Embers

Embers
“We all have responsibilities from our circumstances,
even if we didn’t ask for them.”
― Karen Ann Hopkins, Embers

Title: Embers
Author: Karen Ann Hopkins
Series: The Wings of War #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 394
Publisher: Self-published
Published: March 15, 2015
Amazon
Audio
Goodreads

Synopsis From Goodreads:

There are descendants of angels walking among us. Ember is one of them.
Embers is an epic paranormal adventure/romance about a seventeen year old girl who discovers that she’s immune to fire and any other injury when she’s in a horrific car crash that kills her parents. Following a violent episode with her aunt’s boyfriend, Ember flees Ohio to live with an old relative in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Ember’s exuberance at escaping a bad home life soon turns to trepidation when she learns that she’s a Watcher, a descendant of angels.
While Ember is instructed about her heritage and the powers that go along with it, she strikes up friendships with two teenagers who live in a frightening walled compound in the forest. Inexplicitly drawn to one of the young men in particular, an impossible romance develops. But it’s cut short when Ember discovers that her new friends are fighting on the opposite side of a war that’s been raging between two factions of Watchers for thousands of years. When the compound’s inhabitants threaten the townspeople, Ember takes action, sealing her fate in the ancient battle of good versus evil, and the grayness in between. Ember is up to the challenge, until she realizes that she isn’t only fighting for the lives of the locals and the souls of her new friends. She may be one of the few champions willing to make a stand for all of mankind as the rapture approaches and the end of days begin.

My Rating: ☆☆

Embers is one of those books that has a lot of wasted potential. The premise is great, but the follow-through just isn’t there.
The plot of Embers is interesting enough to hold your attention, but the story starts earlier than it should. For starters, the prologue is entirely unnecessary! By unnecessary, I mean its only purpose is to make you wonder what’s behind the creepy wall in the woods. The writing of the prologue isn’t that amazing either… It’s in third person; the rest of the book is in first person. Also, it is very gorry and almost made me put the book down. Maybe it’s just me, but heads should not come off in the first twenty pages unless the book is a horror story or somebody super important is being murdered, (neither of which is the case here)! The first three chapters are also just a bunch of unnecessary set-up. The story doesn’t start until the main character gets to her aunt’s house, but for some reason we’re given explicit details about how she got there in the form of three extra chapters. That being said, Embers tells a pretty good story once the plot actually kicks off. It isn’t the kind of thing you read for brilliant writing or a message that’ll stick with you, but it makes good mindless entertainment!
The characters are… flat. The main character, Ember, is basically a puppet who does whatever has to be done to move the plot along. There was a lot of potential for her to go through some major development, but it was not fulfilled. I mean… The girl watched her parents burn to death in a fire and discovered that fire couldn’t hurt her in the process. She should be traumatized to the point of needing therapy, but instead she just comes across as a winy teenage girl who is quite honestly super annoying. Her love interest is slightly more developed. He’s a demon who doesn’t want to be a demon and has actually considered suicide to escape his demonicness, but again some great potential is wasted. The romance was also major instalove, and the love triangle that was introduced about two-thirds into the book was obviously just there for the sake of having a love triangle. Seriously… Who is going to believe that there is actually a possibility that the descendent of an angel is going to fall in love with a human guy when she basically threw herself at a demon the first time she saw him???
Embers is an excellent example of a book that should not have been written in first person. It would’ve been better if the characters weren’t so flat, but because neither of the two narrators was developed enough to have a strong narrative voice, the first person narrative was just really awkward sounding. Maybe I’m just an up-tight writerly snob, but I wanted to scream and rewrite the entire book in third person the whole time I was reading it. The only thing that got me to read through the writing was the plot. It kept me turning pages to see what happened even though I predicted every single twist from the midpoint onward. Overall, Embers is a pretty good read if you’re into plot driven stories with the “mindless entertainment factor”, but you should probably avoid it if you’re going to be irritated by cardboard characters and not so fantastic writing.

Beautiful People | Parental Edition

Beautiful People is a writing link-up created by Cait @ Paper Fury in which you share a bit about your characters. This month’s topic is parental relationships! I’ll be answering the following questions for Niko Deverow, (The main character of my Shaman Novel.)


  1. Overall, how good is their relationship with their parents?
    Niko’s biological parents mysteriously disappeared when he was three years old. His Aunt Zelda and Uncle Quinn are his legal guardians, but they don’t really care what he does as long as it doesn’t ruin their chance at a spot on the royal counsel. The closest thing he has to a real parent is his shaman mentor, Archer Cross. She was like a sister to Niko’s mother, and now she’s made it her mission to save him from the royal lifestyle as his mother would’ve wanted.

  2. Do they know both their biological parents? If not, how do they cope with this loss/absence, and how has it affected their life?
    I already answered the first part of this question above… Sophia and Gidian Deverow disappeared when Niko was only three, so he never got a chance to know them. Niko inherited his Mom’s shaman gift: the ability to see spirits and residual energetic imprints. For example, he could see the blurred image of a violent murder that played out 50 years in the past because of the energetic imprint it left behind. This made it super hard for him when his Aunt and Uncle got guardianship. His dad basically ruined the Deverow name when he married a shaman, and now Zelda and Quinn care about nothing beyond fixing their reputation and reclaiming their spot on the royal counsel. From a VERY young age, Niko has been taught to hide his abilities. He wears a flawless mask to keep up his royal pretence, but beneath it he is filled with scars and secrets that can never be revealed. Because he’s holding so much inside, he finds ways to numb the world. He becomes addicted to Bliss, (a made-up drug), and turns to self-injury as a form of release.

  3. How did their parents meet?
    Every year, the Counsel and the Shaman Court meet under a peace flag. Gidian Deverow and Sophia Murser met at one such meeting. Sophie saw that something was off in Gidian’s aura. He didn’t quite fit with the other royals, and that intrigued her. She struck up a conversation at the peace banquet, and after several months of secret meetings, Gidian made plans to desert the counsel which would throw his family name into exile.

  4. How would they feel if they were told, “you’re turning out like your parent(s)”?
    Niko would be overjoyed to get ANY kind of information about his parents! He’s spent most of his life trying to find out what happened to them, which is difficult because he has no access to shaman records, and the counsel doesn’t keep information on traitors. Even though he sees the spirits of the dead, he’s never seen his parents. He can’t decide if this makes him scared or happy because it either means they’re not dead, they’re in some kind of afterlife, or they’re alive and somewhere worse than death.

  5. What were your character’s parents doing when they were your character’s age?
    Sophia was training to become a spy for ISA, (the International Shaman Alliance). Gidian was being groomed to carry on his family name and one day inherit the Deverow’s counsel seat.

  6. Is there something they adamantly disagreed on?
    Considering they never new each other, they didn’t have a chance to disagree on anything.

  7. What did the parent(s) find hardest about raising your character?
    It was very difficult for Sophie to find out that Niko had her abilities. Sight and Empathy are two of the most difficult shaman gifts to master, and when they’re combined, they usually result in madness.

  8. What’s their most vivid memory with their parental figure(s)?
    Niko has a vague memory of his mother singing him to sleep in a foreign language that sounds a lot like Hawaiian. However, he can’t decide if it really happened, or if he just made it up to feel some connection to his life before the counsel.

  9. What was your character like as a baby/toddler?
    Niko was a very quiet child. He was always watching, listing, and absorbing the world around him.

  10. Why and how did the parent(s) choose your character’s name?
    The name Niko means, “victory,” or, “warrior”. Gidian and Sophie named him Niko because they knew the world was a harsh place, and they wanted it to remind him that he was strong enough to fight and win.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters

Gods and monsters
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil pressed their hands to their hearts
And started the apocalypse.”
-Laini Taylor, Dreams of Gods & Monsters

Title: Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of smoke & Bone #3
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 613
Publisher: Little Brown & Company
Published: April 8, 2014
Amazon
iBooks
Goodreads

Synopsis From Goodreads:

Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.

When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited – not in love, but in a tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.

But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?

The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as – from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond – humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Dreams of Gods & Monsters opens by introducing a new character to the series. I would normally consider it a “writerly no-no” to add a main character so late in a series, but in this case, it works! Without the addition of a new key player, the plot couldn’t have ended as it did. The new character is also very well developed to have entered the story so late, and she undergoes a complete character arck by the end.
The plot of Dreams of Gods & Monsters is tight and well paced. While Days of Blood & Starlight seemed slow in places, Dreams of Gods & Monsters flows quickly and holds your attention until the very last page.
The writing style is very smooth and almost captivating in some places, but as with the first two books, the narrator switches were not handled as well as they could’ve been. There were several instances where a narrator swap occurred in the middle of a chapter, and it got super hard to follow! The fact that there were so many characters didn’t help matters either… Honestly, the whole problem could’ve been remedied if the narrator changes had happened at chapter breaks, but because they didn’t, it became “borderline head-hopping.”
The ending of the series was carried out beautifully! I did NOT see the plot twist coming, but I love how everything was wrapped up! The worlds were saved, everyone who mattered got their happy ever after, and the only thing I could find fault with was the head-hopping problem!

Days of Blood & Starlight

Days of blood and starlight
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil held a wishbone between them.
And its snap split the world in two.”
― Laini Taylor, Days of Blood & Starlight

Title: Days of Blood & Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2, (click here for my review of book 1)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 517
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: November 6th, 2012
Amazon
iBooks
Goodreads

Synopsis From Goodreads:

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Days of Blood & Starlight is a pretty good follow-up to Daughter of Smoke & Bone. The plot picks up basically where the first book ended, but introduces an entirely new setting and conflict. The overall plot was excellent, but the pacing did seem a little slow to me. It wasn’t the torturous kind of slow progression that makes you want to skip ahead, but it definitely could’ve gotten off to a faster start!
The character development was amazing! The book was definitely more plot driven than character driven, but all of the main characters began some kind of transformation that was obvious through their actions and the ways in which they interacted with each other. Each of the character arcs unfolded alongside plot events, and the changes they experienced were caused by the plot, which created a nice balance. By the end of the story, all of the key players were placed at a point where they had to make a decision for better or worse. At that point in the story, they had all progressed enough to understand the right choice, and therefore the story reached a form of closure while still leaving room for the next book.
The writing style of Days of Blood & Starlight is very unique. It has a melodic flow that is beautiful and interesting, yet hard to follow sometimes. Part of the confusion also came from the fact that there were multiple narrators. I think I counted three main narrators and a couple chapters from others. I normally don’t have a problem with multiple narrators, but this got super hard to keep up with! I definitely understand why there were so many narrators, and they were all necessary for the story to unfold, but I think it could’ve been written a little more distinctly. Thankfully it was written in third person, otherwise I don’t think I could’ve gotten through all the head-hopping!
This most definitely is not the kind of book you read for mindless entertainment! Coming from someone who can usually listen to audio books while doing a multitude of other tasks simultaneously without missing a thing in the book, this was not an easy read! I mean… I actually had to dedicate time to curl into a small ball on my bed with only a blanket and coffee to read this thing instead of just throwing on my headphones while being a responsible student! That being said, it told a very unique and amazing story, and I have already started the next book because I am totally hooked on this plot!

Snippet Sunday

Snippet Sunday is a writing meme created by Samantha @ Reed’s Reads & Reviews in which you share a snippet from your current writing project. This snippet is from my Shaman Novel.


Vivian Deverow was drowning. It was kind of ironic if you thought about it. “Strike a match and let it burn,” she muttered to herself through a choked laugh. That’d been her motto for years, but her matches couldn’t burn under water.

Top Ten Tuesday | Things That Make Me Instantly Want to Read a Book

Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week it’s about things that make you instantly want to read a book!


  1. If there’s magic involved, I’ll probably read it without question. I especially love books with super unique magic system like the one in Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
  2. Myths/legends from other cultures like those found in Fear the Drowning Deep.
  3. Royal people fighting to take over the throne, (preferably with magic!) 😉
  4. Assassins because they’re sneaky, and sometimes they throw daggers, and I just love them! I mean I love them in books, NOT real life! I would NOT want to meet an assassin in real life!
  5. Any kind of psychological illness!
  6. Bad boys with deep, dark secrets who actually turn out to be good. So what if it’s a giant trope?!
  7. Diverse characters like those in Tiny Pretty things.
  8. I’ll read pretty much anything about angels.
  9. Awkward, preferably writerly characters because they’re just so relatable! Fangirl, anybody?
  10. I will read literally anything by Rick Riordan or Maggie Stiefvater because they have never failed to tell an amazing story. In other words, go read The Raven Cycle right now because you are missing out on great literature if you haven’t!

Snippet Sunday

Snippet Sunday is a writing meme created by Samantha @ Reed’s Reads & Reviews in which you share a snippet of your current writing project. It’s been forever since I’ve done one of these, but today I bring you the “unofficial official” synopsis for my Shaman Novel. This is the blurb that I’ve posted to my Camp NaNoWriMo profile, but it’s subject to change as I continue to edit the story. I hope to have the book ready for beta readers by June, but in reality it’s probably going to be more like August or September…
Since you guys are following my book/writing blog, I’m assuming you’re all readers, writers, or both. That means you probably know a thing or two about books and their blurbs, so please let me know what you think of mine in the comments! Does this synopsis make you want to read my book? Is there anything you don’t like about it? Any and all feedback is appreciated! 😉


Nico Deverow’s entire life is built on secrets, lies, and blood. His family built their fortune in blood money and poisoned their way to a seat on the Royal Mist Council, but Nico doesn’t belong in that life. Ancient murders, restless spirits, and the uncensored truth in everyone’s auras are all revealed to him through residual layers of energy, and no one can ever know about it. The second sight is a shaman power, and a Deverow with a shaman gift would kill his bloodline’s reputation completely. His mask is flawless as his family name decrees, but underneath he’s shattering. With no one to help him contain his powers, the magical drug called Bliss and the raiser sharp blade of a dagger become his only salvation. But when natural born healer Adam Rachadon discovers his abilities, Nico is given a choice: trust a shaman with a secret his family would kill him for, or refuse his offer of help and continue to live a lie.

Fear the Drowning Deep

Fear the Drowning Deep
“And with the melody came the unmistakable sound of water slapping against the rocks far below us, slowly eroding the foundation of Port Coire and everything I loved.”
-Sarah Glenn Marsh, Fear the Drowning Deep

Title: Fear the Drowning Deep
Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Pages: 304
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adutly, Historical Fiction, Romance, Mythology
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Published: October 11, 2016
Amazon
iBooks
Goodreads

Synopsis From Goodreads:

Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.
Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.
Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Fear the Drowning Deep is told through the eyes of the main character, Bridey, who embarks on a quest to figure out what is making her friends and family willingly walk into the ocean to drown. At the beginning of the book, Bridey is terrified of the ocean that surrounds her island home, and haunted by memories of the night her grandfather jumped from the cliffs with a smile on his face. She saw a ghostly creature riding the waves that night, and now that others in her village are vanishing, she believes that it might’ve returned to claim more victims. However, she is ridiculed because of her fear and belief in the supernatural and apprenticeship to the island’s only witch.
Bridey’s character arc is one of the most complex and well developed transformations that I have seen in a while. It is very interesting to see how the first and last scene mirror each other to demonstrate her transformation. The first scene shows her watching as a drowned girl is pulled from the water. She’s afraid to be so close to the water, but at the same time she can’t quite make herself walk away. The girl reminds her of her grandfather and the creatures that ride the waves at night. The last scene is a mirror image of the first. Bridey has made peace with the sea and its inhabitants, and she sits proudly beside her father on his fishing boat, far out in the water that she was once terrified to go near.
Bridey’s character is strengthened further by the setting of the story and the cultural beliefs that she has grown up with. The book is filled with words in Manx, (Bridey’s native language), and mentions of her village’s superstitions and traditions pop up throughout the story. These cultural influences provide backstory in little bits and pieces, rather than large chunks, and make Bridey seem more realistic. It’s easy to dismiss all of the bits of language and beliefs as a fantasy world out of Sarah Glenn Marsh’s imagination, but in reality, they are parts of history! Manx and the culture surrounding it were very well researched, and as far as I can tell, everything mentioned in Fear the Drowning Deep is historically true to the setting and time period.
The plot of Fear the Drowning Deep is very fast-paced, but that doesn’t detract from any other aspects of the story. The plot, character arcs, and world building blend together almost seamlessly, playing off one another so they form an almost perfect balance. Every plot point causes Bridey to grow as a person, and the world building creates a perfect backdrop for the events to unfold. It’s usually easy to say whether a book is plot driven or character driven, but Fear the Drowning Deep weaves the two together so that they are inseparable!
With its smooth writing style, strong character arcs, and fast-paced plot, Fear the Drowning Deep is a very quick and easy read! Just don’t start it when you need to be productive because it will catch your attention and hold it until you’ve read the very last page!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor | Spoiler Free Review

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Cover
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.
It did not end well.”
-Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
Genre: young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 422
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Published: September 27th, 2011
Amazon
iBooks
Audio
Goodreads

Synopsis From Goodreads:

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Coming from someone who is sick and tired of romance over-riding fantasy plots in books, this five star review is high praise! I literally cannot find fault with this book!
The quote at the top pretty much sums up the basic plot. An angel and a devil fall in love, and things end badly, but there is so much more depth to this story!
Karou makes an awesome main character! She knows nothing about where she came from at the beginning of the story. All she knows is that she’s caught between two worlds. One is made of magic, teeth, and monsters; the other is made of humans who can never know the truth. Karou keeps her secrets by telling the truth in such a way that people think she’s lying, which is a nice change. It seems that most fantasy characters simply weave a web of lies, but Karou hides behind a mask of sarcastically spoken truth.
The world building in Daughter of Smoke and Bone is super complex but blends almost seamlessly! In the beginning, Karou is part of two worlds: “Elsewhere,” where she spent her childhood, and the human world. However, her two worlds end up colliding with a third world: Akiva’s angelic realm. I can’t really continue with this train of thought because spoilers abound, but the way in which the three worlds meet is written very well. I don’t think I’ve ever known a book to juggle three worlds as well as Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
Something interesting is the way in which the “big reveal” was written. For the majority of the first half of the book, Karou has no idea where she came from, and that question is eventually answered through what is basically a giant flashback to her past. This kind of seemed like a writerly copout to me, but it also worked well in the situation. It was a little confusing to jump into another time and setting for a few chapters, but I honestly don’t know how it could’ve been done differently without altering the plot in a big way. I would typically knock off a star for something like this, but the writing was good enough that I decided to let it slide.
As you can probably tell, this is one of those books that you can’t really talk about without spoiling everything, so I’ll go on and end my review here. Overall, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is an excellent read, and I definitely recommend that you have the second book ready to go as soon as you finish it because… talk about a cliffhanger!