a little bit in love with him ourselves. So, here’s to hoping that book two has lots more of Ronan!
 
Romantic scale: 7.5
 
Overall, I really enjoyed Remnants. It was such a treat to read and I’m looking forward to the next one!
**I received a copy of this novel from the author. My opinion was not affected in any way.**
 

Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Young Adult

Jennifer Hartz’s Heroes of the Horde Book Two: Siege and Giveaway!


About
Last year’s battle was just the beginning. Now the Horde is sending out smarter, more personal demons to attack the superpower-charged teenage Heroes. Romantic tension mounts between Hero members and jealousy is in high gear. Can the Heroes put their personal issues aside long enough to locate the source of the Horde before it destroys them all?

Review
Heroes of the Horde Book Two: Siege takes place about three months later after the first one, and was really a lot of fun. It had the superhero aspect mixed in with teen drama, and light spirituality. So:

What did I like:

I think with the first book, I kept wondering where the series was going. Well, now I feel like I know. I get it. And for me this made for a far more cohesive tale and sold me on the series.

This may sound weird, but in this book you begin to see how vulnerable the characters are. But in their weaknesses they become stronger.

I like how they have to learn to work together, and how they don’t all gel right away. It’s six different people and that is a lot of personalities.

I liked the teenage drama. I will admit to thinking they were silly at first and then being completely caught up in it. The “L” word was tossed out a lot for such young people, but then again, I know teenagers talk like that.

Some of the characters personalities were so strong (i.e. Jimmy, Shelley) that they instantly became my favorite character.

The curveball ending! I didn’t see that one coming.

Spiritually, I like the subtleness of the message that only Jesus saves as well as the importance of repentance. As the series goes on, I imagine that that message will grow to be important to all six of the heroes (but also note for sensitive readers that their is mild language, though far less than what you would find in most YA novels).

What I didn’t like:

Some of the characters personalities were not as strong, and so I didn’t miss them when they weren’t “talking.”

Romantic scale: 8 (there are a lot of little romances going on, though one caught my eye more than the other, so I averaged them and came out with 8)

Overall, very cute and very fun and very original.

**I received this novel from the author. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

Giveaway!

The lovely Jennifer Hartz is willing to giveaway three copies of the first book in the series: Heroes of the Horde (they will be kindle copies)It’s worth reading, and if you love superhero anything (or paranormal for that fact) you will enjoy this book. All you need to do is leave a comment below with your email address. The giveaway ends three weeks from now on April 16! The winners will be randomly selected!

Posted in Young Adult

Jill Williamson’s Ambushed

About

All Spencer wants in life is an NCAA scholarship to play D-I college basketball. He visits universities when he can and works hard at his goal of taking his team to the state basketball championship.

When disaster strikes, Spencer’s desperation sends him to the one person he was determined to ignore: his father.

Review

Anyone who has been following my reviews knows two things: I love everything Ms. Williamson writes and Spencer is one of my favorite characters of all times. Because this series is encompassing Spencer’s school years and summers, you really get to know who he is and what he is made of. And, for the record, he’s a really great teenager.

What I liked about this one:

Spencer’s voice stays true to who he is. He is so authentic, that never once do I feel like he is not a teenage boy. I particularly like the way Ms. Williamson deals with heavy topics like drug use and alcohol because it comes across as natural. She is able to point out the bad without having the book stop and tell you it’s bad. There’s a natural flow to this novel that just works. And it’s funny. I laughed out loud several times.

Spencer’s friends. I love the way each one is different and endowed with a unique personality. There really are a lot of people who are introduced over the series and yet, when I come across them, they are like old friends and so I am not confused about who is who and what is what.

The mystery of Spencer’s father grows. We meet Spencer’s father in this book. Or do we? I cannot wait for the next one to come out.

I love that just like Spencer is authentic, the spiritual gifts in this series are authentic. These guys recognize them and they use them, and I love it. There’s also a scene where Spencer learns about Biblical manhood. Spencer being Spencer, it’s going to take him a while to get it, but I love to see the seeds that dropped and watered. And more importantly, I love watching Spencer grow.

What I didn’t like:

I didn’t want it to end!

Romantic Scale: N/A (though there are some interesting threads going on here. I hope Ms. Williamson continues the series until Spencer marries)

Overall, such a great followup. I can’t wait for the next one!

Posted in Contemporary, Young Adult

Rajdeep Paulus’ Swimming Through Clouds

About

When high school cell phone disruption forces a classroom ban, the words on a Post-it note spark a sticky romance between two unlikely friends. Transfer student Talia Vanderbilt has one goal at her new school: to blend in with the walls. Lagan Desai, basketball captain and mathlete, would do just about anything to befriend the new girl. One Post-it note at a time, Lagan persuades Talia to peel back her heart, slowly revealing her treasure chest of pain—an absent mother, a bedridden brother, and an abusive father. In a world where hurt is inevitable, the two teens search for a safe place to weather the storms of life. Together.

Review

There’s this new thing in YA/NA books where the female protagonist is dealing with some kind of trauma in her past or present and she meets a guy and somehow he helps her get over the trauma or get out of the trauma. This book follows that similar format (though it’s not the same). Here, we have Talia, who is living with the psycho father of the year, when Lagan begins to reach out to her.

Talia: I will admit, that the first 25% of the novel is a bit depressing and I was wondering where the novel was going. But once I got past that, and got really involved in Talia, I did not want to put the book down. Ms. Paulus does a wonderful job of making me nervous when Talia is nervous, hopeful when she is hopeful, and scared when she is scared. I was really concerned that the whole novel would be about poor Talia and while there was plenty of reason to feel pity for Talia, that is not always fun to read. But it wasn’t. Talia may have been going through some crazy things, but she has this wonderful personality that looks for hope on the other side and you can’t help but be drawn to her.

Lagan. The only thing wrong with Lagan is that he is perfect. I wished that he had a flaw or two so that he seemed more real. That said, I loved Lagan’s idea of post notes. That was creative and really kind of romantic to leave someone post it notes as a form of communication. And you can’t fault Lagan for his patience. He waits for Talia and that’s beautiful. And frankly, it’s better than most secular novels which have a tendency to rush the romance regardless of the scars that the protagonist has. I also really liked that the story doesn’t just end with high school and you begin to see their relationship mature as they get older. The only other critique I have, is that Lagan does everything he can to get to know Talia, but I didn’t get the feeling that Talia did everything she could to know him.

Let me just note, that I really liked this book, in the case that you feel that I’ve criticized it too much (I read a ton of YA books so I just happen to focus on the small things). It was engaging. It’s different than most Christian YA novels. I hated the ending merely because I desperately want to know what happens next (excited for book 2!). I really felt for the characters and was completely drawn in.

Spiritually, the novel approaches the things of God in a kind of vague, but still there way. It’s complicated to explain, but I love how she shows that Jesus is who you need him to be at the time you need him there (this may sound vague, but if you read the book, you’ll understand). I also love that though Talia really likes Lagan, she turns to prayer first and foremost and doesn’t rely on Lagan to fix her situation.

Overall, if you love YA fiction, get this book!

Romantic Scale: 8.9

Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Young Adult

Jill Williamson’s Outcasts

About

In Outcasts, the second book in Jill Williamson’s Safe Lands series, Levi finds himself not only the leader of Glenrock’s remaining people but also the head of a new rebel force called the Messengers, intent on unmasking the Safe Lands’ lies. At the same time, Mason uncovers secrets that may be more dangerous than he ever imagined. Meanwhile, Omar decides to take matters into his own hands.

Review

I will readily admit that Captives (the first book in the series) only really pulled me in towards the end of the novel. But I shouldn’t have doubted, because I inevitably end up loving anything that Ms. Williamson writes. I was thoroughly engrossed with Outcasts. Outcasts has quite a list of things going on, but here’s the skinny:

Mason is my favorite. He’s so logical it’s endearing. The way he thinks, acts, responds, etc., is funny. And yet, he’s such a trustworthy narrator. If Mason says it’s true, than it is. There is a person in the book that will probably make you vacillate in regards to whether they can be trusted. But I think Mason handles the situation as well as he can. In this book, you get more of him and Ciddah together and the way he is with her is priceless. More Mason, please!

Levi is beginning to grow on me in this series. In the first one, he was all action, no real thoughts. In this one, you begin to see where he is coming from, and more importantly how he will one day be a fine elder of Glenrock. He also manages to stumble across a revelation that is fairly surprising.

Omar (the one who made me cringe in book one) is still struggling to find himself and yet, he manages to become such a likeable character in this one. The things he does in this book, I think, are so very similar to how people are today. They want to do right, but find themselves caught up in this strange cycle of wrong. And let’s not forget, Omar gets some unplanned news of his own that, I think, really adds some great tension in the book. Omar, though, is the one who will surprise you the most. He’s the one to watch.

Spiritually, this book gives you several points of view about the way to treat the world around you. Our would is clearly not their dystopian world, but you will find similarities and it will remind you to make sure that you take a stand for righteousness.

Overall, I couldn’t put this book down. I have even reread my favorite parts several times. The only thing that made me happy when it ended ( and what an ending!) is that the next one comes out this year!

Romantic Scale: 8