Announcement

Feminist Fairy Tale Reviews is currently on hiatus. I hope to return to blogging sooner rather than later.

I will still be posting mini book reviews on Goodreads and talking books on Twitter so feel free to find me there.

Thank you and happy reading1


Friday, September 28, 2012

FOLLOW FRIDAY (44)

Gain New Blog Followers

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!



Q:What is the biggest word you've seen used in a book lately--that made you stop and look it up?  Might as well leave the definition and book too.


I had a hard time with this question.  I don't usually look up words that I am unfamiliar with.  Unfortunately, I'm usually too into the book to stop reading and search out a dictionary or Dictionary.com.  Plus I can usually figure out the meaning based on the context...I'm a good English major that way.

I guess the biggest word that made me pause lately was ASSIDUOUSLY which is in Julie Anne Long's What I Did For a Duke.  I know what the word means, but it took me a bit of time to remember.  Here is the Dictionary.com entry for ASSIDUOUSLY:


as·sid·u·ous[uh-sij-oo-uhs] 

adjective
1. constant; unremitting: assiduous reading.
2. constant in application or effort; working diligently at a task; persevering; industrious; attentive: an assiduous student.


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Thursday, September 27, 2012

REVIEW: "Eleven Scandals To Start To Win a Duke's Heart" by Sarah MacLean


Eleven Scandals To Start To Win a Duke's Heart by Sarah MacLean
(Love by Numbers #3)

Historical Romance
For Ages 18+
Steam Level: Hot

Avon --May 2011
Paperback, 367 pages

Rating: 5 Stars




SUMMARY

She lives for passion

Bold, impulsive, and a magnet for trouble, Juliana Fiori is no simpering English miss. She refuses to play by society’s rules: she speaks her mind, cares nothing for the approval of the ton, and can throw a punch with remarkable accuracy. Her scandalous nature makes her a favorite subject of London’s most practiced gossips…and precisely the kind of woman the Duke of Leighton wants far far away from him.

He swears by reputation.

Scandal is the last thing Simon Pearson has room for in his well-ordered world. The Duke of Disdain is too focused on keeping his title untainted and his secrets unknown. But when he discovers Juliana hiding in his carriage late one evening–risking everything he holds dear–he swears to teach the reckless beauty a lesson in propriety.

She has other plans, however; she wants two weeks to prove that even an unflappable duke is not above passion.

MY THOUGHTS

This was absolutely amazing!  I fell in love with Sarah MacLean's writing when I read her debut historical romance, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, and this book has sealed her as an auto-buy for me.   This book is the third in the Love by Numbers series which focuses on a trio of siblings.  The first two books featured the Ralston twins, Gabriel and Nicholas, while the third involves their Italian half-sister, Juliana.  I adored everything about this book from the feisty (but not annoying) heroine to the seemingly cold hero to the sexual tension.

I have liked Juliana Fiori ever since she appeared in Nine Rules... and am excited that her book lived up the hype.  She is a truly admirable heroine who showed her strength of character by traveling all the way to England to meet her brothers after her father's death.  Then, after being accepted by her brothers and introduced to the ton, she tries to do her best to be a "proper lady" and make them proud of her.  Of course, as so often happens, Juliana is looked down on for her Italian looks, accent, and tendency to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  What I especially liked about Juliana was the fact that she took almost everything in stride and never let the ton see how unhappy and uncomfortable she was with the negative attention.  It was a joy to watch her gain confidence in herself through the course of the book.

It takes a special hero to match up with a lady as fiery and unique as Juliana.  Thankfully, Simon Pearson, Duke of Leighton, is as strong a character as his heroine.  Simon is one of my guilty pleasure heroes: stoic, cold, and obsessed with propriety until that special lady comes along and turns his world upside down.  Unlike Juliana, he is looked upon highly by the ton for his good looks, breeding, and manners.  But, Simon has a secret that threatens his sterling reputation so he is on the hunt for a proper wife that will help soften the blow when the truth inevitably comes to light.  Simon goes on an emotional journey in this book just like Juliana.  He learns not to rely so much on what others think, how to live for himself, and how to find that one person who will stand by him regardless of what happens.

Besides the two leads, the best part of this book is the chemistry between them.  The tension between Juliana and Simon is mindblowing and kept me turning pages up till the end.   They have known each other for most of the Season and had a minor, secret flirtation early on.  But, things really pick up when Juliana is discovered in Simon's carriage (through a series of coincidences) and cajoles him into giving her two weeks to prove that he is not immune to physical desire.  This part of the book was a pure joy to read!  Juliana and Simon are perfectly matched (despite their outward differences) and know just how to irk the other.  There is a nice balance between the hot, spicy scenes and some romantic, tender ones that show their true feelings.

Overall, I found this be a thoroughly satisfying ending to an entertaining series.  Juliana is one of my favorite romance heroines ever and Simon has definitely made his mark by making my book boyfriend list.  Sarah MacLean outdoes herself with this story and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!  BTW, even though this is the third in a series, interested readers can definitely view this one as a stand-alone.

Favorite Quote: "You are beautiful and brilliant and bold and so very passionate about life and love and those things that you believe in. And you taught me that everything I believed, everything I thought I wanted, everything I had spent my life espousing--all of it...it is wrong. I want your version of life...vivid and emotional and messy and wonderful and filled with happiness. But I cannot have it without you." --Simon

SERIES INFORMATION

Love By Numbers
1. Nine Rules To Break When Romancing a Rake
2. Ten Ways To Be Adored When Landing a Lord
3. Eleven Scandals To Start To Win a Duke's Heart

DIRTY LITTLE SECRET (4)


Dirty Little Secret is a weekly meme hosted by the ladies at Under the Covers.  Every Thursday they get to know other bloggers & readers more intimately by asking them a question hoping to reveal their dirty little secrets.

Question: 
With all the great releases this month, which has been the one you clicked up first, and which has surprised you the most?

I am kinda cheating with this answers since I haven't read any September releases yet.  My TBR shelf got a little overblown this summer and I'm trying to wade through it before Christmas.  But, I did read a late August release that was absolutely wonderful!



A Lady By Midnight is the third book in Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove series and it was freaking amazing!  I loved everything about this book including the strong heroine, the stubborn hero, and hell of a love story.  I would also say that I was surprised at how much I liked this book because I had given the previous SC books 5 stars and didn't think Ms. Dare could top them.  But, she definitely did!!  My review can be found here.  
 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY (32): "Snow White Sorrow" by Cameron Jace

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming releases we're anxiously awaiting. 


(THE GRIMM DIARIES #1)
by Cameron Jace

Young Adult -- Paranormal/Fantasy
Expected Publication: October 30, 2012

SUMMARY:

What if all you knew about fairy tales was wrong?

Sixteen year old Loki Blackstar is no Prince Charming. His mother is a ghost. His only friend is a red Cadillac that talks to him through the radio. He looks like an Angel but acts like jerk. No wonder he has been banned from Heaven, which is the least of his troubles. Loki needs a job to pay for school and support himself.

Still, Loki has a rare gift: He is a Dreamhunter. One of the few in the world who can hunt and kill immortal demons in their dreams so they never wake up again.

When Loki is sent to kill a sixteen-year-old vampire girl the locals call Snow White Sorrow, he is pulled into a magical but dangerous world. The locals believe the monster to be Snow White.

The real Snow White... living in the ruins of an ancient castle in a small town. She is described as horribly beautiful, terrifyingly enchanting, and wickedly lovely.

What he finds instead is a beautiful monster girl filled with rage and hurt, who has an epic untold story to tell of things such like why the Brothers Grimm altered the fairy tale, who the Evil Queen really is, where the mirror came from, and who possessed it.

Snow White has killed every person who has dared come near the castle where she once lived with the queen. Mysteriously, she lets Loki live...

MY BOOK BOYFRIEND (52): Simon Pearson, Duke of Leighton



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:

SIMON PEARSON, DUKE OF LEIGHTON
from


About Simon:
  • Blond hair and blue eyes.
  • British duke with a long, noble heritage.

  • Became duke at a very young age.

  • Raised by a cold, distant mother.

  • Is obsessed with propriety...for a valid, but mysterious reason.


Simon and his heroine, Juliana, have amazing chemistry together even during arguments.
 "Leave it to the English to fabricate a lake."
"And leave it to the Italians to fall into it!"
"I was retrieving my hat!"
"Ah . . . that makes it all much more logical. Do you even know how to swim?"
"Do I know how to swim?" she asked, and he took more than a little pleasure in her offense.
"I was raised on the banks of the Adige! Which happens to be a real river."
"Impressive," he said, not at all impressed. "And tell me, did you ever swim in said river?"
"Of course! But I wasn’t wearing"—she waved a hand to indicate her dress—"sixteen layers of fabric!"
"Why not?"
"Because you don’t swim in sixteen layers of fabric!"
"No?"
"No!"
"Why not?" He had her now.
"Because you will drown!"
"Ah," he said, rocking back on his heels. "Well, at least we’ve learned something today."

Simon is a very stoic hero who keeps his true feelings hidden until a certain Italian lady brings it out.
 "You think my feelings toward you apathetic? You think you bore me?"
"Don’t I?"
He shook his head slowly, continuing toward her, stalking her in the small space, "No.  God knows you are infuriating . . And impulsive . . ." Her back came up against the wall, and she gave a little squeak, even as he advanced. "And altogether maddening . . ." He placed one hand to her jaw, carefully lifting her face to his, feeling the leap of her pulse under his fingertips. "And thoroughly intoxicating . . ." The last came out on a low growl, and her lips parted, soft and pink and perfect.
He leaned close, his lips a fraction from hers, "No . . . you are not boring."

And it takes a very special woman to make this gentleman lose all sense of propriety...
 "You are my siren," he said, running his hands along her thighs and down her calves, feeling the shape of her even as the silk of her gown kept them both from what they wanted. "My temptress . . . my sorceress . . . I cannot resist you, no matter how I try. You threaten to send me over the edge."

I love seeing seemingly cold heroes fall head over heels for the absolute "wrong woman", in their minds.
"You are beautiful and brilliant and bold and so very passionate about life and love and those things that you believe in. And you taught me that everything I believed, everything I thought I wanted, everything I had spent my life espousing--all of it...it is wrong. I want your version of life...vivid and emotional and messy and wonderful and filled with happiness. But I cannot have it without you."


My Simon: Jude Law


About Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart:

She lives for passion

Bold, impulsive, and a magnet for trouble, Juliana Fiori is no simpering English miss. She refuses to play by society’s rules: she speaks her mind, cares nothing for the approval of the ton, and can throw a punch with remarkable accuracy. Her scandalous nature makes her a favorite subject of London’s most practiced gossips…and precisely the kind of woman the Duke of Leighton wants far far away from him.

He swears by reputation.

Scandal is the last thing Simon Pearson has room for in his well-ordered world. The Duke of Disdain is too focused on keeping his title untainted and his secrets unknown. But when he discovers Juliana hiding in his carriage late one evening–risking everything he holds dear–he swears to teach the reckless beauty a lesson in propriety.

She has other plans, however; she wants two weeks to prove that even an unflappable duke is not above passion

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

TOP TEN TUESDAY (38): Series I Haven't Finished Yet

Sponsored by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.



TOP TEN SERIES THAT I HAVEN'T FINISHED

I decided to make list completely of series that I am planning on finishing/catching up to someday.  I could have listed plenty of series that I gave up on after one or more books, but this way was more fun!

1. In Death by JD Robb (romantic suspense)
Next Book To Read: Holiday in Death (#7 of 35)
I am slowly making my way through the audio version of these books.  I know I have a long way to go, but I'm thoroughly enjoying myself.  Plus Roarke!!

2. Chicagoland Vampires by Chloe Neill (urban fantasy)
Next Book To Read: Twice Bitten (#3 of 6)
I just started this series this year and I'm taking my time.  I love Merit's character and am still up in the air about Ethan, as sexy as he is.

3. Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne (urban fantasy)
Next Book To Read: Hammered (#3 of 4)
Atticus is one of my favorite heroes ever and I love reading about his adventures.  Thankfully I'm not too far behind and hope to get caught up in time for the fifth book which is being released in December.

4. Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot (young adult)
Next Book To Read: Party Princess (#7 of 10)
I loved this series when I was in high school, but then I lost interest and got distracted by other books.  I do plan on finishing it someday and seeing what finally happens to Princess Mia.  BTW, the books are so much better than the movie!

5. Rough Riders by Lorelei James (contemporary romance)
Next Book To Read: Rough, Raw, and Ready (#5 of 13)
I just started this series and I am loving James's sexy, sweet cowboys.  The books are a little spicier than my usual choices, but it is a whole lot of fun!

6. Downside Ghosts by Stacia Kane (urban fantasy)
Next Book To Read: City of Ghosts (#3 of 5)
I freaking love Terrible!  I am actually delaying my catching up of this series because I don't know if I could withstand the wait to the next book.  I've actually re-read books one and two multiple times, but have restrained reading book three.

7. Midnight Breed by Lara Adrian (paranormal romance)
Next Book To Read: Taken by Midnight (#8 of 10)
I have #8, but haven't gotten inspired to read it lately.  I do love this series and its unusual vampire mythology though.

8. Feral Warriors by Pamela Palmer (paranormal romance)
Next Book To Read: Hunger Untamed (#5 of 7)
A fascinating and violent shifter series that I got away from for a while, but am now back on the train.  Can't wait to see what happens to these crazy warriors next!

9. Perfect Chemistry Trilogy by Simone Elkeles (young adult)
Next Book To Read: Chain Reaction (#3 of 3)
This is definitely a case of not wanting a series to end!  I loved Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction so I don't want my time with the Fuentes brothers to be over.

10. The League by Sherrilyn Kenyon (science fiction romance)
Next Book To Read: Born of Shadows (#4 of 5)
I loved the first three books in the series and own the fourth book.  I'm just having a hard time getting inspired to read Caillen's story despite the fact that he was one of my favorite characters.  I think I'm afraid it won't live up to my expectations.


Monday, September 24, 2012

MONDAY KINDLE DEALS (3)

I love finding free or cheap books for my Kindle so I decided to start featuring some of the best.  Take advantage of these great deals before they end! 


**FREE**

Once Upon a Ballroom by Maya Rodale, Caroline Linden, Katharine Ashe, and Miranda Neville (historical romance)
[Love Miranda Neville and Maya Rodale's writing!]

Heiress Without a Cause (Muses of Mayfair #1) by Sara Ramsey (historical romance)

Seductive Secrets by Colleen Connally (historical romance)

Moon Dance (Vampire for Hire #1) by J.R. Rain (urban fantasy)

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble (Jolie Wilkins #1) by H.P. Mallory (urban fantasy)

Dragon's Kiss (Shadow of the Dragon #1) by Tielle St. Claire (paranormal romance)

The Mind Readers (Mind Readers #1) by Lori Brighton (young adult paranormal)

Through the Eyes of a Geek by Kat Brookes (young adult paranormal)

**$0.99**

Hard Mated (Shifters Unbound #3.5) by Jennifer Ashley (paranormal romance)
[This series is phenomenal!!]

The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton (Burgundy Club #3) by Miranda Neville (historical romance)
[I gave this 4.5 stars and my review can be found here.]

A Groom of One's Own (Writing Girls #1) by Maya Rodale (historical romance)
[Love this author and series.  I gave this book 4 stars.]

The Pirate Next Door (Regency Pirates #1) by Jennifer Ashley (historical romance)
[Haven't read any of this series, but love her later historicals.]


Simply Irresistible (Chinooks Hockey #1) by Rachel Gibson (contemporary romance)
[I gave this book 3.5 stars.]

It Had To Be You (Chicago Stars #1) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (contemporary romance)

[Absolutely epic romance that I gave 5 stars!]

Squeeze Play (Richmond Rogues #1) by Kate Angell (contemporary romance)

[I gave this 3.5 stars and my review can be found here.]

What I Did For a Duke (Pennyroyal Green #5) by Julie Ann Long (historical romance)

Blood of the Wicked (Dark Mission #1) by Karina Cooper (paranormal romance)

Heir (Duke's Obsession #1) by Grace Burrowes (historical romance)

Playing for Keeps by R.L. Mathewson (contemporary romance)

Simply Irresistible (Lucky Harbor #1) by Jill Shalvis (contemporary romance)

Beguilement (The Sharing Knife #1) by Lois McMaster Bujold (fantasy)

**$1.99**

Guilty Pleasures (Guilty Pleasures #1) by Laura Lee Guhrke (historical romance)
[I gave this 4.5 stars and my review can be found here.]

Exclusively Yours (Kowalski Family #1) by Shannon Stacey (contemporary romance)
[I gave this 4 stars and my review can be found here.]

Slumber by Samantha Young (young adult fantasy)
[I gave this 4 stars and my review can be found here.]

The Declaration by Gemma Malley (young adult dystopian)

**$2.99**

How to Marry a Duke (How To #1) by Vicky Dreiling (historical romance)
[I gave this 4 stars and my review can be found here.]

Angelfall by Susan Ee (urban fantasy)
[I gave this 5 stars and my review can be found here.]


Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (young adult dystopian)
[I gave this 3.5 stars and my review can be found here.]

A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee (young adult historical)
[I gave this 5 stars and my review can be found here.]

The Mighty Storm by Samantha Towle (contemporary romance)

The Wild Ones by M. Leighton (contemporary romance)

Darkness Dawns by Dianne Duvall (paranormal romance)

Angel of Darkness by Cynthia Eden (paranormal romance)

Partials by Dan Wells (young adult dystopian)

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin (young adult paranormal)

Eve by Anna Carey (young adult dystopian)

Gone by Michael Grant (young adult dystopian)

**$3.99**

A Night To Surrender by Tessa Dare (historical romance)
[I gave this 5 stars and my review can be found here.]

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young (contemporary romance)


Easy by Tammara Webber (contemporary romance)

REVIEW: "Stars & Stripes" by Abigail Roux


Stars & Stripes by Abigail Roux
(Cut & Run #6)

Male/Male Romance -- Romantic Suspense
For Ages 18+
Steam Level: Burning 

August 13, 2012 -- Riptide Publishing
Ebook, 292 pages

Rating: 4 Stars



SUMMARY

Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett have managed the impossible: a few months of peace and quiet. After nearly a year of personal and professional turmoil, they're living together conflict-free, work is going smoothly, and they're both happy, healthy, and home every night before dark. But anyone who knows them knows that can’t possibly last.

When an emergency call from home upsets the balance of their carefully arranged world, Ty and Zane must juggle family drama with a perplexing crime to save a helpless victim before time runs out.  From the mountains of West Virginia to a remote Texas horse ranch harboring more than just livestock and childhood memories, Ty and Zane must face their fears—and their families—to overcome an unlikely enemy and bring peace back into their newly shared world.

MY THOUGHTS

I don't know how Abigail Roux does it, but every new book in this series makes me love Ty and Zane even more!  I have spent alot of time gushing about my obsession with this couple over the past few months and this review is not going to be any different.  Stars & Stripes is the sixth book in the Cut & Run series and readers have seen the main guys go through alot over the past five books from alcoholism to kidnappings.  While this is not my favorite of the series, I thoroughly enjoyed this installment with its depiction of a great romance and approachs to real life problems associated with two guys being in love.

After almost a year full of drama, Ty and Zane are finally in a good place with their relationship.  They both love each other and aren't afraid to admit it.  While they still have to keep their romance a secret at work (for reasons other than fear of discrimination), the comfort level between Ty and Zane is wonderful to read about.  I love all the intimate little moments that Roux gives us where the guys just sit and talk about important and non-important things.

Now that they are gaining momentum in their relationship, readers get to see Ty and Zane deal with external issues related to their love.  This book portrays both boys coming out to their families with varying results.  I really liked how these scenes were written from the showing of the fear that the guys had to the relief they felt when it was done regardless of the reactions.  I think taking the series in this direction shows that Ty and Zane are beginning to rely on each other for almost everything and really starting to think about the future.  There is even a great scene where they discuss the possibility of kids someday.  So sweet and so normal which is rare for these guys! 

The suspense plot for Stars & Stripes involves Zane's family which forces him to take Ty with him to Texas for the first time.  Readers haven't gotten to learn much about the Garretts in the first five books and it is easy to see why.  While Zane's father and sister are great and supportive, his mother is a piece of work!  I won't spoil it for future readers, but I will say that it took alot of restraint not to want to reach inside the pages and strangle her.  The fact that Zane came out of that relationship even semi-sane is a miracle that is mostly due to Ty's influence.

Anyway, Zane is forced back to Texas after his father is shot while interrupting some kind of mysterious dealings on the edge of his horse ranch.  Ty and Zane band together to figure out what is going on and to prevent anybody else from getting hurt.  Throughout the investigation, they come across a wide range of weird incidents from exotic animals to drug deals to shady dealings amongst family members.  I found quite a bit of this plotline to be a unrealistic and sometimes just out there.  It didn't alter my enjoyment of the book much, but I felt very aware of the ridiculousness of the storyline.

In conclusion, I found this book to be another entertaining installment of a great series.  I think Ty and Zane are so enjoyable that I was able to overlook the bizarre plot and just hang on for the ride.  The way that Roux depicts these two guys is unmatched and I find myself deeply caring about whether they get their ultimate happily ever after.  Plus there is some hot cowboy sex in this one!  Can't wait to read the next one!

SERIES INFORMATION

Cut & Run
1. Cut & Run
2. Sticks & Stones
3. Fish & Chips
4. Divide & Conquer
5. Armed & Dangerous
6. Stars & Stripes

Sunday, September 23, 2012

WEEKLY RECAP: September 17-23, 2012





Last Week on Feminist Fairy Tale Reviews:

Regular life got a bit in the way of my reading and book blogging this week.  But, here's hoping the job interview I had last week will result in great news!  

Book Reviews and Blog Features:

I only completed one review this week and that is a 4 star one for Country Mouse by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov.  

In terms of blog features, the timing of my job interview messed with my ability to do Top Ten Tuesday, My Book Boyfriend, and Waiting on Wednesday.  But, everything calmed down enough for me to think about books that lived up to the hype for Follow Friday.


Books Read:

5 Stars -- Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love by Numbers #3) by Sarah MacLean
Absolutely amazing! I adored almost everything about this book especially the feisty (but not annoying) heroine and the seemingly cold hero. I have liked Juliana ever since she appeared in Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake and am excited that her book lived up the hype. Simon is one of my guilty pleasure heroes: stoic, cold, and obsessed with propriety until that special lady comes along and turns his world upside down! The chemistry between Juliana and Simon is mindblowing and kept me turning pages up till the end. Their HEA is definitely worth the wait!  Full and gushing review coming soon.

4 Stars -- The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires (Half Moon Hollow #2) by Molly Harper
An audiobook that I had been listening to for the past month.  This was another hilarious adventure full of small town charm and plenty of sexy paranormal romance.  It is the second in Harper's Half Moon Hollow series which delves deeper into the vampire world introduced in the wonderful Jane Jameson series.  I loved the heroine's character and how strong she was.  Her vampire hero, Cal, was appropriately tough and tender.  I loved the chemistry between these two and how they dealt with outside world imposing on their growing love story.  Full review coming soon.

4 Stars -- Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Vol. 1 by Naoko Takeuchi
Major nostalgia moment with this one! I loved the Sailor Moon anime in middle school and am pumped to finally read the manga that started it all. The artwork is beautiful and intricate especially the Sailor Scouts uniforms. I was pleasantly surprised about how quickly the story moved along as opposed to all the filler in the tv show. Can't wait to read the next installment especially after that cliffhanger ending! Also, really liked the translator's notes at the end.

3 Stars -- Highland Avenger (Murray Family #18) by Hannah Howell
I adore Howell's Highland romances, but had some trouble getting into this one.  I loved Brian MacFingal and how devoted he was to Arianna.  But, I think it was Arianna who made me struggle.  There was just something annoying about her character and I never felt like she was good enough for Brian.  I did enjoy seeing some of Howell's old featured characters pop in such as Jolene/Sigimor, Fiona/Ewan, Old Lord MacFingal, and, of course, Callum MacMillan.  Despite the fact that this wasn't my favorite of the series, I still love this family epic and can't wait to see what happens next.

Books Purchased Or Received: 

Simply Irresistible (Lucky Harbor #1) by Jill Shalvis

Plans for Next Week:

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Haven't Finished Yet
My Book Boyfriend: Simon Pearson, Duke of Leighton
Waiting on Wednesday: The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa
Review: Stars and Stripes by Abigail Roux
Review: Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart by Sarah MacLean


Friday, September 21, 2012

REVIEW: "Country Mouse" by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov


Country Mouse by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov

Male/Male Romance --  Contemporary
For Ages 18+
Steam Level: Burning

Riptide Publishing -- April 23, 2012
Ebook, 79 pages

Rating: 4 Stars



SUMMARY

Owen may be a bit of a country mouse, but he's loving his vacation in London. After a long day playing tourist, he's on the hunt for some cheap beer and a good burger. Instead he finds a man hunting him, an arrogant prick with only one thing on the brain: the kind of meat that doesn't come on a bun.

Eighty-hour weeks at a trading desk don't leave Malcolm Kavanagh much time for meaningful relationships. Besides, in his world, everything's a competition-even sex. When his newest one-night-sub fails to show, Malcolm sets his sights on the pretty young Yank on the bar stool beside him.

Owen's all for an adventure with a native, but he's not the pushover Malcolm thinks he is, and Malcolm's not as shallow as he tries to be. They both soon learn that nothing's too intimate to share with a stranger, and the strangest things happen when two people share the most important pieces of their hearts.

MY THOUGHTS

Short, sweet, and to the point.  That is how I would describe Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov's collaborative novella about an American tourist and a domineering British workaholic.  I really enjoy Amy Lane's male/male stories, but Voinov is a new author to me.  After reading this, I will definitely look up Voinov's stories especially after hearing so many good things about his Dark Soul series.  While the page count is low, Country Mouse is a complete story with great characters and tender romance.

I loved both Owen and Malcolm.  I liked how innocent Owen was without being naive about his situation.  He is a beta hero who knows exactly what he wants in a relationship and isn't afraid to go for it.  But, for me, Malcolm stole the show.  His personality was so much fun to read about and he kept me guessing as to his true nature for a significant part of the book.  The way that Voinov and Lane didn't pigeonhole him into the stereotypical dom partner was very refreshing. 

As for the sex, I found it to be appropriately spice without going over the top.  The BDSM is very light and just provides a great way to showcase both Owen and Malcolm's personalities.  I love when authors have characters switching roles in the bedroom and this was especially poignant in this book.  Besides the sex, there are also an abundance of sweet, tender moments that made me believe they really could work as a long-term couple.

All in all, I found Country Mouse to be a sensual and enjoyable read with two great heroes and a happily ever after that made me smile with happiness.  I hope that Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov collaborate on more stories in the future especially if they are anything like this book.

**THANKS TO NETGALLEY AND RIPTIDE PUBLISHING FOR PROVIDING ME WITH A COPY OF THIS BOOK IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.**

SIMILAR TITLES
Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban
Bound series by Ava March
Muscling Through by J.L. Merrow

FOLLOW FRIDAY (43)

Gain New Blog Followers

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!


This Week's Feature Blogs:

Northern Plunder
The Authoress

Q: What hyped up book was worth all the fuss?

I can't pick just one so I am providing a whole list:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Fever series by Karen Marie Moning
Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost





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Monday, September 17, 2012

WEEKLY RECAP: September 10-September 16, 2012





**REVIEWS

Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu [4 Stars]
A Lady by Midnight (Spindle Cove #3) by Tessa Dare [5+ Stars]




**BOOKS READ

Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord (Love by Numbers #2) by Sarah MacLean [3 Stars]
I really liked the first book in this series, but I had a hard time finishing this one.  I enjoyed reading about both Nicholas and Isabel, but the main storyline kinda bored me.  The middle dragged on a bit more than I would have liked though the ending was very sweet.  All in all, a decent read that took me much longer to get into than I would have thought for a Sarah MacLean story.

The Lesson Plan (Lords of Lancashire #1) by Jackie Barbosa [3 Stars]
A hot little historical novella that was a quick and fairly enjoyable read.  I really liked the hero, Conrad, and the way that he tried to hide his true feelings for Freddie over the years.  I'm a sucker for an unrequited love storyline.  That being said, I really did not like Freddie.  While I admired her strong personality and confidence, I found her to be a bit too spunky for my taste.  The plot was predictable, but worked out for the shorter length.

**CURRENTLY READING

The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires (Half-Moon Hollow #2) by Molly Harper [Narrated by Amanda Ronconi]
Almost done listening to this hilarious paranormal romance from one of my favorite authors.  I love the heroine and her quirky way of looking at things.  Cal, the hero, is wonderfully brooding and sexy.  Great secondary characters and an intriguing mystery all make for an entertaining read.  Plus Amanda Ronconi is an amazing audiobook narrator!

A Matter of Time (Vol. 1) by Mary Calmes
The first book in a popular male/male series.  Loving both Jory and Sam's characters right now.  Their interactions are so cute, but I have a feeling some major drama is about to go down.  Lots of side characters that get a bit overwhelming.

Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love by Numbers #3) by Sarah MacLean
Final book in the trilogy about the St. John siblings.  I have been waiting to read Julianna and Simon's story since I met them in the first book.  I love Julianna's fiery and vulnerable personality.  Stoic heroes are a major weakness of mine so I am swooning over Simon.  Much better than the previous book in the series!

**POSSIBLE READS FOR NEXT WEEK

The Ugly Duchess (Fairy Tales #4) by Eloisa James (historical romance)
A Matter of Time (Vol. 2) by Mary Calmes (male/male romance)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (young adult fantasy)
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (young adult romance)


Friday, September 14, 2012

FOLLOW FRIDAY (42)

Gain New Blog Followers

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!


This Week's Feature Blogs:

Escapism From Reality
Readers' Confession

Q: What hyped up book do you think was not worth all the talk?


Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
I love dystopian and science fiction stories and I heard many great things about this book.  But, I just had a hard time getting into it.  I couldn't make myself care about the two main characters and I just felt confused for a significant amount of time.  Though I will say that Rossi's writing style and the ending did inspire me to want to try the next book in the series, just in case it gets better.






Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
I read this before most of the backlash and was super excited because I love vampires stories.  That being said, I was really disappointed and I had a hard time figuring out why.  Now, I know that it was mainly Bella's character and some of the bizarre takes on the vampire myth.  I did try to read the rest of the series, but gave up midway through Eclipse.





Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
I started this because I fell in love with the True Blood tv show and was really getting into urban fantasy.  But, almost everything about the book fell flat for me.  I'm not really sure why, but I never was inspired enough to try some of the later books in the series.  I'll stick to the tv show which is something I never thought I would say.






Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas
This is Sherry Thomas's debut novel and it had the potential to be a showstopper for me with the unique historical setting and the reunion plotline.  But, I couldn't get into it.  I kept putting it down and never getting back to it.  I have read and adored all of Sherry's other books, but still can't finish this one.  I eventually gave up and decided it just wasn't for me.  But, I do want to say that the rest of Sherry's writing is amazing and she is becoming an auto-buy for me.



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Thursday, September 13, 2012

REVIEW: "A Lady by Midnight" by Tessa Dare

 
A Lady By Midnight by Tessa Dare
(Spindle Cove #3)

Historical Romance -- Regency England
For Ages 18+
Steam Level: Hot 

Avon -- August 28, 2012
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages

Rating: 5+ Stars



SUMMARY

A temporary engagement, a lifetime in the making...

After years of fending for herself, Kate Taylor found friendship and acceptance in Spindle Cove--but she never stopped yearning for love. The very last place she'd look for it is in the arms of Corporal Thorne. The militia commander is as stone cold as he is brutally handsome. But when mysterious strangers come searching for Kate, Thorne steps forward as her fiance. He claims to have only Kate's safety in mind. So why is there smoldering passion in his kiss?

Long ago, Samuel Thorne devoted his life to guarding Kate’s happiness. He wants what's best for her, and he knows it's not marriage to a man like him. To outlast their temporary engagement, he must keep his hands off her tempting body and lock her warm smiles out of his withered heart. It's the toughest battle of this hardened warrior's life...and the first he seems destined to lose.

MY THOUGHTS

Tessa Dare is quickly becoming one of my favorite historical authors especially with the way that I have been enjoying her Spindle Cove series.  I have given 5 stars to the first two Spindle Cove books so my expectations for A Lady by Midnight were possibly unfairly high.  How could a series that I already adore get even better?  Well, somehow, Ms. Dare accomplished the impossible by giving me a book that exceeded all my expectations and more.  This is easily my favorite of the Spindle Cove books...and that is definitely saying something!

Kate Taylor is a character that has been in the background of the previous books in the series that always intrigued me.  Her facial birthmark and less than perfect past have made her hesitant about being accepted by society, but moving to Spindle Cove provided her with a place to belong.  I absolutely adored Kate and found her strength and determination to be very admirable especially once the reader learns how heartbreaking her childhood really was.  But, what I really liked about her was the fact that, even though her life wasn't perfect, she still did her best to keep her spirits up.  She rarely moped around and gave excuses about why she was the way that she was.  This was a refreshing change of pace in historical romance and made root for her to get her happily ever after even more.

And then there's Thorne.  The man that I have had a tiny crush on since we met him in A Night to Surrender.  BTW, this crush became a full-blown obsession while reading this book.  I will admit that I always have a soft spot for the quiet, brooding hero and Thorne gives me all those attributes in spades.  He is just such a sweet, but sad character that I wanted to reach in and give him a hug.  His past trauma has left him with physical and mental scars which make him feel unable and unworthy of accepting affection.  Yet despite these feelings, Thorne feels very protective of Kate and spends much of his time making sure that she is happy.  I found him to be a wonderful hero who is in desperate need of some type of happiness.

As a couple, Kate and Thorne are dynamite.  The chemistry is obvious from the beginning and it is a treat to watch them struggle with that.  I really liked how Dare portrayed their relationship with each other and how it related back to their pasts.  It was also fun to read about the way that Kate managed to break down Thorne's walls without him being aware of it.  I love it when the two main characters are shown enjoying each other's company in and out of the bedroom and Dare definitely accomplished that with this book.

Like the other Spindle Cove books, there are quite a few side characters that help keep the story moving along and providing some much needed comic relief.  I continue to adore the way that the townsfolk of Spindle Cove are portrayed.  They are quirky, small town-type characters that have some real depth to them.  Even though Dare only spends a bit of time on each during the books, I feel like I know and care about them much more than typical secondary characters. 

Readers also got a bit of fun with the return of previous Spindle Cove couples, Victor and Susanna, and Colin and Minerva.  And can I say that I am really hoping Diana Highwood gets her own story soon?  I am fascinated by her character and her relationship with her mother and want to know more.  Ms. Dare also provides readers with a new set of secondary characters with the appearance of the unorthodox Gramercy family who might be a link to Kate's mysterious past.  I found all the members of this family to be a great addition to the Spindle Cove cast.

The plot of A Lady by Midnight is jam-packed with major and minor plotlines.  Readers get to see the evolution of Kate and Thorne's relationship through their interactions before and after meeting the Gramercys.  They also get to learn more about each of the protagonists and how their pasts have shaped who they are today.  Despite all the different paths that the story took, I never found myself confused or overwhelmed.  I think this shows how good of a writer Tessa Dare is and detailed her storytelling has become over the years.

In conclusion, this historical romance was an absolute treat to read.  I went through a variety of emotions and ended up with a huge, goofy grin on my face by the end.  It is so great to read a story where everything works for your and A Lady by Midnight definitely did that for me.  I highly recommend this book to any fan of historical romance.  Even if you haven't read the earlier Spindle Cove books, I think you can easily enjoy this one as a stand-alone. 


Favorite Quote: "I never thought Greek philosophy could make a damn bit of sense to me. And most of it didn't, but those words just seemed right. 'Love is composed of a single soul, inhabiting two bodies.'" He took her by the shoulders drawing her close. "It rang true for me, in a way nothing else did. Whatever soul I had, Katie, I think I placed it in your keeping twenty years ago. And now, it's as if...every time we kiss, you give a little piece of it back."

SERIES INFORMATION

Spindle Cove
1. A Night to Surrender
1.5. Once Upon a Winter's Eve
2. A Week to be Wicked
3. A Lady By Midnight
4. Any Duchess Will Do (Coming May 2013)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

REVIEW: "Legend" by Marie Lu


Legend by Marie Lu
(Legend #1)

Young Adult -- Dystopian
For Ages 13+ 

Putnam Juvenile -- November 2011
Hardcover, 305 pages

Rating: 4 Stars



SUMMARY

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

MY THOUGHTS

I heard about Legend shortly before it was released and was really intrigued by the whole premise.  The fact that it was inspired by Les Miserables, one of my favorite musicals ever, just doubled my interest.  But, then life happened and I never got around to reading the book despite the great reviews I kept seeing about it.  Finally though I have read Legend and am looking forward to the next book in the series, Prodigy

Legend is an interesting debut novel that provides readers with a dystopian setting that has a very militaristic feel to it.  The series takes place in a country known as the Republic, a futuristic Los Angeles that is constantly at war with its neighbors known as the Colonies.  There is a lot of background on the class system of the Republic which is emphasized through the Trial which is a test given to all citizens on their tenth birthday which helps determine their place in society.  Besides the constant military threat, this country also has to deal with mysterious plagues that seem to particularly infect the lower classes due to the expense and availability of vaccinations and medicines.  The first book doesn't really provide much background into the origin of the Republic, but I don't think it was necessary right off the bat. 

Marie Lu tells her story through two main characters: Day and June.  Day is a thief/con man/professional criminal who is originally from the lower classes and turned to a life of crime after failing his Trial.  I found him to be a futuristic Robin Hood-like character with his tendency to target the wealthier sections of the Republic and his desperate need to help the less fortunate.  He especially concentrates on finding ways to help his family despite the fact that they have believed him to be dead for the past five years.  Obviously, Day does not deal well with authority and this is one of the main reasons why he becomes the prime suspect in the death of a Republic soldier.  I liked Day with his determined personality and his intelligence which is definitely at odds with his failing Trial score. 

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Lu gives readers June.  She is a military prodigy who achieved the rare perfect score on her Trial and has been raised by her brother since the mysterious deaths of her parents years ago.  Unfortunately, June's brother is the soldier who was killed while trying to apprehend Day.  June is assigned the task of finding and arresting Day which would give her unparalleled prestige amongst the Republic's elite.  I found her to be an intriguing heroine.  I loved the way that the author used the prodigy angle to showcase the differences between the classes and their reactions to the Trial scores.  I also liked how June began questioning the Republic and its inner workings.   

One of the most interesting aspects of Legend is the fact that it is told from dual points of view (Day and June).  I thought that this was a great way to give insight into the two main characters and their contrasting experiences with the Republic.  I will admit that I sometimes felt like the balance of the viewpoints was perfectly efficient since it did take me a bit to get to know both Day and Jane.  For the most part though, I enjoyed Marie Lu's storytelling style.

As a dystopian book, it is shouldn't come as a surprise that Legend follows its predecessors like The Hunger Games and Divergent by providing alot of action from the very start.  The plot is very twisted and full of unexpected revelations that kept me reading late into the night.  I found this book to be an quick and easy read which most young adult readers will appreciate. 

In conclusion, I really enjoyed this YA debut with its intriguing writing style, detailed characters, and militaristic/conspiracy theory plotline.  I look forward to the next book in the series especially with the hectic and dramatic ending.

SERIES INFORMATION

Legend
1. Legend
2. Prodigy (Coming January 2013
3. Untitled (Coming 2014)

SIMILAR TITLES


Divergent by Veronica Roth
Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins