Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (8)

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

By Emily M. Danforth
Publication Date: February 7, 2012

When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief she’ll never have to tell them that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief soon turns to heartbreak, as Cam is forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and not making waves, and Cam becomes an expert at this—especially at avoiding any questions about her sexuality.

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. To Cam’s surprise, she and Coley become best friends—while Cam secretly dreams of something more. Just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, her secret is exposed. Ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to “fix” her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self—even if she’s not quite sure who that is.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a stunning and unforgettable literary debut about discovering who you are and finding the courage to live life according to your own rules

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

* * * * *

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

I am struggling with writing a review of this book.  Don’t misunderstand my struggle.  I feel that this is probably John Green’s best book yet.  But to mention a single thing that happens in this book would be to spoil it for the reader.  On top of that the topic is so heavy that I am not sure what I can possibly say.

What can I say? I have never been faced with a terminal illness. I have never had someone immediately close to me face a battle that they may never win. A battle that takes away so much and gives nothing. My only knowledge lies in the loss of several family members that live thousands and thousands of miles away. So far away that I was not able be with them as they slowly (or quickly) succumbed to this horrendous disease. So far away that I have no clue what their immediate family and very close friends experienced on a daily basis. Sure I have lost loved ones to cancer but I cannot with any honesty say that I understand or know their struggle.

And this is where Mr. Green helped me as a reader. He gives us, the people that have not been irreparably damaged by this disease, a window to a world that we do not know. This story is about reality. There is no fantasy contained within the pages of this book. Mr. Green does not fill the reader with hope where there is none. What he does is describe the utter unfairness and hopelessness of this disease in a heartbreakingly beautiful way.

Although I am giving this book 5-stars I don’t know that I can recommend this to everyone. It is sad. It is heartbreaking. And according to some, it is a “cancer book”, which is a rather unsavory classification in the book world. I have never read any other novel about cancer so I can’t say if I feel this classification is correct. I personally read this book because the author is the brilliant John Green. But that being said this book is about cancer and its victims. This story IS emotional and may make you cry.  If this isn't the type of book for you then definitely skip it.  However, if you want to witness the genius that is John Green then open up The Fault in Our Stars.  I don't think you will be disappointed.


Monday, January 30, 2012

A Peek In The Biblio-Bin (16)

In My Mailbox (or as we like to call it, A Peek in the Biblio-Bin) is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. It 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 week Shel gives you a Peek in the Biblio-Bin!

The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi-pure-bloods-have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals-well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures. Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden. Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck

For three years, Alexandria has lived among mortals—pretending to be like them and trying to forget the duty she'd been trained to fulfill as a child of a mortal and a demigod. At seventeen, she's pretty much accepted that she's a freak by mortal standards... and that she'll never be prepared for that duty.

According to her mother, that’s a good thing.

But as every descendant of the gods knows, Fate has a way of rearing her ugly head. A horrifying attack forces Alex to flee Miami and try to find her way back to the very place her mother had warned her she should never return—the Covenant. Every step that brings her closer to safety is one more step toward death… because she's being hunted by the very creatures she'd once trained to kill.

The daimons have found her

What did you find in your mailbox this week?

Friday, January 27, 2012

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

* * * *

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.

On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.

Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself by Printz medalist John Green, acclaimed author of Looking for Alaska. (Taken from GoodReads)

After reading Looking for Alaska I was eager to continue my John Green education. Again, with the recommendation from Heidi at YABibliophile, I chose to read An Abundance of Katherines. Where Looking for Alaska was serious and thought-provoking, An Abundance of Katherines was full of hilarity and slapstick humor.

According to Colin Singleton, he is a washed up child prodigy that is smart enough to be a prodigy but never smart enough to be a genius. When his lazy but loyal best friend, Hassan finds him lying on the floor of his bedroom, mourning the break up with Katherine XIX, he convinces Colin that the only cure for his heartache is a summer road trip. So they head out in Colin’s crappy air condition-less car in search of an adventure that leads them to a town in the middle-of-nowhere (Gutshot), Tennessee. During their physical adventure, Colin also sets out on an emotional and mental challenge of creating and proving a theorem that will help boys and girls everywhere by predicting the future of their relationships.

This story was the perfect combination of smart and slapstick humor. Colin was so socially clueless and inept that you couldn’t help but shake your head at him. His love of anagrams won me over from the beginning (as did John Green’s dedication page – in which he dedicates his book to his wonderfully anagrammed wife). And as socially inept as Colin is, he still has a sense of humor that is so fantastically dry that you might miss it if you blink. Colin’s BFF, Hassan, is cheeky and profane. His irreverent attitude towards everything is reminiscent of the humor you will find in the movies American Pie and Van Wilder. Then there is Lindsey. The cute girl that is content with her small town and her simple dreams brings a much needed dose of normalcy to the story that balances everything out beautifully.

The book is full of mostly humorous foot notes used to explain things that those of us of average intelligence may not understand – definitions of words in Latin, German and French, historical trivia and the explanation of complicated theorems. Don’t worry, you don’t have to read the theorem footnotes….unless of course you are a math lover that wants to help Colin in the development of his Theorem. I found these footnotes to be highly amusing and they were a big part of why I enjoyed this book as much as I did.

In the end, I LOVED this book. It made me laugh more than any other YA book I have read so far which was very refreshing. I give this a solid 4 stars.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

YA Giveaway Hop!

Hi guys!  I was having withdrawal symptoms because our last hop was like a month ago!  This time we are joining the 254 blogs participating in the Hop celebrating YA books!  The Hop is hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer and Down the Rabbit Hole. 

You all know the drill, fill out the Rafflecopter below to win fabulous prizes!  We are super happy that we are only 16 followers away from 300 on GFC and just yesterday we hit 400 Twitter Followers!  WOOHOO!  We are hoping to break that 300 GFCs during this hop and maybe 300 on Facebook too - you all rock so hard for following us!

To show our appreciation, we are giving away ANGELFIRE by Courtney Allison Moulton!  We hope you love it just as much as we do!   So enter below and good luck!

Girl's Guide to Witchcraft by Mindy Klasky


From Smashwords:

Jane Madison has a problem. Or two. Or three. She’s working as a librarian, trapped in absurd period costumes and serving up expensive lattes, all in an effort to keep her employer’s budget in the black. She has a desperate crush on her Imaginary Boyfriend, a professor who regularly uses her library. Her doting grandmother is determined to reunite her with her long-absent mother. And now she’s been told that the library can’t pay her a well-deserved raise – instead, she can live for free in an ancient, dusty cottage on the library grounds.

When Jane settles into her new, allergen-infested home, she discovers a hidden chamber lined with ancient books – a world-class collection on witchcraft. She begins to read a spellbook, never suspecting that she has the power to work actual magic. Her first spell awakens a smart-mouthed feline familiar. Her second makes her irresistible to men, starting with her geeky, shy co-worker. Those magical workings attract the attention of the local coven, specifically the warder David Montrose. Jane resents David’s interference even as she watches her powers spiral out of control. Before long, Jane doesn’t know who she should listen to: her well-meaning grandmother, her down-to-earth best friend, her bitchy familiar, her besotted co-worker, her coming-around Imaginary Boyfriend, or her overbearing astral enforcer.
I have been eyeing Mindy Klasky's books for years.  Witches are just fun and these books have always struck me as books I would enjoy, but we all know how big those TBR piles get.  Given this, I was thrilled to find the Girl's Guide to Witchcraft for just 99 cents for Kindle.  I am sorry I waited so long!  Girl's Guide is a fun, romantic romp through the hazards of newfound witchy powers.

I loved Jane's Imaginary Boyfriend (something I think we can all relate to) and that she had a fish that she named Stupid Fish.  I think I may also need to institute Mojito Therapy with BiblioJunkies Nat & Bel!  I just started Sorcery for the Single Girl and am hoping it is just as fun as Girl's Guide.  Mindy Klasky has self-published Girl's Guide since the rights to the book reverted back to her from her original publisher.  Girl's Guide is available from Kindle and Smashwords.  If you are looking for a fluffy, fun read then Girl's Guide is for you.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Interview with Michelle Rowen

Michelle Rowen is a prolific author of both adult and young adult titles.  I recently had the pleasure of reading Demon Princess: Reign Fall, the third in the Demon Princess series. Michelle ended the book at a bit of a cliff-hanger, so I wanted to pick her brain and try to get her to spill the secrets of what is going on with Nikki, Michael and Rhys!  Of course, Michelle out-smarted my tricky questions...

1. You write both paranormal romance for adults and the Demon Princess series for young adults. Did you find it difficult to switch to writing for young adults? What was most difficult? I read Angel with Attitude and enjoyed it, but which of your other adult books would you recommend we read to tide us over until Reign Storm?

Michelle:  I didn't find the switch difficult at all because I started off writing YA, but ended up being published in PNR first. I love both equally and, maybe I'm a bit delusional, but I don't find much of a difference in the writing process, apart from the age of the characters and some of the themes I get to explore. For books to tide you over.... probably my Living in Eden trilogy, starting with The Demon in Me might be a good pick. More demons, but different than princess ones! I think it was a phase I was going through as a writer that made me want to explore the deliciously demonic in more than one series.

2. And because we really do have the mentality of 16-year olds here at BiblioJunkies, what fictional character would you most like to go out with?

Michelle:  Automatically my answer to any question like this is Jericho Barrons. He's the only character, apart from my own, that I'm completely obsessed with. However, I'm really not sure I could handle him on any level. He's probably best left on the page and in my imagination. ;)
 3. We don't have the tag line of Books. Boys. Pie. for nothing here at BiblioJunkies, so I have to ask, what is your favorite treat?

Michelle:  If I see Key Lime Pie on a restaurant's menu, there is a 99% chance I'm going to order it.
 4. I have a total crush on Rhys, what treat should I have on hand for a fictional date with the King of Faery?
 Michelle:  Well, Rhys does enjoy human wine, as he learned at a party in the second book, Reign Check. He also seems to give me many indications that he's very likely a vegan -- so a fruit-based meal might be a good idea. Strawberries and chocolate!! (although, remember, he's only sixteen!) ;)

5. And finally, Reign Fall ends with a bit of a cliff-hanger, will all our questions be answered in the last book Reign Storm?

Michelle:  Uh-huh. Not sure when Reign Storm will be available, but all questions will be answered in the fourth and final book. Promise! 
A huge thanks to Michelle for agreeing to answer my silly questions!  I will definitely be trying out the Living in Eden series while I wait for the last Demon Princess book.   For more information about any of Michelle's books, check out her website at:

Demon Princess: Reign Fall by Michelle Rowen (Book 3)

*** 1/2

Prophesies, demon slayers, dragons, homework… It’s going to be a hell of a week!

It’s been a dangerous ride for Nikki Donovan since she first learned she’s a demon princess. And the ride isn’t over yet!

She’s just found out that her best friend is a demon slayer in training, one who doesn’t know that Nikki is exactly the prey she’s sworn to hunt. Nikki’s demon king father has signed her up for lessons in how to master her erratic half-demon powers, and that’s on top of her regular homework! Also, she’s torn between two boys—Rhys, the faery king she’s prophesied to marry, and Michael, a Shadow whom she’s forbidden to love.

To top it all off, a dark force is haunting Nikki, something mysterious and evil that wants the demon princess dead…but who—or what—is it?

In Reign Fall, we find Nikki dealing with her growing feelings for both Michael and Rhys.  Most of all, her double life as a typical teenage girl and a demon princess is taking its toll on her relationships with friends and family, not to mention her sanity.  To top it off, there are dragons, faeries and demon slayers abound. 

Reign Fall is escapism at its best.  Nikki and Rhys are so much fun with their sarcasm and silly arguments.  I love sarcastic and witty heroines, plus at book 3, she still reminds me a little of a young Stephanie Plum.  I could not be happier that Michelle Rowen decided to finish the series by self-publishing (something I wish more authors would do when publishers decline to finish a series), despite the fact that the ending of the book is killing me!  Please support Michelle Rowen in this endeavor and get yourself a great read in the bargain.

Reign Fall is available via Kindle and Smashwords.  The final book, Reign Storm, will be out in 2013.  Check out our interview with the talented Michelle Rowen!


Friday, January 20, 2012

The Trouble With Paradise by Jill Shalvis (Non-YA, 18yrs+)

* * * * *

One phone call has turned Dorie’s dead-end life into an adventure: she’s won a trip on a singles cruise to Fiji. With her cutest outfits packed and the Love Boat theme in her head. Dorie boards – and soon meets two men: a pro baseball player with an irresistible Texas drawl, and the ship’s dark and mysterious French doctor, Dr. Christian Montague. She’s sure to fall head over heels in no time. She just never expected to do it so quickly, or so literally, tripping over her luggage.

With her foot twisted and her ego deflated, Dorie’s dream vacation is about to take the biggest detour yet. A violent storm has wrecked the ship and cast everyone ashore. A deserted island would be the perfect setting for a steamy romance, if something sinister wasn’t lurking. Whose alluring arms will Dorie to? Being stuck never felt so…liberating.

My fellow BiblioJunkies know of my severe aversion to romance novels. When I used to commute to the City for work, I’d notice all these other well-dressed professional women on the train reading those ridiculously cheesy romance novels with the Fabio-like model on the cover holding some dainty damsel in his arms. Seriously? I swore that would never be me. 

Fast forward a few years, a few kids and several dystopian novels later, I felt a change of pace was desperately in order. So when Shel and I went on one of many trips to Borders (RIP) I charged her with the responsibility of  choosing my first romance novel. 

Whatever I thought I was in for definitely surpassed my expectations! Jill Shalvis has such a wicked sense of humor that had me in stitches throughout the book. Dorie is a sweet, klutzy heroine. She may not be able to speak when she’s in front of a hot guy (literally - her tongue swells up which provides for plenty of comedic dialog) but she’s still lovable.

On the cruise around the islands of Fiji, Dorie meets a variety of characters that are so worlds away from the humdrum life she left behind. Almost immediately she finds herself torn between laid-back hottie baseball player, Andy and the very reserved and gruff French doctor, Christian. The story is told from both Dorie’s and Christian’s perspectives. Their reactions to one another are hilarious especially when they don’t want to admit feeling an attraction to each other. In the midst of all the flirting, Shalvis also introduces a murder mystery, cleverly weaving it between the comedy and romance thereby upping the “awesome” factor several notches. Even the absurd situations that Dorie finds herself in are believable because of Shalvis’ outstanding writing.

So my first foray into the world of romance novels was a success. I mean Shalvis had me wrapped up in the story and I have to say that if it weren’t for her, I would never have known that nipples could have so many emotions. Did you? Jill Shalvis, I bow to you and your awesomeness!

I highly recommend The Trouble With Paradise to anyone (18 yrs+) who wants a quick escape, several laugh-out-loud moments, of course the (steamy) romance and may be a little mystery to keep those brain cells working. :-)

~ Bel

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Stuttering Tattoo by Greg Logsted

* * *

Steven Bishop is extraordinarily ordinary. He goes to school. He rides his motorcycle. He stutters. His best friend is a former Colombian cartel hit man turned cook/construction worker. You know, ordinary. All that changes the day Becky Moore walks into his classroom. Becky is dazzling, enigmatic.

One day Steven gives Becky a ride home on his motorcycle. There, they discover a severed arm, one of, the fingers still has an unusual ring attached: a circle, in the middle of which is a heart at the center of which is a bold number 37. While comforting Becky, Steven discovers a tattoo at the base of her neck: it is the same symbol. And so begins a thrilling descent into a world of crime and murder, a ride wilder than any Steven has taken before.

As you may gather from the above description, Steven’s life is indeed not ordinary.  Living with his cop dad, his mom having left the family earlier, Steven has always been one of the quieter kids mostly due to his stuttering. He prefers giving one-word answers and focuses on his schoolwork, working out and his construction job with his friend, Carlos. When the feisty young Becky walks into his algebra class one day, he feels an immediate and inexplicable draw to her. He follows her out to the parking lot to find her slashing someone’s tires and then walking away.  He’s hooked. He has to know who she is. He bumps into her at a coffee shop and gives her a ride home from the coffee shop. Put that in the "win" column!

Not so fast. A potenitally romantic moment is interrupted when they uncover a severed hand in her backyard. As Steven tries to comfort a very distraught and terrified Becky, he notices that she also has the same tattoo on her neck that is visible on the severed arm. Now faced with something like this most people would normally run screaming the other way but Steven is an unusual kind of guy. He doesn’t scare easily and because he feels so intensely for Beck already, he’s determined to help sort out whatever mess she’s in.

Little does he know how convoluted the mess is. Getting deeper into the mystery he discovers that the 37 is much like the mafia with their elaborate schemes and volatile ways. Members are born into it and no one leaves. Steven's not sure how Becky is mixed up with them. Without any hesitation, he assumes his knight in shining armor role and plots to help her get out. 

Logsted has plenty going for him in this book – mystery, murder and stolen identities – to keep the plot in motion. I found it hard to believe at first that Steven, a quiet, stay-under-the-radar guy, would even contemplate getting involved in something like this. But it works. And while some elements seem predictable, there are others that make you second-guess anyone Steven is in contact with. There was also one instance that surprised me so much that I had to go back and re-read a previous chapter to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I thought Carlos was a terrific character inspiring a healthy mix of respect and awe for him knowing the kind of life he led before.  He’s definitely not someone to be messed with and he’s Steven’s strongest ally and defender.

I recommend The Stuttering Tattoo if you’re in need of a mystery or a quick read.

~ Bel

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn’t have) by Sarah Mlynowski

*  *  *
2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn't have.

If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn't jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe "opportunity" isn't the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: "Lied to Our Parents"). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up "Skipping School" (#3), "Throwing a Crazy Party" (#8), "Buying a Hot Tub" (#4), and, um, "Harboring a Fugitive" (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.

In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that her carefully constructed world just might be falling apart . . . one thing-she-shouldn't-have-done at a time.

I have been lusting over the title and cover of this book for a while now. When Shel informed Bel and I that the electronic version was on sale I bought it immediately so I could read it on our car trip to Florida. I was expecting a light hearted and humorous read about a couple girls checking things off their teen “bucket list”. What I encountered was a story about a girl making some of the most terrible decisions of her teen life.

I found this book to be a highly uncomfortable train wreck. You know that feeling you get while watching a movie like “Meet the Parents”? Where it’s really funny but at the same time you are screaming at Ben Stiller to just tell the truth and all this embarrassing crap would stop happening to him? That is the feeling I got from Ten Things We Did. Every decision and every lie April told in this book was so horrible it made me cringe. But I couldn’t stop reading it. I think I was hoping she would climb herself out of the hole she was digging rather than digging deeper and deeper.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t hate this book. As I said, I couldn’t stop reading it. There were some definite funny moments. And I did feel for April. She was a girl that in some ways had been abandoned by both of her parents. Her decision to lie to her father (the lie that set it all in motion) came from an intense desire to have some continuity in her life that she was not getting from her family. I also found the secondary characters to be very believable teenagers. Some likeable and some not so much. And most of all, I was very glad to see that there were some serious consequences to her actions. Not necessarily as many consequences that, as a parent, I would have liked to have seen. But definitely enough to make April realize that not all the decisions she had made were necessarily the right ones.

In the end, if you can handle the discomfort that comes along with reading this, I do recommend it for a quick read.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Peek In The Biblio-Bin (15)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. It 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 week Bel gives you a Peek in the Biblio-Bin.

The hotly awaited second book in the dystopian Matched trilogy

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to keep things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

Why not give us a peek into your Biblio-Bin?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Demon Princess: Reign Check by Michelle Rowen (Book 2)


Nikki Donovan was a demon princess. Now she's a demon princess in love.

Fresh from finding out she is a demon princess and meeting her father for the first time, Nikki Donovan is looking forward to getting back to her regular high school life. But then Rhys, the handsome teenage king of the faery realm, enrolls at her school as a "foreign exchange student." Her conflicted feelings for Rhys and her boyfriend are getting in the way of her new relationship with the Shadow-creature Michael. But this love triangle from hell isn't even Nikki's biggest problem: There's a new prophecy that claims she will destroy all the demon and human worlds. Her best friend Melinda just might be a demon-slayer-in-training. Throw in a field trip to none other than the Underworld itself . . . and Nikki's going to be hoping for a rain check on more than just her homework!

The Demon Princess series is light, fun and a great escape.  I read Reign Check last year, but needed a refresher when we received an ARC of Reign Fall (book 3) from Michelle Rowen.  Reign Check was just as fun the second time around.  The snarkiness between Nikki and Rhys is often hilarious.  Nikki herself reminds me of a young Stephanie Plum, you know, if Stephanie were a demon princess. 

If you are looking for something interesting, fun and completely endearing, then Reign Check is the book for you!  The third book in the series, Reign Fall is available as a self-published ebook available from Kindle and Smashwords.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bunheads by Sophie Flack

* * * 1/2

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As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet company, nineteen year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances, and complicated backstage relationships.  But when she meets a spontaneous and irresistibly cute musician named Jacob, her universe begins to change.

Until now Hannah has followed the company’s unofficial mantra, “Don’t think, just dance.” But has her relationship with Jacob intensifies, so do the pressures within the company.  With her eyes newly opened to the world beyond the theater, Hannah must decide whether to compete against other “bunheads” for a star soloist spot or to strike out on her own.

I’ll begin by saying that I honestly have no interest in ballet whatsoever. I mean, I admire and appreciate that it’s a very demanding and disciplined art form and that the performers aside from their obvious talent must put in hours and hours of training to become worthy of the stage. Reading Bunheads therefore, was simply a curiosity about a world so foreign to me. Sophie Flack brings her own experience as a ballerina that’s both engaging and eye opening showing that in the end, the creation of a masterpiece is wrought out of literal blood, sweat and tears.

Hannah Ward has wanted to be a ballerina all her life and has dedicated herself body and soul to that endeavor.  Flack has described in amazing detail the intense training and grueling schedule that goes on in this very competitive world. It seems that being still is not an option – when they’re not rehearsing or in class, they’re working out their bodies to the brink of total exhaustion to maintain their slender figures. Hannah and her close friends embrace this with open arms and push themselves to the limit daily.

The shift in focus comes when Hannah meets Jacob on a rare night away from the ballet company. In meeting him, he sparks a curiosity within her to see life from the “pedestrian” perspective i.e. a non-ballet person. At this point opportunities come knocking and Hannah must decide what her priority is – to dance or to have a life.

It’s tough reading about the sacrifices Hannah makes in order to get what she thinks she wants. With how many times she has blown him off in favor of getting ahead in her career it’s surprising how patient Jacob is about wanting to be with her.
But what’s most eye opening is how the strict expectations mess with the dancers’ psyche.

Aside from maintaining her stamina and strength, she must also maintain a certain weight and somehow stop her body from going through puberty. As an outsider reading this it’s distressing. Body issues are inevitable but in the ballet arena, an ounce of weight gain or growing breasts are seen as hindrances.  I felt for Hannah here as she struggled with this. I think anyone who is competitive and driven will recognize the steadfast determination and choices faced by all the characters in this book.

Despite the ugly side of this life, it’s beautiful to read about the euphoria Hannah feels when she’s on stage. Even all the physical pain she endures every day can’t take away from her the love of performing. Keeping all of this in perspective, she ultimately has to examine what exactly she wants out of her life and how far she’s willing to go to make it happen.

~ Bel

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (7)

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


Taken by Storm (Raised by Wolves #3)
By Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publication Date: May 22, 2012

There is no description for this title yet but I have no doubt it's going to be fantastic!  After reading Trial by Fire, we know the decision Bryn needs to make and I am hoping this book will finish the series by answering all of our unanswered questions and giving Bryn a happy ending.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Mephisto Covenant: The Redemption of Ajax by Trinity Faegen

*** 1/2

Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—she is an Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and Eryx’s biggest threat.
A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha.

With the threat of Eryx always looming, Jax knows he has to keep Sasha safe and win her over. But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal life?

The Mephisto Covenant is the first in a series about the sons of Mephistophles, known as the Mephisto, and their search for redemption and the light to balance out their darkness.  When Ajax first sees Sasha he is drawn to her light and terrified that he will lose her, only the second Anabo his brothers have found.  If Jax loses her, he will lose the chance for salvation and eternal peace in Heaven after the war with his brother, Eryx, ends.  Sasha did not think things could get much worse after her father died, until she finds herself the target of Eryx disciples, her mother is deported and she is sent to live with an aunt who dispises her and her psycho-spawn.  The only light is Jax, but what he wants from her is overwhelming and perhaps more terrifying than losing him...
The Mephisto Covenant was phenomenal, fast-paced and fun.  Trinity Faegen did a great job creating realistic characters and responses in a fantastical world.  Sasha's struggles and resistance to Jax felt real and honest and Jax's sense of desperation and growing selflessness heartbreaking.  I definitely recommend The Mephisto Covenant for fans of paranormal romance.  I look forward to book 2, The Mephisto Kiss, the Redemption of Xenos. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Peek in the Biblio-Bin (14)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. It 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 week Nat gives you a Peek in the Biblio-Bin.

Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home.

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

What's in your Biblio-Bin this week?

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Sharp Time by Mary O'Connell

* * *

Sandinista Jones is a high school senior with a punk rock name and a broken heart. The death of her mother has left Sandinista alone in the world, isolated and vulnerable. When the school system lets her down, her grief and instability intensify, and she ponders a violent act of revenge against her teacher.

Still, in the midst of her crisis, she gets a job at the Pale Circus, a funky vintage clothing shop, and finds a kindred spirit in her coworker, Bradley, a boy struggling with his own secrets.

Even as Sandinista is losing heart, confronted repeatedly by the failures of those in authority, she is offered a chance to believe in the redemptive power of friendship.  Now she must choose faith – and forgiveness – or despair and vengeance.

Readers will cheer Sandinista on as she navigates an often brutal but unexpectedly beautiful world.

I’m not quite sure what exactly drew my attention to The Sharpe Time but I thought the premise was intriguing enough to delve into it.

Sandinista was raised by her very progressive single mother who taught her to be self-reliant and open to new ideas. They had one of those envious mother-daughter relationships that provided her with plenty enough. Her life fell apart though when her mother was killed in a car accident.  Now living on her own, she has become introverted. A controversial incident at school has left her disgruntled and jaded. As a result, she decides to quit school and go to work at the Pale Circus where she quickly becomes friends with Bradley who has odd habits but is very personable.

Sandinista easily throws herself into her job, finding comfort and purpose in her new routine. However, she keeps reliving the events of her last day at school and becomes fixated on the teacher with whom she had a falling out. She starts scheming of ways to confront this teacher and have her voice be heard.

The entire story takes place in one week with the author moving backward slowly threading pieces together to reveal what happened at school that made her walk away. It becomes obvious that Sandinista is hovering in limbo and in a fragile state  sort of moving forward but not really going anywhere because she's held back by that incident at school. And while she has that on constant loop in her mind she grows closer to Bradley and learns more of his darker side.

The Sharpe Time is a good book but it’s an uneasy read. As Sandinista starts making some pretty bizarre decisions, you realize just how vulnerable she is and worry that she’s going to snap at any moment. And while she’s pretty self-reliant, she’s also desperately in need of someone – particularly any authority figure at school – to care about her. In fact, it’s become an obsession that someone at school validate her worth. It’s truly a miracle that as messed up as Bradley is that he’s the one to pull her out of the fog.

Mary O’Connell has done an impeccable job of relaying these two peoples’ pain. Being inside Sandinista’s head was unsettling at times. I even held my breath not knowing which direction she was headed in, dreading the worst and hoping for the best. But there’s also great empathy for her because she is so bogged down by her grief. Bradley’s pain has evolved into resentment yet he keeps returning to that which caused it in the first place. When she realizes that pain is not an exclusive club to her, she wakes up. When that happens, there's a small sigh of relief and the pause button that has held her life in place can finally be released.

~ Bel

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (6)

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


BiblioJunkies Nat abandoned us before Christmas for the warm beaches of Florida - we have been lost without her!  Luckily she returns tonight, so she is our Waiting on Wednesday this week.  Of course, she chooses the one week in the last four years that I did not have to work to abandon me and poor Bel has had to deal with me all on her own!  ~Shel

By Bethany Griffin

Publication Date: April 24, 2012

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

* * * * 1/2

AROUND THE WORLD, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged creatures who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

MEET KAROU.  She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she speaks many languages – not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color.  Who is she?  That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

From master storyteller and National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor comes a sweeping and gorgeously written modern fantasy about a forbidden love, an ancient and epic battle and a hope for a world remade.

Marvelous! Laini Taylor has created a breathtaking world with text that swims with vivid imagery and color. I’ll admit that it took me the first 40 pages before the book's rhythm cast its spell on me and now a few days later I'm still a bit heady from it.

Karou is a child of two worlds  human and supernatural. The only family she has ever known are all chimaera  creatures whose physical attributes are both human and animal-like at once. The head of her family is Brimestone. He is both a father figure to her and her employer. As a collector of teeth he sends her on errands all over the world to trade and buy them. She doesn’t know exactly what the teeth are for but since Brimestone is the only family she has, she trusts him implicitly. Meanwhile, she can't let go of this sense that she's not completely whole. She's never been told where she came from or how Brimestone came to be her protector. But that finally changes when the latest errand she's sent on has her colliding into her past.

Akiva is an angel who from an early age was bred to be a fierce warrior. In his world, the angels and chimaera have been locked in an ages-old battle for power and dominance as long as anyone can remember. Co-existing peacefully is out of the question. When Akiva and Karou finally encounter each other, there’s a burning, irresistible force that draws them to one another. Once Akiva figures out why, he has to decide if it’s worth everything he holds close to him to help Karou remember who she really is.

Readers will have to be patient as the story gently unfolds in its own unique way. It pivots back and forth between Karou and Akiva and distant memories before the pieces come together. By the time you get there the stakes are high and the crisis that has been building has taken on a new life.

Laini Taylor’s storytelling is beyond extraordinary. Her descriptions are so meticulous and the dazzling images stay stuck in your head. I wish I could say more but you have to discover each page for yourself. Simply put, if you want to be "wowed", Daughter of Smoke & Bone will certainly do it!

~ Bel