Blog Tour: Phoenix by Elizabeth Richards [Review + Guest Post + Giveaway!]

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Hello everyone! Today’s my stop in the Phoenix Philippine Blog Tour. It’s the very first blog tour I joined which makes this post special to me! 🙂

Phoenix

Title: Phoenix

Author: Elizabeth Richards

Published: June 4, 2013

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Pages: 368

Source: ARC provided by the author

Synopsis: 

Ash and Natalie are just starting to build a life together when things in the United Sentry States go from bad to worse. Ash and Natalie find themselves at the center of turmoil when dictator Purian Rose threatens Natalie’s life unless Ash votes in favor of Rose’s Law—a law that will send Darklings and other dissenters to a deadly concentration camp known as the Tenth.

When Ash can’t bring himself to trade Natalie’s life for those of millions of Darklings, her fate is sealed. Enter Elijah Theroux, the handsome Bastet boy Natalie once saved from her mother’s labs, where he’d been experimented on and tortured. It was his venom the Sentry used to create the lethal Golden Haze, the heart of the government conspiracy that led to Black City’s uprising and Ash’s rebirth as the Phoenix, the face of the rebellion. Elijah is back and Ash doesn’t like him; it’s clear he’s taken with Natalie, and Ash fears she may have feelings for him as well.

But Elijah also may have the answer to taking down Purian Rose for good—a powerful weapon called the Ora. Ash, Natalie and Elijah just have to escape Black City undetected to find it. But fleeing the city and finding this weapon (if it even exists) are easier said than done, and the quest could tear Ash and Natalie apart, even pushing them into the arms of others.

This enthralling sequel to Black City is just as absorbing, delicious and steamy as the first book, leaving readers hungry for the series conclusion.

*Image and synopsis from Goodreads 

My review: 

Phoenix takes off a few months after the horrible events in Black City such as the riot and Ash’s execution which he miraculously survived. Purian Rose, the wicked leader of the United Sentry States wants to pass a law that will segregate the Darklings from humans. He wants Ash to vote in favor of it; or else, Natalie will die. Torn between saving his people and the girl he loves, Ash is thrust into a very serious and complex situation that tests his loyalty to the Darklings and to Natalie. The whole premise of Rose’s Law has a hidden agenda that will shock readers at the moment of discovery. Soon, the war begins and citizens of the nation are forced to take sides to save their lives.

In Black City, readers witnessed the beginning of Ash and Natalie’s beautiful and alluring relationship. In Phoenix, on the other hand, that relationship deepens and evolves into a mature one. Despite the complicated circumstances in the story, Ash and Natalie showed how strong they are as a couple. Their relationship became rocky at some point yet both did not give up no matter how betrayed and hurt they felt. Now that is what you call true devotion. Readers will get to know more about Ash and Natalie in their internal monologues. Feelings of love, desire, heartbreak, grief, and bewilderment unfold their strengths and weaknesses in those monologues. Amid the difficult situations, there are of course sweet moments that will set readers’ hearts ablaze.

Reading the book was a grand adventure. Phoenix takes readers to dangerous and magnificent places in the United Sentry States that will leave them completely breathless. Each place Ash and Natalie went to with the sexy and gorgeous Bastet boy Elijah leads to startling revelations. Those scenes splintered my heart into pieces as I read them. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move. It felt like fiction became my reality. The emotions were so genuine and that’s one of the factors I look for in a book. I believe being real comes from within and I definitely can say that Elizabeth Richards wrote Phoenix with all her heart, making the book timeless and most of all, priceless.

Also, Phoenix wouldn’t be as spectacular as it is without the heart-stopping tension surrounding the story. There were lots of running, hiding, and bloody battle scenes! I kept pounding my bedside table as I felt tension wrapping its arms around me. My mouth unleashed an outburst of “WHAT”, “OMG” and “OH NO,” with each expression ending in infinite exclamation points. Add to that my facial expressions which made my mom curious as to what was happening to me. New characters are also introduced in Phoenix that added spice and spark to the story. Each fresh face has an essential role and contribution that made the plot twists and turns very appealing and intense.

Phoenix is a remarkable novel. I’m completely drawn to Elizabeth Richards’ powerful writing. The vivid descriptions painted clear and striking images in my mind. And the emotions embedded within the brilliantly crafted prose make the novel a magnificent work of art. Like The Sight, this amazing sequel to Black City will certainly enclose readers in an enthralling experience they’ll never forget. I seriously can’t wait for Book 3!

Rating:

5/5 stars

Guest post:

In today’s ‘Scenes That Inspired’ Elizabeth shares the building that was the inspiration behind Thrace’s infamous tiered-roof taverns, which appear in PHOENIX.

“Ash lifts the truck door, letting in a welcome blast of cool air, which smells of spices and herbs. We’re in Thrace’s bustling central market, which puts the one in Chantilly Lane to shame. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of round buildings made from red sandstone bricks. Many of the buildings have murals painted on the walls, so the city is a vision of color. But this isn’t what’s most striking. All the buildings have elaborately tiered roofs, covered in tiles made from a strange, shimmering metal I’ve never seen before. It’s highly polished and reflects the light, so the whole city seems to be glittering, like sunlight on the sea.”

–          From PHOENIX, page 238

THRACE

[Photo: © Amelia Vincent 2013]

 “Weirdly, the shape of Thrace’s famous taverns was inspired by this Buddhist Peace Pagoda in Milton Keynes. I loved the tiered roof, circular shape of the building, and the stone carvings on the wall, and wanted to incorporate it into my novel. However, I wanted the taverns to have a rustic-meets-futuristic feel, which is why they’re made from red sandstone bricks with hand-painted murals on them, but have these advanced-technology, solar paneled roofs.”

About the author:

Elizabeth Richards

Elizabeth Richards is an award-winning journalist, who spent her early career reviewing video games before making the bold (or crazy) move into travel writing, despite suffering from terrible travel sickness. In her spare time, she ran a successful lifestyle website aimed at teenage girls, where she got to interview many of her favorite bands, go to gigs and                                                       basically blag loads of free swag all in the name of ‘research’.

Elizabeth lives in Buckinghamshire, England, with her husband. BLACK CITY is her debut novel. The sequel, PHOENIX, is out on June 4, 2013.

Fun facts about…Elizabeth Richards 

  • She’s an identical twin…and yes, she is the evil one.
  • She’s part sloth.
  • She hopes to see 10 volcanoes before she dies. She’s already climbed Vesuvius, had lunch on top of Mount Etna and watched Stromboli erupt at night.
  • She’s a little bit obsessed with Daniel Radcliffe.
  • Some of her favorite TV shows are Buffy, Being Erica, and Extreme Couponing.
  • Her favorite authors are JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Beth Revis, Stephen Fry, and Veronica Roth.

GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

Prizes:

One paperback copy of Black City, One hardbound copy of Phoenix, and swag! Open INTERNATIONALLY. 🙂

Please click on the Rafflecopter link!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

SplinteredTitle: Splintered

Author: A.G. Howard

Published: January 1, 2013

Publisher: Amulet Books

Pages: 371

Source: Bought from Fully Booked

Synopsis:

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

*Image and synopsis from Goodreads

My review: 

From the moment I saw Splintered on blogs, I knew I had to read it. The cover oozes with absolute brilliance and mystery. The green, red and blue colors, as well as the striking eye of the blond girl, encompass a magnetic pull that will entice anyone who sees it. The words “Welcome to the real Wonderland” will compel readers to explore the intriguing world of this fictional masterpiece.

I loved the story. Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite childhood tales and reading Splintered transported me back to that world. I didn’t expect that the Wonderland in Splintered is dark, eerie and crazy. It is very different from the Wonderland I knew as a kid. But you know what?  I found it AWESOME. A.G. Howard did a fantastic job in constructing the world. The sequences of events in the book are wonderfully presented and the powerful, vibrant descriptions produced a cinematic effect in my imagination. I was also charmed by the impeccable and enchanting writing style. It enraptured me from the very beginning until the last sentence of Chapter 21. So beautifully written! To be honest I read this book in two weeks because I devoured every word. And by the time I finished reading, it was difficult for me to let go.

The madness started with the introduction of Alyssa’s character and her ability to hear voices of plants and insects. I really liked that the main character is presented alongside her intriguing gift. It immediately gives that creepy sensation that crawls on your skin until you’re cloaked with the spine-chilling mystery of the story. I’m always amazed by books that give readers “feels” right away, because it means they are in for a wonderful haunting experience.

So the story takes readers deep into the origin of Alyssa’s ability when she decides to embark on a quest for truth—about her identity and the supposed “curse” that runs in her family. And down the rabbit hole she goes…with the swoon-worthy, selfless and oh-so-handsome Jebediah Holt. Jeb is Alyssa’s best friend who she has a crush on since forever. In the course of their journey through Wonderland, their feelings toward each other were magnified. The passionate kisses and tender moments they shared will make your heart explode with giddiness. Believe me in this one because I caught myself blushing as I read those scenes. 🙂

Now enter Morpheus, the radiant and mystifying winged creature from Wonderland, who frequently visited Alyssa’s dreams when she was a child. Morpheus added flavor to the recipe of this stellar novel. His character’s alluring and daunting presence infused excitement and tension. Some readers may view him as a “villain,” with him being the backbone of conflicts and obstacles in the story. But for me, his manipulative nature is what makes him Morpheus. And even if I’m Team Jeb, there’s something about Morpheus that made me like him. I can’t fathom what that something is but I have a strong feeling that Morpheus is so much more than what I perceived him to be.

This gripping tale of madness and magic took me to a one of a kind adventure and I’m so thrilled there’s a sequel. That ending was a total cliffhanger! I’m so excited to read more!  🙂

Rating:

5/5 stars

Book Review: Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini

Touching the SurfaceTitle: Touching the Surface

Author: Kimberly Sabatini

Published: October 30, 2012

Publisher:  Simon Pulse

Pages: 352

Source: Won from a giveaway (Thanks to author Daisy Whitney! 🙂 )

Synopsis:

Experience the afterlife in this lyrical, paranormal debut novel that will send your heart soaring.When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have messed up, big-time. She doesn’t remember how she landed in the afterlife again, but she knows this is her last chance to get things right.

Elliot just wants to move on, but first she will be forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she’d rather keep buried. Memories of people she’s hurt, people she’s betrayed…and people she’s killed.

As she pieces together the secrets and mistakes of her past, Elliot must find a way to earn the forgiveness of the person she’s hurt most, and reveal the truth about herself to the two boys she loves…even if it means losing them both forever.

*Image and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

Touching the Surface is a unique and enthralling story about the afterlife. Although it falls under the paranormal genre, it has a firm grasp of the complex realities of life. Each character in the story deals with issues from their previous lives that they have to understand in order to move on. The “delves” or the flashbacks of the characters’ lives showed their vulnerabilities and explained how they are connected to each other. The concept of delving is such a powerful element. Because of the delves, the holes at the beginning of the story have been filled.

I found it very interesting that the souls in the Obmil (the afterlife world) have specific scents to distinguish them from one another. Cool, right? Another thing is that they can manifest whatever scenery they have in mind!  I commend Kimberly Sabatini for her remarkable creation of a breathtaking afterlife world. *A STANDING OVATION PLEASE* 🙂

Elliot, Trevor, and Oliver are wonderful and unforgettable characters. But I have to say that Elliott is the character I was really drawn to, not because she’s the main character but because she resembles a part of me. Elliot’s courage to face her fears led her to learn how to forgive and most of all, to have faith in herself. There are times I lose faith in myself and after reading this book, I felt empowered to just let go and believe that everything will be okay. That I will be okay. Now I feel stronger and more ready to face any obstacle that will come my way because I believe I can.

Thank you for this wonderful book, Kimberly Sabatini. You’re an amazing writer! I look forward to reading your next book. 🙂

Rating:

4/5 stars

Book Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass

Title: The EliteImage

Author: Kiera Cass

Published: April 23, 2013

Publisher: Harper Teen

Pages: 323

Source: Bought from National Book Store

Synopsis:

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

*Image and synopsis from Goodreads 

My review:

The Elite is one of my most anticipated reads this year and I’m glad it didn’t disappoint.

Six girls are left in The Selection and the competition has gotten more intense. This sequel has a lot of drama and tension going on in Illea as well as with the characters.

America’s fickle-mindedness is scattered all throughout the book. One minute she’s all about Maxon, and the next minute she’s so into Aspen. Annoying, right? If she were real, I’d totally slap her in the face. However, I found America’s fickle-mindedness an interesting trait. Why? Because it shows that she uses both her mind and heart in making decisions. If I were in her shoes, I’d probably be indecisive too. Come on, it’s very difficult to choose between two amazing guys—your first love and a dashing prince. The first one broke your heart and wants to win you back. On the other hand, the latter is someone who would choose to get hurt than see the girl he loves get hurt. This you will see toward the end of the story. I really can’t blame America for being so confused about her feelings for both of them.

The Elite gives readers the best of Maxon and Aspen. Readers will get to know more about their intentions, their attitudes and other qualities that make them fascinating characters.

America’s actions were at times insensitive and it’s okay for me. She’s seventeen years old and adolescence is a stage where our imperfections shine. We all make different kinds of mistakes—stupid, thoughtless, self-centered, to name a few. They’re part of growing up. I really like that Kiera Cass wrote the book in an incredibly frustrating and puzzling atmosphere that is America’s mind. It definitely reflects how teens are nowadays when faced with difficult situations.

I think The Elite is a great starting point towards America’s maturity. I believe that her mistakes made her a stronger character at the end of the book. The hope that occasionally surfaced amid all the chaos is what motivated her to fight for what she believes in, to fight to make a difference. And through her, Illea could be a better and strong-willed nation.

As for the guys, well, I am Team Maxon. Though Aspen’s big heart clearly tells America that he loves her, I’m rooting for the prince. I loved Maxon more in this book! Even if he hasn’t told America that he loves her, his actions did. Actions speak louder than words, right? 🙂 Another reason that I’m Team Maxon is that he and America totally complement each other. America brought out the light, funny side of Maxon and in return, brought out the leader in America. Both of them will make, not only a strong couple, but also influential leaders of a country. I just hope that in The One, America will start to believe in herself and realize her potential as a princess. She must not allow her fear of the crown overpower her abilities. Maxon believes in her and with his full support, I think America will do a good job as a princess.

Secrets about the history of Illea will also be revealed in this book. God, those revelations stunned me! I didn’t expect them to be that cruel! I hope this will be discussed further in The One.

The Elite is an incredible and riveting sequel. I’m so excited to find out how the series will end!

 Rating:

4/5 stars

Book Review: Black City by Elizabeth Richards

ImageTitle: Black City

Author: Elizabeth Richards

Published: November 13, 2012

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons BYR

Pages: 374

Source: Won from a Twitter giveaway (Thank you Elizabeth! 🙂 )

Synopsis: 

A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war.

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.

When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths

*Image and synopsis from Goodreads 

My review: 

This breathtaking dystopian/paranormal romance story got me hooked from the very first page. The intriguing world of Black City as well as the unique and intense love story of Ash and Natalie totally lured me. Scenes were perfectly woven together and the pacing is really good. It’s not too fast and not too slow, which I really like in books because readers could easily follow and connect the dots.

The writing is flawless–words are all effortlessly beautiful. I love that it is written in alternate points of view because readers get to understand how Ash and Natalie truly feel and think. Elizabeth Richards, thank you for giving your readers the chance to experience the world of Black City through the eyes of Ash and Natalie. Both of them are amazing and well-developed characters with strong voices and personalities. They’re so different, yet so perfect for each other.

Be ready for suspenseful, unexpected plot twists and turns! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time!

Black City is a story brimming with sparkling magnificence, blazing fierceness, and forbidden yet genuine and passionate love. This book will always have a special place in my heart. 🙂

Rating:

5/5 stars