ARC: Infinite Harmony (Shifters & Seers #2) by Tammy Blackwell

In the second book of the Shifters & Seers series, Infinite Harmony,  Tammy Blackwell sucks the reader back into the world of shifters, seers and other beloved supernatural creatures. I’ve been a huge fan of Blackwell’s work. Although this book is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone but I recommend that you start with the Timber Wolves trilogy. (You’ll understand what’s going on in the background a bit more.) I was fortunate enough to receive an eARC and I was super excited to dive in. I devoured this book in one sitting, and I absolutely adored it!

20417132Ada Jessup lives for the moment, knowing the promise of tomorrow can be all too easily broken.

Joshua is an Immortal, a heavenly warrior who will still be fighting long after the rest of the Alpha Pack have turned to dust.

When a gunshot wound forces Joshua to tell Ada the truth of what he is, there is more at risk than the safety of the Alphas he’s sworn to protect. For Joshua, the real danger is the way he feels drawn to the human girl. After all, what can the future hold for a girl whose days are numbered and a boy whose life has no end?

I’m continually amazed by Blackwell’s ability to create realistic characters in supernatural settings. She captures the essence of humanity and fills her characters with life. Her books cover contemporary issues in a sensible, grounded way that allows the reader to decide for themselves. The talent it takes to pull that off and write an entertaining, fulfilling novel blows my mind.

This book follows Joshua, the immortal, and Ada, a girl with an illness. I loved the irony of a man who can’t die falling in love with the girl who’s terminally ill. Their story was heart-warming and sweet, funny and passionate. I was in love with these two. I particularly enjoyed how Joshua was such a believable character. I thought the way it was explained that Joshua could be both 80 and 19 years old at the same time was very clever and logical, making the love between Joshua and Ada that much more beautiful.

The underlying theme of life and death was beautifully done. I loved how the more “supernatural” incidents were addressed like reality with the same consequences based on life-changing decisions. In the same way, I appreciated how this book talked about religion and belief, by presenting it as the world knows it, but leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions, just as the character Ada finds her own way. To me, it was inspiring to see. I hope this book inspires others to forge their own path.

Throughout the book, we get glimpses into the life of Scout and Liam, Charlie and Maggie and all the other characters from this series and the Timber Wolves series. I love these characters and their world. I want to live there! The book wrapped up nicely with some major hints towards the direction of the next book. I’m eager to read more. If it’s written by Tammy Blackwell, it’s a given that I’m going to read it, and you should too.

This book will be released October 14, 2014.

Thank you Tammy Blackwell for a copy in exchange for an honest review!

STARS: 5 out of 5

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My #UtopYA2014 Experience

Last weekend, I attended the UtopYA Conference in Nashville, Tenn. for the first time. It was the most amazing experience! I don’t even know where to start!

Me at UtopYA2014!

Me at UtopYA2014!

UtopYA is a conference for authors, writers, bloggers and readers for the Young Adult/New Adult genre. But whatever you are, you will come out inspired. I made a goal to attend some kind of book event this year; UtopYA was it and I’m so glad I picked it!

I was so nervous and intimidated the first day. Everywhere I turned, there were aspiring writers and published authors. I couldn’t help but be timid when I explained I was just a humble blogger. Everyone was so nice, though. By the end of the weekend, I felt like, I too, could write a novel if I just tried!

At the book signing with Sylvia Day!

At the book signing with Sylvia Day!

This year’s speakers were Sylvia Day, author of the steamy crossfire series (one of my all-time favs!), and Gennifer Albin, author of Crewel. Can I just say that Sylvia Day is a badass!? I loved her. Her speech was filled with good advice, encouraging words for writers but also business savvy for females in the workforce. I wanted to jump up and yell “Preach, sister!” She was so amazing! Gennifer Albin had a very touching story about how she got published and won major points with me when she mentioned the 18th century work, “Pamela.” (I totally know what you meant! Thanks to my 18th Century Studies grad class, I have a soft spot for 18th century novels.)

Author Gennifer Albin during her speech at #utopya2014.

Author Gennifer Albin during her speech at #utopya2014.

The best part of the whole event was the books. I was in book heaven!! I brought a lot of books to get signed but I brought even more home with me. (I went a bit over my budget, but Shh! don’t tell my hubby. It was a book emergency!) All of them signed by the authors who wrote them. The next best thing? The authors! It was crazy to see the people behind some of my favorite characters. They are unbelievably talented!

I pretty much embarrassed myself when I met Quinn Loftis, author of the Grey Wolves series (Read it, people! It’s awesome!). I was totally fangirling. She was the sweetest thing and I bought the most awesome Tshirt that says, “Keep calm and listen to your inner Jen.” Love it!

Author Quinn Loftis and me holding my new tshirt!

Author Quinn Loftis and me holding my new tshirt!

I also got to meet Chelsea Fine, author of the Archers of

Me and Author Chelsea Fine!

Me and Author Chelsea Fine!

Avalon series. She is beautiful, inside and out! I met so many authors — too many to mention here. I also met a lot of wonderful aspiring writers, and I will most definitely buy their work once it gets published. (And it will get published! Don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams!)

While at UtopYA, I went to a lot of awesome panels, where I got to see the authors I love talk about interesting topics surrounding the publishing industry and writing. My main takeaway from the experience, from a blogger point of view, is my approach to bad reviews. As readers, it’s easy to say how much you just “hated” something. But when someone poured their heart and soul into it, we, as reviewers, need to be critical but sensitive, honest but analytical. Don’t just say you hated it, tell us why. I’ve always felt this way about reviewing. I don’t know if it’s my journalism background, but it’s important to give criticism not spread hatred. It was great to see that feeling affirmed by other writers. Now I’ll just be a lot more conscious of how I share my thoughts. I’m also a lot more informed on the Indie v. Traditional publishing. We, as readers, have the power to boost these authors’ careers (especially indie authors!). We need to buy their books and spread the word! Blogging has always been about sharing my thoughts with other readers, but my eyes have been opened to the marketing aspect of the publishing industry. My day job is working in Public Relations, so I can’t believe I haven’t seen it before, but it reaffirms the purpose and importance of the blogging community. Plus, we all do this because we love it, and if you love a book/author, spread that love!

The weekend was so much fun and I’m absolutely exhausted. (It’s been a week and I’m still recovering!) I’d like to thank my friend Courtney for coming with me. (I totally begged her to come!) I have a huge stack of books to read and another stack of signed books that will be carefully displayed. As Sylvia Day says, “These books aren’t for reading.” I can’t wait until next year’s conference. I’m on such a book high, I may just give this writing a novel thing a shot, but for now I’m going to curl up with a good book and escape — it’s what I do best.