Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Emma Raveling's Ondine Quartet - Review

Hello there!

I was recently picked to be a part of Emma's Elites, a group of lucky readers and bloggers who get to help Emma Raveling promote her works. So, in honor of this, I decided to do a huge (HUGE) post dedicated to reviewing the three books already released in the series! If you brave this entire post, there's a treat for you at the end! ;)

First up! Whirl
Outspoken and independent, Kendra Irisavie has always played by her own rules.

She's an ondine, a water elemental gifted with the powerful magic of Empath Virtue and trained to be a fighter. Pursued by Aquidae demons, she and her mother remain Rogue, hiding among humans to avoid becoming casualties in an ancient war.

Everything changes when violence erupts on Kendra's seventeenth birthday. A dark stranger appears, promising answers to her mysterious past and stirring unexpected feelings in her fiercely guarded heart.

But as Kendra uncovers the truth about her heritage and future, she realizes just how deep the lies and deception run.

Now, in the face of unthinkable odds, she will need all her wits, skills, and magic to fulfill an extraordinary prophecy.

The first in a sweeping urban fantasy series, Whirl is the beginning of a young woman's exhilarating journey for survival, love, and hope as she fights for her place in a world where she doesn't belong.

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Firstly, I have to say that I loved this book, plain and simple. I downloaded it on a whim while perusing on Amazon and I couldn't be any more grateful to impulse-buying Jasmine. The characters are well-developed, the world a wonderful mix of our reality and the great mythos that Raveling has created with Ondines, Selkies, and humans, and the plot well paced and interesting. I remember finishing it late at night and being so sad that the sequel was planned for far in the future.

The things that stood out to me while reading Whirl were the characters and the world building. Kendra is a sometimes frustrating, often reckless, always entertaining character. Fueled by young and naive ideas of revenge and strength, you worry for her in the beginning before you realize you are rooting for her in the end. Her stubbornness sometimes had be growling in frustration but her feisty character and (albeit a little slowly) growing maturity is creates a character with which I fell in love. Her growth in the novel, and throughout the series, is exceptional and pleasure to read.

And Tristan... phew. Tristan is a wonderful counterpart to Kendra and a swoon worthy character on his own. Calm, collected, and lethal, Tristan is a Selkie warrior and attempts to help Kendra whenever he can (even when she doesn't realize she needs it). Their chemistry is out of this world. Both Kendra and her relationship with Tristan (platonic or otherwise - NO SPOILERS!) reminded me a lot of Rose and Dimitri from Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy and Alex and Aiden from Jennifer L. Armentrout's Covenant series, but the thing that makes Kendra and Tristan so great is also how they interact with their spectacularly built world. Kendra's revealed role in the future of this world and Tristan's established (although unwanted) position of leadership put them in prime position to attempt to tackle the obstacles they, and the readers, know are ahead.

Raveling has created a magical world within the one we all know and love, filled with lore about magically gifted Ondines, warrior demillirs, mysterious and shape-shifting Selkies, and other, more powerful and mystical characters. Both the Ondines and the Selkies have their own societies within this hidden world that are a wonder to discover. The world building is deep and believable and only supports her strong characters to make an amazing story.

Amazing main characters, great world building, along with well-developed secondary characters and hints at an overarching, high-stakes prophecy creates a story that will leave readers begging for more (and lucky for you, the next two books, Billow and Crest, are already out!).


Next up! Billow
It has been six months since ondine Kendra Irisavie arrived in Haverleau, the hidden capital of the water elemental world.

Six months since she discovered her destiny as the sondaleur and a series of devastating events left behind their mark. Now, as she enters the chevalier elite program in her final year at Lumiere Academy, Kendra continues forward on her prophesied journey against the Shadow. Obsessed with what she must do to keep those around her safe, she struggles to balance her powerful magic and the demands of her fate with the challenges of friendship, the complications of romance, and the bonds of family.

Meanwhile, the threat of the Shadow looms larger. Kendra and her friends investigate a series of puzzling human and elemental disappearances in the city of Lyondale and uncover a horrifying tactic used by the Aquidae in the war. When danger strikes close to home, Kendra must separate the truths from the lies and choose who and what to believe.

Even if it means facing what she fears the most.

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Billow is a wonderful sequel to Whirl. Stakes are raised and everything changes in this novel.

Kendra begins to realize the weight she actually carries and how much sway she has on the future of not only her friends and loved ones but also for her entire race and community. We get more hints of how her destiny fits in with the more powerful beings that oversea this world. It is fascinating to see how she reacts to each of these realizations and highlights her strength, spirit, and stubbornness.

And to balance that out, of course, is Tristan. In a slightly different role in the novel, his place as kindred spirit and confidante established, their relationship in Billow is more mature but no less tortured. They are first and foremost a comfort to one another and I can't express how happy that makes me, shipping aside.

While the world-building continues to be spectacular in Billow, I think the second highest point in this piece are the secondary characters. Aubrey, Ian, Cam, Julian - they all only add to this amazing world and character. Jordain, the powerful figure in charge of the Ondines, also makes significant appearances in Billow, adding not only to Kendra's burden but also to the overall lore in Raveling's world.

I couldn't wait to read Billow after Whirl and I wasn't disappointed. It wasn't what I was expecting but it was exactly what was needed, I think, before the epicness that is Crest. A great read and sequel.

And now... Crest!

Illusion. Power. Identity.

Tensions are reaching a fever pitch everywhere Kendra Irisavie turns.

Darkness settles over elementals as a new threat stirs suspicions of a betrayal from within. Details of recent events spread through Haverleau, prompting doubts over Irisavie leadership. The mysterious Selkie Kingdom finally opens its doors, but the gesture only fans the flames of division.

And despite the perils involved, Kendra finds it difficult to ignore the demands of her heart.

As the body count rises, pressure also grows to shift the tides of war. The sondaleur is on the hunt, but tracking the Aquidae leader is the greatest challenge she's ever faced. With the Shadow playing a deadly game of obsession and horror, Kendra's best chance to win is to unravel a tangled web of deception spanning back to the origins of the elemental world.

Nothing is what it seems and the closer she gets to the truth, the more dangerous her pursuit for answers becomes.

When the unthinkable happens, Kendra must decide if survival is worth the sacrifice.

Conflicting loyalties, fierce passions, and irrevocable choices ignite in the electrifying third installment of the Ondine Quartet.

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Forewarning: I really, really enjoyed this book; much fangirl-ing and gushing ahead.

Also, characters have developed, therefore there might be light SPOILERS ahead for some. Go finish Whirl and Billow! Now, onward!

Crest was the perfect continuation of Emma Raveling's Ondine Quartet. Romance, action, and intrigue combine to create an amazing story that grabs you from beginning to end, and will make you want the last book even that much more (if you thought that was even possible).

Kendra is perhaps one of my favorite characters in anything I have ever read. She is headstrong and brave but also becoming increasingly aware of her flaws. Her development throughout the series is something to behold. With each experience, good and bad, she becomes stronger and more willing to take on all the responsibilities that were thrown at her in the last two installments of the quartet. And this development would not have been able to happen, and would not be the same, without Tristan.

Tristan is, befittingly, probably one of my favorite male characters in anything I have ever read (power couple!?). While his character and deeds are usually seen in a noble light from Kendra's point of view, Tristan constantly acts in a way that supports all of the trust and respect that Kendra feels towards him. Their relationship in this novel is fraught with many obstacles but works to strengthen their characters both as individuals and as a political, as well as *SPOILER* romantic, partnership.

The other characters are explored in Crest as well. Secondary characters became much more real and influential to me (and to Kendra), becoming friends and allies that are capable of having their own part in the large scale conflict that is being forced upon them by The Shadow. They invite readers to become that much more invested in their actions and the consequences and I cannot wait to see what Breaker will bring for them.

In Crest we are introduced to the mystical Selkie kingdom and I love how Raveling created such a developed, fantastic world. All the societies introduced in this series are great but the Selkie Kingdom has a special place in my heart (as it does on many of the characters). This also allowed for us to finally have Kendra interact with Dax, Tristan's brother, and Ancelin, Tristan's father. We also encounter some more powerful, mystical forces that are tied with the lore Raveling has created around Ondine's, chevaliers, guardinals, etc. and why everything in this world works the way it does. I really enjoyed getting a look at the history of the magic and hints at what is going to happen in order for Kendra to (hopefully) prevail.

One of the things I liked most in this book in comparison to the others are the hints that Raveling has placed as to what is to come. I love trying to figure out all the clues, though for the life of me, Raveling still has me in the dark about what is to come (kudos). Kendra is becoming more aware of the role she is going to have to play, both through her own growth but also through the help of other forces. I can't wait to find out exactly who these other forces are and how Kendra's interactions with them will play out in the final installment.

Overall, I loved Crest (could you tell?). With wonderfully developed, and ever-developing, characters, fantastic world building, and complicated and intriguing lore, this book invites you along for the continuation of Kendra's journey and will make you wait in anticipation for more.
So there you go! A giant master post of the Ondine Quartet thus far. Kudos to you if you managed to finish all that *virtual thumbs up*. And as a present, here is a teaser from the fourth and final book, Breaker!
__________

A tall, thin shadow separated from the line of trees and emerged from the darkness. Coarse, dark hair was messily tied back and a full beard now concealed his jawline. His leathery, tanned skin blended into the night.

“Why the hell are you following—“

He moved fast. I caught a streak of silver before cold metal pressed against my forehead.

Ray cocked his gun. “How do I know you are who you say you are?”


Moonlight shifted, catching the paranoia flashing through his eyes. Sudden moves were clearly out of the question.
__________

Gah, I can't wait until Breaker is released.

Find out more about Emma and her works here: http://emmaraveling.com

Emma Raveling writes a wide variety of fiction for teens and adults. She is the author of the young adult urban / contemporary fantasy series, the Ondine Quartet, and Lost Blood, the first installment of the forthcoming young adult urban fantasy series, Chancer. She’s also working on the first book in her new Steel Magic series for adults.

An avid traveler hopelessly addicted to diet coke and coffee, she currently resides in Honolulu, Hawaii with her husband and German shepherd.


Happy reading!

Jasmine

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cover Reveal: FRENCH KISSED by Chanel Cleeton

One of my favorite New Adult series is the International School series by Chanel Cleeton.  We are introduced to small town American Maggie Carpenter as she attends the International School in London and the adventures (and trouble) she manages to get herself into while there.  The books are filled with the whimsy of a foreign, but believable, setting and when combined with witty, funny, infuriating, and wonderful characters, becomes a must-read.  I SEE LONDON was a wonderful start and was followed by the fantastic (and oh so swoon worthy) sequel LONDON FALLING.  Information on these beauts can be found later in the post - check them out so we can swoon at Samir together!

Anyway, you can only imagine my excitement when I heard that the series wasn't quite over!  Told from the point of view of sexy, sassy Fleur, best friend to Maggie, the third and final book in the series, FRENCH KISSED, comes out on December 1st.  So close yet so far... *grabby hands* 

And guess what?  

I have a cover for you!

Without further adieu, here is all the information about the fantastic finale to the International School series! 


Synopsis: 

On the surface Fleur Marceaux has it all—if only the fa├žade matched reality. With one year left at the International School in London, Fleur’s struggling to graduate, her love life is a mess, and she can’t stop thinking about Max, her ex-boyfriend’s best friend. But all of that pales compared to the blackmailer determined to destroy her.

There’s a social hierarchy at the International School, and Max Tucker is outside the velvet ropes. After watching Fleur break his friend’s heart, Max knows to stay away from trouble—despite the crush he’s had on her since freshman year. But when they’re partnered on a project, Max learns there’s more to Fleur than meets the eye, and she just might be worth the wild ride.

The more time they spend together, the further Max falls. And when a kiss awakens a passion Fleur never imagined, she’s unable to resist Max, who she thought was wrong for her, but might be the only thing that’s right.

But will he stand by her when her secrets are revealed?

Don’t miss the final book in the International School series. This New Adult romance is recommended for readers 17 and up.


Just look at that beautiful cover!

And just in case you're now so excited you can't handle it, here are some teasers starring our two new main characters! 



Holy abs, Batman!

Add that book, you know you want to!  And if you haven't already read the first two books in the International School series, make sure to check them out here! 

I SEE LONDON (International School Book 1)



LONDON FALLING (International School Book 2)


Originally a Florida girl, CHANEL CLEETON moved to London where she received a bachelor’s degree from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Chanel fell in love with London and planned to stay there forever, until fate intervened on a Caribbean cruise, and an American fighter pilot with smooth dance moves swept her off her feet. Now, a happily ever after later, Chanel is living her next adventure in South Korea.
Law school made Chanel realize she’d rather spend her days writing sexy stories than in a courtroom, and she hasn’t looked back since. An avid reader and hopeless romantic, she’s happiest curled up with a book. She has a weakness for handbags, her three pups, and her fighter pilot husband. Chanel writes New Adult contemporary romances and thrillers.
She is the author of I SEE LONDON and LONDON FALLING, published by Harlequin HQN, the upcoming FRENCH KISSED, and FLIRTING WITH SCANDAL, the first book in a new three-book NA series to be released by Penguin/Berkley in 2015.

AUTHOR LINKS:


Introductions!

Hello!

As my first post on this blog I would like to introduce myself, what I like to read, and what this blog will consist of in the future!

Firstly, some stuff about me.  *waves*  My name is Jasmine.  I am a senior at the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in English and minoring in Creative Writing.  I hope to someday work in Young Adult publishing in marketing or editing.  Along with reading and writing, I also tap danced for 13 years, played volleyball for 7 years, and have done marching and concert band for the past 11 years, including the University of California Marching Band!  (I play the mellophone and French horn, if anyone was curious.) 

I have always loved to read and my passion began in fantasy and science fiction (Secrets of Droon, for any 90s kids out there?) but has expanded  to encompass many genres.  Now I enjoy reading Young Adult (anything, really), New Adult (contemporary, specifically), and Adult (again, about anything).  

In the tabs above you'll find lists of my favorite reads separated by category (all of which are created equal, of course).  I'll try to add to these lists as I read so that if you have a fancy for something in particular, like I sometimes do, you'll hopefully have a list of great books from which to choose!  There is also a tab for recommendations, a sort of If You Liked This, Try This type thing, which will also hopefully aid you in your search for wonderful reads! 

Along with documenting my own favorite reads, I plan to review and promote books on this blog as well.  These reviews and promotions will extend through all the genres I enjoy reading and I hope that they will get you excited and interested in upcoming releases as well as introduce you to titles you may not have considered.  

I hope that this blog will become a place where readers can come and find new and exciting reads and share in their love (and my love) of books!

Cheers!

Jasmine 

P.S. Sorry about the excessive use of exclamation points but I'm excited to start this journey! Yeeeee! 

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jashodge13
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jashodge