Monthly Archives: February 2012

Illuminate ARC Giveaway!

Just because I’m still giddy over the fact that I found a copy of ILLUMINATE by Aimee Agresti today (a whole week early!) at my local Barnes & Noble, and also because it’s a super special day that only comes once every four years, I have decided to hold another giveaway! How would you like your very own copy of Illuminate? Sounds awesome doesn’t it?

Here is your chance to win an ARC of Illuminate!

To enter the giveaway, simply fill out THIS FORM.
Only one winner will be awarded. ONE entry per person, or you will be disqualified. Giveaway ends on Friday, March 9, 2012 at midnight.

Illuminate
By Aimee Agresti
Harcourt Children’s Books
To be released March 6, 2012
Ages 12 and up
Author’s Website
Hardcover | Kindle

Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything changes when she isawarded a prestigious internship at a posh Chicago hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous strangers: the powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.

As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?

Waiting on Wednesday: The Lost Girl

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that I’m eagerly anticipating. This week’s “can’t-wait-to-read” selection on Making the Grade is:

The Lost Girl
by Sangu Mandanna
Published by Balzer + Bray
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Author Website
Pre-order on Amazon

Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. She was made as a copy of someone else, expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other,” if she ever died. Eva spends every day studying that girl from far away.

But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.

Now she must abandon everything and everyone she’s ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.

From debut novelist Sangu Mandanna comes the dazzling story of a girl who was always told what she had to be—until she found the strength to decide for herself.

I am quite excited about this one after JUST discovering it on Goodreads this week. That cover… THAT cover! It’s so intriguing when you consider the concept of self discovery and your world literally turning upside down, as indicated on the cover. And a trip to India! Not since the Tiger’s Curse series have I read a book set in India, so I am excited to take a trip to the exotic (to me) land once more… And look at that cover!!! August seems so far away. Maybe I will be lucky enough to receive an ARC when they are available…

Book Review: Angelfire (Angelfire Series #1)

Angelfire (Angelfire Series #1)
By Courtney Allison Moulton
Published February 15, 2012
HarperCollins Children’s Books
Hardcover
Author’s Website
Hardcover | Kindle

First there are nightmares. Then come the memories. Now she must hunt.

Ellie can’t shake the terrifying dreams about monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her. Then she meets Will and feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. When they meet on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie’s power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Will holds the key to Ellie’s memories, whole lifetimes of them, and she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.

Her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. In order to survive, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives, the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, and truths that may be too frightening to remember.

HOLLI’S REVIEW:

All of the normality of Ellie’s seemingly stable life nearly comes to a screeching halt nearing her seventeenth birthday.  What previously only appeared to be horrible nightmares are becoming more and more of a reality.  And then there is Will.  He steps into Ellie’s life with his ethereal beauty.  He seems so familiar yet she’s never met him before.  Or so she thought.  Will holds the key to unlocking a power within Ellie that she didn’t even know she had.  And as time progresses, the memory of whom she really is.

Plot:  10

Courtney Allison Moulton did a fantastic job dreaming up a new twist to modern Angelic Lore.  Although it mentions Archangels, the Fallen, Niphilim, and the Grigori, this story mainly deals with angelic and demonic reapers.  And not how you typically would envision the grim reaper either.  These reapers are huge beasts that come in various forms.  There are different roles for the two types of reapers.  The demonic reapers set out to steal human souls while the angelic reapers set out to kill the demonic in order to preserve human life.  This is where Ellie comes in.  There are slightly more demonic reapers than angelic.  To even the battle field, Ellie was created or transformed should we say?  I don’t want to give too many details and spoil who she really is … which was a fantastic twist that I never saw coming!  To simplify it, Ellie is called the Preliator.  She is the ultimate “demonic reaper” slayer, an angelic weapon.  Gifted with Angelfire, Ellie has killed reaper after reaper with her Guardian Will, for more than five hundred years.   Upon her seventeenth birthday of each reincarnation, she regains her past life memories, Will unlocks her power, and they begin again.  However, with each reincarnation she becomes more and more human and it becomes increasingly more difficult to regain her memories.  This proves to be very inconvenient for Ellie.  It makes her ill prepared when the reapers seek her out in an attempt to make her their next meal!  Action packed?  Just a tad! ;)

Characters:  8

Ellie is like most other teenage girls.  She goes to school, does her homework, hangs out with her friends, and has dreams and ambitions.  She doesn’t have the perfect family life, and I will get into that a bit.  For the most part, Courtney made Ellie a very believable character.  Beyond being believable, I liked her.  I connected well with her, and was easily able to feel her emotions as things unraveled around her.  I felt the way she responded to her circumstances was realistic.   She started off unsure about herself, dangerously so, but eventually grew to be strong and self-assured by the end of the book.

Will is a fantastic male lead.  He is honorable, dependable, self-sacrificial, dedicated, and unwavering.  Simply put, Will embodies stability.  I love how slow his relationship with Ellie progressed.  It was painful at times, but the fact that this was not an insta-love made it more endearing and realistic.  It is obvious that Will has feelings for Ellie, but he sets those feelings aside and concentrates on his role as her Guardian.

Let’s move on to Ellie’s parents.  First and foremost, Ellie’s father scares me.  He seriously gives me the creeps and makes me want to slap the evil off of him!  I was left with the impression that something deeper was going on.  It didn’t feel like a “Mid-life-crisis” gone bipolarificly (excuse my Holli-isms) wrong.  Courtney didn’t settle this issue in the first installment, so I’m hoping to see that as a twist in Wings of the Wicked.

Now, on to Ellie’s mother.  First, you should know that I am a mother of five children.  I understand that not every parent raises their children with the same morals or holds them to the same standards.  With that being said, I was disappointed with this character.  If I were to host a teen party at my house, you bet your bottom dollar that I am going to be supervising it and not disappearing off into my bedroom.  The second thing that irked me was when she found out Ellie had been drinking at said party, her response was “I understand you’re a teenager and that you’re going to drink no matter what anyone says ….”  — Insert annoying buzzer here — I don’t think so.  Not on my watch, not in my house.  It just would never be allowed.  How about some stiff punishment!  HELLO!?  Annoyance.  :/   The last thing that annoyed me was her sex talk with Ellie.  It was pretty much hashed out with the same flippancy as the drinking.  Call me a fuddy-duddy, kill joy, prude or whatever, but I am one of those old fashioned mothers who teach her children to respect themselves.

Aside from my issues with Ellie’s parents, Courtney did a good job building her characters, whether they had major or minor roles.

Setting: 10

I’m a very visual person so for me, descriptive writing is the key to making a great story and Courtney did a fantastic job!  The setting of Angelfire takes place in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, although we went to places like Puerto Rico for a trip out into the middle of the Ocean, to an abandoned warehouse with Will and Ellie to train, and a Halloween dance.  And let’s not forget the Grim!!!  It didn’t matter where the story took me; I had a very clear visual in my head as to what it looked like.  Even now, thinking back on the book, it is like flipping through a graphic novel in my mind.  Not a lot of author’s have the ability to make a story stand out in this way let alone in their debut!  Bravo, Courtney!

Pacing: 7

I did have a bit of a pacing problem earlier on in the book.  Though slow, it does give you a good feel of our protagonist’s character and the multifaceted issues she was facing as her somewhat normal life went downhill.  Still, I found myself easily distracted.  Once I got over a hundred pages in, the story picked up and I sailed straight through without putting it down.

Style: 10

I thoroughly enjoyed Courtney’s writing style.  There were a lot of scenes where major transitions took place.  Whether it was stepping into the Grim, or while a past memory was beginning to resurface, Courtney pulled it off smoothly.  I enjoyed how balanced the writing was.  Equal parts humor, dialect, action, and suspense!  Aside from my disappointment in the underage drinking, Angelfire was a very enjoyable read!

On a parting note … I had the pleasure of meeting Courtney at the Pitch Dark Days tour in Houston this past week.  While discussing how I enjoyed her first installment, she remarked that the second book was a lot better.  I’m so excited to dive straight into my newly signed – insert cheesy grin – second installment of the Angelfire series!  If that is the case, Wings of the Wicked is going to ROCK!

Grade: 95