Friday, May 31, 2013

Q&A with Author Kevin Emerson!

Today, I'm so honored to have Kevin Emerson (author of The Lost Code and The Dark Shore) on the blog today! I asked Kevin some questions, and he answered back!

Check it out!

1) Was it harder to write The Dark Shore compared to the first book, or easier?

The Dark Shore was easier, except when it was harder. :) It was easier because I knew most of what was going to happen plot-wise, because I’d been thinking about it while I wrote the first book. I had already finished The Dark Shore before The Lost Code even came out, so to me, they were sort of two parts of the same story all along. But Dark Shore was harder because it was more complex. Some of the plotting took a lot of careful thinking (don’t want to hint at any spoilers), and I was committed to certain things based on events in the first book. 

Owen and Lilly’s relationship, and the related characters and plot events took the most work. Owen is not so experienced and only beginning to understand himself, and Lilly is headstrong to a fault, and they’re in dangerous and deceptive situations, so they were bound to have trouble. Some readers might be mad that they have trouble in the second book, but I feel like that’s accurate. Honeymoons don’t last forever, and even the best couples argue over life’s challenges. When those challenges are drying up gills and death cults and the fate of the world, who’s going to handle that without some stress? And then there’s Leech and Seven complicating things. There will be times when the readers want to smack Owen for being kind of an idiot, but, I could have used a BUNCH of smacks when I was 15. So, getting all that right in The Dark Shore took a lot of work, especially since I’m STILL a boy and still kind of an idiot when it comes to matters of the heart. Luckily, I know some really smart women who read the draft and set me straight.

2) Where did you find your inspiration for the Atlanteans series? 

The Atlanteans came from a few places. I read a few really interesting books about Atlantis that made it sound pretty different than the classic mermaids-and-tritons thing. The idea I thought was coolest was that there may have been an advanced civilization that was so old that we’d forgotten it, buried deeper than the deepest things we’d already found. I also loved the stuff about how ancient sites all over the world share weird similarities of design and location. And finally, I read about how there was a big global warming event back around the time when Atlantis may have existed (also around the time of the Flood in the Bible), and that was when I thought about the parallels of a future society and an ancient one.

But I didn’t really know I was going to write the series until I wrote the first chapter, with Owen at summer camp. His experience, from cabin bullies to failing a swim test, is all related to my own experience at overnight camp as a kid. Some of those exact things happened. I felt like summer camp was an especially good testing ground for coming of age. You’re away from your parents, learning new social rules, having to compete in unfamiliar things. I wasn’t quite as awkward as Owen when I went to camp, but I was quiet, and I was inside my own head a lot, and that made it hard to make friends and succeed.  It seemed like such a mysterious and murky place, and so a good setting for sirens and temples and gill breathers and everything else.

This might sound weird, but I also thought of Lost Code as the book that’s sort of about getting out of your hometown/childhood identity (literally escaping from a bubble). And then Dark Shore is the going-to-college experience, where you arrive at this wild new place and all the rules and behaviors are like nothing you’ve experienced before, and there are charismatic professors and sparkly girls and such. And then, the third book will be about the time after that, when you’re out on your own with no more parents or teachers or professors or grades, and it’s all on you. I didn’t think about that too much, but a little.

3) Do you have any writing rituals?

I do fall into rituals when I’m in the middle of writing something. Same coffee mug, same tv show every night (currently Dr. Who), same album or artist or Pandora station. That said, I’m not one of those people who has a page-count goal every day, or even writes every day. I need time, and to do different things, to give my ideas time to form. I do outline for projects, but I often find that I only use some of the outline, because more interesting possibilities come out as I’m writing and feeling out how the characters feel. I start slow on a book, really get going and it will be all I do for a few weeks, then I’ll hit the wall and step away from it, regroup, and ramp up again. Unless I’m on a deadline. There was a time last winter where I had two books due and wrote every day for 46 days. My plan was to keep going, but I burned out so hard that our family took an impromptu trip to Disneyland for a couple days. After that, I was recharged. Similarly, if I get stuck on a plot problem, I get away from the desk. Usually I go to the movies, or go skiing or hiking, and try to talk through the problem to myself. 

4) Are you working on any new projects you can share with us?

I am in the middle of a new project that’s pretty different from all my prior stuff in that it is contemporary realistic YA. It’s a book called EXILE that comes out next spring. It’s about a girl who manages a rock band, and the lead singer boy who is on the trail of some lost songs. To me it touches on some favorite influences like Veronica Mars and Almost Famous, so I’ll be really curious to see what readers think. I am also just beginning a new science fiction project for middle grade readers (so a slightly younger audience than The Lost Code). I can’t say much about it yet, just that it’s loosely related to the book I put out this winter called THE FELLOWSHIP FOR ALIEN DETECTION. It’s kind of like Battlestar Galactica for kids, with a dose of Dr. Who. 

Thanks for having me on the blog, Brad!

Thanks so much for the Q&A, Kevin!

Check out Kevin Emerson's The Lost Code, the epic first book in the Atlanteans series! 

Purchase: AmazonB&N

In the year 2086, Camp Eden promises summer “the way things used to be,” back before the oceans rose, the sun became a daily enemy, and modern civilization sank into chaos. Located inside the EdenWest BioDome, the camp is an oasis of pine trees, cool water, and rustic charm.

But all at Camp Eden is not what it seems.

No one will know this better than 15-year-old Owen Parker. A strange underwater vision, even stranger wounds on Owen’s neck, and a cryptic warning from the enchanting lifeguard Lilly hint at a mystery that will take Owen deep beneath Lake Eden and even deeper into the past. What he discovers could give him the chance to save the tattered planet. But first, Owen will have to escape Camp Eden alive…

Brad About Books: Clash by Nicole Williams

Read from March 25 to 26, 2013
Published: December 18, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 273 pages
Source: Purchased
Series: Crash, #2

This review is entirely spoiler free, even if you haven't read Crash.

Clash is a daring, sizzling and dazzling sequel that had me caught up in this starcrossed romance and undeniably fun plot.

What makes the Crash trilogy so much fun is simply this: the romance. Our two main characters, Lucy and Jude, are a mess. They have trust issues and really, they don't get along for the majority of the time. So why is their romance irresistible? Because it's so much fun to see how it either builds up so strongly or unravels to pieces. While reading Clash, I had no idea if Lucy and Jude would get their happily ever after - their relationship is tested to the extreme in this second book, and I like that Nicole Williams took risks with that!

But I do have to admit that I didn't enjoy this one as much as Crash. To be honest, there wasn't much of a plot (besides the relationship and trust issues), and I think that Crash was definitely more interesting. That doesn't mean that Clash isn't a good book, because it really, really is! I just prefer the first book. Clash does have interesting moments {especially towards the end}. Just like book one, the stakes are raised so much higher by the climax of the novel, and I had no clue what would happen!

At least some of the characters got their acts together, though. Jude was awful in Crash - I didn't like him! But in Clash, I think he starts to realize that he needs to simmer down and calm down. Because his fuse can be lit very quickly, and I don't like that quality about him. Lucy was better in Clash - I did *really* enjoy her character in the first book, but the good thing about this sequel is that she's no longer na├»ve or quick-to-forgive. Which I think works perfectly for her character structure.

Overall, Clash was not as good as its predecessor, but good enough to give me interest in the finale. If you're looking for a light and fun contemporary romance to read over the summer, I recommend this series!

M Y   R A T I N G

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Brad About Books: The Devil's Backbone by Rae Ann Parker

Read on May 20, 2013
Published: March 4, 2013
Publisher: Gamekeeper Press
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 182 pages
Source: Author in exchange for an honest review

David Baxter takes the blame for the graffiti on the school gym doors to keep his friend out of trouble and earns a three-day suspension. His dad, the juvenile judge, forces him to go on a roadtrip to redemption on the Natchez Trace Parkway. What his dad doesn’t know is that David meets a ghost carrying the last letter of Meriwether Lewis - the piece of evidence that may solve the 200-year-old mystery of Lewis’s death. Thanks to the ghost, David just might figure out how to relate to his dad and forgive his wayward mom.

What a fun and enthralling read! Rae Ann Parker introduces us into an eerie and chilling world with The Devil's Backbone, an engaging and standout middle grade!

What I love most about this book is David's relationship with his parents - as the novel progresses, we get more insight into David's somewhat broken past and the way he fixes it. The roadtrip that he and his dad go on was so much fun to read about; especially to the creepy place The Devil's Backbone! The setting was the perfect place for this kind of story. I loved it!

And not only that, I loved the historical element that The Devil's Backbone brings! I'm not that big on historical novels, and while this book isn't a historical, it definitely has key points to bring the reader back to the past of our ghost that we meet. The characters were brilliant in The Devil's Backbone. They gave me so many emotions to feel, and I really connected with them by the end of the book!

Speaking of which, the ending was so cool! Fast-paced endings are what {usually} make the novel whole for me, and The Devil's Backbone did just that. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, dying to know how in the world David could get out of this sticky situation! That ending was fantastic and couldn't have ended any better. Love!

Overall, The Devil's Backbone is an intriguing and spellbinding novel that had me rooting for the characters and invested completely into the story. Definitely a favorite middle grade read!

M Y   R A T I N G

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Brad About Books: Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

Read on May 9, 2013
Published: March 19, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (Harper)
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 344 pages
Source: Won in contest

Reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case, Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological mystery about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity.

Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she's returned home…only to find that it's three years later and she's sixteen-or at least that's what everyone tells her.

What happened to the past three years of her life?

Angie doesn't know.

But there are people who do — people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren't locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her "alters." As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?

Liz Coley's alarming and fascinating psychological mystery is a disturbing - and ultimately empowering page-turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.

Pretty Girl-13 is a haunting, chilling read that had me spooked from page one. Riveting and frightening real, Pretty Girl-13 takes scary to a whole new level.

It took me a little bit to get into the story, mainly because I couldn't figure out what in the world was going on. But once you get a sense of what Angie went through, the story opens up whole - this book is terrifying! Pretty Girl-13 had me on the edge of my seat and biting at my fingernails, simply because it's so scary and so real. I haven't ever read a kidnapping book, but after reading Pretty Girl-13, I honestly don't think any of them could compare. This book set the bar so high in my mind, because it's just so freaky and real. I was creeped out of my mind, but I adored every minute of it. 

Angie was a stunning character all around. She has a broken and haunted past, but she can't remember any of it - how cool is that?! And freaky. I loved being inside her head while she tries to unravel this mystery, and this mystery is so insane. Coley has spun out one of the most original and unique novels I have ever read - you will never find a book like Pretty Girl-13. It shines.

The mysterious letter and just the mystery of itself makes this novel completely. I think that the letter were my most favorite part about Pretty Girl-13. They were so scary and eerie to read, learning about Angie's past. This novel is just brilliant. While it does take sometime to get invested into the story, once you're in, you're never out.

Overall, Pretty Girl-13 is an original and brilliant novel bursting with chilling scenes and climatic, thrilling moments. This book will keep you up late at night and checking behind your shoulder at all times -  it has that affect.

M Y   R A T I N G

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Brad About Books: Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer

Read on May 15, 2013
Published: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 301 pages
Source: Won in contest
Series: Elementals, #3

This review is entirely spoiler free, even if you haven't started this series.

Read my reviews for previous books in this series:
Storm • Spark

This. Series. Is. So. Much. FUN! It's so easy to get sucked into one of Kemmerer's novels, and Spirit was no exception. An enthralling and dynamic read!

If you don't know about the Elementals series, it's about brothers who can control the elements. What I didn't expect from Spirit was that the main character wasn't an element control. I mean, sure, Hunter (the protagonist) has some secrets and issues of his own - and to be honest, I'm really pleased with how this book was executed! It's a lot different from previous books in the series, but it packs the right amount of action and romance. I couldn't help myself but fly through this book!

And like I said before, Spirit is different from the two other books. The main character has some different, less paranormal/supernatural issues of his own - and it was a nice break! Hunter is a very vital  and important part to this series, and I was glad we got to see the world from his eyes. Kate (our possible love interest) was also fantastic - I think I like Layne the best from the love interests, but Kate was great! I felt bad for Hunter at times, but then he annoyed me, and I like it when a character can make me feel different emotions!

Brigid Kemmerer's books are just so much fun and easy to dive into. I was gripped into the story right from page one, and I don't think I ever put the book down. It's impossible to do so! If you're looking for a supernatural refresher, the Elementals series has got you covered - this series is one of a kind, and I absolutely adored this third book. I will admit that Spark is my favorite, but Spirit is right up there!

Overall, this series got instantly more awesome with Spirit. Unique, fun and enticing, Kemmerer has created another lush and fantastic novel that had me on the edge of my seat!

M Y   R A T I N G

Monday, May 27, 2013

Brad About Books: Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Read from April 30 to May 1, 2013
Published: July 10, 2012
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (Harper)
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 446 pages
Source: Purchased
Series: Insignia, #1

More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?

Gripping and provocative, S. J. Kincaid’s futuristic thrill ride of a debut crackles with memorable characters, tremendous wit, and a vision of the future that asks startling, timely questions about the melding of humanity and technology.

Insignia is a thrilling and gripping novel that captivated me from page one and never let me go. Insignia is one of the best books I've read this year... and of all time.

Talk about an original plot. I have never read a book like this, and I adore every single page of this book. WHY in the WORLD is this not a movie yet?! This would translate to film so well - seriously Hollywood, get on that. Insignia packs loads of action between these pages. It's honestly so hard to put the book down; I never wanted to! It's so captivating and amazing. If you haven't picked up this book yet, you're only hurting yourself. A definite standout for 2013.

The characters... oh man, they are phenomenal. Tom is one of the best male protagonists I have ever read about. What I think is so cool about him is that he doesn't stand out or get all the attention - he's alone, and that's why he is so good at this crazy mission. Speaking of which, this book is insane. Kids... fighting a war in space... with technology... in World War III... sign me up! Insignia is fantastic; I'm speechless as to what else to say. It's fast-paced and so richly built up with this world - I couldn't get enough of this book!

And what a thrill this book is! It sucks you in right from page one, and the action never, never stops. Heart-pounding, blood-racing and pulse-pumping scenes can be found numerous times in Insignia, and I caught myself holding onto my seat tight. That's how much this book affected me. And I loved every single minute of it.

Overall, Insignia is a fantastic debut and a brilliant start to a promising series. Deeply woven and nail-biting tension, Insignia is one of a kind and a true gem.

M Y   R A T I N G

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Brad About Books: Phoenix by Elizabeth Richards

Read from March 31 to April 1, 2013
Expected Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Putnam (Penguin)
Format: ARC
Page Count: 368 pages
Source: Received for review in exchange for an honest review
Series: Black City, #2

This review is entirely spoiler free, even if you haven't read Black City.

Phoenix is an electric sequel that sizzles with love and burns bright with heart-pounding, pulse-racing scenes. Elizabeth Richards has created another fantastic novel! One of my favorites of the year!

What I love the absolute most about Phoenix is that Richards does not hold back... at all. There is so much war, siege and betrayal in this book, and it makes for a thriller of a book! I was, literally, on the edge of my seat while reading Phoenix, because there is never a dull moment. I couldn't believe all the heartbreak and backstabbing that happens in Phoenix, but I adored every single second of it.

The characters just tie off this novel with a bow. Natalie and Ash grow to be so much more in this sequel - not just in their own personal development, but also with their relationship. They grow to heights I couldn't possibly imagine. I thought Ash was kind of a jerk in Black City, but he totally redeems himself in this book. You understand his actions, and given the circumstances thanks to the crazy and insane ending of Black City, you really connect with him in Phoenix. Natalie is equally brilliant. Again, because of the ending of book one, Natalie is a changed person. She's no longer naive or quick to forgive - she's strong and fierce, kicking butts now and taking names later. I love that about these two main protagonists; how we get to see more sides of them as the series progresses! I can't wait to see what will happen to them and this destroyed world in the third novel.

Huh, and I thought the ending of Black City was crazy. You haven't seen nothing yet with Phoenix's ending! This novel is daring, brutal and epic. I can't even begin to fathom how much I love this book and this series. I need more now!

Overall, Phoenix is a stunning sequel that had me biting at my fingernails and left me hanging. Perfection!

M Y   R A T I N G

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Siege and Storm Blog Tour: Q&A plus giveaway!

I have something fantastic for you today! I'm here today apart of the blog tour for the upcoming Siege and Storm with Leigh Bardugo! If you don't know, Siege and Storm is my favorite book of 2013, and I'm so honored to have Leigh on the blog.

The Q&A!

1) Where did your inspiration for the Grisha trilogy come from?
The series really began one night when I managed to scare myself into thinking there really might be monsters waiting for me at the end of a darkened hall. I went to bed wondering, "What if darkness was a place?" What if the monsters were real and you had to fight them on their own territory? What kind of power might create such a place? What would it take to destroy it? Those ideas became the Shadow Fold and the rest of the story grew from there.  

2) Was it harder to write Siege and Storm compared to the first book, or easier?
So much harder. The world got much bigger and more complex, I had more characters and plots to juggle, and I was writing on deadline for the first time. It was an incredibly intense process. 

3) Which character do you love to write about most? Which character do you wish had more scenes in the trilogy?
Sturmhond is easily my favorite character to write. Most of my characters struggle with themselves and the choices they make, but Sturmhond is pure confidence. He knows exactly what he wants and he has no doubts about his ability to get it. Writing that clarity of intent is such a pleasure. Honestly, it was hard not to let him take over the whole book. But I wish all of the characters could have more scenes in the trilogy. They all have stories to tell and the narrative (as well as Alina's POV) doesn't always permit that. That's why I love writing bonus content. I get to share a bit more of these characters with readers. 

4) How did you create the world of the Grisha?
The political structure and magical system came first for me. It was only when I started getting into later drafts that I really set out to give the reader a sense of place. That was when I turned to Russia as a kind of cultural touchstone. I was introducing a lot of unfamiliar elements, so I wanted to help the reader feel grounded in the world. Still, I was surprised at how deeply the research impacted some of the dynamics at work in my story. In terms of the actual process, most of the research for Shadow and Bone happened between the pages—in cultural histories, surveys of folklore, old recipe books. With Siege and Storm, I took a slightly different approach and ended up consulting quite a few friends and acquaintances when I needed help with the nautical research and some of the stickier science. 

5) Are you working on any other projects you can share with us?
I have a few new things in the works, but I can't really talk about them just yet. Right now, I'm revising Ruin and Rising, the final book in the Grisha Trilogy and I'm hoping to write a Ravkan folk tale to accompany it. I wrote "The Witch of Duva" for the release of Shadow and Bone, and "The Too-Clever Fox" for Siege and Storm, but I'm a bit torn over which story to tell for Ruin. Maybe one day I'll get to write them all. 

Thank you so much, Leigh! Loved this Q&A! Like I said before, Siege and Storm is the best book I've read of 2013 (it's amazing in every way imaginable and possible); cannot wait for Ruin and Rising

Want to connect with Leigh?
Leigh Bardugo will be on tour in June as part of the Fierce Reads Tour. Get all the info/dates:
Siege and Storm is featured in our Spring 2013 Fierce Reads Book Trailer:
Watch the Siege and Storm book trailer:
Listen and download Leigh Bardugo’s song, “Winter Prayer”. Yes, we said SONG!
Pre-order a copy of Siege and Storm (hardcover or e-book), submit your receipt, and we’ll send you a specially-branded nail polish! Details:
Download and read for FREE the first five chapters of Siege and Storm on your e-reader:
Become a fan of The Grisha Trilogy on Facebook:
                -The fan page includes chapter excerpts, polls, and giveaways!
Follow Leigh Bardugo on Twitter:
Follow Leigh on Tumblr:

And now, I have a giveaway for you! One person will win a paperback of Shadow and Bone, as well as Siege and StormThis giveaway is US/CAN only. Enter to win! {Direct link to my YouTube channel, as promised in one of the entries below.}

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 24, 2013


I am so excited to share with you the FINAL portion of the first chapter of Altered by Gennifer Albin, the highly anticipated sequel to Crewel! I ADORED Crewel, so much. Just from this first chapter alone, I know that Altered will be just as amazing!


Now, onto part five!

“We saw the ship go down. We came out to see what happened,” I lie, hoping against everything I’ve been led to believe about Earth that the metro ahead of us is populated.
“And you had nothing to do with bringing the ship down from the Interface?” She gestures up to the raw weave that covers the sky.
The girl’s eyes sweep over us. Jost might pass her inspection. His clothes are as utilitarian as hers, but there’s no denying that I look out of place in comparison,  in my lavender suit, stockings, and pumps. Nothing about me, down to the emeralds clipped to my ears, correlates to what I’ve seen of Earth.
“Let me see your necks,” she says. 
“Why?” I ask.
I hesitate for a moment but then acquiesce. I don’t know what she’s looking for, but I know she’s not going to find it. I pull my hair up, Jost does the same, and when we turn back around to face her, a rifle is leveled at us.
She utters one word: “Fail.”
Time seems to slow as her finger presses against the trigger, and I scream, “Wait!” It surprises even me, and the girl takes a step back. She’s checking for a mark, and I have one—a techprint burned into my wrist by my father, who was hoping I would escape the retrieval squad.
Shoving my sleeve up, I thrust my arm out to her and point to the pale hourglass imprinted on my skin like a scar.
The rifle slips in her hand, the barrel now pointing at the ground.
“Your left hand?” she whispers. “Yes.”
She’s shocked, but as quickly as the rifle appeared, it disappears across her back. She pushes my sleeve down to cover the techprint.
“Go to the Icebox,” she says, “and lay low. We’ll find you. You aren’t safe here.”
“What’s the Icebox?” Jost demands.
 “The Icebox is the city ahead of you,” she says. “It’s Sunrunner territory and outside Guild control.”
“Where are we?” I ask.
“The remains of the state of California,” she says. “The Icebox is the only inhabited city in this territory. You’ll be safe from the Guild there—for now. Stay put and stay hidden. Don’t go out after hours and don’t let anyone see that techprint.”
“Sure,” I mutter, and the girl’s hand seizes my arm. 
“Your life depends on it,” she says.
I nod to show that I understand, even though none of this makes sense. What does my father’s techprint have to do with Earth? What’s a Sunrunner? But I know she’s right about one thing: the Guild is coming for me, and we aren’t safe here.
She strides away without giving us her name. Her warning hangs in the air. I don’t watch her, even though she’s not headed to the metro but back toward the ocean.
“Why would she care about your techprint?” Jost asks, but I ignore him as we start to jog back to where we left Erik. We need to get out of here, and if there are people in this Icebox, we can blend in and hide until I figure out how my techprint is linked to this girl.
Nothing tied to the night of my retrieval can be ignored, especially when that thing is a mark left before my father showed me that he and my mother were more than dissenters. They were traitors—like me.

Altered is going to be amazing! You have no idea how excited I am, and that was a stunning conclusion to the first chapter! Now I (I think we all do) need chapter two!


Thanks to Macmillan, I have one galley of Altered to give away to one person - US/CAN ONLY!

This contest runs from today (May 24) to June 8, 2013.

There are many ways to enter - one easy one is to follow via GFC (located at the top left hand corner), and another is to be subscribed to my YouTube channel (click here to go to it). But there are even more ways! Go enter!

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Brad About Books: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Read from February 15 to 16, 2013
Expected Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt (Macmillan)
Format: ARC
Page Count: 448 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Series: Grisha, #2

This review is entirely spoiler free, even if you haven't read Shadow and Bone.

Darkness never dies.

Before I begin, let me start off by saying that Siege and Storm is my favorite book of 2013, and one of my favorite books of all time. So of course, I will be gushing throughout this entire review. Because Siege and Storm is one (if not, the best) of my favorite sequels of all time. This book is phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal.

Oh gosh, wow, I can't begin to describe to you all how wonderfully fantastic Siege and Storm is. If you loved Shadow and Bone, prepare to have your mind blown to the max. There is not a single flaw with Siege and Storm - none. Everything flows and fits together so perfectly, and I'm mesmerized of how amazingly Bardugo built upon the Grisha world even more. She not only topped Shadow and Bone, she knocked it out of the ballpark. Siege and Storm is easily the best sequel I have ever read and is now one of my new favorite books ever!

Two words: Ice. Dragons.

Talk about awesome characters. I thought that Alina was amazing in Shadow and Bone - in Siege and Storm, she morphs into something fiercer and stronger than I've ever seen or would have thought she could. Alina is the new Katniss for me; I adore her so much! And she's not the only fantastic character. Mal, The Darkling and Sturmhond were all equally amazing. Bardugo has a way of crafting her characters together so wonderfully that makes them either great and makes the reader want to root for them OR so wicked and foul and disgusting and you love them anyway. Pretty much. I'm sorry, but I can't stop gushing over Siege and Storm. Definitely the best book of 2013.

That ending. Oh my gosh, that ending. No spoilers whatsoever here, but that ending shattered me. It tore me apart, threw me around, shook me and all together broke me. Let's just say that I need Ruin and Rising insanely. Oh gosh, that ending was cruel... but amazing!

Overall, Siege and Storm is an enthralling and phenomenal second book in a promising trilogy. I'm so excited to see what happens book three, but after the ending of book two, it'll probably crumple me. Siege and Storm is an action-packed tale of redemption, love and sacrifice. I adore this book.


M Y   R A T I N G

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Brad About Books: Spark by Brigid Kemmerer

Read on April 29, 2013
Published: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Kensington
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 345 pages
Source: Purchased
Series: The Elementals, #2

This review is entirely spoiler free, even if you haven't read book one, Storm.

I can't even begin to fathom how awesome Spark was! The dreaded 'Sophomore Slump' passed right over Brigid Kemmerer's head, because Spark was absolutely stunning!

What I love so much about this series is that we get to see inside a different person's head in each book, and the POVs in this book were incredible - even better than Storm, dare I say! Gabriel (our lead character) was awesome. He has his personal demons and things that haunt him, but to see him overcome everything for a girl he's falling head over heels for, Layne... well, it was just brilliant. And Layne was excellent too! I loved her even more than I did Becca in Storm, just because she's totally not what you find every day in YA, and I adore that!

I thought Storm was good... Spark blew it out of the water! Or should I say extinguished it, since we're talking about fire in this book? These brothers who can control the elements are epic - each book takes a different focus on an element, and Spark takes a new direction with this series. I was on the edge of my seat and biting at my nails for the majority of the book - Kemmerer definitely isn't afraid to take risks and throw danger at our protagonist. Just another reason why this series is excellent!

Everything about Spark is great. The romance, the character development, the epic climatic, there is seriously not a single flaw with this book. If you're looking for some new and original supernatural goodness in your life, you're missing out if you haven't started this series!

Overall, Spark is a thrilling and climatic sequel, soaring with love and bursting with action. I never wanted these flames to be extinguished!

M Y   R A T I N G

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Brad About Books: Icons by Margaret Stohl

Read from May 9 to 10, 2013
Published: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 428 pages
Source: Purchased
Series: Icons, #1

Your heart beats only with their permission.

Everything changed on The Day. The day the windows shattered. The day the power stopped. The day Dol's family dropped dead. The day Earth lost a war it didn't know it was fighting.

Since then, Dol has lived a simple life in the countryside -- safe from the shadow of the Icon and its terrifying power. Hiding from the one truth she can't avoid.

She's different. She survived. Why?

When Dol and her best friend, Ro, are captured and taken to the Embassy, off the coast of the sprawling metropolis once known as the City of Angels, they find only more questions. While Ro and fellow hostage Tima rage against their captors, Dol finds herself drawn to Lucas, the Ambassador's privileged son. But the four teens are more alike than they might think, and the timing of their meeting isn't a coincidence. It's a conspiracy.

Within the Icon's reach, Dol, Ro, Tima, and Lucas discover that their uncontrollable emotions -- which they've always thought to be their greatest weaknesses -- may actually be their greatest strengths.

Bestselling author Margaret Stohl delivers the first book in a heart-pounding series set in a haunting new world where four teens must piece together the mysteries of their pasts -- in order to save the future.

Words cannot even begin to describe how much I adore Icons. You know how some people say "I can't even", and some people don't understand it? Well, guess what. 

Everything about this book is phenomenal; everything. I was emerged into the world of the Icons immediately, and I never for a second wanted to put the book down. When I would, it was the only thing on my mind. And whenever I picked it back up, I would read 150 pages in one go. Icons is definitely a favorite of 2013 and of all time. I have been pushing this book onto everybody lately, and I don't see that stopping anytime soon. Seriously, if you haven't picked up Icons, you're missing out. It's wonderful!

Dol is such a fantastic main character. She's strong, loyal and fierce - everything I like in a protagonist - and she never let me down during the book. And Ro and Lucas were just great. What I love about this love triangle (I guess you could call it that) is that both loves feel genuine and real. The relationships aren't forced, and there are obvious reasons why Dol is attracted to both Rol and Lucas. Stohl did a stunning job with these characters and their development during Icons. Brilliant.

The whole concept of the Icons? Freaky as crap. They honestly scared me, even though we didn't get to see much of them (which I'm hoping we do in book two!). The fighting, the war, the struggle, the survival, everything about Icons worked for me, and this is easily one of the best books I've read. 

Overall, what else can I say about Icons except that I love it so, so, so much and it is mind-blowing?  Fast-paced and captivating, Icons didn't just exceed my expectations - it blew every book I've read in a long time out of the water.

M Y   R A T I N G

Monday, May 20, 2013

Brad About Books: I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Read on May 2, 2013
Published: August 3, 2010
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 440 pages
Source: Purchased
Series: Lorien Legacies, #1

Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books - but we are real.

Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. We have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.

I am Number Four.

I am next.

I had troubles with I Am Number Four. While the plot sounded epic, the pacing of the book was too slow for me.

Let me start by saying that this plot sounds amazing in every way possible. I was so excited going into I Am Number Four - I mean, judging from the synopsis, who wouldn't be? I expected a fast-paced, on-the-run story like no other, and I wanted it to be great. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. While I Am Number Four does have some redeeming qualities, the plot moved way too slow. I found that some chapters would have no meaning to the actual story, and I caught myself drifting off. To be honest, I just don't see how a book that has such an interesting premise can move so slowly.

But like I said, I Am Number Four did have some redeeming qualities.  The last fifty pages were very fast-paced, and I couldn't put the book down. And besides that, the character of Four (or John Smith) was very awesome - on the run and on the loose, I loved getting to travel along with him as he fights for his life. The antagonists are so freaky in this book! I couldn't get a clear picture of them in my mind, but believe me, they sounded awful. Even though I thought I Am Number Four was just okay, I'm looking forward to seeing what will happen in The Power of Six.

I've noticed that aliens are becoming a new trend (even though this book was published in 2010), and while the whole "alien" aspect wasn't explored on that much, it was still interesting to take on this perspective of aliens. I just hated the plot moved so slow - I couldn't stand it at times! The end did make up some for it, but in the end, I just don't think me and I Am Number Four clicked well.

Overall, I Am Number Four is a decent read that held my attention and had me on the edge of my seat at times, then had me distracted and dozing off at others.

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