Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Ten 2012 (It's Nat's Turn!)


Wow.  Is it the end of the year already?  Where did the time go?  2012 was a rough year for all of us in one way or another.  And because of that each of us went through long lasting reading funks.  But even with that funk I managed to read 78 books this year. That is high for me on a normal year so I won't complain...

As usual, I had a hard time deciding which books to include in my Top Ten of 2012.  I, of course, cheated a little by adding a few honorable mentions at the end. How I narrowed those down to only three is byond me...So here it is.  My Top Ten of 2012.  In no particular order.




The Lovers Dictionary by David Levithan - A modern love story told in single words and definitions. So many pages resonated with me and how I feel about the Executive Officer. I still go back and re-read passages.  And the best part?  David Levithan continues to define life, love and relationships through words on Twitter @loversdiction








Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson Hands down, my favorite book of the year.  Yeah, you all thought I would choose a romance, didn't you?  Well I didn't.  I chose this amazingly hilarious (and rarely serious) memoir by Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess.  I can't begin to tell you much how I laughed.  And laughed.  And laughed.  And cried a little.  And laughed some more.









Chase In Shadow by Amy Lane - Thanks to Bel, this is where my love of Amy Lane began.  This is a brutally emotional story of a young man struggling to remain in the closet while using the gay-for-pay porn industry as an outlet.  Oh don't worry.  There is definitely some happy in this story.  But first, Ms. Lane will stomp on your heart a good five or six times.  Because she's kind of awesome like that.  And apparently that's my thing since I have read about a dozen more of her books since Chase in Shadow.







Rockoholic by C.J. Skuse - This one snuck up on me.  It was nothing what I expected.  Instead it was so much more.  A brilliant dramatic comedy  that is in turn hilarious and disturbing.  As I stated in my review, C.J. Skuse should be applauded her sheer awesomeness.










Dash and Lily's Book of Dare by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan - I am so happy that I read this right before Christmas.  A perfect romantic comedy that not only put me in the holiday spirit but also had me giggling well into the early hours of the morning.  I believe this has been optioned for a movie and I will be absolutely thrilled if it makes it to the big screen. AND if I can put a Dash on hold for youngest daughter, that would be most excellent.








Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry - The chemistry between Echo and Noah not only drips off this hot cover, it also drips off every single page within the book.  It was steamy.  It was angsty.  It was romantic.  And it made me cry.  A quadruple threat.  I can not wait until the companion novel, Dare You Too, is released in May 2013.











Making Promises by Amy Lane - I was instantly smitten with forever-boy (or forever-man in this case since this isn't YA and he is 30-something) Shane.  His patient pursuit of the adorably prickly and bitchy Mikhail is so understanding and loving that I just couldn't help but fall in love with him.  Also, how could I not love a book with this beautiful quote, "I cannot face you if you think I look at you and see anything less than the man you are.  I am not settling for you, I am reaching for you, and there is a difference..." 






The Fault In Our Stars by John Green - I find it impossible to discuss this book with someone that hasn't read it.  The sheer beauty and sadness of it is overwhelming.  All I will say is that John Green is a genius.  His previous stories are great but this one….well there is a reason that it has been so well received by so many.  Once you read it, check out this to answer to any and all of your questions regarding Hazel and Augustus:  http://onlyifyoufinishedtfios.tumblr.com/







Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker - So often books are about being hurt by someone else.   Melissa Walker is one of the rare authors that chose to focus on the character that did the hurting.  We all make mistakes in our lifetime.  Some of those mistakes are bigger than others.  This story was about learning to live with those mistakes and how to rebuild your life after suffering the damage you caused.  This story was beautiful and I think is a must read for teens just so they know that life does move on and it does get better.









Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi - This was one of the first books I read this year.  So often I will read something early in the year that I really enjoy but then it is overshadowed by something else.  In twelve months, Under The Never Sky has never swayed from my Top Ten.  This is a perfect combination of romance, fantasy and sci-fi and the second in the series will be an auto-buy for me when it is released the first week of 2013.
 
 
Honorable Mentions:
 


The Curiosites by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff & Boys of Summer Edited by Steve Berman - As I have mentioned numerous times, I do not like short story compilations.  This year, a number of YA authors set out to teach me a lesson.  Both The Curiosities (a collection of supernatural and horror stories) and Boys of Summer (an anthology of Gay YA shorts) proved to me that there are not only some amazing short stories out there but also a number of great authors that I can't wait to read more of.
 
 
 
 
 
Gambling Men by Amy Lane - To be honest, I could have added Amy Lane books to most of my Top Ten.  And it was REALLY difficult for me to choose between Gambling Men and Making Promises.  So this gets honorable mention. The biggest reason (besides the hilarious use of poker metaphors) is that I married a Quentin.  Yeah, that's right.  If you have read this you know to be super jealous ;-)
 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Shel's Top 10 of 2012


Hi all!  Sorry I've been a little absent on the blog.  The holidays are always a busy time, but this year has been absolutely nuts.  Throw in a promotion at work and I'm doing a vanishing act.  I promise to be better, mostly because I miss you all!
 
I had such a problem this year narrowing down my choices for my top 10 reads for 2012.  What a great year for book lovers, and if my TBR pile gets any bigger it's going to take over my entire house.  I only got in about 100 books this year and there were so many more great books I wanted to read.  So, without further adieu and in no particular order...
 
 
The Elemental Series by Brigid Kemmerer
 

 
The first two books, Storm and Spark, just knocked my socks off.  I love this series.
 
The Mythos Academy Series by Jennifer Estep (Dark Frost and Crimson Frost)
 
This has been one of my favorite series since we started the blog (as I'm sure you can tell by my frequent ramblings on the subject).  This year brought us Dark Frost and Crimson Frost.  Both are freaking amazing.  Kudos Jennifer!
 


 















The Mephisto Covenant: The Redemption of Ajax by Trinity Faegen

 
 
Animal Attraction by Jill Shalvis  (And Slow Heat by Jill Shalvis and let's face it, pretty much anything by Jill Shalvis)
 
Ok, ok.  I know, but seriously, if you haven't picked up a Jill Shalvis book you NEED to.  She's supposed to be at the RT convention this year and it is very likely that I will go all fan-girl crazy when I meet her!  Her books are hilarious AND steamy.
 











Much Ado About Magic by Shanna Swendson
 

I was so happy that Shanna decided to self-publish the rest of the Enchanted, Inc series and she has not disappointed.
 
The Gallagher Girls Series by Ally Carter
 
I soooo want to be a Gallagher Girl!

 
 
Shadows In The Silence by Courtney Allison Moulton
 

Wow, just wow.  That's all I can say for now.  You will have to check out my review in February.
 
Alex Van Helsing: The Triumph of Death by Jason Henderson
 


The finale of this great series.  I love Alex so much and am sad to see him go!  If HarperCollins or Harper Teen is reading this, please give us more of this seriously fun series!
 
The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
 
 Oh Jem!  Oh Will!  I think you both need hugs!




Well, that's the best I could do to narrow down my Top Ten.  I know, I know, I cheated a little bit, but seriously, it's tough to pick just 10!  So, what are your favorites from 2012?

~Shel
 
 

Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep






**** ½ 

From KTeen (Kensington)

For a moment, a face flashed before my eyes—the most hideous face I’d ever seen. No matter how hard I tried to forget what had happened, I saw him everywhere I went. It was Loki—the evil god that I’d helped set free against my will.

I should have known that my first official date with Logan Quinn was destined to end in disaster. If we’d gotten into a swordfight, or been ambushed by Reapers, I’d have been more prepared. But getting arrested mid-sip at the local coffee hangout? I didn’t see that one coming. I’ve been accused of purposely helping the Reapers free Loki from his prison—and the person leading the charge against me is Linus Quinn, Logan’s dad. The worst part is that pretty much everyone at Mythos Academy thinks I’m guilty. If I’m going to get out of this mess alive, I’ll have to do it myself…


Crimson Frost is fantastic!  In this fourth installment of the Mythos Academy Series, Jennifer Estep explores bullying and prejudice against Gwen when Logan’s Dad comes to town making accusations that Gwen is a Reaper and the toll it takes on Gwen and Logan's relationship.  We also learn more about Logan's past.  It was  fun to meet more people outside of Mythos Academy who are fighting against the Reapers.  

Crimson Frost is fast-paced, full of snark and sarcasm and just a great read.  The series just keeps getting better (which I didn't think was possible!).  This was the best Christmas gift Jennifer Estep and Kensington could have possibly given me! 

I cannot wait for Midnight Frost!  Why, oh why do I have to wait for July???
~Shel

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (46)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.



By Marie Lu
Publication Date: January 29, 2013

June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—-June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan


* * * * * 

"I've left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don't, put the book back on the shelf, please."


So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the "New York Times" bestselling authors of "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist." Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

 

When Dash finds Lily’s red notebook at The Strand he is intrigued and thinks he may have finally found the perfect diversion that will entertain him during Christmas – “the most detestable time of the year.”  When Lily learns that someone has taken on the challenge set forth in her notebook she is excited to have some fun during what she considers the most wonderful time of the year.  Through the use of a notebook that is hidden through out New York City, two very opposite people learn of only the reasons why maybe a relationship between the two them can work.   

Let’s just get right to it.  I adored this book.  I don’t know if it was because of the mood I was in when I picked it up  - I was looking for a fun romance.  Or if it is because of the mood it put me in – it made me absolutely giddy for Christmas and New Years.   

Lily is a young and innocent girl that is just now learning about the adult world she has up until now avoided.  She is adorable, sweet and creative with an unusually fun wardrobe that left me reeling with envy.  In short, Lily Rocks.  Between her happy and still innocent outlook on life and her absolute love of Christmas – the girl organized a caroling society for goodness sake – It’s hard not to love her. 

Dash is a young and intelligent snob with a dry wit and eclectic vocabulary that would put any adult hipster to shame. Seriously.  The only thing this kid is missing is a mustache and a cigarette.  Where Lily provides endless happiness and light, Dash gives us a healthy but fun dose of angst and humor.  So many of his scenes had me laughing out loud that I was pretty sure that my husband was going to banish me from the bedroom if I kept waking him up.    

The two of them interacting through the pages of a notebook is one of the most amusing and happiest things I have read in a long time.  Cohn and Levithan somehow made chemistry between two people that never meet absolutely reverberate off the page.

If you are looking for a story that is guaranteed to get you into the holiday spirit, Dash and Lily is it.  Pick it up this weekend and read it before Christmas and New Years.  Who knows?  Maybe you will end up hiding a red notebook of your own.
 
Nat

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan


* * * *
 
It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. He only needs five minutes to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who's just walked in to his band's show. With a new guy. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City;and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date.

This he said/she said romance told by YA stars Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is a sexy, funny roller coaster of a story about one date over one very long night, with two teenagers, both recovering from broken hearts, who are just trying to figure out who they want to be;and where the next great band is playing.

Told in alternating chapters, teeming with music references, humor, angst, and endearing side characters, this is a love story you'll wish were your very own. Working together for the first time, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have combined forces to create a book that is sure to grab readers of all ages and never let them go.

 

I keep telling myself that I am going to read all the David Levithan books in all the land.   But inevitably my attention is needed elsewhere and my poor lonely Levithan books are yet again left on my bookshelf lacking the love and attention they deserve.   

Then miracles, upon miracles, I had time to *gasp* read books on my real life bookshelf.  So I grabbed Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and once again lost myself in the emotional wonder that is Mr. Levithan’s writing and in the process discovered the genius that is Rachel Cohn. 

Nick, “a non-queer bassist in a queercore band”, was brutally dumped three weeks, two days and twenty-three hours ago.  His ex-girlfriend, Tris, has decided to show up at a club that his band is playing and he is not ready to deal with that drop in the emotional roller-coaster ride that he has been enduring.  When he sees that Tris and her date are making a move to say “hi” to him, he grabs the girl next to him and asks her to be his 5 minute girlfriend.   

Norah will pretty much do anything to avoid her classmate, Tris.  And pretty much anything includes laying a hot kiss on the boy that just asked her to be his 5 minute girlfriend.  She didn’t expect that kiss to be the hottest she’s ever had.  And she didn’t expect the boy to be the famously wonderful boyfriend that Tris has been bragging about for the last six months.  Norah feels like she knows this boy so she decides to finally take a chance in life and get to know him better.  

There isn’t a character in this book that I didn’t like for one reason or another.  Norah is not the most loveable character but I think a lot of girls will relate to the way she naturally holds back because she is afraid of the consequences of taking a leap that comes with no guarantees.  Nick was a perfect combination of hot musician and quiet forever boy.  He is incredibly sensitive and intense.  So intense that a certain make out scene left me breathless.  And I mean BREATHLESS.  Dear heavens.  Then there is the small ensemble of players that come in and out of Nick and Norah’s night of discovery.  And they all have a significant impact.  Even Tris plays her part in making sure these two get together.

This book is about so much more than a first date.  It is about loss, lust, love.  It is about learning to let go so you can grab what’s right in front of you.  If you are fan of edgy contemporary romance and Happy For Now endings, then you must read Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.   
 
Nat

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (45)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.



By Lenore Appelhans
Publication Date: January 15, 2013

In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.
Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

* * * * *




 
 
Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret.
Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.
Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.
 But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.

It’s absolutely no secret at all as to how much I adore Harrington’s debut novel Saving June. When she had mentioned to us in her interview last year that she was working on Speechless, I knew that she’d be sharing something fabulous with us again.

Speechless deals with the hard topics of bullying and gossiping. Chelsea lives in the upper echelon of her high school’s social hierarchy. I didn’t like her at first. We’re not supposed to. She represents everything that is awful about high school. Gossiping is a way to maintain her status though I will say she is most definitely a follower here as she’s always under the influence of her best friend, Kristen. At Kristen’s New Year’s Eve party, she gets drunk and unwittingly becomes witness to a very private moment between two boys. Unable to keep her mouth shut as usual, she blurts out what she’s seen to everyone resulting in a disgusting act of violence that lands the victim in the hospital. Realizing that her gossiping was responsible for the violent act, she decides to refrain from speaking for as long as she can. The way she sees it, nothing good can come from her talking so why not for ?nce be silent?

The tables turn on Chelsea swiftly after she comes forth to the authorities with the truth about the perpetrators. It is a long, painful fall down to the bottom tier. She’s completely isolated and removed from her former friends. At this point you expect the author to throw in some grand life lesson learned. She doesn’t. Instead Chelsea very stoically accepts her “sentence”. She understands that her actions have hurt people and that they all need time to calm down. She's very simplistic about this at first. She’s under the notion that things will blow over soon and that things will be normal again. Not so much. Everyone is downright vile towards her including her former best friend.

What makes Speechless outstanding is the honesty with which Chelsea approaches her new status. She doesn’t experience any immediate epiphanies. It’s a gradual learning curve. She misses her old life, especially Kristen. Now that she’s exiled from the cool crowd, she does meet other kids at school, people she admits she was completely unaware of. She examines her decision to turn her former friends in to the police but it’s surprising that she doesn’t necessarily see it as doing the right thing – just something she had to do. Her vow of silence starts out as a way for her to assuage her guilt but becomes an opportunity for introspection. She gains remarkable insight by simply being silent. It’s as if her other senses have kicked into high gear and she’s truly listening and seeing people for the first time. Her new friends Asha and Sam are among many delightful highlights in the book. Their friendship gives Chelsea a whole new lease on her high school life.  

There’s so much more I want to add about the story itself but I’ll refrain from giving it away.  I cannot begin to describe how this story has wrapped itself around me. Hannah Harrington is a very gifted storyteller with an amazing ability to just capture your heart by diving into these very real moments with such authenticity and compassion. You get into the mindset of these individuals and understand what’s motivating them because you’re living vicariously through them.  Harrington’s writing evokes strong feelings because her characters are genuine and you trust the direction she’s taking them in. They’re very much alive and heartfelt because of the voice she gives them.

Another reason to love Speechless it features a young girl who matures into a strong young woman. I don't come across enough of them in contemporary YA fiction.  It's about becoming a better person after having gone through all the crap and nonsense life throws at you. It’s about finding a voice that has purpose. 
~ Bel

 

 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (44)



Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.




By Gayle Forman
Publication Date: January  8, 2013

A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay
When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas

* * * *

Dream Lake takes readers once again to the exquisite setting of Friday Harbor, and tells the story of Zoӫ Hoffman, an innkeeper who has all but given up on love. She’s a gentle, romantic soul, but has been so hurt in the past that she dare not trust her heart with anyone. Especially not Alex Nolan. Alex is the most haunted of all the Nolan brothers.

He drinks to keep his demons at bay and not only has he given up on love, he has never, ever believed in it. Zoӫ and Alex are oil and water, fire and ice, sunshine and shadow.

But sometimes, it takes only a glimmer of light to chase away the dark. Dream Lake is classic Lisa Kleypas: romantic, powerful, emotional, and magical.




Review:

Lisa Kleypas has managed to successfully interweave two beautiful love stories – one supernatural and the other in the here and now.  This story starts out with a nameless ghost that is tethered to Rainshadow Road.  He doesn’t know who he is and he can’t leave the house.  He has watched over decades as Rainshadow Road has fallen into disrepair.  Then Sam Nolan buys the house and the ghost has hope that this house that he is stuck in will once again become a beautiful place.  What he doesn’t expect is to finally meet someone that can see him. 

Alex Nolan, Sam’s brother, is an amazingly skilled carpenter that has what it takes to bring Rainshadow Road to its former glory.  Unfortunately, Alex is also a functioning bitter alcoholic going through an even more bitter divorce.  But that doesn’t stop our ghost from being so happy that someone can communicate with him that he tries to follow Alex out the door.  He soon realizes that he is now tethered to Alex and cannot leave his side.  Alex is not amused to find he has a supernatural friend.  He is not sure if what he is seeing is real or if all the liquor that he has been drinking has finally made him hallucinate.  These unwilling companions from different times somehow become necessary to each other in order to survive. 

Enter Zoe.  Zoe is absolutely lovely.  She is humble and kind and just wants to take care of those around her.  The Zoe care package always includes something delicious she whips up in the kitchen of her B&B which she runs with her cousin, Justine.  Zoe is a forever girl through and through.  When she first meets Alex Nolan she knows that she should run as fast as she can.  But she can’t seem to help caring for the man who has never had anyone care for him in his life.  As the two grow closer, we find that Zoe may have the key to unravel the mystery of both Alex and his ghost’s fate..    

Lisa Kleypas hit the ball out of the park with this one.  This is an epic story of loss and love and hope and I can’t recommend it enough.  If you are a fan of romance you must pick this one up.


Nat


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (43)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.

 
 
By Jennifer Estep
Publication Date: December 24, 2012

For a moment, a face flashed before my eyes—the most hideous face I’d ever seen. No matter how hard I tried to forget what had happened, I saw him everywhere I went. It was Loki—the evil god that I’d helped set free against my will.

I should have known that my first official date with Logan Quinn was destined to end in disaster. If we’d gotten into a swordfight, or been ambushed by Reapers, I’d have been more prepared. But getting arrested mid-sip at the local coffee hangout? I didn’t see that one coming.

I’ve been accused of purposely helping the Reapers free Loki from his prison—and the person leading the charge against me is Linus Quinn, Logan’s dad. The worst part is that pretty much everyone at Mythos Academy thinks I’m guilty. If I’m going to get out of this mess alive, I’ll have to do it myself…(

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Easy by Tammara Webber

* * * * *



Rescued by a stranger.

Haunted by a secret.

Sometimes, love isn’t easy…

He watched her, but never knew her. Until thanks to a chance encounter, he became her savior…

The attraction between them was undeniable. Yet the past he’d worked so hard to overcome, and the future she’d put so much faith in, threatened to tear them apart.



I cannot express enough how hard I have fallen for this book, so much so that I couldn't bear to tear myself away from it at any time.  And while I have the eBook, I need to own a hard copy because there are some pages I just want to read over and over again.


Easy starts off with Jacqueline a bit lost after being dumped by her boyfriend she’s known since high school.  Realizing how much her social circle depended on him and that she gave up a part of herself to be with him when she followed him to college, she's just a bit bitter, confused and depressed. Who wouldn't be? Two weeks after the break up, as she's leaving a frat party, she is assaulted by a mutual friend. Thankfully, someone comes along and saves her before things go too far. Turns out her rescuer is Lucas who so happens to be in one of the classes she's been avoiding for the past two weeks since her breakup.

Encouraged by her friends to think of Lucas as the perfect rebound material, Jacqueline decides to pursue him. As she finds herself opening up to him, she gets curious about his past and the secrets he's keeping.


Here are the many things I loved about Easy:  I felt that the fallout from Jacqueline’s assault was natural. The fear and guilt she carried with her, her roommate's reaction when she finally told her and how Jacqueline was choosing to deal with it were all valid. Nothing felt out of step that I couldn’t believe in how things were moving along. Webber also set a lovely pace for Jacqueline’s and Lucas’ relationship to develop. They have this quiet, intense chemistry between them. Honestly, some of the passages are so steamy, I was blushing! It's impossible to not fall for Lucas. Even though there was a heavy undercurrent, somehow as these two people were falling in love, earning each other's trust and learning to deal with the traumatic events in their lives, they still managed to have hope.


Perhaps what’s most endearing about Easy is that as the hero, Lucas isn’t content with just being Jacqueline’s savior and protector. He’s determined that she learn to empower herself and face her fear head on. There’s something so sweet about how Lucas treats Jacqueline and how she responds to him. Just look at the cover that so perfectly embodies how he sees her. He never treats her as incompetent or incapable. It's a change of pace from the guy/hero treating the girl as simply inept at fully grasping the complexity of a given situation thereby giving her as little information as possible and getting annoyed with her because she doesn't get the big picture.


Kudos to Tammara Webber for creating this gorgeous piece of work that just effortlessly grabbed me and gave me warm fuzzies. When I finished it, my reaction was much like how I felt about last year's Saving June by Hannah Harrington.  Easy left a glowing smile on my face because out of something so nightmarish, something incredibly beautiful came along.
~ Bel 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Book Lover's Giveaway Hop 2012




Hi all!  It's holiday giveaway time.  We're running a little behind here at BiblioJunkies HQ, so I hope you don't mind, but we are making this one really simple.  You tell us what book you want, up to $15, and we will get it to you.  So that book you've been wanting to read, but cannot justify the purchase with the holidays looming - yeah, that one, that's the one you can win here. 
 
A huge thanks to I Am A Reader, Not A Writer (as always) and Chapter by Chapter for hosting and putting together another awesome giveaway hop.  Check out the linky list below for all the other fabulous blogs participating and Good Luck!
 
Happy Holidays!
 
~Shel, Bel & Nat
 
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Peek in the Biblio-Bin (45)



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

This is what we have in our bin this week. Tell us what's in your Biblio-bin!





Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Speechless by Hannah Harrington


 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas

* * *
Lucy Marinn is a glass artist living in Friday Harbor, Washington, with a boyfriend, Kevin, who she believes is her soul mate. She has always had a magical side—a gift that finds its way into the glasswork she creates—and she struggles to keep it contained. But when Lucy is blindsided by the most bitter kind of betrayal, she questions many of her choices. Kevin leaves her and his new lover is none other than Lucy’s own sister.
Meanwhile, facing the severe disapproval of Lucy’s family, Kevin asks his friend Sam Nolan, a local vineyard owner on San Juan Island, to “romance” Lucy so that she can more easily move on. But when Sam and Lucy begin to feel real sparks between them, Lucy must ask herself if she can easily risk her heart again. Questions about love, loyalty, old patterns, mistakes, and new beginnings are explored as Lucy learns that some things in life—even after being broken—can be re-made into something beautiful. And that it is only by discovering who you really are that you can find the one who truly deserves you. (BN.com)


I have been a Lisa Kleypas fan for long time.  She is one of my top three favorite romance authors – in good company with Julia Quinn and Amy Lane.  I initially fell in love with her historical romances.  When she started writing contemporary romance I was skeptical.  Her first, Sugar Daddy, was just meh.  But the following two, Blue-Eyed Devil and Smooth Talking Stranger, were absolutely stellar.  Seeing that she could rock the contemporary romance just as much as she did historical romance, I was super excited to read her new Friday Harbor series.  What did I think of them?  Well keep reading to see what I think of Rainshadow Road.  A review of Dream Lake will be up in the next week or so.  The last in the trilogy, Crystal Cove, will be published in February and you can bet your sweet self that I will be reading and reviewing that one too.

Lucy thinks life is pretty perfect right now.  She is making a living doing what she loves.  She lives on a beautiful Pacific Northwest island with lots of lovely friends.  Her boyfriend, Kevin, of three years is absolutely amazing.  Then all of a sudden that perfection is lost when Kevin showed up in her glass shop out of the blue to inform Lucy their relationship wasn’t working for him anymore and he had met someone else.  That someone else being her sister. 

Handling the news as well as anyone would, Lucy takes off on a bike ride - her way of blowing off some steam. And along the way she meets the very sexy and commitment-phobic Sam Nolan.  That initial meeting sets off a friendship that both insist will never be anything more.   

As is usually the case with a Kleypas book, I really loved the characters.  Sam was my favorite kind of hero.  Geeky AND sexy.  The Nolan brothers are a hot mess.  And when I say hot, I mean, “Hot damn!”  And when I say mess, I mean, “Yikes, look at all the emotional baggage.”  I enjoyed Lucy’s independence and how she was open and honest about protecting herself.  Lucy’s friends, Zoe and Justine, are the best kind of friends.  Between the pastries and the reading, this trio of friends made me think of Bel, Shel and I.  Except that the three of us would probably get into a lot more trouble if we were all living together with no supervision. 

Overall this was a good read.  But I didn’t love it.  Although it was both engaging and romantic with plenty of sexual tension, there seemed to be something missing.  Maybe I am greedy but I wanted more.  I wanted more examples of Sam being a geek.  I wanted more scenes with Lucy and her girlfriends having fun.  And I wanted more magic.  Because there is magic in this book and it is beautiful magic.  But it was so tentatively done that it left me a little confused and unfulfilled.   

That being said…there are two reasons I would recommend this book.  One:  If you are a big Kleypas fan like me, then you should read it for that reason alone.  Two: If you are going to read Dream Lake (and you are because I told you to) then you should read this because the two stories overlap a little bit.  They stand alone but it is my personal opinion that it is fun to see some overlapping scenes through more than one point of view. 

Until next time; when I annoy you by gushing over the second installment in the Friday Harbor Trilogy.

 

Nat

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Glass Heart by Amy Garvey


* * *
 


Wren can do things that other people can only dream of. Make it snow on a clear, crisp day. Fly through an abandoned tunnel. Bring a paper bird to life.
Wren knows her abilities are tinged with danger--knows how easy it is to lose control--but she can't resist the intoxicating rush. And now that she has Gabriel by her side, someone who knows what she can do--what she "has" done--she finally feels free to be herself.
But as Wren explores the possibilities of her simmering powers, Gabriel starts pushing her away. Telling her to be careful.  Telling her to "stop." The more he cautions her, the more determined Wren becomes to prove that she can handle things on her own. And by the time she realizes that Gabriel may be right, it could be too late to bring him back to her side.
 

So guess who went all fangirl in the bookstore when she eyed this one? That’s right – me. Cold Kiss was one of my Top 10 reads from last year so I squealed ever so slightly when I saw this. To recap, Wren’s a witch and in the previous book brought her dead boyfriend Danny back to life… sort of. He was really more zombie-like and eventually with Gabriel’s help (he just happens to be psychic); Wren righted everything by returning Danny to the afterlife.

In Glass Heart, Wren and Gabriel are together now and she's enjoying her newfound happiness though it’s clear that she’s still working on moving past Danny. Being her first love, she does tend to compare the two guys. The most notable difference that bothers her is that Danny was an open book to her and Gabriel is the opposite.

The struggle in Glass Heart is Wren’s curioisty to learn more about her powers, to let loose and be herself. She accepts that magic is a huge part of who she is and wants to be able to unleash that part of herself. Gabriel on the other hand is insistent on discretion. Gabriel has this quiet reassuring quality about him and he’s very much her protector. He’s constantly worried for her and admonishes her every now and again for her lack of judgment. This difference in opinion drives a wedge between them and forces Wren to fall in with other like-minded people with the same abilities. This spells trouble.

There’s a distinct difference between Cold Kiss and Glass Heart. Glass Heart doesn’t have the heavy weight of mourning and loss that the previous one did.  This time it's purely about high school and the growing pains of finding your place. Wren’s feeling hopless because she cannot publicly show her abilities and she envies her friends who can show off their talents.  Glass Heart is also about rebuilding family. Now that her mother openly admits to their magical inheritance, Wren, her sister, her mother and aunt have to work through the transition.

I was happy with Cold Kiss as a standalone and to be honest, I had no idea how it could even go further from there.  Amy Garvey did a wonderful job allowing Wren to be a typical adolescent. It’s tough enough being a teenager these days but being one with special abilities can be an isolating experience.  Wren may behave like a petulant child occasionally making some seriously questionable decisions but this is what Glass Heart is all about – developing into your own through false starts and rough moments. In the end she realizes where exactly she is.

 ~ Bel

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (42)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.

By Dakota Cassidy
Publication Date:  December 4th, 2012

She’s all bottled up.

Jeannie Carlyle is a caterer extraordinaire, more than ready to handle any challenge thrown at her. But when her client asks her to open up a rare bottle of gin for a party, Jeannie is shocked when a guy in poofy pants pops out and she gets sucked inside. Trapped in the bottle, Jeannie does the only thing she can think of and uses her cell phone to search the term “paranormal” and finds the number for OOPS—Out in the Open Paranormal Support.

Until he sets her free.

Werewolf Sloan Flaherty isn’t keen on dealing with distraught women, especially since his sister-in-law Marty basically forced him to man the OOPS phones. But when Jeannie calls in a panic, Sloan is the only one available to find Jeannie’s bottle. After giving it a good rub, Jeannie emerges dressed like a character from Arabian Nights and starts calling Sloan “Master.” Now, they need to figure out how to break their unwanted bond, before the wishes Jeannie can’t stop granting get them into more trouble than even the OOPS girls can handle…


Monday, November 26, 2012

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally

* * * 1/2

Red-hot author Miranda Kenneally hits one out of the park in this return to Catching Jordan's Hundred Oaks High.

Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother’s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.

Now Parker wants a new life.

So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three? Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?

But how far is too far before she loses herself completely? (GoodReads)

 

I absolutely adored Catching Jordan.  The characters and romance were adorable and perfectly imperfect.  When I heard that Stealing Parker would be the companion novel, I was very excited.  How could I not love a baseball romance?  My favorite sport partnered with some romance?  Win/Win!

Much like Catching Jordan, our heroine, Parker, immediately captured my attention with her realistic teen voice and her significant insecurities.  Noticed I said significant?  Parker’s mom has left, her brother is on a downward spiral and her dad is in complete denial that any help is needed other than prayer and church.  Add that to Parker’s focused attempts to prove she is not like her mom and you find that Parker has a lot to be worried about.   

Although this book has romance, it is more about Parker overcoming her own issues rather than finding a boyfriend.  It took a while before I even knew who her love interest was.  Kenneally handles this story with care and realism.  Not everything is happily ever after and everybody’s future is most definitely not wrapped up with a bright and pretty bow.   Not to say that there aren’t a few “Aww” moments in this book.  There certainly are. 

This story was definitely a bit dark but it was still an enjoyable read.  I would definitely recommend it if you enjoyed Miranda Kenneally’s first novel, Catching Jordan.

  

Nat

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Dark Light by Sara Walsh

* * * *



 
Mysterious lights have flickered above Crownsville for as long as Mia can remember. And as far as she’s concerned, that’s about the only interesting thing to happen in her small town.
That is, until Sol arrives. Mia’s not one to fall for just any guy, but she can’t get Sol—or the brilliant tattoo on his back—out of her mind.
Then Mia’s brother goes missing, and Mia’s convinced that Sol knows more than he’s sharing. But getting closer to Sol means reevaluating everything Mia once believed to be true. Because Sol’s not who Mia thought he was—and neither is she.

 
 
I fully admit to choosing this book because of its provocative cover. There’s something so compelling about it that I couldn’t resist escaping into this fantastical world that Sara Walsh has created in her dazzling debut.

I knew that the story would progress itself into the supernatural realm but I had no clue how that was going to happen. I remained in complete ignorant bliss just following Mia through her days, understanding her background and her struggles. Being seventeen and responsible for her little half-brother and keeping her grades up while working part time are Mia’s top priorities in life. Her uncle is not exactly reliable but he’s still family. She lives in a typical small town living the typical small town life, though not everything is normal. There are always those lights around town – mysterious and mesmerizing – that most of the townspeople have gotten used to but have had her curious for as long as she can remember.  Ripping a giant hole in the perfect small town picture is the fact that young boys have been going missing for the last few months. Mia’s gut instinct is that those disappearances are linked to those lights. But who can she tell without sounding like a nutter?

Enter Sol, who arrives at her high school raising many eyebrows looking every bit the detached loner. Naturally Mia is drawn to him yet also weary of him. She takes it upon herself to discover who he is. As she does she also uncovers a disturbing connection to her family.  Getting closer to him embroils her in trouble and well, her reality is forever changed. When her brother disappears, it’s goodbye normal teen problems and hello crazy new world.

The Dark Light is such an appealing story and I was very impressed that Walsh didn’t divulge all its secrets at once. Just when I’d gotten over one new detail, there’d be another startling revelation to make me go wide-eyed with awe.

I’ll just go ahead and repeat myself: The Dark Light is a dazzler! Slightly spine-chilling in the beginning but develops in to an exhilarating adventure.  I want more!

 
~ Bel