Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Publication Date: September 2nd, 2014

Series: The Lone City (bk. 1)

Genera(s): Dystopian Fantasy/Sci-fi/Romance

Subjects: royalty, classes, pregnancy, surrogates, slavery, abilities, love

Setting: The Lone City, and the middle sector of the city, The Jewel

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, present tense: Violet Lasting

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 358 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary/ product description: “The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.”

My Review: I really enjoyed the uniqueness of The Jewel. It’s set on an island know as The Lone City, made up of 5 circles, the outermost being The Marsh, where Violet is from, the The Farm, The Smoke, The Bank and in the center lies The Jewel, where the royals live. I get sick of reading dystopian books that are about a bad government or natural disaster (but I loved a lot of those book too). I love that this dystopian world is also a fantasy one. We never find out if this is supposed to be set 100s of year in the future, so even with the technology is feel like a fantasy.

Violet has special abilities called auguries, and this makes her a surrogate. Violet’s an interesting main character. She plays the cello and has purple eyes. She’s stubborn and smart and sometimes overly emotional or dramatic. She is auctioned off to the royals because they cannot have their own children. Know now as Lot 197, Violet await her fate. Violet was prepped before the auction by a guy who’s a Lady-In-Waiting (servant) named Lucien. The Duchess of The Lake wins Violet and has high hopes for the child Violet’s abilities could help create.

Violet gets her own Lady-In-Waiting, Annabelle, who’s mute and younger than Violet. Violet’s best friend Raven was bought by another house and Violet worries about her. Violet meets a guy named Ash Lockwood, who’s a companion for the Duchess’s niece, but romance blooms between him and Violet. Without spoiling the plot of the book, that I all I can tell you.

I love how every one in the Jewel is named after a mineral or gemstone. I collect rocks and minerals, so I was familiar with what the name were. Everyone knows what Pearls, Garnet and Sapphires are. 

Garnet, in case you are unfamiliar. There's many types including Almandine (below), Grossular, Pyrope, and Spessartine.

Carnelian is a red, translucent quartz, similar to Jasper. 

Amentrine is a mix of Amethyst and Citrine. 

Alexandrite is a dual colored Chrysoberyl (pink & teal usually, and really pricy). 

Larimar is a sky blue mineral and expensive, but currently popular (I have a specimen). 

Iolite is an indigo mineral that looks gray from another direction. It's often mistaken for Tanzanite.

I give this book five stars because I enjoyed it so much, and I recommend to people who like YA Dystopias and Fantasy. Fans of The Selection by Kiera Cass, Crewel by Gennifer Albin, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Bumped by Megan McCafferty, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Defiance by C.J. Redwine and Incarnate will love this new Dystopian-Fantasy series.

Cover Art Review: I love this cover. The photo is probably by the same person who did the cover for The Selection series. That dress is so beautiful. The mirror effect makes a crystal and I love that. The typography suggest that they were trying to gear this toward fans of The Selection. Same designer, likely.

Extra! Read a Deleted Scene from The Jewel on the EpicReads blog!!! Click to Read!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost

Publication Date: August 26, 2014

Series: Broken Destiny (bk. 1)

Genera(s): Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy

Subjects: demons, angels, parallel worlds, magic, abilities

Setting: Various places in the USA and in other realms

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, past tense: Ivy

Age/Grade Level: Teens 16+/ New Adult ages 18-25 (Ivy is 20)

Length: 299 pgs.

HC/PB: Paperback

List Price: $14.95

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

Summary/ product description: “In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate.

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse—her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who's bound by an ancient legacy to betray her.

Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn't mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn't: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side and Adrian on the other. And nothing but ashes in between…”

My Review:  This is the 1st actual New Adult book I’ve ever read. I read a few adult books back in high school, but I’ve stuck to YA because I like it best. The Beautiful Ashes feels more like YA that adult. The characters are adult. Ivy is 20, and a college student at WMU (Western Massachusetts University?), majoring in history. Her sister Jasmine is 18 and disappeared.

Ivy goes to a B&B in Bennington, Vermont because of the picture Jasmine sent her. Her sister isn’t there. Ivy has hallucinations of parallel versions of places. Ivy meets Adrian after Officer Kroger, the officer handling the disappearance investigation, attacks her. Adrian save Ivy and kills the officer.  The story starts off with a bang.

Adrian explains to Ivy that demons and other realms exist and that they have minions that look like regular people. Ivy find out that she’s a descendant of an important biblical figure a much find a special weapon that can kill demons. Adrian is friends with an Archon (angel) named Zach. I love the whole mythology behind it. It’s different from any other demon/angel book I’ve ever read.

There was this thing called glamour, which I read about usually in books about Fae, that can disguise appearance. There were some hilarious parts in which Zach glamoured Ivy to look like something or someone and no one told her what she looked like to other people. I cracked up so hard when she walked into the bathroom in one scene. Also, apparently mirrors are bad. And being glamoured to look like a creature can really freak people out.

The romance is definitely sexy. It wasn’t erotic, thank goodness. It’s just like any young adult novel with romance. Lots of making out and almost sex. Adrian is a great love interest and interesting character. He’s not perfect and has lots of secrets he’s hiding. This makes Ivy frustrated. She wants to find out what Adrian is. He’s fast and strong, but obviously not a vampire (they don’t exist). He says he’s not a demon, but she can’t be sure.

The book’s under 300 pages and the text is normal, not small. It’s fast when you get into it, but I kind of read slow and it took me a few days to finish it. The plot is interesting and the side-characters even help the story along. There’s a lot a appeal to fans of YA paranormal series. I recommend this book to fans of the TV show  Supernatural, and any movie that use bible mythology in a thrilling way. Also to fans of White Hot Kiss by Jennifer Armentrout, Fallen, Hush, Hush, Personal Demons, Everneath and other Angel/Demon books out there.

Cover Art Review: Very plain looking cover. Not really how I picture Ivy. Looks like Taylor Swift wearing a black wig for some reason.

Monday, August 25, 2014

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Publication Date: 2009

Series: If I Stay (bk. 1) Where She Went is the companion novel/2nd book.

Genera(s): Cotemporary/Paranormal/Romance

Subjects: death, afterlife, comas, grief, supernatural, musicians

Setting: Oregon

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, present tense: Mia

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 234 pgs.

HC/PB: Paperback

List Price: $9.99

Publisher: Penguin/Speak

Summary/ product description: “The critically acclaimed, bestselling novel from Gayle Forman, author of Where She Went, Just One Day, and the forthcoming Just One Year.

On a day that started like any other, Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, admiring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. In an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left. It is the most important decision she'll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.”

My Review:  I read If I Stay in less than a day. No joke. I decided I had to read it since the movie’s coming out and I had a paperback copy with a personalized, autographed book plate. I met Gayle Forman at a YA let conference in Naperville, at Hotel Arista. If I Stay came out in 2009, 5 years ago, and I always though it was just plain contemporary. I surprised that there was a touch of paranormal in it. It’s been compared to Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, which I also haven’t read, but I known that it’s similar.

The best parts of this book are the music talk and the humorous dialogue. My brother Brandon plays the Cello in his high school Orchestra. He’s not nearly as dedicated as the main character Mia is in this book. The cello’s not a popular instrument like guitar or piano, but it make some beautiful, sorrowful or joyful music. I could just imagine a soundtrack of cello music in the background as I read this. I hope the movie does the book justice, music wise at least.

This book was very fast and easy. It’s a simple concept that I’ve read before. We get a lot of the character’s memories and flashbacks. We get to see what’s happening around her coma body in the hospital. She has an out-of-body experience. It’s not exactly like the Reese Witherspoon movie Just Like Heaven. No one can see her or talk to her. She can’t go through walls, but see can open doors.  It’s interesting, but I feel like more could have happened. I’m sure more does happen, just not in her experience. Maybe if I read Where She Went, which is in Adam’s POV, then I’ll get more. There’s a little romance, mostly in the flashbacks. No out-of-body kisses for Mia.

I recommend this if you like Before I Fall, Ashes, Ashes, The Catastrophe of You and Me, Between, The Lovely Bones, or movies like Just Like Heaven. Read If I Stay before you see it in theaters!

Cover Art Review: Very simple cover. Looks cold and sad. Mia has brown hair, so it’s portray Mia better than the movie does.