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!

Are dystopian novels getting old? Check out “Son” by Lois Lowry!

Okay, so I hope that almost all of us have read Lois Lowry’s The Giver in middle school. It has remained one of my all-time favorite books since the eighth grade. If you really loved The Giver, you’ve probably read Gathering Blue or The Messenger. Those were pretty great, too. But Lowry has done it yet again and released a stunning finale to this loosely related series.

The saddest part? I haven’t even gotten to read it yet! 😦

…and it’s been a YEAR.

What kind of YA reader am I?

Enough of that. I wanted to make all of you aware of this book, and the NY Times wrote a beautiful review of it that I think everyone should read. You can find it here.

Review: Countdown by Michelle Rowen

Publisher: Harlequin TEEN

Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Teen & YA

Series:  None

Pages: 336

Release Date: September 24th, 2013

Rating: coffee cup iconcoffee cup iconcoffee cup iconcoffee cup icon

Summary from Goodreads:

3 seconds left to live. Once the countdown starts, it cannot be stopped. 

2 pawns thrown into a brutal underground reality game.

Kira Jordan survived her family’s murder and months on plague-devastated city streets with hard-won savvy and a low-level psi ability. She figures she can handle anything. Until she wakes up in a barren room, chained next to the notorious Rogan Ellis.

1 reason Kira will never, ever trust Rogan. Even though both their lives depend on it.

Their every move is controlled and televised for a vicious exclusive audience. And as Kira’s psi skill unexpectedly grows and Rogan’s secrets prove ever more deadly, Kira’s only chance of survival is to risk trusting him as much as her instincts. Even if that means running head-on into the one trap she can’t escape.

GAME OVER

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coffee to go

Coffee To Go: If you want a quick, fun adrenaline shot, this book is for you. It’s gritty and doesn’t sugarcoat the deadliness of Countdown. Did I mention psychic powers and implants? How about having to trust a convicted murderer to survive? The story rushes through the plot a little too quickly for me, but there’s non-stop action, secrets, and sci-fi, all of which combine to make the perfect rainy day read.

Characters—

Kira: This girl is a hot mess. I’m not sure whether I like her or not. She doesn’t necessarily change over the course of the novel, but the reader does get to know her better. She’s a bit unrealistic and changes her mind a lot, but if you like spunk and attitude and fierceness she’s your girl! Oh, and sarcasm. Her sarcasm is hilarious!

Rogan: Definitely my favorite character. He will surprise you over and over again! He has such a crazy story. The best part? He’s not perfect. Thank goodness. He has some serious skeletons in his closet and feels tons of guilt. That said, it’s a really interesting journey to see the true Rogan come out. You will find some definite “squeal” and “swoon” moments with Rogan.

The World—

Full of rust and overcast skies. Odd, yes, but that’s my mental picture. The book cover gives you a pretty good taste of the setting. Kira’s city is one that nobody wants to live in, which is why she wants so badly to go to the Colony! The sci-fi technology is very creative. I remember putting my iPad down for a moment when I learned about the implants because my brain couldn’t handle all of the awesome-ness. YES, IMPLANTS. Let that sink in…okay, good. The world has a neatly tied up history and makes for a great setting, especially for the type of game Kira and Rogan play.

Final Thoughts—

I liked it well enough. It didn’t give me an “OMG I love this and I want to read it again every day” feeling, but it did keep me on my toes and interested in Kira and Rogan’s fates. Other minor characters come along, but they’re more plot device than dynamic character. That’s okay though—Rowen uses them effectively. Warning: if you want a story in which you can fall in love with the characters and the world, this probably isn’t for you. It could be, but usually that’s reserved for series. Countdown has a pretty rushed feel to it. But once again, if you like sci-fi, READ this book. I can’t tell you more about the sci-fi aspect without spoilers, but it gets CRAY. And it’s totally logical in Kira and Rogan’s world. LOVE THAT.

Memorable Quotes—

“He eyed me as if I might do something else utterly unexpected—either kiss him or kill him.”

“But what I felt right now—it was real.  No drugs required.”

***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.

__________________________________

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.

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