Review: Seconds Before Sunrise by Shannon A. Thompson

Seconds Before Sunrise (The Timely Death Trilogy, #2)

Publisher:  AEC Stellar

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Series: Timely Death Trilogy, Book 2

Pages: 277 (Paperback)

Release Date: March 27, 2014

Rating: 071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png

Summary from Goodreads:

Two nightmares. One memory.

“Chaos within destiny. It was the definition of our love.”

Eric has weeks before his final battle when he’s in an accident. Forced to face his human side, he knows he can’t survive if he fights alone. But he doesn’t want to surrender, even if he becomes the sacrifice for war.

Jessica’s memory isn’t the only thing she’s lost. Her desire to find her parents is gone and so is her confidence. But when fate leaves nightmares behind, she decides to find the boy she sees in them, even if it risks her sanity.

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coffee to goCoffee To Go: Let’s put it this way–I had an early class the next morning and I still couldn’t put it down. Thompson packs some crazy intense moments into the plot along with some really adorable ones. Minus some plot confusion, SBS was a genuinely enjoyable read.

Characters—

Jessica: If you know anything about Jessica in the last book, she’s completely different in this one. I feel like Jessica’s memory loss really adds depth to her character. It also makes her relationship with Eric stronger, in my opinion. To fall in love twice seems to me a very deep love. An improvement from Minutes Before Sunset is plot reliability where Jessica is concerned. There are a few scenes that had me on my toes in the most perfect way possible–Thompson uses a great mixture of foreshadowing and surprise to bring a lot of Jessica’s thoughts and scenes together.

Eric: He sounds so much more like a teenage boy in this book! In Minutes Before Sunset, I thought he sounded a little feminine, but I think we learn more about who Eric really is in SBS. Probably one of my favorite aspects of this entire novel is seeing Eric’s growth. I don’t want to spoil it for you guys, but it’ll really bring a smile to your face. On top of that, his gallantry will make you swoon. Ugh. Yes. Gents take notes, please.

Robb & Zac: I think that the words “mysterious” and “ominous” apply to both of these guys. If you’re anything like me, you’re going to be unsure of at least one of these guys’ character until the very end. Although these two aren’t always in the spotlight, their supporting roles are vital to the story. Thompson was brilliant with these two.

Crystal: She’s a great best friend. She probably wouldn’t be my best friend, but I really appreciate how steady of a character she is. Every novel needs a character that’s transparent and reliable in the midst of the story’s conflict, and she’s it.

Camille/Teresa: I felt that Camille (let’s stick with that name) was a pretty static character in Minutes Before Sunset, but Thompson reveals a lot about her in this book and I grew to really respect her. The reader will definitely get a glimpse into her complexities.

The World—

Thompson spends SBS focusing on setting the stage for the Timely Death finale as well as building each of her characters, both in depth and in intrigue. As far as “second books” go, she does a great job. SBS definitely does not fall into the dreaded “second book slump.” The reversed images/ideas of Light and Dark still play a large and interesting role in this book. For more info on the world in which SBS is set, check out my review of Minutes Before Sunset here.

The Themes—

I didn’t really nail down any specific themes, but I did see an emphasis on maturity and obedience to elders. Fate also stays very prevalent in this second novel.

Final Thoughts—

I liked it. I didn’t love it, but it was an enjoyable read. Firstly, I admire how accurate the titles are to each book. You’ll see why once you read it, but she does a great job choosing them. Thompson makes you care for her characters. That is pivotal on whether one will enjoy a story, and she’s successful here. My only real complaint is the plot fogginess towards the end. I felt like I knew what was happening, but it wasn’t actually happening. It was almost like I was in a dream-state during the structural climax. I’m hoping that the battle scenes and all that jazz with the prophecy become sharper in the finale book. Although honestly, I’m most excited to see more of Eric and Jessica!! They are climbing their way up on my list of fave book couples! 🙂

Memorable Quotes—

“I was in love with her, and she was in love with me, but our relationship–our identities–would kill us both if the Light figured out whom she was and used her against me.”

“The fantasized kiss was stolen time from the dreams…”

“Chaos within destiny. It was the definition of our love.”

****I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. So I can honestly tell you that it’ll be worth it to go check out Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise.

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Review: Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst

Publisher: Walker Childrens

Genre: Children/YA Fiction, Paranormal

Series:  No

Pages: 368 (Hardcover)

Release Date: September 3rd, 2013

Rating: 071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png

Summary from Goodreads:

Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she’s in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember.

At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined.

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coffee to goCoffee To Go: Trippy, full of the “How did I not see that coming?!” plot twists, a sweet romance, and a very real, interesting and complex villain, Conjured kept my attention until the end. My biggest problem: I didn’t have a problem putting it down. I wasn’t at all bored throughout the book, but I also didn’t fall in love with the characters. I’ll be honest; I probably won’t purchase it for my personal bookshelf. However, I think this book NEEDS to be in middle and high school libraries. It’s fun fiction with a powerful message.

Thoughts—

I tried and tried to use my normal review format and, well, it just wasn’t working for Conjured. This book is much too trippy for that. Before I get into my actual review, let me say that I debated giving this book 3 cups based on my review policy, but the book’s overall message is what pushed it to the 3.5 cup mark. I loved the ending.

Where do I begin? Eve is a very unique protagonist, to say the least. I haven’t read many books in which the narrator struggles with huge amounts of memory loss, but Durst portrays Eve in a way that you really understand her frustration. The problem? Nobody will tell her why she can’t remember anything. As a reader, I got a glimpse into how terrible amnesia truly is. Imagine having to rely on everyone around you—including those in which you have zero trust—to tell you what has happened in your own life because you can’t remember weeks at a time. Yeah. It sucks. On another note, most of you probably know that I LOVE character growth, especially in the protagonist. Eve grows tremendously. The worst part? I can’t even tell you the true depth of her growth right now because I’d be giving away the biggest secret. Ugh. Let’s just say that Eve learns what humanity is made of.

Pretend that you’re part of a witness protection program and a chunk of your teenage years have been either lost in a memory-black-hole or spent inside of a hideous government building. Boom, you’re Eve. You know what you miss out on? BOYS. Until you get a job working at the local library and you meet a quirky, adorable boy that tells you that he wants to kiss you five minutes after you’ve met him. Enter Zach! You will fall in love with him. He’s easily one of my favorite parts of Conjured. He stands for normalcy and innocence. He’s silly and adores Eve and will put a smile on your face. Eve’s dreams act as foreshadowing devices and give the reader creepy circus imagery. If you like circus imagery, you will probably like Conjured. Durst’s use of dreams in the novel really complements her use of memory loss. Eve’s dreams give the reader (and herself) just enough glimpses into her past to stir intrigue.

Let’s talk about the villain(s). When I met them, I was flabbergasted. Yes, I used that word. Many villains have an identity throughout most of the story and appear strongly and briefly in the story’s climax, but these villains stay shrouded in mystery until late in the plot. When the villains appear, the reader gets to know them rather intimately. The ending pages of the novel were high on emotion and character self-discovery.

Oh, and the cover didn’t make sense until after I read it. I think it was more of an “Oh, duh” moment for me though.

Memorable Quotes—

“She thought about teasing him, saying the car was blushing in embarrassment at the gouge in its paint—that seemed like something he’d like her to say. But maybe she’d already made that joke.”

“’You said you’re enjoying kissing one of them?’ ‘Is that unusual?’ Eve asked. ‘I thought that was the point of kissing.’” (Such matter-of-factness!)

“His innocent fearlessness was beautiful, and she wanted suddenly to feel that fearlessness too.”

 ***This book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way.

Book Review: FAE by C.J. Abedi

Buy it on iTunes!

Publisher: Diversion Books

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance, Faeries

Series: Fae trilogy

Pages: 471

Release Date: July 30th, 2013

Rating: 3.5/5

Summary from Good Reads:

The battle between Light and Dark is about to begin. 

Caroline Ellis’ sixteenth birthday sets into motion a series of events that have been fated for centuries. A descendant of Virginia Dare, the first child born in the lost colony of Roanoke, and unaware of her birthright as the heir to the throne of the Light Fae, it isn’t until she begins a tumultuous relationship with Devilyn Reilly that the truth is revealed.

Devilyn is the only one of the Fae who is both of the Light and of the Dark, and struggles to maintain that precarious balance to avoid succumbing to the power of the Dark within him. He is the only one who can save Caroline from those who would destroy her and destroy all hope for unity among the Fae. He promises Caroline that he will protect her at all costs, even when it means protecting her from himself.

Told from the alternating perspectives of Caroline and Devilyn, FAE draws on mysteries, myths and legends to create a world, and a romance, dangerously poised between Light and Dark.

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Characters—

Caroline: Can I just brag on this girl for a second? She was my all-time favorite aspect of this novel. She begins and stays so witty that I found myself literally laughing out loud. Her internal monologue is so relatable and real. Most high school girls would think exactly like her. I’ve read some reviews in which people criticize her for fawning over Devilyn when they first meet, but if we’re being honest, almost any teenage girl with hormones would be immediately drawn to Devilyn. The authors describe him as incredibly hot, a star athlete, and a mysterious boy arriving in a small town. I am impressed that Caroline does have self esteem. She doesn’t walk around feeling ugly and insecure. She knows where her strengths lie, both physically and personality-wise. With that said, she’s also not vain or conceited. She doesn’t realize the extent of her beauty. I do wish that Caroline would have uncovered more secrets about her past and delved deeper into the world of Faerie, but that’s what the second and third books are for, right?

Devilyn: Let’s just describe Devilyn as a much more intense and less sarcastic Daemon Black (Lux Series). He’s got the prickly, overprotective, secretly sensitive and romantic thing down. I guess we will all understand him when we are an immortal teenager constantly battling our evil temptations while trying to defy Fate and protect the person we love. What I love about Devilyn is that he has everything: looks, wealth, charm, you name it. But he doesn’t care about any of it. He can see through false beauty. Long story short: if you’re a fan of the brooding, self-sacrificial, gorgeous type, Devilyn Reilly is your man.

Odin: Every story needs the “rock” character, the person who stays constant and represents goodness, and Odin fits that bill. He may be quirky but I always get a sense of safety and warmth when he was in the scene. Great addition to the book!

Teddy: I hate to say it, but Teddy is the formulaic guy best friend that’s so common in paranormal romance. He’s utterly human—and a good one at that. He seems to only show up in the plot when it’s convenient, which has some pros and cons to it. I can tell you (no spoilers) that he doesn’t constitute the third party of a love triangle! How refreshing. Teddy, while a more minor character, adds some depth and some well-roundedness to the story.

The World—

There’s a prophecy foretelling of an epic battle, romance that defies ancient laws, a conniving, manipulative villain, and human drama throughout it all? Yes please! While the back story and the prophecies behind Fae have a dark and medieval feel to them, the story itself isn’t dark. If you’re looking for something reminiscent of Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey, you won’t find it here. Instead, it has more of a Twilight feel—with a way less whiny narrator and a way cooler world. The romance here is different. It isn’t sensual or built on witty, sarcastic banter. Instead, it’s sweet and bittersweet…if that’s possible.

Final Thoughts—

This book has its flaws. It does. There were times that I wanted to tell Devilyn to take a chill pill and to stop using such girly sentences. “I had to close my eyes and gain control over my racing heart.” So not okay for his character. What about “…and HE, the one that will not be named…”? This isn’t Voldemort we’re talking about. Some of the descriptions within the story were a bit excessive and the authors could have tightened up the plot, but the story itself is enjoyable. It has some great qualities; it’s just not for those seeking mystery and action. Those who are seeking a teen romance with a paranormal edge will LOVE this book! Moreover, I’m sure that everyone will appreciate the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. They’re all relevant, insightful, and hail from Seneca to Shakespeare to Emerson to Italian proverbs! I’m a huge fan. Lastly, the transitions from Caroline’s POV to Devilyn’s and back again are flawless. You’ll have to read for yourself to see how flawless. Do it.

Memorable Quotes—

“Enchanting. Loveable. Forbidden. I had to stop.”

“How ugly my world was. Ugly even with all the outward beauty we possessed.”

“It may be what I am, but right now it’s far from who I am.”

***This book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way.

Book Review: Night School by C.J. Daugherty

Publisher: Atom

Genre: Young Adult, Romance

Series: Night School

Pages: 454

Release Date: January 1st, 2012

Rating: 3.5/5

Summary from GoodReads:

Allie Sheridan’s world is falling apart. Her brother’s run away from home. Her parents ignore her. And she’s just been arrested.

Again.

This time her parents have had enough. They cut her off from her friends and send her away to boarding school, far from her London friends.

But at Cimmeria Academy, Allie is soon caught up in the strange activities of a secret group of elite students.

When she’s attacked late one night the incident sets off a chain of increasingly violent events. As the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, she finds out that nothing at Cimmeria is what it seems to be.

And that she is not who she thought she was.

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Characters—

Allie: I loved the growth I saw in her over the course of this novel. I almost put the book down due to her angst and immaturity at the novel’s start, although I’m glad I didn’t. The author gives Allie great opportunities in which to shine. Her defining moments don’t feel forced or awkward in the plot at all, which I enjoyed. That said, she is kind of…forgettable. Hopefully she will really make an impression and becomes a stronger lead in the next book. I would have liked for the author to explain her OCD and trauma from her brother’s abandonment in more detail. It seemed like Allie only brings it up when convenient. I did, however, love her normal-ness! She’s not crazy insecure (like Bella from Twilight), but she’s not completely careless about her appearance (like Katniss, whom I still love dearly).

Jo: Jo is pretty close to the epitome of a spoiled, rich, elite heiress. Her life is beautiful and tragic. She is full of life and the perfect best friend for Allie. Sadly, she hides a dark secret that everyone seems to know about except for Allie. The author does a great job sculpting her to be a wingman to Allie but nothing more.

Sylvain: The name “Sylvain” sounds like “snake” to me. He waltzes into Allie’s life at a vulnerable and desperate time and is too perfect. His suave act is way too suspicious and he is way too aggressive physically. There is a fine line between whisking a girl off of her feet and tripping her. There’s a difference between pulling her into a secret romantic kiss in a corner and forcing her into something she doesn’t want. I do love when an author keeps me guessing about a character—predictability can be tedious. Sylvain, to me, is anything but predictable. He is sometimes creepy and definitely untrustworthy but those very things are what makes his character so intriguing.

Carter: Every romance novel must have the swoon-worthy hero. Well, hello Carter! From the very beginning of the novel, you will be counting the pages until he finally takes off the apathetic mask and confesses his undying love for Allie. Well…you’ll at least be hoping for it. A bit predictable, yes, but the author does a fantastic job of building their relationship. I’m practically squealing right now! Carter is definitely that guy who can’t handle the depth of his emotions as he’s insanely passionate about everything. You will be pleasantly surprised about his character. He, over any other character, makes the novel for me.

The World—

Conspiracy theorists come one, come all! If you’re into secrets behind secrets, this is the book for you. While some aspects of the novel might be ultra-predictable, the sub-plot is not. The overall plot to Night School contains many layers and the core layer will keep you guessing for the majority of the book. The boarding school is well-described and I get a clear visual of the campus, which is unique and timeless.

Final Thoughts—

Would I read it again? Probably not, unless I found myself without other books to read. Did I enjoy it? Definitely, for an easy read and limited options. I bought this book for almost double the price at an airport because I was desperate for something to read on the long, eight hour flight that awaited me. It thoroughly entertained me, as it is mostly outside of my usual genre and it had Carter in it. I have a character crush on him, without a doubt. I probably wouldn’t pay $17 for it again.

Memorable Quotes—

I found no quotes memorable enough, a fact that pains me.

Book Review: Minutes Before Sunset – Shannon A. Thompson

Publisher: AEC Stellar
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Series: Timely Death #1
Pages: 294
Release Date: May 1, 2013 (via GoodReads)
Rating: 4/5

Summary from GoodReads:
She was undoubtedly a shade, but I didn’t know her.

Eric Welborn isn’t completely human, but he isn’t the only shade in the small Midwest town of Hayworth. With one year left before his eighteenth birthday, Eric is destined to win a long-raging war for his kind. But then she happens. In the middle of the night, Eric meets a nameless shade, and she’s powerful—too powerful—and his beliefs are altered. The Dark has lied to him, and he’s determined to figure out exactly what lies were told, even if the secrets protect his survival.

He had gotten so close to me—and I couldn’t move—I couldn’t get away.

Jessica Taylor moves to Hayworth, and her only goal is to find more information on her deceased biological family. Her adoptive parents agree to help on one condition: perfect grades. And Jessica is distraught when she’s assigned as Eric’s class partner. He won’t help, let alone talk to her, but she’s determined to change him—even if it means revealing everything he’s strived to hide.
_________________________
Wait…the Light is evil?

Characters—

Eric: What a breath of fresh air. The ability to come from a guy’s perspective and make it actually sound like a guy is one that I feel is pretty hard to come by nowadays. Thompson captures Eric’s voice so well! He’s not perfect—far from it—he’s full of churning emotions and teenage angst, which is only magnified by the fact that he has his whole world on his shoulders. How would you like to come home to “Son, are you ready to fight an epic battle to save all of your kind?” rather than a simple “How was your day?” Maybe all of that is why I love him. His attitude is a façade that conceals his caring and honorable side. Not to mention that he is not only HOT, but super sweet. Like, if I lived in Hayworth (the town in which the novel takes place), I would be sending him googly eyes all day, every day. Lastly and most importantly, he grows and transforms immensely as he finds out more about himself. That’s probably what I loved most about the entire novel. Eric at the end is a completely different person than Eric at the beginning. Well, that, and his hilarious sarcasm.

Jessica: I like her. I don’t love her and I don’t relate to her very much, but maybe that’s a personal problem. I snagged a few glimpses into her emotions and her life throughout the book, but I didn’t really hear her voice really speak out until the end. There were many moments in which I felt like she was two completely different people. Certain events in her life don’t seem to affect other parts of her life like they do Eric. I did, however, LOVE her backbone. When people are rude to her, she doesn’t take it. This girl has her self-respect and self-confidence in control! Many female protagonists nowadays, although beautiful, constantly bring up their insecurities. It’s good, because, let’s face it, high school/college girls can relate, but I loved seeing Jessica’s comfort in her own skin.
The World—

WHAT? The guys that come out at night are the good ones? Mind. Blown. I do hope she elaborates more on the Light/Dark history in Seconds Before Sunrise, as there are some unanswered questions on how the Lights/Darks came into being, why their clans hate one another, etc. I cannot express how much I love Thompson’s explanations as to how these supernatural creatures live side-by-side with humans. They shift into two different forms? You’ll have to read the book in order to find out more, but I will say that Thompson’s world of “shades,” “Lights,” powers, hierarchy, shape-shifting, and foretold epic battles has its coolness factor down.

Final Thoughts—(READ ME)

Housekeeping: multiple small grammar/spelling mistakes. While they bothered me, they didn’t take away from the story, so if you’re not a grammar Nazi like I am, you’re good!
Thompson’s reversal of the Light/Dark archetypes is really interesting and wonderfully unnerving and seeing the two extremes come face to face during intense battle scenes only highlighted the genius of this role reversal. HOLY DRAMATIC IRONY. For the majority of the novel, my mind was screaming “OMG listen to me! I know stuff you don’t!” and it was oh, so good. Thompson’s use of dramatic irony kept me on my toes, just waiting to see when the characters would figure out things. Also, Thompson sketches in her foreshadowing beautifully. I cannot wait to find out what’s in store for Eric and Jessica in Seconds Before Sunrise. The romance is genuine and did not have raging teenage hormones; instead, it shows that…(ahh, best part. You’ll have to read it!)

Memorable Quotes—

“You’re either very brave or very foolish.” “What’s the difference?”
“She reminded me of what it was like to believe in something.”
“He was beyond intimidating. He was overwhelming.”

The author provided me a free eBook in exchange for an honest review.

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