Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Throne Of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

* * * *
Available August 7, 2012


Description taken from the author's website:

When magic has gone from the world, and a vicious king rules from his throne of glass, an assassin comes to the castle. She does not come to kill, but to win her freedom. If she can defeat twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition to find the greatest assassin in the land, she will become the King’s Champion and be released from prison.

 Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

 The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her.

And a princess from a foreign land will become the one thing Celaena never thought she’d have again: a friend.

But something evil dwells in the castle–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying, horribly, one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival–and a desperate quest to root out the source of evil before it destroys her world.



Throne of Glass is being touted as the teen Game of Thrones. I have not watched the series nor have I read those books, so I have no means of comparison.  However, with the way things played out in this outstanding debut, I have no doubt that Sarah J. Maas has quite an epic adventure in store for us!

Celaena is an assassin armed with a sharp mind, a keen eye and cutting wit. She is by far one of my favorite heroines that I have encountered. Little does Celaena realize that accepting Prince Dorian’s offer to become his champion would send her on a journey that would both challenge her and also introduce her to a court life that is riddled with political drama and intrigue. Overseeing her training, is Chaol Westfall, the no nonsense captain of the guard and also Prince Dorian’s best friend. He comes off as gruff, but we all know that means deep down inside he’s a softie, right? And Prince Dorian is simply misunderstood.

There are many things I appreciate about TOG. It’s a story about Celaena and her fight to win her freedom. While there’s a hint of a possible love triangle between the three main characters, the story never veers off course. Celaena is smart but she’s not a woman who uses her femininity to manipulate either Prince Dorian or Chaol. To that end she stands in stark contrast to the other ladies at court. Thankfully, Celaena is not on her own in this regard as she befriends the visiting Princess Nehemia. Princess Nehemia's agenda at court is not at first clear but together with Celaena, these two are formidable young women and powerful allies. Celaena is also a brilliant athlete who takes her training seriously. She employs her keen power of observation and instinct to get a leg up on her competitors. I also enjoy how politics and dark magical forces slowly entwine themselves with the competition.  Living in a world where magic has gone underground adds great suspense to the story. Celaena learns that the mysterious deaths of her fellow competitors are part of a very sinister plot to undermine the current regime and that her presence at the competition is no coincidence. She grapples with the truth that her destiny is far greater than just earning her freedom. Once she accepts that, her dedication and resolve know no limits.

There were a couple times where the story had me on edge wondering if Celaena would meet with an untimely death. Granted I know that there can’t very well be a series without her but I was seriously caught up in the thick of it and worried for her! And I freely admit that I was like a giddy 14 year-old girl impatiently waiting to find out who she’d kiss first. I’m not telling :)

Throne of Glass is an impressive debut that's a whole lot of fun - I know many readers will take a shine to it. Celaena’s witty banter with both Prince Dorian and Chaol, particularly Chaol are fantastic. While Prince Dorian is playful, Celaena's and Chaol's tendency to goad each other provide for some of the funniest moments in the book. The political dynamics introduced, including many levels of deception and backstabbing, are only a small hint of the drama to come!

~ Bel

Visit Sarah J. Maas' website at http://sarahjmaas.com/ where you can access the pronunciation guide. Also, in anticipation of the release of TOG on August 7, three e-novellas are currently available for download: The Assassin And The Pirate Lord, The Assassin And The Desert and The Assassin And The Underworld. Also check out this stunning book trailer for TOG:

Monday, July 30, 2012

Peek in the Biblio-Bin (34)



 




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!


Something Like NormalMuch Ado About Magic (Enchanted, Inc., #5)Lifestyles of the Rich and Undead





Lifestyles of the Rich and Undead by Katie MacAlister

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller





Friday, July 27, 2012

Forever & A Day by Jill Shalvis

****1/2


From Grand Central:
LOVE CAN HAPPEN IN A HEARTBEAT
Grace never thought she'd be starting her life over from scratch. Losing everything has landed her in Lucky Harbor, working as a dog walker for overwhelmed ER doctor Josh Scott. But the day his nanny fails to show up, Grace goes from caring for Josh's lovable mutt to caring for his rambunctious son. Soon Grace is playing house with the sexy single dad . . .
With so many people depending on him, Josh has no time for anything outside of his clinic and family-until Grace arrives in town. Now this brainy blonde is turning his life inside out and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "good bedside manner." Josh and Grace don't know if what they have can last. But in a town like Lucky Harbor, a lifetime of love starts with just one day . . .


Forever and a Day is the third book in this Lucky Harbor series.  In this book we follow Grace and Josh as they fall in love.  There is a crazy cast of characters including Josh's evil sister who rejoices in creating chaos, Josh's adorable son, an evil dog and the crazy citizens of Lucky Harbor.  Full of hilarious situations and plenty of steamy scenes, Forever and a Day is classic Jill Shalvis and reminded me, once again, why I adore her books.   


This is Josh (a pic stolen from Jill Shalvis' blog).  I know I already posted it in my review of At Last, but I couldn't resist adding the hottness again!  I think I need to move to Lucky Harbor as they seem to have an inordinately high number of seriously hot alpha men that need to be oogled...

Next up for Jill is Rescue My Heart - the third installment of the Animal Magnetism series, coming out November 6, 2012.



Forever and a Day will be out on Tuesday (7/31) and I highly recommend you grab it and plan for some great weekend reading next week!

~Shel


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop!

While we are enjoying our not-so-lazy days of summer, we are thrilled to participate in the Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Colorimetry. 

There are over 200 blogs participating, so be sure to check out the linky below and enter to win some great stuff! 

For our fabulous giveaway, author Michelle Rowen has graciously offered TWO copies of her upcoming book Blood, Bath & Beyond!  This means two of our lucky readers will win! 

Michelle Rowen is an award winning, national bestselling author of some seriously fun books, including adult and young adult paranormal titles.  Michelle's new adult series, the Immortality Bites Mystery series kicks off with Blood, Bath & Beyond (how awesome is that name?).  

  

An Immortality Bites Mystery #1
 August 7, 2012 - NAL Obsidian
ISBN-10: 0451237641
ISBN-13: 978-0451237644

Sarah Dearly is adjusting to life as a fledgling vampire, satisfying her cravings at vampire-friendly blood banks. But when her fiance Thierry takes a job with the Ring—the secret council in charge of keeping vampires in line—Sarah’s about to get more than a taste of danger…

Being engaged to a centuries-old master vampire can be challenging—especially when he takes a job with the Ring. Thierry’s in for fifty years of nonstop travel and deadly risk. It’s enough to make any woman reconsider the wedding…any woman except Sarah, that is!

Traveling with him to Las Vegas for his first assignment, they encounter a child beauty pageant contestant from hell, as well as a vampire serial killer leaving victims drained of blood, potentially exposing the existence of vampires to the whole world. But when Thierry’s truly ancient history comes back to haunt him, and he’s accused of a crime he didn’t commit, it’s up to Sarah to clear his name before their immortal lives come to an end.

Praise for Blood, Bath & Beyond -
“A bloody hysterical paranormal mystery!” –New York Times Bestselling Author Victoria Laurie

4-1/2 star TOP PICK! “Rowen jumps from paranormal romance to paranormal mystery without skipping a beat…Here’s hoping Sarah will have many more adventures in her new series.” —RT BookReviews

5 star TOP PICK! (Rowen makes) the transition from paranormal romance to paranormal mystery with ease. Her writing is sharp, witty and does not disappoint. The ending will delight both old and new fans, and leave you thirsting for the next installment. —Night Owl Reviews

About Michelle:
Michelle Rowen has always loved vampire fiction, especially when thevampires are tall, dark, and handsome instead of evil, scary, and gruesome. Sheis the national bestselling and award-winning author of many paranormal novelsfor adults and young adults. When not writing or reading, Michelle enjoyswatching trashy reality TV and coming up with good excuses not to go to thegym. Visit her website at
www.michellerowen.com, "Like" her at www.facebook.com/michellerowenbooks, and follow her at www.twitter.com/michellerowen!

So, you know the drill.  This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada shipping addresses only.  Fill out the Rafflecopter form below and keep your fingers crossed! 

~Shel




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Clear Water by Amy Lane (Adult Romance)

* * * 1/2 

Meet Patrick Cleary party boy, loser, and spaz. Patrick's been trying desperately to transform himself, and the results have been so spectacular, they've almost killed him. Meet Wes "Whiskey" Keenan he's a field biologist wondering if it's time to settle down. When the worst day of Patrick's life ends with Whiskey saving it, Patrick and Whiskey find themselves sharing company and an impossibly small berth on the world's tackiest houseboat.

Patrick needs to get his life together-and Whiskey wants to help-but Patrick is not entirely convinced it's doable. He's pretty sure he's a freak of nature. But Whiskey, who works with real freaks of nature, thinks all Patrick needs is a little help to see the absolute beauty inside his spastic self, and Whiskey is all about volunteering. Between anomalous frogs, a homicidal ex-boyfriend, and Patrick's own hangups, Whiskey's going to need all of his patience and Patrick's going to need to find the best of himself before these two men ever see clear water.



It’s no secret that Bel and I are total Amy Lane fangirls.  It all started earlier this year when Bel read Chase in Shadow then sent me numerous texts about how intense it is.  So I read it and I instantly fell in love.  Since then I have read 11 Amy Lane books.  In all of that reading I have found that Amy is known for her angst filled stories.  But sometimes she surprises us with a sweet happy romance.  Clear Water is one of those surprises.   

I don’t even know where to begin so I will just start with the cover.  Yum!  It contains some of my favorite things when it comes to boys: lean build, bare chest, ripped jeans and a beach.  Had I seen this book on the shelf at the store I would have bought it based on the cover alone.  Fortunately what is inside is just as wonderful. 

Amy‘s biggest strength is creating characters that we care about and giving them a voice that makes them vividly 3-dimensional.  Patrick is no exception.  His character practically leaps off the page and right into your lap….hmmm, now that is visual I am perfectly okay with.  Patrick won my heart almost immediately.    

Patrick is the only son of a wealthy businessman.  He has had everything he could want given to him - everything except his father’s approval.  Patrick’s dad thinks Patrick is a screw up.  What he sees is a young man that couldn’t finish school and changes career plans on a weekly basis.  A boy that can’t commit to anything.  What he refuses to understand is that Patrick has ADD.  Patrick’s dad has been telling Patrick for years that he doesn’t need his ADD meds.  That he just needs to apply himself and then he will be successful.  You learn all of this in the first chapter and it is the perfect set up to understand Patrick’s insecurities and lack of self confidence.  


Then we meet Whiskey – research scientist and all around hottie.  When he rescues Patrick from a sinking car, his world is turned upside down.  Somehow Patrick has convinced him and his research partner, Flybait, to let him stay with them and help with both the boat and the research project.  Which means Whiskey ends up sharing a bunk with Patrick.  And that turns out to be frustrating and embarrassing for Whiskey but highly amusing and entertaining for the reader.  What’s not to love about that, right? 

Whiskey becomes Patrick’s biggest champion as Patrick slowly develops the self-confidence and focus he has been missing in his life.  And of course the chemistry between them grows every day that Patrick is on the boat. But this story isn’t just about the romance.  There is a mystery too.  A mystery that, in the end, brings Patrick and his father back together with a better understanding of one another.   

I love all of the Amy Lane books I have read so it’s no surprise that I enjoyed this one so much.  Clear Water is a fun, sweet read that will leave you smiling from start to finish.  If you are a fan of gay romance, I definitely recommend this one. 



Nat

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (26)


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



By James Dashner
Publication Date: August 14, 2012

The prequel to the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series.

Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease.

Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next. Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees.

Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive




By Michelle Rowen
Publication Date:  August 7, 2012

An Immortality Bites Mystery #1
 August 7, 2012 - NAL Obsidian
ISBN-10: 0451237641
ISBN-13: 978-0451237644


Sarah Dearly is adjusting to life as a fledgling vampire, satisfying her cravings at vampire-friendly blood banks. But when her fiance Thierry takes a job with the Ring—the secret council in charge of keeping vampires in line—Sarah’s about to get more than a taste of danger…


Being engaged to a centuries-old master vampire can be challenging—especially when he takes a job with the Ring. Thierry’s in for fifty years of nonstop travel and deadly risk. It’s enough to make any woman reconsider the wedding…any woman except Sarah, that is!

Traveling with him to Las Vegas for his first assignment, they encounter a child beauty pageant contestant from hell, as well as a vampire serial killer leaving victims drained of blood, potentially exposing the existence of vampires to the whole world. But when Thierry’s truly ancient history comes back to haunt him, and he’s accused of a crime he didn’t commit, it’s up to Sarah to clear his name before their immortal lives come to an end.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry


* * * * 1/2

"I won't tell anyone, Echo. I promise." Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. "You didn't do that-did you? It was done to you?" No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.

So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much
impossible.
Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.


When I read the summary for Pushing the Limits, I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy it but at the same time I still kind of expected an enjoyable but throw away romance.  How surprised was I to read what is so far one of my favorites books of 2012?  For me, Pushing the Limits rivaled If I Stay and Where She Went minus the incessant crying.  Oh there were some tears but McGarry was nice enough to give me long breaks between heartbreaking and soul crushing scenes. I can’t thank her enough for that.   


Noah and Echo are two teens that have been dealt horrible experiences in life.  Their experiences have forced them to grow up before they are ready and have destroyed their trust in the people around them.  Particularly the adults in their life.  And can you blame them?   After losing his parents and being put into a less than ideal first foster home, Noah has been mislabeled as dangerous and has been separated from his younger brothers.  The foster care system – run by adults – has done nothing to earn his trust or respect. 

Echo has been told that her mom hurt her but she has no memory of it.  Not that she doesn’t believe it.  She has the physical and mental scars after all.  But her father (or anyone else for that matter) won’t tell her what happened.  On top of that she is still dealing with the death of her brother, her parents divorce and her new step-mom.  Yeah, Echo has a lot of trust issues too. 

Enter Mrs. Collins, a counselor that is part of a new program that provides school counseling to kids that are part of child services and dealing with major issues.  Echo and Noah definitely fit into this category and both are “forced” to meet with Mrs. Collins.  Mrs. Collins ends up being a guardian angel type of character.  She uses patience and tenacity to help these two teens find the things they need to move on in their lives and make the hard decisions that they were incapable of making before.   

What I loved most about this book was the reality of it all.  Every single character in this book is imperfectly human.  Even Mrs. Collins, the “guardian angel”, has her faults.  Many of the characters that you think are being unfair might actually be acting out of fear and/or love.  And that human imperfection makes its way into the romance in this story.  This is not an instant romance.  Noah and Echo don’t look at each other the first time and see stars and hear music.  They know of each other’s existence but run in completely different crowds.  Their first official meeting outside the counselor’s office is wonderfully adolescent and doesn’t necessarily give you hope for the rest of their relationship.  But it does show you that even though they have been forced to grow up in some ways they are still very young.   


Noah’s point of view:


Like always, she stared straight ahead as if I didn’t exist.  Hell, I probably didn’t exist in her mind.  People like Echo Emerson irritated the crap out of me. 

“You’ve got a fucked-up name.” I mumbled.  I didn’t know why I wanted to rattle her, I just did.

“Shouldn’t you be getting high in the bathroom?” 

So she did know me.  “They installed security cameras.  We do it in the parking lot now.” 

“My bad.”  Her foot rocked frantically back and forth. 

Good, I’d succeeded in getting under that perfect fa├žade. “Echo…echo…echo…” 

Her foot stopped rocking and red curls bounced furiously as she turned to face me. “How original.  I’ve never heard that before.”  She swept up her backpack and left the office.  Her tight ass swayed side to side as she marched down the hallway.  That wasn’t nearly as fun as I’d thought it would be.  In fact, I kind of felt like a dick.



That scene gives a perfect representation of Noah and Echo’s personalities.  He is the bad boy troublemaker with a conscience that still peeks through every once in a while.  Echo is nervous and scared but still has a snarky tenacious attitude that helps her get by day to day. 


You know, I could go on and on about this book so I will just stop now. 


Pushing the Limits provides the perfect amount of romance and angst and heartbreak and hope.  This is hands down my favorite YA read so far this year.   This book is in bookstores today.  I highly recommend you go out and buy a copy.   You won’t be disappointed. 



Nat

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Peek in the Biblio-Bin (33)



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!










For Review

Fifty Shames of Earl Grey by Fanny Merkin (aka Andrew Shaffer)
They City's Son by Tom Pollock


Bought/Borrowed

What a Boy Wants by Nyrae Dawn
The Misfits by James Howe


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson

* * *1/2

Four girls. One magical, and possibly dangerous Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!



I loved this book.  With the beautiful Italian countryside, gorgeous Italian boys and a drunk ass, what’s not to love?  And when I say drunk ass, I mean a donkey drunk on red wine.  Seriously.  I need to party with the Italians.  Shel, when are we taking your dream trip to Italy? 

Oh boy.  I just realized that we might get crap for the above paragraph so let me just say now that the book does address cruelty to animals and I would NEVER actually condone giving an animal booze in any way shape or form.  *sigh* 

All joking aside, this book was lovely.  The story begins in London where Violet sees an 18th century painting of an Italian girl that looks just like her.  The resemblance is uncanny which introduces doubts regarding Violet’s parentage.  She begins to research the painting and although unable to learn the name of the girl, she does learn where the girl posed for the painting – Castello di Vesperi.  This knowledge spurs her to enroll in an Italian finishing school that is provided the only private tours of the castle.  What begins as a quest to solve a mystery becomes a summer of discovering new interests, friendships and crushes.   Mind you, the mystery is still there and comes out in full force towards the end. 

Sometimes what makes a love story wonderful is not the ending but the journey.  And this is what I enjoyed most about this book.  So many times I am rushing to see if the girl gets the boy (or vice versa) but this time I found myself sitting back and savoring the descriptions of the day-to-day activities, of the beautiful country, of characters expressions and language.  Some people might say that all of that information is unnecessary but I think that is what makes this book wonderful and stand out from other YA romances.   

My only complaint is that Ms. Henderson ends this book with a romantic cliffhanger that will leave this romance lover pouting for days.  But at the same time, I have something absolutely lovely to look forward to when Following in Love in Italian is released in 2013. 

If you are looking for a fast paced read, this isn’t for you.  But if you are looking for a relaxing story that will make you daydream about Italy, fun friends and cute boys, pick this one up.  You won’t be disappointed. 

Nat

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (25)


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



By Katie McGarry
Publication Date: July 31, 2012

"I won't tell anyone, Echo. I promise." Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. "You didn't do that-did you? It was done to you?" No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.

"An edgy romance that pulls you in and never lets go. I was hooked!"-Gena Showalter, New York Times bestselling author of the Intertwined series

So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible. Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

* * * 1/2

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the "thing" inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on—even if it seems no one believes her.



Simply put…I loved The Girl in the Steel Corset.  The very first chapter pulled me in with an action packed fight scene and a bad ass heroine.  As we have mentioned many times before, the Bibliojunkies LOVE strong heroines.   So needless to say, it didn’t take me long to fall head over heels for Finley Jane. 

The characters are what make this book so enjoyable.  So many of the characters were strong and likeable – Griffin, Emily, Jasper and Jack Dandy.  They weren’t perfect but neither did they have any major flaws.  They were simply human….well, except for that whole super power thing.  My personal favorite was Jack Dandy - a shady crime lord with a cockney accent that seems to disappear when he becomes emotional.  He was just so naughty and so likeable at the same time.  He definitely tickled that bad boy attraction so many girls have. I can't wait to see if we find out what his story is in Book #2.  My least favorite characters were Cordelia and Sam.  Cordelia was just bossy and rude.   I wanted to scream “Hey lady! Stop reading minds without permission!”  And then Sam.  He was just so whiny and annoying.  I wanted to smack some sense into him.  But since he is partly made of metal I probably would have just hurt my hand in the process.  Even though I didn’t care for their characters (and really, we can’t expect to like every character in a book) there is a reason they are written the way they are.  They and their personalities contribute significantly to the story.

The only complaint I have is that there were times when I felt that certain events were glossed over.  I felt like I was expected to just accept certain scenarios without any explanation.  But the story itself was fun and moved quickly.  Add that to lots of action and great characters and I was able to forget the very few things I didn’t like.

If you are looking for a fast paced steam punk fantasy, I highly recommend The Girl in the Steel Corset.  I enjoyed it immensely.



Nat

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Peek in the Biblio-Bin (32)


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!








For Review:  Thank you Spencer Hill Press and Random House!

Deity by Jennifer Armentrout

The Kill Order (Maze Runner Prequel) by James Dashner


Bought:

Living Violet (The Cambion Chronicles #1) by Jaime Reed

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

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

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Friday, July 13, 2012

Meg-A-Readers Blog Hop! Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

**1/2



Today we are happy to be participating (in our second stop) on the Meg-A-Readers Blog Hop hosted by Mandy @The Romance Bookie and Diana @Little Miss Drama Queen!  Thanks ladies for hosting this fantastic Hop!  For our first stop I gushed over Meg and spoke of my love for her, but just to show I am not blinded by her awesomeness, I give you my review of Queen of Babble.

From Author's Website (www.megcabot.com):

Big mouth. Big heart.
Big problems.
Lizzie Nichols has a problem, and it isn’t that she doesn’t have the slightest idea what she’s going to do with her life, or that she’s blowing her college graduation money on a trip to visit her long-distance boyfriend (of three months) Andrew, instead of using it as the down payment for the cute little Manhattan apartment everyone is expecting her to rent after finding a well-paying job in the city.

Where she’s going to live and how she’s going to support herself in the fall are really the least of Lizzie’s problems right now. Not when she’s got to deal with the fact that she’s done it again. See, Lizzie can’t keep her mouth shut. It’s not just that she can’t keep a secret—she can’t keep anything to herself.

But this time when she opens her big mouth, her good intentions get Andrew in major hot water. Now Lizzie’s stuck in London with no boyfriend and no place to stay until the departure date written on her non-changeable airline ticket.

What’s an American girl with a big mouth—but an equally big heart—to do?

Fortunately there’s Shari, Lizzie’s best friend and college roommate, who’s spending her summer in the south of France, catering weddings with her boyfriend Chaz in a sixteenth century chateau. One call to Shari, and Lizzie’s on a train to Paris. Who cares if Lizzie’s never traveled alone before in her life, and speaks only rudimentary French? One glimpse of gorgeous Chateau Mirac—not to mention gorgeous Luke, Chateau Mirac’s owner—and she’s smitten…

But while most caterers can be trusted to keep a secret, Lizzie’s the exception. And no sooner has the first cork been popped than Luke seems to hate her, the bride is in tears, and it looks like Chateau Mirac is in danger of becoming a lipo-recovery spa. As if things aren’t bad enough, ex-boyfriend Andy shows up looking for closure (or at least a loan), threatening to ruin everything, especially Lizzie’s chance at ever finding real love…

…unless she can figure out a way to use that big mouth of hers to save the day.


I admit, this book (and the series as a whole) was a miss with me.  I read them all, because, well, it's Meg Cabot, but I just could not get into these characters.  They are all pretty lousy people, even Lizzie.  Some of Lizzie's babble is truly funny, especially when she first meets Luke, but after a while I was ready for the babble to stop.  I did not hate the series, but if you are looking to read Meg Cabot, I would recommend that you by-pass Queen of Babble and go straight to the Heather Wells Series, the Boy Series, Avalon High, Abandon or really any other books by Meg Cabot (sorry Meg!).

~Shel 


Messy by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

* * * *



After a rocky start in Spoiled, Brooke Berlin and her newly discovered half sister, Molly Dix, have settled into something like sisterly love, but the drama is far from over.
Now that Brooke's caught a taste of fame and her movie star father's attention, she wants to launch a blog that will position her as the ultimate Hollywood insider. But between schoolwork, party-planning committee meetings, and spa treatments, she hardly has the time to write it herself...


Enter Max McCormack, an aspiring author with a terrible after-school job pushing faux meat on the macrobiotic masses of La-La Land. Max reluctantly agrees to play Brooke's ghost-blogger for an impressive salary, and the site takes off, but how long can their lie last? In person, Brooke can't live up to the intellectual wit of openbrooke.com, and Max soon begins to resent hiding her genius behind a bandage dress-wearing blonde. Can the girls work together to stay on top, or will the truth come out and ruin everything they've built?


If you’re in serious need of something ridiculous and outlandish, then look no further. Messy is the companion novel to Spoiled and in my opinion, it’s even better!

What makes Messy a treat is the antagonistic relationship between Brooke and Max – Brooke being the total Hollywood package with her blonde hair and deep knowledge of shoewear and Max being the antithesis with her standout green hair and astute understanding of normal humans. When Max agrees to be the ghostwriter for Brooke’s blog, it’s really a means to an end. That end being a summer writing program in New York that she’s been unsuccessfully saving money for. Needless to say, Max struggles with feeling like a sellout for working with Brooke but at the same time can’t help but be a little awestruck by Brooke’s world.  Somehow, the two manage a passable friendship that seems to call for carting Brooke around from one casting call to another. Max must  have missed that in the fine print. It’s when Brooke’s blog lands her a lead in a brand new movie version of Nancy Drew that things turn hairy and utterly nonsensical. Not only are people’s perception of Brooke more positive because of the blog but expectations are also higher. They actually think she has substance and intelligible things to say!  But the bonus is that Brick Berlin, Brooke’s famous actor dad is finally paying attention to her. His approval is what she has always wanted and she’s not about to squander this achievement.

Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan have a blast poking fun at all that’s ostentatious and trendy in and about Hollywood. They have plenty of ammunition considering how successful they are with their own celebrity fashion blog gofugyourself.com. You know how you hear people say, “You can’t make up this stuff”? It does make me wonder how true some of the more insane scenarios in the book are. Try as you might, Brooke is hard not to like. She’s not as shallow and brainless as she appears. Every scene she's in is amusing because she's so unabashed about who she is. She's never malicious oblivious may be but I look forward to whatever she has to say. And thanks to Max, my new favorite phrase is “mind bitch” as when she, through her own internal process, serves up bitchy responses to a conversation currently taking place. I think it’s brilliant! Mostly because I do it all the time. Now while Hollywood is the backdrop, the story does essentially come down to friendship, honesty and may be some humble pie.  Oh and boys. Don’t forget, there’s always a boy or two involved.

So yes, definitely give Messy a read. It's quick, smart and just simply entertaining. For me, it was just the perfect thing to take me out of the doledrums of a hellish couple of weeks recently. I needed laughs and that's exactly what I got. Now I'd also like to suggest an idea for their next book. How's this for a scenario? Brooke encounters the creatures from Jersey Sore (no, that's not a typo. I despise reality shows and consider that one in particular to be an example of an evolutionary glitch). Anyway, it would be interesting to see if Brooke could bring a little bit of class to that unkempt set. Just a suggestion ...

~ Bel




Thursday, July 12, 2012

Brownies & Broomsticks by Bailey Caites

**1/2

From Signet:
Katie Lightfoot's tired of loafing around as the assistant manager of an Ohio bakery. So when her aunt Lucy and uncle Ben open a bakery in Savannah's quaint downtown district and ask Katie to join them, she enthusiastically agrees.

While working at the Honeybee Bakery—named after Lucy's cat—Katie notices that her aunt is adding mysterious herbs to her recipes. Turns out these herbal enhancements aren't just tasty—Aunt Lucy is a witch and her recipes are actually spells!

When a curmudgeonly customer is murdered outside the Honeybee Bakery, Uncle Ben becomes the prime suspect. With the help of handsome journalist Steve Dawes, charming firefighter Declan McCarthy, and a few spells, Katie and Aunt Lucy stir up some toil and trouble to clear Ben's name and find the real killer...

The Good:
I love the premise of this book.  Katie gives up a life that is not making her happy after being dumped by her fiance.  She packs up everything, moves to Savannah and makes a new start opening her dream bakery with the Aunt and Uncle she adores.  The characters she encounters in Savannah are a little wacky, but mostly good-hearted. 

The Bad:
The love triangle between Katie, Declan and Steve felt unbelievable and forced.  I also thought that Katie's reaction to finding out her parents had lied to her and hidden her witchy heritage was unnatural.  She was entirely too accepting of the news sprung on her.

The Bottom Line:
I did not love it, I did not hate it.  It was a pleasant enough read for a sweltering Saturday afternoon hiding from the heat. 

~Shel

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (24)


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


By Tana French
Publication Date: July 24, 2012

In BROKEN HARBOUR, a ghost estate outside Dublin - half-built, half-inhabited, half-abandoned - two children and their father are dead. The mother is on her way to intensive care. Scorcher Kennedy is given the case because he is the Murder squad’s star detective. At first he and his rookie partner, Richie, think this is a simple one: Pat Spain was a casualty of the recession, so he killed his children, tried to kill his wife Jenny, and finished off with himself. But there are too many inexplicable details and the evidence is pointing in two directions at once.

Scorcher’s personal life is tugging for his attention. Seeing the case on the news has sent his sister Dina off the rails again, and she’s resurrecting something that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control: what happened to their family, one summer at Broken Harbour, back when they were children. The neat compartments of his life are breaking down, and the sudden tangle of work and family is putting both at risk . . .

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

At Last by Jill Shalvis

****

From Grand Central:
HER LOVE HAS COME ALONG . . .
Amy Michaels loves her new life in Lucky Harbor. A waitress in the local diner, she's looking forward to her first weekend hike through the mountains. But when a wrong turn takes her off the trail, she finds herself up close and personal with forest ranger Matt Bowers. And even though she's tempted to kiss that sexy smile right off his face, she won't make the mistake of getting involved with the town heartthrob.

A former cop whose life went south, Matt doesn't let anyone get too close. But something about the feisty beauty caught his eye the moment he first saw her in the diner. After a hot night under a starry sky, Matt can't deny their attraction-or the fact that for the first time in a long time, he feels the stirrings of something more. Now it's up to Matt to help Amy see that, no matter what is in their past, together they can build a future in Lucky Harbor.

At Last is a story about two people coming to terms with their past to forge a new future together.  It's a common premise, which should be so very been there and done that, but Jill Shalvis never ceases to amaze me with her ability to tell a fresh story with every book.  Shalvis is a genuine treasure and story-teller, making us laugh, cry and devour every last word.  For her die-hard fans, At Last will be a must read.  For anyone out there that has not tried Jill Shalvis, I highly recommend that you pick up At Last (or any other Jill Shalvis book), grab your favorite lawn chair, a cool drink and enjoy a perfect summer Sunday afternoon falling in love with a super hot forest ranger...

At Last is out now and is the second book in this Lucky Harbor series.  The first, Lucky in Love, reviewed by yours truly here.  The third, Forever & A Day will be released on July 31, 2012, featuring the third Chocoholic, Grace, a hot doctor (Josh, pic from Jill's blog featured below), an evil dog and of course, chocolate!



You totally want to read it now, right?!

~Shel

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Peek in the Biblio-Bin (31)


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!







Messy by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Silence by Michelle Sagara

It Takes a Witch by Heather Blake

Soulbound (Legacy of Tril #1) by Heather Brewer

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

* * * *

Godspeed was fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos.

It's been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. And everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may just be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to enact his vision - no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder discovers shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a puzzle that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier, unable to fight the romance that's growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.

In book two of the Across the Universe trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis mesmerizes us again with a brilliantly crafted mystery filled with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.


You may (or may not) remember me exclaiming my disappointment in Beth Revis for crapping on my shiny spaceship fantasy.  What I can tell you off the bat is that the Beth Revis’s story did not get any shinier.  But that’s okay because shiny would just cover up the awesomeness that is A Million Suns. 

When Across the Universe ended with the inhibitor supply being cutoff you just knew that the people were going to revolt in the next book.  Elder has no idea how to command the ship let alone manage a rebellion and to make matters worse he has just discovered that the ship has stopped and as far as can be determined has been motionless since The Plague. While trying to come up with a solution to the ship’s lack of momentum, Elder and Amy learn a secret that will most likely be the final spark that causes a civil war on the ship. 

I really enjoyed Across the Universe but I have to say that A Million Suns blew it out of the water.  The pace was fast and Beth Revis keeps you guessing at every page.  What I love most about these books is that neither of the main characters (Elder and Amy) is perfect.  Elder and Amy are idealistic teens but perfection is not a quality they (or anybody for that matter) possess.  

So many times we read about teen characters that are born leaders.  Elder is trying to lead and command a ship with no real life experience to pave the way.  He is most definitely NOT a born leader but there is no doubt he tries his best.   And then there is Amy that is struggling with the loss of her parents as well as her attraction to Elder and his attraction to her.  They way she deals with both issues leave a lot to be desired but at the same time are completely human reactions with which a lot of people can identify. 

The final installment in this trilogy can’t come soon enough.  I am eagerly awaiting the release of Shade of Earth in January 2013.



Nat

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bound by Erica O'Rourke

* * * *



Mo Fitzgerald has made her choice: A life in Chicago. A future with Colin. To leave behind the enigmatic Luc and the world of the Arcs. But the more she struggles to keep her magic and mortal lives separate, the deadlier the consequences. In the end, Mo must risk everything – her life, her heart, her future – or lose it all.


I’d like to thank Erica O’Rourke for my lack of sleep. I’ve had my nose in this book for two days straight wishing I had the patience to slowly read through it but I don’t. I just had to know and now I’m sad it’s over. 

The first chapter opens with the return of Mo’s father, Jack. Considering he’s been behind bars for the last few years and the little child he’d left behind is now a stubborn young teen, you can say the reunion is nothing short of awkward. Mo’s uncle Billy, continues to be a manipulating scoundrel (I’ll refrain from using a stronger word though I’d very much like to) and her mom, Annie still has her head stuck in the ground much like an ostrich only more annoying. Colin and Mo are officially a couple openly displaying their relationship.

Mo has plenty on her shoulders but none weighs more heavily than the deal she brokered with Billy to protect Colin. As a result, she’s now working as an errand girl for him and it’s put her in a whole new line of fire. And Luc, oh Luc, that ever charming and mischievous fellow, is still around though "trying" to respect some of the boundaries Mo has put in place. Try as she might to be planted firmly in the Flat world, she is tied to Luc and the Arc world. Dealing with the Quartoren, taking down her uncle and a rival mob, plus school, dating her bodyguard and avoiding her parents keep her social schedule rather full.

Bound is thoroughly enjoyable. Much like its predecessors, it has action, humor and twists  galore making every moment of reading fun. Mo does do a lot of growing up in this one, coming a long way from the girl who witnessed the tragic murder of her best friend. Her personal evolution finds her simple black and white philosophy making room for other people’s perspectives. She makes no apologies for some of her decisions such as snooping behind Colin’s back to learn about his past. By the same token she also learns that while too many secrets can hurt, boundaries still need to be respected. On a wider scale, you see her awkwardly learning to come to terms with her double life.

My favorite element of the series is that the paranormal world with its own brand of dysfunction often collides into Mo’s equally dysfunctional world in Chicago. It puts the reader on edge to see this somewhat normal girl whose biggest worry should be applying to college suddenly be thrown into utter chaos because of a cruel twist of fate. It's a wonder Mo maintains her sanity long enough to devise a plan of action. This being another reason I enjoy the series so much Mo is a heroine who uses her intellect to work her way through each disaster. She makes tough decisions and she's loyal to a fault. The dangers she faces feel so tangible that it's easy to grasp the demanding push-and-pull of both worlds. 

If you’ve read the first two in the series, Torn and Tangled, then you’ll find many questions answered and Mo won’t disappoint you.  Bound also finds a few of the supporting characters stepping up. Together they help to tie up loose ends and everyone can breathe a huge sigh of relief.  You're certain that everything will work itself out but there’s genuine pleasure in watching Mo influence events. She's had enough of being bossed around. Plus she’s picked up a few things from watching her sleazy uncle, so you know she’s got plenty of fight in her!

~ Bel