Blog Tour: The Polaris Uprising by Jennifer Ibarra

Displaying ThePolarisUprisingTourBanner2.png

Good morning! I hope you all have had a great week. Today I’ll be participating in the blog tour for the fabulous first installment of Jennifer Ibarra’s new series, The Polaris Uprising. Take a look!


Displaying Polaris.jpgGenre: Young Adult, Dystopian

Synopsis: In less than seven years, eighteen-year-old Ryla Jensen will succeed her father as the president of Neress, a nation where all citizens are cared for from the moment they’re born. Fed, sheltered, even educated—every need of theirs is met.

The only price they pay is their free will.

Groomed since childhood to take on a role she’s not even sure she wants, Ryla’s only escape from the pressures of duty is her sister, Alanna. But when her eyes are opened to the oppressive regime her father built, she begins to question everything she’s set to inherit—and finds herself at odds with her sister’s blind allegiance to their father.

Torn between loyalty to her family and the fight for freedom, Ryla must decide just how far she’s willing to go to make a stand and risk losing the person she loves most in the world: Alanna.

Purchase Links:

Barnes & NobleAmazon

My Thoughts

I was sold on this from the first page, and a good chunk of my love for The Polaris Uprising has to do with the fantastically written relationship between Ryla and Alanna. They were both amazing characters and I had no trouble rooting for either of them. Ryla’s spark and strength were really refreshing, and her devotion to her sister was just wonderful to read. I loved their dynamic and the way they played off each other was so brilliantly done I couldn’t put the book down.

The plot was at first a bit slow, as there were many pieces to put into place before the action could get going, but once it picked up, by God you couldn’t drag me away from the page with a tractor. The author put a lot of care into the story’s progression, and it shows in the plot twists and the new revelations that Ryla and Alanna encounter.

I was expecting to enjoy The Polaris Uprising, and I certainly did. The sisters’ relationship was probably my favorite part of story, I’ll admit, but the romance was also lovely and felt very genuine, which in the world of YA one learns to appreciate very quickly. Overall, an exciting, well-written debut; I can’t wait for the sequel!

About the Author

Displaying headshot.pngJennifer Ibarra grew up on a steady diet of books, Star Wars, and other fantastic feats of the imagination. Her debut novel, The Polaris Uprising, is the first book in a trilogy and mixes dystopia with family drama, romance, and political intrigue.

She lives in Silicon Valley, where she does marketing for a tech company and spends her time running, cooking, baking, and keeping up with celebrity gossip.

Find Her:

WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreads

Giveaway

(open internationally)

Prizes:

25$ Amazon GC, Signed ARC + Swag
20x signed ARC + Swag

Click here to enter!


This promotional post was organized by Xpresso Book Tours.

Xpresso Book Tours

Advertisements

Blog Tour: Undying by Valerie Grosjean

Displaying UndyingTourBanner.png

Good morning! Today I’m participating in a blog tour for Valerie Grosjean’s fabulous debut novel, Undying, the first in her exciting new series! Take a look!


18596439Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Zombies

Synopsis: This is a story of love . . . and zombies.

When eighteen-year-old college freshman Christian discovers his dormitory is crawling with the living dead, he knows he has a problem. But once he learns the whole country is overrun by the flesh-eating horde, he must race to protect what matters to him most.

Sixteen-year-old Iris, the girl he loves, is stranded eighty miles away, alone and completely unaware of the gruesome threat surrounding her.

Christian’s plan is to evade the zombies, drive the distance to rescue Iris, and get them both to his family farm—where there are guns, fuel, and everything else they’ll need to survive. His mission seems simple: Get the girl, get to the farm, and stay alive.

Things get complicated when Christian is forced to make an unthinkable choice between Iris and his family. Someone he loves must die, and he must decide.

Purchase Links

AmazonBarnes & Noble

My Thoughts

I must say, Undying didn’t really have a warm-up chapter. I was immediately sucked into the action from the very first page and before I could manage to tear my eyes from the screen, I was almost finished. The writing put me right there alongside the characters, dodging zombies and fighting to survive and make it home, and it felt really gritty and definitely kept me on my toes.

Christian really impressed me. If and when the zombie apocalypse come, I call dibs on him, because he’s really freakin’ handy in a zombie fight. He makes some incredibly difficult choices and faces impossible dilemmas about love and loyalty, and I really enjoyed reading about his struggle with the moral ambiguity of killing/being a zombie. And while I never quite bought Iris as a love interest, I liked Christian well enough to go with it.

Honestly, I’m not usually one for horror, and I definitely didn’t pick this one up after dark, but the author did an amazing job with the fear and thriller aspect of the novel. I was screaming in the first chapter and the vivid descriptions had me flailing all over the place and shouting “GO CHRISTIAN GO” at the top of my lungs. That ability to make me so quickly invested in Christian’s wellbeing and so completely engrossed in the story is what really won me over on this one. I’m looking forward to the sequel!

About the Author

Valerie Grosjean is the author of the young adult novel UNDYING. She grew up on a Nebraska farm. After college, she married and moved to Northern California, where she lives with her husband and their two young children. Her obsession with zombie movies inspired UNDYING, her first novel and the beginning of the Undying series.

Find Her:

Goodreads | Website

Giveaway

Prizes:

One signed paperback copy of Undying

A bookmark

Rafflecopter giveaway!!!


This promotional post was organized by Xpresso Book Tours.

Xpresso Book Tours

Review: These Broken Stars

These Broken StarsHow did I get it? Bought

Genre: YA, Romance, Science Fiction

Summary: It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

My Thoughts

To be perfectly honest I have read very little this month, and I’m not being modest. Other than reading for class, These Broken Stars is literally the only book I’ve finished thus far. And that’s mostly because it’s the only book I’ve tried out in the past few weeks that’s incredibly hard to put down.

I’ve heard so many fantastic things in the past few months about Lilac and Tarver’s story that despite my reservations about the whole space thing (which I’m not typically keen on) I bought it as soon as it was released. Because of all the praise and hype surrounding it, I tried to prepare myself to be at least a little let down, but for once that did not happen. This book was absolutely incredible in every way. Lilac and Tarver were everything I hoped for and more, and the imagery and writing were just stunning. I loved Lilac’s determination and her strength of will, and Tarver constantly made me smile. The world that I read about was incredibly well-developed, with layers upon layers of social and political issues lying just under the surface, and the setting drew me in completely.

These Broken Stars also dealt with some truly terrible things. Lilac’s confrontation with the realities of this planet, the horror of so many deaths, and her struggles with the harsh environment around her, were all really powerful moments that made me connect with her even more. Tarver’s determination to survive and go home really struck me, especially his motivation to get back to his parents.

Overall, I have no complaints with These Broken Stars. It was an amazing book that reminded me just how much a fantastic story can make you feel, and I cannot wait for the next book in the Starbound Trilogy.

Aside: Can I just say how awesome it was to read about a heroine who can kick ass at mechanics/engineering/science-y stuff? I loved that underneath this spoiled, rich-girl exterior, she’s completely BAMF and it’s wonderful.

 Rating:

Five Stars

Recommend it?

100%

Purchase Links

Barnes & NobleAmazonBook Depository

Stacking the Shelves #10

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It’s a chance to share any books you’ve bought, borrowed, or received in the past 7 days. All of the books on this list are linked to Goodreads.


Happy New Year! This week I’ve been rather stressed, so I’ve done some stress-shopping and added a few new books to my shelves. Let’s take a look, shall we?

For Review

18596439 18046385 18522464

Undying by Valerie Grosjean (for a blog tour in February!)

The Polaris Uprising by Jennifer Ibarra (another blog tour read for February!)

A Million Little Snowflakes by Logan Byrne (thanks @ Patchwork Press)

From the Bookshop

15812814 11735983 1255828517285743 16034235 13112869 13138635

Crossed by Ally Condie

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Splintered by A. G. Howard

Click to Subscribe by L. M. Augustine

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Not A Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner


I’m so excited to read all of these! Be sure to link up your own book hauls in the comments so I can see your new goodies! Until tomorrow!

ARC Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson

DefyHow did I get it? Netgalley (thanks @ Scholastic Press)

Publication Date: January 7, 2014

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Summary: A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?

My Thoughts

I must say, I enjoyed this book. Alexa is a fantastic protagonist, and I love that she refuses to be a damsel in distress. She kicks everybody’s asses and saves everybody and she refuses to just lie back and do what the men tell her. I. Love. Her. She is my spirit animal and if I could call on a fictional character to have my back in a fight with the mafia, I would choose Alexa. Every time.

I will say it was a bit heavy on the romance, especially the love triangle situation, but that’s partly due to the fact that I would much rather see her fighting than making out with a guy, just because she’s so awesome at it. I would have found it more interesting if the animosity between her and Damian was real, or if Rylan was less of a Jacob Black clone. As it was, the love triangle annoyed me, especially because it seemed to transform Alexa into some starstruck idiot “discovering her newfound femininity.” And (slight spoiler), I was a bit bummed that there was no “OH MY GOD YOU’RE A GIRL WTF IS THIS” moment. Apparently Alexa is really shitty at pretending to be a boy. And apparently it’s not like anybody caught a glimpse of her lady bits; they just went “oh that’s a effeminate looking guy, must be a girl” and then went quietly about their business while allowing Alexa to keep believing she was the best fake boy to ever fake boy.

And when Damian is an ass (which, let’s be honest, is like once a page), Alexa takes none of it. She demands answers and is rightly furious at what he does, and although she does lose steam rather quickly, I still loved how feisty she is. By the end of that book, everybody and their mom knows not to mess with Alexa Hollen.

Also, SHE SAVES PEOPLE. There was no girl-plays-miniscule-role-in-actually-killing-bad-guy. Nope. This girl kicks the bad guy’s ass herself and becomes a national hero. It’s like Mulan except with a really not-cool king instead of an old emperor who is basically a Chinese Dumbledore.

Serious note: I was impressed with the inclusion of “breeding houses”. Rape is a really difficult and sensitive topic but I think the author approached it very well and it made me root for Alexa to succeed even more. Just the thought of what those girls were going through in that place is horrific, and it instantly made the plot so much more real and urgent for me. BUT, with that being said, I’ve heard other opinions and I know that not every reader will see it in that light. I can certainly see where it would come across as offensive, so just be aware of that.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. Alexa was an great protagonist and I’m very excited for the next book in the series!

Rating:

Four Stars

Recommend it?

Absolutely!

Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Ondine by Emma Raveling

OndineBlitzBanner2

Good morning! Today I’m happy to be participating in a book blitz for Emma Raveling’s new release, Ondine. Ondine is the prequel novella to her Ondine Quartet series, and was published just yesterday on December 19, 2013. Take a look!


Ondine

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy

Synopsis: “I shouldn’t get involved.”

Rebellious and headstrong, sixteen-year-old Kendra Irisavie doesn’t have much respect for authority. An ondine with the powerful gift of Virtue, she uses her tough attitude and Empath magic to navigate through high school and keep others away.

Because being an ondine also means keeping secrets.

Kendra and her mother are Rogue water elementals in the middle of an ancient war. They hide among humans, their survival constantly threatened by monstrous Aquidae demons.

Along with a rigorous training regimen to mold Kendra into a lethal fighter, her mother has instituted four rules to keep her safe.

Trust no one. Relationships are weaknesses. Emotional attachments are dangerous. Be responsible only for yourself.

But when Kendra witnesses a classmate in trouble, she intervenes and her decision to break the rules comes at a price.

Sometimes, humans could be more dangerous than demons.

Ondine is a short prequel novella for the young adult urban / paranormal fantasy series, the Ondine Quartet.

Purchase at Amazon

Excerpt

He tensed. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying I want in.” I settled on the corner of the desk and levelly met his look of disbelief. “I want you to take me to his place so —“

“No.”

“I can do this.”

Rui stood and walked back to the car.

“You don’t know what I can—“

“I don’t care what you think you can do.” He whipped around to face me, his expression hard. “You don’t know jack shit about my  —“

“I know what he does,” I said quietly. “I know what he did to you. To your broth—“

In one fluid movement, he swept me off the desk and shoved me against the wall. Two hundred pounds of muscle locked me into place and confirmed Troy’s story.

Rui’s actions revealed a high degree of training, a controlled, physical strength I’d initially suspected in the school courtyard.

An icy shiver shot down my spine. If we were thrown into a ring together, he really might give me a run for my money.

Muscled forearm pressed against my neck, effectively pinning me in place.

“Rui,” I said through my teeth. “I can stop him.”

The smart thing to do was walk away and let him, his father, and Troy sort out this mess. Sure, Troy would get the short end of the stick, but that wasn’t my problem.

Except my conscience wouldn’t stop prickling. I couldn’t let it go.

Maybe because Troy reminded me of past regrets and this was an opportunity to change the outcome. Maybe because the white-hot anger in Rui was a festering wound that felt all too familiar.

Hell, maybe I just really wanted to prove to my mother I could do this.

I could stop one human male.

Rui’s voice dropped to a whisper. “You don’t know shit.”

Cold eyes bored into me, hard and demanding. Magic bubbled through my veins. Beneath the anger, Empath sensed determination and worry. It was almost as if he was willing me to understand…

My gaze flickered up. Harsh light illuminated the ugly industrial walls of the garage, bouncing off metal and steel. Something winked in the corner.

Lens reflection meant surveillance. The entire place was probably bugged.

I blinked once. Slowly.

Rui studied me for a moment longer before the grinding pressure against my windpipe eased. I coughed, lungs desperately sucking in air.

Without another word, he exited the garage and I followed. Flickering yellow streetlights cast sickly triangular patches across the asphalt. Night air closed in, thick and humid.

The relentless drone of the Route 60 overpass grew louder and more insistent as we neared the main street.

“I’ve seen you,” he finally said. “At Rave.”

The club was only a few blocks away. “Yeah.”

“You like working the floor.” I felt the weight of his glance through the shadowy gloom. “But you don’t buy.”

“Not my thing.”

“You sound offended.”

I shrugged. “Needing something makes you weak.”

“Sometimes what we need is good for us. Sometimes it’s not. But we all got something we’re addicted to, girl.” He laughed, a harsh rumble of bitter amusement. “You’re just addicted to physical release.”

The scrutiny made me uncomfortable. “So what’s your addiction?”

“Belief.” He pulled out a pack of cigarettes. “You working with the cops?”

“Not exactly.”

Empath swept through him, attempting to make sense of the puzzle that was Rui Vergara. He wasn’t lying or concealing who he was. The pain was there, hot and unstable. A thread of something wistful, too. Sadness? Maybe regret.

But there was also ruthlessness and a barely controlled fury that came from being kicked down one too many times.

Who was it directed toward? His father? Troy? And how quickly could it shift to me?

The lighter’s flare briefly highlighted the solemnity etched into his skin. He seemed far older than his age.

“No, you’re not a rat.” He took a long drag and tilted his head. Wariness heightened at the shrewd look in his eyes. “Just another person who has something to hide.”

About the Author

I’m a fantasy writer who lives a slightly eccentric life with my accommodating husband and our charming, neurotic dog. I’m currently working on the Ondine Quartet, a young adult urban fantasy/paranormal series featuring a kick-ass heroine, powerful magic, and the complex world of water elementals.

I have a weird love of spreadsheets and organizational tools because they give me the illusion that I am somehow in control of the chaos that is my life. I adore beautiful art such as painting and sculpture, classical music, lyrical writing, and great graphic design. My all-time favorite books (as of this writing) are Immortality by Milan Kundera, 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.

Find Her:

WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads

Giveaway

Prizes:

Ebook copy of Ondine (#0.5), as well as the first two books in the Ondine Quartet, Whirl and Billow

Signed Ondine Quartet swag pack (includes bookmarks and stickers)

Click HERE to enter!

Whirl Billow Ondine


This promotional post was organized by Xpresso Book Tours.

Xpresso Book Tours

Waiting on Wednesday: Stormbringer by Shannon Delany

Stormbringer by Shannon DelanyPublication Date: January 14, 2014

Series: Weather Witch (#2)

Genre: YA, Steampunk

Synopsis: In the intrigue-filled follow up to Weather Witch, Jordan Astraea, once a young Philadelphia lady of good social standing, is now in the final stages of her brutal training to become a Conductor—the Weather Witch who serves as a living battery to keep the massive airliner Artemesia aloft. Meanwhile, Rowen, determined to rescue her after losing his only other true friend and being wanted for murder, has found himself forced aboard a much different air vessel, this one manned by a dangerous crew and carrying a cargo so treasonous, that, if finding its destination, will herald a storm of revolution for the still young United States.

With a spirit for adventure, romance, fantastic world building and cunning imagination, Shannon Delany delivers the sensational follow up to Weather Witch in the second book of the trilogy.

Why I'm Waiting

If you saw my review last week, you already know that I absolutely adored the first book in this series, Weather Witch. It was exciting and the characters were interesting and I loved the world-building sooooo much. The ending, however, was a bit of a cliffhanger, so I’m really anxious to get my hands on the sequel and find out what happens next.

Also, isn’t the cover just gorgeous? *flails*

Review: Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin

Another Little Piece of My HeartHow did I get it? Netgalley (thanks @ Harlequin Teen), and then I bought it on Barnes & Noble

Genre: YA, Romance, Contemporary

Summary: What if your devastating break-up became this summer’s hit single? In this rock-and-roll retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, music can either bring you together or tear you apart.

At her dying mother’s request, Claire dumps Jared, the only boy she’s ever loved. Left with a broken family and a broken heart, Claire is furious when she discovers that her biggest regret became Jared’s big break. While Jared is catapulted into rock-star status, another piece of Claire’s heart crumbles every time his song plays on the radio.

The summer after her senior year, it’s been months since the big break-up, and Claire is just trying to keep her head down and make it through a tense trip to the beach with her family. But when Jared shows up, and old feelings reignite, can Claire and Jared let go of the past? Or will they be stuck singing the same old refrain?

My Thoughts

I had a great time reading this last week. It was a great retelling and even though I didn’t stop hating Jared until more than halfway into the book, I did enjoy the connection between him and Claire. They had a lot of problems but the little things that brought them together, like “hun” and other inside jokes, made me love them together.

And also, I knew I was going to at least like this book, if not love it, because I love a modern retelling of Persuasion about as much as I love chocolate and kittens, just on principle. It’s my favorite Austen novel (with Pride and Prejudice at a close second), so I expected to enjoy this, and I did.

However, that being said, while I enjoyed a lot of things about this novel, there were two aspects of it that turned me off.

1.) Claire whines.

I mean, I wouldn’t say excessively, but she’s clearly throwing a pity party most of the time and while I get that her life is pretty much awful and she’s had a gigantic heap of huge disappointments in the past two years, it kind of grated on my nerves at times. It’s a small complaint though and in the end, it didn’t bother me that much.

2.) Zach

I can deal with minors smoking and drinking and going at it like bunnies. It’s not model behavior, sure, but I can live with reading about it. But there is a scene which made me very uncomfortable, and Claire’s reaction to that scene made me even more so. Despite having come very close to being raped (and yes, it is rape if a girl says “no” and “stop” like 4 times, which apparently some people haven’t gotten the memo about), Claire completely brushes it off and gives the man “the benefit of the doubt”, and then literally nothing happens. No consequences, no confrontation, nothing. And that was a big issue for me. I would be fine with the scene itself if Claire had gotten angry, if she’d done anything rather than the “we were drunk, forget it” routine. Even the most intoxicated person can understand the word “no”. But I was very bothered that the author introduced such a sensitive topic and then had the protagonist downplay it. It was only mentioned once in passing after the scene, and I was just baffled. Claire, you were drunk with a man taking off your clothes and touching you despite the fact that you didn’t want him to and you repeatedly told him to stop. You are supposed to be more bothered by that. And also it just plays into this idea that when someone tries to rape you, it’s not a big deal and you should just get over it.

Conclusion

I really did love this novel, and I would be giving it a higher rating if it weren’t for the second issue I just mentioned. Maybe it won’t bother other readers, but I was very disturbed by that scene and it ruined the rest of the novel for me a little bit, which is why I’m giving it 4 stars instead of 5. Other than that, however, this was a great, fun, well-written retelling that I’m glad I read.

Rating:

Four Stars

Recommend it?

Definitely.

Purchase it:

Barnes & Noble | Amazon

WWW Wednesday #3

WWW WednesdaysWWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. It’s a chance for us all to talk about books we’ve just read, books we’re reading now, and books we’re planning to read next.

Just Finished

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter

I finished this Friday? Saturday? In my antibiotic-induced haze I can’t quite remember. But I did enjoy it. I’m trying to go back through and finish the series. I do love a good spy story, and the Gallagher Girls are one of my favorites.

Reading Now

Branded by Abi Ketner

I started this over the weekend and I liked it but I’m just like mehhh so I haven’t touched it in a few days. It won’t take me long to finish so I’ll probably read the last of it this weekend.

What's Next

Don't Judge A Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter

Loved #2, so I’m looking forward to this one. As a celebratory, oh-my-God-finals-didn’t-kill-me-dead huzzah, I might just marathon the rest of the series over the weekend. (Well, I’ll have to buy the last two books first, but whatevs.)

I must confess, the only thing I’m actually reading right now is Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, and it’s for my lit class. I think it’s supposed to be about the Belgian colonization in the Congo, but so far all he’s talking about is a bunch of dudes with names that start and end with lots of vowels. Oh, and there’s a lot of polygamy going on. And giving of virgin girls.

Education is a marvelous thing.

Anyway, after this week’s finals I have a milestone birthday (okay fine, it’s not much of a milestone, all I can really do is smoke, vote, and join the army) on Saturday to kick off winter break, so hopefully I will not be sneezing, coughing, and/or sleeping on my birthday cake.

How’s your reading going on this fine and festive day?