The Jewel by Amy Ewing #BookReview #Giveaway #FFBC

The Jewel (The Lone City #1)
by Amy Ewing
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 2nd 2014

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

The Jewel by Amy Ewing is an interesting story about how political intrigue and one’s girl part in a bigger plot that has the potential to take her life.

As far as world building it’s not necessarily extensive as far as physical but as far the political intrigue it’s definitely a wide range. The world is made up with rings that are inclosed in a great wall (why are there always walls. I could see myself trying to look over the top right away). The circles make up the different classes, the center being the most valuable and is referred to as the Jewel. There was enough for me to understand how each section work but I thought where the world building really shined is how the Main royal family, the four founding houses and the other houses interact. I was fascinated by all their drama and at the same time cheering for our girl to find her way out of it.

Violet is not necessarily an exceptional character but she is definitely strong. Stronger than she comes across to me at times. Sometimes I thought her acts of defiance are misplaced but I also realized she doesn’t quite grasp the stakes. She knows but at the same time she is stuck in this role that pretty much makes her nothing and to take away her personality. I loved that she could find her way out of the life through her cello.

The Duchess is an interesting character. I ended up liking her quite a bit. Not because I thought she was nice or I want to be friends with her but because she has so many facets. She can seem cruel. I mean the whole idea of surrogates is cruel but it’s the way she phrases things at times. Almost in a, I don’t necessarily want to do this but I need to in order to advance politically and sometimes you have to play the game, kind of way. I just think there is more to the Duchess than meets the eye. The fact that she is swayed in one direction about certain things that is going on with the royals makes me wonder about her.

The romance was sweet and I enjoyed it. I didn’t feel like it was too over the top and even though it’s important to the story it’s not the only important part.

I liked the plot because this kind of political war is very engaging. There is always something to discover some new mystery to figure out. I had many questions in the beginning of the book and they were answered throughout. It was well paced and definitely no lag time. I actually read the book in a day and it felt like it flew by. The ending was interesting to say the least.

I really enjoyed this one and I will be looking forward to the next book.

Amy Ewing is the young adult author of THE JEWEL, the first in a trilogy from HarperTeen, coming out September 2014.

She grew up in a small town outside Boston, where her librarian mother instilled a deep love of reading at a young age. Amy moved to New York City in 2000 to study theater at New York University. Unfortunately, her acting career didn’t quite pan out. She worked in restaurants, as an administrative assistant, a nanny, and a sales representative for a wine distributor before the lack of creativity in her life drove her to begin writing.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing for Children from The New School, where she was lucky enough to meet a fabulous community of YA writers who keep her sane on a daily basis. She lives in Harlem, where she spends her days writing, eating cheese, and occasionally binge watching The Vampire Diaries.


Athena's Ashes by Jamie Grey #BookReview #Giveaway #FFBC

Athena's Ashes (Star Thief Chronicles #2)
by Jamie Grey
Publisher: Clever Crow Press
Release Date: August 26th, 2014

It’s Renna’s biggest job yet – convincing MYTH leadership that she’s put away her lock picks and is ready to save the galaxy, despite the dangerous implant in her brain. But with the Athena on the run, she’s working solo and facing her most ruthless enemy, the traitor Pallas, who’ll go to any lengths to destroy the MYTH organization. Including framing Renna for a devastating assault on MYTH HQ that leaves their defenses crippled and hundreds dead.

Now that MYTH believes she’s a dangerous double-agent, Renna escapes their firing squad before they put more holes in her than a pair of fishnet stockings. But the ticking time-bomb in her head is the one thing Pallas needs to complete his master plan and he’s not about to let her get away. Even worse, he’s discovered the only thing that will bring Renna to her knees – threatening Captain Nick Finn.

Out of time and options, Renna’s got one shot to take down the traitor before he annihilates everything she loves, even though winning this battle may cost her everything.

Athena’s Ashes is the second book in The Star Thief Chronicles series. Picking up where the first book left off. It has been a while since I’ve read the first book but Jamie Gey does a great job of jogging your memory without over summarizing. So you don’t have to worry abou tthat. I’ve come to really enjoy this Sci-Fi series and I love the fact that it’s new adult.

First off the book does not read like a stereotypical new adult.I believe I thought this about the first book as well. It feels like a YA with older characters so it makes sense when the characters are in the military and traipsing around the galaxy. There is sex in the book but it’s not overbearing at all and definitely does not drive the story.

I love Renna because she is so perfectly flawed. I love that she stays true to her character from beginning to end. I like how she doesn’t change her nature and things she has issues with because they are easy to fall back into, like flirty and running, she deals with throughout the book. It’s not like how she is with Finn now so everything is awesome. She tells it how it is and when Finn does something really idiotic she totally tells him off. I was cheering for her.

I really like the new characters introduced, Jayla and Blake. Although I was leary of Jayla for some reason. Blake is great to have around to stir up a little trouble (not in the love triangle way that’s not what I’m implying). I also love the return of some old favorites. Like of course Captain Nick Finn and Viktis. Oh how I love that crazy captain and alien guy. There is such a great wide range of characters

The plot is fast paced and there is a lot going on. Jamie manages to fit it all in without the story lagging and having it make sense. I didn’t feel confused as we untangled the web of lies and traitors. Although I did get stressed and mad at parts. It was always intriguing.

I liked the ending because it has such a sci-fi sherlock holmes to it. It was a great way to end the book. So if you are looking for something Sci-Fi space style and in the new adult category definitely pick this up. I think if you are ya sci-fi fan and you haven’t ventured that much into new adult you will definitely like this series too. I just really love the wide range of characters.

You can check out my review of the first book The Star Thief as well as a Guest Post by clicking the cover below

Jamie Grey spent most of her childhood writing stories about princesses who saved the day and pretending to be a daring explorer. It wasn’t until much later that she realized she should combine the two. Now, as a tech-obsessed gamer geek, her novels mix amazing scientific developments, future worlds, and the remarkable characters that live in them.

Jamie lives in Michigan with her boyfriend and their pets, who luckily tolerate her overspending on tea, books, and video games. You can learn more about her at, or follow her on twitter via @jamie_grey.


Gypsy by Trisha Leigh #BookReview #Giveaway

Gypsy by Trisha Leigh
(The Cavy Files #1)
Publication date: May 13th 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Inconsequential: not important or significant.
Synonyms: insignificant, unimportant, nonessential, irrelevant

In the world of genetic mutation, Gypsy’s talent of knowing a person’s age of death is considered a failure. Her peers, the other Cavies, have powers that range from curdling a blood still in the vein to being able to overhear a conversation taking place three miles away, but when they’re taken from the sanctuary where they grew up and forced into the real world, Gypsy, with her all-but-invisible gift, is the one with the advantage.

The only one who’s safe, if the world finds out what they can do.

When the Cavies are attacked and inoculated with an unidentified virus, that illusion is shattered. Whatever was attached to the virus causes their abilities to change. Grow. In some cases, to escape their control.

Gypsy dreamed of normal high school, normal friends, a normal life, for years. Instead, the Cavies are sucked under a sea of government intrigue, weaponized genetic mutation, and crushing secrets that will reframe everything they’ve ever been told about how their “talents” came to be in the first place.

When they find out one of their own has been appropriated by the government, mistreated and forced to run dangerous missions, their desire for information becomes a pressing need. With only a series of guesses about their origins, the path to the truth becomes quickly littered with friends, enemies, and in the end, the Cavies ability to trust anyone at all.

I really enjoyed Gypsy by Trisha Leigh. I feel like there are different sub-genres in sci-fi. This one is more about genetics and is definitely laced with a bit of mystery that good sci-fi’s usually have. It took the whole idea that we see in shows like X-men and gives it a different twist. I love the way that Trisha incorporated how the “cavies” ended up at the home that raises them.

There are a lot of different issues going on in the book. I liked how at first Gypsy and the gang kind of have stockholm syndrome because they have never known anything different. The experiments, the test, honing their ability, etc all seem like normal life to them. They think the outside world doesn’t want them and the people inside are protecting. As things start to unravel and the truth comes to light, the cavies start to learn that they can only really trust each other. However as they integrate into regular society, even that starts to change.

Gypsy is such a fun character and I couldn’t help bonding with her. She has this undertone of being a leader but is lacking in confidence because she considers her ability to be useless. I think because of that though she is able to look at things with more of an open mind. She loves her family (other cavies) but she is still trying to figure out where she belongs. She’s not exactly attached to any particular home, only people. She is also fiercely loyal and protective of her friends new and old. Which is another thing I like about Gypsy. How quickly she is able to adapt and build new friendships while keeping the old.

I love a book like this that has such a huge variety of characters. We spend time with some more than others but I like that there is this spectrum. It makes the book more interesting to me.

I also really like the light romance. There was something pleasant about it and actually sweet. Plus Gypsy is slightly clueless about certain things but it makes her endearing. I guess maybe that’s what the boys see in her. I like how even though she might be interested in guys, she still keeps her focus on what is most important. Keeping everyone safe.

Also the way that Gypsy/Norah bonds with her father. I wanted so much for things to work out for them. I still do because it’s nice to see such a great dad like him. It feels so rare in books and I just want to hug him for being cool. He really wants to know his daughter and it’s so sweet.

I felt like the pacing of the book was slow at points but it’s one those things that I understood why. I’m starting to think it’s me because I’ve been feeling like that lately. Like I’m too impatient and I want to uncover the mystery quicker than it’s being written. Trisha does a lot building for the plot and I think that because it’s the first book, she really wanted us to have a grasp on the different groups of people.

Overall I really enjoyed Gypsy. So if you are looking for a Sci-Fi that’s more super powers than outer space. This is a good one for you. I find that this kind of sci-fi borders more on the paranormal side. So if you are a fan of that, I would say give this a try.

Trisha Leigh is a product of the Midwest, which means it’s pop, not soda, garage sales, not tag sales, and you guys as opposed to y’all. Most of the time. She’s been writing seriously for five years now, and has published 4 young adult novels and 4 new adult novels (under her pen name Lyla Payne). Her favorite things, in no particular order, include: reading, Game of Thrones, Hershey’s kisses, reading, her dogs (Yoda and Jilly), summer, movies, reading, Jude Law, coffee, and rewatching WB series from the 90’s-00’s.

Her family is made up of farmers and/or almost rock stars from Iowa, people who numerous, loud, full of love, and the kind of people that make the world better. Trisha tries her best to honor them, and the lessons they’ve taught, through characters and stories—made up, of course, but true enough in their way.

Trisha is the author of The Last Year series and the Whitman University books. She’s represented by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.


A Whispered Darkness by Vanessa Barger #BookReview #Giveaway

Title: A Whispered Darkness
Publication date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Vanessa Barger

When Claire Mallory’s father leaves, her mom moves them to a new town and into a dilapidated Victorian house.

The old house creaks and whistles, and smells well — like it’s been abandoned for years. But as the nights grow longer and the shadows take on substance, Claire wonders if the strange sounds and occurrences might be more than the house showing its age.

Just as things start to pick up in Claire’s love life, her mother becomes possessed. In an attempt to save her mother and their new home, Claire enlists the help of two boys, each of whom is interested in Claire for different reasons. As she chooses one boy over the other, something dangerous is unleashed, and the spirits make their move.

They aren’t content to moan and scream inside Claire’s house, or even control her mom. They want a taste of freedom, and she’s their key to getting it. But is Claire strong enough to fight off the evil spirits, or will they claim her and her mom before it’s all over?

As far as synopsis of books go I do not think the one for A Whispered Darkness sits with it well. I got a completely different impression what the book would be about then what it is. Even though the basics are there it’s just not quite the right fit. I’m saying this because I don’t want people to think this book is about a love triangle because it’s not. The progression of how the mom gets possessed doesn't just happen all of a sudden either.

I’m not sure how to categorize the story. It’s not a Horror because it’s not gory but boy is it creepy. This is a Ghost story for sure, with some paranormal hunters, psychics and creeptastic mystery mixed in. I was freaked out by some of the things going on. I thought the plot, which surrounds some interesting town history was pretty cool. I feel that way about any story that involves spirits and uncovering what really happened to them.. Kind of like watching one of those Haunted Places show.

I liked the sister and brother bond that is in the story. Rather than one being moody and going off into a locked room, they are taking on their parents divorce together. They also are able to listen to one another and offer support to the others problems. They really stick together in the book. It’s nice to see a close relationship like that between siblings.

I didn’t really feel like the romance was overwhelming or the main focus of the story. Ya it’s in there but it’s more about the ghost and what really happened all that time ago. I like that it had a more subtle feel to it.

The pacing of the book is kind of slow, especially the first half. It seemed like it was centered more around setting up the characters, who they are and what their stories are.

I think that the creepy aspects of the book are good and I did like how it ended. Things seemed to be wrapped up. The mod podge of characters was interesting as well. Definitely a spooky read.

Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and the Virginia Writer's Club. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing.