Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Seven Realms by Cinda Williams Chima

I first started this series three years ago. I loved the first book and was excited to read the rest of the series. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to finishing them all until this week. I’ve decided I hate waiting a year between sequels. I end up forgetting characters, plot and other relevant items and usually don’t want to re-read each book when the newest one comes out. So, I decided with the Seven Realms series that I would just wait until all the books were out and then read them all together. When the newest book, The Crimson Crown, was released last month I went ahead and ordered all the books.
I thought this was a fun high fantasy series. I liked the plots, characters and writing. I thought they were easy to read, all 2217 pages worth. For the most part the books focus on our main characters Raisa and Han, we are lucky to hear from both POV. I liked both characters; they each had their own strengths and weaknesses.
While the books are marketed towards a YA audience, I actually thought they were more fitting for 18+. The characters are all around 16-18, but their behavior and circumstances are more mature. The books are clean, but there is quite a bit of innuendo (although not crude) throughout the series. I thought the attitudes towards sex were too blasé, I would have enjoyed the stories so much more if they had a better moral message. While I didn’t personally agree with all the characters choices, I did enjoy the romance aspect of the series.
Overall, I thought this was a fun series. I’d probably give the overall series a 3.5, but it would have been much higher if it had been cleaned up a bit.
Content: Overall, clean. There is innuendo throughout, for the most part it is subtle, but at times it’s a little more obvious. There are a couple minor characters that are gay.
Reading Order:
Book One: The Demon King
Book Two: The Exiled Queen
Book Three: The Gray Wolf Throne
Book Four: The Crimson Crown

(For reviews of each individual book, please visit my Goodreads profile.)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson

Synopsis:
Unknowingly cast as the bachelorette for her town’s charity event, Taycee Emerson wants out. Especially when she discovers her old teenage crush, Luke Carney, is one of the bachelors and it's up to the viewers--not her--to decide which bachelors stay or go. Coerced into participating, Taycee does what any self-preserving girl would do. She launches a subtle attack on Luke’s good name with the hope of getting him voted off the show. Unfortunately, Luke's an eye-for-an-eye kind of guy, and when he discovers what she's up to, it means revenge. But when their pranks go south, will they screw up any chance they have at a future together, or will they be able to forgive and forget and prove that love really does conquer all?

Review:
So, so good. You can never go wrong with a Rachael Anderson book. This may be my favorite of hers so far. Even though it’s a little cheesy, my husband and I love to watch The Bachelor. It’s been a tradition of ours since we were first married and we love our Bachelor nights. So, when I heard Rachael’s next book had a similar theme I couldn’t wait to read it. When I saw on her blog yesterday that the book was finally available I immediately bought it. Even if you're not a fan of the TV show, you'd enjoy this book.

I really liked that the story didn’t unfold how I thought it would. I liked how Taycee and Luke’s story progressed and by the end you are totally rooting for them. Taycee was a really likable lead. You can’t help buy feel for her sitation. I thought the idea and version of the Bachelorette that they did was really believable. In fact, I wanted to go onto their website and watch some of Taycee’s dates! I liked that the show was for charity to help out the people of her town. Taycee has loved Luke for ages, since they were kids. He left for college and never looked back. Even after all their years apart she couldn’t get him out of her heart. Luke had moved on, but realized he was missing something from his life and went back to his childhood home to try and find what he was missing. I loved their first encounter after not seeing each other for ten years. I actually liked all their encounters, they had great chemistry.

I thought this was a great story. The characters were well developed and while it’s a nice romantic comedy type book, it also had nice depth to it. It’s a nice feel good story and one I will definitely read again.

Rachael, I know this just came out yesterday, but I can't wait for more. When is your next book coming out?? :)

Content: Clean

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Synopsis:
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned. The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes. There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back. Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different. Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.

Review:
I really liked this one; I thought it was one of the better dystopian’s that I’ve read lately. I liked Ember and Chase quite a bit. Ember did seem a bit impulsive at times, not really thinking things through. Which would be fine, but it did end up getting other people in trouble or put people in danger and that kind of bugged me. I would have liked if she had taken the time to think things through a bit more. On the otherhand I could also understand her urgency and how the dangers of the situation would cause you to act without necessarily thinking. I thought Chase was great, the brooding silent type, and also knows you to kick a little butt (especially if you mess with his girl). To me it was obvious that he cared for Ember, but he sure does a good job of pushing her away. I guessed what his secret was right from the beginning.

I thought the story moved along well. I was hooked from the first chapter and each chapter usually ended with a cliffhanger which of course kept me reading “just one more chapter”. There are some violent themes and situations; some reminded me a bit of the holocaust. It definitely shows how giving any government too much power is a BAD thing. While there are some disturbing things, I thought it was handled pretty well and wasn’t overly descriptive.

I admit, I was a bit confused at times. I wasn’t always sure of the timeframe with the relationship between Ember and Chase. There are a few flashback/memories along the way and eventually I think I was able to figure them out. I was also never sure how far into the future the book is supposed to take place. It wasn’t way way into the future, but it also seemed like the events going on couldn’t be this close to our time. If that makes sense. I also wondered what happened to all the people. I mean, I know there was a war that lasted awhile, but it also talks about how certain big cities had been evacuated, but never really made clear where they evacuated to. Who were we at war with? Why did us being at war make the government come down so hard on its citizens? Maybe I just missed some of the explanations.

Overall, it kept me reading, I liked the characters and I look forward to reading the next book.

Content: Maybe a handful of swearwords, a few mild innuendos (Ember and Chase's relationship was clean), and some violence.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Secret Fire by Deborah McBride Hathaway

Synopsis
Emma Marchant leads an uneventful life, but when cowboy Thatcher Deakon walks into the Marchant Inn that she runs with her family, she fears she may never be the same. Can Emma gain confidence in herself and realize that she has the right to be in love? Only Thatcher can help her overcome her insecurities, but he has his own fears to surmount. This heartwarming romance novel reveals that when the love between two people is real, it can exceed all obstacles.

Review

I really enjoyed this one. I was quickly sucked into the story by Emma’s endearing character. I thought Emma was really likable, a bit shy at times, but a sweetheart. Thatcher was a doll, I fell for him right off the bat, just like Emma. I thought they had good chemistry and some really nice moments together (Mmmm, kissing in the rain!). It really is a sweet story and full of that good old western charm. I even got a kick out of snobbish Nancy Jane, she was quite mean-spirited, but added a fun element to the story.  I thought the story was well written and moved along nicely. I also liked Eliza, Seth and James who were all fun characters and added a lot to the story. I’ll definitely be rereading this one! Overall, a very enjoyable read, at times it reminded me of Marcia McClure (which is a good thing), so if you enjoy her books you’ll enjoy this one just as much!   

Thanks so much to the author for a review copy, I loved the story and look forward to reading more from Deborah McBride Hathaway! 

Content: Clean

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Selection by Kiera Cass

Synopsis:
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined


Review:
Wow. I really liked this one. I think the reason I liked it so much was because I just totally loved America. She was an awesome heroine. I know in most of my reviews I always say I like the heroine, and I always mean it. But in this case, America is someone I would actually like to be friends with. I liked how she carried herself and how she treated everyone, including her maids. She was easy to relate to and was just fun to read about.

I liked the plot too. It’s set in the future after a few wars where the America as we know it no longer exists. There is now a caste system in place, of eight different levels. America is a level five, a musician. Prince Maxon must marry and in order to do so they have a dating tournament of sorts. 35 women are chosen to come live at the palace and date the prince. America meets the criteria and her boyfriend, Aspen (a level six), encourages her to apply. America is chosen, Aspen dumps her, and America goes with a broken heart to meet the prince.

This is kind of like dystopian Bachelor tv show. They all are competing to meet the prince, they do interviews and there are cameras following them around all the time. The prince narrows things down and is dismissing girls (although there is no rose ceremony…lol). Maxon and America hit it off right from the start. I really liked Maxon and thought America was good for him, and vise versa. I actually thought their relationship was more mature. They build from a friendship. I could see a lot of potential between them.   

So, why didn’t I give this five stars? I’m still wavering to be honest. I guess it comes down to the love-triangle. It was actually written pretty well (and I’m praying it doesn’t become a soap opera in future books). I already know whose team I’m on and towards the end America does something that just rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t want to give spoilers, but I’ll just say it’s hard to write a love-triangle that doesn’t make the girl look bad. While she’s trying to decide how she feels the two guys are expected to wait around for her decision. I guess in Maxon’s case he does have a dozen other girls to date, but still. I just hope she decides EARLY in the next book and it’s not a storyline that is dragged out for three books. There is so much more going on and I don’t want to read two more books of America going back and forth.

Overall, I really did love the book. It was well written, paced nicely and full of likable characters. I’m a bit bummed that I now have to wait a year for the next book. I thought I promised myself not to start another series unless the whole thing was done! Owell, it was well worth the read and I look forward to reading what happens next with America, Maxon and Aspen.

Content: A few make-out scenes, a little steamy. A handful of swear words. Otherwise, pretty clean.

Not Your Average Fairy Tale by Chantele Sedgwick

Synopsis:
Ash Summerland has it all–good looks, popularity, and the best grades at The Academy of Magical Beings. Ready to complete his last assignment in order to graduate, Ash is confident he will get the apprenticeship he wants. When he opens the letter from the Council, he is shocked to discover he has been assigned to apprentice Lady Shenelle, Keeper of Happy Endings. A.K.A. the head fairy godmother. Ash is forced to grant three wishes to a troubled human girl named Kendall, and ultimately give her a "happy ever after". But Kendall turns out to be more than he bargained for. Still grieving over her father's death, Kendall doesn't want anything to do with him. And worst of all, she doesn't believe in happy endings.

Review:
I really liked this one. I was quickly pulled into the story and had a hard time setting it down. I thought it was well written with a fun plot and likable characters. Kendall was likable and easy to relate to. She had been in an accident a few months prior to the story starting, which changed her life forever. She’s still struggling with what happened and is a bit skeptical win Ash shows up claiming to be her fairy godmother. Ash was also really likable. He is frustrated to be a fairy godmother (not a very manly profession where he comes from) and just wants to get his assignment over with, that is until he actually meets Kendall. I thought Ash and Kendall were great together, they have a lot in common, but I especially liked their banter and fun way of being with each other. I thought they had good chemistry. The story moves along quickly, and I was surprised with some of the twists at the end. I thought it was a great start to a new series and I look forward to seeing what will happen with Ash and Kendall next.

Content: Clean

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

She Owns the Knight by Diane Darcy

Review:
I really loved this one. It kind of reminded me of a more lighthearted Waterfall by Lisa Bergren. Gillian was a very likable heroine, as Kellen says, she’s charming. She seems to charm all those around her, you just can’t help but like her. She is visiting England and sketching an old rundown castle when some guys approach her with not the nicest intent. As she runs from them she is transported 700 years back in time and ends up at Kellen Marshalls castle. Kellen is expecting his new bride and assumes Gillian is his betrothed. She knows his real fiancé is on her way and only has a few weeks to figure out how to get back to the present day, but decides to make the best of the situation. I mean Kellen is hot, so why not?

Kellen has been hurt by his first wife and has a lot of baggage. It was so cute to see Gillian break down his walls, just by being kind and flirty. Kellen falls for Gillian right away, it was fun to see how loyal he was to her right from the get go. They are really cute together. I admit, the whole time I was nervous for how Kellen would react when he learned Gillian was not Edith, but was pleasantly surprised with how everything wraps up. I also liked the tiny side story of Marissa and her husband (Kellen’s dad), thought they also had a sweet story.

I thought the author did a great job of tying up loose ends, even some I had forgotten about. I thought this was a great lighthearted romance, with still enough tension to keep things interesting.

Content: Clean. Flirty innuendo.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fairest by Chanda Hahn

Synopsis:
In the sequel to UnEnchanted, Mina Grime discovers that all is not fair when it comes to the Fae and their tales, especially when they don’t all play by the rules. Barely surviving the Story’s first fairy tale quest, Mina still has hundreds to go before she can end the curse on her family. But a new player arises to challenge Mina while new rules revamp the game she has just barely begun to understand.
All the while, people are mysteriously disappearing, including Jared, whom Mina must finally determine to be friend or foe. And with the loss of her greatest weapon, Mina must try to outwit a deadly hunter. Can Mina survive the most difficult quest yet while protecting those she loves from falling victim to one of the lethal tales of all? Or will she become a pawn when she strikes a bargain with the Queen of Fae?

Review:
Hmm, I think I liked the first book a bit more, but I still enjoyed this one. I think the ending bumped it up a star for me though. It’s been about a month since the last book ended and Mina has completed a few more stories and has built up some confidence. While I like Mina, I got frustrated with her a bit in this one, but at the same time I liked that her “role” in the story wasn’t what she expected. The romance was pretty lacking in this one. I’m not sure who were supposed to be rooting for and admit I was disappointed with Brody’s story. I wonder how all that will work out? I do like that the “love-triangle” (which I use the term lightly) is a bit more unique from most. Both guys were actually absent quite a bit of the story and I missed them. I like both Brody and Jared, although I’m still rooting for a certain one of them to be Mina’s prince charming. While Mina did drive me nuts a couple times, I did like the growth she went through towards the end. I think she is learning from her mistakes and to be careful what she wishes for.

There were some interesting revelations at the end and I look forward to seeing where the story will go. There wasn’t as many POV jumps this time around. I actually kind of missed hearing from Brody and even Jared. I wonder how many books will be in the series, it doesn’t seem like things can get wrapped up in just one more book. I like the story though and wouldn’t mind if it was a bit longer series.

Overall, a good installment. If you liked the first book then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one as well.

Content: Clean. A bit of fairy tale violence.

Reading Order:
Book One: Unenchanted
Book Two: Fairest
Book Three: TBA

Sunday, July 8, 2012

UnEnchanted by Chanda Hahn

Synopsis:
Mina Grime is unlucky, unpopular and uncoordinated, that is until she saves her crushes life on a field trip, changing her High School status from loser to hero overnight. But with her new found fame brings misfortune in the form of an old family curse come to light. For Mina is descended from the Brothers Grimm and has inherited all of their unfinished fairy tale business. Which includes trying to outwit a powerful Story from making her it's next fairytale victim. To break the fairy tale curse on her family and make these deadly occurrences stop, Mina must finish the tales until the very Grimm end.

Review:
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. I had seen a few good reviews and it was free for my Kindle so I thought I’d give it a try. I love fairy tales and thought it was fun to see how they were interwoven into this story. Mina was a likable heroine. She was special, but didn’t know it yet. Her mom to try and protect her had tried to encourage her to NOT stand out. Mina always thought she was a klutz and didn’t mind not being noticed. Then one day on a field trip she saved the hottest guy in school, Brody, from falling over a railing. By saving Brody she sets forth a chain of events that literally changes her life. It turns out that Mina is related to the Brothers Grimm, and the fairy tales from their stories are real. Mina has to live each of the fairy tales and complete the stories in order to break a curse on her family.

I liked the side characters, Nan, Brody, Jared and little Charlie. I think there is a lot more going on with Nan that what we’re given and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with her in future books. I liked Brody, a lot. At times it did feel that he talked and acted a lot older than sixteen, but he was still really likable. I was surprised by how his story played out. Jared was interesting. I wasn’t sure if there was supposed to be a love-triangle and I’m not sure which side Jared is on. I’m curious to see what happens with him in future books. I think I’m still on Team Brody though, even though I don’t know what will happen with him now.

I thought the book was well written; I got sucked in and thought it flowed well. I admit, some of the POV changes were a little choppy. We’d be in Mina’s head and then suddenly in Brody’s, for like a paragraph, and then back in Mina’s. I think the transitions could have been a little better. I actually, for once, did like hearing things from Brody, Nan and Jared’s POV.

Overall, if you like fairy tales you’ll enjoy this one. I think it will be a fun series and I look forward to reading more. I liked the cover and I also liked that it was clean!

Content: Clean. A bit of fairy tale violence.

Reading Order:
Book One: Unenchanted
Book Two: Fairest

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

Synopsis:
The last thing Cammie Morgan remembers is leaving the Gallagher Academy to protect her friends and family from the Circle of Cavan--an ancient terrorist organization that has been hunting her for over a year. But when Cammie wakes up in an alpine convent and discovers months have passed, she must face the fact that her memory is now a black hole. The only traces left of Cammie’s summer vacation are the bruises on her body and the dirt under her nails, and all she wants is to go home. Once she returns to school, however, Cammie realizes that even the Gallagher Academy now holds more questions than answers. Cammie, her friends, and mysterious spy-guy Zach must face their most difficult challenge yet as they travel to the other side of the world, hoping to piece together the clues that Cammie left behind. It’s a race against time. The Circle is hot on their trail and willing stop at nothing to prevent Cammie from remembering what she did last summer

Review:
This is such a fun series, I really like it. I liked Cammie in this one; she has had a hard summer and is trying to fit back in with her friends and Zach. Like the past books I do wish Zach was present a little more, and while it’s okay that romance isn’t the main plot, I wouldn’t mind a little more. I like the overall story and think the series is a lot of fun (it's hard to write about, since I don't want to give spoilers this late in the series). I’m glad there will only be one more book though, I’m not a big fan of long series.

I do wish I had read the books closer together. I read book four Oct 2010, and while I remember the gist of it I felt like I had forgotten a lot going into book five. Since my books are all in storage right now I wasn’t able to re-read it before starting Out of Sight, Out of Time. Once I got into it though I didn't feel like I was missing too much, the story moves along well and there is plenty of action/mystery to keep you entertained. Fun read.

Content: Clean.

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Synopsis:
Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners. There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed. Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time. Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

Review:
I think I liked this one as much as the first. Unlike some series, each book covers its own heist and has its own plot and could probably stand on its own (although I recommend reading them in order). I thought this was entertaining. Kat is a likable heroine; she starts out a bit cocky in this one. She thinks she can do it all on her own, as the story progresses though she realizes just how important it is to have a team and friends to support her. I like all the characters in the book and it was fun being along on their ride. I liked Hale in this one. I was a little frustrated with the whole Hale-Kat relationship, there was too much left unsaid I guess. I’ve recently been on a regency kick where the romance is the main point of the story and in this series it kind of takes a back seat, and to be honest I wish there was a tad more where the romance is involved.

Overall, I think this is a great series. It’s clean, lighthearted, smart and a fun way to pass the time. I look forward to reading the next book; I just wish I didn’t have to wait so long!

Content: Clean.

Reading Order:
Book One: Heist Society
Book Two: Uncommon Criminals
Book Three: Perfect Scoundrels (Feb 2013)

Evergreen by Brenda Pandos

Synopsis:
Ash and Fin’s only desire is to be together and dive into their happily ever after, though their conflicting worlds work to pull them apart. Neither is ready to convert to the other’s life: become a human or a mer. Little do they know that somewhere in Natatoria a secret holds the fine fabric of everyone’s lives together. If the truth is discovered, Ash and Fin will no longer have the luxury of waiting. They’ll be forced to choose. But will it be for loyalty or love? Or will someone else make the choice for them if they can’t decide?
Review:
While I enjoyed this one, I think I liked the first book a little more. This book picks up where the last book ended. Fin and Ash are separated. Fin is on the run with his parents and Ash is attempting to live her normal high school life. They have to deal with their separation with minimal contact. I got a little frustrated with all the secrets. I mean, if you’re supposed to be so in love shouldn’t you trust your partner with anything? I guess it’s just to add some tension, but it did bother me.

I kind of thought the middle started to drag; with them being apart and having to deal with distractions. I thought it was well written and kept me interested, but the middle felt pretty uneventful. With about 80% left it started to get more exciting and there were some fun twists I didn’t see coming. I think it kind of suffered from Middle Book Syndrome, not a lot happening until the end when there is a bunch of stuff that leaves you wanting to read the next book. I still really like the characters and story and will read Everlost when it comes out next February.

Content: Clean, a bit of swearing and some violence.

Mer Tales Reading Order:
Book One: Everblue
Book Two: Evergreen
Book Three: Everlost

Surfacing by Shana Norris

Synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Mara Westray has just lost her mother, and now, being shipped off to live with the father she doesn’t know is not how she imagined grieving. She’s already counting down the days until she turns eighteen and can leave the tiny island of Swans Landing. But from the moment she steps off the ferry, nothing is as ordinary as it looks. Whispers of a haunting song on the wind make her see impossible things, and she isn’t sure she can trust her judgment about what is real and what isn’t anymore. Maybe she can’t even trust her judgment about quiet Josh Canavan, whose way of speaking in riddles and half-truths only confuses her more, luring her deeper into the secrets hidden beneath the ocean’s surface. As she tries to unravel the events that led to her mom fleeing the island sixteen years ago, Mara finds that the biggest secret of all is only the beginning.

Review:
I’m not sure what to make of this one. I guess overall I did like it and enjoyed the story, but by the end it felt a little uneventful and a bit slow. The first half of the book is about how Mara has lost her mom and has had to move in with her dad on a mysterious island where half the people are keeping secrets from her and the other half hate her. I got a bit frustrated waiting for Mara to just find out all ready. I mean the cover of the book pretty much gives the secret away. The second half of the book was interesting. Mara now knows most of what’s going on, but makes some bad decisions. One big one was with her friend Dylan. I didn’t like that whole situation and how she handled things. Her relationship with Josh was also a bit frustrating. He was kind of a coward in public and had done a few questionable things, but when they were together she never called him on anything. At least not for a long time. I would have liked a bit more confrontation, she didn’t seem like the type to hold things in, so I didn’t get why she put up with some of his shenanigans. Despite the very short time they know each other; I did actually like their relationship and thought they had good chemistry. I don’t think this is too much of a spoiler, but I have to get it out there. I was frustrated with how Mara wanted to leave and runaway with Josh. First, you barely know him despite the “connection” you may feel. Two, it was so selfish of her to ask him to leave his mom. She of all people should know what it is like to take care of an ailing mother and it was just so dumb for her to ask him to abandon his mother for her. It made me like her a lot less. 

Anyway, I did like Mara. I liked Josh. I liked the side characters Dylan, Sailor, Miss Gale and Lake. I thought it was maybe a standalone novel, but there are some cliffhangers at the end so I’m sure there will be at least one more book. I enjoyed this one and will probably read the next. It was an interesting take on mermaids and if you like mermaid stories you’ll probably enjoy it.   

Content: Pretty clean. Some passionate kissing and making out. Mild language, maybe a dozen (or less) swear words.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

An Unlikely Alliance by Rachel Van Dyken

Synopsis:
Spoiled New York rogue Royce Mc Arthur lives a charmed life. He sees no reason to settle down, until his mother issues her decree that he must grow up, find a wife and produce some grandchildren…preferably before she dies of old age. But his choices are quite limited considering the only women of his acquaintance are ones of ill repute. Meeting the beautiful Evelyn DeJarlias at a ball gives him hope he may have found the one. Her southern blue collar outspokenness and lack of refinement draws him like a moth to a flame. Unfortunately, she does not find him nearly as endearing -- consistently refusing his lavish gifts and his attentions, she poses a challenge he simply cannot ignore.

Review:
This was a cute regency-ish novella. It actually takes place in New York, I wasn’t quite sure of the exact time frame, some of the conversations or statements seemed too modern at times. Royce is your typical rake, when he meets Evelyn he regrets his past and wants to make a change. Since the story is so short things moved along quickly (almost too quickly at times) it was a bit hard to believe he had truly changed. He admits that he gets bored with women after a month, and I wonder will he get bored with Evelyn after their whirlwind courtship. Evelyn was likable; she at least tries to resist his charms and makes him work for her affection. The two team up to figure out what is going on between their parents (her father and his mother) and I suppose a friendship grows from their time together. Overall, it was an enjoyable short story.

Content: Clean. Talk of mistresses, no detailed love scenes


For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Synopsis:
Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology. Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go. But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Review:
I was intrigued when I read that this book was a dystopian retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, which happens to be a favorite of mine. I’m a sucker for lost-love stories and was anxiously waiting for the time when our characters, Elliot and Kai, were reunited. Elliot North was a good leading lady. She has good morals, strong convictions, and a kind heart. When Kai returns she has to face some truths about her beliefs and way of life.  Malakai Wentforth was likable, but I felt like I didn’t really get to know him as well as I would have liked. We get to read letters between Elliot and Kai when they were kids, but other than that we only see the present Malakai a few times. I would have liked more page time with Elliot and Kai together. When they are together there are some good tension filled moments, they definitely have chemistry. I’m a sucker for romance and thought there would be more in this book (I don’t think there was even one kiss!), instead it seemed like the focus was more on the dystopian world. In some ways the story stuck to the original Persuasion, but it definitely was unique. Overall, I liked it, but wanted to like it more. Any fans of Persuasion should give it a try, it was a fun retelling.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Reckless Magic by Rachel Higginson


GoodReads Synopsis: 16 year old Eden Matthews has been in and out of private schools for the last two years. Kingsley is her last chance to finish high school and she is determined to simply do that. But when she meets Kiran Kendrick and her world opens to something she thought only existed in fairy tales, she's unsure what her future will hold. Suddenly she is captivated by a boy who seems to be the source of all of her problems and struggling to rescue her best friend from a foreign prison. When attempts are made on Kiran's life, Eden alone must save him. Thrust into a world that is more make-believe than reality, Eden has to find her own destiny without losing those she loves most. Reckless is an intricate story of mystery, adventure, magic and love. Eden Matthews is an unlikely heroine set on a path to save the world and her loved ones before its too late.(

My Review: This was a fun start to a fun new series. Overall, I really enjoyed it and thought it was an enjoyable read. I admit, the first 30% started to drag, I just wanted Eden to stop being in the dark and start asking more questions. Once things started to be explained and Eden was brought into the loop the story really picked up.

Eden doesn’t always make the best decisions, but it’s not really her fault. I think a lot of hassle could have been avoided if she had just been told the truth. But, at least they explain why they held things back. I felt kind of bad for Lily, at times she felt more like a plot devise than an actual character. Eden only seemed to worry about her when it was convenient to worry about her, if that makes sense.
I was also a little disappointed in some of Eden’s reactions. You’d think with some of these huge revelations she would be a little more emotional about it all, instead she seems to just take everything is stride. There is one big reveal (that wasn’t that surprising) that I would have expected a little more out of her. Wouldn’t she have wondered why she was raised human while a certain someone appears to have always known who he is? Did he know about Eden? I wish that had been address a little.

As for Eden and her love interest, I thought they had a nice relationship and at times had great chemistry. I would have liked if they had more of a foundation before they start declaring their love for each other though. Sure they are attracted to each, but at times it just felt more like hormones than actual love. In fact, it seemed like their only connection was through their magic, and of course some passionate kisses. I just thought the end, while nice, was a little dramatic. I don’t think it will bother me in the next book, usually by then the relationship is established and the whole insta-love thing doesn’t bother me anymore. I hope that’s the case here anyway.  

My only other minor complaint, I didn’t really care for the character names, mostly Kiran and Avalon. Personally, I think Avalon sounds too feminine. I like my male characters to have really masculine names. Not a big deal though.

Overall, a fun read. I liked the new take on magic and the history. I thought it was original and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Content: Pretty clean. Lots of mild swearwords.

Reading Order:
Book One: Reckless Magic
Book Two: Hopeless Magic
Book Three: Fearless Magic
Book Four: Endless Magic

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Twitterpated by Melanie Jacobson

 

GoodReads Synopsis: Jessie Taylor is furious when her roommate secretly posts her picture on the dating website LDS Lookup -- furious, that is, until she spends all night instant messaging Ben Bratton, a man whose wit and warmth just might make Jessie forget the train wreck of her last romantic relationship. Their first date is a smashing success (literally), but Ben's overall awesomeness can't save Jessie from having to deal with Craig, her competitive coworker whose baiting behavior sets new standards for obnoxiousness. Determined to beat Craig at his own game, Jessie spends long office hours finishing projects and putting out fires, but while her performance wows her boss, it only makes Ben skittish -- after a failed engagement to an up-and-coming lawyer, he's not about to pair up with someone who's married to her job. Will Jessie figure out how to be true to herself and take her big chance at love before it's gone with a click of the mouse?

My Review:I admit, when I first saw this book pop up I thought it was about Twitter. Since I’ve never used Twitter I wasn’t that interested. Then I noticed it was by Melanie Jacobsen and since I enjoyed her first two books I thought I’d give this a try. Luckily, it wasn’t at all about Twitter.

If you’ve read and enjoyed Melanie’s first two books then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one as well. I thought it was a fun lighthearted read; it was a nice break from all the Regencies I’ve been reading lately. I thought our main character Jessie was pretty likable. She has some relationship baggage that she hasn’t wanted to let go of. She’s a big workaholic. But, she’s fun, loyal and easy to like. Ben was also very likable. With all the Regencies I’ve been reading I guess I’ve gotten used to the “brooding hero” and Ben was a nice lighthearted change from all that. I thought they had good chemistry and it was fun to see them together. Jessie’s roommate Sandy was also a fun addition to the story. Maybe they’ll be a future book about her so she can have her HEA too. At times I thought Jessie, Ben and Sandy’s personalities were a bit to similar, or it was more that their voices at times sounded too much the same. Some of the conversations could be interchangeable and you wouldn’t really notice any difference, if that makes sense. I also thought the end all wrapped up a little quickly and considering the book takes place over a three-ish week period, I thought it was all a little too fast. Overall, I really enjoyed it, it’s a nice break. I look forward to reading more of Jacobson’s books.

Content: Clean.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T Bergren


Release Date: June 1, 2012

GoodReads Synopsis: When Cora Kensington learns she is the illegitimate daughter of a copper king, her life changes forever. Even as she explores Europe with her new family, she discovers that the most valuable journey is within. The first book in the Grand Tour series takes you from the farms of Montana through England and France on an adventure of forgiveness, spiritual awakening, and self-discovery.

Review: I’ve been looking forward to this for quite some time and was really excited to see it available on NetGalley. I just have to say, I love the cover. It’s just so pretty and inviting.

Anyway, I thought this was enjoyable. I admit, I think the last 30% was probably the best part of the whole story. The story almost has a Cinderella feel to it. Cora’s life is turned upside down early in the story. She goes from living a poor life with her parents, to that of an heiress with an unwelcoming family she never knew. The book focuses on her adjustments and also a focus on their travels through England and France. There is of course a love-triangle. It’s pretty subtle for now, but I’m sure it will play a much larger part in future books. I already know who I’m rooting for, although both are charming. I’m not a super big fan of love-triangles and I hope Cora doesn’t become wishy-washy. It’s annoying when they expect two guys to pursue them and not realize that by spending so much time with one suitor it might just turn the other away. I would have liked a little more between Cora and one of the guys, but I also appreciate a slow buildup which allows a strong foundation for something more. Again, I think the last part of the book was the best and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

This would probably fall into the Christian Historical Fiction genre. The history part is written well and woven into the story nicely. The same goes for the Christian elements, although it’s still a little much for my personal taste. Not over the top though.

Content: Clean.

Reading Order:
Glamorous Illusions
Grave Consequences
Glittering Promises

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen

Review: This book just matched my mood today I guess. I got caught up in the story of Mariah and the atmosphere of the book, like I was transported back in time to Regency England. I really liked Mariah and thought she was a great leading lady. The book starts soon after her father banishes her after a mistake she has made. Alone in the world except for her companion, Miss Dixon, she finds a place to stay at her aunt’s gatehouse. I really liked the setting; the quaint gatehouse seemed cozy and inviting. I liked how over the course of the book Mariah makes genuine friends and learns forgiveness. I also really liked our hero in the book, I liked that they started out as friends and slowly built to something more. Normally I like a little more romance, but the amount in this book just seemed to match the story and left me happy. Instead of the story taking place over a short couple week span, it covers a few months. It was nice to see things develop slowly and have a few mysteries thrown in to keep things interesting. The supporting cast was just as fun as the main couple, especially Miss Dixon and Martin. Probably my favorite of Klassen’s books, so far.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen



GoodReads Synopsis: Fleeing a dishonorable man, Margaret abandons her pampered upper-class world for an anonymous life "below stairs." But will danger or love find her first

Kathy’s Review: This kind of reminded me of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, with a twist. There is a bit of a lost-love story going on, which I’m always a sucker for. Margaret flees her home one evening and finds employment in the home of a man who once proposed to her. She wears a disguise and becomes a housemaid. I liked the changes Margaret goes through during her story. She starts off a bit pampered and kind of self-centered, but as the story progresses and she starts to actual work her personality softens and she begins to see people for who they really are. I thought it was a fun twist to have her working at an old “boyfriends” house. I admit though, I was a little disappointed that there weren’t more interactions between the two. I think it was about halfway through the book before they finally crossed paths. I would have liked more interactions, but the ones we do get were great. Overall, I enjoyed the story. You get to see behind the scenes of what the servants lives were like back then.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Variant by Robinson Wells

Synopsis: Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life. He was wrong. Now he's trapped in a school that's surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive. Where breaking the rules equals death. But when Benson stumbles upon the school's real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape--his only real hope for survival--may be impossible.

Review: I keep jumping around on what I should rate this. If I overanalyze it I would give it a three, but since I did enjoy it and it totally kept me interested I have to go with four stars. I liked the story, I thought it was original. I thought the story progressed well, for me I was never bored or thought things were moving too slowly. In fact, I was sucked in right from the start and thought it had a fun eerie vibe to it that made you want to keep reading. Some have called this a “boy book” and I can see where they get that. It’s told entirely from our main character Benson’s perspective, is somewhat violent and has little to no romance. By the end I still didn’t feel like I had really connected with Benson. I liked him, I was glad that he wasn’t just submitting like so many others had, but there was just something missing for me. I think a little romance would have really gone a long way here. What little was in the book felt flat, unreal, and lacked chemistry. Benson didn’t act like a guy in that regard. I’ve read plenty of books with male POV, and it can be really fun to see a guy fall in love with a girl, and this book was missing that fun element. Like others have said, there are a few twists and a huge cliffhanger ending. I wasn’t too surprised with the twists, but was a little disappointed that some of my questions still weren’t answered by the end. The ending was way too abrupt. I can see why an author would enjoy having a huge shocker ending, but I need a little more closer and a few more answers. I’ll definitely be reading the next book though.

I saw on the author’s blog that this is actually only a two-part series and the next book, Feedback, is scheduled to come out around October 2012!

Northanger Alibi by Jenni James

Synopsis: The Russo family and Seattle, WA are no match for Claire Hart and her savvy knowledge of all things vampire related. Thanks to her obsession with the Twilight series, if there is anyone who would know a vampire when she saw one, it's Claire. And she's positive totally hot Tony Russo is a vampire--she just has to prove it. In this modern retelling of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, follow Claire's hilarious journey on her first summer adventure away from home, where she learns everything isn't what it seems, and that in some instances, reality is way better than anything she'd ever find in a book.


Review: What a fun read. I should say that I’ve never read the original Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, so I can’t compare the two. I had a vague idea what the story was about and thought the author did a good job recreating the story in a modern setting. Our main character Claire is endearingly naive, especially at the beginning of the book. To say she is a fan of the Twilight series is a huge understatement. I thought it was a fun element to the story though. I liked Tony, he has a few great lines and the two had good chemistry together. While I thought they were cute together, I had a hard time buying that they were truly in love, maybe SERIOUS like though. I can definitely see things growing between them, but the whole book only takes place over a couple of weeks with a handful of date/interactions, so love is a bit of a stretch for me. If you suspend reality for a couple hours though, it’s a very fun entertaining read. I thought it moved along nicely and kept me wanting to read more. I think I may have a new author to look out for. I loved the sample of her next book Persuaded at the end; I really can’t wait for that one! I also hope we get a book about Tony’s sister Nora, I really liked her character.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Slayers by CJ Hill

Synopsis: Dragons exist. They’re ferocious. And they’re smart: Before they were killed off by slayer-knights, they rendered a select group of eggs dormant, so their offspring would survive. Only a handful of people know about this, let alone believe it – these “Slayers” are descended from the original knights, and are now a diverse group of teens that includes Tori, a smart but spoiled senator’s daughter who didn’t sign up to save the world.The dragon eggs have fallen into the wrong hands. The Slayers must work together to stop the eggs from hatching. They will fight; they will fall in love. But will they survive?

Review: I knew this book was going to be totally different from the author’s other published work for her to take on a pseudonym, so I was able to go into it with an open mind and not expect something like she’d written in the past. ended up enjoying this one and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

It wasn’t that long ago that the word “dragon” would totally turn me off from reading a book. Not sure why, but I had no interest in them. I think it was Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George that changed my mind. Ever since then I have really enjoyed dragon lore. CJ Hill did a great job with her dragon mythology, I thought it was believable and I enjoyed how she worked dragons into a modern day setting. I liked our main character Tori. I liked that in her world she was accomplished at everything she tried, but once she reached camp things change and she was now the bottom of the pack. I like that kind of humbling. While she is still awesome, she still has a lot of room left for improvement. I suppose you could say there is a bit of a love-triangle, but personally I didn’t feel any chemistry with either guy and I’m crossing my fingers for a third option.

I did feel that the book was a little slow, and may have suffered a bit from being the first book in a series. I don’t mind reading trilogies, but like when each book in a series could almost stand on its own. I think the only reason I liked this one so much was because I knew there would be more to come. If it was a standalone book I wouldn’t have enjoyed it nearly as much.

Overall, I did really like it. I don’t think there is anything this author could write that I would not love.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Blog Tour: Persuasion: A Latter-day Tale by Rebecca H Jamison

Release Date: March 8, 2012

Synopsis: When Anne broke off her engagement seven years ago, she thought she'd never see Neil Wentworth again. But when Neil's brother buys the house she grew up in, it seems fate has other plans in store, and Anne is woefully unprepared for the roller coaster of emotions that accompanies Neil's return. Fans of Persuasion will love this fast-paced, modern retelling of Jane Austen's most romantic novel.


Review: This is a LDS version of the Jane Austen novel Persuasion. I’m a sucker for books about lost-love. I don’t know why, but I guess it’s fun to read about people getting a second chance at something that they thought was lost. In this book we follow the story of Anne and Neil, who were separated eight years earlier by Anne’s fear of marriage. In a lot of ways the story follows Austen’s novel but somewhere along the way Anne and Neil’s story really becomes their own. There is a nice twist to the story that adds a little excitement. Overall, I thought it was a fun read.

Click here for tour calendar.
Author Website: http://www.rebeccahjamison.com
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/RebeccaHJamison
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKgM9tuCzSo
Publisher Blog http://www.cedarfortbooks.com/
Publisher Facebook https://www.facebook.com/cedarfortbooks
 
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