31 October 2011

Book Review: Alexander Death by JL Bryan



Release Date: 23 September 2011
Publisher: Self-published
Source: Author via Kismet Book Tours
Series: The Paranormals (Book #3)

Goodreads description:
While Seth searches for Jenny, Dr. Heather Reynard of the CDC unravels Seth and Jenny's secrets.

Alexander opens Jenny's mind to her deep past, and to the full horrific extent of her powers.

Torn between her feelings for Alexander and Seth, and between her past lives and her present, Jenny must prepare to face her enemies in the final, catastrophic battle...
My Thoughts...

I HAVE to start out by saying this--BUY THESE.  (And absolutely no one has paid me to say that--it is my absolute, 100% honest opinion that you should go HERE and buy these.  They are worth every freaking penny.)

The conclusion to The Paranormals series, which began with the fabulous Jenny Pox, was a stunning finale to an absolutely phenomenal series. (How many positive adjectives can I put in one sentence?)

Alexander Death picks up right where we left our characters at the end of Tommy Nightmare. Jenny is on the run with Alexander, the mysterious zombie-master who rescued her from the riot in Charleston. Seth is desperately searching for Jenny and feeling completely guilty about his actions in Charleston (as he SHOULD BE). Dr. Reynard is trying to figure out what really happened in Fallen Oak. Ashleigh/Esmerelda is on the run with Tommy.  The scene is set for some major drama and action.

JL Bryan is not afraid to pull out all the stops, and if you're as emotionally invested in these characters as I was, this book will send you on an emotional roller coaster. I love how much Jenny really came into her own in this book, even if she totally had me worried a few times. Seth, even though I was totally mad at him at the end of Tommy Nightmare, continues to grow on me and he's really pining after Jenny and determined to get her back (which may have helped him win my heart back just a little).

Ashleigh is totally, 100% back to her manipulative self in this book and I absolutely HATED her.  Seriously, this chick is a straight-up crazy b*tch. I hated the way that she used Tommy and Esmerelda. HATED.  When she pretended to BE Esmerelda so Tommy could be with the girl he loves, well, I wanted her to DIE (for real this time).

The tension builds up throughout this book to an absolutely stellar, explosive ending.  A perfect (albeit, bittersweet) ending. I, for one, know that I will miss Jenny and the gang, so this will be a series I re-read again in the future (and probably one that I'll give away as Christmas presents to my unsuspecting family).


Be sure to check out ALL of the fabulous Alexander Death posts this week as part of the Kismet Book Tours' The Paranormals Blog Tour!
 Monday, October 31st – The Slowest Bookworm
Tuesday, November 1st – Buried In Books
Wednesday, November 2nd- Paranormal Opinion
Thursday, November 3rd – Belle Books
Friday, November 4th – Supernatural Snark

27 October 2011

Feature & Follow Friday!! (30)

Happy Friday, lovelies!

I hope you had a wonderful week and are looking forward to an awesome, book-filled weekend! This is my 30th Friday post with fun follow memes, and guess what?! I'm being featured! :-)



"Follow My Book Blog Friday" is a weekly meme hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee's View and Allison at Allison Can Read where bloggers make new friends, including this week's featured bloggers--In Which Ems Reviews Books & ME!!!  Be sure to join in the follow fun!!

This week's question: 
Q:If you could have dinner with your favorite book character, who would you eat with and what would you serve?
I'm totally having Jenny Morton from The Paranormals series over for dinner because that chick rocks my socks off.  She's seriously kickass. It'll be great. We'll can compare notes on how terrible Ashleigh is and how cute Seth is and she can give me all the details on Alexander (you know, the details that weren't in the books, *wink*). As for food, well, I'm not much of a cook, so I will definitely be ordering in for this dinner date.  I'm thinking local barbecue--I mean, Jenny's a Southern girl so you can't go wrong with BBQ, right?! I mean, maybe she won't like Missouri style BBQ but maybe she'll love it. And there's always the carry-out pizza place down the street as a back-up plan... 

Thanks so much for visiting my blog today! I love your comments and try my best to return follows! 
HAPPY FRIDAY!!!

(PS ~ See that link at the top of the page? The one for my potential 2012 challenge? Would you be so kind as to take a look and leave some feedback? I'd love to get an idea of if this is something that people would be interested in.  Or just answer the poll in the sidebar. Thanks!!)

YA Book Review: Variant by Robison Wells


Release Date: 4 October 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Goodreads description:
Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.

He was wrong.

Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive. Where breaking the rules equals death.

But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.
My Thoughts...

WOW.  Fresh, exciting, and completely unique, Variant is truly the type of book that will hook you on page one and then throw surprise after surprise at you.  There was so much intrigue in this book and it definitely kept me guessing from chapter to chapter, which I LOVE in a book.
When Benson Fisher arrives at his new school, he's looking for a new start--new opportunities, new friends, a new LIFE.  What he gets is a school without adults run by gangs of students locked in an eternal power-struggle. Not exactly what he had in mind when he applied for the scholarship! Benson is determined to escape the confines of the school, something no one has successfully done before.  What he discovers along the way--well, let's just say it's although unexpected and a bit terrifying.

Benson is a likeable character from the get-go.  He's got this fresh, positive attitude as he looks forward to starting school at Maxfield Academy that is almost instantly destroyed by what he discovers there. However, his determination to escape is never destroyed by the pressure of others and even after finding a girlfriend, he is focused on escaping.  I enjoyed his exploits throughout and his near constant planning for his eventual escape.  Each day and new experience seems to bring new insights into his escape plan.

The plot of this book is seriously awesome.  I loved the twists and turns that Robison Wells wove into the story.  You couldn't ever really guess what was going to happen next.  It had the perfect combination of mystery, action, and adventure that all leads to a mind-blowing ending.  Seriously, this ending will SHOCK you.  (And I'm going to warn you, it's quite the cliffhanger.)

Really, all I can say is that this is definitely a book to check out! It's a fabulous read for fans of YA action/adventure fans with a certain atmosphere that will appeal to YA dystopia fans as well.  Everything comes together smoothly to make this a quick-paced read that will appeal to even your most reluctant readers.

26 October 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (34)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where book bloggers discuss the books that they are most anxiously waiting for! (And this fabulous button was designed by my dear blogger friend Lindsay at The Violet Hour)

This week I'm waiting on...


Perception by Kim Harrington
© 1 March 2012 by Scholastic
When you can see things others can't, what do you do when someone's watching you?

Everybody knows about Clarity "Clare" Fern. She's the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.

But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare's pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare's hopeful ex-boyfriend who'd do anything to win her back?

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared.
Yet, another 2012 sequel that I can't wait to get my hands on! I loved Clarity because it was such a fun, well-written mystery novel with just a touch of the paranormal.  I can't wait to see what Ms. Harrington has in store for Clare next!


Also, I figured I would combine this post with W.W.W. Wednesdays...so here is some more info about my reading for this week! To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…Grab the logo...and post your link at Should Be Reading!

What are you currently reading?

 

(Currently listening to...)



What did you recently finish reading?



What do you think you’ll read next? 







What are YOU waiting on this week?

YA Book Review: If I Tell by Janet Gurtler


Release Date: 1 October 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Goodreads description:
Jasmine Evans knows one thing for sure... people make mistakes. After all, she is one. Jaz is the result of a onenight stand between a black football player and a blonde princess. Having a young mother who didn't raise her, a father who wants nothing to do with her and living in a small-minded town where she's never fit in hasn't been easy. But she's been surviving. Until she sees her mom's new boyfriend making out with her own best friend. When do you forgive people for being human or give up on them forever?
My Thoughts...

As someone who is generally wary of contemporary YA reads, simply because it's not a genre that I widely enjoy, I was incredibly intrigued by this story and began rather cautiously.  What I discovered: Ms. Gurtler's writing is phenomenal.  Her skill with words creates a realistic image of a teenager struggling through a crisis and pulls you along for the ride.  I noted early on that this book had the "train wreck" effect--you know that something terrible is going to happen yet you can't make yourself look away.  I found myself so incredibly immersed in the story that this was definitely true--I couldn't look away and I had to keep turning the pages.

Jasmine is a more complex character than I expected from the book's description and throughout the course of the story, she is dealing with a lot more than "just" seeing her mom's boyfriend kissing her best friend. She perpetually engaged in a sort-of inner battle about what it really means to be half-black, half-white in a very white school/town.  This search for a self-identity really comes to a head throughout the book and is compounded by the event she witnessed because until then Simon, the boyfriend, was there for her, helping her come to terms with her identity.

One of the things that bothered me a little was the way that Jasmine treated her friends, and I'm not talking about the friend who made out with her mom's boyfriend.  I'm talking about Ashley and Jackson.  Ashley, IMO, is Jaz's REAL best friend. She's a tough chick and I found myself wishing that she would just up and b*tch slap Jaz for me--more than once.  Jaz doesn't treat her like the awesome friend that she is, so I was definitely happy to see their friendship take more of a forefront as the story came to a close and Jaz left behind a dysfunctional friendship with Lucie.  Jackson is a majorly cute love-interest with a history all his own. I was cheering for him from basically the second that I met him.  He goes to such great lengths to really connect with Jaz and he's simply fabulous.  Yet here again we have Jaz pushing away a good friend.  She goes so far as to completley tear into him at one point and says some incredibly hurtful things.  I was so hurt for Jackson.

What really shines in this story, for me, is the emotions that Ms. Gurtler drags you through.  You'll experience hurt, hatred, confusion, empathy, sympathy, love--you name it and I bet this story can make you feel it.  These intensely real emotions combined with the well-craft, highly engaging story will keep you turning the pages with a real sense of urgency.

25 October 2011

YA Book Review: Tommy Nightmare by J.L. Bryan


Release Date: 10 April 2011
Publisher: Self-published
Source: Author via Kismet Book Tours

Goodreads description:
While Fallen Oak recovers from the Jenny pox, someone new is hunting Jenny.


Like Jenny, Ashleigh Goodling belonged to a pair of opposites with powers that mirror each other.


Now Jenny and Seth must face the opposite of love...
My Thoughts...

I HAVE to start out by saying this--BUY THESE.  (And absolutely no one has paid me to say that--it is my absolute, 100% honest opinion that you should go HERE and buy these.  They are worth every freaking penny.  There's a very good reason that Jenny Pox is a Kindle bestseller! Don't worry, I'll remind you again when I review Book #3...probably next week!)

Okay, now on to my review of this fabulous book! (Just FYI, this review is mostly spoiler free but may unintentionally have spoilers for the first book.)

Tommy Nightmare starts off by dropping us into a new scene with new characters.  We've left Fallen Oak behind and now we meet Tommy and Esmerelda for the first time.  Tommy is a foster kid living with an abusive father and weak mother (also an previous foster kid of said father--what does THAT tell you?).  Tommy first gets a real glimpse of his power the night that he attempts to help his "grandfather" and actually ends up killing him--which in a roudabout way brings Esmerelda into the picture.  Tommy runs away from the farm and unloving foster family.  Seeing Ashleigh on TV, he's immediately drawn to her and takes off across the country to find her.  Now, knowing what happened at the end of Jenny Pox, you can guess what Tommy finds in Fallen Oaks, which leads him full-circle back to Esmerelda...and the story that ensues from there.

Tommy and Esmerelda were definitely a welcome addition to the cast of The Paranormals.  Their unusal "powers" (gifts?) add new elements and twists to the story and the way that they pull Ashleigh back into the world was unexpected. (I mean, really, I thought we were done with that crazy chick!) Their quest to basically avenge Ashleigh's death is INTENSE.

And don't worry--Jenny and Seth (*love them*) are still in this book, but the first thing you pick up on when they pop into the story is that they've been growing apart! SAD FACE. D-: Seth has all kinds of big plans to go to college in Charleston, despite Jenny's continuing insistence that it's too risky for her to go somewhere so crowded.  Also, Seth's parents have returned to Fallen Oak in light of the recent disaster...and Seth refuses to tell them that he and Jenny are together! Seth did a number of things, directly or indirectly, in Tommy Nightmare that curbed my enthusiasm for his character a little bit!

Jenny is so still growing as a character and becoming a little more confident in herself, but she's still so obviously vulnerable.  When everything goes down at the end of this and Alexander rescues her, I was immediately jumping ship from Team Seth to Team Alexander because Jenny needs a grounding presence in her life to continue gaining confidence...and well, Seth....he's screws up big time.

Older YA readers and adults alike will really enjoy these books. JL Bryan blew me away with his storytelling and his ability to pull me into the story. I cannot wait to dive into Alexander Death (Book #3), even through I'm sure it will be a bittersweet ending seeing as it's the last book!

Be sure to check out ALL of the fabulous Tommy Nightmare posts this week as part of the Kismet Book Tours' The Paranormals Blog Tour!
Monday, October 24th - Reading in the Corner (Did you catch my character interview?!)
Tuesday, October 25th - Books With Bite 
Wednesday,October 26th - Paranormal Wastelands 
Thursday, October 27th - Reading Angel 
Friday, October 28st - About Happy Books
 

24 October 2011

The Paranormals Blog Tour: Character Interview & Contests!!


GROUP CHARACTER INTERVIEW WITH THE CAST OF  
THE PARANORMALS

THE SCENE: A group character interview with main characters from The Paranormals series. The interviewees are Jenny Morton, Seth Barrett, Jenny’s dad Darrell Morton, Tommy, Esmeralda and Alexander. The interview is moderated by Jessi at Reading in the Corner and by Ashleigh Goodling, also a character from the series, who somehow got herself appointed co-moderator. 

Ashleigh: Thanks to everyone for coming by and answering just a few questions about yourselves here at Reading in the Corner. We’re sure this is going to be a great group interview. And I just know that my co-moderator, Jessi, is totally awesome and will do whatever I want. You’re a librarian, right, Jessi? That must be so fascinating.

Jessi: Hi, Ashleigh. Indeed being a librarian can definitely be fascinating at times. I wasn’t aware you were going to be my co-moderator today...but somehow I’m not at all surprised. *scoots a little farther away from Ashleigh* 

Ashleigh: That’s great, Jessi. Let’s start with a casual get-to-know-you kind of question. Jenny, how do you justify all the horrible things that happen to people whenever you touch them? Would you call yourself a “monster” or an “evil demon”?
Jenny: That’s not really a fair question. I don’t want to hurt anybody. It just kind of happens. 
Ashleigh: I’m going to put that down as “ugly monster.” Let’s let Jessi ask the next question. I’m sure she won’t pull from the list of questions I told her not to ask.

Jessi: Yes...of course...Ashleigh! Please don’t touch me! *moves farther away* Let’s stick with some get to know you questions, as Ashleigh suggested. Let’s start with you, Mr. Morton--may I call you Darrell? Darrell, can you tell us about the difficulties of raising Jenny on your own? Being a single parent can definitely be a trying experience and Jenny was a very special child. 
Darrell: What you got to understand is that nobody can touch Jenny at all. Not at all. So, as a parent, you got to be careful to wear gloves and all, and on top of that you got to teach her not to hurt nobody. So it ain’t easy. It’ll drive you to drink. But I done my best to take good care of her and teach her right. 
Ashleigh: (yawns) 

Jessi: Ashleigh, don’t be rude. Jenny, is it difficult to deal with what happened that day in Fallen Oak? Do you think people deserved it?
Jenny: I don’t know if they deserved it. It’s true that everybody was trying to kill me, and they did kill Seth. But I guess they were all being manipulating by the Goodlings. I wish it hadn’t happened like that. I’d give anything to undo it, but you can’t do undo it. 
Jessi: Seth, do you feel like a complete jerk after what happened in Charleston?
Seth: Actually, yeah, but I was being manipulated by Ashleigh and her whole Cupid-power thing--
Ashleigh: Notice a pattern, Jessi? Everything bad they do, they blame it right on me. As if I could somehow go around tricking people into doing evil things. Everything’s always my fault. They never take responsibility for their own actions.

Jessi: Well, Ashleigh, there does seem to be a pattern...but I’m not sure that it really speaks well for your role in things. Can you really blame them for feeling a bit manipulated and used?

Ashleigh: *narrows her eyes* I’m not being interviewed here. I’m a co-moderator. Check the paperwork.

Jessi: Ashleigh, dear, you’re not on trial here--we’re just trying to get to know everyone, and I’m sure that many readers here today are curious about your intense animosity towards Jenny...

Ashleigh: You’re right. Let’s shake hands and make friends.

Jessi: Um, no. Esmeralda, Tommy--what’s your take on the Fallen Oak situation and Ashleigh’s role? How did the two of you end up as part of all the craziness happening here?
Tommy: Ashleigh told us what a danger Jenny was, and how evil she was. You see, we’re part of a group, the three of us, we reincarnate, we work together in different lifetimes-- 
Esmeralda: I love Tommy and Ashleigh both. But my feelings for Tommy are sort of like when you find a little piece of yourself that you lost long ago. And my feelings for Ashleigh are more like...something that consumes you completely.
Jessi: Do you think that Ashleigh’s powers have something to do with those feelings or are they entirely your own? Or, actually, let’s ask someone else who has experienced the effects of Ashleigh’s power. Seth--or even Jenny, since you have experienced her powers indirectly--what are your thoughts on Esmerelda’s feelings? Tell us a little about what it felt like to be under Ashleigh’s spell.
Seth: Esmeralda is delusional. Ashleigh makes you feel love when she touches you. And it’s addictive, it really is. But she’s a horrible person who lies and manipulates and uses everyone around her-- 
Ashleigh: Next question! We’re almost out of time.

Jessi: Alexander, you seem to have just appeared in Fallen Oak out of nowhere. What made you decide to come to the area from Mexico, where you’ve been living?
Alexander: I came to Fallen Oak in search of Jenny. She and I have been close for thousands of years, lovers for hundreds of lifetimes-- 
Seth: Hey, back off! Jenny loves me, not you.
Alexander: We’ll see, pretty boy. 
Ashleigh: I really don’t see why Jenny is worth fighting over. Somebody should just drown her like an unwanted kitten. Anyway, it looks like our time is running out, and since everybody’s saying nasty things about me for some reason, I think we should wrap this up. I think Angeline Kace needs this room for her character interviews. She’s hogging all the book blogs.

*scene fades to black amidst the shouting and fighting...*


Be sure to check out ALL of the fabulous Tommy Nightmare posts this week!
Monday, October 24th - Reading in the Corner 
Tuesday, October 25th - Books With Bite 
Wednesday,October 26th - Paranormal Wastelands 
Thursday, October 27th - Reading Angel 
Friday, October 28st - About Happy Books
 
About JL Bryan - website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads
J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on the English Renaissance and the Romantic period. He also studied screenwriting at UCLA. He enjoys remixing elements of paranormal, supernatural, fantasy, horror and science fiction into new kinds of stories. He is the author of The Paranormals trilogy (Jenny Pox, Tommy Nightmare, and Alexander Death). Fairy Metal Thunder is the first book in his new Songs of Magic series. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Christina, his son John, two dogs, and two cats.



About Tommy Nightmare
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

While Fallen Oak recovers from the Jenny pox, someone new is hunting Jenny.

Like Jenny, Ashleigh Goodling belonged to a pair of opposites with powers that mirror each other.

Now Jenny and Seth must face the opposite of love...

And now for the contests...


**"Treat" Contest NOW CLOSED**
Winner: Andra!




Prize #1 - The chance to win a gorgeous, Jenny Pox themed bracelet featuring a heart and arrow charm for Ashleigh's love power! All you need to do is leave a comment on this post and you will be automatically entered in the giveaway. Comment by 11:59 CST, October 31, 2011.


Prize #2 - The second giveaway is a Kindle Fire, skinned in the winner’s choice of Paranormals artwork and loaded with an AMAZING indie library! Simply fill out the form below (just once during the course of the tour) and you’re entered to win the latest and greatest from the biggest name in eReaders: an Amazon Kindle Fire! Open US/Canada. See full contest rules here.


Spooktacular Giveaway Hop!





Welcome to my stop on the "Spooktacular Giveaway Hop," hosted by the fabulous I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Diary of a Bookworm! For this giveaway, I've decided to give you a choice of one of my favorite ghost stories of the year (so far!). Check out the fabulous options available!
 

  


23 October 2011

In My Mailbox (17)

"In My Mailbox" is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren where we can show some love to all the books that we got in the mail or otherwise!

Hello, my lovelies!!!  I'm out of town with VERY limited Internet access so this is just a quick post to share a couple of things I got this past week. Enjoy!

Gifts/Prizes:

I got Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder, which you know I LOVED if you read my review, from Kristen at The Book Monsters as part of Ruby's Fall Book Exchange. Also, this book has the UK cover, which is AWESOME.

For Review:

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber (thanks to NetGalley & Sourcebooks Fire)

Bought : (all ebooks)



 What's in YOUR mailbox?!

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