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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ignite the Shadows Ingrid Seymour *Review & Giveaway with Xpresso Book Tours*

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Ignite The Shadows by Ingrid Seymour
(Ignite The Shadows #1)
Published by: HarperVoyager
Publication date: April 23rd 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

*I received an e-copy in exchange for an honest and fair review*

After devouring the first installment of the Morphid Chronicles, I had high expectations for Ignite the Shadows—because Wow. The MORPHID CHRONICLES (jaw-dropping, seriously. I loved it. You can check out my review of Keeper here)....which is probably why I was in such a state of upheaval for the first eighth of the story.

I'll be frank: I was so excited to get started I forgot to re-read the synopsis before I dove in ^_^', and because of this, I had little to no idea what was going on with Marci for the first five or so chapters. It was frustrating. that synopsis, and keep in mind that Marci is infected, and the shadows are real! 

You're going to love this book.

Ingrid Seymour has a knack for creating believable, uber-cool and uber-creative 'species'. I was really impressed by the level of scientific explanation given for the Shadows' existence, especially because she integrated it with somewhat fantastical elements. Get excited. It's stellar :).

In the beginning of the story, Marci wasn't very likeable. Sure, she could hack—cool. Karate skills? Way cool. But her attitude problem, combined with her occasional bouts of irrationality (emotionally contradictory), got under my skin. As I got to know her, though, she really grew on me, and by the end, I loved her. She was unreasonable at times, but she had a lot of spirit.

As for the other characters, well...sometimes they left me scratching my head. I had trouble understanding most of their personalities and motives, never really sure if they were acting. This was especially true of Luke (sure that was intentional, so ok), James (ridiculously tight-lipped level: secret agent), and Aydan (bi-polar?). While a brilliant way to showcase Marci's lack of trust in others—and create suspense/sustain tension—it was grating at times.

There were moments I flipped pages madly and moments where I meandered, but overall, I really enjoyed the story and I think you will, too. Two things I want to highlight: choices and secret-keeping.

You always have a choice. Yet Marci frequently employs “what choice do I have” thinking to justify her next step(s).

Used once or twice, I guess I could see it, but Marci used it so many times it became an excuse rather than a legitimate plot device. I'm not saying the circumstances weren't tense or serious or undemanding of attention and/or action; it was that her justification of her own involvement, when prefaced with this statement, became questionable. Almost as if it undermined the events themselves, if that makes sense.

For curious people who NEED to know why *raises hand*, Ignite the Shadows is somewhat unkind. As the story progresses and more information is laid out it gets better, but I had some serious struggles with the answer withholding. If I was in Marci's shoes, I don't know that I could've trusted James. Kudos to her for braving the open sea during a storm...and kudos to you if you can make it through without berating Marci in your mind (or aloud).

Ingrid Seymour is incredibly  talented. I'll be snatching up her work in the future; she's secured a spot on my list of favorite YA Urban Fantasy authors :)!

Final Verdict: 

Sixteen-year-old Marci Guerrero is one of the best teen hackers in Seattle. However, she’d give up all her talents to know she isn’t crazy.

Marci feels possessed by what she perceives as shadowy spectres that take control of her body and make her do crazy things. While spying on the clandestine group known as IgNiTe, she’s confronted by the leader, James McCray. His presence stirs the spectres inside her brain into a maddening frenzy. Her symptoms and ability to control them don’t go unnoticed by James, who soon recruits her and shows her the awful truth.

Half of the world’s population is infected by sentient parasites. They bind themselves to the human brain and replace the pathways for all thoughts and actions. The creatures then morph their hosts into grotesque monsters with extraordinary strengths. Winged, clawed, fanged half-humans become living nightmares. Now Marci wishes she was crazy, because the truth is worse.

She’s infected.

About the Author
Ingrid Seymour is the author of IGNITE THE SHADOWS (Harper Voyager, April 23rd, 2015). When she’s not writing books, she spends her time working as a software engineer, cooking exotic recipes, hanging out with her family and working out. She writes young adult and new adult fiction in a variety of genres, including Sci-Fi, urban fantasy, romance, paranormal and horror.

Her favorite outings involve a trip to the library or bookstore where she immediately gravitates toward the YA section. She’s an avid reader and fangirl of many amazing books. She is a dreamer and a fighter who believes perseverance and hard work can make dreams come true.

She lives in Birmingham, AL with her husband, two kids and a cat named Mimi.

**Interested in learning more about Ingrid? Check out today's tour stops: a guest post on A Book Addict's Book Shelves and an interview on Got Nikki?

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Giveaway Time (:
IGNITE THE SHADOWS ebook + $25 Amazon Gift Card

INTL. Must be 13+ to enter.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Atlantia Ally Condie *Review*

As soon as I heard about this book, I wanted it. Desperately.

If a book is about the sea—mermaids, selkies, etc.--I'm already sold. But if there are :twins: in the same setting?

That's why, when I started reading this book, I was ridiculously excited—and, for the most part, I stayed that way throughout the story.

Let's talk details...

The Setting
Oh, the setting :)

When I heard about Atlantia, I thought it was going to be an oceanic novel—mermaids, undersea adventure, the works—and then I started reading. Didn't take long to realize my vision of Atlantia couldn't have been farther from Condie's, but Condie had a wonderful vision, something unique and riveting in its own right. I found that element of surprise to be part of what made Atlantia itself so enchanting.

So yes, the setting was a huge shock, but it grew on me immediately. It's dazzlingly brilliant and unlike anything I've ever seen in this genre (dystopian)/sub-genre (sea tales). An additional plus: the world is vivid and believable.

The Story
In short, I loved it.

The finely-crafted mystery behind the origin, purpose, and history of Atlantia kept me turning pages, and I loved the characters; learning about the world alongside Rio was a lot of fun, and the other characters kept me on my toes.

Some reviewers remarked that the plot is obvious...but really, when you think about it, every  plot is obvious—it's simply a matter of to what degree. I  enjoyed the plot and found it entertaining until the end, despite the predictability of some parts. The thrill isn't as much about guessing who's behind what or the secret(s) behind Atlantia (though engaging); it's about experiencing the truth through Rio's eyes, getting to see how she responds, and rooting for her.

Also, the ending wasn't as predictable as people let on.

The Voice of Rio
...I may have virtual tomatoes thrown at me for this one....

Many reviewers found the voice of Rio to be very similar to, if not exactly the same as, Cassia's. Even though I've only read the first book in the Matched trilogy, I got this vibe of similarity, too. But I don't think the characters and their voices are exactly alike, and I don't think Atlantia is a waste of time just because both characters happen to be pale beauties in dystopian settings.

Let me address that word (dystopian) in regard to voice: Rather than being entirely the author's—or the characters'—fault that Cassia and Rio sound similar, it's also the fault of conventions behind the genre.

Personally, I think it's a no-go to 'create' a voice based off the genre rather than the character because readers will encounter the same genre over and over again...but they will never encounter quite the same character. Loads of reviewers are booing Condie/Atlantia because of the phenomenon...but she's not the only author who writes (in the genre) like this.

Nearly every dystopian I've ever read sounds almost exactly like Matched—somewhat dry, straight to the point/less flowery, quiet/thoughtful. They share a somewhat monotonous and sobering tone (my guess is because it carries a sense of weight). Sadly, it doesn't suit every character or story, and I'd love to see a few more dystopians stretch past this convention.

Anyway, my point is, Atlantia is still a good read, and Rio is still a fascinating character in a fascinating world!

My favorite part about Atlantia as a whole is its simplicity and freshness. Condie took fairly basic, classical ideas—Atlantica (little mermaid), sirens, land vs. sea—melted them down, and re-molded them. What an achievement to have created something so extraordinary from things so overdone!

I heartily commend her for this masterpiece, and highly recommend it to lovers of sea-themed and/or fantasy novels and dystopian works.

Final Verdict: 

About the Author
Ally Condie is the author of the MATCHED Trilogy, a #1 New York Times and international bestseller. MATCHED was chosen as one of YALSA’s 2011 Teens’ Top Ten and named as one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of 2010. The sequels, CROSSED and REACHED, were also critically acclaimed and received starred reviews, and all three books are available in 30+ languages. Disney has optioned the film rights for the series.

A former English teacher, she lives with her husband and four children outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves reading, writing, running, and listening to her husband play guitar.

Follow Ally on Twitter @allycondie and Facebook.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

YASH Spring 2015 *Young Adult Scavenger Hunt*


The Young Adult Scavenger Hunt is here again!

As I tweeted earlier, when YASH shows up, this is me:


Ok, so deets. You need details to participate...

First off, if you don't know what (the) YASH is, I'll sum it up for you: It's a book lover's dream. Authors post exclusive content like excerpts and deleted scenes in addition to offering one of their books to the hunt winner (one per team, so 8 people are going to win big). Some authors post additional giveaways--swag, books, etc. 

This year's hunt begins at 12 noon PST, which is 3pm EST and 2pm CST...and ends April 5th at the same time(s).   

The winners will be announced April 10th. 

JOIN THE HUNT! Catch all the books...! (Yes, I did just make that Pokemon reference.)

Also, spread the word! Love on these authors! Have FUN!

You can find out more about the Hunt on the official YASH blog.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

2015 Unashamed Impact *90 Day Bible Challenge*

(c) Unashamed Impact
Woot woot! Told you April was going to be busy. 

I've one more challenge to share with you all today, and that is the 90 Day Bible (Reading) Challenge!

Yes, you read that right--this is a challenge to read through the entire Bible in just 90 days. Whether you aren't a Christian, have just become a Christian, or have been following Christ Jesus for years, this is a wonderful opportunity to get to know God. 

Yeah, so maybe it's weird that I'm saying if you aren't a Christian you should sign up...but hey, I've read the Qur'an, the Bhagavad Gita, the Analects, and many other works of religion and/or philosophy, and I was able to learn a lot about other peoples' cultures and ideas and how they perceive the world. Essentially the point I'm trying to make here is that Truth is Truth, no matter where it exists. 

(Note that I'm not saying the Qur'an, BG, A, etc. are all truth and don't require filtering. The only Book that doesn't require filtering is God's Word, because it is God-breathed. I know, I know...if you don't believe in God, I get that you'd disagree with don't take my word for it. Read the Bible yourself, and be open to the possibility. What harm can come of that?)

And while we as humans may judge a person based on what other people say about them, don't we all know that unless we actually get to know that person ourselves, we don't *really* know them? Rumors are, after all, just rumors; how do we know if they have any basis if we don't properly investigate?

Same thing with God. 

Christians are supposed to be representatives, or ambassadors of Christ...but some 'Christians' call themselves Christian without actually following Christ. (Aka: hypocrites.) And despite what's been said of us, we aren't perfect and never will be on this earth--so yeah, we mess up (a lot). But those who follow Christ know that we are forgiven, and we get back up from our faceplant and press on. 

Point is, instead of judging Jesus based on the actions of those who claim to know Him, why not just ask Him and find out Who He *really* is yourself? 

So go on, take on the Bible reading challenge, even if you can only manage a few days. Try to keep an open mind; just listen, hold your peace...and then, when you're through, make your conclusions and act accordingly. 

If you're a new Christian and are hopping on board the challenge, great!! I remember reading the entire book of Genesis right after I accepted Jesus as my Savior and delighted in how wonderful it was to get to know the God Who said He loved me. One of the best parts: hundreds of Believers are participating around the globe! 

And to the seasoned: the Word of God is alive and powerful! We are always learning and growing and being renewed in the Word. Read on! :)

I just looked on the site and it says that sign-ups are closed (I thought they'd remain open...I thought they did last year. I haven't been keeping up to date, obviously. Oops.), BUT that doesn't mean you can't participate! 

Here's a schedule:

Don't worry if you jump on a little late, or miss a day. Try to keep up with the pace, but if you fall behind, no worries! Make up the days at the end of the challenge ^_^.

If you're participating (or have just decided to participate), comment below! We'll be reading buddies (with hundreds of other people around the world) :D.