Wednesday, April 30, 2014

WOW- Waiting on Wednesday

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY
"WAITING ON WEDNESDAY IS A WEEKLY EVENT HOSTED BY JILL AT BREAKING THE SPINE, THAT SPOTLIGHT UPCOMING RELEASES THAT WE'RE EAGERLY ANTICIPATING.

HERE IS WHAT I DISCOVERED RECENTLY


Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday
Release Date September 9th, 2014
Egmont  Hardcover 304 pages
YA Historical Retelling
First in a series


A romantic, historical retelling of classic Gothic horror featuring Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee, from a New York Times best-selling author.
Annabel Lee is summoned from Siam to live with her father in 1820's Philadelphia shortly after her mother's death, but an unconventional upbringing makes her repugnant to her angry, secretive father. Annabel becomes infatuated with her father's assistant Allan, who dabbles in writing when he's not helping with medical advancements. But in darker hours, when she's not to be roaming the house, she encounters the devilish assistant Edgar, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Allan, and who others insist doesn't exist. A rash of murders across Philadelphia, coupled with her father's strange behavior, leads Annabel to satisfy her curiosity and uncover a terrible truth: Edgar and Allan are two halves of the same person - and they are about to make the crimes detailed in Allan's stories come to life. Unless Annabel stops them.

So, Edgar Allan Poe, Annabel Lee, a mystery all wrapped up in good and evil?? What is not to love?? I can't wait for this one!!

How about you? What are you waiting to read? What's on your WOW?? Leave me links in the comments below and I'll visit you! I love to see what everyone else has found!


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel

The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel
Available Now
Contemporary YA
E-ARC from publisher
Harlequin Teen 
Hardcover 336 pages
To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ BN/ Book Depository/
Indiebound/ Kobo

From Goodreads-  Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash. Some work at the Gap. Becca Williamson breaks up couples. 



After watching her sister get left at the altar, Becca knows the true damage that comes when people utter the dreaded L-word. For just $100 via paypal, she can trick and manipulate any couple into smithereens. With relationship zombies overrunning her school, and treating single girls like second class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even her best friend Val has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.

One night, she receives a mysterious offer to break up the homecoming king and queen, the one zombie couple to rule them all: Steve and Huxley. They are a JFK and Jackie O in training, masters of sweeping faux-mantic gestures, but if Becca can split them up, then school will be safe again for singletons. To succeed, she'll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date and wiggle her way back into her former BFF Huxley’s life – not to mention start a few rumors, sabotage some cell phones, break into a car, and fend off the inappropriate feelings she’s having about Val’s new boyfriend. All while avoiding a past victim out to expose her true identity.

No one said being the Break-Up Artist was easy.

        Review

I have read a lot of so-so review of this novel but I really enjoyed it. I found myself making time to read it and looking forward to our drive from Florida to NC so I could excuse myself from everything else to read.
Yes Becca is jaded, for some good reasons, and it's a bit icky what she does, but this is fiction. 

Characters
Becca- Becca is the Break-up Artist. No one knows who she is because she wears a mask in her Skype interviews. She breaks couples up not for the reason you think. She breaks them up so girls can have their BFF's back. Yep, crazy, right? But haven't you ever lost a friend, maybe even for a little while to her relationship with her boyfriend? Becca is very jaded. She lost her BFF abruptly when she went from a nobody to The Someone to Be overnight because of her boyfriend and left Becca in the dust. And she has a daily reminder of how love can ruin your life, her sister, Diane, jilted at the altar six hours before the wedding.  Of course, Becca has never been in love, never had a guy show interest in her. No, I didn't really connect with her. I'm not nor have I ever felt that jaded. I've always believed in love. 
Val- Val is Becca's best friend and Becca is so sure she won't lose her to a relationship. But they are juniors in high school and Val just wants a boyfriend. She doesn't even care who as long as he's moderately good looking. Val is funny and a good friend until that relationship. But she's like every girl I knew in high school. The guy always came first.
Huxley- The ex-BFF and THE GIRL TO BE. She is a typical mean girl. This cliche is so worn out and yet, Siegel added a little depth to her and we get to see behind the facade of a mean girl. What makes her tick.
Diane- Diane is Becca's sister who was jilted at the altar. She has spent almost a year as a couch potato. She has removed herself from life, from her friends, even her family at times. She is bitter, resigned, and has a distorted view of what the world is like since her personal crisis. 

The World/Setting- It's high school. And home. And the coffee shop. It's a really gossipy high school. Maybe I was just out of the loop, but I do not remember high school being so harsh. But I do agree that boys are much more gossipy than boys. I have two, I hear all kinds of things!

The Story- Okay, so you know the story. Becca breaks up couples. Yes, it's not nice. But it's not nice to hire her either. So I had a little problem how that was kind of fluffed over at the end. The largest plot point is Becca is offered a largish sum of money to break the IT couple up. It would have all kinds of ramifications and benefits for Becca. But the IT couple seem unbreakable. And at what point is it not okay to cross the line that Becca has been crossing. (The IT couple has been together for 4 years).

The Good and The Bad- While I felt compelled to read the novel, I didn't agree with everything Becca did. Will we do anything for money? And at what age do we start? High school now? And really? Are we so jealous of our friend's happiness that we want to take it from them? Maybe I'm taking too serious of an approach for a YA fiction book. But there were some things I loved - Val and Becca's friendship. They had inside jokes and Friday night movies and so much more. Girls have great friendships, bonds that last from high school and beyond. There were signs of Diane having had great friendships with her college friends. They were in each other's weddings, invited to baby showers, and birthday parties and Diane even seemed to be responsible for a few of her friends meeting their husbands. Becca was great friends with them as well, a little sister of sorts. Even Huxley has some promising moments. I think the "thing" a lot of people had a problem with was the least of the problems I had. Taking money to break couples up is just wrong. I don't care if they belong together or not. Who am I to decide? Who are you to decide and who was Becca and her client to decide? That was the ick factor for me. 

But, I really enjoyed reading this novel. I liked seeing Becca do her work and then her house of cards come falling down and how she handles it. I liked to see what happened to Diane, if she ever got out of her Rutgers sweatshirt and flannel pajama pants. And I was very invested in Huxley and Steve. As much as Huxley was a mean girl, Steve seemed like a nice guy. I'm a sucker for an HEA! So I finished the novel rather quickly (for me these days) and really did look forward to being able to read it. If you can get past what Becca does it's a good novel.

Thanks to Harlequin Teen for an E-ARC of the novel for review. This in no way influenced my review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Find the Author
Philip Siegel

Monday, April 28, 2014

Secrets of Moon At Nine Blog Tour and Giveaway (US and Canada)



Welcome to Day 1 of the SECRETS OF MOON AT NINE BLOG TOUR, featuring Moon at Nine – a timely new YA novel from humanitarian and award-winning author Deborah Ellis. Each stop on the 2-week tour will feature revealing posts, a chance to win a copy of the novel, and a chance to enter the grand prize giveaway!

Secrets of the Moon at Nine Title

Today, Pajama Press editor Ann Featherstone is here to talk a little bit about the title of Moon at Nine:

In choosing the right title for Deborah’s story, we discussed the mood and idea we wanted to get across. First and foremost, we wanted a way to express Farrin and Sadira’s relationship, with its naïve optimism and almost dream-like power. There is a scene in the book where Farrin realizes that, in looking at the moon at the same time each night, the girls will feel connected, even if they are not together. Farrin calls it the nine o’clock moon. At the time, Farrin has no idea how much the sight of the moon will give her hope and, when ultimately all hope is gone, the courage to find a future with only the memory of Sadira to guide her.

I think Deborah chose the perfect title. The image of the moon at nine ties us to time and place, yet reminds us of something greater: the principles and ideals that drive us and give us courage.


Here is an excerpt of the scene Ann mentions:

After the service, the girls waited outside for the men to finish talking and come to find them.

"Look at that moon," Sadira said. "I don't think I've ever seen a moon so bright."

"It's shining right down on us like a spotlight," Farrin said.

It was strange. She knew that the square outside the mosque was crowded with worshippers and the streets were full of noisy cars, but it felt like she and Sadira were all alone in Tehran.

"It's shining down on the two of us," Sadira said. She looked at her watch. "It's almost nine o'clock," she added. "Let's make another pact. Let's look at the moon every night at nine, and that way, if we are not physically together, we will be together in spirit."

"The nine o'clock moon," Farrin agreed, holding still but wanting to swirl and dance all over the square. "Every night," she promised.

Then the men appeared and broke the spell.

***

Enter below to win a copy of Moon at Nine!

***Stop by Candace's Book Blog tomorrow for the next stop on the SECRETS OF MOON AT NINE BLOG TOUR and another chance to win!***

Secrets of Moon at Nine Blog Tour Schedule:

April 28thBuried in Books
April 29th: Candace's Book Blog
April 30th: VVB32Reads
May 2nd: LiveToRead
May 7th: From A to Z
May 9th: Bookish



About Moon at Nine:

Fifteen-year-old Farrin has many secrets. Although she goes to a school for gifted girls in Tehran, as the daughter of an aristocratic mother and wealthy father Farrin must keep a low profile. It is 1988; ever since the Shah was overthrown, the deeply conservative and religious government controls every facet of life in Iran. If the Revolutionary Guard finds out about her mother’s Bring Back the Shah activities, her family could be thrown in jail or worse.

The day she meets Sadira, Farrin’s life changes forever. Sadira is funny, wise and outgoing; the two girls become inseparable. But as their friendship deepens into romance, the relationship takes a dangerous turn. It is against the law to be a homosexual in Iran; the punishment is death. Despite their efforts to keep their love secret, the girls are discovered and arrested. Separated from Sadira, Farrin can only pray as she awaits execution. Will her family find a way to save them both?



About Deborah Ellis:

Deborah Ellis is the internationally acclaimed author of nearly thirty books for children and young people, most of which explore themes of social justice and courage. A peace activist, feminist, and humanitarian, Deborah has won many national and international awards for her books, including the Governor General’s Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award, the American Library Association’s Notable List and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. In 2010, she received the Ontario Library Association President’s Award for Exceptional Achievement. Deborah lives in Ontario, Canada.

GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY

At each stop along the tour, readers will have a chance to enter the grand prize giveaway.

One winner will receive a set of Deborah Ellis' books, and Pajama Press will make a $100 donation in their name to one of five charities: Canadian Women 4 Women in Afghanistan, UNICEF Canada, Street Kids International, Leprosy Mission - Canada, or IBBY - Children in Crisis Fund. You will be able to learn more about all of these charities at tomorrow's tour stop.

Below is a list of the books included in the giveaway:

• Moon at Nine
• True Blue
• Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids
• No Safe Place
• My name is Parvana
• Lunch With Lenin and Other Short Stories
• A Company of Fools
• Our Stories Our Songs: African Children Talk about AIDS,
• Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children speak
• Annaleise Carr: How I Conquered Lake Ontario to Help Kids Battling Cancer (By Annaleise Carr with Deborah Ellis)


US/Canada only please. Enter using the rafflecopter below! Ends May 12th at 11:59 pm EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 18, 2014

Witchfinder by Ruth Warburton Review

Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton
Available Now
HodderChildren's Books
Paperback 374 page
Historical Fiction/ Supernatural/ YA
E-ARC from Publisher for Review

To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ BN/ Book Depository

Goodreads- London. 1880. In the slums of Spitalfields apprentice blacksmith Luke is facing initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum, the fearsome brotherhood dedicated to hunting and killing witches.

Luke’s final test is to pick a name at random from the Book of Witches, a name he must track down and kill within a month, or face death himself. Luke knows that tonight will change his life forever. But when he picks out sixteen-year-old Rosa Greenwood, Luke has no idea that his task will be harder than he could ever imagine.


Review

I read the reviews on Goodreads and see that many people weren't sold on this novel. I have a very different opinion. Drop all your expectations and just read it and see what you think. Borrow it from the library if you don't want to buy it. I was glued. I kept turning my Kindle back on between stops at one school and the next. If I knew I had five minutes, I turned it on just to get a little more of the story. Here's the breakdown.

Characters- Luke- Luke is newly inducted into the Malleus Maleficorum, tasked with killing the witch that he picks randomly with his eyes blindfolded. He has one month to do it. Revenge is the only thing on his mind. His mother and father were killed by a black witch when he was a small child. He doesn't know who did it, but he's been haunted by dreams of it ever since. His Uncle took him in and raised him as his own. He thinks nothing of giving his promise to kill 16 yr old Rosa Greenwood. One less witch. And he is dedicated, if nothing else.

Rosa- Rosa is drowning in sorrow. Her Papa died and she is still not over it. But her brother Alexis and mother seem to be moving on. But then they have to. The country house is rented out. They have had to let the witch servants go. Now they have only a few and they cannot do spells in front of them. The money is gone. Rosa cannot have a new ball gown for the season. But that is not what bothers her. Not at all.

Sebastian Knyvet- Sebastian. Powerful witch. Moody. I couldn't understand Sebastian's moods until the end of the novel and then it was clear. He comes from an old and powerful family of witches. They have a seat on the witches council. And he is courting Rosa. Well, not so much courting her as buying her through her mother and brother. 

Setting- 1880's London from the upper class to the slums. I really got a feel for the divide between the upper class and the poor. The Thames was something to walk beside where Rosa lived, but it was described as yellow and frothy where Luke came from. The roads were wide enough for carriages to pass by each other in London where Rosa lived yet where Luke lived there was barely room for one to pass and certainly not enough for a person to pass as well. Needless to say jobs, health, food and dwellings declined from Rosa's to Luke's area of London. 

The Story- The story is complex despite it's deceptively simple style. Rosa has no say in what is going on in her life. She is being used as payment for a better life for her brother Alexis who is cruel and spoiled and obviously his mother's favorite. Her mother is looking after her own interests. She is kind and trusting and frightened of marrying a ruthless enigmatic man like Sebastian. Sebastian has no qualms about using his witchcraft, force, or any other kind of power to make sure the world works just the way he wants. And Luke, is stuck in a world of witches, a world of beings he would sooner kill than look at. But his only task is to kill the one. The most innocent and kindest of them all. But, she is a witch, something he has to continually remind himself.

My take- Rosa is portrayed in the beginning as a powerless girl but by the end of the story she shows enormous growth. It isn't about being a witch or having spells or even money. Rosa realizes that she has power of her own. Luke is poor so there's less for him to lose from the start, except his life. That's the price he pays for not killing Rosa, but his taste for revenge is replaced by the same thing Rosa's powerlessness is and it changes his outlook on witches and the Malleus Maleficorum. Rosa's brother is abusive. Her mother is insensitive at the very least and manipulative for her own gain. Sebastian is a psychopath. And a very powerful witch. Not a good combination. It's obvious I think that Rosa and Luke fall for each other, a very forbidden and difficult romance. But then, these two characters think and act outside the norms of their society. Their attraction to each other isn't so hard to believe. The novel had a solid ending, but this is definitely the beginning of a series. I am very much looking forward to the next book. Bridges have been burned.

I recommend this novel to YA readers that love stories about forbidden romances, witches and historical novels. There is some violence in it against women, even if it is of a supernatural nature.

I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher for review purposes. My review was not influenced by this. The opinions in this review are my own.

Find Ruth Warburton

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WOW- Waiting on Wednesday

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY
"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


Dream Boy by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenberg
Releases July 1st from Sourcebooks
Goodreads  - Annabelle Manning feels like she’s doing time at her high school in Chilton, Virginia. She has her friends at her lunchtime table of nobodies. What she doesn’t have are possibilities. Or a date for Homecoming. Things get more interesting at night, when she spends time with the boy of her dreams. But the blue-eyed boy with the fairytale smile is just that—a dream. Until the Friday afternoon he walks into her chemistry class. 

One of friends suspects he’s an alien. Another is pretty sure it’s all one big case of deja vu. While Annabelle doesn’t know what to think, she’s willing to believe that the charming Martin Zirkle may just be her dream come true. But as Annabelle discovers the truth behind dreams—where they come from and what they mean—she is forced to face a dark reality she had not expected. More than just Martin has arrived in Chilton. As Annabelle learns, if dreams can come true, so can nightmares.

What are you waiting for??? 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Review- Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski

Don't Even Think About it by Sarah Mlynowski
Available Now
Delacorte Press Hardcover 336 pages
Received e-ARC from Publisher for Review
YA Paranormal

To buy links-
Amazon/ Kindle/ Audio CD/ Audible/ BN/ Book Depository/
 Kobo

GoodreadsWe weren't always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn't expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.

Since we've kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what's coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same.
So stop obsessing about your ex. We're always listening.

Review

Well, not every book can work for everyone, right? Sadly, this one just fell flat on it's cover for me. Going in, I was expecting something funny and lighthearted. But I should have remembered- HIGH SCHOOL. Having a peek into the minds of my friends and peers back then probably would have been crippling to my already not very high self esteem. Or it might have been helpful. Who knows. But I do know, that after reading DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT, when I see the question what superpower would you like to have, I am no longer going to put ESP or mindreading or anything like that.

Characters- As I have said many times, I am a character girl. Give me strong characters and I will persevere through bad grammar and shoddy plot lines. As long as you've got good characters. I can't pick a main character out in this one, there are too many. But there comes a point where there is a collective "we" as if they all think the same thing. "We all thought so too." I had no idea who was narrating that part of the story. I am guessing this is a series since we never get that answer. I couldn't follow the collective mind. There was only one character I liked, Cooper, and he was having the worst time of his life throughout the book. The other characters were petty, vindictive, judgmental and vapid.

Setting/World - It's in and around high school, one that has the students of wealthy parents, though not all of them are. Set in NYC. The setting seems to have little to do with the story except maybe explain why some of the characters act so entitled.

The Story- The students in Homeroom 10-B all went to get flu shots. Renee refused because she didn't believe in vaccines. One student was out. Everyone else got the shot. Everyone got ESP. The story is about how they use it, how it affects their lives, how it messes up their lives, and who else knows about it.

What I thought- As I indicated, this one did not work for me. The characters were too flat. Maybe there were just too many highlighted to give any depth to them. But I only felt anything for one, Cooper, and that was because his whole world fell apart in the book. I could empathize with him. The collective "We" did not work for me.  As I didn't like the characters, I didn't connect with the story at all. 

I think the biggest let down was that I had the idea this was going to be a funny lighthearted novel. Instead it was mean, bittersweet, heartbreaking and had a little governmental conspiracy in it. Maybe if I had expected something different, I might have liked it more. But watching everyone have their lives and friendships torn apart by their new ability was not what I was in the mood for. Now, I will admit, new friendships were forged and I believe one character grew. But I didn't like where things were headed as the book ended with some of the characters.

And then the book ended with a huge twist and betrayal. It was a surprise and probably the best part of the book. It's also why I think there will be another book. Things are not resolved in this one.

This definitely had a contemporary feel to it with a huge slice of the paranormal ability of ESP. The writing was easy and I never had to stop reading, but I wasn't excited about reading it. I didn't find it hard to read, just let down. You may find it totally different and I hope you do. I saw many other reviewers on Good Reads that LOVED it. So this is just one opinion, mine. 

Again I received an e-ARC from the publisher for review. This in no way influenced my review. The opinions expressed in my review are my own.


Find the author
Sarah Mlynowski


                                                                                                            

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review and Giveaway-The Art of Keeping Faith-The Uni Files Year Two by Anna Bloom (Int)

The Art of Keeping Faith (The Uni Files: Year Two) by Anna Bloom
Other books in the series
The Art of Letting Go (The Uni Files: Year One)
The Saving of Benjamin Chambers (The Uni Files #0.5)
The Art of Forgiving (The Uni Files #1.5)

Available Soon

GoodreadsLilah and Ben. They are meant to be a thing. 
Well, they were. The best thing ever. That was until Lilah decided to teach herself a lesson and let go of Ben since she’s learned The Art of Letting Go. 
Now it’s a new academic year, and Lilah has it all to play for and it all to lose as she battles scary lecturers, evil PR girls, and her own inability to make the right decision at the right time. 
Life has moved on for Lilah and her friends, and life off campus is more complicated than any of them would have guessed. As the reality of being second-year students sets in and the study starts to build up, cracks begin to appear in the very fabric of their friendships. There is a chance that none of them are going to complete Year Two in one piece.
Facing down her worst enemy, herself, Lilah has to try and change her own past mistakes when she realizes that the only way she is going to get the future she wants is if she manages to learn The Art of Keeping Faith in herself.
The Art of Keeping Faith is the second year in The Uni File Series and continues Lilah McCannon’s diary as she searches for love, tries to find and earn trust, and ultimately discovers who she is really meant to be.

Sometimes the only way to meet your future is to face your past.

Review
So, it's my favorite New Adult author and my very favorite characters, Lilah and Ben. (Well, I've been reading two others from her and I love them too, so it's hard to choose). Anyway, two healthy fairly well adjusted young adults chasing their dreams, going to Uni, and  chasing each other. Lilah has a bit of a habit of singing Taylor Swift songs very poorly when she is drunk, which happens quite often, as Ben is off in America making a record and touring the country with his band. Life happens. They each have their own dreams and try to stay together. Sprinkled throughout this novel is the often hilarious observations of Lilah, drunk, sober, sad, happy and in other states (no spoilers).

And then there is Ben. God do I love Ben. I think the world needs more Bens. A lot more Bens! He is the most forgiving of boyfriends for all of Lilah's antics. And her active imagination. However, I have to say, that the conclusions she draws, however mistaken they are, are exactly the same I would draw. And Lilah was a much better sport than I would have been about a lot of things. 

I love the banter back and forth between Lilah and her twin brother, Tristan the Arse. They eventually get along, but they never stop picking at each other, as brothers and sisters are likely to do. Lilah's best friend is engaged to marry Tristan and is living with them and it makes for all kinds of interesting dynamics. Lilah is just straight out funny. I don't know anyone as funny as her, unless Anna Bloom is and I suspect she might be. Ben is one of those guys. I just love him. There is nothing to dislike about him. 

You have to remember that this is an English author so some of the words will be different and things may happen differently there than they do here. Uni is College. Crisps are .....chips. It's a staple in Lilah's diet. And though you might find her behavior a little outrageous considering her age, remember she has just been set free from a job she hates and a man she didn't love. She's discovering herself and so cut her behavior some slack. I love her to death!

I finish reading a story about Ben and Lilah and I have a huge smile on my face and a warm glow inside of me. I want to go out and rent RomComs and eat chocolate. I want to share, share, share, with everyone how much I love this novel!! This series!! I am giving away a complete series of the Uni Files in e-book form. The Art of Keeping Faith had a little hiccup in the release date but as soon as it's available, I will set the giveaway up. It will be available in the US, Canada and anyone that can receive e-books through Amazon UK.

Leave me a comment and tell me how you have spread the word about this series. Put the book on your sidebar. Share my post on FB or Tweet it. Share it on Google plus. Tell your friends. No links necessary. I trust you!

Thanks to the author for the review copy of the novel. This in no way influenced my review. All opinions expressed are my own!

Find Anna Bloom


    STALK HER
Remember- If you want to win the complete series, spread the word and leave a comment on my blog about how you did. No links necessary. I believe you. But do leave me a way to contact you.
                         

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review- Into The Dark-The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain and Giveaway US/Canada Only

Into The Dark- The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain
Available Now
Hardback 496 pages
Greek Mythology/ Realistic/ YA

To Buy Links-
AmazonKindleBarnes and NobleBook Depository/
IndieboundKobo

Goodreads-Haden Lord, the disgraced prince of the Underrealm, has been sent to the mortal world to entice a girl into returning with him to the land of the dead. Posing as a student at Olympus Hills High—a haven for children of the rich and famous—Haden must single out the one girl rumored to be able to restore immortality to his race.

Daphne Raines has dreams much bigger than her tiny southern Utah town, so when her rock star dad suddenly reappears, offering her full tuition to Olympus Hills High’s prestigious music program, she sees an opportunity to catch the break she needs to make it as a singer. But upon moving into her estranged father’s mansion in California, and attending her glamorous new school, Daphne soon realizes she isn’t the only student in Olympus who doesn’t quite belong.

Haden and Daphne—destined for each other—know nothing of the true stakes their fated courtship entails. As war between the gods brews, the teenagers’ lives collide. But Daphne won’t be wooed easily and when it seems their prophesied link could happen, Haden realizes something he never intended—he’s fallen in love. Now to save themselves, Haden and Daphne must rewrite their destinies. But as their destinies change, so do the fates of both their worlds.

Review
Greek Mythology lovers hold onto your hearts!! This is the Hades and Persephone myth redone in a fresh, very unique way that will have you questioning what team you are on and which side of the mythology to believe. It will have you rethinking everything you thought you knew about the Greek Gods. And just when you thought you'd read it all! Just when you thought no one could write something new with those meddling Greek Gods (who am I kidding, right?)! Bree Despain's first book in the Into the Dark Series exceeded my expectations and won me over with it's great characters, both main and secondary and a wonderfully rich world that is sprinkled through the underworld but also the above world and further.

Characters- Lord Haden/ Haden - Haden is like the runt of a set of twins. He used to be the favored one, but then he did something to lose the favor of his father, King Ren, and now he is just barely above a servant as far as status goes. He is an Underlord. He comes from the world of Hades. He's been chosen to seek out The Cypher, a girl. But his teachings have not prepared him for life in the real world. He takes everything literally at first and he comes across strange, stiff, even laughable.  Haden is all duty at first but as the novel goes on, he starts to think for himself and it's great to see his character grow and change.

Daphne- For Daphne, it's all about the music. She's got a great voice and once she's singing and playing everything else falls away. She resents her father, The Rock God, who has seen her four times in her life, and she hates the little town of Ellis Fields, she lives in. She wants to make her own way in the music world, but she's got to get out of town first. And her mom has her on a very short leash. I like Daphne a lot. She is not the type of girl that needs to be rescued, doesn't fall for the "Daddy's rich and he's sorry so I'll forgive him" and she doesn't drop at the gorgeous guy's feet. No insta love here people!! She is a bit unpredictable so look for her to make some interesting choices.

Tobin- This is Daphne's first real friend and I can only picture him as a young Frank Sinatra as he is wearing the hat and sings a song from Sinatra for his audition for the music program at the Olympus Hills High. He is not an insta love character either. But there is instant camaraderie between him and Daphne and she seems to trust him readily. He seems to be a loyal friend but I am not completely sure he's trustworthy. He's got his own agenda. He adds a delicious unknown element to the novel.

Dax- Dax is very close lipped about his trip to the human world. He is a disgraced Underlord. He failed his mission six years ago. No one knows what happened. He is supposed to help Haden navigate the human world, but most of the time, he's just gone. No one seems to know where. But he is Haden's friend.

There are other secondary characters that are very well developed as well, the dad- Joe Vince, Demi, the mom, Lexie, Simon, just to name a few.

The setting: The story begins in the Underworld, a harsh place. To me it reminds me of scenes from Gladiator with the soldiers all lined up. It's all stone and torches and men and boys in armor. And unrelenting adherence to rules, power and discipline. It's easy to imagine this place as the Underworld. Devoid of anything positive.


In contrast, the human world is....well human. Ellis Fields where Daphne starts out the story is a small town in Utah which she desperately wants to escape. But her mother doesn't want to let her out of town. She thinks everything Daphne needs or will ever need is right in Ellis Fields.

And then there is Olympus Hills. The place that Daphne goes to live with her father. It's where the very, very rich and ultra famous live. All the streets are named after Greek Gods and myths. The high school is named Olympus High. 

The World: This is a contemporary setting with most of the action taking place in the human world. But some of it takes place in the Underworld. Bree Despain uses our basic knowledge of Hades' Realm and builds on it, creating a mythology that includes Tartarus, populated by frightening creatures. Zeus and Hades have been fighting a war for centuries but Hades was killed. The only way to leave the Underworld is Persephone's Gate. The war, technically is at a stalemate as no one can leave the Underworld. The story blends the Hades/Persephone myth is intertwined with Zeus and Hades fighting, the question of belief in the Gods keeping them alive and the Orpheus/Eurydice story. But I have a feeling there is much, much more in there and I need to read it again as I read it so quickly. There are Fates and destinies, Oracles, prophecies, deals with the "devil", giving away your first born,betrayals, missing girls, regrets, weather elementals, electricity and thunderbolts. And so much more.

What I thought: I was completely entertained trying to figure out the story, especially what Dax's story was and whether Garrick can be trusted or not. The story is told from Daphne's point of view and Haden's alternating chapters, sometimes overlapping incidents where both of them were participants. If you are looking for a great romance, this isn''t it. This is a slow building one, and though we don't see the day to day, we get the sense of how it develops. I love the way that Greek Mythology plays into every bit of the story. From streets to the high school to the hotels to the cities, to the rock opera. Bree Despain has woven the mythical world of the Greek Gods into The Shadow Prince and yet leaves plenty of room for the new mythology she has created out of the old. It's a great blending of both. Her characters, both Daphne and Haden are well developed, and likable. Daphne, is strong willed and not easily swayed by money, fame, or looks. She is very self assured, even standing in front of a crowd singing. Haden starts out a little cave man like, but quickly lets his human side out. It is not hard to believe once we find out why he is no longer the favorite son. Even the secondary characters are compelling enough that we want to know more about them, have them on the page more. The ending leaves us wanting more, but without a cliffhanger ending. 

I recommend this YA novel to lovers of  Greek Mythology and retellings. It's a well written story, with just enough mystery, romance and intrigue to make you want to keep turning the pages quicker and quicker as more and more is revealed as you reach the end. I can't wait to read the next book in this series. 






Thanks to Egmont for and Advanced Reader's Copy for review. This in no way influenced my opinion. The opinions expressed in the review are my own.
About the author-
Bree Despain-
The Short: Bree Despain is the author of the Dark Divine trilogy and the upcoming Into The Dark trilogy. Bree rediscovered her childhood love for creating stories when she took a semester off college to write and direct plays for at-risk, inner-city teens from Philadelphia and New York. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband, two young sons, and her beloved TiVo. 


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