Book Review: Secret by Brigid Kemmerer

Secret (Elemental, #4)

Title: Secret (Elementals #4)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Magic, Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Allen & Unwin (Australia), Kensington Teen (US)
Publication Date: January 2014
Pages: 375
Rating: 4.5 stars

Note: The Australian edition of Secret contains Nick’s novella, Breathless, which introduces the dynamic between Nick and Quinn as well as Adam.

Synopsis (from goodreads):

Nick Merrick is stretched to breaking point. He’s trying to keep his grades sky-high or he won’t get in to college. He’s trying to keep his brother’s business afloat or the Merricks will be out on the street. He’s trying to keep the secret of where he’s going in the evenings from his twin brother Gabriel – or he fears he’ll lose his family. And he’s trying to keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who is his ‘girlfriend’s’ partner.

And then Quinn takes to hanging around his sworn enemy, and an Elemental Guide is counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers. Storms are brewing. On all sides.

SECRETS IN THE WIND. DANGER IN THE AIR.

My Review:

Nick Merrick has been keeping a secret. He’s been having feelings for his girlfriend’s male dance partner and Quinn is the only one who knows. But Quinn has a secret of her own. Her homelike has been getting worse by the day and she feels like she can’t tell everyone just how bad things are with her mother and older brother. The Guides are getting closer and the threat to the Elemental Merrick brothers is imminent. With Tyler, a local teen who has been torturing the brothers for years, popping up and Nick’s secret growing heavy on him, Nick needs to decide who he can trust before things get out of his control.

I’ve been a fan of this series since I read the first book, Storm, and I get more attached to the Merrick clan with each new instalment. This book focuses on the romantic relationships between Nick and Adam as well as Quinn and Tyler. I do enjoy the romance in this series and it felt like it was going back to the start where more of the focus in the novel was romance and less drama. However I found myself missing some of the action and excitement that the Guides bring. In many ways the prologue felt slightly out-of-place – with a discussion between the Guide which caused Hunter so much pain in Spirit but then not being addressed for the rest of the novel.

Whilst the title of this book doesn’t follow the Elemental aspect of previous books, Secret is a perfectly fitting title. Near all the characters in this novel have secrets that they don’t know how to handle. From Nick’s sexuality to Quinn’s family and the part of himself that Tyler is keeping hidden from the world – the theme of secrets was beautifully reiterated throughout the book. One of the things I liked most about this book was how supportive the majority of characters were when faced with other’s secrets.

Overall I enjoyed this book. This novel was a pleasure to read and with a few surprises that I was not expecting (I can’t wait to see the fallout from the ending).  With the focus being more on romance and relationships as opposed to the Elementals vs. Guides battle, Secret felt like it was laying a lot of ground work for the next book in the series. There’s a lot up in the air (no Air Elemental pun intended!),  I can not wait for Michael’s story, Sacrifice.

 Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Check out my reviews for the other books in the Elemental series:

Storm (Elementals #1)

Spark (Elementals #2)

Spirit (Elementals #3)

Novellas: Elemental (Elementals #0.5), Fearless (Elementals #1.5), Breathless (Elementals #2.5)

Top Ten Tuesday: BEST SEQUELS EVER!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

The topic for this week is: Top Ten BEST SEQUELS EVER! 

Oh yes…. capital letters on purpose! I love a good sequel. Here are the top ten that came to mind… But ones I LOVED!

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)Series: Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas
Sequel: Crown of Midnight [my review]
Why I Loved it?: I loved the first one but the second book was everything I loved from the first book PLUS MORE! More action, more romance, more bloodthirsty Caelana being in assassin mode… HIGHLY recommend it.

Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2)Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Sequel: Days of Blood and Starlight [my review]
Why I Loved it?: Beautifully written, this second instalment was exciting and amazing. I loved the deeper look at the creatures and Karou’s past.

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2)Series: Blood of Eden by Julie Kagawa
Sequel: The Eternity Cure [my review]
Why I Loved it?: The first book, The Immortal Rules, did a great job at laying the groundwork but this book was so EXCITING! I loved Jackal and how Allie has grown throughout the book. Can’t wait for the third book!

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)Series: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Sequel: Scarlet [my review]
Why I Loved it?: I fell in love with Cinder and to be honest – I was worried that the second book wouldn’t live up to my expectations. But it exceeded them. We got to see all the stuff that I loved from the first book and got to meet some brilliant new characters. When does the third book, Cress come out? Way too far awaay if you ask me 😛

Scent of Magic  (Healer #2)Series: Healer by Maria V Snyder
Sequel: Scent of Magic [my review]
Why I Loved it?: It may have been a bit of a filler novel to bridge the gap between one of my FAVOURITE first in a series books (Touch of Power) and what promises to be a brilliant third book – however it was great. I love these characters! I don’t think there are many character who are both healers and super kick-arse as Avry is.

Anne of Avonlea (Anne of Green Gables, #2)Series: Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
Sequel: Anne of Avonlea
Why I Loved it?: I loved Anne-with-an-E when I was growing up and this was a great series. It’s one that I can mark my childhood against. I can remember where I was the first time I read parts of it and loved growing up with Anne.

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Series: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Sequel: Catching Fire
Why I Loved it?: The first book made such an impression on me but it was the second book that truly made me fall in love. Finnick was the best character in this series! And the events of this book…. fantastic!

Spark (Elementals, #2)Series: Elementals by Brigid Kemmerer
Sequel: Spark [my review]
Why I Loved it?: I love all the books in this series. It’s much like the adult paranormal romance books I read in terms of each book is about another pairing rather than the urban fantasy series that keep following the same main characters. Spark follows the hot-headed Merrick brother, Gabriel. He’s fantastic. I love this series! Can’t wait for Secret which is released in early 2014.

The Golden Lily (Bloodlines, #2)Series: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Sequel: The Golden Lily [my review]
Why I Loved it?: Sydney gets better with each instalment. And Adrian? Oh my… I know I’m a little Richelle Mead obsessed but I can’t wait for the fourth book, The Fiery Heart which is released November 19, 2013.

The Awakening (Darkest Powers, #2)Series: The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong
Sequel: The Awakening [my review]
Why I Loved it?: I love Kelley Armstrong. She’s a Canadian author who writes fantastic urban fantasy novels. The Darkest Powers trilogy is set in the same universe as her adult series, Women of the Otherworld, but revolves around young adults instead. Chloe is just coming into her powers in the first book (The Reckoning) but by the time the second book starts – she’s embracing the young woman she’s starting to be. A great set of secondary cast members, this book really comes into its own.

I love sequels. I’d love to see which books you love and are on your lists this week!

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Novella Review: Breathless by Brigid Kemmerer

I think I’m going to have to reconsider my former statement on not liking novellas. Because the novellas in the Elemental series (Elemental #0.5, Fearless #1.5 and now Breathless #2.5) are incredible!

Since this story was so short and sweet my review will be too.

Title: Breathless (Elementals #2.5)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Magic
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: 30 April 2013 
Pages: 65
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Too many secrets. Not enough time.

Nick Merrick is supposed to be the level-headed one. The peacemaker. Since it’s just him and his three hot-headed brothers against the world, that’s a survival tactic.

But now he’s got problems even his brothers can’t help him survive.

His so-called girlfriend, Quinn, is going quick as mercury from daring to crazy. Meanwhile, Quinn’s dancer friend Adam is throwing Nick off balance, forcing him to recognize a truth he’d rather shove back into the dark.

He can feel it—-the atmosphere is sizzling. Danger is on the way. But whatever happens next, Nick is starting to find out that sometimes nothing you do can keep the peace.

My Review:

Everytime I read a story from the Elementals series I find myself finding a new favourite character. After finishing Spark (Elementals #2) I was hooked on Gabriel but now it’s his twin, Nick, that I can’t get enough of.

A true testament to Brigid’s writing that a novella of only 65 pages could leave such a profound impression on me.

Nick – the responsible Merrick brother – has a decision to make. Does he stay close by to be there for his family or does he take the chance and break out on his own and go to a college far away when he can just be Nick – and not just known as Gabriel’s brother.

His sort-of girlfriend, Quinn, is making Nick even more uncomfortable with feelings of insecurity, uncertainty and a dash of guilt but he wants to be there for her. He is her sounding board and the perfect gentleman despite her (possibly deserved) reputation as being easy with her affection. And then there’s Adam – Quinn’s dancing partner who is there for Quinn no matter what… and if Nick let’s him would be there for him too.

There’s so much more that happens in this story but I really don’t want to divulge anything too spoilery. It’s just that good! Breathless left me breathless (pardon the pun). It’s short and sweet and has me craving the more of the somewhat forgotten Merrick brother!

Spirit (Elemental #3) comes out on May 28th.

Purchase the ebook from:

Amazon


Book Review: Spark by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: Spark (Elementals #2)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Magic
Publisher: Kensington (I received an ARC from NetGalley)
Publication Date: August 2012 (Allen & Unwin are publishing Spark in Australia in October 2012)
Pages: 432
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Gabriel Merrick plays with fire. Literally.

Sometimes he can even control it. And sometimes he can’t. Like the fire that killed his parents.

Gabriel has always had his brothers to rely on, especially his twin, Nick. But when an arsonist starts wreaking havoc on their town, all the signs point to Gabriel. Only he’s not doing it.

More than Gabriel’s pride is at stake — this could cost him his family, maybe his life. And no one seems to hear him. Except a shy sophomore named Layne, a brainiac who dresses in turtlenecks and jeans and keeps him totally off balance. Layne understands family problems, and she understands secrets. She has a few of her own.

Gabriel can’t let her guess about his brothers, about his abilities, about the danger that’s right at his heels. But there are some risks he can’t help taking.

The fuse is lit…

My Review:

I was excited to read Spark. Gabriel captivated my attention in Storm with his intensity and troubled bad boy vibe. He’s gone though a lot in his life – from having to always be on the look out for people trying to persecute his and his family for being elementals to feeling immense guilt for the way his parents died and not protecting his brothers. Gabriel is one great big ball of teenage angst with one outlet for his rage. Fire. And plus, look how gorgeous the Allen and Unwin cover is!

The element speaks to him. From the vibrations of electrical cables in the walls to the power he can draw from the sun. The energy calls to him and wants him to fully immerse himself in its flames. When Gabriel’s maths teacher finds out that Gabriel can’t manage to do a single equation and his identical twin brother, Nick, impersonates Gabriel on test days, Gabriel goes from getting A’s to failing. That is unless he can manage to get a passing grade on the next test.

Gabriel needs to get himself a tutor and finds on in the form of bookishly shy Layne who for the majority of the time tries to keep to herself just so no one finds out her secret. But Gabriel has secrets of his own and when the town has a string of arson attacks, not even Gabriel’s brothers believe in his innocence .

It makes perfect sense to me that the hot-headed Merrick brother is the one that controls (or is it controlled by?) the element of fire. I was a little worried that Gabriel would be so angsty that I’d be turned off but somehow his attitudes and views just made me like him even more… and want to give the boy a hug. Layne was a character that I started off really disliking. I know not all character can (or should) be strong independent women but on first impressions I was not a fan. And now that I’ve finished reading the book I realize that why she may not be a character that I liked she was perfect for Gabriel. I think he needs a calming influence in his life and by the end I appreciated how she balanced him out.

One of my favourite parts of this novel was the relationships between the brothers.  I like how they interact with each other. Things are complicated and messy but beneath everything you can tell just how much they care for each other. The new romantic relationships that the other brothers are embarking on are great to read too. I’d love to know more about Michael’s relationship but I’m wondering if it would be more suited to a novella.

I can not wait to read the next novel in the series, Spirit. 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Novellas Review: Elemental AND Fearless by Brigid Kemmerer

It’s a fact that I’m not the hugest novella fan. And because of this I don’t tend to read a lot of them. But this week I’ve read not only the prequel novella, Elemental, but also the short interlude involving Hunter, Fearless – both from the Elemental series by Brigid Kemmerer.

Because the stories are short and sweet my reviews will also be concise:)

 

Title: Elemental (Elementals #0.5)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Magic
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: March 2012 
Pages: 50
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Earth, Fire, Air, Water – they are more than you dream.

As an air Elemental, 17-year-old Emily Morgan doesn’t have much power. That’s okay—she knows what happens to kids who do.

Like Michael Merrick. He’s an earth Elemental, one with enough power to level cities. Which makes him sexy. Dangerous. And completely off-limits. At least according to Emily’s family.

But her summer job puts her in close contact with Michael, and neither of them can help the attraction they feel. When forces of nature like theirs collide, one misstep could get someone killed. Because Emily’s family doesn’t just want her to stay away from him.

They want him dead.

My Review:

Mini-golf and batting cages. Emily Morgan’s summer job at the sports complex could not be more boring. With an average of two customers a day, her time is filled with singing show tunes and trying to survive the intense summer heat and counting down the days until she has enough money to escape and perform on Broadway.

That is until Michael Merrick starts stopping by after his job at his family’s landscaping company to use the batting cages. After a misunderstanding involving her golf club and his head…  the two come to a somewhat uncomfortable compromise. He can get his batting practice and she won’t tell her family that she’s associating with one of the Merricks. Emily’s brother Tyler would like nothing more than Michael and people like him dead.

Whilst the Morgans have weak ties to certain elements, the Merricks are can control the Earth, Fire, Air and Water and because of this many in society consider them to be dangerous. And dangerous things need to be destroyed.

This story is one that I wish I’d read before I read Storm. This novella explains why Michael is so bitter towards the world and why he considers anyone except for family as the enemy.

The brothers interactions with each other are one of my favourite things about this series. The boys are typical teenage boys despite the supernatural abilities they have to control the elements. Fighting in the hallways and other sibling stuff that may seem mundane to some just added a sense of realism to the story for me.

I also loved the banter between Emily and Michael. The way they talk and the descriptions of each other are the stuff that make me anticipate Michael’s story – if he gets one.

It was surprising to me just how sad I found it and how attached I got to Michael and Emily’s story over such few pages. There’s a bit of a mystery at the end and I think it’s a great read for anyone who wants a little more back story to the Elemental series.

Elemental is included in the paperback copy of Storm in the US edition but can also be purchased as an ebook.

Purchase the ebook from:

Amazon

Title: Fearless (Elementals #1.5)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Magic
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: July 2012 
Pages: 44
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Being a force of nature doesn’t keep you safe.

Hunter Garrity is used to watching his back. The kids at school sense something different about him. And they’re right.

Hunter has powers that have nothing to do with how hard he can throw a punch.

Maybe that’s what Clare Kasten is picking up. She’s shy, quiet, and intense, but she’s sought him out. There’s no telling what she wants from him.

But Hunter knows enough to sense a secret when it’s close. And getting close to Clare is a danger he’s ready to face…

My Review:

Hunter Garrity, a Spirit Elemental, is one that I adored from the first time he and his crystal bracelets and his gorgeous ex-police dog, Kasper. This is a little story that occurs before he moves and gets involved with Becca and the Merrick’s drama and it shows a different side from the character I was familiar with. He’s somewhat innocent and naive to the ways of the world.

School hasn’t been kind to Hunter and he’s used to being tormented by the other kids. So it’s a surprise to him when Clare Kasten follows him home from school one day. He’s shocked that a girl would want to get to know him but he decides to answer her questions and get to know her better.

Hunter should have listened to his father and his number one rule regarding women – use them before they can use you…

It’s interesting to see Hunter with his family. Despite having his parents and uncle in his life he’s still not happy. His mother’s business is one that he’s ashamed over and he resents having his ability but not being able to help his father and uncle with their secret missions. But – even though this novel is only 44 pages – you can see the development of Hunter from naive boy to an adult who has been jaded by the world.

Purchase the ebook from:

Amazon


Book Review: Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: Storm (Elementals #1)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Magic
Publisher: Allen & Unwin (Also published by Kensington)
Publication Date: May 2012 
Pages: 368
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Earth. Fire. Air. Water.

When Becca Chandler saves Chris Merrick from being beaten-up in the school car park, she has no idea how dramatically this one action will change her life. Chris is no ordinary guy and neither are his three older brothers. The Merrick boys are Elementals. Hot. Powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

Then there’s Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time. With her life at stake, Becca doesn’t know who to trust or whose secrets she should keep. and with two boy vying for her affections, and pressure rising all around her, will she find out in time who’s hiding the most dangerous truth of all?

Take Cover.
The storm is coming!

My Review:

Every bookstore I’ve been into in the last few weeks has had a big display of this book. And when there’s that much hype about a book (and when I’m at my most paranoid and am convinced said book is following me about) I know I have to check it out.

Storm had me captivated from the first chapter. After skipping out on a boring self-defence class (and wasting $60!), Becca Chandler discovers a some guys beating up Chris Merrick in the car park. With a flat phone battery and no way to call for help what does Becca do? Find someone to assist with breaking up the fight? Run away? Neither. Becca jumps in her car and tries to run the bad guys off with her elite driving skills… I fell in love with Becca from this moment on.

Still petrified and with a half-dead teenage boy to deal with, Becca somehow manages to drive him to his home where he and his three brothers live; Michael – the oldest and somewhat strict guardian of the family and twins Nick and Gabriel – who seem to enjoy making their brother’s life difficult. If gratitude was what Becca was after, the Merricks are not the guys to get it from.

Things get a little more complicated for Becca when she catches the eye of the New Guy in town – Hunter – who asks her and her bestie Quinn to a party. Is it in spite or because of the rumours around school regarding Bex? The bad guys from the parking lot are back to cause more trouble. It doesn’t seem like Becca can get a break. In between her estranged father back in town or the mysterious Merrick brothers – Becca is in for a lot more drama.

Becca is a fantastic main character. I love people who perform acts of great bravery especially when they’re scared half to death and in my mind this describes Becca to a T. She’s petrified when she comes across Chris in the car park but she doesn’t run and hide. Whilst I’m not sure trying to run over people in your car is a great move (the police are sure to have issues with it) I admire her for not just running away.

People with magical powers are always ones that I love to read about and the Merrick Brothers are no exception. Gabriel is a laugh. He’s just so cheeky and half the time I’m not sure if I want to kiss him or kick him. The rest of the group is just as endearing in their own way. Hunter was an interesting character. I loved the psuedo-hippyness that was his style and beliefs. And Quinn? She irritated me a little but she was real. Her behaviour whilst slightly annoying added to the novel and Becca as a real person rather than just a fictional character.

There’s quite a bit of drama going on in this novel. Family drama, supernatural drama, school drama – it’s all there but it all is woven together beautifully. And there are some real and horrific issues in this book. I have to admit I wasn’t exactly sure what was going to happen regarding Becca’s reputation and was surprised with how it all went down.

The ending was good if not a little anti-climatic. But I’m very happy that this is not a standalone book and that Gabriel’s book is up next!

Storm reminded me in many ways of Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout – the regular girl getting involved with the family that’s just a little bit different and in need of protecting from their supernatural rivals.

It was a great read. One that I devoured in one evening… it even kept me up way past my usual bed time.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository