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.

Author Interview with Aimee L. Salter

Okay guys, about a month ago, I posted a review for Aimee Salter’s Breakable and I found her writing style and story so intriguing that I asked her if I could interview her right here on CoffeeShopReader! She graciously agreed, and I was so excited to see that Aimee has a huge personality! If you haven’t had a chance to check out her book, you can read my review here.

Hey Aimee, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some of my questions!

Oh, no problem at all. I’m happy to!

Okay, so I’m going to start with the most dreaded question: what is your favorite book?

My favorite book is THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Katja Millay. I think her writing is incredible and even a year after reading it, I’m still desperately in love with Josh Bennett. *Drifts off into romantic reverie…*

What are you the biggest nerd for?

Um…if I’m completely honest, my closet geek has recently been unleashed by the fantasy card game called MAGIC: THE GATHERING. I’m nuts for strategy games, and that one’s the ultimate. If I let myself I think I could get completely obsessed with it. But if you’re looking for something bookish, well, all my favorite authors. Whenever they talk to me on social media or we email, I’m working hard the whole time to try and sound normal because inside I’m like a giddy twelve year old.

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always loved books and stories. I set a goal for myself at a very young age that I was going to get published before I was twenty-one. That didn’t happen and I lost sight of writing for a long time. But I kind of fell back into it in my thirties after falling in love with Harry Potter and the Twilight books. I just kept getting ideas and they wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote them down!

You cover some pretty relevant, tough issues in Breakable. Is there anything in particular that has given you a passion for writing a story like this?

For whatever reason, I’m wired that way. I’ve always written stories that touch on the hard side of life – when I was in high school I got a short story published in the year-end magazine that was about a girl whose father abused her, so she murdered him and committed suicide (I was a bit of a morbid teenager). Nowadays I don’t like to write stories that are pure escape. I like to write stories people feel they could actually inhabit (with a little bit of escape mixed in).

In terms of BREAKABLE itself, I was bullied in high school and the experience of the bullying, and the process of overcoming how it molded me was a natural theme to explore. I wanted to write about it in a way that wasn’t a “moral of the story” approach, but instead, if it was picked up by a girl going through that, that she’d be able to tell that I knew how she felt. That she’d know I hadn’t forgotten what it was like. And maybe it might give her a little hope that she could move past it too.

Were the bullying sequences in Breakable based on real stories or events or are they more of ‘realistic scenarios’?

It’s a little of both. I haven’t depicted “actual events” from my life or others, but I definitely drew on my own experiences, and a little from my nieces (who’ve attended high school in the technology age). I’ve always kept up with the issue because it felt personal for me, so I had an understanding of how bullying had changed in twenty years, and how it hadn’t. So I took flavors of what I experienced and the things I’d learned, and mixed them together to suit the story.

There are moments when the teenage me comes through, though. When Stacy cuts loose on Mark and finally tells him what she goes through on a daily basis, she describes some of my personal story.

Now, I don’t want to give anything away, but I must say I am impressed with your ability to keep the reader guessing, unsure whether Stacy is crazy or not. Who is Stacy to you?

Stacy is a combination of who I was when I was about 16 (the good, and the bad), and just a bunch of character stuff that the story needed. As a writer I start a story with a character in my head, but as the plot progresses and issues have to be ironed out, the character becomes defined by the story they need to tell. So, the first draft of Stacy was almost purely 16 year old me. The Stacy that’s in the book is very different, but still has some of me at her core.

Okay, now for some completely random, fun stuff to get to know you as an author!

Yay! I love this stuff!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Either taking a canal cruise down the Seine in France, or taking a donkey-walking tour of B&B’s in the Burran region of Ireland. And yes, I did say Donkey-walking. You pack your stuff onto a donkey every morning and wander to the next place. Wander. Tug. Whatever.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure? (type of sweets, TV show, movie, books, etc)

Food. Especially homemade popcorn, fried chicken, creamy mushroom and chicken pasta, and Pavlova topped with blueberries (the best dessert ever to come out of New Zealand).

That said, I embrace food, so it doesn’t really feel “guilty” to me. My guilty pleasure(s) are regency romance books by Julie Anne Long and Tessa Dare. They’re actually very good, well written books. But the covers make them look like something Fabio would pose for, so I always live in fear of someone picking up my kindle and flipping through the icons…

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Oooooooo, fun question. I would have mind reading. I think so many times people aren’t honest out of fear. I’d love to know when I could reassure someone so they could be themselves. And I’d also love to know exactly when to kick the bad guy in the baubles to make the most impact.

Thanks so much for having me, Angie. This has been fun!

Cover Reveal: Here Lies Love

Guys, here goes my first post this month. The fact that it’s the end of January and I’m just now blogging is uuber depressing. That said, I am very excited about the cover reveal we have today! Check it out:

When she is sold by her father, Abbey discovers that nightmares can occur when you’re awake. Trapped inside a wooden cage, Abbey is forced to listen to the horrors and atrocities above; time ticking down until it is her turn. But Abbey isn’t prepared to become a victim; she will escape.

Although, what Abbey isn’t prepared for, is how harsh and unfair the world can be. With the sun turning its back on humanity long ago, life gives no opportunity. The only thing Abbey can do is learn to survive. To exist. And that means stealing any opportunity that comes her way. Haunted by the unpleasant memories bestowed upon her only nurtures Abbey’s paranoia, until she realises that to truly live in the world, she must confront the person who was responsible for her misfortune – her father.

Here Lies Love is a tale of actuality, of facing up to the fact that love comes in many guises. Can Abbey find the one glimmer of hope or will she be overcome with the darkness of revenge? Here Lies Love is coming April 2014.

Don’t tell me this synopsis doesn’t intrigue you. I can’t wait to actually read the book when it comes out in April! Too bad that’s a couple months away. For now, we will have to settle for judging a book by its cover. And its cover says “Read me!!”

Here Lies Love Promo Cover

Let’s analyze this for a sec. You’ve got a protagonist with really great hair, a stormy horizon, and lightning aiming straight for the lighthouse–sidenote: lighthouses are super cool. Lastly, take a minute to think about that thought-provoking question on the left of the cover. If you find that you’re interested in reading the book, tell me! I love hearing feedback about this stuff! The author is also hosting a contest for readers to name one of the male characters AND win a signed copy. Win-win-winning all day. Click here or on the cover itself if you’d like to enter the contest.

Dan lives in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire (England) with his young daughter and his shabby dog, Skye.
 
He is the Author of the charity poetry book Life is all but a vast array of Colours and phobia Novella The Caseworker’s Memoirs. His first full length novel, A YA Fantasy entitled The Black Petal will be available soon. Also in 2014, a dark new adult novel entitled Here Lies Love will be released.
 
 
Dan Thompson Author PicA lover of YA and fantasy fiction, you can often find him writing on his blog, writing book reviews and connecting online with other writer-type people and interviewing authors. Dan grew up reading Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series, secretly coming up with his own inventive adventures, and R.L Stine’s The Goosebump series, before turning to the works of Philip Pullman, Eoin Colfer and Marcus Sedgwick and slipping away into alternate realities. He also loves a good Historical Thriller too.

Espresso Expressions: Readers And Their Characters

I’ve decided to begin “Espresso Expressions” as a weekly feature on my blog that will explore a range of thoughts on books, readers, characters, literary themes…you name it! Actually, you name it. I want your topic suggestions. I want your opinions on these posts. If you email me a topic that you’d like me to cover, I will do a quick spotlight on you! After all, it’s interesting to know more about who suggests a topic and why! (I won’t be featuring anyone this first time since I selected the topic.) I’m supremely excited about this new feature. I will post my Espresso Expressions on Sundays; Sundays are, after all, great days to become introspective and investigative.

You DO NOT have to be a fellow blogger to participate! You can find my email on my Contact page. Thank you in advance to everyone who participates! It will be so much fun!

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This week’s topic: “Like calls to like.” –Leigh Bardugo

The Darkling. So intriguing. So enticing. His power acts as a magnet and draws me to him. So tempting. So unlike me. I’m good, right? I make mistakes sometimes, I do bad things, but I’m a good person, right? Except that my fascination with The Darkling’s darkness seems to come from my very core. It’s natural. I can stay engrossed in his darkness because I’m not actually doing anything wrong…right?

These are the thoughts that run through my mind, and, from my conversations, the minds of numerous others. Let’s dig deeper, shall we?

**Disclaimer: Don’t get the wrong idea! I love Leigh Bardugo’s writing and characters. **

All of the greatest characters in literature both contemporary and classical are figures to which we can relate. Whether it’s the young adult female protagonist who is a book nerd, a trait that nearly every person reading the book likely has, or whether it’s the Shakespearean tragic hero who ponders the meaning of life through convoluted, Renaissance-era prose, we often find something inside of them that mirrors something inside of us. In Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, one of the fundamental principles of the Small Science is “like calls to like.” The magic in the person calls to its counterpart that exists in the universe that surrounds the person.

One of the main characters in the book, the Darkling, has received a lot of popularity even though he represents evil and remains a villain through and through. This phenomenon was so unusual that I started to contemplate why he became so popular. Sure, he’s got the “bad boy” label down to a tee—he probably created the entire appeal of “bad boy.” But the bad boy usually uses the title as a shield to cover some sensitive romantic side or dark past or even finds himself being redeemed! Someone or something will come along and show him that he has a soul, that he can offer the world something, or that he is bigger than his past. The Darkling may have a dark past, but…he created it. He is darkness. He is not sensitive or even remotely romantic. He is manipulative, self-serving, power hungry, and destructive. He tears countries in two, he kills without mercy, and he is a ruthless hunter. He has no redeeming qualities.

And we adore him.

Why is that? I think it’s because we can understand him. There’s a part of every person that battles with the temptation to commit wrongdoing. I’m willing to bet that even the most perfect saints in our history dealt with it. The difference between them and the vast majority of the human population is their relentless pursuit of goodness and refusal to give in to their dark desires. If we look back to Greek mythology (or Percy Jackson), the gods and goddesses are very relatable. They’re all gods of human emotions, needs, and ambitions. They may know more than humans, but they aren’t omniscient. They may be more powerful than humans, but they aren’t without weakness. The Greeks found it hard to worship a God that they couldn’t understand. They understood Aphrodite; they understood Ares; they understood Athena. Even the great Zeus has his faults.

Such is the importance of dynamic characters. They allow us to explore ourselves objectively; they allow us to see ourselves reflected. What are your thoughts on this idea? What types of characters are most important to YOU when you read a story?

coffeeshopreader

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s

Source: Bought Kindle Edition

Genre: High Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Series: Throne of Glass

Pages: 404 (Hardcover)

Release Date: August 7th, 2012

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

 

Summary from Good Reads:

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. 

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

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Coffee To Go: Loved it! Go read it and you won’t regret it, I promise. The world is both glamorous and dark. Celaena is complex and the emerging plot is even more so. This story will keep you guessing until the end and doesn’t spell out all the answers for you. It leaves you excited for its sequel (Crown of Midnight) and doesn’t even have a cliffhanger. I’m excited for more of the action, mystery, and romance that dominate Maas’ writing!

Characters—

Celaena: Don’t get on her bad side. She’s ruthless, has a dark past, and has seen more at eighteen years old than most see in a lifetime.  I love a heroine who can truly take care of herself. You will see character transformation in her, although it’s very subtle. She’s a survivor, through and through. I love that she can still appreciate the romance of a ball and the beauty of a gown even in the face of multiple enemies, both seen and unseen. However, her assassin skills (or lack of) confused me. First she’s perfect with every weapon and then she’s vomiting while training? Hmm. I do admire her perseverance; she knows what she’s capable of and won’t stop until she gets there.

Prince Dorian: He’s a playboy with a sensitive side. He’s a prince willing to speak out against his dictator dad for what’s right, he loves to read, and wants to marry for love in a world where royal marriages are nothing more than tools for political advancement. All of that to point out his naïve idealism. He seemed shallow to me, still more a boy than a man. I liked him alright, but I couldn’t love him.

Captain Westfall: *double sigh* Built, brooding, and handsome. He’s all duty and restraint which causes others to constantly misunderstand him. I know we love those misunderstood guys! He is my favorite character in Throne of Glass. He understands Celaena more than either of them realizes which makes their relationship really beautiful and strained. I got to see him grow oh, so much as a person over the course of the novel. The more I found out about him, the more I admired him. Here’s the thing: he’s not swoon-worthy. Dare I say that he’s more than that? I wish I could explain why, but that’s for you to find out when you read the book. He’s different from most YA heroes and I like that about him.

Nehemia: Can someone say coolest BFF ever? Say hello to the inventor of feminine power. Maas uses Nehemia as a catalyst for multiple events and characters within the story. She’s as strong, if not stronger, of a protagonist than Celaena.

The World—

Adarlan, the kingdom in which the novel is set, has a medieval feel to it. Most of the story takes place in the castle, most of which is glass. The story is full of secret passageways, court politics, and banned magic.

The Themes—

Freedom

Honor

Survival

Final Thoughts—

This author knows how to write a good quote! I constantly found myself highlighting something because she got her point across so well. This book is definitely worth the read. While some plot elements seemed too perfectly wrapped up, its plot is well paced and it’s great for someone looking for an entertaining fantasy read.

Memorable Quotes—

“Libraries were full of ideas—perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.”

“We each survive in our own way.”

“The giant glass building was full of shadows and light.”

“There was strength in his face that she found to be achingly beautiful.”

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