Cover & Excerpt: Empower by Jessica Shirvington

My students and I can’t get enough of Jessica Shirvington’s Embrace series, so I’m very excited to share the cover and first chapter of Empower, the upcoming release in the series (book five). Thank you, Sourcebooks Fire, for the opportunity to share this! Empower by Jessica Shirvington releases on May 6th, 2014.

EmpowerSummary (From Goodreads):

It has been two years since Violet Eden walked away from the city, her friends, her future and – most importantly – her soulmate, Lincoln. Part angel, part human, Violet is determined to stand by the promises she made to save the one she loves.

Living in the perpetual coldness of a broken soul she survives day to day as a Rogue Grigori in London.

But when an unexpected visitor shows up at her door, the news he bears about someone she swore to protect leaves Violet with no choice.

Even worse, she fears that this might all lead back to the night she tries hardest to forget. And what was taken without her permission.

Violet is going back to New York … and she knows exactly who is going to be there.

With Phoenix in her dreams and Lincoln in her heart she knows it is only a matter of time before the final choice must be made.

Chapter One Excerpt:

“But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
ROBERT FROST

My sweater was coated in a layer of mist—-again—-a by–product of life in London. I barely noticed the constant drizzle anymore. It’s not as if the cold bothered me, not when I was the very definition of cold.
What was bothering me was the smell. There is something rank about a meat market at night—-especially when you’re wedged into the eaves wondering what, over the years, has been sprayed about and never cleaned away. I shuddered.
The Smithfield Market was currently in vogue, but a gritty sense of history thickened the air, giving it a density that made me sure this wasn’t the first time the site had been used for wicked intent. And right now, it was hunting hour.
At least I was the hunter.
I watched quietly as the exiles came into the center of the massive terminal–style space, vaguely interested to note that there were six of them, instead of the four I’d expected. No bother, I suppose. I still had the element of surprise on my side.
The past two years had taught me not to let the everyday hiccups get to me. Sure, the additional muscle would hurt, but only in the physical sense, and I could cope with that. Rolling with the punches is necessary when you are a Grigori—-a human–angel hybrid—-a weapon against the ever–increasing numbers of exiled angels on earth. For me even more so, since they gave me such a colorful nickname. I’m the Keshet—-the rainbow. I didn’t ask to be, but I made my choices and I stand by them.
So, there I was. Although I was still trying to figure out exactly what being the rainbow meant, mostly I found that the desire to know conflicted with my continuing need not to think about it at all. One thing I did know was that somehow I could create space with the angels—-an unknown place where we were able to take form and communicate. My angel maker—-whose name I still didn’t know—-said it was a place of new possibilities. For what, I was not sure.
But I know this is what I am. It is what I will be.
The final two exiles sauntered up to the four already waiting. It used to be impossible for me to be this close to exiles without them going into a frenzy, sensing my presence. But I’d learned many lessons over the past year, the most useful of which had been how to keep my guards up and locked so tight that even exiles couldn’t sense me when I was truly concentrating.
Which—-judging by the thin film of sweat on my forehead—-is now.
The exiles dumped the huge calico sack they had been dragging along the floor and pulled it open, revealing three mutilated bodies to join the two maimed ones already on display.
From my position it was difficult to tell how old the corpses were, and if the smell was able to give a clue, I wouldn’t have known, the stink of death and flesh being an overall theme of the place.
It was no wonder the exiles liked it so much.
Normally, exiles wouldn’t bother with the cleanup—-leaving evidence was of no concern. Normally, the exiles enjoyed the mess and despair they left behind. But not these exiles. These dark exiles were working for someone else. They’d been following a plan, using a hit list, and it was all too well constructed for any one of them to mastermind. Our intel told us they’d been hired. Such behavior would usually be considered beneath them, but apparently this group of exiles had decided the job was thrilling enough to suffer the humiliation of working for the highest bidder—-even if that was a human.
As for the billionaire businessman, well, that’s not my department, but someone will pay him a visit. Right after all the evidence of his wrongdoing—-minus the exile activity—-is handed over to the authorities and his bank accounts are heavily siphoned to pay for the futures of his victims’ families. And our fee, of course.
Which, thanks to certain people, is exorbitant.
Two of the exiles were dressed impeccably: one in a steel–gray suit and sporting villain–typical slicked–back hair; the other wore a slim–collared black suit that hugged his tall figure and set off his of–the–moment tousled, light brown hair. The remaining four were less striking in casual wear, though nonetheless picture perfect. All six looked over the bodies like fishermen comparing the size and quality of their haul. My hand grazed my dagger, the blade that had been given to me after I first embraced my powers and became a Grigori warrior three years ago. I was never without it. I even had a sheath attached to my bed for a quick draw if needed.
I’d learned the hard way—-through the death and suffering of people I loved and, strangely enough, through my own death and suffering—-exiles stop at nothing. Their insanity and misguided missions know no bounds, and they take pleasure in causing great pain and suffering to humankind.
At least tonight I would only face exiles of dark. A couple of years ago, the two opposing sides, light and dark, had called a truce. Of course, I tried not to think back to that time.
I tried constantly.
The discovery of the scripture that could end all Grigori had found its way into my hands. That in itself was part of the reason the Assembly had rejected me. They blamed me for trading with the dark exile, Phoenix. My decision had allowed him to resurrect Lilith—-his mother, the first dark exile—-from the dead, and she had taken control of the Grigori Scripture. But at the time, my choice had been a simple one. Phoenix had Steph, my best friend, and I wasn’t about to take any chances with her life. I’ve never regretted that choice.
Not like so many others I’ve made.
In the end, that made it easier to walk away from a place in the Academy when Josephine decided to change her mind. Of course, that was after I’d given my life, Lincoln’s soul had shattered, and Phoenix had died—-proving that not only was he the son of Lilith, but he was also the human son of the first man, Adam—-all so that I could kill Lilith. And those reasons weren’t even the ones I tried not to think about.
But I can’t go there right now.
I caught myself. I was working and the last thing I could afford to do was acknowledge that I was thinking about him.
The six exiles started to shift the remains of the bodies toward the incinerator, tossing them with supernatural strength and no care. I half expected them to try and mince the meat and load it onto trays for sale tomorrow. I wouldn’t put anything past them.
“Make sure you take the index fingers,” one of the suited exiles instructed. “Mr. George is expecting me to deliver them to him tonight.”
That’s a shame. Though I’m sure Mr. George will receive a knock at his door nonetheless.
“I still don’t understand why we don’t just kill him too,” another said.
“Are you challenging me?” The exile who had spoken first stepped forward.
His questioner mirrored his actions.
Here we go.
“If I must.”
Exiles never back down. Their pride and egotism combined with their unique brand of insanity is just too much to ignore. Angels were not created to take corporeal forms on earth. Though they have existed for eternity, in human bodies, they manifest emotions in ways their innate nature can never process. It makes them unstable. And almost unstoppable.
I wriggled into a better position and waited patiently, knowing that this would work in my favor.
Sure enough, the exile who had spoken out first also struck out first, engaging with the suited exile. It didn’t last long. The suit, clearly the older of the two and a true fighter—-my guess was he had once been either a Domination or a Power—-overpowered his opponent, snapping his neck and making quick work of removing his heart.
We had our methods of ending their immortal existence; they had theirs.
Happy days. I now have one less exile to take care of.
I checked the time and sighed. If I didn’t get this show on the road, I’d lose my window. And fighting alone was always my preference.
The drop to the ground was at least two stories high, but I landed behind the group of exiles lightly, thanks to my angelic enhancements.
Breathing calmly, I let go of the power I was holding tightly within, just enough to lower my shields.
The exiles, who had been preoccupied with their boasting, stiffened instantly and spun around to face the new threat. It was almost comical, the look of surprise on their faces. I guess a Grigori had never snuck up on them before.
Responding quickly, the suited exile stepped forward, shoving two of them to the side, the five of them quickly forming a semicircle around me.
So nice of them to stand in single file.
But the way he studied me—-with trademark exile insanity and undisguised raw desire—-made me think that this one recognized me. It happened from time to time.
I wanted to sit around and chew the fat. Really. I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do with my time than hear about how they intended to rip me limb from limb and how that would make them as great as gods and me the most pathetic of humans. But when you’ve heard it all before and always walked away—-or, at the very least, been carried—-while they were returned for their ultimate judgment, it gets old. So, I cut to the chase.
“You have a choice. Make it or I will make it for you,” I said, knowing that of all Grigori, I alone had the right to put it like that. “Consider wisely,” I reinforced. After all, I could return them like any other Grigori with one of our blades, but if I willed it, I could also strip them of their angelic strengths and leave them human—-a fate exiles considered worse than an eternity in the pits of Hell. As far as I was aware, I was the only Grigori who could do this without requiring the exile in question to first choose such a fate. Which, of course, never happened.
“You brought Lilith to her end,” the suit said, his head tilted to the side, as if confused.
Yeah, that’s right, little ol’ me.
And it only cost me everything that mattered.
I raised my eyebrows. “Time’s almost up,” I said, refraining from closing my eyes briefly as I felt a surge of power within, something that had been happening increasingly. I was getting stronger, and exactly what that meant and how to harness it wasn’t the kind of knowledge I was excited to discover.
I could strip them all, make their choice for them, and be done with it, but I’d only done it twice. Onyx had been my first, and I’d seen the pain it caused him. I didn’t like knowing I was the one who took away his choice. Who was I to do such a thing? The second had been a demonstration, and had resulted in the exile in question meeting a quick death. I can’t say I regretted it—-he’d been one of the exiles so happy to see me strapped to a crucifix and tortured for hours—-but still…
Anyway, tonight was more like training, and I’d been taught to be thorough. So, when the suit threw the first exile at me—-knowing he’d be nothing more than a momentary distraction while I took him down and he lined up the next one—-I got to work.
I braced, grabbing my dagger and moving into position. By the time the exile came within range, my dagger had sliced through his heart and he was no longer there. Simply gone. Where did their physical forms go? Beats me.
I was already spinning by the time the second one was sent flying through the air toward me. My foot stopped his momentum and threw him back. I was on him in an instant, my dagger going straight to his heart. It didn’t need to be the heart to return them, just a killing blow inflicted by a Grigori weapon. You could slice into exiles all day long with your garden–variety knife or shoot them with a gun, but neither option worked. I’d never seen a Grigori manage to rip out an exile’s heart barehanded, and even though the trick worked for exiles taking out other exiles, something told me that it did not alter our rules. Permanent results for Grigori over exiles only came via the blades of angels.
Or my blood.
The third exile went much the same way, and soon enough I was left being circled by the two suits. To my surprise, they actually worked together—-exiles aren’t good at that—-boxing me into a corner. The brown–haired exile in the black suit moved in on me when the other one feigned a move to my right. I took a closed fist across the face and a foot to the stomach.
I heard a crack—-broken rib—-but I didn’t register the pain. That kind of pain was barely a tickle compared to the agony I carried inside, every moment of every day.
My pause gave the other exile the chance to take a swing. His foot collided with my hand so hard that my dagger went flying across the room. I kept my eyes on my attackers but my ear on my weapon, listening to the reverberations as it slid along the concrete floor and eventually hit the far wall with a clang.
The exiles smiled.
I sighed.
Then I leapt into the air, gaining enough height to grip the brown–haired exile’s throat between my knees. Twisting my body as I fell through the air, I dragged the exile down with me, his neck breaking with a loud crunch.
It wouldn’t keep him down for good, but a broken neck buys time.
The exile in the gray suit grabbed me roughly from behind and threw me into the wall.
I groaned as I slid down the metal piping my back had hit. It was the opposite wall to my dagger.
Damn it.
It wasn’t an ideal situation. And I wasn’t fool enough to delude myself into thinking I could make it to my dagger. I was regretting my decision not to wear any other weapons tonight, but my dagger was the only weapon that, when sheathed, was invisible to human eyes.
Think, Vi.
I’d come down behind a wall of old crates. I was considering how I could use them to my advantage when I spotted a piece of the slim metal piping I’d broken in my fall. It lay by my foot.
I could hear the exiles moving toward me. They were cackling.
“We should take her body with us to the tournament tonight,” one said.
The other one laughed. “That would definitely put dark in the lead.”
“And everyone would know that we were the ones who killed her.”
Can anyone say “premature victory”?
Without stopping to think, I pulled off the bracelet from my left wrist, using the specially designed clasp to cut open the flesh around my silver marking, currently swirling in the presence of exiles, and let it spill onto the end of the metal bar.
It took just a few seconds, and as soon as I palmed the pipe, the exiles started to throw the crates aside then came into view, their smiles wide with anticipation.
I stood. I didn’t return their smiles. I didn’t bother to do anything other than what needed to be done.
I lunged, raising my elbow into the face of the black–haired exile as I spun, the metal pipe striking his companion through the heart. He was gone. I turned back to the first exile and, hoping that there was still enough of my blood on the pipe to do the trick and using my supernatural speed for all it was worth, I jammed the pipe straight into his neck.
His face wore an expression of pure surprise.
I’d seen that look before.
I sighed and my shoulders slumped forward, unfulfilled. This was my job, one that I would do for as long as I existed, which could be a significantly long time. But two years ago, I’d accepted that there was no longer any satisfaction to be had in my world.
No fairytales.
Only the cold.
Turning toward where I thought my dagger had landed, my surroundings suddenly changed.
I was no longer seeing the warehouse. There were flashes of white, moving fast, pounding hooves. Horses. Silver streaked through the air like a dance. Swords. Slashes of red painted the sky. Something sharp and deadly ripping through flesh—-wet and gruesome. Claws. Thousands and thousands of beings as far as I could see fought ruthlessly, with no sign of tiring. In the center, two warriors battled beneath a blinding light. I could not make out their faces.
I blinked hard.
The image was gone, and in its place Gray stood against the wall of Lincoln’s warehouse, casually flipping my dagger in the air. “Would you like me to applaud?” he asked.
Leaning against a metal support pole, he had that midtwenties look I’d come to associate with the older Grigori—-though I had no idea how old he really was—-and was dressed in his usual black jeans, black T–shirt, and black leather jacket. Black really was the only color worth investing in—-blood stains everything else. He sported about a week’s worth of growth on his face, though his head was shaved, the scars that ran over the top of his skull telling of a history both terrible and secret. Grigori did not generally scar, so I knew that whatever had caused these had occurred before Gray had turned seventeen.
I swallowed over the lump in my throat and glanced around as I composed myself. The whole…hallucination…had lasted only a couple of seconds. I clenched my jaw.
Christ. It was nothing. I’m just imagining things.
I snapped my bracelet back in place over my marking and shot him a dry look. “Should I be charging a spectator fee?”
My voice sounded normal but my ears felt like they were still ringing with the echoes of battle.
“Not if the show is going to be over so fast, princess.”
I glared at him for persisting with the stupid nickname. “You know, you could’ve stepped in and given me a hand.”
“Sure,” he said with a solemn nod. “And you could’ve waited until the meet time we’d all agreed on too.”
I looked away briefly. “So, why are you here early?” I asked, hoping to divert the conversation.
Gray tilted his head. “Because I know you.”
I shrugged off the veiled accusation, even though it was true. To a degree.
“It was easier this way.”
He threw my dagger into the air, and I caught it by the hilt and slipped it back into its sheath.
“Well you can explain that to the others, since they just arrived.”

Book Trailer Thursday (129)–Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

Book Trailer Thursday

Kami Garcia’s first solo book, Unbreakable, released on October 1st. I’m really looking forward to reading this after reading the summary and watching the trailer. It sounds like a great fall/Halloween read! Based on what I know about it, I’m thinking my Anna Dressed in Blood and The Mortal Instruments fans will be interested in reading this.

Kami Garcia/UnbreakableSummary (From Goodreads):

Supernatural meets The Da Vinci Code in this action-packed paranormal thriller, the first book in a new series from New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia.

I never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.

When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Suspense, romance, and the paranormal meet in this chilling urban fantasy, the first book in a new series from Kami Garcia, bestselling coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures novels.

Audiobook Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Audio Review

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown Audio CoverTitle: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Author: Holly Black

Narrator: Christine Lakin

Length: 12 hrs 6 mins

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Release Date: September 3rd, 2013

Interest: Student interest

Source: Purchased via Audible

Summary (From Goodreads):

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

Audio Review: I’ve never listened to an audiobook narrated by Christine Lakin but I will again. Her voice is easy to listen to and I love how she so easily changes her accent to fit characters like Gavriel. I chose to listen to the audio because I really didn’t know if I’d like the book. I’ve found that it’s easier to try reading books I’m hesitant to read by listening to the audio. One of my seniors mentioned a love of vampire books on her interests survey which is what drove me to give The Coldest Girl in Coldtown a try. Anyway, this audiobook is on the longer side but it’s definitely worth a listen. At certain points throughout the audio–often at pivotal moments–different types of music play, which I didn’t think was really necessary, but I did appreciate it. This audiobook made cleaning, cooking, and driving much easier to get through. One quirk I need to mention is that I wasn’t expecting the switch in time periods/place. That threw me as I was listening, but I know it wouldn’t have been an issue had I been reading the book traditionally.

Book Review: I’m so happy to have finally found a Holly Black novel that I enjoyed! I was doubly hesitant to read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown because I didn’t liked Holly Black’s Doll Bones or White Cat and I’m over vampire books. Tana’s story is addicting, creepy, and bloody. I’m not into horror, either, but I was engrossed in this book!

I just ordered a copy of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown because I know many of my students will want to read this once I tell them about it. I have quite a few horror and mystery fans, although not as many vampire fans, but regardless I know they’ll enjoy it. I’m going to recommend this to my Anna Dressed in Blood fans because even though there isn’t as much humor in Tana’s story, there’s plenty of gore and action to keep them interested.

When it comes to characters, I really enjoyed Tana and Gavriel. Gavriel is the perfect mix of mysterious and alluring. Tana is independent and strong-willed. I loved the interactions between the two characters and honestly couldn’t decide if I wanted them to be together or not. I wasn’t sure if I wanted Tana to go cold and/or become a vampire or continue on as an unaffected human. I kept wondering what would happen to her because it seemed like she would need to go one way or another to make her story work. I’ll let you find out what happens to Tana and if anything develops between her and Gavriel :)

Coldtown’s setting reminds me of a post-apocalyptic world. It’s run down, dismal, and dangerous. Holly Black did a great job describing and developing it. If there’s a second book I’ll be happy to read it and learn more about Coldtown, but the ending as it is now is satisfying.

If you’re looking for a vampire story without sparkly vampires then I recommend picking up The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

Review: Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood

Star Cursed finalTitle: Star Cursed

Author: Jessica Spotswood

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Release Date: June 18th, 2013

Interest: Series / Historical fiction / Paranormal

Source: NetGalley

Summary (From Goodreads):

With the Brotherhood persecuting witches like never before, a divided Sisterhood desperately needs Cate to come into her Prophesied powers. And after Cate’s friend Sachi is arrested for using magic, a war-thirsty Sister offers to help her find answers—if Cate is willing to endanger everyone she loves.

Cate doesn’t want to be a weapon, and she doesn’t want to involve her friends and Finn in the Sisterhood’s schemes. But when Maura and Tess join the Sisterhood, Maura makes it clear that she’ll do whatever it takes to lead the witches to victory. Even if it means sacrifices. Even if it means overthrowing Cate. Even if it means all-out war.

In the highly anticipated sequel to Born Wicked, the Cahill Witch Chronicles continue Cate, Maura and Tess’s quest to find love, protect family, and explore their magic against all odds in an alternate history of New England.

First, if you haven’t read Born Wicked (my review), then please stop reading this review and go get a copy of that to read :)

I devoured Born Wicked and have been looking forward to reading Star Cursed ever since!  Jessica Spotswood really knows how to write an engaging story full of suspense, romance, and magic.

Star Cursed picks up not long after the cliffhanger ending in book one.  Cate is with the Sisterhood and understandably unhappy about it.  She misses her sisters, her garden, and of course Finn.  While I sympathized with Cate, I enjoyed learning more about the Sisterhood and the history.  This also opened up the story to more characters and witches, adding some interesting layers.  Some of the characters left me skeptical, while others I really enjoyed and want to know more about.

I had a tough time reading sections with the Brotherhood because they are so harsh and brutal in Star Cursed.  At times I felt like I was reading a historical fiction-turned-dystopian novel.  The laws they created and the way they started treating women is horrible!  I couldn’t help but keep hoping that Finn wouldn’t turn to their side.  A ton happens in this part of the storyline, but I still have no idea what to expect in the third book, especially after reading the ending.  This part of the storyline really draws a line between Cate and Maura and their relationship.

We get to know Maura and Tess in Born Wicked, but I feel like I know each of them so much better after reading Star Cursed.  I absolutely adore Tess.  I have a lot of things to say that I won’t say about Maura.  The situations and conflicts that take place are really defining Cate, Maura, and Tess.  One of the sisters left me speechless at the end, so now I have another thing to look forward to in book three.

The mood is a little darker in Star Cursed than it is in Born Wicked, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Finn is present just enough to satisfy my need for his character presence, but ultimately this sequel is all about learning more about Cate, her sisters, and the Sisterhood.  I tend to worry about books in the middle of a series/trilogy because sometimes they fall flat, but thankfully Star Cursed does not suffer from that.  It’s just as fun and suspenseful to read as Born Wicked.

Review: Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting

Dead SilenceTitle: Dead Silence

Author: Kimberly Derting

Publisher: HarperCollins

Release Date: April 16th, 2013

Interest: Series

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads): Violet thought she’d made peace with her unique ability to sense the echoes of the dead and the imprints that cling to their killers…that is until she acquired an imprint of her own. Forced to carry a reminder of the horrible events of her kidnapping, Violet is more determined than ever to lead a normal life. However, the people who run the special investigative team Violet works for have no intention of letting her go.

When someone close to Violet becomes a suspect in a horrific murder, she finds herself pulled into a deadly hunt for a madman with an army of devoted followers. Violet has survived dangerous situations before, but she quickly discovers that protecting those closest to her is far more difficult than protecting herself.

I think I’ve said this in all of my reviews of The Body Finder series, but I really love it.  They’re fun, suspenseful, and romantic.

I’m not sure if Dead Silence is concluding Kimberly Derting’s series because there isn’t a fifth book listed on Goodreads.  I liked the ending, but it didn’t feel like a series closer.  Maybe there will be a spin-off?  Regardless, I’ve really enjoyed reading about Violet and “watching” her grow as a character.  She really comes into her own in this book.  I feel like she really has a sense of who she is, what her ability/gift can do, and who her true friends are.

One of the reasons I like The Body Finder series so much is because Violet is so independent.  Sure, she leans on her boyfriend Jay quite a bit, but I never get the sense that she needs him.  Violet makes her own decisions and does what she thinks is right.  Many YA heroines look to their male counterpart/love interest for guidance and help, and that simply isn’t the case with Violet.

Kimberly Derting finally gives us more background information about Violet’s ability and the group she’s working with.  I’m not going to say much about this because I don’t want to spoil anything, but the new layer to the story is really interesting and answers so many questions.

Like the other books, we get to read from a killer’s point of view.  And like the other books, it adds an exciting sense of creepiness and suspense.  I didn’t have as many questions about who was behind everything in Dead Silence as I did in previous books, but I still enjoyed it.

If you haven’t picked up this series, I highly recommend that you do.  It’s very popular in my classroom and really enjoyable.

Book Trailer Thursday (105)–Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger

After watching this book trailer, I’m kicking myself over the fact that I haven’t read this yet when I have had an ARC since attending NCTE back in November.  So many books, so little time I suppose.  It released on March 5th, so you have the opportunity to read it if sounds like something you’d enjoy.  I will be reading Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger sooner rather than later!

Let the Sky FallSummary (From Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.

Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.

When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim—the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them—but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.

Waiting on Wednesday–Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

newwow2

Because of Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake has established herself as an author I will automatically read.  I love Greek mythology, so I’m extra excited to read Antigoddess.

AntigoddessTitle & Author: Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Release Date: September 10th, 2013

Publisher: Tor Teen

Summary (From Goodreads):

Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

Audiobook Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone AudioTitle: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Author: Laini Taylor

Narrator: Khristine Hvam

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Audio)

Release Date: September 27th, 2011

Interest: Paranormal Fantasy / Fantasy

Source: Audiobook purchased via Audible

Summary (From Goodreads):

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages – not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers – beautiful, haunted Akiva – fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Audiobook Review:

It took me some time to get into this book both physically (my first attempt at reading it) and aurally.  I’m so thankful I kept with the audio because it is one of my favorite audiobooks.  To put it simply, the narration is wonderful.  Khristine Hvam used a believable accent and differentiated between each character so well that I was never questioning which character was speaking.  I love listening to audiobooks when I’m getting ready for work, driving to and from work, and getting chores/cooking done.  I know I really love an audiobook when I find myself making excuses to drive somewhere or to get more cleaning done, which is what I did while listening to Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

Book Review:

The first thing I want to say about Daughter of Smoke and Bone is that I love Laini Taylor’s beautiful use of vocabulary.  Her writing is lush and vibrant.  I don’t know if I would have appreciated it as much if I wasn’t listening to the audio, but it’s seriously wonderful.  I’ve never read a book that uses vocabulary and description to the degree that Taylor does, at least not recently.

The story itself is layered and engrossing.  I love Karou and the incredible life she leads.  She’s feisty, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but she’s vulnerable as well.  I was a little lost during the Akiva back story, but when everything came together I was so impressed and excited.  I’ll admit that the back story was beginning to bother me since I didn’t know where it was going, but it did make me love Akiva that much more.

I’m not sure if any movie rights for Daughter of Smoke and Bone has been purchased, but I would love to see this story come to life on the big screen.  I know a movie wouldn’t do it justice (they rarely do), but I think I’d still enjoy it just the same.

If you decide to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which I hope you, make sure you have a copy of Days of Blood & Starlight handy because you’ll want to start reading it as soon as you can!

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: Mind Games by Kiersten White

Mind GamesTitle: Mind Games

Author: Kiersten White

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: February 19th, 2013

Interest: Author / New series

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads): Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future.

Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways… or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.

I’m kind of debating between 2.5 and 3 for Kiersten White’s newest novel. I’m leaning towards 3 since it’s a quick read and kept me reading, but the only real reason I kept reading is because I never knew what was going on.

In all honesty, Mind Games has connections and an interesting plot, but it’s not executed cleanly enough. I appreciate the flashbacks between Annie and Fia and how they round out the story, but the actual present day pieces of the story drag and really don’t reveal much. I learned that Fia is angry and broken and feels responsible for her sister. Annie is oblivious and wants what’s best for her sister. And round and round it goes. There’s too much repetition of how the girls feel and not enough plot development moving the story forward.  It really frustrated me.

I like the two points of view, but the voices aren’t developed enough. I knew which character was which because of the chapter headings and when Fia was tap, tap, tapping. Otherwise I had no idea based on voice alone.

Positives.  I think my readers will probably enjoy this because of the fast pace and the mystery. For me, on the other hand, I can see what Kiersten White is trying to do, but she fell short. I hope I can still sell this to my students even though I’m disappointed, because I realize that this book will work for lots of readers.

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