Friday, April 30, 2010

Retro Firday Review: Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn

Retro Friday Review is a weekly meme hosted by Angieville. This focuses on classics, out of print books or just old favorites that don’t get the attention they deserve. This Friday’s review is:



Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: April 2002

First Line: “…when I learned who my traveling companions were to be, I stopped complaining and began dreaming.”

GoodReads Synopsis: As a child, Coriel Halsing spent many glorious summers at Castle Auburn with her half-sister-and fell in love with a handsome prince who could never be hers. But now that she is a young woman, she begins to see the dark side of this magical place...

Kathy’s Review: It has been way too long since I’ve done a Retro Friday Review so I decided what better way to get back into the swing of things than choosing my favorite Sharon Shinn novel. Summers at Castle Auburn was actually the first book review I did for BWN, almost two years ago. I was still new to the whole book blogging world and my review was pretty bland. I re-read Summers this week and thought it would fit in perfectly for today’s post.

Before I write my review, I just want to clarify that the “first line” above is actually just a first line from the first page, I just really liked it. Anyway, as I said before, this is my favorite Shinn book. I love our heroine Corie (Coriel), she starts off as a young naïve fourteen year-old, but is also very kind and adventurous. As she grows older she starts to see her world in a different light, seeing people she’s known her whole life for who they really are. She spends the majority of the year with her grandmother in a small village learning “witchcraft” (just medicine really) and her summers at Castle Auburn, with her half sister Elisandra. I loved the relationship between the two sisters. Regardless of their backgrounds they deeply cared for one another. I also really liked Corie’s love interest (LI) and my only complaint was that I wanted MORE time between them, especially near the very end. Her LI was very likable, for me from the beginning. He was a great friend to Corie throughout the book, and you could tell that he was totally crazy about her. I was on the edge of my seat wondering if they would ever end up together.

Aside from the main characters, the story was also very entertaining. I liked the plot and you never really know what was going to happen next. There were some twists near the end that were exciting and while I was very happy with how everything ended up, I wasn’t ready for the story to end. The story ends well, but I would love it if Shinn set a new novel in Auburn.

Sharon Shinn is definitely one of my favorite authors. I am always surprised by how creative she is, each book is so unique and she is able to create some amazing new places. Below is a list of all her books.


SAMARIA SERIES
Book One: Archangle
Book Two: Jovah’s Angel
Book Three: Alleluia Files
Book Four: Angelica
Book Five: Angel Seeker

TWELVE HOUSES SERIES
Book One: Mystic & Rider
Book Two: Thirteenth House
Book Three: Dark Moon Defender
Book Four: Reader & Raelynx
Book Five: Fortune & Fate

STANDALONE NOVELS
Heart of Gold
Jenna Starborn
Summers at Castle Auburn
Wrapt in Crystal
Shape-Changers Wife
Quatrain

YA NOVELS
Safe-Keeper’s Secret
Truth-Teller’s Tale
Dream-Makers Magic
General Winston’s Daughter
Gateway

ANTHOLOGY
To Weave a Web of Magic (Set in world of Archangle)
The Queen in Winter (Set in world of Twelve Houses)
Firebirds Rising
Elemental Magic
Powers of Detection
Never After
Elemental
Unusual Suspects

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week’s waiting on Wednesday is:

My Double Life
By Janette Rallison
Release Date: May 13, 2010

Synopsis: Her whole life, Alexia Garcia has been told that she looks just like pop star Kari Kingsley, and one day when Alexia’s photo filters through the Internet, she’s offered a job to be Kari’s double. This would seem like the opportunity of a lifetime, but Alexia’s mother has always warned her against celebrities. Rebelliously, Alexia flies off to L.A. and gets immersed in a celebrity life. Not only does she have to get used to getting anything she wants, she romances the hottest lead singer on the charts, and finds out that her own father is a singing legend. Through it all, Alexia must stay true to herself, which is hard to do when you are pretending to be somebody else!

Why I’m Waiting: I love ALL of Rallisons books and I can’t wait to get my hands on this newest one. She always comes up with interesting storylines and lovable characters. I heard this was a retelling of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, I love retellings and I think Rallison will do a great job!


Monday, April 26, 2010

The Golden Spiral by Lisa Mangum

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Publication Date: May 2010

One Word Review: Good

Author Website: www.lisamangum.com

First Line: “The middle passage.”

GoodReads Synopsis: The hourglass door has closed behind Dante, sending him back in time to hunt down Zo, Tony, and V. Almost immediately, things start to change and Abby’s worst fears are realized when Zo begins targeting her past specifically. With each new change that ripples into her present, Abby’s life continues to spiral out of control. As Abby’s world fractures around her, she must face a terrible truth: either Dante didn’t make it through the door, or he is lost forever. So with Dante’s blueprints in hand, she begins construction on a new door, a new time machine that will either save Dante – or doom him.

Kathy’s Review: I think I enjoyed this one more than the first book. I admit, I still have a hard time picturing all the time travel elements (the river, the darkness, etc), but I did enjoy seeing all the changes Zo was making. Not that I approve of his bad behavior, but it added an interesting element to the story, how Abby’s past was changing and the effects it had on her and her family. I like Abby, she’s a good heroine and smart. I even liked Dante this time around. Maybe since their relationship has been established I found it easier to believe in them. There were some interesting twists and a lot of set up for the final book. Overall, I enjoyed the story and I think if you liked the first book you will really like this one as well. It definitely ends with you wanting more and I’ll be looking forward to reading the last book, The Forgotten Locket, next summer.

Book Source: Thanks to Shadow Mountain for letting me review this book!

Bookworm Rating: 3.5
Hourglass Door Trilogy:
Book One: The Hourglass Door
Book Two: The Golden Spiral
Book Three: The Forgotten Locket (Summer 2011)

If you could travel through time, where/when would you go?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (movie review)

Genre: Fairytale (MG/YA)

Publication Date: January 1997

One Word Review: Enchanting

Author Website: www.gailcarsonlevine.blogspot.com

First Line: “That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me.”

GoodReads Synopsis: At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the "gift" of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: "Instead of making me docile, Lucinda's curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally." When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella's life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way.

Kathy’s Review: My friend Deb was shocked to see that I hadn’t read Ella Enchanted yet, knowing how much I love fairytales. Cinderella is actually my favorite fairytale and I’ve had my eye on Ella Enchanted for awhile, but never got around to reading it. I think part of the reason was because I didn’t really like the movie version, with Anne Hathaway. Deb assured me the book was much better, and since I trust her judgment I decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed.

Ella Enchanted was a very fun read. It had the fairytale feel to it throughout and was a great retelling of Cinderella. It had some of the traditional aspects of the original Cinderella, but was also very unique. I liked the idea that Ella had been “cursed” with obedience. What an awful gift to receive, it could really get you into some tough situations. Although, in some ways I think the gift also gave Ella a lot of blessings. She was able to learn things rather quickly, helped her enhance her natural talents and while it would be a burden it probably taught her a lot about compassion and eventually help her to be a better Queen. I liked Ella’s character as well as the Prince (although, I didn’t like his name). I thought they had a cute relationship. I liked that they were friends first and built on that friendship until they were both in love. The story was really sweet and well written. I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys fairytales. I’m even tempted to re-watch the movie, although if I remember right they made quite a few changes from the book.

Cover Comments: I have not been able to find a cover that I really like. I chose this one because its cute, although I think the girl looks a lot younger than Ella (who is around 15-16).

Bookworm Rating: 5

(Updated) Movie Review: I just got done watching the movie version of Ella Enchanted and thought I’d add it to the Read a Book See a Movie Challenge.

Three words come to mind when I think of the movie: Cheesy, Disappointing, and as my friend Janssen said Lame. I’m used to books being better than the movie; Hollywood tends to make changes to characters or plot lines and in this case they went WAY overboard with this one and the end result was just ridiculous. I remember now why I hated the movie so much and was reluctant to read the book. They try and mix too much modern elements with a fairytale setting. The music was awful, the script (and re-written plot) was dumb, and the acting and dialog were also poorly done. If you couldn’t tell by now, I didn’t like the movie. The book was so cute and the story was great, I can understand if some things need to be changed for a movie, but again they went OVERBOARD. I was hoping for another Ever After (great movie) and I guess I set my expectations too high. So, I would recommend the book and skip the movie.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: November 2009

Author Website: www.julietmarillier.com

First Line: “At a place where two tracks met, the carter brought his horse to a sudden halt.”

GoodReads Synopsis: This is a stunning gothic love story based on the legends of Beauty and the Beast. Whistling Tor is a place of secrets, a mysterious, wooded hill housing the crumbling fortress of a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan's family and his people; those woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom. For young scribe Caitrin it is a safe haven. This place where nobody else is prepared to go seems exactly what she needs, for Caitrin is fleeing her own demons. As Caitrin comes to know Anluan and his home in more depth she realizes that it is only through her love and determination that the curse can be broken and Anluan and his people set free.

Kathy’s Review: As soon as I heard that Juliet Marillier had written her own version of Beauty and the Beast I knew I had to read it. I admit I’ve had this one checked out from the library for quite awhile waiting for the right mood before I began. I think Marillier has a very unique way of writing; she is able to create a lot of atmosphere in her novels. She does go into a lot of detail and spends a lot of time on world building and character development. I think that is why I have to be in the right mood before reading one of her books.

While the book certainly reminded me of Beauty and the Beast, it also reminded me a lot of Jane Eyre. There are a lot of similarities to both stories, yet Marillier truly created a unique story that I think stood on its own. While the plot was somewhat similar to Jane Eyre, Marillier really creates her own magic and unusual characters. Caitrin was a unique heroine. I liked her, for the most part. I was of course sad by the physical abuse she suffered by her aunt and cousin, but she found the courage within herself to leave and find a better life. At times though, she seemed almost too hopeful, when something went wrong she would feel bad, but then quickly be hopeful and positive again. Which I guess isn’t a bad thing; at times I would have liked a little more anger or something. Anyway, as for Anluan. I did like him, I understand why he was negative and hard on himself. I liked to see the growth that he went through and the changes he made. To be honest though, I didn’t feel that much chemistry between the two. At times it felt more like good friends then romance. It seemed like the two were falling in love, but neither really showed it to the other. But, in the end I was happy with how everything turned out and felt they were right for each other. I admit I did a little self editing where his description was involved (I mean bright red hair and snow white skin…yikes!).

Overall, I enjoyed the story. I wouldn’t say it was my favorite Marillier book, but I still enjoyed it.

Content Warning: Caitrin has suffered emotional and physical abuse from her aunt and cousin and there is sexual content.

Bookworm Rating: 3.5

What is your favorite fairytale retelling?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week’s waiting on Wednesday is:

The Exiled Queen
By Cinda Williams Chima
Release Date: September 28, 2010

Synopsis (Possible Spoilers if you haven’t read The Demon King):
Han Alister makes a bargain with the clans to sponsor him at Mystweks Academy, where he will become their magical sell-sword against the power-hungry Wizard Council. Han and his clan friend Fire Dancer undertake the dangerous journey south through war-torn Arden. Once in Oden’s Ford, it doesn’t take long for the smoldering feud between Han and Micah Bayar to kindle into flame. After several attempts on his life, Han knows he has to find a way to defend himself. Meanwhile, in her disguise as gently-born Rebecca Morley, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna travels with her friend Amon Byrne and his triple of cadets to Wien House, the military academy at Oden’s Ford. There she hopes she will find both temporary sanctuary from a forced marriage and the education she needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen. When Han Alister asks the girl he knows as Rebecca to tutor him, she agrees. The streetlord turned wizard with the complicated past fascinates her, and he makes it clear the interest is mutual. But Han blames Queen Marianna and the Bayars for the loss of his family. As their relationship deepens, Raisa suspects that if Han knew her true identity, he wouldn’t want anything to do with her.

Why I’m Waiting: This is the second book in the Seven Realms series and I literally cannot wait for its release. I read and LOVED The Demon King back in November and ever since finishing it I have been looking forward to the release of The Exiled Queen. I would totally recommend this series to anyone!

Awards

Wow, I am always so flattered when BWN receives an award. It definitely gives me warm-fuzzies and I can't wait to pass them along to a few new bloggers I have recently stumbled upon. I try and give out awards to new bloggers or just bloggers that I haven't previsously given an award to. So here we go...

A BIG thanks to Ali at the Romantic Scholars for giving BWN the One Lovely Blog award. I'm a little slow at reciprocating (it was given early February), so without further ado, here are the recipients.


Another BIG thanks to Andrea at The Little Bookworm (who has an adorable blog, btw), for giving BWN the Beautiful Blogger award. I'm a big fan of Andrea's and was excited to see an award from her, and I love getting all her fun comments. Anyway, it was hard to narrow it down, but here are the recipients of this fun award:

1. The Book Blog
2. The Book Owl
3. A Bookful of Thoughts
4. Homespun Light
5. Exclusively Books

Monday, April 19, 2010

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly meme that is hosted by A Striped Arm Chair. It gives book bloggers an opportunity to share what fun books we have checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate visit A Striped Arm Chair and add your post link to their site. It’s a fun way to check out what other bloggers are reading.

I realized today that it has been awhile since I’ve done a Library Loot post. It’s a little embarrassing but I currently have A LOT of books checked out from the library (approx 25…and counting). I also have a huge pile of books that I own (and don’t even want to count). I thought I would just take a picture to share with all you fellow book nuts. I’m sure I’m not the only one out there with a pathetically large number of books in their TBR pile, right?

Below is my ARC and Library Pile (roughly sorted by genre)Below is my owned TBR pile (the entire bottom shelf)
And just for kicks, my entire bookcase
(my puppy, Charlie, is wondering why I spend so much time reading instead of playing with him)
Here is my other bookcase, with a little more non-fiction (the entire bottom shelf is all my childrens books). My husband bought me these bookcases a few months ago...aint he sweet?

Previously Engaged by Elodia Strain

Genre: Chick Lit

Publication Date: January 2009

One Word Review: Enjoyable

Author Website: www.elodiastrain.com

First Line: “Apparently, weddings are breeding grounds for disaster.”

GoodReads Synopsis: Annabelle Pleasanton has just been given the chance of a lifetime: A $50,000 "Dream Wedding" sponsored by posh Monterey jeweler, John Wilfred. All she has to do is sign on the dotted line. The only problem? She's not technically, 100 percent, all-the-way engaged. Her best friend Carrie has seen the ring, and her boyfriend Isaac's been dropping all kinds of hints - but something seems to be keeping him from popping the question. Could it be that Isaac's family has someone else picked out for him - perfect-haired, former model Chloe Payne? Or the fact that Annabelle's on the cusp of a huge job promotion in Monterey while Isaac's talking about moving to LA? Or maybe it has something to do with Alex, the guy who broke Annabelle's heart seven years ago, who is suddenly back in the picture with his fancy house, fancy car, and an apparent fancy for Annabelle.

Kathy’s Review
: As soon as I finished Icing on the Cake last week I jumped on the internet and ordered Previously Engaged. I was so excited when it arrived today and quickly curled up in my favorite reading spot eager to see what happens with Annabelle and Isaac in this installment. Annabelle is just the same: smart, caring, hardworking girl who tends to get in embarrassing situations. There were a few times I caught myself laughing and I admit I loved reading about Annabelle and her misadventures. I do really like Isaac; there are times where he just sweeps you off your feet! He can be very romantic and thoughtful. Other times…I wanted to smack him! I suppose that is the effect the author was going for, but really he drove me crazy at times. I also noticed (and I could be wrong), but it seems like in both books Annabelle ends up apologizing and Isaac ends up forgiving…I keep waiting for him to do some apologizing of his own. He makes some mistakes along the way, and doesn’t always stick up for Annabelle like I would like, but deep down you know that he really loves Annabelle. I guess I would have liked to hear him admit or acknowledge that he’s messed up along the way as well. ANYWAY, I’ll climb down from my soap box and end by saying that I really enjoyed this one, nearly as much as the first. It has the same warm-fuzzy feelings that the first book had and I really recommend it to anyone who likes fun romantic comedies. I look forward to seeing what Strain writes next!


Bookworm Rating: 4.4

Reading Order:
Book One: The Icing on the Cake
Book Two: Previously Engaged

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publication Date: August 2009

One Word Review: Unique

Author Website: www.rachelvincent.com

First Line: “Come on!”

GoodReads Synopsis: She doesn't see dead people, but… She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally. Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next.

Kathy’s Review: I read the prequel, My Soul to Lose, a couple weeks ago and at the time I didn’t really know what was going on, but having finished My Soul to Take it puts the prequel in a whole new light. I’m glad I read the prequel first, it definitely got me interested in reading the rest of the series. I liked My Soul to Take, it was original, fun, and well written. I liked Kaylee and Nash, they had good chemistry together (lots of kissing) and worked well together as a team. I liked Emma and wish she would have been a little more present throughout the story. The other supporting characters were good and I look forward to seeing them more in the next book.

My only complaint with Kaylee and Nash was that it their relationship evolved a little too quickly. One minute he is the hot guy she’s always had a crush on, and he doesn’t know she exists, then the next minute (literally) they are in a serious relationship. While I think they make a good couple, I would have liked a little more “courting” before they really fell for each other. I like a little tension, will-they-won’t-they in my books; especially considering this is a series and could have been drawn out a little more. Anyway, that’s just a personal preference and I still enjoyed their relationship and the story as a whole. If you like YA fantasy/paranormal/mystery then you’ll enjoy this one!

Bookworm Rating: 4

Soul Screamers Series:
Prequel: My Soul to Lose (ebook)
Book One: My Soul to Take
Book Two: My Soul to Save
Book Three: My Soul to Keep (June 2010)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Courting Miss Lancaster by Sarah M. Eden

Genre: Regency Romance

Publication Date: March 2010

One Word Review: Charming

Author Website: www.sarahmeden.com

First Line: “First thing in the morning, I am throwing her in the Thames.”

GoodReads Synopsis: Harry Windover adores blonde, green-eyed Athena Lancaster, but alas, a penniless man like himself has no hope of winning a young noblewoman's hand. To add insult to injury, Athena's brother-in-law and guardian, the Duke of Kielder, has asked Harry to assist Athena in finding the gentleman of her dreams. But the lovesick Harry is cunning as well: as the weeks pass, he introduces Athena to suitors who are horrifically boring, alarmingly self-absorbed, and utterly ridiculous. Athena can't comprehend why she is having so little success meeting eligible and acceptable gentlemen. Indeed, her circle of admirers couldn't be less admirable-nothing like the loyal, gentle friend she's found in Harry. But how long can Harry's scheme be hidden before it is discovered? And what will Athena do when she uncovers Harry's deception? Escape into a charming regency world in this delightfully romantic comedy of manners that will entertain you to the very last word.

Kathy’s Review: I was lucky enough to do an interview with Sarah Eden back in February, and I was finally able to get my hands on a copy of Courting Miss Lancaster when I was home in Utah last week. I curled up today and thoroughly enjoyed entering the wonderful Regency world Eden created. This was my first Eden book, and it made me want to read ALL her other books even more so. I loved the characters Athena and Harry, they were so cute with each other and as the story went on I just liked them more and more. I loved the supporting characters as well; Harry's best friend, the formidable Adam and Athena's loving sister Persephone. The plot was a lot of fun, especially the crazy guys Harry was introducing to Athena. It definitely was one of the best regency’s I’ve read. I loved Eden’s take on marriage, which can sometimes be painting in a negative light in Regency novels, but Eden brings an honesty and love that was endearing and true. I would definitely recommend this to everyone, especially those who love romance, regency and humor.

Bookworm Rating: 5

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publication Date: April 2010

One Word Review: Captivating

Author Website: www.kelleyarmstrong.com

First Line: “After four nights on the run, I was finally safe, tucked in bed and enjoying the deep, dreamless sleep of the dead…until the dead decided they’d really rather have me awake.”

GoodReads Synopsis: Only two weeks ago, life was all too predictable. But that was before I saw my first ghost. Now, along with my supernatural friends Tori, Derek, and Simon, I’m on the run from the Edison Group, which genetically altered us as part of their sinister experiment. We’re hiding in a safe house that might not be as safe as it seems. We’ll be gone soon anyway, back to rescue those we’d left behind and to take out the Edison Group . . . or so we hope.

Kathy’s Review
: I really enjoy this series. Armstrong has a fun way of writing that really sucks you into the story and unfortunately before you know it you’ve finished the book. The Reckoning reminded me a lot of the first two books, in that it grabs your attention and keeps you reading. We’re reunited with all our favorite characters and introduced to a few new ones. To be honest, I was expecting a little more out of this one, thinking it was the last of the series. While it’s the last of the “Project Genesis Trilogy” it’s not necessarily the last of the Darkest Power series. Have I confused you yet? For those who don’t know, here is a quote I found from Kelley Armstrong:

"I've been calling the next book (The Gathering, 2011) "Darkest Powers 4" because it's the same overall series. It's new characters, though, in a new trilogy. I do something similar with my adult books--one series with changing narrators. My publisher may decide to give it a new title, but until then, I'm calling it all the Darkest Powers series, with the first three being the Project Genesis trilogy and the next three being the Project Phoenix trilogy."
I’m really excited that there is going to be a whole new trilogy, although I admit I thought The Reckoning ended with a lot of unanswered questions. I hope that Chole, Derek, Tori and Simon all end up in the Phoenix trilogy as well. Anyway, if you enjoyed the first two books you will really enjoy this one. Chloe finally makes up her mind on which guy to be with (a decision I was very happy with), Tori shows her true colors, and Simon and Derek are both fun to read.

Content Warning: There is a little swearing, violence and ghosts. But, otherwise pretty clean.
Bookworm Rating: 4.5

Project Genesis (Darkest Powers) Series:
Book One: The Summoning
Book Two: The Awakening
Book Three: The Reckoning

Project Phoenix (Darkest Powers) Series:
Book One (4): The Gathering (Coming 2011)

Do You Believe In Ghosts?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fashionably Late by Beth Kendrick

Genre: Chick Lit

Publication Date: January 2006

One Word Review: Okay

Author Website: www.bethkendrick.com

First Line
: "I knew what was coming as soon as he handed me the teddy bear."

Synopsis: Becca Davis has always played it safe -- denying her passion for fashion design in a dead-end job and letting her pragmatic boyfriend (mastermind of the "Kevin Bradley Ten-Year Plan") make the tough decisions in life. Stunned into saying yes when Mr. Predictable springs a surprise proposal on her, Becca realizes that she's running out of time to turn her life around. She's only got one more chance to chase her dreams and no one -- not her control freak fiancé, not her dramaholic sisters, not her overprotective parents -- will talk her out of it. Terrified but determined, Becca breaks off her engagement, moves in with her sister in Los Angeles, and prepares to take the fashion world by storm. The reality of the Hollywood scene is much harsher than she anticipated -- lots of slamming doors, snooty clients, and double-crossing celebrity stylists -- but she won't give up. And while she's waiting for her big break, she meets Connor, a sexy risk-taker who's the polar opposite of her ex-fiancé. Is Becca ready for his all-or-nothing approach to love?

Kathy's Review
: I really enjoyed Exes and Ohs by Beth Kendrick and was looking forward to reading some of her other books. My library happened to have Fashionably Late in, so I decided to give it a try. I admist, I was a little bored with this one. I liked Becca, although the whole fashion industry is completely foreign to me. I really liked Conner at first (especially his cheesy pick-up lines), but as they continued to get to know each other it almost felt like Becca was just trying to be something he would like, instead of being herself. Everything seems to work out though and I was happy with how everything ended up. I really didn't like Becca's sister Claire, I thought she was awful. The best word I could think of to describe thisbook was worldly. The whole fashion industry, Hollywood lifestly and lack of morals were all very unattractive and for me hard to relate to. So, for me this was just okay. I think if you enjoy chick lit you would probably enjoy this.

Content Warning: There is some swearing and a little sexual content, but otherwise its pretty clean.

Bookworm Rating: 2.5

A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

Genre: YA Mystery

Publication Date: March 2010

One Word Review: Good

Author Website: www.yslee.com

First Line: "She should have been listening to the judge."

GoodReads Synopsis: Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past.

Kathy's Review: I've been waiting to read this one every since I first read the synopsis a few months ago. I was excited when my copy came in at the library and quickly pushed it to the top of my TBR pile. I did enjoy the story, but it does seem like something was missing. I'm not sure what it was, but it was just a little off for me. I liked Mary and I do wish a little more time had been spent on her "training", although it was nice in a way to have her thrown into her first assignment as she tries to figure out just what she's doing. I liked the witty banter between her and James, and I'm looking forward to seeing their relationship developing throughout the rest of the series. The mystery was good, a little predictable, but still an enjoyable element to the story. Overall, it was a good story and fun mystery.

Bookworm Rating: 3.5

The Agency Series:
Book One: A Spy in the House
Book Two: The Body at the Tower (August 2010)

The Icing on the Cake by Elodia Strain

Genre: Chick Lit

Publication Date: January 2007

One Word Review: Enjoyable

Author Website: www.elodiastrain.com

First Line: "When I was twelve years old, my mom bought me a diary."

GoodReads Synopsis: It started with a cake. A rather innocent-looking cake, too, but that cake would open the door to opportunity - and disaster - for sweet-toothed, bargain-savvy Annabelle Pleasanton. In fact, between a promotion at work, her best friend's engagement, and her discovery of handsome photographer Isaac Matthews, that little cake has managed to turn Annabelle's world upside down. Things go from complicated to downright crazy as Annabelle discovers that handling her new writing assignment and plotting her friend's surprise bridal shower isn't going as easy as she'd hoped. Okay, okay - and appearing as a graceful, charming woman in the presence of Isaac is turning out to be, well, more than just a bit of a catastrophe. Not that Rona, a gorgeous boyfriend-snatching flirt, is helping things in the slightest. And just when things couldn't get any worse, smarmy womanizer Patrique worms his way into her life. Managing her life with the two of them in the picture may be more than she can handle. Then, when a misunderstanding threatens to destroy her job, her most cherished friendship, and her relationship with Isaac, Annabelle's courage and integrity are put to the test.

Kathy's Review: I've seen this book around for awhile now and finally had the opportunity to pick up a copy while I was home visiting family over the weekend. I ended up really enjoying the story and characters. I liked Annabelle; she is easy to relate to, funny, and a really good person. Annabelle ends up in a few embarrassing situations, but she handles them well. I liked our leading man Isaac, and was rooting for him throughout the story. There were a few misunderstandings along the way, and I thought the author did a good job showing that not everything is as it appears, and we should be careful before we jump to conclusions. I really enjoyed the story and look forward to reading the second book, Previously Engaged. I would totally recommend this to anyone who enjoys a fun romantic story.

Bookworm Rating: 4.5

Reading Order:
Book One: The Icing on the Cake
Book Two: Previously Engaged


What is your favorite romantic comedy novel?


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter

Genre: YA Fiction

Publication Date: October 2007

One Word Review: Entertaining

Author Website: www.allycarter.com

First Line
: "Just be yourself," my mother said, as if that were easy."

Synopsis
: Despite Cammie's best intentions to be a normal student, danger seems to follow her. She and her friends learn that their school is going to play host to some mysterious guests--code name: Blackthrone. Then she's blamed for a security breach that leaves the school's top secret status at risk. Soon Cammie and her friends are crawling through walls and surveilling the school to learn the truth about Blackthorne and clear Cammie's name. Even though they have confidence in their spy skills, this time the targets are tougher (and hotter), and the stakes for Cammie's heart--and her beloved school--are higher than ever.


Kathy's Review
: This was a fun sequel to the first book as we're reunited with a lot of our favorite characters. I enjoyed the storyline and it was fun returning to the Gallagher Academy. The story moves along quickly and definetly kept my interest. I think if you enjoyed the first book you'll like this one as well. There were a few things that made me like this book a litte less than the first one, but I still think it was a lot of fun. I love how creative it is, how clean it is and it left me wanting to go to spy school all over again.

I felt Cammie was lacking something. In her attempts to be "normal" she lost some of her charm and kick-butt attitude. I also missed the fun interaction that she had with her friends in the first book, it seemed like Bex wasn't around as much this time around. It also seemed like the boys were better at just about everything...I wanted to see the girls be a little tougher, smarter, and I felt like the girls just didn't bring their A-game. Don't get me wrong, I still really liked the book, those are just a couple things that I wish had been a little different.

Bookworm Rating: 4


Reading Order
:
Book Two: Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy
Book Three: Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover
Book Four: Only the Good Spy Young

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Thanks to my new link, Upcoming Releases, I can now focus my WOWs on individual books that I'm dying to read and not worry about leaving any out. This week's selection is:

The Reckoning (book 3)
By Kelley Armstrong
Release Date: April 6, 2010

Synopsis: Only two weeks ago, life was all too predictable. But that was before I saw my first ghost. Now, along with my supernatural friends Tori, Derek, and Simon, I'm on the run from the Edison Group, which genetically altered us as part of their sinister experiment. We're hiding in a sage house that might not be as safe as it seems. We'll be gone soon anyway, nack t rescue those we'd left behind and to take out the Edison Group...or so we hope.

Why I'm Waiting: I love this series! This is unfortuntately the last book in the trilogy and I admist, I'm sad to see it end. If you haven't read this series yet, I recommend it. It's well-written, filled with action, sprinkled with a little romance and of course there's a nice side of the supernatural thrown in for good measure. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Upcoming Releases

This page is under construction.

To view a list of 2017 releases click here.







Last Updated: October 2017

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter

Genre: YA Fiction

Publication Date: May 2006

One Word Review: Entertaining

Author Website: www.allycarter.com

First Line: “I suppose a lot of teenage girls feel invisible sometimes, like they just disappear.”

GoodReads Synopsis: The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school—that is, if every school teaches advanced martial arts in PE, chemistry always consists of the latest in chemical warfare, and everyone breaks CIA codes for extra credit in computer class. So in truth, while the Gallagher Academy might say it's a school for geniuses what they really mean is spies. But what happens when a Gallagher Girl falls for a boy who doesn't have a code name? Cammie Morgan may be fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways (three of which involve a piece of uncooked spaghetti), but the Gallagher Academy hasn't prepared her for what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, and track him through a mall without him ever being the wiser, but can she have a regular relationship with a regular boy who can never know the truth about her? Cammie may be an elite spy in training, but in her sophomore year, she's doing something riskier than ever—she's falling in love.

Kathy’s Review: I had actually started this one a few months back and for some reason couldn’t get into it. This time around I couldn’t put it down. I guess the mood you’re in really makes a difference when it comes to reading. Anyway, this was a lot of fun; I enjoyed it from the first page to the last and I'm eager to read the rest of the series. Cammie was a very believable character and easy to relate to. I liked that she was this superspy yet vulnerable at the same time. When she meets Josh for the first time and he actually sees her I felt so happy for her. While I thought they had good chemistry and it was fun watching their relationship grow I felt things were a little off. Cammie felt she had to create a fake persona whenever she was around Josh, which is not a good way to build a relationship. It will be interesting to see what happens in later books. The supporting cast of characters were also a lot of fun. I love the setting and plot. The book is super clean and entertaining. I wish I could go to spy-school!

Bookworm Rating: 4.5

Reading Order
:
Book One: I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You
Book Two: Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy
Book Three: Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover
Book Four: Only the Good Spy Young

Waiting on...April

There are so many great books coming out in April I decided to do one big post to spotlight them. I'll still be doing my WOW posts on a select few, but I didn't want to miss out on any so here it goes!

April 1, 2010
Shadow by Jenny Moss 1
The Darcy Cousins by Monica Fairview 1
Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve 1
My Invisible Boyfriend by Susie Day 1
The Alpha Bet by Stephanie Hale 1

April 5-8
Ondine by Ebony McKenna 5
Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter 5
Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones 6
The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong 6
For Keeps by Natasha Friend 6
A Golden Web by Barbara Quick 6
The Key of Kilenya by Andrea Pearson 6
The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan 7
The Princess and the Shoemaker by Alex Flinn 8

April 12-15
The King Commands by Meg Burden 12
Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles 13
The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy 13
The Owl Keeper by Christine Brodien-Jones 13
Longbourn’s Unexpected Matchmaker by Emma Hox 15

April 27-30
Thief Eyes by Janni Lee Simner 27
Mistwood by Leah Cypess 27
Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynoswki 27
Alice in Time by Penelope Bush 30

Are there any April releases that I missed?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer

Genre: Regency Romance

Publication Date: 1972

One Word Review: Okay

GoodReads Synopsis: Miss Annis Wychwood, at twenty-nine, has long been on the shelf, but this bothers her not at all. She is rich and still beautiful and she enjoys living independently in Bath, except for the tiresome female cousin, who her very proper brother insists must live with her. When Annis offers sanctuary to the very young runaway heiress Miss Lucilla Carleton, no one at all thinks this is a good idea. With the exception of Miss Carleton's overbearing guardian, Mr. Oliver Carleton, whose reputation as the rudest man in London precedes him. Outrageous as he is, the charming Annis ends up finding him absolutely irresistible.

Kathy’s Review: Lady of Quality wasn’t my favorite Heyer novel. It seemed a little boring most of the time and only livened up when Mr. Carleton and Annis were sparring, when they weren’t together the story kind of dragged by. I am not really a fan of “rakes” and don’t find it romantic when they are purposing they are promising never to stray again. Yeah, right. Other than that, I actually thought Oliver and Annis were perfect for each other and again enjoyed their interactions.

I thought Annis was a little short with some of the characters, acting almost like she was better than everyone else. I thought her cousin, Miss Farlow was annoying, but harmless and I felt bad about how she was treated by everyone. I was also hoping for a little closure with Lucy and Ninian (dumb name), throughout the story I suspected that maybe they would end up together, but their story never really gets resolved. This story was packed full of Heyer’s trademark odd vocabulary, more so than usual. Normally I don’t mind spending the extra time reading an Heyer novel, but this one seemed a little more tedious and I was looking forward to finishing it so I could go on to other books.

Bookworm Rating: 3

Would you marry a rake (not the garden tool...the other kind)?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publication Date: September 2009

One Word Review: Underwhelmed

Author Website: www.heatherdavisbooks.com/index

First Line: “Moonlight has special powers.”

GoodReads Synopsis: Shelby’s summer plans go totally awry when her horrible stepmother sends her off to “brat camp” as punishment for one too many broken curfews. Camp is full of spoiled rich kids, obnoxious counselors wanting Shelby to talk about her feelings, and a totally inhumane “no cell phones” policy. Things start looking up, though, when Shelby meets fellow camper (and son of a rock star) Austin Bridges III. But soon she realizes there’s more to Austin than crush material—his family has a dark secret, and he wants Shelby’s help guarding it. Shelby knows that bad boys get her into trouble…but who is she to turn her back on a guy in need, especially such a good-looking one?

Kathy’s Review: I was pretty excited to read this one. I liked the cover and I'm always on the lookout for a good werewolf story. Unfortunately, this didn’t turn out to be at all what I was expecting, and I ended up feeling disappointed. Shelby is kind of a spoiled air-head and I had a hard time relating to her and all the other rich, spoiled, famous kids in the story. I thought the setting had promise (although, in real life I don’t believe those “camps” do any good), and even the plot had potential, but it all ended up falling a little flat. I had a really hard time believing Austin would share his secret with someone he’d known for a couple days, and that he didn’t already have a cover story (seeing as its been in the family for ages). Some of the dialogue was cheesy and the story was lacking a good mystery. The only villain was a gossip teen who just wanted to leave camp, not really that exciting. And, I was really hoping for some resolution with Shelby and her dad and was disappointed when the story just ended. Owell, if you’re in the mood for a lighthearted teen book, then you may enjoy it.

Bookworm Rating: 2.5
 
Blog Design by Imagination Designs
All images from the Beautiful Words kit by NewLifeDreams Designs and the Story Book Castle kit by Lorie Davison