Thursday, March 28, 2013

Kiss of Fire by Rebecca Ethington
Blog tour: Review, Author Interview and Giveaway

Kiss of Fire blog tour is hosted by GRC Promotions
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Kiss of Fire 
by Rebecca Ethington
Read: March 26 - 27, 2013
Published: November 6, 2012
Source: Gift in exchange for an honest review
Category: Paranormal Romance, YA
Series: Imdalind book 1

Joclyn Despain has been marred by a brand on her skin. She doesn't know why the mark appeared on her neck, but she doesn't want anyone to see it, including her best friend Ryland, who knows everything else about her. The scar is the reason she hides herself behind baggy clothes, and won't let the idea of kissing Ryland enter her mind, no matter how much she wants to.
The scar is the reason she is being hunted.

If only she knew that she was.

If only she had known that the cursed stone her estranged father sent for her 16th birthday would trigger a change in her. Now, she is being stalked by a tall blonde man, and is miraculously throwing her high school bully ten feet in the air.
Joclyn attempts to find some answers and the courage to follow her heart. When Ryland finds her scar; only he knows what it means, and who will kill her because of it. (From Goodreads)


Joclyn Despain doesn't want anyone to notice her. After receiving a mysterious brand when she was a child, which led to the breakup of her parent's marriage and childhood ridicule, Joclyn has been working hard to blend into the background. She does everything she can to keep the mark - and herself - hidden from sight. She hides behind long hair, large clothing and hooded sweatshirts. The only person besides her mother who truly sees her is her best friend Ryland LaRue.

Joclyn and Ryland have known each other practically their whole lives, ever since Joclyn's mother began working as a chef for Ryland's wealthy father. They have grown up together and are each other's best friends. It was refreshing to read about a love interest that is not a mysterious new boy that pops into Joclyn's life, but someone with whom she shares a strong emotional bond, born of their years spent playing, growing, and knowing each other. Not surprisingly, both have started to look at each other in a different light and there is the possibility of something more developing between them. 

However, everything is complicated by Ryland's father Edmund who doesn't seem to think that Joclyn is good enough for his privileged son. Although I never questioned whether or not I could trust Ryland, it is clear from the beginning that he is under a lot of pressure from his father and that he keeps much of that part of his life from Joclyn. Ryland is also going overseas to college in the fall, and Joclyn does not know how much time she has left with him. I really liked that this story appeared to start off with two kids with normal teenage worries, but then morphed quickly into something different and much bigger. 

When I started Kiss of Fire, I had no idea where it was going, or how intense it would be by the end. The story started off slowly. Joclyn is painfully shy, introverted and bullied at school, but a few things happen that begin to bring her out of her shell. She starts to to realize the strength of her feelings for Ryland (and that he reciprocates them). She makes her first girl friend at school. And most importantly, she receives a mysterious letter from her absent father that results in a series of strange events that she she doesn't understand. Although I was a bit frustrated with Joclyn at first over her constant worry about someone seeing her mark, as the story progressed, I really enjoyed watching her begin to stand up for herself and become comfortable with who she is. Instead of letting everyone protect and save her, she starts to realize that she is strong too, especially in the second half of the book. Although Joclyn still has a lot of growing to do, I have high hopes that she will be something to behold in the books to come. 

The second half of Kiss of Fire really picks up in exciting and surprising ways. There are several intense battle scenes, and the content of the story gets much darker as it progresses. I was impressed with how far the author took her story, though a lot of the information also broke my heart (she doesn't hesitate to punch you in the gut). Although there were some stereotypical characters - a mean girl and a super villain - many of the others became much more complex as the story went along. I am excited to spend more time with them in the future. This is still an approachable, very readable book, but these characters have dealt with a lot of deep issues, and the have some big obstacles ahead of them. 

I did have some trouble with a few elements in the book, however. Although the story is strong, it could use another round of editing. Nothing major, but a lot of little details that added up over time. Also, though I enjoyed discovering a completely new paranormal society, and the world the author created definitely intrigued me, I still have a lot of questions about it. I'm a tad confused about the origin and nature of these beings and what exactly they're trying to accomplish (besides defeating the bad guy). This series is planned to be several books, so I'm hoping that we will learn more as it progresses.  

Finally, let's talk a little more about the love story. I discussed Joclyn and Ryland above, and I really love the strength of their bond and how far they're willing to go to protect each other. But this book also hints at a possible love triangle (Please note that I am projecting  my personal worries here. I do not know what is going to happen next. Joclyn also does not strike me as the heroine to go back and forth between two people.). If you read this book, you will know who this new potential love interest is. Although I find him to be a very interesting character, he is still so much of a mystery that I'm not sure what I think of him yet. I don't distrust him, but I'm not certain of his endgame either. I also found some of his behavior and general level of physical comfort around Joclyn (him for her - not her for him) to be a tad off-putting. Thankfully, she felt the same way as I did. If he does not become a love interest, I am very intrigued about him and what his motives are. This story has surprised me thus far, and I'm eager for it to continue to do just that. 

Kiss of Fire goes out with a bang, with a huge scene that is exciting, shocking and highly emotional. I am eager to get my hands on book 2 to find out what happens next. If you are love triangle wary, I will be reading and reviewing Eyes of Ember soon. 

Love Triangle Factor: None at present
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium+


Interview with author Rebecca Ethington

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to ask Rebecca Ethington a few questions today. I will admit that I wrote these before I read the book, and now I have about a bajillion more that I want to ask her! But her insight here is definitely tantalizing. 

1) What's the first thing you'd like people to know about KISS OF FIRE? 

Hmmmm… Probably that this isn’t your average Paranormal Romance. I’ve been told by quite a few reviewers that nothing is predictable about the book (that and people tend to cry a lot). I take pride in that. I want my stories to be new and unpredictable. I want them to keep you up, and stay with you. 

Well you accomplished both of those things for me. Yikes! My poor heart. 

2) What word would you use to describe Joclyn at the beginning of the book? What about the end? What word would you use to describe Ryland at the beginning and the end? 

For Joclyn, in the beginning, she is very introverted. She doesn’t want anyone to notice her, to talk to her. Her only friend is Ryland, and only because of their history and his persistence. By the end of the book she is starting to gain confidence in herself, and find her voice. It’s a long journey and one that can’t be completed in one book, but Joclyn is a very powerful person, she just has to find her strength.

Ryland is a bit more complex. He is a very caring, if not a little arrogant, guy that puts on a tough guy fa├žade. (SPOILER PAST THIS POINT:) Ryland’s journey isn’t quite as great though, by the end that big heart has become a way for his father to use him, turning him into a monster.

I think I was having a Taylor Swift moment with this next question??? But the answer is interesting!

3) If you could only represent KISS OF FIRE using colors, what color(s) would you choose? What about for book 2? 

Interesting question. For the whole series I would have to say the base color would be red. There is lots of hate, danger, violence, a love throughout the series – all heavy in the color red. For Kiss of Fire I would say the other main color would be Black, you can hide in black, danger comes in black, you can’t trust black, and all of those themes tend to be a very dominant in Kiss of Fire. For Eyes of Ember I would have to say gold, while not a complimentary color with red; together they really encompass the depth and shifting nature that book two has.

About Rebecca Ethington: 
4) What is one thing you wish you could go back and tell your high school self? 

Ha. High school was a weird time for me. I essentially dropped out so I could perform full time. And strangely I would probably tell my high school self to perform more. High school sucks. lol

5) If you were a paranormal being, what would it be? 

Anything that flies; which is really weird because I am terrified of heights. I can’t even go on a standard Ferris Wheel without a panic attack.

6) If you were on the beach right now, would you be reading or playing in the water? (It is freezing where I live and I am imagining the sunshine) 

It’s freezing here too, in fact it’s snowing as I write this. The only time I have been to a warm beach I spent the whole time in the water riding waves, which drove my kids crazy as they just wanted to go home. I would probably do that again. Heck, maybe I’ll have to learn to surf one of these days.

Oh I know all about snow here! I've never tried surfing, but I love to play in the water - although the cold New England waters aren't as fun as farther south. I'm a beach reader at heart, though. 

Thanks for talking with me today, Rebecca!


Find out more

Purchase Kiss of Fire 
Amazon | Barnes and Noble

About the author

Rebecca Ethington has been telling stories since she was small. First, with writing crude scripts, and then on stage with years of theatrical performances. The Imdalind Series is her first stint into the world of literary writing. Rebecca is a mother to two, and wife to her best friend of 14 years. She was born and raised in the mountains of Salt Lake City, and hasn’t found the desire to leave yet. Her days are spent writing, running, and enjoying life with her amazing family.

PRIZE: Kindle Fire Tablet Loaded with Kiss of Fire and Eyes of Ember

I am notoriously bad at getting these tour giveaway forms to show up. 
Click HERE for the rafflecopter page."rel="nofollow">aRafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess
by Cassandra Clare
Read: March 20-21, 2013
Published: March 19, 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry Books 
Source: Purchase
Category: Urban Fantasy, YA
Series: The Infernal Devices (TID) book 3

Note: Clockwork Princess is the third book in a series. My review is (mostly) spoiler free for the first two books in the series. I do give warning at the part with spoilers, but read below at your own discretion. My thoughts are safe for the final book. 

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy

Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy?
Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.
A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her. (From Goodreads)


"You know that feeling," she said, "when you are reading a book, and you know that it is going to be a tragedy; you can feel the cold and darkness coming, see the net drawing close around the characters who live and breathe on the pages. But you are tied to the story as if being dragged behind a carriage, and you cannot let go or turn the course aside."
This was essentially how Tessa and I approached the last book in Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices series. If you follow my blog at all you know that I have a pathological dislike of love triangles. I think the third book is where they usually fall apart, and I was upset by another triangle series that recently concluded that I had previously adored. Because this series has the trickiest love situation I have ever seen, I was very wary about starting Clockwork Princess. Thankfully, I have thus far had tremendous faith in Clare’s writing. I know she plots her series mercilessly, so I was hopeful that she would give her characters the ending they deserve, and that while undoubtedly painful, it would also be satisfying.  In the end, I believe she accomplished exactly that

Of course, Ms. Clare doesn't make anything easy for her readers. Going into the final book in this series, she had created an impressively complicated knot of love between Will, Jem and Tessa. Let's break it down. Beware of SPOILERS for the previous 2 books in the listing, skip to the paragraph below this section if you haven't read them. 

Jem loves Tessa.
Tessa loves Jem.
Will also loves Tessa.
Tessa loves Will too.
Will and Jem are best friends and parabati.
Jem and Tessa are engaged.
Jem does not know that Will loves Tessa.
Will does not know that Tessa loves him back.
Jem does not know that Tessa loves Will.
Jem is dying. There is no cure for his disease.
Jem dying will destroy Will.
Jem dying will destroy Tessa.
Will is determined not to benefit from Jem’s death and will not be with Tessa when Jem is gone. 

I don't think the fact that Tessa (and I) thought that she was barreling towards an enormous precipice of tragedy is that unreasonable under the circumstances. However, for me, the more important point about this complicated love triangle, and what has set it apart from any triangle I've read before, is the fact that it is a true three-way relationship. Will, Tessa and Jem all love each other. If one of them falls, they ALL loose something. Throughout this story, I was continually amazed at how strongly Clare was able to emotionally tie them all together - and me to them. Even more, none of them had absolute power over the others, which is the case in most triangles where the girl is the one holding all the cards and essentially has to pick which heart to break. Every decision/outcome came with a sacrifice for all of them. 

Another part of this story that I loved, for itself and also for how it enhanced the love triangle, was the Victorian setting. Clare (for the most part) kept her characters mentally within the confines of that world. People living in Victorian England lived under a very different set of social rules than we do today, including a strict code of propriety and decorum. I think the historical time period helped me to focus on the high emotional content of the triangle, without suffering through some of the more annoying features of most love triangles (i.e. a constant back and forth between the two guys). Don't get me wrong, there are some great kissing+ scenes throughout this series, involving both guys. But that wasn't the focus of this series, as much as how their love for one another impacted each individual relationship. I think the story worked better because of that. 

Although for me, the main focus of Clockwork Princess – at least emotionally – was the love triangle, that is in no way all that happens in this book. These characters face very stressful life and death situations outside of their own personal dramas, especially from Mortmain and his Infernal Devices. Amazingly, Clare ties off all the loose end from the previous books (including questions about Tessa's origins), and answer new ones from this book. There are also lots of incredible secondary characters, who have their own relationship issues, all of whose stories I was highly invested in. One of my favorite parts of this book was seeing the small connections between this series and the Mortal Instruments. You aren’t missing anything if you’ve not read both series, but it was a fun addition to the plot. 

Clockwork Princess is Cassandra Clare's strongest written book. The story took me longer than it should have to read, because I was  focusing so much on her characters' incredible words and thoughts. Clare has said that this series is a loose retelling of A Tale of Two Cities, and the way that Dickens' story weaves into this one, was particularly moving. One thing that continues to impress me about this author is how well she knows the inside of her characters, and as a result how very complex they all are.  But most of all I appreciate the grace she has shown to Tessa, Will and Jem. Although this book is incredibly heartbreaking at times, and each of the three carries burdens and faces impossible sacrifices, I felt like they all would be proud of their place in this story and in each others' lives. 

Love Triangle Factor: HIGH all around - but I still loved this book*!
Cliffhanger Scale: Series conclusion. Loose ends are tied. No room for a sequel for these characters. 

A personal note: As much as I loved this book, I still don't really understand love triangles. Although I got caught up in Tessa's world, and can completely understand how you can love multiple people in your lifetime, I rolled my eyes a few times at how much Tessa was equally in love with both guys at the same time. I truly wanted it to work out for all of them - which is a testament to how well Clare crafted her characters and their story, but I think my heart will always romantically choose one over the other. But that just explains how amazing this series is, because I still believe that this triangle was extremely well done and satisfying, and that you should read it.  
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