Review: Emblaze by Jessica Shirvington + Giveaway

EmblazeTitle: Emblaze

Author: Jessica Shirvington

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: March 5th, 2013

Interest: Series continuation

Source: E-ARC received via NetGalley from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads): Once again Violet Eden faces an impossible choice … and the consequences are unimaginable. 

Violet has come to terms with the fact that being part angel, part human, means her life will never be as it was.

Now Violet has something Phoenix – the exiled angel who betrayed her – will do anything for, and she has no intention of letting it fall into his hands. The only problem is that he has something she needs too. 

Not afraid to raise the stakes, Phoenix seemingly holds all the power, always one step ahead. And when he puts the final pieces of the prophecy together, it doesn’t take him long to realise exactly who he needs in order to open the gates of Hell.

With the help of surprising new allies, ancient prophecies are deciphered, a destination set and, after a shattering confrontation with her father, Violet leaves for the islands of Greece without knowing if she will have a home to return to…

First, if you haven’t read Embrace or the second book, Entice, do not read this review.

It’s becoming more and more difficult to write these reviews because I’m constantly worried about including a spoiler unintentionally, so I’m going to write my review as a list.  Here it goes…

  • Once again, Jessica Shirvington delivers tons of action.  It’s almost on a constant loop in Emblaze.
  • The angst!  The forbidden love!  It hasn’t died down, that’s for sure!  A plus to this is that Violet never strikes me as whiny.  In fact, that’s a major plus.
  • I love how Stef’s character is developing.  I have some predictions about her and some questions as well.  She balances Violet and keeps her grounded which I love.
  • I kind of wish Spence played a bigger role in Emblaze.  He’s in the story, but I missed the large part he played in Entice.
  • Embrace and Entice kept me hooked the entire time, but there were times during Emblaze that really dragged.  Most of those scenes are between big action scenes when the characters are sort of at a stand still and spending too much time discussing strategy or history.
  • I was hoping for more development between Lincoln and Violet.  Their relationship needs to move along more (in one way or another) considering this is the third book in the series.
  • I loved the surprise ending.  I’m really looking forward to where that takes the story in the fourth book.
  • Overall I really enjoyed Emblaze and am looking forward to passing it on to my diehard fans in class :)

Win a copy of Emblaze by Jessica Shirvington

*Open to US and Cananda only
*Giveaway provided by the publisher–Thank you, Sourcebooks Fire!
*Must be 13 years or older to enter
*Only one entry per person
*Giveaway ends 3/26/13 at 11:59 EST
*Winner will be notified via email & have 48 hours to respond

 

Review: Entice by Jessica Shirvington

Title: Entice

Author: Jessica Shirvington

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: September 4th, 2012

Interest: Second in a series / Paranormal Fantasy

Source: ARC received from a friend (Thanks, Jillian!)

Summary (From Goodreads):

US EDITION

Violet Eden is Grigori – part angel, part human. Her destiny is to protect humans from the vengence of exiled angels.
Knowing who to trust is key but, when Grigori reinforcements arrive, it becomes clear everyone is hiding something. Even Lincoln. The only thing Violet does know: Phoenix’s hold over her is more dangerous than ever.
The race to find the one thing that could tilt the balance of power brings them all to the sacred mountains of Jordan, where Violet’s power will be pushed to the extreme. And the ultimate betrayal exposed.

Enticed is the second compelling book in The Violet Eden Chapters.

If you haven’t read Embrace yet, then I think you should probably skip reading this review because it might spoil some things from the first book.  Fair warning :)

Because I loved Entice even more than Embrace, here’s a list of love for Jessica Shirvington’s second book in the Embrace series (in no particular order).

1.  Lincoln.  He’s full of secrets again, but I’m willing to look past that because he always redeems himself.  This girl is so #TeamLincoln.

2. Spence.  He’s a new character who’s still waiting for his Grigori partner, but he’s joining Violet and the others so he can train more.  I love his character because he adds a much-needed element of snark, wittiness, and comic relief.  Violet is pretty snarky, but Spence has a different tone when he uses it.  I love how he balances out Violet and is there for her purely as a friend.

3. Steph.  It’s great that she’s still in the story and playing a much bigger role than she did in Embrace.  I hope her role continues to grow throughout the series.

4. The romance.  Entice isn’t as steamy as Embrace, but it’s still chock full of passion.  There’s plenty of kissing and angst and looks of longing, but nothing as sultry as the big Phoenix/Violet scene from Embrace.  After everything that happens in Embrace, it’s probably good that readers get a bit of a breather.  I have a feeling that might change in book three…

5. The pacing.  I simply couldn’t put this down.  There’s so much intrigue and action.  If I were Violet I’d need a serious vacation and/or series of mental health days after everything that happens in Entice.  If there isn’t someone’s life on the line or danger lurking, there’s something emotionally tolling happening.

6. Phoenix.  I’m still on the fence about him.  He’s a huge jerk to Violet in this book, but at the same time, I’m still drawn to his character.  Yep, he can draw me in, too.  He’s the typical “bad guy.”  Though there’s moments and flickers of something more in Entice.  All of that mystery is part of what makes him so much fun to read.

Obviously the characters won me over in EnticeJessica Shirvington really knows how to write a well-paced, action-packed love story.

Author Interview: Susan Ee, author of Angelfall + Giveaway

I’m excited to feature an interview today with author Susan Ee.  Her book, Angelfall, is the first in the Penryn & End of Days series and it just released in paperback on August 28th.   I love finding out why authors choose to write for teens so I focused my questions around that topic.  I hope you enjoy the interview and enter to win a copy of Angelfall! :)

Summary (From Goodreads): It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back. Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel. Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl. Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

What made you decide to write for teens?
The teen years are such an amazing time period where nothing is stable and anything is possible. It’s a stage in life where no matter how devastating an event or mistake can be, there’s still time to recover and triumph over the biggest challenges. It’s a time of oppression and hope, dreams and possibilities.

What has your teen response been so far?
The teens seem to really enjoy Angelfall. Some of my favorite pieces of mail are from the teen girls who fall in love with the characters or from teen guys who discover their love of reading through Angelfall.

How do you connect directly with teens?
They can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or through my blog.

Do you feel that writing for teens is different than writing for adults? Why or why not?
When I write, I don’t particularly have teens or adults in mind for the readership. My main character is 17 years old so the story seems to automatically be a fit for teens, but there are plenty of adults who read the book as well.

GIVEAWAY INFO!

Thank you to the publisher for providing one copy to give away!
Entrants must be 13 years or older.
Only residents of the US and Canada may enter.
One entry per person.
Feel free to spread the word, but following/tweeting/etc. is not required. :)
Giveaway ends Monday, September 24th at 11:59 EST.

Review: A Want So Wicked by Suzanne Young

Title: A Want So Wicked

Author: Suzanne Young

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Release Date: June 26th, 2012

Interest: Sequel

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads): Elise is a normal seventeen-year-old girl until the day she wakes up in a desert park, with no idea who she is.

After that episode, her life takes a bizarre turn. She’s experiencing unexpected flashes of insight into people’s lives—people she’s never met before. Strangers frighten her with warnings about the approaching Shadows. And although Elise has never had a boyfriend, she suddenly finds herself torn between two handsome but very different young men: Abe, the charming bad boy whose effect on her both seduces and frightens her, and the mysterious Harlin, who’s new to town but with whom Elise feels an urgent, elemental connection—almost as if they are soul mates.

Now Elise begins to question everything about her life. Why do these guys both want her so desperately? What are the Shadows? Why does the name Charlotte inspire a terrifying familiarity? And who is Elise, really?

A Need So Beautiful was one of my favorites last summer, so if you haven’t read it yet I highly recommend it.  Since A Want So Wicked is its sequel, I’ll try to avoid spoilers in the main part of the review.  Also, if it’s been a while since you’ve read A Need So Beautiful, I recommend skimming through it or at least reading the last couple chapters as a refresher.

First, I love Suzanne Young’s writing style because it hooks you and doesn’t let go.  She has a good handle on imagery and knows how to evoke emotion in her readers.  There were a few times when I really felt for the characters and wanted to keep reading so I could find out what was going to happen.  My favorite thing about Suzanne Young’s writing is the way she ends chapters.  For instance, one chapter ended with this: “Even when I didn’t know you, my soul still missed you.”  How can a chapter end that way and not make someone instantly turn the page?!  I love the idea of a soul knowing and loving and missing someone, so this line really hit me.

The characters are written well also, although I would have enjoyed more scenes with Harlin and Onika.  I was surprised that Harlin was in A Want So Wicked, but I was happy to see him again.  He’s drawn to Elise, and it seems like insta-love, but it makes sense because of what Elise is discovering and going through during the story.  His character is one that you can’t help but love because he’s just so earnest and caring.  Elise as a character is interesting because she appears to be experiencing the Need, but it’s different from what Charlotte experienced.  And considering the title, I kept expecting her to go dark and ignore the Need.  Onika is a complex character, and we do learn more about her and her history, but I would have appreciated more scenes with her to add to the suspense and plot movement.

A new character, besides Elise, who’s introduced is Abe.  At first I really liked him and how interested he was in Elise.  She meets him at the diner she starts working at.  He starts off flirting with her until he realizes that Elise is the new worker he needs to train.  Their exchanges are cute, and this being before Harlin really enters the story, I thought he’d be a cute match for Elise.  But eventually he became downright sketchy, and thanks to Suzanne Young’s writing skills, I really started to despise him.  Once this side of his character comes through, readers will start asking themselves some questions about Abe and his interest in Elise.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot in this part of the review, especially since I think the characters drive the plot and the story more than anything else.  If you haven’t read A Want So Wicked yet, then I suggest you stop here because I’m going to jot down some questions I have after finishing the book which will probably serve as spoilers.  I feel it’s necessary to write these questions/comments down because I think I have them from plot holes.

 

**Note–Possible Spoiler Section**

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Questions I Have After Reading:

  • Why does Abe see Elise as his?  Do they have a past together?  Or is it just part of his character and what he’s become (the wants)?
  • How is it possible for Elise to really be Charlotte when Charlotte was Forgotten only nine months ago?  Did she take over Elise’s soul?  This strikes me as a major plot hole.
  • Why didn’t we get more from the story about Lucy and her Need?  We barely got to know her character at all, yet I felt like we were supposed to understand her decision to ignore the Need and avoid the light.
  • What happened at the beginning of the book to change Elise’s dad’s anger?  When Abe wants to go out with Elise, she can’t because Lucy is missing and her dad calls Elise frantic about it.  When Elise gets home Lucy is there and it’s never mentioned what happened and her dad seems completely fine.

 

Review: Embrace by Jessica Shirvington

Title: Embrace, 367 pages

Author: Jessica Shirvington

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: March 6, 2012

Interest: 2012 Debut Author

Source: ARC received at NCTE

Summary (From Goodreads): It starts with a whisper: “It’s time for you to know who you are…”

Violet Eden dreads her seventeenth birthday. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. As if that wasn’t enough, disturbing dreams haunt her sleep and leave her with very real injuries. There’s a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms that wasn’t there before.

Violet is determined to get some answers, but nothing could have prepared her for the truth. The guy she thought she could fall in love with has been keeping his identity a secret: he’s only half-human—oh, and same goes for her.

A centuries-old battle between fallen angels and the protectors of humanity has chosen its new warrior. It’s a fight Violet doesn’t want, but she lives her life by two rules: don’t run and don’t quit. When angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden…

I’ve read quite a few paranormal angel novels, and while I’ve enjoyed many of them, too many of them follow the same plot.  When I was speaking with the women working at the Sourcebooks booth at NCTE, I was told how awesome Embrace by Jessica Shirvington is and that I should give myself time to start it and finish it in one sitting.  Based on my past reading experiences, I’ll admit that I was hesitant to start reading Embrace, but I’m happy to report that I worried for no reason at all!  Embrace puts a fresh spin on the paranormal angel plot with a different take on the lore and a strong female protagonist.  And the women at Sourcebooks were right: I needed uninterrupted reading time because I didn’t want to put Jessica Shirvington’s debut down.

Violet is different from many of the other female protagonists in paranormal Y.A. because she’s independent and strong.  Does she feel conflicted about her purpose and her love interests?  Yes.  But she’s still smart enough to make her own decisions and own her choices, even when she makes choices that she might end up regretting.  Too many of the female protagonists in this genre fit the damsel in distress archetype.  Violet breaking that mold is probably the most refreshing part of Embrace.  She spends a large chunk of time in the novel conflicted over her feelings for Lincoln, but I never felt like she was being overly dramatic.  Violet often weighs her feelings before taking action.  She’s still a teenager, so some drama is expected, but overall I was really impressed with how she’s written.  The one flaw I found is the number of times Violet swears.  Normally that doesn’t bother me, but it didn’t feel necessary.  I’m fine with a well-placed swear word, but there were times when it felt forced or out of character for Violet.

The mystery and action are perfectly paced.  Not too much is revealed too soon or too slowly.  Readers will appreciate this because from the very beginning I was drawn in and the mystery only kept me reading and turning the pages.  There are plenty of life or death situations, mixed in with romance, intrigue, and self-realization.  There wasn’t a moment in Embrace that I was bored or feeling the need for something more.

Overall, I definitely recommend reading Jessica Shirvington’s debut.  It’s already been released in Australia, so the first three books are already finished.  This means that the books will be released within six months of each other!

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