Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J Maas

* * 3/4




Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

The way Crown of Midnight ended in such a frenzy, I thought Heir of Fire would be bursting with energy from page one. It didn’t.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, especially because of how much I love this series and have been looking forward to this but compared to the previous two books, Heir of Fire is slow moving until much, much later and by then the book is over.  Let me explain …

The biggest factor in the lack of action is Calaena. She’s mopey. She’s a mere shell of herself and I can’t blame her. She suffered so much loss in Crown of Midnight and was so manipulated by the king where she eventually had to leave Chaol behind to serve the ruthless monarch. She’s just defeated and when someone is defeated they dwell in self-pity and withdraw into themselves. Then Rowan, another Fae finds Calaena to bring her to her aunt, Queen Maeve. This is a good thing as it’s Calaena’s chance to ask questions and get answers. Of course, it’s not that easy. She is instructed to undergo training under Rowan’s strict tutelage in order to draw out her magical gifts. Only then will Maeve give her the answers she seeks.  Calaena essentially roughs it throughout her training as she and Rowan just antagonize each other. But no matter how grueling it is, the training doesn’t really do much good. It’s so bizarre and aggravating to see Calaena give up so easily. 

In the meantime, Chaol is back in Adarlan desperately trying to protect is best friend Prince Dorian and his potentially deadly secret that he has magic. Keeping the king’s suspicions at bay becomes his other full-time job, as is putting off his promise for as long as he can to his father to return to his homeland. Unfortunately, the events in the last book have left things a bit messy and it has strained his relationship with Prince Dorian. Both start to keep to themselves under the noble but misguided idea that the less the other knows, the safer they’ll all be.  Without each other, they seek alliances elsewhere. Learning who to trust is literally a life or death undertaking.

I mentioned above that the action does pick up towards the very end only because Calaena finally gets her head out of you know where. But that’s only because she’s had the crap beaten out of her several times by then. It does get more interesting because Calaena learns something vital about herself and what she needs to defeat the king and restore balance to the world. All of that comes after her long struggle to get over her depression and find her purpose again.

So while Heir of Fire may be a harder read because it isn't as fast-paced and the overall mood is downcast, it is a very crucial next step in Calaena’s story.  She's constantly met with the question of whether she will embrace her fey nature and fight for the good of all or if she will only seek personal vengeance and walk away when done. This is about her evolution. And then of course there’s my burning question: will she and Chaol reunite? Oh please let that be so. A sad Calaena and a sad Chaol make me very sad too.

~ Bel

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Peek In The BiblioBin #112


Welcome to our Stacking the Shelves post! Stacking the Shelves (or as we like to call it, A Peek in the BiblioBin) has been created by the lovely ladies at Tynga's Reviews.

Stacking the Shelves is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore, borrowed from the library or friend, etc.



For Review:



The Oversight (Oversight Trilogy #1) by Charlie Fletcher via NetGalley


Received at RT14:




The Beautiful Ashes (Broken Destiny #1) by Jeaniene Frost



Purchased:




Opposition (Lux #5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout



Friday, August 15, 2014

Jane's Harmony (Jane's Melody #2) by Ryan Winfield

* * * *



Sequel to the New York Times bestseller Jane's Melody. 

Starting over is hard to do.

That’s what forty-year-old Jane McKinney learns when she quits her job, sells her home, and leaves Seattle behind to start a new life and pursue the man she loves in Austin. After the death of her daughter, Melody, Jane never thought she would find happiness again – until she met Caleb Cummings. Sensitive, loving, and mature beyond his years, Caleb is a handsome young musician struggling to make ends meet. But when his fortunes take an unexpected and drastic turn for the better, Jane is left wondering where exactly she fits in.

Can you ever leave the past behind? Jane must now decide if she really is willing to commit to a new beginning with Caleb – or if some wounds are just too deep to ever truly mend.





I totally fell in love with Jane’s Melody, a bittersweet story about a woman living in the aftermath of her daughter’s death but eventually finding her own bliss. She follows that bliss which comes in the form of a musician named Caleb to Austin where reality sets in. Here he’s living out his dream of making music and performing to intimate audiences. Jane is still in the throes of new love but finds settling into this world a little harder than she expected. Bless her heart, she tries her best and Caleb does what he can to ease her worries.

Things continue to be hot and intense with them. It’s nice to see that hasn’t change. They’re ready to take their relationship to a new level when the opportunity of a lifetime comes along that he just cannot pass up. Jane is incredibly supportive and encouraging of him pursuing his dreams. I think her confidence comes from not only being older but also having lived through some devastating events that have given her great perspective. Caleb may be young but he’s mature beyond his years. This path that he’s going on will test his convictions and his commitment to Jane.  I could not help but be awed by Caleb’s love for her but also by Jane’s trust in her man.

Caleb isn’t the only one facing changes. Jane has her fair share and some of the changes aren't exactly welcome. Some of her old insecurities come back to haunt her and make her question her ability to overcome them. I was honestly surprised by, but not judgmental, of some of her decisions. Having gone through the whole gamut of emotions in Jane’s Melody, I understood where Jane’s head was at here and why she was spinning. 

Some familiar characters pop up here including that curmudgeonly former neighbor but sadly no goat. There is, however, a raccoon. Don’t ask. Trust me, it’s rather funny.

I recently got to meet Ryan Winfield at RT14. Honestly, I was a wee bit starstruck because “Oh my god, this is Ryan Winfield! The guy who wrote THE sweetest and most touching love scene I have ever read!” Yeah, that was running through my head but I don’t think I was able to string together any words in his presence. Embarrassing for me and most likely amusing for him. He was gracious, a gentleman and tall.  See!



If you're a die hard romantic, live for romantic gestures of all sorts and yearn for that sometimes elusive happily ever after, Jane's Harmony will deliver. I urge you to read Jane's Melody first if you haven't. I'll admit that that is my favourite of the two because despite the tragic circumstance of their meeting, what the two of them discover and start to build is such a beautiful and wondrous thing. Jane's Harmony is a lovely continuation of that with them writing a new chapter in their lives. Oh go on and read it. I'm going to step over to the side and quietly shed a tear of joy.

~ Bel



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Playing By the Book by S. Chris Shirley

Playing by the Book
* * 

When seventeen-year old high school newspaper editor Jake Powell, fresh from Alabama, lands in New York City to attend Columbia University's prestigious summer journalism program, it's a dream come true. But his father, a fundamentalist Christian preacher, smells trouble. And his father is rarely wrong.

Jake navigates new and unfamiliar ways "up North." Starting with his feelings for a handsome Jewish classmate named Sam. What Jake could keep hidden back home is now pushed to the surface in the Big Apple.

Standing by his side are a gorgeous brunette with a Park Avenue attitude and the designer bags to match, a high school friend who has watched Jake grow up and isn't sure she's ready to let him go, and an outrageously flamboyant aunt whose determined to help Jake finds the courage to accept love and avoid the pain that she has experienced. 

Provocative and moving, Playing by The Book is a feel-good novel about the pain and joy we encounter in the search for our own truth.




Review:

So, have you seen Transformers 3?  Or what I like to call the “the movie that never ends?”   At one point I started calling this “the book that never ends.”  It’s not a long book.  But add the time I had to take to roll my eyes and sigh heavily and the book became three times as long.

I had two major issues with this book. The first issue I had was the overwhelming feeling that the author was completely disconnected from the young adult voice.  I am having a hard time describing what I mean so I am going to recommend you read this review of the same book.  Reviewer Stacia pinpoints perfectly the disconnect that bothered me so much. 

The other issue I had was with what seemed to be the author’s agenda.  I got the very distinct impression that Jake’s story was only there to provide the author with a delivery system that would allow him to attempt to reconcile sexuality and the Christian faith.  I’m not saying this discussion shouldn’t be had.  Quite the contrary.  It should absolutely happen.  But in this instance it was done too shallowly to have a hard impact.  Here is the thing.  I grew up in a fundamental Christian religion (add that to the list of things you now know about me) which means that the whole time I was reading it I was thinking, “well that reasoning wouldn’t work at all (or at least not that quickly),” or “in a real life situation that person would respond back with this.” 

The one thing I did like was Jake’s complete cluelessness.   I’ve been that guy (or girl) and could really identify with it. Jake is the kid that has been separated from all the amazing diversity in the world that he puts his foot in his mouth each time he sees or experiences something that doesn’t fit into the box he’s grown up in.

This book is really a perfect example of how reviews are so partial.  I am confident that a lot of people are going to read this story and absolutely love it because their life experiences allow them to read it differently.  Unfortunately, my life experiences made this story just “meh.”



Nat 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Maybe This Time by A. M. Arthur

Maybe This Time (Belonging #2)* * *

As a regular at gay hotspot Pot O Gold, Ezra Kelley avoids his tangled emotions with the simplicity of one-night stands and attachment-free hookups. Until the night bartender Donner Davis picks him up off the floor after a misunderstanding and too much tequila. Ezra can't remember the last time someone was…nice. It's more than he deserves.
Witnessing his lover's death two years ago has Donner trapped in a holding pattern; living in his sister's basement, working at the Pot and flirting with the customers. He's not above spending a night with the gorgeous Ezra, but love is not in the cards. That's more than he's ready for.

A passionate night leads to a connection neither man expects, and they take the first steps to something that looks like a real relationship. But Ezra's been running from himself so long he doesn't know how to live any other way. And Donner can't risk his heart just to lose everything again. They'll both need the strength to let go of the past if they want to get it right this time.


Review:

As a bartender, Donner knows the regulars at Pot O Gold pretty well.  He’s had his share of one night stands with the patrons.  So when Ezra Kelley (the guy who picks up someone new every visit) flirts with Donner, Donner isn’t opposed to accepting an invitation if Ezra is still interested at the end of the night.  But Ezra gets distracted with another regular and Donner later finds him on the floor of the bathroom recovering from slight altercation that could have gone much worse.  By the end of the night Donner DOES go home with Ezra.  But only to make sure he gets there safely.   

Ezra is a little floored by Donner.  A guy that Ezra considered a possible one night stand became a knight in shining armor.  Not only did he help him home after a scary night at the bar that sent him into a panic attack, he also showed up the next day to bring him ginger ale and make sure he was doing alright. 

Fast forward to another night at Pot O Gold.  Ezra is hanging out with his friends Ale and Jamie (from Just One Thing) .  This time, Ezra DOES bring Donner home.  And, of course, sparks fly.  Each of them sees the possibility of a relationship.  Which would be great if both of them weren’t terribly gun shy due to their previous relationship experiences; Donner because he lost his partner to a violent crime and Ezra because his last long term relationship ended when his ex didn’t want to deal with Ezra’s emotional baggage.  Each of these men needs to face their fears and their pasts before they can move on to the next step of having the relationship they desperately want to have with each other.

I enjoyed reading this because chemistry between Ezra and Donner is engaging and hot.  A. M. Arthur has a knack for writing some seriously sexy scenes.  There is definitely magic between the characters.  Both in and out of the bedroom. 

If you are a fan of New Adult and gay romance, Maybe This Time might just be for you.


Nat

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Islands of Rage and Hope by John Ringo

Islands of Rage and HopeBOOK 3 IN THE BLACK TIDE RISING SERIES FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR. Sequel to To Sail a Darkling Sea and Under a Graveyard Sky. A hardened group of survivors fights back against a zombie plague that has brought down civilization.

With the world consumed by a devastating plague that drives humans violently insane, what was once a band of desperate survivors bobbing on a dark Atlantic ocean has now become Wolf Squadron, the only hope for the salvation of the human race. Banding together with what remains of the U.S. Navy, Wolf Squadron, and its leader Steve Smith, not only plans to survive—he plans to retake the mainland from the infected, starting with North America. 

The next step: produce a vaccine. But for do that, Wolf Squadron forces led by Smith’s terrifyingly precocious daughters Sophia and Faith must venture into a sea of the infected to obtain and secure the needed materials. And if some of the rescued survivors turn out to be more than they seem, Smith just might be able to pull off his plan. 

Once more, exhausted and redlining Wolf Squadron forces must throw themselves into battle, scouring the islands of the Atlantic for civilization's last hope.



Review:

XO again, and let me just say, Zombies, Zombies, Zombies.  Book three in the Black Tide Rising series does not disappoint.  The zombies still run amok on 99% of the land on planet Earth.  Wolf Squadron has cleared countless ships, and the former USMC base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  After all that, a few jerk reality show types should be easy, right?  Well, unfortunately for the Smith family, even a zombiepocalypse seems to break through the stupids.  Steve, Faith, and Sophia, and the rest of Wolf Squadron are still at it, finally setting their sights on land.  While the islands they clear might be small, the meaning is huge.  Mankind is taking back its planet, one sandy beach at a time.  Ringo’s world continues to spin on, and a few thousand survivors of the Zombiepocalypse are doing everything they can to return things to normal.  Well, as normal as it can be with a 13 year old Marine lieutenant, a 15 year old Navy ensign and their dad, former SAS paratrooper, now leading the US Navy Wolf Squadron, in charge of the return.  

The squadron needs access to medical supplies, and fast.  It’s been 9 months since the outbreak, and people trapped in cargo holds, cruise ship rooms, and other trapped, enclosed spaces will do almost anything *ahem, wink wink, nudge nudge* to pass the time.  There are also a few hundred US Navy submariners trapped in their subs, in deep (pun, yes) need of the vaccine.  Both of these things mean that Wolf Squadron needs medical supplies, and the re-taking of Gitmo was not the treasure trove they were hoping for.  Just for fun, the remaining US Government has a fun little surprise for Wolf Squadron.  The British government might just have survived.  Time to plan a rescue mission.


Ringo’s characters are likable, and he has a habit of even making you respect, if not like, the ones that you’d hate anywhere else.  And to keep in interesting, he’s adding new characters with each new group that are rescued.  The series appears to have no end in sight, and I look forward to bringing you the next, and the next, and the next.  

XO out...

Monday, August 11, 2014

ETERNAL NIGHT Blog Tour





* * * *

There are gods among us...

Six young gods are hiding in plain sight among mortals, living secretly in cities across the world. From lavish penthouse soirees to pulsing underground clubs, for them, the party literally never ends. Until now.

On a hot June morning, the body of a beautiful girl is found floating in the rooftop pool of the Jefferson Hotel, her white-ink tattoos revealing the story of a life much longer than seems possible. Only the immortals know the truth: Nadia was the goddess of hope. Now she’s gone, and the world as they know it is ending. The Hudson River has turned blood red. Storms rage overhead. Mania is rapidly spreading across the globe.

It is up to the remaining gods—Lola, Dean, Weston, Mark, Nike and Peitha—to put aside centuries of betrayal and heartbreak, and stop the mysterious source of darkness that is taking over… before the sun sets forever.

Carina Adly MacKenzie, writer for The CW's hit series "The Originals," has penned a steamy, romantic, and ultimately redemptive story of forgotten gods, the persistence of hope, and the power of love to save us.


You see, it was the cover that grabbed me first then the fascinating blurb. Eternal Night features several gods, each in their own isolated purgatory but brought together by an unfortunate tragedy. Mind you, I'm not normally keen on stories with multiple points of view because I find them messy and I’m rather impatient about waiting for things to tie in. I didn’t face that here because Eternal Night begins with a central event – the mysterious death of one of the gods. The story then follows their individual storylines which branch off and converge intermittently.

I’ll try not to reveal too much except to say that it was nothing of what I expected.  The author takes the Greek mythology we’re familiar with and juxtaposes it against our modern world. This is no longer a society that fears all those mighty or vengeful gods. Instead, this is a new world where people worship differently and fear repercussions of a different kind. Ancient beliefs no longer apply and as a result, the old gods have been watching their powers wane through the centuries.  What can the gods do except resign themselves to their fate and try to fit in? 

I was quite taken with how very human each of the gods is – one makes jewelry, one makes music, one is in law school.  They also have very real human emotions and reactions that sometimes you forget that they're not really human. There’s definitely a nice pace between setting up each god’s viewpoint, their back story and how they've become what they are today.  Aside from weakened powers, the other common thing between them is that they’re all feeling displaced and disenchanted. They don’t necessarily long for the days when throngs of mortals worshipped them. They simply want to feel connected to something. This whole living forever thing has made them feel so isolated that they're just floundering about. It's their very human experiences that make them all the more interesting. Some have taken to finding distractions to numb their feelings or bide their time until something, anything comes along. I liked all of the gods but one in particular, Weston, is probably my favourite.  You’ll understand why when you read this.

Despite their individual and often entangled issues, they do work well together to solve the troubling mystery of their friend’s death. If anything, having something this urgent to work on as a team lifts them out of their stupor and brings them closer to each other than they have been in ages.  And that’s no exaggeration. Finding their purpose again could just be their salvation...and the world's.

If you're looking for a different spin on Greek mythology and enjoy a bit of a mystery, I definitely recommend this. If it’s any indication of how much I liked Eternal Night, I read it in one sitting!

~ Bel


Eternal Night is out August 26, 2014 and is available for pre-order now! Click on the links below to get your copy.





Amazon    B&N    iBooks


About the Author




Carina Adly MacKenzie grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, where she boldly defied the no-reading-at-the-dinner-table rule time and time again. After studying English at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Carina moved to Los Angeles to pursue a writing career. Carina was a television critic and entertainment reporter for Zap2it.com, the Los Angeles Times, and Teen Vogue, among other publications. Currently, she spends her days obsessing over vampire sibling rivalry as a writer for The CW's new drama, "The Originals." She loves coffee, Twitter, and her little dog Pacey. Eternal Night is her first novel.


What are the differences between writing a book and writing for TV?
 They’re less than I thought they’d be, honestly.  Obviously, I was much more isolated when I wrote Eternal Night – the bulk of The Originals is created in a room full of people, talking and learning and developing story together. I wrote Eternal Night on weekends, mostly alone in an empty office. However, it was still an immensely collaborative process with the Paper Lantern Lit editors – just a less social process, since they’re based in NYC and I live in LA. But really, it all comes down to working hard so that you don’t let people down. In both writing Eternal Night and episodes of The Originals, there was this anxious hope that I wouldn’t let people down – people who believed in me enough to hire me, fans of the show, people who took a risk and decided to pick up a copy of the book.

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