Thursday, April 17, 2014

{Review} PHOENIX OVERTURE by Jodi Meadows

Check out my reviews of INCARNATE and ASUNDER, as well as the review of INFINITE that Kat and I did together last week!

I would recommend reading PHOENIX OVERTURE after you've read the second book in the trilogy, ASUNDER. While you can read it first, since it takes place before Sam ever meets Ana in INCARNATE, it spoils ALL THE THINGS.

So, if you're not caught up, go read those reviews. ^.~ I've kept this one spoiler-free, so you can read it without spoiling yourself on the rest of the series!
(Hence the unusual format! It's sort of a flash review, but a little meatier, too!)

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

     "YOU HAVE MUSIC IN YOU, DOSSAM. NEVER forget that."
     My mother's name was Lyric, our family name Harper, and I was born in the wrong time.

(Page 5, US e-book edition)

Anyone who knows and loves the Newsoul Trilogy knows and loves Sam. He's such an amazing human being; I wish he really existed so we could meet and be friends.

There are a lot of things we know about Sam, such as his extraordinary gift when it comes to music.

But we don't know his origin story. All of the souls in Range have been reincarnated time after time--all except Ana the New Soul, of course. Who were these souls in the beginning? What was their first lifetime like? PHOENIX OVERTURE takes us there, and shows us what life was like the first time around.

Life for Sam is much harder and tougher than you might initially think. He's not good at anything important and isn't trusted for important jobs. Instead, he enjoys things that aren't useful, like music. It's amazing to see how Sam has made a life for himself over the centuries and evolved so much. He is so much stronger and likable now. But I really embraced this first form of him, of seeing the way he has changed so much. That's the beauty of this novella.

In the main series, he is a sturdy rock for Ana to take strength from. He is a trusted member of society and well-liked. In his first lifetime, he is so much more timid, and it's amazing to see the difference.

There's also a scene that echoes alongside the memories of other scenes in INFINITE, coming together to form a powerful new scene that change everything. To go back and re-read PHOENIX OVERTURE after reading the series will change the way you see everything.

There are new characters to love and despise alongside familiar faces that make you want to hug everybody. It was so interesting seeing how people met, how their lives entwined and involved to form the threads that tie them together in the main series.

For such a short story, it tells so much!

C O V E R   D E S I G N:

It's Sam!!!

It's so odd and yet so right to see a different face on the cover of this book. But it's Sam's story, and occurs lifetimes before he ever meets Ana, so this is as it should be.

You can tell that it's unified with the rest of the series based on the way there's a rainbow gradient over everything, though. I love the use of cheerful oranges and yellows and reds, because it embodies Sam's essence.

I really love how there's a shadow of a Phoenix stamped over his face, and some curly smoke around the image. It is so, so perfect.
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Jodi Meadows
Release Date: Sept. 3, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books / HarperTeen
Received: Purchased

This breathtaking and lyrical novella captures a thrilling and momentous decision for a young man and the people he loves. Told from the perspective of Sam, the sensitive musician from Jodi Meadows’s Incarnate series, lifetimes before he meets Ana, PHOENIX OVERTURE is a story of love and loss, strength and courage, and facing the consequences of the hardest of decisions. 

PHOENIX OVERTURE offers existing fans a deeper insight into a favorite character and the intriguing history of Heart, while new readers will find a stunning introduction to this rich world and the romantic, captivating fantasy of the Incarnate series. 

In the wilds around the Community where Sam and his family have taken shelter, life is dangerous. Dragons, trolls, centaurs, and other monsters fill the world. The word comes from the council that everyone must leave and journey to rescue their leader, Janan, who has been abducted by a mysterious new enemy in the north. Faced with overwhelming threats that bring death and destruction, Sam and the others reach the northern Range and, reunited with Janan, are given an unimaginable opportunity. Although it would give them the privilege to live and learn and love without fear, the choice is not without its own dire consequences. And lives—though not theirs—are sure to be lost. Just how much are they willing to give up to save themselves?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Reorganizing Your Bookshelves Makes You Feel ACCOMPISHED!!!

I was in the mood for some spring cleaning yesterday! I cracked out my favorite iPod playlist and got going. It's been at least a year since I organized these shelves, and I was just stacking books wherever. They were also all over the floor and my hope chest and my TV stand... ^^;;;

Now they're all nice and organized again. A lot of books got banished to my cubby of doom (which has no order whatsoever and is in the spare room) because I have no place for more bookcases right desperately as I need them!

If, like me, you have too many books, even though it doesn't look as nice, if you stack them sidewise, you can get more on a shelf!!

And if your bookshelves are deep enough, make two rows on a shelf. Sure, you can't see the row in the back, but MORE STORAGE SPACE!!!

Here's how the reorganization came out:

Bookcase #1:

This is my "contemporary" bookcase. It's on a corner between my window in front of a cubby that has junk like empty display cases stored. My dad made this for me when I was a little girl!

On my top row, I have all my "fancy" books with silver and gold. It's cut off from the picture, but my Narnia boxset is on the far left. Most of the books are gorgeous Barnes and Noble Leatherbound Classics with gold edging. I love them so much!!! My Frog Prince takes care of them for me ♥

Then, my favorite author Jodi Picoult gets a shelf to herself, followed by another favorite, Jacquelyn Mitchard, who shares a shelf with Diane Chamberlain and Lisa Genova. The next two shelves are a hodgepodge of books grouped by author. The first of the two is most adult novels, while the second is mostly YA.

(And a couple of propped notebooks from my current writing project are trying to make a cameo here!)

Bookcase #2:

 Okay, now we turn the corner (the cubby gives my room a weird extra side) and get TWO bookcases!

Here's the first one, and...well, this used to hold shoes/belts/etc. in my closet. But that stuff can just be thrown in or looped from hangers, right? My books need it more!!!

The top shelf has a jewelry spinner and is often littered with random stuff like hand lotion, nail polish, files, chapstick, rings, etc.

This bookcase is mostly for my "special" books. There are also books in a second row behind the first row that you can't see. The first row is full of classics and various massmarkets.

Rows two and three are books that meant everything to me growing up, some of my all-time favorites. For the longest time, Madeleine L'Engle was my favorite author, and her books fill up a row! The following row is predominantly Philip Pullman and some other beloved books (THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND is literally held together with tape!)

(Again, those silly notebooks from my current writing project are trying to make another cameo!) 

Bookcase #3 / Part I:

This is my Billy Bookcase from IKEA, which I bought about three years ago after I'd been blogging a while and my book accumulation was out of control!  The Billy is huge and reaches to my ceiling.

(You can see the side of Bookcase #1 and the slant of the side wall, plus part of my jewelry spinner that sits atop Bookcase #2 here to put the size of this monster into perspective!)

Need more perspective?

I totally need a stool to reach the highest shelves!!!! 
Thankfully I found a cute one, right???

Since the Billy is screwed into the wall, I can stack it with heavy hardcovers!!! This is basically my "fantasy" bookcase.

These are all double-stacked...but I am going to be lazy and not take a picture of the back rows. Too much work!

The topper is full of my mermaid novels. I'll have to fuss with it a little this summer when new books come out!

The first real shelf is filled with mythological novels. There's a little room right now for extra stuff since I banished mermaid stuff to its own row. There's also a spot waiting for BLOOD OF OLYMPUS in October. The Percy Jackson books are going to fit one row perfectly. I would have been sad to see them split up!

Below that, I have a row of mostly hardcover fairy tale novels. Some of my favorites are in the front so I can grab them easily! It breaks my heart to hide beloved authors like Robin McKinley and new favorites like Merrie Haskell, but I can't help it!

Next, we have two rows of fantasy novels (you'll see the second in the next picture!). This row has some of my most favorite novels. The first row is reserved for Rae Carson/Leigh Bardugo/Kristin Cashore. You can see that I have a few jackets on the top perched oddly; I've loaned these books out to people, so they're just chilling right now!

Bookcase #3 / Part II:

Here, we have another row of fantasy novels! I stocked up on the Maria Snyder books I didn't have last month at a signing, and all my books take up their own little row now!

The next shelf is full of my dystopian novels. I left a little room for the copy of THE OFFERING that's currently hiding from me, Kat Zhang's upcoming conclusion, and the next Lauren DeStefano book. After that, I'll have to reorganize again! I actually banished a lot of books from this shelf to the cubbies!

The bottom row is dominated by Tamora Pierce (the author who fueled my love of high fantasy), Terry Goodkind (A year or two ago, I got most of his books used--in hardcover!--for $2 each!), and Patricia McKillip (I'm still reading most of this...I bought a huge lot used on ebay after Sarah J. Maas recommended her a few years ago!). There are some awesome authors hiding in the back, too, such as Sherwood Smith, Megan Whalen Turner, and Neil Gaiman!

You can kind of see the edge of a row of books on the floor to the right of the bookcase between it and my jewelry armoire. It's for my Broadway books, stuff by the legendary Stephen Sondheim, as well as actors such as Bernadette Peters, Anthony Rapp, Patti LuPone, etc. I didn't feel like moving my little table stool and the books sitting atop it (all read and awaiting reviews).

Bookcase #4:

Let's turn the corner one more time! This bookcase is around the corner between my jewelry armoire and my vanity. My dad made this for me when I was little. It can't take a lot of weight, so it's filled mostly with paperbacks. When I add hardcovers, I have to make sure to keep it balanced, or else everything tumbles!

This is my "fairy tale" book case. I have favorites Gail Carson Levine and Shannon Hale on the top shelf. Jane Yolen and Juliet Marillier take up most of the second shelf. There's a row of the Simon Pulse Once Upon a Time books hiding behind the massmarkets here!

The third shelf is dedicated to Mercedes Lackey, with some Jim Hines wedged in (someone borrowed the first book...I need to get it back!). The fourth book is mostly tradepaper and hardcover since it weights the bookcase down. I have Carolyn Turgeon, Jessica Day George, Melanie Dickerson, Sophie Masson, Lili St. Crow, and Christoper Healy here!

The bottom row has my hardcover monsters of the annotated Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, then a bunch of tale collections and fairy tale anthologies!

To the right of this bookcase wedged between it and my vanity, we have all of my children's picture books/art books/"guide" books/etc. on fairy tales and mermaids!

You can also see a clump of books on the left of a little pile of books that I've read but haven't reviewed yet trying to sneak in a cameo!

Do you organize your bookcases a special way? Do you group them by author/theme/genre/etc? By color? By format? I'd love to see photos if you have them!

As you can see, I did a lot of work making things presentable again! Time for a break...and some food!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cover Reveal & $50 Gift Card GIVEAWAY! MORTAL ENCHANTMENT by Stacey O'Neale

Today, Stacey O'Neale and Phoenix Reign Publishing are revealing the cover for
MORTAL ENCHANTMENT, releasing on May 20, 2014!

Check out the awesome cover and enter to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card!!!
On to the reveal!

“Mortal Enchantment spins a unique twist on elemental mythology. This series is not to be missed.”
Jennifer L. Armentrout, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

In Kalin Matthew's world, elementals control the forces of nature. They are divided into four courts: air, woodland, fire, and water. At sixteen she will leave the life she's built with her mortal mother. Kalin will move to Avalon to rule with her father—the elemental king of the air court. Along the way, she's attacked by a fire court assassin and saved by Rowan, a swoon-worthy elemental with a questionable past.

Worst of all, she learns her father is missing.

To rescue him, Kalin will have to work with a judgmental council and a system of courts too busy accusing each other of deceit to actually be able to help her. But, they aren’t her biggest challenge. With the Midwinter’s Ball only five days away, Kalin must take over her father’s duties, which includes shifting control of the elements—power Kalin has yet to realize.

As Rowan attempts to train her, a war looms between the four courts. If Kalin fails, her father will die and the courts will fall, but the betrayal she’s about to uncover may cost her even more...

If you haven't read THE SHADOW PRINCE, you can download if NOW for FREE from Amazon and Barnes & Noble!!!

Every sacrifice has consequences.

Sixteen-year-old Rowan has spent most of his life living among the mortals—learning to control the element of fire, impatiently awaiting the day his vengeful mother, Queen Prisma, will abdicate her throne. When he finally returns to Avalon for his coronation, his mother insists he must first prove his loyalty to the court by completing a secret mission:

Kill Kalin, the half-human, half-elemental daughter of the air court king.

Willing to do anything to remove his mother from power, he agrees to sacrifice the halfling. He returns to the mortal world with his best friend, Marcus, determined to kill the princess. But as he devises a plan, he starts to question whether or not he's capable of completing such a heinous task. And what price he will pay if he refuses?

Available for FREE on Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Also available in PRINT from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Stacey O'Neale started her career in publishing as a blogger turned publicist for two successful small publishers. She loves to write stories with swoony paranormal heroes, snarky heroines, and lots of kissing.

When she's not writing, she loves blogging and fangirling about books on twitter. Occasionally, she leaves her computer to go outside.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

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Release Day Excerpt! DON'T LOOK BACK by Jennifer L. Armentrout

We are extremely excited that Jennifer L. Armentrout's DON'T LOOK BACK releases today!! DON’T LOOK BACK is a young adult suspense being published by Disney Hyperion!

don't look



I didn’t recognize the name on the street sign. Nothing about the rural road looked familiar or friendly. Tall, imposing trees and overgrown weeds choked the front of the dilapidated home.
Windows were boarded up. There was a gaping hole where the front door had been. I shivered, wanting to be far away from here…wherever here was.
Walking felt harder than it should be, and I stumbled off the chilly asphalt, wincing as sharp gravel dug into my feet.
My bare feet?
I stopped and looked down. Chipped pink nail polish peeked through the dirt…and blood.
Mud caked the legs of my pants, leaving the hems stiff. It made sense, seeing as how I wasn’t wearing any shoes, but the blood…I didn’t understand why there was blood staining the knees of my jeans.
My vision clouded and dulled, as if a gray film had been dropped over my eyes. As I stared at the weathered asphalt under my feet, large and smooth rocks replaced the tiny stones.
Something dark and oily seeped over the rocks, slipping through the cracks.
Sucking in a sharp gasp, I blinked and the image was gone.
Hands trembling, I raised them. They were also covered with dirt and scratches. My nails were broken, bloodied. A silver ring wrapped, encased in soil, around my thumb. Air froze in my chest as my gaze crawled over my arms. The sleeves of my sweater were torn, revealing pale flesh covered in bruises and gashes. My legs started to shake as I swayed forward. I tried to remember how this had happened, but my head was empty—a black void where nothing existed.
A car drove by, coasting to a stop a few feet in front of me. Somewhere in the trenches of my subconscious, I recognized the flashing red and blue lights as a source of safety. Elegantly scrawled along the black-and-gray side of the cruiser were the words ADAMS COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT.
Adams County? A flash of familiarity came and went.
The driver’s door opened, and a deputy stepped out. He said something into the radio on his shoulder before he looked at me.
“Miss?” He started around the cruiser, taking tentative steps. He looked young for a deputy. Barely out of high school and able to carry a gun seemed wrong somehow. Was I in high school? I didn’t know. “We’ve received some calls into dispatch concerning you,” he said gently. “Are you okay?”
I tried to respond, but only a hoarse squeak came out. Clearing my throat, I winced as the motion scratched and pulled. “I…I don’t know.”
“Okay.” The deputy held up his hands as he approached me, as if I were a skittish deer about to bolt. “My name is Deputy Rhode. I’m here to help you. Do you know what you’re doing out here?”
“No.” Knots formed in my belly. I didn’t even know where here was.
His smile strained. “What’s your name?”
My name? Everyone knew their name, but as I stared at the deputy, I couldn’t answer his question. The knots started twisting more. “I don’t…I don’t know what my name is.”
He blinked, and the smile was completely gone. “You don’t remember anything?”
I tried again, concentrating on the empty space between my ears. That was how it felt.
And I knew that wasn’t good. My eyes started to tear up.
“Miss, it’s okay. We’ll get you taken care of.” He reached out, lightly taking hold of my arm. “We’ll get this sorted.”
Deputy Rhode led me around the back of his cruiser. I didn’t want to sit behind the Plexiglas, because I knew that wasn’t good. Only bad people sat behind the glass in police cruisers. I wanted to object, but before I could say anything, he settled me into the seat and wrapped a coarse blanket around my shoulders.
Before he locked me in the bad part of the car, he knelt and smiled reassuringly.
“Everything’s going to be okay.”
But I knew he was lying, trying to make me feel better. It didn’t work. How could everything be okay when I didn’t know my own name?


Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all—popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her—even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory—someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

“This engrossing thriller packs a heady atmospheric punch with plenty of theatrical scares,” Kirkus Reviews

“Armentrout has written another winner. From the first page to the last, she builds both terror and confusion to the point where readers will be hooked and on the edge of their seat. This standalone contains all of Armentrout’s usual trademarks– a strong and determined heroine, witty comments and hot guys–but she adds in an extra layer by ratcheting up the suspense to the highest degree and follows it up with an ending no one will see coming.” RT BOOK REVIEWS 4 1/2 Stars TOP PICK

About Jennifer L. Armentrout:

Photo# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.
Author Links:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cover Reveal Round-Ups from Caragh M. O'Brien, Sarah Beth Durst, and Marie Lu!

Today, I'm rounding up three new cover reveals from last week to share with you from new books I'm anticipating this fall from Caragh M. O'Brien, Sarah Beth Durst, and Marie Lu.

They all look really different from one another!

If I wasn't so pleased with the weather right now and enamored with spring, I might be wishing it was almost fall so I could get my grubby mitts on these already!

Out Sept. 16, 2014
Add to Goodreads!

Out October 7, 2014
Add to Goodreads!

CHASING POWER by Sarah Beth Durst
Out October 14, 2014
Add to Goodreads!

Which cover reveals were your favorites?
What are you most excited to read???