Giveaway Times Two!

September 30, 2012 at 11:59 am (Giveaway) (, , , , , , , , )

So I’m a horrible person, who feels very bad about not posting meaningful content recently because life just keeps kicking me in the pants.

Today I’d like to make that up to you, not with meaningful content unfortunately, because life is still happening in a kind of bad way at the moment, but with two giveaways.

Normally I don’t like to giveaway ARCs of books that have already been released. The first few weeks of sales are so critical for an author’s success with a given book that I don’t like to detract from that in any way. However, quite simply, the money isn’t always there. If it were, I think we’d all rush out and buy ALL THE BOOKS as soon as they came out but all too often we have to make choices. If it’s between books and food, I choose books every time, but sometimes that second option is…oh, RENT.

Recently I received two ARCs of books I’d already purchased, books that I wanted the finished hardcopies of no matter what, so I am offering them up to you. First one is Origin, by Jessica Khoury, and the second is Hidden, the third book in the Firelight series by Sophie Jordan.

All you have to do to enter is comment below and tell me which one you want and why. That’s it. (Well, and make sure your email address is tucked away there somewhere, that will be important). If you want both books, you can tell me that and why, and you can be entered for both, but you cannot WIN both- winning one will remove you from the draw for the other.

I’ll draw the winners next Sunday (7 October) and contact them, so you have a full week to enter! Feel free to spread the word (please?) but it doesn’t actually get you any extra entries.

Best of luck!

Until next time~

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Book Review: Vanish, by Sophie Jordan

September 7, 2011 at 9:49 pm (Book Reviews) (, , , , )

NOTE: This is the sequel to Firelight, so what’s below will contain spoilers for the first book. If you haven’t read that one, you’ll probably want to skip what’s below.

To save Will’s life, Jacinda did the unthinkable. Now, with her secret exposed before a family of hunters, she has no choice but to accompany Cassian back to the pride, along with her mother and sister, but for Tamra, a perpeptual outcast among the draki for never having manifested, homecoming isn’t the hardship they all expect it to be. For Jacinda and her mother, it’s pure hell.
Jacinda knows her only choice is to let Will go, to trust that the magic of draki shading has wiped her completely from his memory. She knows that- but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
And danger didn’t stop at the pride’s boundaries.

Vanish picks up right where Firelight left off, with Jacinda in a LOT of trouble. It’s not that she regrets her choice, precisely- it saved Will’s life- but there are a lot of consequences that won’t be so easy to run away from. When she left the pride, she was on the verge of having her wings clipped. Their secret should be safe, thanks to the draki magic of shading, which wipes human memories among other things, but it still means returning to the pride after they snuck out. However worthless Tamra and their mother are considered to be by draki terms, Jacinda is still the pride’s only fire-breather.

But- perhaps as a stress reaction, perhaps something more- the impossible has happened, and Tamra has finally manifested: into a shader, equally valuable and equally rare. Suddenly she can be a part of things, a part of the pride, in a way she never could before. And she finally has a chance at Cassian.

This book looks a great deal at consequences and how incredibly difficult they can be to take. It isn’t just Jacinda who has to deal with those consequences, though, and we get to see how they ripple out to the others. We get to see Az- love Az!- and how much she’s missed her best friend, but we also see how she’s changed to work around the hole of Jacinda’s absence. We see what coming back does to Jacinda and Tamra’s mother- and it’s terrible. And incredibly realistic. It breaks my heart to watch but at the same time it’s so right that I can’t imagine it any other way. We see how lost Jacinda is amidst this familiar world, where everything is the same but everything’s different at the same time.

And we see Cassian.

I wish we saw more of Cassian. He is such a complicated character and I really wish I was able to know more about him. I get that we’re limited by Jacinda’s perspective, trust me I do, but still… WANTS. I want to know more of what motivates him. Why does he love Jacinda? Why not Tamra? Why does he go after her, why is he willing to wait for her, why is he so sure of his feelings for her? And why does she mean so much that he’ll go up against his father for her? Cassian is an interesting, compelling, multi-faceted character and I want to know him so much better.

I’d also love to know more about Will, which sounds strange given the first book, but we get Jacinda’s very visceral response to him. Gut reactions are strong and they can be deep, but I want to know more about him, like what it’s like to grow up amidst the hunters- like what else changed because of his father’s choice of cure. I especially want to know about his grandmother.

I love the variety of draki that we get to see, and love that each type serves a very specific purpose. That these talents affect their lives is clear, but they also affect their personalities and appearance. It makes you think: if Jacinda weren’t a fire-breather, would she be half so hot-tempered and impulsive? We might have a very different story then, which is so much fun to consider.

Most of all I love that nothing’s easy. Coming back to the pride isn’t sunshine and roses for anyone, but I really like that it’s just as dangerous there as in the broader world. People are people, whether they’re human or draki, so they’re still prey to the fallacies of mankind. There are still power-hungry, abusive dictators, there are still possessive creeps, there are still snide superior douchebags convinved they always have the right of things…and there are still those who can’t forgive, those who buckle under grief, and those who try desperately not to be victims.

I think what I hated about it was that it ended too soon. Did it end in exactly the right place to set up the next book? Yes. If it had gone on, it would have had to either dither around without committing or it would have committed and then cut off abruptly or been three times the length of the first one. But I wanted more! Especially given [spoiler redacted] and [spoiler redacted].

Vanish by Sophie Jordan, out in stores now!

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Book Review: Firelight, by Sophie Jordan

May 12, 2011 at 9:00 am (Book Reviews) (, , , )

Jacinda is a draki, a descendant of dragons, and the first fire-breather born into her pride in over four hundred years. The pride would plan her entire life, right down to mating her to Cassian, son of the alpha, but Jacinda wants nothing more than to fly free. The hunters make this dangerous, and when Jacinda is nearly captured by a group of hunters, she knows there will be consequences to face for breaking the rules. What she doesn’t know, and what her mother desperately wants to keep her from ever finding out, is just how serious those consequences will be. She takes Jacinda and her twin Tamra, who never manifested with a draki form, far away from the pride to a desert town where they’ll be safe.
And where Jacinda’s draki will die.

We start out with an immediate introduction to the draki and a very good idea of the dangers they face: Jacinda and her best friend Azure are sneaking a sunrise flight, when the rules of the pack allow flights only in the night when they can’t be seen by the hunters that threaten them. It’s a beautiful scene, though, with Jacinda’s love of sun on her scales and the wonder of flight written so clearly, so evocatively, that we almost feel like we’re flying ourselves. And then, immediately, there’s the danger: a group of hunters, a riveting chase sequence, and the very real chance of capture. Except- one of the hunters, a boy who actually sees and touches Jacinda within her hiding place, doesn’t turn her over.

Jacinda knows what her life in the pride will be, even if she fights against it. She knows that, as the only firebreather, she’s valuable, and she knows what that means for her pride. And there’s a part of her that remembers what it was like to be friends with Cassian, before she manifested and their lives change. There’s a part of her that could be happy within that life, however much of a cage it feels, because at least she’ll still get to fly, still get to feel the draki armor flash across her skin in ripples of red and gold.

And then the desert. The draki are creatures of earth and sky; they draw strength from rich, arable earth and the gems it yields. Hot, dry places, the lands with no life to them, kill the draki within the human form. Jacinda’s twin sister has no draki, a lack of manifestation as sometimes occurs, and their mother purposefully allowed her draki to die by choosing not to manifest. They go to the desert to take Jacinda from the pride and they fully intend to stay there for one very important reason: to let Jacinda’s draki die.

That struggle truly is the driving force of this novel. The draki can exist in human form- a secret carefully guarded from both the hunters and their enemies, the enkros (about whom we learn very little)- but the way they actually live is with both human and draki intertwined. Each is a different side of the other, but it’s only with both that they’re complete. For Tamra, the thought of this is only ever bitter, as it’s something she will never experience, and their mother was never fond of manifesting, so neither of them truly understand what this does to Jacinda. They don’t understand the genuine physical pain or the emotional trauma that comes of knowing that so essential a part of yourself is literally dying.

And Jacinda isn’t one to simply accept that. She fights it, struggles against the changes with such passion it’s sometimes painful to read, because this is who and what she is, every bit of her. She sneaks away, she finds the places where she can push herself into the manifestation, even when it’s painful and difficult, because she genuinely can’t do anything else. Her struggle is amazing and beautiful- and captivating. We feel her cage, her itchy skin. The thing is, we also feel her love for her family, and her inability to just hop a bus and leave to go back to the pride. She wants her sister to be happy, to have the things and the normal life she could never have had within the pride. Although, I’ll be honest, I kind of wanted to kick Tamra’s butt eight ways to Sunday. There’s almost never a point where it isn’t about her and what she wants and what she hasn’t had, and she blames Jacinda for any setback in her goals to have that normal life. She’s selfish, and she blatantly ignores the fact that Jacinda was never to blame for being a firebreather or for Tamra not manifesting. I pretty much hate Tamra, so the fact that I understand Jacinda’s sometimes exasperated love for her twin is quite an accomplishment in writing.

Will is an interesting character, a hunter who feels a strong connection to Jacinda in either form, and the boy who makes Jacinda’s draki spontaneously manifest. That connection is baffling to Jacinda, and she knows its dangerous for a lot of reasons: manifesting around ordinary humans would be dangerous enough, but in front of a hunter? Especially a hunter with hunt-loving cousins as thoroughly creepy as Will’s. On the other hand, Will seems like a nice guy (if a bit bi-polar in his moods- Edward Cullen effect anyone?), he’s really hot, and most importantly, he’s the one thing that gives her draki the strength to keep surviving against this hot, dry desert. If she stays around him, she may be discovered and killed. If she doesn’t stay around him, her draki will wither and die.

Will’s side of it I don’t entirely get. Given what he know of his talents, the skills that make him such an exceptional hunter, wouldn’t he find that connection suspcious? (I know, I know, I’m hopelessly unromantic)

I also wanted to know more about Cassian. What we know of him is through Jacinda’s eyes, so obviously we’re under quite a bit of a bias. She sees him as stiff and proprietary, but she does remember when they used to be friends, and part of her misses that simpler time. Still, he gives her time, and he seems to genuinely care for her, even if he can be a bit exasperated with her sometimes. He seems to feel his responsibility as the alpha’s son very keenly, a duty that can make young men stiff if they come to it at an early enough age, so there’s so much more I wanted to see of him. I’m assuming we’ll get much more Cassian in the next book, but I almost always get the most curious about the characters we’re supposed to dismiss as obstacles.

There actually isn’t all that much action in this book. It starts with a bang and finishes with one, and there are moments of tight tension that string through like a steady tremor under the skin, but most of that tension comes directly from Jacinda’s struggle to keep her draki alive despite the danger and the almost impossible odds. And I loved it. I loved the pain and the despair and the terrible, terrible hope of that struggle.

And may I just say- I was friends with some cheerleaders in high school, they were very good people, and some of them were really quite smart when they got away from the pod, but there’s a part of me that just jumps with joy every time someone feeds a boatload of sass to a snotty, catty, cheerleading diva.

The second book, Vanish comes out in September, so definitely keep your eyes peeled for what promises to be a riveting follow-up (and an equally gorgeous cover!- here, take a peek).

Until next time~

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