Friday 13 December 2013

Empower by Jessica Shirvington (Violet Eden Chapters #5)

*Spoiler-free review*

I can't believe this amazing series has come to an end. No more Vi, no more Linc, Pheonix, Steph, Spence, Onyx, Dapper, Griff, Salvatore, noooo.

BUT, I AM satisfied. If you were disappointed with the endings of books such as Allegiant (Veronica Roth) and Requiem (Lauren Oliver) where they leave you scratching your head or bawling your eyes out, well 'Empower' will not be one of those. Jessica Shirvington does well in tying off loose ends, and you can happily move on with your life after turning the last page. Well, you may have some Lincoln withdrawals, but still, I'm happy, content. This is the kind of series that I would read again, knowing I will be heartbroken over and over, but then I will also be rewarded for the emotional trauma I allow Jessica to put me through. Don't get me wrong, people die, and those who don't may not entirely get their happy ending, but it all makes sense. Everything ends the way it should, and we can accept it without wanting to stalk and haunt Jessica (I am still mad with you Veronica Roth).

Just like the other books, this is fast-paced, emotionally taxing, but also funny and light where it needs to be. I LOVE the secondary characters, they really are one of the best bunch of secondary characters in any YA I've read. Each and every one of them have definitive personalities that jump off the page and make you wish they were YOUR best-friends.

There are some things however, that annoy me about Violet. I know know, I started off by raving about her in the first books, but over the course of the series, she has started to annoy me. She has always been bad-ass, but in this one in particular, she becomes pretty heavy on the bad-ass. She's cold. She's bitter, she's negative, she's broken. I get that after what she has been through, it would change anyone. But the affect that this has in the book is that in what are supposed to be romantic scenes, it's a little awkward because she has no warmth to give, and it's like Lincoln has to do all the work, even though he hasn't done anything wrong, he wasn't the one to abandon her. All he ever did was protect her and love her unconditionally, and she punished him for that, and she continues to do so. I found myself screaming, "Pull your s*** together princess!" at Violet. A lot. That's not to say the romantic scenes aren't delicious, because they are. Jessica has a gift of being able to really make the emotions the characters feel come to life. Lincoln is INTENSE. Everything about him is intense. Mostly his feelings about Violet are super-duper intense. And not once does that intensity drop or wane in any of the books, this once included. He is super hot! His emotions bounce up off the page in generous amounts, and I just couldn't get enough.

I know this is starting to sound like a mixed review. I wasn't planning on it, because I was happy with it when I finished. But as I write this, I am realizing, or remembering the things that annoyed me. Like Violet's cynical attitude toward the existence of God. I mean, she freakin' meets all the angels, she IS half-angel, she rescued her mom from hell (in previous book), and there's all that talk about balance, so if there's a hell then there's obviously a heaven, yet she questions the existence of one and when she can find out for sure, she refuses to in a very snobbish and cynical manner. I mean, helloooo, ignorance at its best? Her absolute flippant and ignorant attitude on this really grates on my nerves. These are some of the things that didn't make sense, and were a little silly to be honest. There is something else, like how she is special and all that, but when you think about it, there really isn't much that's special about her, nothing that makes her deserving of all the praise and hero-worship she receives, I mean, everyone fights equally hard and make sacrifices. She's no prophet! You'll know what I mean about this when you finish the book.

I don't want to sound like I didn't enjoy it, because I was able to ignore the niggly things and appreciate it. I love this series. But mainly because of the unique nature of the intense emotions that exist between Lincoln and Violet, and even her relationship with Pheonix. That is genius, imo, that the author is able to shoot right into you with only a few words, stirring all sorts of emotions.

If you still haven't gotten onto this series, and you are into YA angel books, then get on it already ;-) Because seriously, of all the angel series' I've read, this is one of the best.

Buy your copy!

Nora xoxo

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Under The Never Sky #1)

*Spoiler-free review*

I know this book has had rather mixed reviews. And yeah, I get it. The whole aether thing, which is some kind of super storm cell that haunts the lives of everyone on earth, is unexplained, very science-fictiony, (although the dystopian element is certainly there too), and a little hard to grasp at first, at how things got to be the way they are. Which is how people got to be so lazy, at least, where Aria lives in Reverie anyway. They spend their days cooped up in a cocoon of a city where they live out their lives through virtual worlds. That is, until Aria gets her butt ejected into the wasteland where she has to learn to do things for real. 

Anyway, she meets a guy, Peregrine (sexy name I think, boo to those who ragged on it), who rescues her a few times, takes care of her and protects her in a 'I-hate-you-but-like-you-and-I'll-pretend-to-hate-you' moody kind of way. And here's where the feminazi's got all cranky, because our damsel in distress had to be rescued. But who are we kidding here? Perry's hot! Wouldn't you like to be rescued by a confident, sure-of-himself yet also sensitive and caring, completely attentive, super-sexy and masculine guy? I know you secretly daydream about it *wink wink*. So yes, Aria is not all typically kick-ass, I mean, come on, she basically grew up in a shell where her idea of exercise is to go for a walk in a fake, virtual park, so how kick-ass could you expect her to be? I think her character fit the life she had. But don't get me wrong, she is tough. For example, she is thrown out on her ass into a wild, storm-ravaged land and although she is scared out of her mind, she pushes herself to survive. And yeah, Perry helps her most of the way, but she is faced with some nasty situations and you know what, she doesn't complain, she soldiers on and earns my respect. I seriously grew to like her. She's cute, she's trusting (a little too trusting, but it's cute), warm-hearted, kind, optimistic, tough, selfless and brave, and she grows.

Perry. Oh my. Look, I don't know if you noticed this by now, but I LOVE the strong, masculine love-interests. If there's going to be a male heroine, then he's got to be all man otherwise I lose interest in the love story. From the get go, when Perry and Aria meet, my interest is sparked because the chemistry between these two is undeniable. Granted, at first they don't really hit it off, it's almost hostile. But that's what makes it all so interesting. The initial attraction is there, there's a fire that crackles and pops where you're dying to just see them kiss already, but then you get to see how they grow on each other in terms of friendship, respect, and appreciation. Perry is all man. He's young, but he has had to grow up quickly, and he has all the leadership qualities that earns the respect of those who give him a chance to prove himself. Earning respect and leadership is important to him (you will know what I mean when you read the book), and due to certain obstacles he has to work hard for it, so he has his own struggles he has to deal with. He feels like he has to prove himself worthy, and I like that we get to read what he is going through from his perspective also (in third person). What I also like about him, and how Rossi has depicted their story, is how it reflects on modern relationships because although Perry is attracted to Aria, he doesn't fall in love with her straight off the bat and become her puppy dog who promises to give her the world and everything in it. This is gradual, and even then, he has his reservations, along with Aria having some of her own because they both remain independent and don't stray too much from their individual goals. I think it's safe to say that the relationship between Perry and Aria is my favorite of all the YA novels I have read. Mainly because I like the way they complement each other, Perry is a dominant character, and Aria complements him perfectly, and vice versa. She is exactly what he needs, and if you could ever see a guy like him ever actually fall in love and settle down, Aria would be the one to make that happen just by being her engagingly pleasant self. I absolutely adore these two.

Now, for secondary characters. There's Talon, and there's Roar, along with Perry's brother and some of Aria's friends. There are also other characters they encounter that help them and are important to the story, but I'd say Roar, Perry's best-friend is a main one. He is AWESOME. Perry loves him, and the brotherly bond between them is perfect. Roar also becomes close to Aria, which I loved reading about because he's not only a joker, but he's also completely warm-hearted, genuine and kind. And he has his own sweet story that will make your heart melt. At first, I thought he would become a rival to Perry, but I'm so glad Rossi didn't create a love triangle out of this because the friendship each of them share with Roar gives the book a really warm feeling that is needed because the stuff that's happening in their world is kind of terrifying. Each of them need him in their own way, and he needs them too. The support they provide each other makes all the terrifying stuff worth going through because they are together.

World-building. It was not overly done. But it was enough to get the feel right. I love the world Rossi has created. I love the way she describes the aether and how horrific its aftermath can be. I can imagine what it would be like clearly, and I think her imagination is something to marvel at. It's kind of beautiful in its monstrosity. The landscapes Rossi describes are beautiful, and I loved the contrast between the world the outsiders live in and where Aria comes from. It's like a futuristic sci-fi city in an almost medieval country. It's so clever!

I couldn't put this down. I read it in two nights (forced myself to stop midway the first night when I started to hear the birds chirping outside my window). I think it's my favorite series. Mainly because of Aria and Perry, not because of the plot, which is quite bland in comparison to other dystopians out there at the moment. But I don't care, because reading about Perry and Aria made all the difference for me. I guess if Rossi's main characters weren't so great then this review would have swayed in a very different direction.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

The Murder Complex Cover Reveal

Hi all, guess what? I've been waiting for the cover reveal of a series I have been salivating for its release since newcomer, HaperCollins author Lindsay Cummings followed me on Twitter last year (yes, she actually follows me on Twitter)! So anyway, I looked into her bio and checked out her website/blog, and was pleasantly surprised when I realized she loves all the books I love, and also that she is quite engaged with her followers.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, she has released the cover of her upcoming series, The Murder Complex which releases June 10th, 2014 (serious fangirling here), but first, here's a quick synopsis from her website about the book.

An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young's Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision. The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is-although he doesn't know it-one of the MC's programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family? Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings. 
Releases June 10th, 2014!



Do you like it? Love it? I loveeee it. Really excited for this, if you are too, comment below and tell me what you think of the cover and synopsis.

Love Nora xoxo

Tuesday 29 October 2013


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Monday 28 October 2013

Entice by Jessica Shirvington (The Violet Eden Chapters #2)

I didn't think this series could get any better, but lo and behold, this is fantastic. Guys, this is coming from someone who isn't usually taken by the angel paranormal romance thing (the Fallen series, to me, was incredibly boring and I especially wanted to burn the last book because it just got more and more ridiculous), but let's keep to the point, which is, The Violet Eden Chapters is scrumptious (yes I wanted to eat it at times it was that good).

Violet. She whines a LOT less in this than the first (I didn't think she was THAT bad but I know many other readers thought she was a bit of a whinger in the first). She starts to learn some things about her power that puts things into place for the reader. Her relationship with Lincoln is so tangibly sizzling you can almost touch it and burn from the heat that is oh so palpable between these two. Jessica Shirvington certainly knows how to make her readers pant with anticipation, and covet with envy the kind of chemistry that exists between our forbidden lovebirds. Her descriptions of said chemistry are so well written that it virtually jumps off the page and into your own limbs. This is definitely one that will give you the feels.

'Entice' is not so much romance-driven, but there is more of a balance between romance, action, drama, adventure and mystery. Finding out what the exiles are planning and what they have against Grigori, as well as the search for the scriptures leads the gang to Jordan, where all hell breaks loose (not meant literally). Not yet. But if you want action, you'll get it. Jessica has done a great job of making the reader feel like they are in Jordan, her world-building here is done well, she really gets the exotic feel right. If I'm not mistaken, I think I read that Jessica actually travelled to Jordan before writing this book, so she knows what she's talking about when she describes the place.

There are some new characters introduced in this one, as well as Steph, Violet's best friend, having a more involved part to play in the overall plot, which received a very warm welcome from me because she is completely adorable (and I am jealous of her brain). I love how loyal Steph is, and how, like the bestest of friends, Vi can entrust Steph with anything. Steph really stood out for me, she is a strong female character, but not in the usual kick-assy way that most authors make a female to communicate that she is strong. Steph is not like that at all, she can't fight, and she has no interest in learning how to, she is not a Grigori or anything of the paranormal world, she's human. But she is strong in that she's completely reliable, loyal, trustworthy, supportive, intelligent and knows how to use it to her advantage and for the wider good, she's compassionate and understanding. All the things we all want in a best friend, and perhaps she reminds you of your own real-life best friend? Every one of Steph's appearances are pages that will make you smile.

Spence. At first I thought he was going to be another love interest, another guy who was going to be competition for Linc, but it turned out, with a great big sigh of relief, that he was just an awesomely awesome kick-ass kicking ass buddy that made me laugh every time he communicated with Vi or got up to no-good with her (which turn out to be helpful to their cause). He turns the some-what dark themes and situations lighter, which is refreshing. Most of the main characters (Vi, Linc, Griffin) are always very serious and can be quite grim, but Spence (along with some of the other new characters) balance it out, letting the reader breathe, and even chuckle at the funny lines he comes up with.

Magda is annoying, I hate her, and I'm jealous on Vi's behalf (though Vi does that quite well herself). But I guess that was the point of Magda, for us to hate her. And boy do we hate her.

Griffin. Love him. Although he's not much older than the others, he's still like the solid, authoritative, supportive, wise, father figure that the guys need. They go through some pretty shitty times, and Griff is the solid structure, the one who always has an answer, that they need to stand upright.

Pheonix. Look, I know some people don't like him. But is it crazy that I find myself torn between rooting for him and Lincoln? I mean, come on, who doesn't love a bad boy? Again, a bad boy that just needs to be accepted. And loved. He's completely misunderstood people! Pay attention to him! How would you like being eternally young and never being able to get close to anyone because they'll just die and the ones you could get close to hate you because you're not 'light' like they are and you're eternal enemies, therefore you are the only one of your kind, you're dark but the others who are from the same side of the pond as you are completely crazy and inhuman, but your heart is light and, again, the other side will never accept you? How would you like it huh? Phew. I love Pheonix. I think the word 'sexy' was created to describe him. Actually, that should be inserted into the dictionary.
Sexy [sek-see]: sexually interesting or exciting: see Pheonix (character in The Violet Eden Chapters). What do you think? ;-P

Lincoln. Deep inner struggles, some of which are his own personal stuff, but some to do with Vi. He can't be with the girl he loves with a capital L. The guy is pained and distressed. He seems to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. But his devotion to Vi is admirable. And the scenes with him and Vi, well like I said earlier, they're sizzling.

I'd say if you love angel paranormal romance, then read this, but angel paranormal romance isn't my usual cup of tea, but I still love this. So I guess, whatever you're into, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington

I have read this book twice! Yep, you heard me, twice! I don't read books twice because I have that many books on my to-read list that I don't ever get around to reading my faves more than once. That being said, this book is special.

The plot. It's about a girl, Violet Eden, who after her seventeenth birthday learns that she is a Grigori, a kind of half-angel half-human warrior tasked with protecting the world from angel exiles. As you can imagine, there's the antagonist, the love interest (including a world of complications), and friends she meets along the way.

It's not what it sounds like. Give me a minute. At first, an angel story sounded silly to me. But really, this is such an emotion packed story that it blew me away. Why? The author, Jessica Shirvington definitely knows how to tug on your 'feels'. The way she writes is not complicated, her prose is very simple, but her descriptions of the characters' emotions hit the nail on the head because you can really feel yourself feeling what the characters are feeling. Deeply. And their emotions are oh so delicious to read, good and bad. Sadness, happiness, betrayal, love, hurt, longing, all of it I felt to my core.

Violet. She is kick-ass, but not in your overly obvious way. She is still your average girl with her insecurities, doubts, feelings of anguish, confusion, anger, (some of which are due to things from her past), some of which are due to not having a mother and an absent workaholic father. How she feels about those things is pretty much spot on to how you'd expect a seventeen-year-old girl to feel given the situation. But the author does not overdo it and explode it in your face on every page (I'm looking at C.J Redwine here). She's in love with Lincoln, which you learn straight off because they have been friends for a while. But the reasons as to why they are not together at first is a scenario every girl can relate to at some point in her life. She's unsure of how he feels, unsure of herself, insecure and scared to make a move, all the things I know I've certainly felt when I had a crush and never made the move. Obviously, it gets more complicated as you get deeper into the book, but it's not done in a way where you want to smash the character's faces in because they are being completely stupid, though at times it feels like the author forces impossible situations just to have obstacles to keep it interesting, but hey, there has to be hurdles to jump right? Still, I think it was done as well as it could be. Of all the books I've read, Violet is definitely a favourite character for me. I relate to her quite a lot, and I like that you know she's awesomely tough and brave and honourable, yet she's not in-your-face OTT, because she's also very feminine and has all the relatable insecurities that come with being a female.

Lincoln. Oh my. He's hot, he's silently masculine, he's loyal and devoted and protective. He's loyal and devoted to Violet even when he knows she will hate him for it, even when he knows he won't be rewarded for it, even when she won't know, he is by her side no matter what, looking out for her. The most important thing to him is her happiness and her safety, and that's always his objective. Even if it means he loses in the end, if he doesn't end up getting what he wants. As long as Violet is happy and safe. Why? Just because he loves her. And you really feel it. Jessica Shirvington has spun it beautifully, the inner struggles of Lincoln, even though it's written from Violet's 1st person narrative, you gain a pretty good understanding of where Lincoln's at and sympathise with him.

Pheonix. How can I say this?
I FREAKING LOVE HIM! There. Wait, one more time. I FREAKING LOVE HIM! Okay, done. I won't say much about him, because I cannot possibly do him justice by explaining him to you, and I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I will say this: of all the love triangles, this is my favourite. Seriously, it's a love triangle that hurts, really hurts, really really hurts, but I love it all the same. It's the kind of love triangle that had me listening to 'All Of This Could Have Been Yours' by Shooter Jennings & Hierophant on repeat on my iPod for weeks. I ran to it and thought of Pheonix, I walked to it and thought of Pheonix, I ate to it and thought of Pheonix, you get the drift. Pheonix was on my mind, and although he's dark and can be horrible (apparently), I was rooting for him because he's a complicated antagonist with a heart. A real one. He is misunderstood, and he just needs a hug. No, he needs love. From Violet. Why oh why did you do this to me Jessica Shirvington? I'm in love with two men at the same time and it's horrible of you to do this to me! I never thought that were even possible! But here we are. Look, do yourself a favour and just read the book because I think your world is less interesting without Pheonix in it. Pronto.

Honestly, my heart bled (not literally, duh) for the three main characters in this. The author thinks a lot about how to convey their emotions to the reader, and she does it in a very clever way.

Only thing I will pick on, is the fact that it's supposed to be set in America, but sometimes she lets Australian slang and tropes slip ('mate', 'bloke', etc) which I don't think international readers would understand or appreciate. Since it's set in America, I think she should have kept the 'Aussie' out of it so that it would be more realistic, because I really don't think, even in an alternate world/society, that Americans would or will ever use Aussie words. But hey, I read the first publication, maybe that's changed or improved for the international releases? I hope so.

Besides that, beautiful story, beautiful characters. A real treat. And what makes it even better, is that there's four more in the series, with the possibility of a sixth (I think). Keep 'em coming Jessica, lovin' your work!

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Defiance by C.J Redwine

I'm 50/50 about this book. I'll tell you a bit about it without spoiling it for those who haven't read it yet.

It's set in a dystopian society, in the city of Baalboden where Jared Adams is declared dead by the atypical ruthless A-hole leader. In Jared's will, his apprentice Logan is given the responsibility of being Jared's daughter's (Rachel) Protector. This is a city where women are expected to be meek, voiceless dependants under the protection of assigned Protectors. Anyway, Rachel and Logan refuse to believe that Jared is dead so they confront a daring escape/s through the Walls of Baalboden and set off into the Wasteland where they encounter many obstacles (of course), including the dreaded and feared 'Cursed One', which is essentially a fire-breathing dragon.

Hmm. I like the premise, but it's just missing something. Something. Something... Let me try to lay it out. Bare with me.
Ok, got it.

What really annoys me about this book is that it treats the reader like a bit of an idiot. Why, you ask? Well, there's no need to CONSTANTLY reiterate that Rachel is a BADASS. We got it the first few hundred times it's mentioned or demonstrated. I guess it's a little melodramatic, with the emotions described sounding a little ... manufactured? Rachel's voice is annoying (to me) because she goes on and on and on about how depressed she is and how she wants revenge and nothing will be right until she gets what she wants, and pretty much every character Rachel comes into contact with reiterates to the reader in one way or another how truly badass Rachel is and how completely unlike all the other girls in their city she is. Alright! We got it! Rachel is strong, fiery, can fight like a man, and takes no s*** from no one! I lost count how many times that was asserted in every chapter. Where's the subtlety woman! I'm looking at you C.J Redwine.

We're constantly expected to sympathise with woe-is-me-Rachel, because apparently she's had a horrible run, but it looks to me that all the other characters have had it just as bad as her, if not worse, yet Rachel seems to think that she has a right to feel like she's owed a debt to be paid in blood from the one who caused all her suffering, and no one can take that from her, even if it means committing suicide in the process and dragging others down with her. Honestly, I felt like punching her in the head sometimes ... okay, most of the time ... mmm no, I'm pretty sure the entire time. I think she takes the crown for most annoying character, which is saying something because usually the kick-ass characters are the ones I love and turn a blind eye to their misgivings.

Logan. Okay Logan is a little different in that he likes science and mathematics and can pretty much blow his way out of any sticky situation with a cleverly thought out science experiment. But wait, is it even possible? I mean, drilling your way under a wall? While you're being hunted down? Seriously? I don't know what to say to that. I ... just ... ... no. In terms of Logan's sexiness, well I guess he gets me hooked sometimes, like when he ... hmm ... no, scrap that. Romantic scenes in this didn't even feel romantic. They felt more like they had to be there, the chemistry didn't exactly blow off the page and into my heart, felt a little forced. The author is too busy telling us how kick-ass Rachel is.

Commander Chase. The leader of Baalboden. He is definitely a one-dimensional character, reminds me a little of bad 90s movies where the villain is the villain just cos. There are no other sides to him, he's an A-hole and that's all there is to it. Everyone hates him, he does horrible things for the sake of the story and we are expected to sympathise with the characters (ahem, woe-is-me-Rachel in particular).

Can I just say, tree-leaping. Really? What are they, superheroes? Nowhere is it mentioned that these characters have advanced abilities, so how can they tree-leap for long periods of time? I mean, have you ever gone to a forest and seen trees so close together that their branches create a sort of pathway enough for people to travel on them for hundreds of miles? Perhaps for five minutes before the average human becomes absolutely exhausted, not to mention the lack of superhuman abilities to leap from tree to tree and not break your leg because of a thing called gravity.

Anyway, enough knocking it. There's lots of plot holes, but I won't go into them. Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate it. It's just that I didn't love it, and I don't appreciate being served a whole lot of manufactured melodramatic b.s just so the protagonist has a purpose and the reader is FORCED to sympathise with her, which in my case did the exact opposite because I wanted to slap her silly. Oh, sorry, I said no more knocking it. Okay, I'll try again. It was okay. Still worth a read. If you can get past the self-righteous depresso inner thoughts of ... okay enough. Sorry. The premise was okay, I'm interested enough to read on to the next one, Deception, just to see what happens. Let's hope it improves dramatically and Rachel has some sense knocked into her.