Thursday, December 29, 2011

REVIEW: "Cinder" by Marissa Meyer

TITLE: Cinder
AUTHOR: Marissa Meyer
SERIES: Lunar Chronicles #1
GENRE: Young Adult-Science Fiction-Romance
PUBLISHER: Feiwel and Friends
PUBLICATION DATE: January 2012
READ DATE: November 2011
SOURCE: Netgalley ARC
SUMMARY: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. 
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

MY THOUGHTS:

Retold fairytales are a popular genre in young adult and adult literature these days.  Authors are taking the classic stories we all love and providing a new twist on them that reminds us how wonderful the stories are to begin with.  Marissa Meyer's debut Cinder follows in this trend, but provides an original take on the Cinderella fairytale.  She provides a twisted tale that mixes science fiction and dystopian fiction with a hint of steampunk on the side.  What makes this book work for me is the detailed setting, the creative plot, and the well-drawn characters.

The world of Cinder is a futuristic one that takes place in Beijing.  I personally love it when author's choose unique setting for their story.  I have never been to Beijing so I can't verify what changes are made in this version, but I loved how Meyer described the contrasting worlds of glitz and glamour and the dreary and impoverished.  I also was fascinated by the descriptions of the Lunar kingdom that is mentioned through myths in this installment, but I have a feeling it will become a primary setting later in the series.  There was definite thought to how the world was depicted and how it related to the overall storyline.

Cinder's plot was organized and follows the original fairytale without making it a bit by bit retelling.  There is a first meeting between the heroine and the prince, confrontations with the heroine's family, and the climatic ball.  But, there is so much more going on in this book.  Meyer adds fascinating subplots that provide some of the main conflicts in the story.  The two main ones are the deadly illness that is slowly wiping out the population of the city and the impending attack from the ruthless Lunar kingdom.  I also enjoyed seeing the little Cinderella tidbits that Meyer threw into the fray such as Cinder's orange "classic" car and her prosthetic foot that keeps falling off.

Cinder is a fabulous young adult heroine.  She is realistic despite her cyborg structure.  I really felt for her throughout the book and was rooting for her to achieve a happily ever after.  There is a bit of a mystery surrounding her true identity and I found it to be pretty easy to solve.  But, I do not believe that it deterred from the greatness that is her character and her story.  I was especially intrigued by the way Meyer used the cyborg prejudices of Cinder's neighbors to mirror the neglect of the Cinderella from the fairy tale.

Prince Kaito, or Kai as he is known to Cinder, is a unique hero in the land of young adult literature.  He is heroic, but deeply flawed.  Insecurities about his future role as a ruler and his devotion to his people are prevalent throughout the story.  I really enjoyed seeing him become a deeper character and a worthy partner for Cinder.

Levana, queen of the Lunar Kingdom, is being set up as a evil and wonderfully written villain.  Meyer makes no qualms about how vicious she is underneath all the glamour and perfection.  Her deviousness and treatment of Kai and his subjects were heartwrenching and perfectly suited to her character.  There is not much solution to the problem of Levana in this book, but I can't wait to see how Cinder and the others make her pay for her cruelty.

Overall, I was fascinated by the story from beginning to end and can't wait to read more in this series.  Great debut, Ms. Meyer!!


5+ OUT OF 5 STARS

FAVORITE QUOTE:

"I’m sure I’ll feel much more grateful when I find a guy who thinks complex wiring in a girl is a turn-on."

BOOK TRAILER:

http://shelf-life.ew.com/2011/12/20/cinder-book-trailer-marissa-meyer-exclusive/

SERIES INFORMATION:

0.5 Glitches
1. Cinder
2. Scarlet (Release Date: 2013)
3. Cress (Release Date: 2014)
4. Winter (Release Date: 2015)

INTERESTING LINKS:

Book Depository Page
Goodreads Page
Author Website/Blog

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

MY BOOK BOYFRIEND (18): Peeta Mellark


My Book Boyfriend is an awesome weekly meme hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader all about fictional boys who make us swoon.  Due to holiday preparations and the end of semester exams, I have not been very efficient with my reading.  Therefore, I have reached into my back-up bag of yummy literary heroes and picked one at random.  So, this week I am swooning over the boy with the bread himself, Peeta Mellark, from Suzanne Collins's epic Hunger Games trilogy.

About Peeta:
  • He is the son of a baker in District 12 of Panem.
  • He was chosen as a tribute for the 74th annual Hunger Games.
  • He is extremely strong due to years of hauling flour and baking bread.
  • He has had a crush on his fellow tribute, Katniss, since they were young children.
  • Very protective of those he cares about.
Quotes:

"Yes, and I’m sure the arena will be full of bags of flour for me to chuck at people." --Hunger Games


"Do you mean you won't kill anyone?" I ask.
"No, when the time comes, I'm sure I'll kill just like everybody else. I can't go down without a fight. Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to... to show the Capitol they don't own me. That I'm more than just a piece in their Games," says Peeta. --Hunger Games


"I wish I could freeze this moment, right here, right now and live in it forever."--Catching Fire



"I don't want you forgetting how different our circumstances are. If you die, and I live, there's no life for me at all back in District Twelve. You're my whole life." Peeta says. "I would never be happy again. It's different for you. I'm not saying it wouldn't be hard. But there are other people who'd make your life worth living." --Catching Fire



"I knew you'd kiss me."
"How?" I say. Because I didn't know myself.
"Because I am in pain," He says, "That's the only way I get your attention."
--Mockingjay



Sometimes, when I'm alone, I take the pearl from where it lives in my pocket and try to remember the boy with the bread, the strong arms that warded off nightmares on the train, the kisses in the arena. To make myself put a name to the thing I've lost. But what's the use? It's gone. He's gone. Whatever existed between us is gone. --Mockingjay


My Peeta:  While I was reading this series, I never had a clear picture of what I thought Peeta should look like.  Gale, yes, but not Peeta.  So when Josh Hutcherson was cast, he became Peeta for me.

And, because there's always time to marvel at this:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

TOP TEN TUESDAY (6): Books I Want Santa to Bring

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

QUESTION: Top Ten Books I Want Santa to Bring Me

1. The Windflower by Sharon and Tom Curtis (Laura London)
A classic "old school" historical romance that is extremely difficult to find.

2. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
A 2011 release that is extremely popular right now plus I read a fascinating post about Mara for the YA Tournament of Heroines at YA Sisterhood.

3. The Thief by Meghan Whalen Turner
I've heard fabulous things about this series and especially about Gen. 

4. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Sounds like a fascinating concept and I've heard great things about it.

5. Austenland by Shannon Hale
I love Austen retellings and I especially am intrigued by the idea of kicking the Austen habit.

6. In Total Surrender by Anne Mallory
One of my favorite historical romance authors.  I loved Andreas in One Night Is Never Enough and want to read more about him.

7. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
I love the idea of a football playing heroine and I've read great reviews about the book so far.

8. Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill
This is one of the series that I keep meaning to read because everyone seems to love it so much!  Plus Ethan sounds hot!

9. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Heard so much about this and Grey sounds like a great alpha hero!

10. Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson
Another popular book among bloggers this year.  Lila sounds like a killer heroine and I'm intrigued by the concept of the Unit.

Friday, December 16, 2011

FOLLOW FRIDAY (9)

Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. Feature & Follow Friday is now hosted by TWO hosts, Rachel of Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

The two feature blogs this week are:  



Once Upon A Time
 Once Upon a Time
 



Question of the Week: When you've read a book, what do you do with it? (Keep it, give it away, donate it, sell it, swap it..?)


I work at a library so I get alot of books from there.  In terms of books I buy, it all depends on the book.  If I know I will want to read it again, I keep it and put in one of my many designated book cartons which seem to be multiplying everytime I open them up.  Also, I will keep books that may not be my favorite if they are part of one of my favorites series.  I am fanatical about keeping books in series together if I love it.  For the other books that don't make it into the carton, I use PaperBackSwap religiously or donate to the library.



THANKS FOR VISITING AND HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

2012 Why Buy the Cow? Reading Challenge

Welcome to the Why Buy the Cow? Reading Challenge 2012! This reading challenge is sponsored by Missie from The Unread Reader and Kelly from Reading the Paranormal.  This reading challenge has been developed specifically for FREE and LEGAL downloaded books.

Here is how it works:
  • Should you choose to participate in this challenge, your goal is to read at least twelve (12) legally obtained FREE e-books. While twelve is the minimum there is no maximum limit.
  • Anyone can join. You don't have to be a blogger, and you don't have to live in the United States. 
  • Any E-Reader will work for this challenge, including: iPad, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, enTourage. 
  • Please Note: If you don't have an e-reading device, you can still join in with Amazon's Free Kindle Reading Apps which you can download for your iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC, Blackberry and more.
  • The challenge runs from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012. You can join at anytime.
  • E-books in ANY genre count for this challenge as long as it was FREE at the time that you downloaded it.
  • Every month in 2012, Missie and Kelly will make a post for the Why Buy the Cow? Reading Challenge 2012 so you can link your reviews.  Based on participation, monthly link ups may be combined.
  • Those that link their reviews will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a different prize each month, such as an Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card, a bookmark, or a GelaSkins for your e-Reader.
For more information and sign up, go to the introduction post here.

**************

My personal goal for this challenge is:

COUPON CLIPPER (12+ book)

I have alot of free books on my Kindle so I am super excited to finally start reading them!



NOVELLA REVIEW: "Once Upon a Winter's Eve" by Tessa Dare

TITLE: Once Upon a Winter's Eve
AUTHOR: Tessa Dare
SERIES: Spindle Cove #1.5
GENRE: Historical Romance-Regency
PUBLISHER: Samhain Publishing
PUBLICATION DATE: November 2011
READ DATE: December 2011
SOURCE: Kindle
SUMMARY: Violet Winterbottom is a quiet girl. She speaks six languages, but seldom raises her voice. She endured bitter heartbreak in perfect silence. The gentlemen aren't beating down her door. Until the night of the Spindle Cove Christmas ball, when a mysterious stranger crashes into the ballroom and collapses at Violet's feet. His coarse attire and near-criminal good looks would put any sensible young lady on her guard. He's wet, chilled, bleeding, and speaking in an unfamiliar tongue.


Only Violet understands him. And she knows he's not what he seems. She has one night to draw forth the secrets of this dangerously handsome rogue. Is he a smuggler? A fugitive? An enemy spy? She needs answers by sunrise, but her captive would rather seduce than confess. To learn his secrets, Violet must reveal hers—and open herself to adventure, passion, and the unthinkable... Love.

MY THOUGHTS:

Once Upon a Winter's Eve is a historical romance novella that is part of Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove series.  Spindle Cove is a small seaside village along the English Channel that has become a haven for young ladies with "problems".  These issues range from illness to impending spinsterhood to scandal.  The village is a place for these ladies to have a peaceful existence without the demands of society.

Violet Winterbottom is one of the "unfortunate" young ladies who has been residing at Spindle Cove for almost a year.  An ill-advised incident forced her to retire temporarily from society, but her family is now forcing her to return to London.  I really enjoyed reading about Violet.  She is not a typical wallflower due to her appearance and accomplishments, but still remains shy around strangers.  I thought this was an interesting quirk to her character.  Violet is very intelligent and courageous when she needs to be, but there is always a sense of vulnerability as well.

I can't go into too much detail about the hero in this novella because a decent amount of the plot deals with his true identity.  I will say that, while he was sexy and dangerous, I never completely warmed up to him.  There were definite moments where I felt sorry for him and his situation, but there were other things that just irked me.  His past actions were difficult to forgive and I'm not a hundred percent sure whether he was properly redeemed or not.

Despite my hesitations about the hero, I did enjoy reading the love story.  There was a lot of sexual tension that results in some pretty hot scenes later in the novella.  The romance was sweet and full of cute moments.  The plot was perfectly suited for a story this length which is not always the case in the world of novellas.  I also liked the sense of danger that I felt throughout my reading.  The conflict is very real and balanced well with the romance.  The only other issue I had with the story, besides my opinions on the hero, was the ending.  It felt like it was a little rushed and anticlimatic especially with all the buildup in the earlier parts. 

Overall, it was an entertaining read and a sweet holiday story!  I think it would serve as a nice introduction to Ms. Dare's writing and this series.  Personally, I can't wait to read A Week to be Wicked and spend more time with the fascinating ladies of Spindle Cove!


4 OUT OF 5 STARS


FAVORITE QUOTE:

"As an experienced wallflower, Violet Winterbottom knew to stake her ground and guard it."

SERIES INFORMATION:

1. A Night to Surrender
1.5. Once Upon a Winter's Eve
2. A Week to be Wicked (To Be Released 2012)
3. A Lady by Midnight (To Be Released 2012)

INTERESTING LINKS:

Amazon Kindle Page
Goodreads Page
Author Website/Blog

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY (12): Scarlet


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming releases we're anxiously awaiting.  Here's what I'm waiting for this week:


by A.C. Gaughen
Young Adult
Walker and Co.
February 14, 2012

Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in. It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.


MY BOOK BOYFRIEND (17): Judd Lauren


My Book Boyfriend is an awesome weekly meme hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader all about fictional boys who make us swoon.  This week, I am swooning over Judd Lauren from Nalini Singh's Caressed by Ice which is part of her fabulous Psy-Changling series.

About the Book:

As an Arrow, an elite soldier in the Psy Council ranks, Judd Lauren was forced to do terrible things in the name of his people. Now he is a defector, and his dark abilities have made him the most deadly of assassins - cold, pitiless, unfeeling. Until he meets Brenna... Brenna Shane Kincaid was an innocent before she was abducted - and had her mind violated - by a serial killer. Her sense of evil runs so deep, she fears she could become a killer herself. Then the first dead body is found, victim of a familiar madness. Judd is her only hope, yet her sensual changeling side rebels against the inhuman chill of his personality, even as desire explodes between them. Shocking and raw, their passion is a danger that threatens not only their hearts, but their very lives.

About Judd:

  • Has dark hair, dark eyes, and a lean, muscular build.
  • Psy with a TK Cell designation--he can manipulate physical items down to the cellular level.
  • A former Arrow or professional assassin.
  • Defected from the Psy world and sought sanctuary with changelings in order to protect his family.
Quotes:


I'm not a baby anymore.  No, she wasn't.  And he wasn't her protector.  He couldn't be--the closer he got to her, the more he could hurt her.  Silence had been invented for those like him--the brutal killers and the viciously insane, those who had turned the world of the Psy into a blood-soaked hell so bad, Silence had become a better choice.



"There is no us, Brenna."  There couldn't be, not if he wanted her to live the life she deserved.  "For some reason, you're attracted to me.  And yes," he said when it looked like she was going to respond with another burst of red-hot anger, "I'm tempted by you.  But that means nothing."



She awakened something in him that was raw, desperate, violent in a way that sprang not from anger but from passion.


They called him the Man of Ice, but where Brenna was concerned, he was anything but.  If she stroked him, he wouldn't be able to complete even a tenth of his plan.  And for a man who'd been hungry as long as he had, a quick bite held no appeal.  He wanted to linger, to gorge, to indulge.



Judd figured he must have done something right along the way. How else could a rebel Arrow have earned the right to call this amazing woman his own? Even if it was a mistake, too damn bad. He was never giving her up.


My Judd: David Boreanaz

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

REVIEW: "A Lady Awakened" by Cecilia Grant

TITLE: A Lady Awakened
AUTHOR: Cecilia Grant
SERIES: Blackshear Family #1
GENRE: Historical Romance
PUBLISHER: Bantam
PUBLICATION DATE: December 27, 2011
READ DATE: December 2011
SOURCE: Goodreads First Reads
SUMMARY: Newly widowed and desperate to protect her estate and beloved servants from her malevolent brother-in-law, Martha Russell conceives a daring plan. Or rather, a daring plan to conceive. After all, if she has an heir on the way, her future will be secured. Forsaking all she knows of propriety, Martha approaches her neighbor, a London exile with a wicked reputation, and offers a strictly business proposition: a month of illicit interludes . . . for a fee.

Theophilus Mirkwood ought to be insulted. Should be appalled. But how can he resist this siren in widow’s weeds, whose offer is simply too outrageously tempting to decline? Determined she’ll get her money’s worth, Theo endeavors to awaken this shamefully neglected beauty to the pleasures of the flesh—only to find her dead set against taking any enjoyment in the scandalous bargain. Surely she can’t resist him forever. But could a lady’s sweet surrender open their hearts to the most unexpected arrival of all . . . love?


MY THOUGHTS:

A Lady Awakened is the debut novel for historical romance author Cecilia Grant.  While there were some flaws to the story, the writing style and characters were amazingly detailed and I see great things in Cecilia Grant's future as a historical romance author.  This story had an intriguing premise, well-drawn characters, and plenty of sensuality.

At first glance, the plot seems to be reminiscient of many romance novel stories that have been published over the years.  You have the proper widow, the charming scoundrel, the evil heir apparent, and the effort to keep the inheritance with the widow through dishonest means.  But, what Grant does it take this seemingly formulaic plot and gives it depth and a realistic voice.

The hero, Theo, is a typical nineteenth century rake who has been sent to the country as punishment by his father.  When he meets Martha and hears her plan, he is intrigued by her bluntness and is even a little attracted to her.  Over the course of their relationship, Theo discovers the truth behind Martha's proper facade and falls in love with her.  Theo is a fabulous hero.  He is charming and handsome, but flawed in the way many young men of his time were.  Despite his obvious spoiled nature, Theo is very sympathetic as he shows Martha and the readers how much he is willing to change.  He takes his responsibilities in the country very seriously though most of that is inspired by Martha's suggestions.   

Martha is a little harder to understand at first which was part of the reason I loved her.  The reader's first impression of her is this proper widow who is protective of her lifestyle and willing to cheat a man out of his inheritance.  She gives off a very cold personality which is showcased through her early interactions with Theo.  But, like Theo, the reader learns to look deeper into Martha's character and discover the wonderful woman hiding inside.  I really admired Martha and her willingness to do anything to help those she cares about.  She is a unique character in the world of historical romance and I applaud Ms. Grant for introducing such a fascinating heroine.

As a couple, Martha and Theo were an intereresting mix.  This was definitely an opposites attract type of romance which is one of my personal favorites.  I loved reading about their interactions and how their views of each other changed over the course of the book.  I also thought the way their relationship developed from strangers to friends to lovers was pretty realistic and appropriately slow.  This was a very mature romance and was depicted wonderfully.  I will warn readers that there is a significant amount of sex scenes in this book due to the plot.  These vary in the hotness factor throughout the book, but I thougth it was a nice way to portray the changing relationship of Martha and Theo. 

I only had a few issues with this book, but most of these can be solved through experience as a writer.  There were a lot of historical details in this book on subjects such as tenant schooling and land use.  While I love seeing the results of author's research, the plot did start to get bogged down by too many details.  I loved the romance and wanted to concentrate on that more than the future of the school on Martha's land.  Also, I would have liked for the "villain" to have been in the story a little longer.  He had a fabulously evil reputation built up that fell a little flat by the end.

All in all, this was a well-written debut and I look forward to reading more of Ms. Grant's work.  I am particularly intrigued by the prospect of finding out more about Martha's brother who was stationed at Waterloo in A Gentleman Undone.


4 OUT OF 5 STARS

BOOK TRAILER:



SERIES INFORMATION:

A Lady Awakened
A Gentleman Undone (To Be Released May 2012)

INTERESTING LINKS:

Book Depository Page
Goodreads Page
Author Website/Blog

TOP TEN TUESDAY (5): Books as Gifts


Sponsored by The Broke and the Bookish.

TEN BOOKS I WANT TO GIVE AS GIFTS
1. Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich
For my mother who is a huge Stephanie Plum fan.

2. Bunheads by Sophie Flack
For one of my former dance students who dreams of being a professional ballerina and has become my reading buddy. 

3. The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins
For all of my teacher friends.

4. Civil War Curiousities by Webb Garrison
For my best friend who is a Civil War nut.

5. Hounded by Kevin Hearne
For my boss who loves original and humorous fantasy series.

6. As They See 'Em: A Fan's Travels in the Land of Umpires by Bruce Weber
For my father the baseball fanatic who used to be a former umpire.

7. Death Note, Black Edition, Volume 1 by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
This is one of my brother's favorite animes so I'd love to see if he enjoyed the manga/graphic novel it was based on.  Highly recommended for thriller and crime mystery fans!

8. The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks
For my middle school aged cousin who is just getting into books especially ones about zombies.

9. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star by Heather Lynn Rigaud
For my friend who is a huge Jane Austen fangirl and is really getting into the well-done retellings.

10. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
For anyone who hasn't read it yet!

Monday, December 12, 2011

REVIEW: "Epic Fail" by Claire LaZebnik

TITLE: Epic Fail
AUTHOR: Claire LaZebnik
SERIES: n/a
GENRE: Young Adult-Romance-Contemporary
PUBLISHER: HarperTeen
PUBLICATION DATE: August 2011
READ DATE: December 2011
SOURCE: Bought-New
SUMMARY:  Will Elise’s love life be an epic win or an epic fail? At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. Case in point: As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school—not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects. As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn’t exactly on everyone’s must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.
When Elise’s beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince’s best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.

MY THOUGHTS:

Anyone who has read my blog enough can tell that I have a huge love of Jane Austen and her work.  I also love reading retellings of her stories and seeing how authors put their own spin on a classic plotline.  Pride and Prejudice is the Austen book that is probably most often retold due to its overwhelming popularity.  It is not my personal favorite (Persuasion, anyone?), but I still adore it.

Epic Fail is a modern-day high school retelling of Pride and Prejudice.  All the usual suspects of P&P are here, just with updated names and backgrounds.  LaZebnik does a fine job providing the Jane Austen fan with little tidbits and the classic themes of the original and providing great introductory material for Austen newbies.

Our main characters are Elise Benton (aka Elizabeth Bennet) and Derek Edwards (aka Fitzwilliam Darcy).  Elise and her family have just moved to California in order for her mother to take a job as a principal at a prestigious LA prep school.  On her first day, she discovers she might be a little out of place amongst all the designer clothes and outrageus wealth.  Then her older sister, Juliana, catches the eye of one of the most popular guys in school, Chase Baldwin and Elise must deal with a growing attraction to Chase's best friend , Derek, the son of two well-known Hollywood actors.

Elise was a great heroine who was smart, loyal, and had no problem telling people what she thought.  She was also flawed in a way that counteracted with her opinions of herself.  Derek had all the wonderful attributes of Mr. Darcy from his shy manner, awkward courting of Elise, and protectiveness of his little sister, Georgia.  This couple had many great moments together where they showed typical high school flirting along with the classic courting scenes from the Austen's classic.  My personal favorite was when Elise and Derek went to a movie premiere and dealt with the ups and downs of a Hollywood life.

I also enjoyed the secondary relationship between Chase and Juliana.  Both of these characters are sweet and their romance is the catalyst that gets the rest of the storyline going.  I particularly enjoyed how LaZebnik dealt with the conflicts in this relationship and gave it a modern-day feel. There were also plenty of fun tidbits from Pride and Prejudice that caught my eye from the Benton's overbearing mother to the ridiculous behaviors of the high school girls around Derek and Chase.  The character of Layla, Elise and Juliana's little sister, was as annoying as Austen's Lydia and the "villainous" Webster Grant provided a great counterpart for Austen's George Wickham.  Any well-done Pride and Prejudice retelling needs to follow a certain criteria and Epic Fail does this perfectly from the prideful hero to the embarrassing family to the scandal involving the hero's sister.

The only complaint I had about this book was the ending.  I was going along enjoying the relationship between Derek and Elise and then it just ended.  It felt like there wasn't much of a conclusion to Elise and Derek's story and the other characters were just left out to dry.  But, I was interested in LaZebnik's writing style so I will definitely look for more of her work.  Recommended for Jane Austen fans and fans of well-written teen romance!



4 OUT OF 5 STARS



FAVORITE QUOTES:

--Everyone at Coral Tree Prep was good-looking. Really. Everyone. I didn't see a single fat or ugly kid all morning. Maybe they just locked them up at registration and didn't let them out again until graduation.

--No one's family is normal. Normalcy is a lie invented by advertising agencies to make the rest of us feel inferior.




INTERESTING LINKS:

Book Depository Page
Goodreads Page
Author Website/Blog

Friday, December 9, 2011

FOLLOW FRIDAY (8)

Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. Feature & Follow Friday is now hosted by TWO hosts, Rachel of Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

The two feature blogs this week are:






Question: Keeping with the Spirit of Giving this season, what book do you think EVERYONE should read and if you could, you would buy it for all of your family and friends?



 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I know this will probably be a popular choice this week, but it is so true for me!  I have converted about ten people to HG fandom this year and would love to add more!  Plus with the movie coming out (March!) it gives me a good incentive to mention.


Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
An epic historical fiction with something for everyone.  There is romance, adventure, drama, history, etc.  I recommend reading this both as a physical book and as an audiobook.  This is the beginning of Jamie and Claire's story and I recommend it to everyone!


HAVE A GREAT FRIDAY!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

MY BOOK BOYFRIEND (16): Leo Hathaway


My Book Boyfriend is an awesome weekly meme hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader all about fictional boys who make us swoon.  This week, I am swooning over Leo Hathaway, Lord Ramsay, from Lisa Kleypas's Hathaway Family series.  He is a prominent character throughout the series and has his moment in the spotlight in Married by Morning.

Appearance: 
If life were at all fair, she thought dourly, Leo would have been pudgy, pockmarked, and bald.  But he was a handsome man with a strapping six-foot build.  He had dark hair and light blue eyes and a dazzling smile.  The worst part was that Leo didn't look at all like the rogue he was.  He looked wholesome and clean and honorable, the nicest gentleman one could ever hope to meet.

About Leo:
  • Is the only boy in the Hathaway family.
  • Is very protective of his sisters.
  • Has a very dry, witty sense of humor.
  • Wanted to be an architect.
  • Lost his betrothed to scarlet fever and became self-destructive in his grief.
  • Inherited a title (Viscount Ramsay) through a series of cursed relatives.
  • Fell in love with his sisters' governess who he affectionately refers to as "Marks."
Quotes:

“I cruel to Marks ? I'm the one you should worry about. After a conversation with her, I usually walk away with my entrails dragging behind me.”



"Oh, I have a very pure soul. It's only my private parts that have gotten me into trouble".”



"I’ve told you before, I love like a madman,” he said. “Immoderate, jealous, possessive...I’m absolutely intolerable.”



"I love you, Marks. My heart is completely and utterly yours. And unfortunately for you, the rest of me comes with it."



"I know I'm a bad bargain. But I'm begging you to have me anyway. Because I want a chance to make you as happy as you make me. I want to build a life with you." He fought to steady his voice. "Please come to me, Cat, because there's no surviving you. You don't have to love me back. You don't have to be mine. Just let me be yours."


My Leo: Hugh Jackman

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY (11): Immortal City


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming releases we're anxiously awaiting.  Here's what I'm waiting for this week:


by Scott Speer
Young Adult Paranormal
Razorbill
April 3, 2012

Jackson Godspeed is the hottest young Angel in a city filled with them. He's days away from becoming a full Guardian, and people around the world are already competing for the chance to be watched over by him. Everyone's obsessed with the Angels and the lucky people they protect - everyone except for Madison Montgomery.

Maddy's the one girl in Angel City who doesn't breathlessly follow the Angels on TV and gossip blogs. When she meets Jackson, she doesn't recognize him. But Jackson is instantly captivated by her, and against all odds the two fall in love.

Maddy is swiftly caught up in Jackson's scene, a world of glamour, paparazzi - and murder. A serial killer is on the loose, leaving dead Angels' wings for the police to find on the Walk of Fame. Even the Guardians are powerless to protect themselves in the face of this threat … and this time it's up to Maddy to save Jackson.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TOP TEN TUESDAY (4): Childhood Favorites

Sponsored by The Broke and the Bookish.

TOP TEN CHILDHOOD FAVORITES
1. There's a Nightmare in my Closet by Mercer Mayer
For me, this was the book.  The one that started my lifelong obsession with reading.  It is a simple story about a boy who ovecomes his fear of the dark and befriends the "nightmare" that lives in his closet.  Apparently, this book was read to me almost daily in daycare.  I became so obsessed with it that I actually memorized the story and went around my house quoting the book which resulted in some very confused parents.  I still have my worn-out copy and read it once a year.

2. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Probably one of my all-time favorite books.  It is for an older elementary, younger middle school audience and tells the often-neglected story of Denmark during World War II.  Lowry's historical details drew me in completely and still enthrall me.  I think this was one of the books that helped nurture my love of history.

3. Baby-sitter's Club by Ann M. Martin
Like many girls of my generation, I grew up with the girls of Stonybrook.  These were some of my first chapter books and I read them until they fell apart.  My personal favorites were the stories about Mary-Anne, Jessi, or Dawn.  I read Martin's spinoff series, California Diaries, as well.

4. Kirsten: An American Girl by Janet Beeler Shaw
I loved all the American Girl books that were out when I was growing up, but Kirsten's story was my favorite.  I don't know if it had to do with the blonde heroine or the Swedish background, but I devoured these books over and over again.  Kirsten was even my first American Girl doll as well.

5. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
I did not go through a huge horse phase when I was growing up, but there was a time where I was obsessed with this book.  There was something about the narrative that just sucked me in and made me feel for the horse.  I tried to get into other horse books, but nothing ever matched the power of Black Beauty.

6. Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Some of my favorite pictures books!  The family was pretty similar to mine, minus the bear part of course, and I could easily relate to all the situations Brother and Sister Bear found themselves in.  I even went on to read the Berenstain Bears chapter books once I got tired of the picture books.

7. Sideways Stories of Wayside School by Louis Sachar
One of the funniest books I've ever read.  I loved everything about this book and its sequels from Mrs. Gorf who turned students into apples to Mauricia flavored ice cream to Mrs. Jewel's hatred of dead rats.  Just the perfect book for elementary students!

8. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Another super funny book from elementary school that told the tale of the horrible Herdman kids and how they managed to completely change the Christmas Pageant in their hometown.  I really liked how the Herdmans were depicted and how they showed the townspeople the true meaning of the Christmas spirit.

9. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A classic that I read over and over again.  I had a minor obsession with princesses around age seven so this book was perfect for me.  I loved the whole imagination premise and the happy ending. 

10. Ramona, The Pest by Beverly Cleary
A hilarious children's book that got me interested in Beverly Cleary's work.  Ramona remains one of my favorite literary characters of all time and, for a long time, I wanted to name one of my dolls Chevrolet.

Monday, December 5, 2011

ANTHOLOGY REVIEW: "Men Under the Mistletoe" by Josh Lanyon, Harper Fox, Ava March, and K.A. Mitchell

TITLE: Men Under the Mistletoe
AUTHORS: Josh Lanyon, Harper Fox, Ava March, K.A. Mitchell
SERIES: n/a
GENRE: Male/Male Romance-Contemporary-Historical
PUBLISHER: Carina Press
PUBLICATION DATE: December 5, 2011
READ DATE:
SOURCE: Netgalley-Thanks Carina Press!
SUMMARY: A man receives the gift of pleasure at the hands of two expert lovers. Boyhood sweethearts get a second chance at romance. Two very proper gentlemen indulge their forbidden desires. And a Christmas tree farmer has an epiphany. It may be cold outside but these four holiday novellas will warm you up.
NOTE: These novellas are available individually as e-books, in addition to the collection.

MY THOUGHTS:

My True Love Gave to Me
by Ava March

Ava March is a popular m/m romance novelist who specializes in historicals particulary Regency England.  This novella follows this pattern.  The main characters are Thomas Bennett and Alexander Norton who meet as young men at Oxford University.  They are attracted to each other immediately, but, when it comes time to really show Alexander his feelings, Thomas leaves the country for four years.  In this story, he arrives back in London to convince Alexander that he regrets leaving him, but realizes how much his actions changed Alexander.   

There is alot packed into this little story.  Readers are provided detailed, but not overdone scenes of the early part of Thomas and Alexander's relationship.  The wonders of first love are especially poignant here as is the scene where Thomas leaves.  I really felt for Alexander and had a hard time forgiving Thomas later on.  The later section did have a few melodramatic moments, but moved along at a realistic pace.  Thomas and Alexander have definite chemistry throughout the story and this was shown beautifully in the sensual scenes without being smutty.  The conclusion was very sweet and proved a satisfying way to wrap up Thomas and Alexander's story.

4 OUT OF 5 STARS

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Winter Knights
by Harper Fox

Harper Fox's contribution is a contemporary romance with a supernatural twist.  The narrator is Gavin, a folklore doctoral student, who is dealing with the fact that his Catholic lover, Piers, dumped him rather than tell his family the truth about his sexuality.  Gavin had been planning on spending Christmas for the first time with Piers and was so devastated by Piers's decision that he found himself wandering in the middle of a blizzard.  He is rescued by two mysterious men that remind him of the mythical King Arthur and Lancelot, conveniently named Art and Lance, and learns how to save his relationship with Piers.

This is my first Harper Fox story and I was definitely intrigued.  The writing style was smooth and easy to understand and the first-person narrative was executed almost flawlessly.  I did have a hard time understanding Gavin at first, but he definitely grew on me.  I really liked how Fox slowly revealed key aspects of Gavin and Piers's relationship in a way that did not put the sole blame of their problems on either men.  I also enjoyed the depiction of Art and Lance and their relationship.  They were sweet and completely comfortable with each other.  I was a little taken aback by the m/m/m scene with Art, Lance, and Gavin and thought that the story didn't need it.  There is a minor supernatural aspect to this story, but I won't go into too much detail in order to avoid spoilers. 

3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS

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Lone Star
by Josh Lanyon

Lone Star is a contemporary, western romance between two former childhood sweethearts.  Mitch and Web were best friends growing up in a Texas small town who grew into lovers once they reached their teenage years.  But, a heated confrontation led Mitch to leave town to become a professional ballet dancer.  Twelve years later, Mitch comes back to settle his father's estate and reunites with Web who has become a Texas Ranger. 

I really enjoy most of Lanyon's work, but I found this one a little lacking.  I liked the premise and the characters.  As a former dancer, I loved the character of Mitch and his explanation of the world of ballet.  Web seems like a sweet guy that I would like to have learned more about.  The beginning of the story was great.  There was drama from Mitch and Web meeting again and some cute interactions with the townspeople, but nothing ever really happened from there.  I would love to have seen this idea in a longer format so Lanyon could concentrate on the Mitch/Web relationship beyond the sudden realization of their feelings.  There was a vague supernatural element that never took off and the ending was very abrupt and not extremely satisfying.  I do hope that readers check out Lanyon's other stories because I don't feel like this novella is a great example of his amazing talent.

3 OUT OF 5 STARS 

************************
The Christmas Proposition
by K.A. Mitchell

In this novella, readers meet Mel and Bryce, two former lovers who meet up again around the holidays.  Mel is runs his family's Christmas tree farm while Bryce is a high-style millionaire.  Their love affair ended a couple years ago after a misunderstanding.  Now, these two reunite at a diner where Mel works part-time.  Bryce is determined to show Mel what he has been missing by remaining at the family farm while Mel comes to grip with the fact that he never completely got over Bryce.

This is my first experience with K.A. Mitchell's writing and, while it was not my favorite, I enjoyed this story enough to try some of her other longer works.  Both Mel and Bryce were decent characters and I liked the logistics of the reunion plot.  I had a hard time getting into their actual romance in a story this length and would have loved to seen this plot in a longer work.  That being said, I did find myself enjoying myself and got through the story quickly.  It was a nice, easy read for a rainy afternoon.  Also, I should warn readers that this is probably the most graphic novella in this collection.

3 OUT OF 5 STARS

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OVERALL ANTHOLOGY RATING:

                                               

3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS

INTERESTING LINKS:

Friday, December 2, 2011

2012 Immortal Reading Challenge


This is my entry for Under the Covers' fabulous 2012 reading challenge devoted completely to immortals: angels, demons, vampires, werewolves, etc.

Here is a quick summary of the challenge:

1. The Immortals Reading Challenge runs from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012. You can join at anytime from now and throughout the year. This is a 2012 challenge, so books read before January 1 will not count to your progress.  
2. You pick your goal! Read as many books as you’d like for each species. This means that you can do just one category or all five or a combination of. The choice depends on you and your reading pace.
*We have chosen to have a three book per species standard. However, if this is a breeze for you, then feel free to tackle on the additional bonus entries of two more books of the same level.
3. Re-reads are acceptable.
4. Books chosen can be of any genre.
5. To participate, copy and paste this post on your blog along with the challenge button. We ask that you provide a link back to the sign-up page in case others wish to participate.
6. Readers without blogs can still participate! Keep track of your progress with Goodreads, Shelfari or LibraryThing.

If you are interested, check out this introductory post!

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Here are my personal goals for this challenge along with possible books:

Category 1: Vampires (MY GOAL: FIVE BOOKS)
Lover Reborn by JR Ward
Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost
Darker After Midnight by Lara Adrian
Lothaire by Kresley Cole
Time Untime by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Category 2: Angels and Demons (MY GOAL: FIVE BOOKS)
The Darkest Seduction by Gena Showalter
Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione
Immortal City by  Scott Speer
Crave by JR Ward
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Category 3: Fae (MY GOAL: FIVE BOOKS)
Supernaturally by Kiersten White
Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
Lord of the Fading Lands by C.L. Wilson
Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning
The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

Category 4: Shifters/Werewolves (MY GOAL: FIVE BOOKS)
Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs
Wild Cat by Jennifer Ashley
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

FOLLOW FRIDAY (7)

Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. Feature & Follow Friday is now hosted by TWO hosts, Rachel of Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!
The two feature blogs this week are:

Lalaine's Ficbookreviews


This Week's Question:

What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to books? Maybe you don't like love triangles or thin plots? Tell us about it!

1. Too Stupid To Live Heroines (TSTL)
This is a heroine who primarily is seen in romance novels, but can be found in other literary genres.  She is often described as spunky by the author which is code word for idiotic.  This is the type of person who will run off into the London underworld alone at night in order to solve some type of problem that she probably shouldn't be involved in.  And usually the result of this "brave adventure" is that she finds herself in over her head and must be rescued by either the hero or someone less idiotic than herself.
And, just for the purpose of gender equality, I will say that TSTL heroes are out there and can be just as annoying as the heroines. 

2. Main Characters That Don't Change
Another huge character pet peeve.  When I read a book, I want to have some type of strong feeling for the characters whether its love, hate, pity, etc.  I also believe that a main character should go on some type of journey in their story.  Therefore, when a protagonist or antagonist remains static throughout the book, I find myself not caring about them or their story.  I am usually not even asking for them to change for the better.  Main characters could get even more flawed as long as they show how their journey has altered their outlook on life or their personality.

3. Bad Dialogue
This will probably be a popular one for this question.  I hate cheesy or unrealistic dialogue.  If you are a writer, you need to understand your characters and setting enough to figure out how conversations would occur in your book.  This goes for historical and contemporary settings.  I cannot tell you the amount of books I have given up on because the teenagers don't talk like teenagers or the nineteenth century duke uses twenty-first century slang.