Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Forever by Karen Ann Hopkins Release and Guest Post: Courting Amish Style

This beauty just released today! And in honor of the book's release, I have a guest post to share and help spread the word. 

As a country girl and Michigan native, I know my fair share of Amish folks. I see them all the time on the road, and my grandparents used to be really good friends with them. I even went and saw how they made maple syrup with my grandpa when I was young. It was a special moment for the two of us. I've always been fascinated by their culture and their views. I've grown up with them and am no stranger to their ways. But I thought this guest post was really fascinating, and I wanted to share it with you guys. 


Courting Amish Style

What Rose and Noah face when they begin courting.

Yes, there still is a place in the world where the process of a boy and a girl getting to know each other is called ‘courting.’ In Amish communities throughout the Midwest and stretching into other regions of the United States, dating is called courting and breaking up is referred to as ‘quitting’ each other.
Because of my years of contact with Amish teens coming to my farm to participate in horse-back riding activities, babysitting my children or hanging out with my own teenagers, I’ve come to understand their secretive world of courtship very well. 
            First, Amish teens do get to pick their partner, contrary to popular belief.  But they must choose another Amish member or they’ll get into heaps of trouble as seen in TEMPTATION where Noah, an Amish teen, falls for Rose, an outsider. The boys and girls of a community spend their entire lives together; meeting as toddlers, going through school together until the eighth grade and participating in church and weekly youth activities, such as singings and volleyball or softball games. 
By age sixteen, many of the Amish have already decided on their future spouse.  Courting is serious business for the Amish.  ‘Dating around’ is not acceptable behavior within the Amish society.  A person chooses carefully who they will commit to courting, because they know that they will be expected to stay in the relationship due to problems that can arise within the community when couples ‘quit’ each other.  Also, divorce is almost unheard in the Amish world, so teens tread lightly with the opposite sex until they decide on the right person.
           The Amish youth are encouraged to begin romantic relationships, because it helps insure that they will remain Amish.  Since the teens aren’t allowed to court until they’ve officially gone through the ceremony to join their church, many young ones who might have reservations about living their lives the Amish way, will commit to it in order to be with the person they’re fond of.  With courting, comes the prospect of marriage and a jump into adulthood, which satisfies the hope of more freedom.
Each community has its own set of courting rules. The community I live in for instance, has a-hands-off courting policy. This basically means that a couple will get in HUGE trouble if they get caught holding hands, kissing or going any further physically within the relationship. Punishment includes reciting their sins before their entire community on Sunday and possibly being ‘shunned’ for a length of time, usually lasting one to six weeks, depending on the conduct.  Shunning is especially painful to the couple, because it means they won’t be able to see each other until the time is up. Other communities are a bit more relaxed on the matter, but Amish teens are always held to a high standard when courting.  This doesn’t mean that couples aren’t getting a kiss in here and there or even going much further into a physical relationship, but they are watched carefully and learn early on to either abstain or be extremely stealthy in their liaisons.
Although, the courtship rituals of the Amish society might sound harsh to those of us on the outside, there are many positives to their strict structure. Most couples will begin courting at the age of sixteen and marry by the time they’re nineteen or twenty. Because the teens have a deep sense of responsibility and meaning about entering a relationship, they don’t play games, and there is much less drama and heartbreak involved. They enjoy support from their families and community and begin their lives together on solid ground.
 I’ve witnessed many teens go through the process of courting and each couple eventually married. In the end, they were in love and happy…and isn’t that what we all strive to achieve?
You can read firsthand about Rose and Noah’s courting experience in TEMPTATION, where they meet secretly and struggle to find a way to be together.  Their story continues in BELONGING, when they finally have the opportunity to court in the Amish way, but are torn apart again when Rose’s family puts a stop to it. You will find out once and for all if Rose and Noah find their happily-ever-after in FOREVER.   
Learn about a fascinating culture while taking an emotional roller coaster ride in the TEMPTATION series! I love to hear from readers! You can contact me on my FB page (Karen Ann Hopkins) or the Temptation FB page.

Happy reading!

Karen Ann Hopkins

About the Author:
A native of New York State, Karen Ann Hopkins now lives with her family on a farm in northern Kentucky, where her neighbors in all directions are members of a strict Amish community. Her unique perspective became the inspiration for the story of star-crossed lovers Rose and Noah. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, giving riding lessons or tending to a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats, she is dreaming up her next romantic novel.

Release Day Blitz: My Sweetest Escape by Chelsea M. Cameron

The past will always find you.

Jos Archer was the girl with the perfect life; until the night it all came crashing down around her. Now, nine months later, she still hasn't begun to pick up the pieces. Even transferring to a new college and living under the watchful eye of her older sister, Renee, isn't enough to help her feel normal again.

And then she meets Dusty Sharp. For reasons Jos can't begin to fathom, the newly reformed campus bad boy seems determined to draw her out of her shell. And if she's not careful, his knowing green eyes and wicked smile will make her feel things she's no longer sure she deserves.

But even as Dusty coaxes Jos to open up about the past, he's hiding secrets of his own. Secrets about the night her old life fell apart. When the truth is finally revealed, will it bring them closer together;or tear them apart for good?

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/LfFN6j 
B&N: http://bit.ly/1e2zWgS 
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1esy387




Monday, January 27, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris

Today is the cover reveal for the first book in Rachel Harris' new YA contemporary series! :)


Release Date: September 30, 2014
Author: Rachel Harris 

According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you're friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.


Find Rachel Harris Online: 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Release Day Launch: All The Pretty Poses by M. Leighton

He never wanted to be a hero…until she needed him to be.

It took Kennedy Moore years to put her life back together after Reese Spencer shattered it.  But she did. Now, years later, strong and independent, she is in pursuit of a single dream—to dance with the Altman American Dance Theater. Unfortunately, Kennedy is learning that a girl from nowhere with no money and no contacts might never be able to reach her goal.  

That is, until Reese reappears, offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that Kennedy just can’t refuse. In exchange for working on his yacht for a few short weeks, he’ll get her an audition with the famous dance troupe.  All Kennedy has to do is keep her head down, work hard and resist Reese.  That sounds easy enough, right?

Reese doesn’t want to make it easy for Kennedy.  Seeing her again has started a fire in his blood—an unwelcome one. It took him years to forget about her before, so this time he has a plan.  It’s simple: Get Kennedy on his yacht, seduce her, get her out of his system, move on with his life. That sounds easy enough, right? 

But the one thing Reese didn’t plan for was Kennedy herself—a girl so strong yet so broken, she makes him want to rescue her, to take care of her.  To save her. Even if he has to save her from himself.



About M. Leighton

M. Leighton is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Wild Ones and The Bad Boys romance trilogies.  She is a native of Ohio, relocated to the warmer climates of the South, where she lets her mind wander to romantic settings with sexy Southern guys much like the one she married and the ones you'll find in her latest books.  When her thoughts aren't roaming in that direction, she'll be riding horses, swimming in ponds and experiencing life on a ranch, all without leaving the cozy comfort of her office.  

For more about M. Leighton, visit her website at www.MLeightonBooks.blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter: @mleightonbooks.



What’s up for grabs? 
·         2- $250 Visa Gift Cards

How do I enter?
Via the Rafflecopter posted here and on each participating site, you may:

·         Like the M. Leighton, Author Facebook page (5 points, can only do once)

·         Follow @mleightonbooks on Twitter (5 points, can only do once)

·         Share the giveaway graphic on Twitter along with one reason that you’re excited to meet Reese (10 points, can do once per day)
·         Tag three different friends in the comments under the graphic on the M. Leighton Author Facebook page with one reason you’re excited to meet Reese (10 points, can do once per day)

The giveaway begins at 12:00 am EST on January 14, 2014 and ends at 12:00 am EST on February 3, 2014.  Winners will be randomly selected by 5:00 pm EST on February 5, 2014.  For a complete list of rules, please see the “Rules” section of the Rafflecopter. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Emotions and Dreams: Review of Some Quiet Place

Some Quiet Place had one of the most freshest and original story-lines that I've read in quite some time. The very idea that emotions and elements are supernatural beings, and that someone with no emotions can see them, had me so intrigued to find out more about this book. To say the least, I was hooked from the very first sentence: Fear is coming.

Rating: 4.5 Hauntingly Beautiful Stars!

I was hooked from the beginning, though it took me a little time to get into Elizabeth's narrative. The main character doesn't feel any emotions, so her voice can sometimes make her seem very cold and selfish. But it was just sort of haunting with a desperate undertone. I could still connect with her as a person, and I ended up really loving her as a character. Elizabeth was someone who felt different, who didn't think she belonged in her family. And for a character who doesn't feel, her narrative was sure making me feel! The way she described everything that was happening, the way she narrated the story had me feeling every single emotion that she couldn't. Maggie's cancer, Fear's desperation and curiosity, Joshua's worry and shyness. Elizabeth tried to play the cold and unattainable person, a hollow shell with no heart. But she really did feel; she really did care about the people who never gave up on her. She just tried so hard not to show it, even going so far as to push people away by lying about her feelings. 

And she was always trying to figure out who she was and why she didn't fit in. Why she could see the other plane, the supernatural beings who show up for her friends and family on a daily basis. Longing makes regular appearances by her friend, Joshua. Fear steps in when Elizabeth needs help. Courage, the eternal enemy and brother of Fear, becomes a source of wisdom. Guilt and Resentment and Anger make regular trips to the Caldwell house. But above all, none have ever been able to touch Elizabeth, and it'll take strange happenings, cryptic dreams, a mysterious stranger, and a strong will to figure out why.

But she does have the help of Fear, a beautiful yet cold boy who can't seem to stay away from her. All the other Emotions have given up on wondering why Elizabeth can't feel them, except for this eternal being. Guys, I totally fell for Fear. <3 
"You asked me once if I ever get tired of being who I am, and the answer is this: only when I have to leave you." 
Oh, the feels! ;) While Fear seems to be a character you don't know if you can trust, his protectiveness toward the feisty and strong heroine is utterly swoon-worthy. She's a mystery to him, one he can't seem to resist. He protects her, helps her, makes her feel. Though she tries desperately to push him away, he won't budge. Their romance didn't overpower the mysterious story-line, and for that I was grateful. The love that developed between them was subtle, slow, and utterly warm. (It sort of seems like a love triangle, but there was never any choice, at least IMO).

The mysteries had me guessing right up until I turned the pages and found the answers. I may have had my own thoughts on them, but never knew I was completely right or completely wrong until the twists were uncovered. Like who Elizabeth was, why she dreams about the siblings, and who's been following her. The plot was fantastic in that it had my attention until I finished, though sometimes the pacing was a little slow, so I ended up taking longer than I usually do to read it all the way through (it may be the whole reason this is getting 4.5 stars). The whole concept of Emotions and Elements being personified was brilliant, and I thought the author did a wonderful job on building the world. It was so descriptive and so imaginative. 

Some Quiet Place was a wonderfully written, imaginative story with a unique concept. The main character's narrative was haunting yet captivating. The romance was subtle yet sweet. This was a totally engrossing novel that I couldn't stop reading.

Favorite Quote:
"If we don't take any risks, then we won't find the things worth living for." -Joshua

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

NERC Review #4: Salt by Danielle Ellison

*I received an eARC of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Once I heard that this one was about witches, I had to have it. I just love paranormal stories about these crafty characters, so I took a chance on Salt even though I'd heard really mixed reviews about it. And I had to say, although I enjoyed it, I had a few problems with the plot and the main character.

Rating: 3 stars!
Salt is a story about a witch who doesn't have any powers. She can only feed off of her family's power, yet she still wants to become an Enforcer. And even though she has no power, she's determined to chase down demons and find the one who killed her family. And becoming an Enforcer is what she needs to do to exact vengeance and steal her magic back. Now, I love determined characters, ones who never give up on what they want, no matter how hard the task is. But Penelope made some pretty stupid choices. She had that heroine complex where she ran headfirst into dangerous situations without thinking about the consequences. She tended to not think things through, unless it came to keeping her secret from everyone around her. Because if anyone in the witch community found out that she didn't have any magic, she'd be labeled a Static and kicked out. The only people who know about her are her family. And Carter. 

Penelope meets Carter when she expels a demon on her own. Only, she didn't actually do it on her own. Somehow, in some way, she's able to pull magic from Carter, and it's so much stronger than when she uses her family members' power. 

Now, that mystery was stretched to the thinnest point possible throughout the story. Honestly, so much of the story could have been cut out because of how easy everything was to figure out. I actually didn't figure out Penelope's ancestry, but looking back, I don't see how I could have missed it. It was staring right in front of my face, and the characters', yet it was never revealed until practically the end of the book. Also, the whole mystery behind who Carter is was extremely easy to figure out. 

The relationship between Penelope and Carter was sort of sweet, and sort of bland. Penelope was never sure of her feelings for him or if she wanted to kiss him or punch him. She never even questioned him, tried to figure out his past until later on. And Carter appeared in the beginning as more of a badass than he actually is. You really don't get much from him, except he's tracking demons because they took his mother. I mean, I liked them both as characters, but I think the romance dominated the story-line too much. 

The plot was simple, yet something kept me turning the pages. I think the author tried to balance out the action, the romance, and the mystery, but it wasn't executed well enough for me. I wanted more action! I wanted more badass demon fights than what we actually get. Because in this book, the characters are training to become Enforcers. They're not actually old enough to even do magic and track demons on their own. Also, the fights were a little disappointing. They were more like Penelope running headfirst into dangerous situations when she has no way of defending herself, and then Carter saving her. I wish they would have been more intense for this type of story-line.

Overall, I did enjoy Salt. I'm not too sure I'm enthusiastic about the sequel, though. I liked the characters, but the overall plot was not enough for this type of supernatural book. I wanted more action, and the mystery wasn't that hard to figure out if you were actually paying attention. But all in all, I liked it. :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Beautiful and Heartbreaking Conclusion to the Everneath Series

Forget second book syndrome, the final book is the most nerve-wracking one of a series. If you come to love the characters and the world they live in, if you can't seem to let go yet, it's a whole different feeling while reading the conclusion. Because, at the end of the book, it's over. Done. Final. And afterward, your emotions are a rollercoaster ride of feelings. The journey was worth it, but you feel like you've lost a loved one, a dear friend. 

I knew this book was going to destroy me. I knew it was going to break me. But I wouldn't change anything about it, because I thought it was the best ending possible for one of my favorite series. :)


No, seriously, don't keep reading if you haven't read this book!!

Many, many spoilers ahead...

Read at your own risk. ;)

I don't even know where to start with this, so I'll try the beginning. In the end of Everbound, Nikki finds out that Cole tricked her into becoming an Everliving. Her answer: I'm going to destroy the Everneath. And that had me pumping my fist in the air and shouting Hell yes! It's decisions like those that make love a heroine, especially Nikki, even more than I already do. 

Nikki's character growth from beginning to end was beautiful to watch unfold. She was so broken, so miserable in Everneath after returning from the Feed. She'd had only six months to live before the Shades came for her, and only six months to say goodbye to the people she loves. But she's a strong character, one who fights for her life and fights for the people she loves. She never gave up, and Jack would never let her give up. 

The relationship between Nikki and Jack was so sweet and so true. I knew, even in Everneath, that Cole would never be a contender for her heart. It was always Jack. Ever Yours. Everything they went through, every obstacle, every choice, every mistake, made them stronger. Not just as individuals, but together. The connection between them was so tangible that it was hard to believe anything would come between them. Their bond was unbreakable, and it showed throughout all three novels. Even when they disagreed, especially about the realization that Nikki would rather die than take a Forfeit, it never once broke them. It never once made them want to destroy the love they have. If anything, it just made them stronger. They are childhood sweethearts, and I love how their relationship stayed true to who they were as characters. Jack was a total swoon-worthy hero who would do whatever it took to save Nikki. It's in that selfless love that made them seem even more potent and real.

However, I absolutely adored the relationship between Nikki and Cole. Like I said above, I knew that Cole was never a contender for her heart. But that didn't stop me from loving their relationship. It was complex and had so much depth, and it was incredibly emotional. Love may be the most powerful emotion of all, but hate is just as potent. So is rage. So is hurt. Nikki was so angry at Cole for what he did, so hurt that her friend betrayed her. And that's the difference between her relationships with the two guys. Jack was always her soulmate, the guy who knows her inside and out, the one who makes her realize that life's worth living. But Cole was her friend first and foremost (even if he had ulterior motives). Cole and Nikki had chemistry, but what was more striking with their relationship for me was the fact that Nikki realized she could forgive him. That she wanted to. I think, had this ended a different way, Nikki and Cole would have gone on to become friends. Good friends. Because for all the hurt and anger and hate that were swirling between them, love and forgiveness and redemption were much stronger. It was a different kind of love than Jack's and Nikki's; it was a selfless kind, a warmth, a caring. In the end, Nikki forgave him. And Cole forgave himself.
I bit my lip to keep it from trembling. "Give me your heart," I said. 
He tilted his head, leaned forward, watching my eyes the entire time to make sure it was okay, and kissed me lightly on the lips. "You already have it."
*sobs uncontrollably* Dear God, those two simple sentences broke my heart in two. I think I knew. No, scratch that. I think I was certain while reading Evertrue that the end for Cole was always death. I love that bad boy with all my heart, but honestly? This was exactly how the book was supposed to end. And that last scene with Cole and Nikki was absolutely beautiful, and heartbreaking, and intense. But the most beautiful part of this book for me was Cole's redemption. He did some horrible things; he'd been a horrible person before he met Nikki. But in Evertrue, we see the real Cole, the one he hides deep down inside. And thanks to a certain plot twist, we see the true depth of his character and we learn more about his past. The character growth that he went through was absolutely amazing. The sheer complexity of Cole was written brilliantly. He had so much depth, but we just never got to see much of it (which, I was kind of sad about). But he became the kind of tortured hero that I love reading about, and ultimately, he sacrificed himself for love. 

People will be mad about this, I know. I just hope they understand that this series was more than just a love triangle, more than just Team Cole and Team Jack. Because if you think about it, Cole was never going to end up with the girl. And I was okay with that. This was one of the most well-done love triangles I've ever read, so I was completely happy with what happened. Not because I was rooting for Jack and Nikki (I just always knew they were perfect for each other). But because I was Team Cole, as in he was my favorite character in this series. And because I saw his death coming but knew what it meant for his character. For Cole, Nikki was the only reason he had to live. When he watched his band mates, his best friends die, he lost his home. It was in that moment that I knew. And when I found out that the only way Nikki, Jack, and Cole could destroy the Everneath was to destroy all of the Everlivings, I knew there was no other way it could end. Not for Cole. And if you think about it, it was the perfect ending for him. Not only because he'd accepted it, but because he did the ultimate thing for love. He let Nikki go so she could live a long and happy life with Jack. And that was his ultimate redemption. But damn if my heart doesn't still hurt.

The mythology in this book is pure genius. The sheer complexity of the Everneath, and the crazy plot twists, had me completely scared because I never saw the ending coming until a few chapters before it. I was undeniably certain in the beginning that Nikki would eventually become Queen. I just never thought they'd be able to destroy the Everneath, especially since it all happened so quickly. Ha, so I suppose I was right that she would become Queen; I just didn't expect that they would actually take down this mythological Underworld that's been around for thousands of years! I should have expected it, considering how utterly crazy these characters are and how kickass they can be! I took my time with this book, wanting to savor all of the moments. The way the author unraveled the story-line had me not wanting to finish it. It was intense; it was gripping. It was so damn emotional and heartbreaking. But it was utterly captivating with its complex characters and poignant moments in-between the suspense. 

I just, love this series so much. Every book was better than the last, and this final stage was a truly epic conclusion. This series was more than just a love triangle, more than just Nikki's choices and mistakes, more than her regret, more than just life or death. It was love and healing; redemption and forgiveness. It was about knowing when to let go and picking the right choice even when it caused unfathomable pain. It was about true love between two characters who couldn't imagine a life without the other. It was about redemption for a character who learned what it meant to live and what it meant to love. Evertrue was an amazing ending for these characters and this series. It was so right and so perfect

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Only For You by Tista Ray

Book Blurb:
It is said that people’s lives are tales of two great journeys - the pursuit of happiness and the search for true love.

Edward seems to have achieved one of these ultimate goals by falling in love with Daisy.

But in his quest for true love, will he be willing to let go of his one special friend, and perhaps, sacrifice his chance for happiness?

If there’s a choice between love and friendship, would Edward sacrifice one for the other? Would he be able to live with his choice and never ask himself what if he chose the other?


Author's Bio:
Tista Ray, a 19-year-old Commonwealth Bronze Award winning Indian authoress, has penned her debut novella MELANCHOLIC DELIGHT and got published in January 2013. Since the age of 11 she has been actively involved in writing newspaper articles (for TTIS and The Telegraph) and currently serves as the editor of a free women's ezine LADY UNWRITTEN. Besides this her charity works deserve special mention. She's donating her book's proceeds to an orphanage. Her other published title includes SUMMER SOULMATES in Summer's Edge (by Elephant Bookshelf Press), FOR MY LOVE'S SAKE in A Gift of a Rose (by Lost Tower Publications) and many more. Her second novella ONLY FOR YOU is set to be published in early 2014 by Books To Go Now. To add up, she's the "promising word-weaver" whom the bloggers consider "a treat for the readers." Follow her on Twitter @tista_ray or visit her official website at tistarayofficial.weebly.com or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tistaray4 for free writing material, publishing news, motivational quotes and giveaway contests.

Contact Information:
• Twitter: https://twitter.com/tista_ray (@tista_ray )


***There is a giveaway, but there are a few rules. SO, READ. THEM. CAREFULLY!! 
Happy Giveaway! :)***

1. Only those who purchases the book 'Only For You' and shows the purchase receipt to the author are eligible for winning the freebies.
2. Others will only contest for the giveaway to win a cameo appearance in the writer's next writing and a few sample chapters of the 'Only For You' (1 winner only).

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Gods and Visions: Review of Destiny Gift

*I received a free copy of this from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I went into Destiny Gift not knowing what to expect, but I was immensely surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The concept of Nadine, the main character, meeting the real-life man she's been dreaming about really intrigued me!

Rating: 3.5 stars!
Once I started reading, I was kind of hooked. This book did not take me at all long to finish! I loved the main character's voice and how she told the story. Her inner dialogue flowed easily, and I found myself pulled along on Nadine's journey to discovering what her visions really mean.

However, the book didn't really pick up for me until the halfway point. Much of the beginning is very basic and mundane, except for Nadine's visions and the Victor in her dreams showing up. Most of her inner dialogue revolved around the fact that the Victor in real life was not the same man she'd fallen in love with during her dreams. It's hard for Nadine to take, so I understand her need to figure him out. But she spent quite a lot of time talking about Victor, and even Micah. It turned into a love triangle quickly, and I'm sure that subplot will still remain in the second book. I'm not so sure Nadine even understands who and what she wants. Her feelings for Victor, especially, were back and forth and quite confusing. I understand her confusion, because she fell in love with a man who didn't exist and the one standing before falls short of that high standard. But sometimes, that heavy focus on the two boys instead of her visions took away from my reading enjoyment. 

I thought Nadine was a pretty strong character, though she did tend to get on my nerves. Like I said above, much of her dialogue revolves around the men in her life, especially Victor. It made the romance seem more important than what was really going on with her visions. I didn't think she spent enough time trying to figure out what they meant, or why she has them. Her visions showed the past, the present, and the future, but it took her a long time to even question them. But Nadine was a likable character who felt very realistic in this post-apocalyptic world. Though there is major importance in her visions, Nadine doesn't stop going to school or let it rule her life. I liked that, but then again, the story-line didn't really move until Micah showed up, demanding that they leave because someone wanted them dead. After that, the plot thickens. 

I think this book was more mythological than paranormal, but I loved those aspects of it. Destiny Gift, at first, seems your basic paranormal and post-apocalyptic novel. The readers find out what's really going on before the main character does. Much of the mythological aspects were easy to figure out, or at least, guess about. (Cheryl's character was very easy to figure out!). But who would have thought the destruction and desolation of the world was because the real gods and goddesses got greedy and started a war with each other? I loved the mythological story-line and plot! It was my favorite part of the book. It seems really straight-forward when you get sucked into the visions with Nadine, but there is so much more going on than what is shown. I guessed at what it all meant, and I was partially right. But I still don't know everything. So, I'm really looking forward to what's going to happen in the second book, because that was one sucky cliffhanger!

The secondary characters were all very well-written, especially the two swoon-worthy love interests and the villainous gods and goddesses. They all seemed to have a role to play, even if it was to hurt the main character. Victor and Micah were polar opposites, two male characters whose ancestry is a lot more complicated than any of them could have guessed (I was actually pretty close with that guess). I want to know more about them! They're both really intriguing and well-written. And, of course, extremely hot and protective.

Overall, I really enjoyed Destiny Gift. I just felt that the focus of the book was placed more on the romance, or the lack of one, between Nadine and Victor. The confusion of him being different from her dream Victor was heavily focused on in the beginning that I thought it took away from the mythological story-line. But I loved the complex characters, and I can't wait to see where this plot goes! 

Friday, January 17, 2014

NERC Review #3: Song of the Fireflies by J.A. Redmerski

*I received an eARC of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I don't even know how to review this book. I liked it, but I didn't. I loved most of the characters but wanted to smack them so many times! And the plot was filled with some ridiculous scenes that made me want to stop reading. All in all, it was definitely NOT my favorite J.A. Redmerski book. 

Rating: 3 stars!
....Where do I even start? So, in The Edge of Always and in this novel, J.A. decided to use time gaps to further her plot and show the background of the main characters (or, in the case of Andrew and Camryn, it was the end of their story). But, I didn't think it worked out that well. I disliked the huge gaps in the end of The Edge of Always, and I disliked them in this. The time gaps seemed a little all over the place. I get that they showed Bray's and Elias' relationship from the beginning, but I didn't care for them too much. 

I loved Elias' POV, but he didn't have much of a life that didn't revolve around Brayelle. Everything was about her. I just felt like he wasn't his own person. He did everything for her, even ruined his own life just because he loved her too much to let her go. God knows what he sees in that girl. She wasn't exactly the best person, and it was always about what he could do for her. She even left him, stayed in South Carolina for four years, and then breezed back into his life with no warning. And he took her back without a second thought. Elias deserved so much more than Brayelle and her mistake. 

I thought it was admirable, what Elias did. But I also thought it was the stupidest fucking thing he ever could have done. He did it for Bray, the love of his life. But their relationship was very dark and damaged. I don't even think they're really that perfect for each other. I picture their relationship more like an obsessive addiction. They didn't necessarily bring out the best in each other, but they did love each other. I could see it, feel it--but the fact that Bray actually broke her promise with Elias and tried to commit suicide, and the fact that Elias would have killed himself if she'd have accomplished it, just makes me think twice about the whole dynamic of their love. 

I hated Brayelle Bates. So damn much. She was a poisonous human being who had dark, dark issues that made her seem selfish, neurotic, bipolar, and just completely unhinged. I can't believe that she would let the person she loved do what he did without even thinking about how it would affect his life. Elias said it best when he said: 
"I can't go down for you, but you'll let me go down with you?"
Her absolute disregard for his feelings and for his life just pissed me the hell off. She was a disaster, a poisonous person with so much darkness inside of her. She brought Elias down with her, and that's not love. That's bullshit. I don't care if she wouldn't let him testify as her witness, or that she would have left him so he wouldn't go down with her. Those were selfish decisionsIt was easier for her to lose the love of her life by leaving than facing her mistakes and telling the truth. She never once considered what it would do to him, how it would affect his life. She only ever cared about herself. I'm just so unbelievably pissed off with Bray and her actions. And I honestly never saw any actual character development with her. I just saw a girl who was only trying to save herself

The plot of this story was very.... WHAT THE HELL WAS UP WITH CALEB SHOOTING UP A CONVENIENCE STORE AND TAKING HOSTAGES?! Because let's be honest here, the only reason the author did that was so Bray wouldn't have to make the decision to turn herself in. It's such bullshit! Oh, my main character is a horrible, horrible person, so let me just slap Caleb (the innocent yet womanizing bastard) with another, much longer prison sentence because Bray is a narcissistic bitch who doesn't even want to live

But seriously, the plot was all over the place in that it was just filler stories before Bray and Elias finally got caught and they found their way out of the mess that SHE put them in. It was drinking and doing drugs, having sex all the time, and being on the road with complete strangers. But I did like those strangers! Well, Tate, Jen, and even Caleb, the bastard. I tended to enjoy the conversations between all of them. They were a mismatched bunch of characters, but I loved them together.

I just have incredibly mixed feelings about this book. The only thing I do know for sure is that I absolutely and undeniably hate Brayelle. I also thought Elias had no backbone when it came to her, and he did everything for her only to have her throw it back in his face by planning on leaving him because he wanted to go back home, and then again when she used the pond, their special freaking childhood place, to end her life. But no matter my hatred of one of the main characters, no matter that I hated her POV, I think I still liked this book. It was a slow, almost painful read sometimes, but the end did make up for it. 

That ending was amazing! I'm not a huge fan of Elias and Brayelle's relationship, but I absolutely love how the author brought it back full circle, to the innocence of their childhood and the love they found among the fireflies. It was my favorite part of the whole book, I think. :) Song of the Fireflies was a hard book to read, what with the sometimes absurd story-line, disastrous couple who made mistake after mistake, and one of the worst female MCs. Not to mention, the numerous dark issues surrounding Brayelle sometimes seemed too extreme and a little unnecessary. But I did like the general message that love can survive anything, and that love can be the ultimate balm to pain. That strength can be found in unlikely doses and places, and that true friendship can last through the worst storms. It wasn't my favorite J.A. Redmerski book, but I didn't hate it. I don't think it was her best, but that doesn't mean I'm not glad I read it.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

NERC Review #2: Stealing Promises by Brina Courtney

*I received an eARC of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I honestly don't know where to start with this novel. Oh wait, I guess I should call it a novella because it probably wasn't much more than a 100 pages. (Okay, it's 144, actually. But that changes nothing). And it was in the fact that this had so few pages where I disliked this book. TOO MUCH HAPPENED! Too much happened in this story, so much so that I didn't find any of it believable. The character development was lacking (Victoria's didn't seem believable in such a short time) and the plot was mostly filled with useless and irrelevant information that didn't really relate to anything that was going on in the scenes they were in. And I actually felt that a 1st person narrative would have been much better for how this was set up.

Stealing Promises had such... Well, promise. I'd been really looking forward to this book, but nothing about it worked for me. NOTHING.

Rating: 1 star! 

Firstly, this book needed an editor. Badly. I also thought the writing style and the characters' conversations didn't seamlessly flow together. 

Secondly, I couldn't connect with any of the characters. Even though this book was 144 pages, the characters never really jumped off the page and become more than just cardboard cut-outs. I don't even know what kind of personality Victoria, the main character, has and what her past is like. I didn't find out anything about anyone!

Thirdly, the plot moved so fast that everything happened much too quickly for how this kind of story should have been handled. And in-between major scenes, it was filled with useless and irrelevant information. Those tidbits just seemed thrown in at random intervals, especially in the beginning! It just didn't... come together to form a more cohesive and effectively written story.

Fourthly, I hated, absolutely hated how the counselor and psychologist were written. As a psychology major who is heading toward a degree to become a counselor/school psychologist, I did NOT appreciate how they were portrayed. Kate's character was utterly unbelievable to me, and I didn't think her "therapy" was brilliant at all. In fact, I think Victoria moved through it all too quickly. It should never have been about how fast Kate could "help" Victoria move on from Levi's death, and she should never have been so bluntly honest with her. That's not the behavior of a counselor, nor is it "unconventional therapy" so much as ridiculous. Counselors help people; they don't bully them. They don't move in with them. They don't see how fast they can get their clients to live again as their ultimate goal. Counselors listen and offer unconditional support, never judgement or shame or disgust. They have to keep emotional distances from their clients, so her living at their house seemed entirely inappropriate. And the other psychologist that they called in when Victoria made a suicide attempt was portrayed as a tool. That scene didn't even last long, and Victoria was out of the hospital within 24 hours. 

Fifthly, this book should be about 100 pages longer. Because of the quick pace of how the main character moved through each "stage" of her life, I didn't feel like her character development was all that believable. And, like I said, I think this book could have been improved by being in a 1st person narrative. The author actually slipped up a few times, using "I" and I almost didn't catch them.

Let's just say, if Stealing Promises had been a full-length novel, I may have actually liked it.