Monday, September 30, 2013

Taliesin Ascendant by Megan Peterson

Taliesin Ascendant by Megan Joel PetersonReading Level: Ages 12 and up
Paperback: 370 Pages
Release Date: July 27, 2013
Publisher: Self-Published
Narration: Third Person: Ashe, Harris, Cole
Genre: Paranormal/Wizards
Challenge: Paranormal
Source: Author

The Children and the Blood Series:
Book One: The Children and the Blood
Book Two: Taliesin Ascendant
Book Three: Unknown

Order On Amazon: Paperback
Order On Barnes and Noble:
Paperback and Nook

Goodreads  Website  Twitter  Facebook

 Add To Goodreads
Goodreads Synopsis:

The war isn't over.

And new enemies await. 

Life on the run hasn't been easy, but so far, Ashe has survived. But now Carter has ordered her to leave the Hunters and find her family's people – an order she can't refuse, no matter how much she wants to stay. 

Following his command will bring her into an unknown world, however – a world filled with new enemies and old prejudices that will demand more of her than she can imagine, at a cost higher than she'll ever be willing to pay.

My Review:  

Unfortunately, I haven't listened to my own advice of writing a review as soon as I finished reading a novel. Pro procrastinator, for the win. BUT! But! It's not entirely my fault, because I've been busy busy busy with the new school year and all, trying not to fall behind on my ever-growing pile of schoolwork. However, I can't blame my laziness completely on my homework, because a major portion of it is just my inability to think up a good review. For the most part, I just stare blankly at my screen, wondering what the hell I'm going to write next. To all my fellow book bloggers out there, have you ever experienced a similar problem?

Anyways, now that I've spent a whole paragraph rambling as I always do, let's get onto the story, shall we? Prior to reading the sequel, I enjoyed, but admittedly did not fall in love with, The Children and the Blood. Magic has always intrigued me endlessly, which is one of the main reasons why I agreed to review these novels and what originally dragged me into the storyline to begin with. After all the books I've feverishly read, which is quite a bit, I still have never encountered a story focused specifically on Merlin mythology, until now. Of course, you have your traditional wizard and witch novels where the protagonist is distantly related to the Merlin bloodline in some fashion, but those novels never go in depth into the actual tales and myths. They toss out the name as a passing comment and never develop it any farther then that. That's one of the aspects that stood out to me so much in Megan's works. And if you were still disappointed by the lack of history and world-building in The Children and The Blood, then you will definitely enjoy Taliesin Ascendant a whole lot more.

This story was still told in multiple POVs, but Ashe's voice quickly became the most prominent. It's become abundantly clear, that although this story has it's important supporting roles, it is still very much focused on her and her struggle to discover who she really is. Ashe both inexplicably annoyed me, yet earned my respect. I'm really having some mixed feelings about her. At times, I wondered how she could be so selfish and inconsiderate, yet at others, I could see the potential and markings of a truly extraordinary leader. There's a bit more character growth, but she still has a looong way to go before she comes anywhere near the exceptional queen she's meant to be. Countless moments, I wanted to tell her to build up a better argument in convincing the counsel that the Blood exist, other then saying, "I know what I saw," repetitively. You already know the counsel is horrifically prejudice and have a outdated method of thinking, so please use your common sense and find a better way of showing them. However, out of all the feelings I felt for her, pity would probably be the most frequent one. It seems like every time something starts to go her way, something horrible happens just to spite her. Luck, is definitely not on her side.

The officer, Harris. Gah. I got so angry with him every time the POV was switched to him, because of the huge web of lies he's tangled up in. And every stinking day, it just keeps on getting worse! Obviously, it's not his fault for unknowingly running in the wrong circles, but it still infuriates me every time he badmouthes Ashe in some way. I have literally lost count of all the times I had to set down the book, bury my head in my pillow, and yell "NOOOOOOOO! DON'T BELIEVE THEM, I BEG OF YOU." Of course, since he is a fictional character, he didn't have the ability to hear my desperate, fervent pleas. 

*SPOILER ALERT* When Ash had captured him, I really really really wished that she cleared the air between them. (Wanted it so badly that I had to use not one, but three reallys to express my point.) In fact, I was 100% sure that it was going to happen and that everything would be rainbows and unicorns, but IT DIDN'T! I was pretty much set on giving up on life right then and there. The agony. *SPOILER END*

The writing style was wonderful, and if I daresay, improved. The passages flowed imperceptibly smoother, and I never had to pause awkwardly at the end of a sentence. Fluid, continuous sentences are something I very much admire about this author in particular, because it's so rare to find that trait in a writer, even less in a self-published one. However, I was disappointed that she still resorted to using the same phrases over and over again. By the time I finished this book, I had the suspicion that there was something very wrong with the eyebrows of every character in this book. Because literally, every page, at least someone "furrowed their eyebrows in confusion." I have no problem with an author peppering a similar phrase throughout the novel, but when it's used too often, it gets really aggravating.

The action was pretty well done, and I found myself pacing back and forth from excitement more than once. The fighting scenes were engaging, and I could actually picture everything that was enfolding within my own mind. Some plot twists were seen a mile away, while others....took me completely by surprise.

Overall, this wasn't a bad read. I enjoyed it quite thoroughly and loved learning more about the interesting world these wizards reside in. Although I probably won't be rereading this novel in the nearby future, I will most certainly pick up a copy of the last installment in this series!

*Huge thank you to the author for sending me a copy in exchange for a honest and thoughtful review.*

Cover- 2.5/5
The fire is relevant to the story, but it's a bit bland.
Heroine - 3.5/5
Has a lot of potential
but still needs work.
Romance- None
Surprisingly no romance, but it isn't needed. This story is great on its own.
Action- 4/5
Writing- 4/5
Smooth, Fluid.
Overall- 3.5/5

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Book Blitz: After The Fall by L.G. Castillo

After The Fall by L.G. Castillo
Series: Broken Angel #2
 Add To GoodreadsRelease Date: September 15, 2013
Genre: New Adult/Paranormal/Romance
There’s a Spanish proverb that says, “From the thorn and the pain, a flower is born.” Naomi Duran never really understood what that meant until she became an archangel.

Finally reunited with the love of her life, Naomi thought she had everlasting love and happiness in Heaven. Even with the rebellious Lash by her side, she learns that life as an archangel isn’t easy.

When secrets of the past are finally revealed, tempers flare, brother is pitted against brother, and Naomi and Lash face the greatest threat to their relationship: choosing among love, family, or duty.

In the end, can this family of broken angels forgive past mistakes, or will they carry the thorn in their hearts forever, ripping their family apart?

Find The Book:

Lash by L.G. Castillo

Series: Broken Angel #1
 Add To GoodreadsRelease Date: May 6, 2013
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance

Lash by L.G. CastilloDecades after being banished from Heaven for saving a life he shouldn’t have, Lash is given a chance to redeem himself. His mission: protect Naomi Duran, a young woman who has lost her faith. The assignment proves to be anything but simple when his superiors, the Archangels, withhold key information about Naomi and refuse to restore Lash’s powers. When an unexpected source reveals centuries-old secrets, his trust is shaken to the core, and he begins to doubt those whom he had once considered to be his greatest allies.

Determined to avoid anything that would risk his chances of returning to Heaven, Lash struggles with the greatest obstacle of all—his growing feelings for Naomi. But when her life is threatened by an unknown source, Lash questions the wisdom of the Archangels and his ability to keep her safe. 

Soon, Lash will have to choose where to place his faith—in the home he has fought so hard to regain or in the forbidden love he can’t bear to lose.

About The Author:

L.G. (Linda) Castillo wrote her first story when she was ten and has been writing ever since. She took a break from writing fiction and poetry to focus on obtaining her Ph.D. in counseling psychology. She is now a licensed psychologist and currently works as a professor at a Texas university. Although she has published her psychological research in several professional journals and books, her dream has always been to publish a novel. Lash is her debut novel and was written during the 2012 National Novel Writing Month event.

Find The Author:

Goodreads ! Facebook ! Twitter )

Excerpt: (Just to give you a little taste. :P)


Rachel’s cloak fluttered as she sped through the dark tunnel. He was there. She could feel him.
Shivering, her fingers fumbled with the heavy material as she drew it closer to her body. Puffs of white drifted from her mouth as she panted, trying to catch her breath. With each step she took, it was as if her angelic powers were being drained away. She stopped and slumped against the damp wall of the cave, unable to take another step. Could she do this? Even if she managed to reach him, would she have any power left to save him?
Gabrielle had warned her it would be like this, but Rachel had dismissed her, especially when she first stepped into Hell. It looked just like home! Lush grass and fragrant flowers lined the landscape as far as she could see. Snowcapped mountains stood as a backdrop against the clear blue skies—even the stream was located in the same exact spot as in Heaven. If it wasn’t for the unnerving feeling in the pit of her stomach and the hairs that stood on the back of her neck, she would have sworn she was home. 
Considering Lucifer held his captives at the Lake of Fire, she had assumed Hell was a vast empty land of sweltering heat. It wasn’t until she found the cave hidden behind a waterfall that she finally understood what Gabrielle meant about not letting her guard down. The cave was frigid. The icy air seemed to seep into her pores and deep into her bones, causing her teeth to chatter uncontrollably.
She wished Gabrielle had given her more information about what to expect. She would’ve dressed warmer. Gabrielle had only gone once, and she had waited on the outer boundaries of the cave. According to her, one time had been enough. It had taken her days to recover from the experience. 
Only Raphael knew what Hell was really like. He had made Gabrielle wait for him while he bravely went through the deepest depths of the cave to reach the lake. He was the only person she knew of who had gone down and returned—alive.
If only she could have asked Raphael about what to expect and how to prepare. She sighed. If she had, there was no way she could’ve slipped away unnoticed. She would’ve been reported to Michael and more than likely, would’ve been put on watch until it was too late.
A sob escaped her at the thought of his death. She slapped a hand over her mouth, horrified as the sound echoed in the darkness, bouncing off the walls. Her body shook as she wrestled with the thought of losing him. She had to pull herself together. If she were caught, it would be the end for both of them.
She took a resolving breath and pushed herself off the wall. I can do this. I won’t lose him.
Her feet scraped across the floor of the cave as she trudged forward in the darkness. As she rounded a corner, she came up to a pair of tunnels. 
Which way should I go? Her eyes watered, and she bit down on her lip, frustrated. She was tired. So tired. If she chose the wrong one, she didn’t know if she would be able to make it down the second. Time was running out. She had to make a choice, now!
She was about to go down the tunnel to her left when she heard a moan from the right.  
It’s him!
She raced toward the sound with renewed energy, and within minutes, she came into a large cavern. Heat slammed against her body, making her cringe in pain from the abrupt change in temperature. She stopped suddenly, her arms flailing out as she tried to regain her balance and not fall into the molten lava that appeared right before her eyes threatening to singe the tips of her toes. 
The lake!
Immense heat blurred her vision, and she rubbed her eyes. All she could see was a sea of red heat. Where is he?  
Searching through the haze, she finally saw a faint figure, motionless. She blinked again and gasped when her eyes finally focused. 
No! It can’t be him.
 Across the lake, chained to the wall, naked, was the one person in her life who she couldn’t be without. The one person for whom she would defy the orders of the most high of archangels just so she could save him.
Tears spilled down her heated cheeks as she took in his once magnificent body, scorched by the lava that splashed onto his skin. His beautiful downy-white wings were now a grotesque black. With each movement he made, feathers turned to ash and fluttered lifelessly to the ground. 
“Uriel,” she croaked.
Uriel lifted his head, and pained eyes looked back at her, a startling blue against the black of his charred face. “No,” he groaned. “Leave. Leave now. He’ll be here—”
 The cave rumbled, and lava sprouted into the air. A splattering of the searing liquid fell onto his chest. He arched his back and screeched. 
“I’m coming, Uriel!” She tore off her cloak and flicked her wings open. 
 “It’s too late for me,” he rasped. “Don’t do this.”
“No, it’s not. I don’t care what the others say. You’ve redeemed yourself. You deserve another chance.”
He looked deep into her eyes. “Forgive me. I’m unworthy of you.” 
“There is nothing to forgive. I love you.”
Desperate to find a way to get to him, Rachel looked around the cavern. She swallowed hard as she flit her wings and with all the strength she could muster, propelled herself into the air. She was only able to get herself a couple of feet off the ground. It was as if an invisible barrier was holding her down. Frantically, she looked around for another way to get to him and saw a narrow stone path with lava washing across it. There was no other way to him. 
With all her might, she pushed herself upward, trying to get distance from the fiery liquid. The cave shook again, and a wave of lava slammed against the walls, sending droplets of lava flying into the air and onto her wings.
She wailed in pain and began to fall. 
“No, Rachel. Go back,” Uriel moaned.
Before Rachel could tell him there was no way she was leaving him, she felt a rush of air on her back. An arm wrapped tightly around her waist and yanked her away from the lake, away from Uriel.
“Take her…Gabrielle,” Uriel gasped. “Keep her…safe.”
“You have my word,” Gabrielle said as she tightened her hold on Rachel.
“No!” Rachel screamed, struggling against Gabrielle’s steel-like arms. “Let me go. Let. Me. Go!” 
Rachel stretched out her arms as if just by doing so, she could hold on to him. “Uriel! Uriel!”
 Just as Gabrielle flew out of the cavern, a loud thunderclap rocked the cave, and the sound of his screams ripped through her, mixing with her own. 
Then, silence.
He’s gone.
She fell limply into Gabrielle’s arms as they flew back through the frigid tunnel. The cold spread to her face, her hands, and then crept into her heart and the deepest part of her soul until there was nothing left except a dark numbness. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered anymore. 

When they flew out of the waterfall and into the sunlight, she stared lifelessly at the clouds drifting overhead. And though the sun shone down on her face, she couldn’t feel its warmth. She doubted if she would ever feel it again. The cold emptiness in her heart would be there forever because Uriel was dead.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff

Kinslayer by Jay KristoffReading Level: Ages 14 and up
Paperback: 432 Pages
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Narration: Third Person: Everyone
Genre: Japanese Mythology
Challenge: Mythology
Source: Publisher

The Lotus War Series:
Book One: Stormdancer
Book Two: Kinslayer
Book Three: Untitled (2014)

Order On Amazon: Hardcover
Order On Barnes and Noble:
Hardcover and Nook

 Add To Goodreads
Goodreads Synopsis:

The mad Shōgun Yoritomo has been assassinated by the Stormdancer Yukiko, and the threat of civil war looms over the Shima Imperium. The Lotus Guild conspires to renew the nation’s broken dynasty and crush the growing rebellion simultaneously – by endorsing a new Shōgun who desires nothing more than to see Yukiko dead.

Yukiko and the mighty thunder tiger Buruu have been cast in the role of heroes by the Kagé rebellion. But Yukiko herself is blinded by rage over her father’s death, and her ability to hear the thoughts of beasts is swelling beyond her power to control. Along with Buruu, Yukiko’s anchor is Kin, the rebel Guildsman who helped her escape from Yoritomo’s clutches. But Kin has his own secrets, and is haunted by visions of a future he’d rather die than see realized.

Kagé assassins lurk within the Shōgun’s palace, plotting to end the new dynasty before it begins. A waif from Kigen’s gutters begins a friendship that could undo the entire empire. A new enemy gathers its strength, readying to push the fracturing Shima imperium into a war it cannot hope to survive. And across raging oceans, amongst islands of black glass, Yukiko and Buruu will face foes no katana or talon can defeat.

The ghosts of a blood-stained past.

My Review:

The second I flipped to the first page, I instinctively knew that Kinslayer would be the novel to bring me out of my month long reading depression. That mourning period of time after you read a really really good novel and feel as if you'll never be able to face another with the same enthusiasm. If you're an old time subscriber, you'd already know that I've been away on vacation in China for the past month, which sadly means that I only had the books that I brought along with me annnnd that I had no way to access my poor, neglected blog. Sucks, I know. But that just made the surprise all the sweeter when I came home to not one....but two ARC copies of Kinslayer...which means that they'll be a giveaway coming up very soon, so stay tuned. :D

One of the awesomely unique aspects of this novel is the character directory in the beginning. Something I desperately needed since I forgot most of the minor characters' names. Along with the names came a brief, but helpful, description of the character and the location they were last seen in at the end of Stormdancer. Another thing that I admired about Jay's novel was that he recapped, in a subtle fashion, the major events that occurred in Stormdancer in a way that jogged your memory but didn't leave you bored to tears or irritatingly patronized by rehearing things that you already knew.

All of the characters in Kinslayer played strong roles leading up to the overall outcome of the novel. And since Jay decided to stick to the third person writing style he used in Stormdancer, we saw from all of their perspectives and how the rebellion affected each and every single one of their lives. This tactic.....was both good and bad in my eyes, because yes, I definitely enjoyed knowing what was happening to each character.....but at the same time I was itching to skim pages because my mind was more set on hearing Yukiko's story then that of the other peoples.

I fell in love with most of the characters because they were such capable, independent people, people that you'd aspire to be one day, minus all the killing of course. Even though they were bad a, they were still vulnerable in their own ways, even Michi, who scared the shit out of me sometimes with her ruthlessness. However, the things she did only made me respect her character all the more. After everything that's happened in her past, she's not willing to take chances on anyone any longer. She does whatever is needed for the sake of survival, manipulating the people around her into thinking she's just a helpless young girl seeking some semblance of direction in her life when there's a lethal, cold-blooded killer hiding just below the surface instead. And Yukiko? There were so many times that I found myself being crushed by all the feels when I saw Yukiko losing herself piece by piece to the fury within her after all that happened with her father. Even though life kept throwing seemingly unconquerable obstacles in her way, tripping her over and over again, she still got up and kept fighting, even when most of the world would have just given up.

Jay's unique writing style was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because he always spoke in a melodious, poetic, and elegant way, even when spouting off a joke. Therefore, making the story flow from page to page in a seamless way. There weren't any awkward pauses or stilted sentences whatsoever which I was grateful for. However, it was also a curse, because with so many descriptive details, so much world-building, it made the plot drag a little bit. Nowhere near the way it dragged in the first novel, but still enough to be noticed from time to time.

Overall, Kinslayer was a great read that I thoroughly enjoyed, perhaps even more then its predecessor. The twists, turns, and jaw-dropping betrayals had me sobbing hysterically and punching walls. It's truly a rare thing to take me completely by surprise without at least a vague notion of what's going to happen next, but Jay succeeded in doing it anyways. The comedy was absolutely hilarious, best I've seen in a long time. Jay has his very own special type of humor that I just couldn't get enough of. Adding to that, this novel also had a badass, katana wielding heroine and revolved around an amazing Japanese culture centered theme. Love. Love. LOVE. Will be eagerly awaiting to discover where Yukiko and Burruu's adventures will lead me next.

Heroine- 5/5
Action- 4.5/5
Romance- N/A
There is romance....
but it's a little hard to explain.
Comedy- 6/5
Couldn't get enough of it.
Theme- 6/5 Super unique.
Overall- 4.5/5

About The Author:

Jay Kristoff is a Perth-born, Melbourne-based author. His first trilogy, THE LOTUS WAR, was purchased in the three-way auction by US publishing houses in 2011. He is as surprised about it as you are. The first installment, STORMDANCER, is set to be published in September 2012 in the US, UK and Australia.

Jay is 6’7, has approximately 13870 days to live and does not believe in happy endings.

Find The Author:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Hover by Melissa West

Hover by Melissa WestReading Level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 352 Pages
Release Date: August 13, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Narration: First Person: Ari
Genre: Paranormal/Dystopian
Challenge: Paranormal/Dystopian
Source: Netgalley

The Taking Series:
Book One: Gravity
Book Two: Hover
Book Three: Collide (2014)

Order On Amazon: Paperback
Order On Barnes and Noble:
Paperback and Nook

Goodreads  Website  Twitter

 Add To Goodreads
Goodreads Synopsis:

On Earth, seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander was taught to never peek, but if she hopes to survive life on her new planet, Loge, her eyes must never shut. Because Zeus will do anything to save the Ancients from their dying planet, and he has a plan. 

Thousands of humans crossed over to Loge after a poisonous neurotoxin released into Earth's atmosphere, nearly killing them. They sought refuge in hopes of finding a new life, but what they became were slaves, built to wage war against their home planet. That is, unless Ari and Jackson can stop them. But on Loge, nothing is as it seems...and no one can be trusted.

My Review:

I guess my expectations were just a little too high for this one. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't anywhere near hating it, but I definitely was no where close to loving it either. To me, this was just another unfortunate case to suffer from second book syndrome. I can't even put my finger on what I disliked about this novel, it just felt off in some way. It didn't have my pulse running or have me anxiously pressing the next page button on my Kindle. It was just a "meh" read that was lacking a lot of "oomph".

Hover starts off pretty much exactly where Gravity left off. If felt as if it was simply a continuation of the first novel, and that no time had passed at all, despite the year gap we actually did spend waiting for it. Usually, I have no problem with that, because authors generally take it into their interests to subtly recap the important events in the previous novel, but as you can already guess, that didn't happen here. If I had read both of these books together, I would've obviously remembered all of the names and the plot from the previous novel. However, since that wasn't the case, I was left floundering around, wondering what the hell was going on.

Throughout most of the book, Ari questioned herself as a leader and whether or not she was capable enough of leading a full-blown rebellion. Which to me, was understandable. I mean, if I was in her place, I'd be rocking back and forth in a corner, hardly able to function properly from the stress of being responsible for the lives of not one, but two freaking planets. Although she was a strong, unbendable character at times, there were also numerous times when I wanted to smack some sense into her thick brain. She's so smart, yet so unbelievably stupid and naive. Use your brain, girl!

There wasn't as much fighting as I was hoping for, however, there was just enough to satisfy my bloodthirst. xD But despite the fact that there was always something happening, I never felt emotionally involved or connected with the storyline. I was reading it and comprehending the sentences, but at the same time, it was just going through one ear and out the other. There was no substance to hold onto.

The part I was looking forward to the most, was surprisingly the romance, a topic I usually don't make a lot of fuss about. But something about the camaraderie and connection these two had in the first novel had me practically drooling for more. They were so perfect for each other! However, what I actually got in Hover didn't even come near to meeting my expectations. They were constantly switching back and forth between hating then loving each other. Enough to actually give me a headache and put down the novel a few times. I really hope Melissa is able to bring the relationship back to what it was in Gravity. Ari and Jackson have so much potential!

Overall, I'm just....disappointed. It was alright if you graded it independently, but compared to it's predecessor, Hover was depressingly lacking in every department. Will I still be reading the last book in the series? Of course. But I'll be more guarded for disappointment this time.

*An ARC was provided by Netgalley in exchange for a honest and thoughtful review.

Heroine- 3/5
Action- 3/5
Romance- 2.5/5
Writing- 3.5/5
Overall- 3/5