Publisher: CreateSpace

Thorns (Frost Chronicles #2) by Kate Avery Ellison (Book Review)

Posted September 28, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 0 Comments

Thorns (Frost Chronicles #2) by Kate Avery Ellison (Book Review)Thorns by Kate Avery Ellison
Series: Frost Chronicles #2
Published by CreateSpace on September 6, 2012
Genres: Dystopia, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Author
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5 Stars

Lia Weaver went against everything she’d ever known when she risked her life to help a Farther fugitive named Gabe escape from the Aeralian soldiers, and her life changed forever. And the Frost changed, too—the Farthers have taken over her village, a new group of vigilantes calling themselves the Blackcoats are making plans to overthrow the Farther occupiers, and the Thorns are seeking for her to join them.

Lia seeks to fight back against the evil and injustice that has swallowed up her home, but danger lurks at every turn. The monsters that dwell in the deepest regions of the Frost are growing bolder and more dangerous every day, a Farther noble takes up residence in the village on a mysterious mission, and Lia discovers that her parents were harboring even more secrets.

As the frozen world of the Frost grows even more perilous, can Lia survive?

I absolutely loved Frost, the first book in this series, so I was extremely excited when Kate contacted me and asked if I would like to review the sequel! I did not even know it was out yet, which is just nuts because I have been thinking about that book for months. Thorns did not disappoint, and surely did not fall victim of the “second book syndrome” as I like to call it. So often second books are pointless bridges to the concluding book. Thorns was SO not that, though. I really enjoyed reading it, and am even more excited for the next one! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Just like in Frost, I love the setting of this book! The Frost is the coldest place I’ve ever read about, and I loved curling up under my covers and reading about it. Not a lot of books are set in a place like this one, and it’s just freezing, snowy, sparkly, magical place. 

2. Kate’s writing is still absolutely beautiful. Her descriptions of the scenery, the weather, the tense moments, and the simple sweet times are flawless. I could not stop reading.

3. Like I said before, this story is not one of those worthless second novels that authors write because they feel like they absolutely have to write a trilogy. This book gives us so much more information on the underlying mystery of the Thorns and the Farthers, and sets us up for a really awesome third novel.

4. In the last book, I really liked Gabe. Like A LOT. But since Lia helped him escape he was not in this book at all. So now… Adam Brewer… the guy I didn’t think a lot about, is this really mysterious, brave, swoonworthy lead! The romance is minimal, but there’s definitely some tension there. And because there’s no insta-love, that achy tension is extremely believable. I think I’m team Adam now, but I’m torn at the same time!

5. I kind of like that in this book we get to see Lia as more vulnerable and human. In Frost, she was rather emotionless, hardened, and skeptical. She just kept to herself and took life as it came. I think Gabe coming into her life softened her up a bit to the potential of love and also made her think about the life that she wants to be living. Overall, I think he challenged her to go against the rules and fight for what’s right. I enjoyed this change in her a lot. She became more relatable, but not so worn down that she got annoying.

6. I loved all the secrecy and sneaking around that Lia and Adam did as part of the Thorns. There were still some crazy suspenseful moments and a little danger. It was very exciting.

7. I also really loved that Kate gave us enough info to remind us what happened in the first book, but not too much that I felt like I was reading the first book all over again.

Overall, I loved this book just as much as the first one, but for different reasons. Rather than romance, this one focused on secrecy and rebellion. The details and descriptions are gorgeous as ever. I do think Kate is gaining a fan for life. I’m convinced now that I will love anything she writes.

5 Stars

Frost by Kate Avery Ellison (Book Review and Giveaway)

Posted July 23, 2012 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult Fiction / 12 Comments

Frost by Kate Avery Ellison (Book Review and Giveaway)Frost by Kate Avery Ellison
Series: Frost Chronicles #1
Published by CreateSpace on April 18, 2012
Genres: Dystopia, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 194
Format: eBook
Source: Author
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5 Stars

In the icy, monster-plagued world of the Frost, compassion might get a person killed, and Lia Weaver knows this better than anyone. After the monsters kill her parents, she must keep the family farm running or risk losing her siblings to reassignment by the village Elders. With dangers on all sides, she can't afford to let her emotions lead her astray. But when her sister finds a fugitive bleeding to death in the forest, a young man from beyond the Frost named Gabe, Lia does the unthinkable. She saves his life.

Giving shelter to the fugitive could get her in trouble. The Elders have always described the advanced society of people beyond the Frost, the "Farthers," as ruthless and cruel. Lia is startled to find that Gabe is empathetic and intelligent-and handsome. And she might even be falling for him.

But time is running out. The monsters in the forest are growing bold and restless. The village leader is starting to ask questions. Farther soldiers are searching for Gabe. Is compassion-and love-worth the risk?

Welcome to my stop along the official blog tour for Frost by Kate Avery Ellison, hosted by AToMR Tours! I’m quite excited to tell you what I thought about this book! Basically, I loved it, and I was surprised that I loved it, just because I’d never heard of it book before I was given the opportunity to be a part of the tour. I am SO glad I got to read it! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. When I say this book is refreshing, I’m being extremely literal. This is such a great read for a hot summer day, because this book takes place in probably the coldest place ever: The Frost. It’s cold and snowy and windy, with blizzards and fires in the fireplace and short days, with long nights. I loved it!

  • “It was cold, the kind of cold that made bones feel brittle and hands ache. My breath streamed from my lips like smoke, and my feet made wet, crunching sounds in the snow as I slipped through the forest.”
  • “The snow swirled around me, like fat white moths in the darkness.”

2. The writing is gorgeous, and it grabbed me within the first paragraph. Kate Avery Ellison has this amazing knack for presenting ideas like love, and the intense coldness of the Frost, in a beautiful way.

  • “Just thinking abut it took my breath away. I gazed at the world of snowy white around us, at the feathery pines and moonlit hollows. What forgotten secrets lay beneath this icy visage?”
  • “The wind blew, stinging my cheeks and carrying with it the taste of ice. I slogged down the hill to the porch. My legs were weak with relief.”
  • “He kissed me at first like he was afraid I’d break, and then he kissed me like it was the last thing he’d ever do.”
  • “He looked at me like I was made of unbearable light and I was blinding him.”
  • “Love is a perilous dance too, you see. And if we stop dancing, we’ll die. Don’t ever stop dancing.”

See? Beautiful! Don’t some of those quotes make you went to melt into a puddle?

3. I love the storytelling. We are given just enough information to not feel completely unaware, but not enough to make things predictable. I loved the mystery and the unknowns. Like the monsters (Watchers)… Why are they here? What do they want? When will the show up? We are given information as we need it, not as we want it. I was flipping through the pages SO fast. The creativity behind this work is amazing!

4. The characters are all so likeable. Lia is strong and sensible. Her parents are dead, and she has to take care of her crippled twin brother and younger sister. She brings to the story that maturity a person gains when they are all of a sudden a teenage parent to children their own age. He siblings are so sweet and protective of her, but never try and hold her back from doing what she knows she has to do. The villain jumps out at you from nowhere, and the guy you thought you hated ends up being nothing you thought he was.

5. Gabe is swoonworthy, which is why he needs his own bolded number. I mean, he’s got this brooding hardened exterior, and is a man of few words… but the words he actually does say are perfect. He says the most amazing things to Lia. I melted. And he’s from this forbidden people, so we’ve got the tension that goes with “I have a major thing for him, but I’ve been brought up to fear and loathe him.” situation. Also, there’s this slow build up with him. The romance is actually barely mentioned, since it’s in the beginning stages. I bet the next book will include more. There’s no instalove, though, so I am SO willing to wait longer. :)

6. The forest is a character all its own, and I loved it. It sounds so mystical and gorgeous, yet it freaked me out! Every time any person ventured into the trees, I got so scared for them. And as the sky grew darker and darker, and the monsters began to appear… OH MAN. Good stuff, I tell you!

7. The ending is amazing! It’s suspenseful, charged with romance, and ah-ha! moments. Again, you are given the info you need to understand, but there are so many things screaming from inside of me, begging for the sequel. I can’t wait!

This book is a hidden gem. Again, I love being a book blogger, because I get to find all these amazing lesser-known books and then tell you to buy them! I’d recommend this to dystopia lovers, people who believe that monsters lurk in the dark, and swoonworthy male leads!

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Stop by the other tour stops for more book reviews, excerpts, deleted scenes, interviews, & more!

5 Stars

Cicada by Belle Whittington (Book Review + Giveaways!)

Posted June 18, 2012 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

Cicada by Belle Whittington (Book Review + Giveaways!)Cicada by Belle Whittington
Series: Cicada #1
Published by CreateSpace on September 13, 2011
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 220
Format: eBook
Source: Author
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Summertime for Blair Reynolds and her friends had always been carefree and fun... until the summer they happened upon something that was not human. As they band together in a fight for their lives, Blair's true love becomes something more than human. Something unnatural. And their survival depends entirely upon their ability to keep a secret.

Hello! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog as I help kick off the AToMR blog tour for Belle Whittington’s Cicada, book #1 in an exciting and suspenseful young adult sci-fi trilogy (haha. Long sentence there!)! When you are finished reading my review, make sure to find the complete schedule of tour events at the bottom. Also, find the opportunity to win one of 12 ebook copies of Cicada and/or an electronic firefly in a jar in honor of the upcoming sequel to Cicada, called Firefly. Both Rafflecopters are at the bottom of this review. :)

Going into this book, I was not really sure what to expect at all. I mean… cicadas are bugs. And they are noisy little guys! I used to live in Louisiana, and every summer night was accompanied by the sounds of cicadas in the trees. One time I saw one and flipped out. I’m really against bugs in general. And then I read the book blurb, which does not tell you much, and saw the “not human” and thought: Oooo! Aliens! And sci-fi. And hopefully not huge bugs, because I would have a major problem with that. Cicada surprised me! I was not expecting such a suspenseful, romantic, creepy, mysterious, and exciting story. I’m a huge lover of reading conspiracy theories (I don’t believe most of them, but they are fun to think about!), so when crop circles and aliens and UFOs and secret government agencies came into play, I was up all night reading. This was a great story! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. This is a way different kind of story than most sci-fi books I’ve come across lately. It’s kind of a mix of the movie Signs and the Wings series by Aprilynn Pike. Weird, I know. That sounds crazy. Seriously, though! You’ve got the aliens and the crop circles and the “I’m freaking out about the fact that you’re outside in the dark right now” feeling, mixed with the “my boyfriend, who I thought was normal, is not normal at all and is changing and becoming a new person, and I might not see him for a while, but I need to pull through this and be strong” kind of situation.

2. Welcome to a young adult romance without a love triangle! Do you know how much I loved the fact that the main story was not centered around two boys fighting over one girl? It was glorious! Everett, the geeky guy in the group is Blaire’s best friend, and things develop from that. It’s a natural, common kind of real life relationship and I was very happy to see that surface in a sea of books with love triangles.

3. The characters were a lot of fun, but Blair was not my favorite at all. She was kind of an ordinary heroine to me. Her brother Andrew, though, was so great to read about. He is this sweet big brother who has a whole bunch of secrets, and really adores and protects his sister. Blair’s mom kind of weirded me out. She spoke to Blair a lot in sing-sing rhymes, which I found… well, weird. Haha. David is a baseball stud, whose batting skills came in handy and made me like him a lot. He’s also a very caring friend. Then there’s Natalie… and her role in the story confused me. She and David have a thing for each other, but don’t act on it because college is coming up and they will have to part ways. But they are still cuddly and dependent on each other, and then all of a sudden, the relationship escalates, but we were given no clues that it was happening! That romance was a bit unconvincing, but it’s probably because they are supporting characters, so we don’t get much info on them.

4. The creep-factor in Cicada had this chicken quivering under every blanket she owned. There’s just something about people walking through really dark, dense woods in the middle of the DARK. Plus, as Blair and all her friends started to get more and more involved with this non-human situation at hand, they became targets of a very dangerous group of people who were out to kill them. Now me, I’d hide in my closet. Or I’d move. Join a convent. Flee the country. What did they do? They went searching for these people! They entered mysterious buildings with green lights inside in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. Because surely, waiting until it’s light out is not at all practical. You know how you watch a movie, and the main character hears a noise outside, so they walk out to see what it is? And they’re all, “Hello? Is someone there?” And you’re like, “DUH! GETINSIDERIGHTNOW!” Yeah. Exactly. Would you go snooping around scary city in the middle of the night? No, I think not. I was so creeped out that I called my little sister at 2:00 in the morning and asked her to go with me when I brushed my teeth, so that I would not have to walk across the dark hallway alone (because I swear I heard an alien out there). Yes, I’m admitting this to you. And I’m a chicken. This might be something your mom would read as a bedtime story to a 7-year-old you. Don’t judge me if you read this and are not scared. Toast popping out of the toaster has me practically running in place.

5. I wish there was a bit more substance. There was a lot of riding around “in the darkness” and searching a building and four-wheeling and visiting a storage facility. I wish we had been given some more character development and a few different events. The story was relatively short, though, so maybe we’ll get more in book #2. :)

6. The main climax of the book moved really quickly. It took a while to build up, which I enjoyed, but then BAM! Crazy thing happens, and then crazy thing is somewhat resolved within a few pages. I would have liked a little more time between the crazy and the resolution. We are led to believe (through what the characters say) that fixing this major, major problem is going to be extremely hard, but they do it rather easily within just a few pages. I wanted to go through more turmoil and more worry. I wanted the characters to have to struggle more. This is really hard to explain without spoiling things. If you’ve read the book, you know what I mean.

7. The vague blurb was obviously written vaguely for a reason, so I’m not going to spoil anything for you. I find that sometimes a book’s back cover summary gives way too much away. This one leaves you with a lot of questions, which brings me to my next point: this book has left me with SO MANY QUESTIONS, which really frustrated me! Haha. I’m glad there’s a couple more books coming out in this story, and hopefully I’ll know what’s going on by the end of those. :P

This is a really nice debut from Belle Whittington. Of course, there is room for improvement, but isn’t there always? I’m excited to see what she does with the following stories, and it’ll be fun to watch her writing style and storytelling develop as her books continue. The sign of a great author is that each of their books are better than the ones before. I can see Belle being one of those authors. I enjoyed the story a lot, and am going to be on the lookout for the next one. I’d recommend this to lovers of sci-fi romances and conspiracy theories.
 

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Here’s a link to a video of what the electronic firefly looks like. Very cool!

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These giveaways include everyone on every stop of this blog tour, so there is no guarantee that one of my readers will win. Also, I’m not the one in charge of choosing the winners. They are. :)

Follow the tour! Here’s the schedule.


On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves (Review & Intl Giveaway)

Posted March 5, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway / 16 Comments

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves (Review & Intl Giveaway)On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
Series: On the Island #1
Published by CreateSpace on October 11, 2010
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance, Survival
Pages: 329
Format: eBook
Source: Author
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5 Stars

When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day. T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He's almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn't bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family - and a stack of overdue assignments - instead of his friends.

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.'s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island.

Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter. Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.'s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

I was pretty leery of this book. A 33-year-old woman and a 17-year-old boy? I was worried it would be written in a tasteless way, or that it would seem creepy. I was also worried that this book would be as boring as the movie Castaway. Nothing against the movie, but only so much can happen on an island. Gilligan’s Island was entertaining, but it was because of all the shenanigans. I was worried this would be either boring or cheesy. It definitely was not either of those things. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The age difference is not weird, nor is it a big deal. Nothing happens until TJ is almost 19, so don’t worry. He has been through and conquered cancer, and he’s surviving on an island. He is very mature and has a lot of life experience. You will not be weirded out by this concept. I’m mentioning this first because it was the first thing that scared me about this book. Haha.

2. I was hooked from the first page and read over half of the book in one sitting. The beginning is particularly intense, as the plane crash and the process of making it to shore is pretty crazy. The whole book is intense, to be honest. I mean, these two went through everything! Health issues, vicious wildlife, constant worry, depression, etc. I seriously was hooked. I kept saying to myself, “Just one more chapter. Then I’ll go to sleep.”

3. I really liked the two main characters. They strengthened each other and became very close. Anna is smart and caring. She was a mother figure to TJ until he grew up. TJ is strong and incredibly mature. He really takes care of Anna. Their relationship was really very sweet, as it formed from a bond that most people will never understand. I appreciated that they waited on being intimate until TJ was the proper age. If it had happened when they first crashed and he was 16, I would have probably quit reading. I’m not going to spoil anything for you, but let me just say that some of the biggest obstacles they dealt with were not on the island. But they stuck together and pulled through. I love a strong set of characters, and these are probably some of the strongest I’ve ever read about.

4. The narration alternates back and forth between the two characters, allowing us to read what’s going on through both their minds. I loved that.

5. The descriptions of the island and the weather were very detailed and well done. I felt like I was there. Also, the intense moments (like animal attacks) were so intense that I almost quit blinking. I loved how the author took me to the exact moment and dropped me in the middle of it.

6. Remember how I said, “Only so much can happen on an island?” I was wrong! I read through years of these two and their island happenings, and I didn’t get bored once. That takes extreme talent on the author’s part. When over half the book consists of two people, an island, and nature, you would think there’s not much to work with. Things could get boring and repetitive really fast. The conversations and critical events kept me wondering what was going to happen next, and I actually wished that more of the book took place on the island.

7. The writing is flawless. I can’t believe it’s Tracey’s first book! Really, it was beautiful.

8. This book pulled intense emotions out of me. I was scared for these two, and I felt the love they had for each other. Their story is very moving–how they relied so heavily on each other, how they could not think of losing one another, how as long as they were together they would be ok. I mean, they were each others’ reasons for surviving. Talk about intense emotion. If someone got sick or hurt, the other one immediately dreaded life. And I was there for the whole thing. I felt all of it, and it was powerful.

9. There were funny moments too, don’t get me wrong. I laughed at some of the things they said to each other. I laughed at the chicken named “Chicken” who they adopted as a pet. I mean, the little guy curled up in Anna’s lap! How whimsical! They played with dolphins in the lagoon almost every day. And before they acted upon it, the sexual tension and the things they said to each other were hilarious.

10. I appreciated the authenticity of the story. Tracey did not sugarcoat anything. She made things seem believable. I mean, if you’re stranded on an island for a few years, you’re going to deal with gross hygiene, bad diet, crummy weather, sickness, and other dangers. This could really happen, and I think that’s part of why I loved it so much.

11. Everything was resolved. Have you ever read a book and flipped out because the ending just sucked? This ending did not suck at all. I loved it. You will too.

Overall, I am so glad I took a leap of faith with this book. I loved it. The writing was amazing, the story inspiring, and the characters well-rounded and loveable. It’s during instances like this one when I realize how truly grateful I am to be a book blogger. I’m exposed to lesser-known novels all the time, and most of them (like this one) deserve much more recognition. It’s an honor to be able to help spread the word when a book is this good. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good romance mixed with a ton of action, excitement, intrigue, and exotic places.

EDIT: I just noticed how many times I said “intense”. Oh. My. Gosh. 


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This tour runs through March 9th. To follow the other tour stops, which include author interviews, book excerpts, giveaways, and more reviews, click here.

Edit (June 13, 2012) – Tracey has announced on her blog, that Plume (an imprint of Penguin) bought On the Island, designed a new cover, and are publishing it! Her next novel was also bought up. She’s no longer a self-published author! I am SO excited for her, and so happy I was able to help get the word out about this book so many months ago. I love, LOVE this story and am SO excited about what’s in store for Tracey as a result!

5 Stars