Saturday, March 2, 2013

Review & Interview: Emblaze by Jessica Shirvington

Author: Jessica Shirvington
Title: Emblaze
Series: Violet Eden Chapters #3
Publication: March 1, 2013
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
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When you're hanging off the edge of a volcano, how do you make the most important decision of your life? For Violet Eden the decisions between right and wrong are getting harder and harder. Because apparently being a half-angel Grigori doesn't always make you right.

Where is the good in having to choose between the life of her best friend and saving humanity? How does she balance a soul-crushing need for her Grigori partner, Lincoln, and the desire to keep him safe at all costs? And what if the darkest exiled angel of all, Phoenix, isn't as bad as she thought?

Both sides—Angels vs. Exiles—are racing to decipher an ancient scripture that would allow anyone banished to the Underworld to return. And at the very center: Violet. She only has one chance to make the right choice...

Thoughts:I've been waiting for the chance to read this book and when the opportunity to be a part of this tour came about, I jumped at the chance. In Emblaze Violet continues to grow stronger though she's not quite there yet. It’s her hurry and uncertainty about what will happen to those she loves that heightens her desperation. Although, yes physically her strength has improved but emotionally she still possesses this fragility about her that's inviting. In part, Lincoln contributes to the brokenness of Violet's heart. After the death of someone they cared about in book two, any hopes of them pursuing their connection were squashed after they witnessed what became of the partner that was left behind. So, not wanting the other to end up that way they decide to distance themselves from each other. Though, the longer they stay apart that stronger the pull becomes. 

Phoenix is deliciously devious and I love to hate him. He yearns to belong somewhere and after his relationship with Violet ends, he decides to take drastic measures just to fit in. He's trying so hard to be bad but maybe that's not entirely who he is. It’s great to get a glimpse into his emotional turmoil, his motivation for doing what he does but it doesn't make it right. As hard as Violet and the other Grigori try to keep a step ahead, he dampens any hope they have of getting the scriptures because he has one thing going for him...Violet. And he plays her every chance he gets. 

Shirvington crafts a beautiful story in a believable setting. The  romance moves at a good pace with the action sequences. The characters are intriguing and more rounded. Even though, this story is dark in tone, there are humorous moments that involved one of my favorites, Spence, who is trouble and mischief combined. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, the tension between Lincoln and Violet pulsates from the page. This emotional roller coaster is electric and addictive and I can't wait to see what transpires in book four. 
4.5 starfish
Chat with Author Jessica Shirvington

LLM: How much time did you spend coming up with names for the Violet Eden Series? Does the meaning of the name have any impact on the story?
JS: Titles wise, this really was a collaborative effort with my publishers. I had another title in mind at the beginning and they encouraged the 'e' concept, which then lead to EMBRACE, ENTICE, EMBLAZE, and after that will be ENDLESS (and one more).

I think the title of each book captures the emotion and theme of the book so I have been really happy with that! 

Character name wise, it is always different and it really depends on what role the character is there to play, how old they are, are they supernatural, do they link to some kind of mythology - all of those things come into play. Some names I just pick for no reason and then later see there is a connection to something that I had never planned. Sometimes, like with Violet, I select the name first and then base a portion of my research on that name to see if there is history/mythology that I want to draw on. It is always different. I must admit, Phoenix was always a purposeful choice ;-)

LLM: What do you feel is the most important aspect of story development; setting, characters, plot...? What makes a good story?
JS: Everything is important. Without one of these none of the others work so they must work hand in hand. That said, for me setting and plot are the vehicles to move characters and their emotions and development. As a reader that is what I want to see and it is the characters I get attached to. For me, as long as the plot is solid and unique it is the characters that leave me fully invested in the story.

LLM: What do you believe are the key elements to writing realistic love interests/romance in young adult fiction?
JS: Trying to be honest. Allowing characters to make mistakes and do all kinds of foolish things in the name of love. 

Love and hate really are the most intense emotions and in YA characters they are usually wrapped up in a lot of drama too. As a writer I never want to be afraid to go all the way and see how far I can push the boundaries of young love. And of course, it is also genuine moments of tenderness and sacrifice by each of the love interests that makes it all that much more believable. But then, that's just the way I see it!

LLM: If you could be any tree, what would you be? Why?
JS: Magnolia. They are my favorite!

LLM:Which characters perspective in Emblaze or any book in the series, did you find the most challenging and enjoyable to write?
JS:In EMBLAZE there is actually a chapter from Phoenix' point of view. It was a big decision for me to write that chapter and for the first time in the series slip out of Violet's pov. I rewrote the chapter many times and even considered a chapter from Lincoln's point of view in its place. In the end the chapter ended up being one of my favorites in the book, but it was definitely a challenge.

LLM: Favorite literary character of all time?
JS: I honestly don't have just one favorite. 

LLM: How much time do you spend on research before or during writing this series? Do you find that you researched more or less?
JS: A lot. Months. And the research continues all the way through writing the manuscript. The main part is before I start writing because it is one of my tools for creating the initial structure but the research is continuous. So little of it ends up in the books, but it is all important.

LLM: What is the question that you wish interviewers would ask, and the answer to that question? 
JS: In the first book, Embrace, Violet is still coming to terms with an attempted rape that had happened two years earlier, but she doesn't seem to have a problem being physical with Lincoln or Phoenix during certain scenes in the book. This seems to be in contradiction to what people would expect, why did you approach it in this way?

And my answer is: It was extremely important to me that she be dealing with this issue and have lasting effects from it not just in the stereotypical 'victim' way we seem to have adopted. Everyone is different. There are young girls all around the world who have had to deal with traumatic events and there is no one way victims should react, nor should we as peers, readers, or the general public look as these issues as if they deserve just one answer. Just saying! ;-)

Author Bio 
Jessica Shirvington has been lucky enough to meet and marry the man she fell in love with at seventeen. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Jessica is married to former Olympic sprinter, five-time National 100m champion, and current sports personality with Australia’s Foxtel and Sky News, Matthew Shirvington.

Married for almost twelve years with two beautiful daughters, Sienna and Winter, Jessica knows her early age romance and its longevity has definitely contributed to how she tackles relationships in her YA novels.

At age nineteen, Jessica opened and managed her first restaurant in Sydney, and then, while she and Matt were living in London, founded a fine food import and distribution company, Stella Imports, in 2003.

Moving back to Australia and searching for a creative outlet after the birth of her second child, Jessica started on her path to writing. Although a long-time lover of creative writing and poetry, Jessica had never considered the possibility of making writing her career. But with some time away from work, she finally had an opportunity to explore her potential. The result is her debut novel, EMBRACE, which marks the start of Violet Eden’s story. 

Jessica says: “Writing EMBRACE was an amazing journey for me. Discovering Violet and the other characters in the book has been my delight. The first draft just came together so quickly. I remember starting one day and then, six weeks later I was looking at something that had the makings of a book (I hoped). It took plenty of re-drafts but that, along with the copious amounts of research, the editing, proofing, all of it, has been such an awesome experience.”

Jessica still marvels at how everything came together; describing that time in her life, she says: “It’s totally clichéd, I’m almost cringing saying it — I guess I always thought I would have a corporate career and I was headed that way but life had other plans for me. When I wrote EMBRACE I had no idea it would turn into a published book, let alone a series — it all kind of snuck up on me and I’m so grateful. What they say is true…sometimes you just fall into the thing that is meant for you. I’m lucky, I didn’t just fall, I catapulted. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

When asked why she chose to write young adult fiction, Jessica says: “I never considered writing anything other than YA. The reason is simple — they’re the books I choose to and love to read myself. YA books have the amazing opportunity to be there for a character’s ultimate turning point — to be there for the moments that will shape their adult future. That makes them really special.”


  1. Ah! You used one of my questions. :D Great interview! I love author interviews. The series sounds interesting. I would love to listen to it. Thanks for the review and interview.

  2. Great interview and review! I love these Angel books!

  3. Lovely interview! I have only read the first one in this series, so I just skimmed the review.
    I like how the titles go with the theme of each book. :)
    Thank you for sharing.


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