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


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

TOP TEN TUESDAY (11): Book Club Picks

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
TOP TEN BOOKS I THINK WOULD MAKE GREAT BOOK CLUB PICKS




1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I'm sure this is a popular choice, but I couldn't not put it in here.  There is so much going on in Collins's world and so much parallels to our own world that I would love to discuss with other bibiophiles.










2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
A recent contemporary romance that has had an short, but interesting life in the blogosphere.  There have been quite a few debates regarding Fifty's origins as Twilight fanfiction, the BDSM premise, and the author's writing style. 











3. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
A historical fiction that, in my opinion, has something for everyone: romance, time travel, adventure, war, history, etc.  It can get a little overwhelming so it would be great to discuss in order to make sure you didn't miss anything.








4. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
One of the most intriguing concepts I've read in a long time.  The main character is a graduate student who is researching a historical figure known as the Pink Carnation, a contemporary of the Scarlet Pimpernel.  The story goes back and forth between the grad student's research experiences, which is much more interesting than you would think, and the actual story of the Pink Carnation during the French Revolution.







5. Always to Remember by Lorraine Heath
A historical romance that is so much more than a love story because it tells the tale of a young Southern man, Clayton, who was imprisoned for refusing to fight in the Civil War.  The war ends, he heads back to his hometown, and must deal with the townspeople's resentment due to the fact that almost all their young men were killed in battle.  This book deals with the true meaning of courage and is extremely thought-provoking.






6. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
One of the most popular romance novels ever written.  I would love to have a book club full of non-romance readers check it out to see if it can continue its reputation of being a wonderful conversion tool. 







7. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
A polarizing young adult book that deals with the suicide tapes of a teenage girl which are passed around to the people who are "to blame" for her death.  Deals with many key issues like rape, bullying and, of course, suicide.










8. Naked in Death by JD Robb
I chose this based on pure entertainment value.  The way that Robb mixes mystery, science fiction, and romance is wonderful.  Plus all the women could gush over the sexiness that is Roarke!






9. Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
An urban fantasy with one of my favorite heroines ever!  There are so many twists and turns that it would be fun to discuss all the possible scenarios with a group. 











10. Night by Elie Wiesel
One of the few assigned books that I loved in high school.  I am not a huge fan of nonfiction or memoirs, but Wiesel's tale of the Holocaust is engrossing and appalling at the same time.

Monday, January 30, 2012

REVIEW: "Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side" by Beth Fantaskey


Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
by Beth Fantaskey
(Jessica #1)

Young Adult-Paranormal-Vampires
Harcourt--February 2009
E-book, 384 pages 

Rating: 4 Stars--Really Liked It







SUMMARY

The undead can really screw up your senior year ...

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he’s her long-lost fiancĂ©. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war—and save Lucius’s soul from eternal destruction.



MY THOUGHTS

I wasn't completely sure what to expect when I began Jessica's Guide.  I had found myself getting a little tired of the young adult vampire novel.  Thankfully, this book took all the cliches associated with the "Twilight genre" and used them in a creative way.  What appears to be a light, fluffy paranormal slowly reveals its darker side which is balanced with wonderful black comedy.

Jessica has a pretty tough situation on her hands.  She discovers that she is a vampire and, not just any vampire, but the only heir in her royal vampire family.  Then she realizes that she has been promised in marriage to a prince from a rival family, Lucius, in order to avoid bloody war.  Her fiance has been given the task to go to America and return to Romania with her for the wedding.  Unfortunately, Jessica does not intend to go along with the plan quietly.  She resists Lucius's advances from the beginning and even has a difficult time believing the truth about her heritage.

I liked Jessica as a heroine.  She was stubborn, loyal, and definitely not afraid to speak her mind.  Her self-consciousness made her sympathetic and I loved how she gained confidence throughout the story.  Jessica was not a weeping flower of a heroine and showed her bravery in many scenes especially towards the end.  She was born a vampire princess and it was easy to see that in her poise and leadership in the book.

Lucius is a delicious bad boy type of hero.  He was raised by his uncles to be a deadly vampire prince and just oozes danger from the moment you meet him.  But, he has obviously resisted many of the efforts to make him cold-hearted because of his romantic courtship of Jessica.  Lucius knows what is expected of him, but he is not as comfortable with his supposed destiny as his uncles would like him to be.  Some of the best Lucius moments are his letters to his uncle in Europe where he provides snarky commentary of American teenage life.  Most are absolutely hilarious and show off his dry sense of humor. 

The secondary characters are fairly detailed and some are a surprising twist on old cliches.  Jessica's best friend Mindy is loyal and the perfect shoulder to cry on until an unfortunate argument tests their longtime friendship.  Jake, Jessica's high school crush, is never an equal rival for Lucius, but he does provide a few much-needed moments of jealousy.  Though I liked Jake, I was glad that Fantaskey did not try to make this a love triangle since I've gotten a little tired of them in YA.  Jessica's parents are aware of her heritage and try their hardest to help her get acclimated to the idea of being a vampire princess. 

As mentioned earlier, this book begins with a light, almost satirical tone with Lucius and Jessica's bantering paired with Lucius amusing observations on high school life.  Then, the mood quickly becomes bleak when Lucius's uncles join in the plot.  Jessica begins to realize how dark the world of vampires can be and how Lucius's upbringing has truly effected him.  The vampire mythology is original and easy to understand.  I enjoyed the almost-medieval hierarchy that made up vampire society.  It gave it a gothic romantic feel that works well with the second, darker half of the book.  All in all, I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more about Jessica and Lucius's relationship. 

FAVORITE QUOTES

"No, Lucius is harmless," I fibbed. If you don't count the fact that he thinks he's a warrior prince representing a semi-cannibalistic race of undead bat people.

SERIES INFORMATION

Jessica
1. Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
1.5. The Wedding of Antanasia Jessica Packwood and Lucius Valeriu Vladescu
2. Jessica Rules the Dark Side

BOOK CHALLENGE ENTRY


Sunday, January 29, 2012

IN MY MAILBOX (3): January


In My Mailbox is a book blog meme sponsored by The Story Siren.  The purpose is to showcase books that I have received through purchases, libraries, or giveaways.  Since I do not get books every week, I am striving to do this towards the end of each month.  

BOOKS BOUGHT:


Angelfall by Susan Ee
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Hollowland by Amanda Hocking
Anathema by K.A. Tucker
Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
Entwined by Heather Dixon
The Ghost Hunter by Lori Brighton
Victoria Gardella: Vampire Slayer by Colleen Gleason
Destined by Jessie Harrell
Hereafter by Tara Hudson
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
A Million Suns by Beth Revis
Lothaire by Kresley Cole
Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James
The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee
The Other Guy's Bride by Connie Brockway
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

BOOKS RECEIVED FOR REVIEW:

Alexander Death by J.L. Bryan (Thanks to the author for providing me with a copy!)
Fairy Metal Thunder by J.L. Bryan (Thanks to the author for providing me with a copy!)
New Girl by Paige Harbison 
How to Dance with a Duke by Manda Collins
The Best Mistake by Kate Watterson

BOOKS FROM LIBRARY:

Does My Head Look Big In This by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff
The Bite Before Christmas by Jeaniene Frost and Lynsay Sands

Friday, January 27, 2012

FOLLOW FRIDAY (13) and TGIF (4)


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:


Bookdoutblogbadge250 Feature & Follow #81

Q: Which book genre do you avoid at all costs and why?

I don't think I "avoid" any genre, but there are definitely ones that I usually struggle to finish.  I have a difficult time with most nonfiction.  They often feel like schoolwork to me which probably comes from too many years doing research papers and textbook reading. 

There are some exceptions to the rule, of course.  For example, I love almost anything to do with Harry Potter including books like Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon.

Another genre that I usually don't seek out is suspense/thrillers.  This is slightly bizarre to me because that is one of my favorite genres in television and movies, but not books.  I have tried different authors to find one that works for me, but I usually find myself bored and skimming until the end.  Oh well, I guess you can't love everything!


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

 For more information about this meme, visit GReads.

This Friday's Question:

Buy or Borrow: Where do your books that you read come from? The bookstore? The library? Do you prefer to own a book, or have it on loan?
I get books from a multitude of locations:
  1. Library--I am studying to be a librarian so I am trying to utilize my public library.  I primarily use it for books that I am not 100% sure I will enjoy, but I am interested enough.
  2. Books-A-Million and Barnes & Noble--For books that I must have the day of release such as Lothaire and A Million Suns.
  3. Half-Price Books--Great fun for browsing and finding out-of-print items!
  4. Book Depository--My newest obsession!  I love the no-shipping costs and the selection.  Most of my purchased physical books come from here nowadays.
  5. Amazon--Home of most of my e-book purchases.  I love all the great deals they provide.
  6. Audible--For all my audiobook needs!
  7. Paperback Swap--Wonderful site that allows me to send my used books to fellow readers in exchange for credits to request a book from someone else.
Primarily, I prefer to own my books.  I love having fully stocked bookshelves and have a blast organizing/re-organizing them.  I am obsessive about keeping series together as well as having my favorites at the ready for a re-read. 



---WEEKLY RECAP---

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Secondary Romances (link)
MY BOOK BOYFRIEND: Colin Bridgerton (link)
REVIEW: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee (link)
REVIEW: Angelfall by Susan Ee (link)


HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND, EVERYONE!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

REVIEW: "Angelfall" by Susan Ee


Angelfall by Susan Ee
(Penryn and the End of Days #1)

Urban Fantasy-Angels and Demons
Feral Dream--May 2011
E-book, 255 pages 

Rating: 5 Stars -- Loved It!








SUMMARY

It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.  Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.



MY THOUGHTS

--Introduction--
In the influx of angel books out there, it is sometimes difficult to find an original premise.  I was recommended this book by a Goodreads friend and am so happy for the suggestion of Angelfall.  The concept is fresh, the action is adrenaline-pumping, and the characters are fantastic.  I absolutely adored it and cannot wait for more from this author.

--Plot--
Penryn is a teenager who is trying to help her family survive the direct aftermath of the apocalypse.  This seemingly impossible task is made even more difficult by the fact that her sister Paige is wheelchair-bound and her mother is a paranoid schizophrenic.  After witnessing her sister's kidnapping, she discovers an injured angel without wings and decides to use him to find Paige.  The action begins from the very beginning and keeps your interest until the conclusion.  There are quite a few twists and turns as Raffe and Penryn experience the aftermath of the angel attacks. 

--Main Characters--
Penryn is a resourceful and admirable heroine is completely devoted to her sister.  I love how she took a bad situation (her sister's kidnapping) and used it to her advantage.  Throughout her journey with Raffe, she remains aware of her true purpose and never strays from it.  She also doesn't become a damsel in distress and isn't afraid to get her hands dirty.

Raffe is an intriguing hero who takes some getting used to, but is fascinating throughout the book.  His strength is decreased by his lack of wings, but he remains extremely powerful.  I loved watching the layers of Raffe's character get peeled back as the story moved along though there are still many unanswered questions regarding him and his role in the apocalypse.

--Romance--
The relationship between Raffe and Penryn is difficult to decipher at first.  They both need each other to achieve their overall purpose despite their glaring differences.  There is a lot of tension between them that causes some interesting scenes especially inside the angel's stronghold.  While the relationship did not reach the level of romance, there is some hope for future books.

--Secondary Characters--
Most of the story concentrates on Penryn and Raffe's adventure and relationship, but there are quite a few side characters that intrigued me.  Paige, as the catalyst for the main events, is described in a very loving fashion by her sister, but her re-emergence is terrifying and will set up quite a conundrum later in the series.  Penryn's mother is a mystery as well and is an interesting choice by the author.  The members of the resistance army and the angels of aerie are all detailed characters that add more punch to the overall storyline.

--Worldbuilding--
The world that Ee conjured is creative and thought-provoking.  The idea of seeing how people react to the apocalypse aftermath is fascinating and handled well.  There is enough of a hint of the modern world alongside the fantasy aspects to grab readers' attention until the end.  Ee does not go deep into the hierarchy of angels, but I was intrigued by the little tidbits she did offer. 

--Conclusion--
Overall, a fascinating read that takes the angel concept and gives it an appropriately dark twist.  The characters are multi-dimensional and sympathetic while the plot moves along rapidly through gripping scenes.  Highly recommended!!

FAVORITE QUOTES

"I knew from the start that your loyalty would get you killed. I just never thought it would be your loyalty to me that would do it." --Raffe

SERIES INFORMATION

Penryn and the End of Days
1. Angelfall
2. Untitled (To Be Released 2012)

BOOK CHALLENGE ENTRY


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

MY BOOK BOYFRIEND (22): Colin Bridgerton



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 Colin Bridgerton from Julia Quinn's Romancing Mr. Bridgerton.

About Colin:
  • Son of a Viscount.
  • Third of a family of eight children.
  • Considered one of the most sought-after bachelors in London.
  • Loves to travel and write about his experiences during trips.
  • Falls in love with his sister's best friend who has had a crush on him for twelve years.

Quotes:



Colin decided then and there that the female mind was a strange and incomprehensible organ - one which no man should even attempt to understand. There wasn't a woman alive who could go from point A to B without stopping at C, D, X, and 12 along the way.




"I thought you wanted food," she gasped.
"I do," he murmured, tugging on the bodice of her dress. "But I want you more.”




He murmured her name, tenderly taking her face in his hands. “I love you,” he said, his voice low and fervent. “I love you with everything I am, everything I’ve been, and everything I hope to be. I love you with my past, and I love you for my future.”

He bent forward and kissed her, once, softly, on the lips. “I love you for the children we’ll have and for the years we’ll have together. I love you for every one of my smiles, and even more, for every one of your smiles.”

My Colin: Zachary Levi

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Secondary Romances


Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This is freebie week on Top Ten Tuesday which gives all of use bloggers a chance to do whatever list we are inspired to create.  Here's mine:

TOP TEN SECONDARY ROMANCES

1. Robin and Jules from Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooter series
A male/male secondary romance between a closeted movie star (Robin) and an openly gay FBI agent (Jules).  These two meet in Hot Target, finally get together in Force of Nature, and then get married in All Through the Night.  A very sweet love story that is full of passion and heartache.  I will admit that I was not really interested in the primary romances of Hot Target and Force of Nature, but Robin and Jules are one of my favorite couples ever!

2. Gideon and Livia from Lisa Kleypas's Again the Magic
Gideon is an alcoholic American who is visiting England on business and meets up with Livia on her family home.  Livia is emotionally damaged after losing her fiancee and then her unborn child.  These are two tortured souls that manage to heal each other in some of the most gripping scenes I've ever read.  They do not take away from the wonderful primary story of Aline and McKenna, but enhance it. 

3. Qhuinn and Blaylock from JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series
Another male/male romance that, as of this moment, is not concluded.  Qhuinn and Blaylock are two recently transitioned vampires who are the best friends of one of my favorite BDB characters, John Matthew.  Blay is very open about his sexuality while Qhuinn is in denial.  Through alot of angst-filled moments, readers have figured out that Qhuinn does love Blay, but feels unworthy of him.  Many tears have been spilt regarding this couple and I hope we see them get their HEA soon.

4. Kynan and Gem from Larissa Ione's Demonica series
A romance that spanned most of this paranormal romance series about a demon-run hospital.  Kynan is a member of a demon-fighting team known as the Regis who also practices medicine on the side.  Gem is a demon-human hybrid doctor who has had a crush on Kynan for years despite the fact that he is married.  These two have to go through alot in order to achieve happiness, but it is all worth it by the end.

5. Ethan and Kristy from Susan Elizabeth Phillips's Dream a Little Dream
Another secondary romance that completely overshadowed the primary one.  Ethan is a small-town pastor who has an affection for the ladies and Kristy is his long-suffering secretary who has been nursing a crush for years.  I love stories where someone realizes that the person they've been looking for has been right under their nose the whole time.

6. Esme and Sebastian from Eloisa James's Duchess Quartet series
Another love story that spans a series--this time in historical romance--between a promiscious married lady and a stoic, virgin hero.  Sebastian begins as the betrothed of one of Esme's friends and seems to disapprove of everything she does.  Imagine the fun when Esme realizes how much Sebastian lusts after her!  It takes three books for them to finally get together, but it is a great time from beginning to end.

7. Walker and Lara from Nalini Singh's Kiss of Snow
Lara is the main healer in the SnowDancer changeling pact and Walker is a psy who has defected from the Psy-Net in order to protect his family.  I love the Psy-Changeling pairs in this series and Lara/Walker are one of my favorites.

8. Yuki and Machi from Natsuki Takaya's Fruits Basket series
A manga couple that showcase the importance of understanding one another and using that knowledge to heal the other's wounds.  The first half of the series deals with a love triangle, but, after it becomes obvious who the series's main character Tohru will end up with, the author creates a side love story for Yuki.  I highly recommend this series for anyone who loves fantasy mixed with romance and humor.  But, be prepared to shed a few tears!

9. Giles and Elinore from Anne Gracie's The Perfect Waltz
A wonderful opposites attract story in one of my all-time favorite historical romances.  Giles is a rake who falls head over heels for the super-proper Lady Elinore, a bluestocking.  There is so much more to these two than I can explain in a short comment, but their love story is full of drama and self-discovery.

10. Gabe and Gillian from Eloisa James's The Taming of the Duke
Another Eloisa James couple...she is known for her secondary romances.  Gabe is an illegitimate divinity professor who is trying to reconnect with his father's family in order to help his own illegitimate child.  Everything seems to go smoothly until he starts to fall for the unique and intelligent woman who is pursuing his half-brother's hand.

Monday, January 23, 2012

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: "A Spy in the House" by Y.S. Lee


A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee; Narrated by Justine Eyre
(The Agency #1)

Young Adult-Historical Fiction
Candlewick/Brilliance Audio--March 2010
Audiobook, 7 hours and 29 minutes 

Rating: 5 Stars -- Loved It!







SUMMARY

Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test.

Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there?

Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past.


MY THOUGHTS

--Introduction--
The Victorian era is one of my all-time favorites in history.  I love almost everything about it from the uptightness of the morals (in public at least) to the changing economic times.  Unfortunately, I had gotten a little burnt out on Victorian England due to an overload of historical romances.  Therefore, I was super excited to discover (thanks to my fellow bloggers) this series which provides me with a different approach to the mid-19th century. 

--Main Character--
The protagonist of The Agency series is Mary Quinn, a former street urchin saved from hanging by an instructor at a unique school for young ladies.  Mary took advantage of the opportunity she was given and achieved a proper lady's education.  Years after her rescue, she discovers that she does not know what she wants to do with her life.  Educated, but lower class women had limited career opportunities at this time and none of them appealed to Mary.  Therefore, she is let in on the secret of Ms. Scrimshaw's which is used as a cover for The Agency.  She is given brief, but intensive training and put into the field as an observer rather than a primary agent in order to test her instincts.

I absolutely loved Mary from the moment she was introduced.  She is intelligent, kind-hearted, and resourceful which makes her perfect for a job as a secret agent.  But, Mary still retains some vulnerabilities that make her sympathetic to the readers.  One of the most fascinating aspects of her character is her heritage which is controversial for Victorian England and how she deals with it in her personal and professional life.

--Secondary Characters--
There are quite a few supporting characters in this first installment including the managers of The Agency (Anne and Felicity) and the family that she works while undercover (the Thorolds).  We didn't get much information on Anne or Felicity in this book, but I'm intrigued by their interactions and how they achieved their positions.  The Thorold family was full of secrets and I enjoyed trying to figure out the truth behind each of their personas.

And then we come to James Easton who Mary meets in an unconventional way while searching for clues in the Thorold household.  James is a young engineer who is also checking out the Thorold family though for more personal reasons.  James and Mary run into each other multiple times in this book and, at one point, even decide to assist each other in their quests though Mary is forced to keep her true purpose a secret.  These two send off sparks from the moment they meet and there is definitely a hint of potential romance between them despite their social differences.     

--Setting--
The Victorian setting of this series is full of rich details.  I felt like I was part of the whole scene with the way Lee described the sights, sounds, and smells of 1850s London.  Definitely a perk for a history fanatic like me!

--Plot--
The mystery was not the most creative and thought-provoking I've ever read, but it kept me intrigued.  There were many twists and turns that Mary and James dealt with throughout the investigation.  Lee does a wonderful job of revealing just the right amount of information without ruining the entire plotline for the reader.

--Narrator--
Justine Eyre is one of my favorite audiobook narrators and she does not disappoint with this one.  She does an admirable job altering her voice to fit the mood.  I particularly liked how she was able to switch from Mrs. Thorold's posh accent to little Quigley's Cockney. 

--Conclusion--
This was a fabulous adventure that kept me interested from beginning to end.  Mary is a heroine that I am eager to learn more about and the Victorian London setting is full of interest for anyone who loves history.  Definitely a great way to break the monotony of historical romance settings and plots.


COVER


Provides the potential reader with an idea of the historical setting and the mystery aspect.  Very pretty.

FAVORITE QUOTES

He laughed, then became serious once more. "Mary............"
The expression in his eyes set her heart pounding. "Yes?"
Twice he began to frame a sentence, and twice his voice seemed to fail him.
And she thought she understood. What could he possibly say to her now, when he was on the verge of leaving forever? Even something as simple as asking her to write to him carried a distinct sort of promise, the type of promise he was ten years and a half and a world removed from being able to make.

SERIES INFORMATION

The Agency
1. A Spy in the House
2. The Body at the Tower
3. The Traitor in the Tunnel (To Be Released February 2012)
4. Rivals in the City (To Be Released 2013)

Friday, January 20, 2012

FOLLOW FRIDAY (12) and TGIF (3)


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’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to get your hands on any particular book?



Probably the "craziest" thing is standing in line for four hours to get Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at midnight.  I remember waiting outside of my neighborhood Borders in the rain until 10:00 when they let us into the store.  There were lots of activities going on inside the store, but my best friend and I headed straight for the register line.  We were tenth in line and just hung out there, talking to people for the next two hours.  Not real crazy, but memorable!

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

 For more information about this meme, visit GReads.

This Friday's Question:

Recommend It: Which book from the last 10 you've read 
would you recommend to a friend?
(The Agency #1)
by Y.S. Lee

SUMMARY:
Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there?

Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets, including those of her own past.

WHY I RECOMMEND IT:
I just finished listening to the audio version of this book yesterday and I cannot stop thinking about it.  Mary is an amazing heroine that readers will admire and root for from beginning to end.  I loved her unconventional background and how she uses that to fuel her determination.  The mystery is intriguing and the setting is perfectly detailed.  There is also a hint of future romance that just sizzles from the moment Mary and her mystery man meet.  I loved this so much that I bought the second book and am starting this morning.  Wonderful beginning to what I hope will be a wonderful series!


--WEEKLY RECAP--

TOP TEN TUESDAY: 10 Books I'd Recommend for Non-Romance Readers (link)
MY BOOK BOYFRIEND: Lothaire from Kresley Cole's Lothaire (link)
REVIEW: Slumber by Samantha Young (link)
REVIEW: Lothaire by Kresley Cole (link)
REVIEW: Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep (link)





Thursday, January 19, 2012

REVIEW: "Touch of Frost" by Jennifer Estep


Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep
(Mythos Academy #1)

Young Adult--Fantasy
Kensington--July 2011
Paperback, 350 pages 

Rating: 4 Stars - Really Liked It







SUMMARY



My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy — a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.
 
But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why—especially since I should have been the one who died. . .

MY THOUGHTS

--Introduction--
One of my guilty pleasure themes in young adult literature is the "magical school" series which, obviously,  comes from my undying love of Harry Potter.  But, recently I have had a difficult finding a magical school series that is creative and engrossing from the beginning.  Thankfully, I discovered Estep's Mythos Academy series which combines some of my favorite things: mythology, mystery, and mean girls getting their comeuppance.

--Main Character--
Our protagonist for this series is Gwen Frost who is the new student at Mythos Academy.  She is sent there by her grandmother after her mother's death in order to help with her unusual abilities.  You see, Gwen is known as a Gypsy and has the power of psychometry or the ability to read emotions, memories, etc. from physical objects.  Despite the fact that she has these powers, Gwen is reluctant to attend Mythos and has a difficult time believing in all the supernatural goings-on of the school.

Gwen is a great YA heroine who is intelligent, slightly quirky, and possesses a good heart.  After discovering Jasmine's body in the library, she sets off on a quest to find out what happened to her despite the fact that Jasmine was considered the meaniest girl in the school.  Gwen just can't shake off the idea that no one at the school, students or staff, seem to care about the fact that a girl is dead, no matter how horrible she was.  This made me admire Gwen's sense of right and wrong.  While on her journey, readers see Gwen make mistakes, but she learns from them rather than constantly repeating the same ones.  I am excited to see how she grows even more as a person and as a Gypsy in the series.

--Secondary Characters--
Like most school-set series, there are a lot of secondary characters.  At first glance, many of the students at Mythos seem to fit a high school stereotype, but Estep takes special care to put her own spin on them.  In particular, I enjoyed the character of Daphne who went from popular teen princess to computer geek to possible friend for Gwen.  And then we have Logan Quinn who is a Spartan that is considered the biggest man-whore at Mythos.  Throughout the book, we watch Gwen and Logan meet up in random places and even help each other out on occasion.  Logan is definitely a mystery that I am eager to find out more about in future books.

--Romance--
There is not much romance in this first installment which works for the series.  Estep takes time to introduce the world of Mythos and the characters of Gwen, Daphne, and Logan without overshadowing them with a love story.  Gwen and Logan are more than likely going to be the primary couple, but it would have been unrealistic for them to fall in love, or lust, in the time span of this book.  But, there is a spark there that will be fun to see increase later on.

--Worldbuilding--
The setting of Mythos Academy is very elaborate and well thought out.  The mythology is a mixture of many different cultures such as Greek, Roman, and Norse.  The overall culture of the school appears normal at first, but there are many tidbits that Estep throws into to emphasize that this is not a typical high school.

--Plot--
Touch of Frost starts out a little slow, but begins to pick up when Gwen discovers Jasmine's body and moves along quickly until the end.  The action was balanced nicely with the mystery aspect and Gwen's slow acceptance of her enrollment at Mythos. 

--Conclusion--
This was a fun, entertaining ride with an admirable heroine, some unique supporting characters, a very real big bad, and plenty of questions left to be answered in future installments.  Highly Recommended!!


COVER

Pretty good image of Gwen and a very cool representation what could easily be a tower at Mythos.

FAVORITE QUOTES

Logan Quinn was the kind of guy who could stab me in the eye with a freaking Twizzler. --Gwen

“Did she just call me a bleeding toothpick? Kill her! Kill her now!” --Vic


SERIES INFORMATION

0.5. First Frost
1. Touch of Frost
1.5. Halloween Frost
2. Kiss of Frost
3. Dark Frost (To Be Released May 2012)
4. Crimson Frost (To Be Released 2013)

REVIEW: "Lothaire" by Kresley Cole


Lothaire by Kresley Cole
(Immortals After Dark #12)

Paranormal Romance-Vampires, Shapeshifters, Magic, etc.
Gallery--January 10, 2012
Hardcover, 468 pages 

Rating: 5 Stars









SUMMARY


ALL FEAR THE ENEMY OF OLD

Driven by his insatiable need for revenge, Lothaire, the Lore’s most ruthless vampire, plots to seize the Horde’s crown. But bloodlust and torture have left him on the brink of madness—until he finds Elizabeth Peirce, the key to his victory. He captures the unique young mortal, intending to offer up her very soul in exchange for power, yet Elizabeth soothes his tormented mind and awakens within him emotions Lothaire believed he could no longer experience.

A DEADLY FORCE DWELLS WITHIN HER

Growing up in desperate poverty, Ellie Peirce yearned for a better life, never imagining she’d be convicted of murder—or that an evil immortal would abduct her from death row. But Lothaire is no savior, as he himself plans to sacrifice Ellie in one month’s time. And yet the vampire seems to ache for her touch, showering her with wealth and sexual pleasure. In a bid to save her soul, Ellie surrenders her body to the wicked vampire, while vowing to protect her heart.

CENTURIES OF COLD INDIFFERENCE SHATTERED

Elizabeth tempts Lothaire beyond reason, as only his fated mate could. As the month draws to a close, he must choose between a millennia-old blood vendetta and his irresistible prisoner. Will Lothaire succumb to the miseries of his past . . . or risk everything for a future with her?



MY THOUGHTS

WARNING!  THIS REVIEW MAY INCLUDE SPOILERS TO EARLIER BOOKS IN THIS SERIES!

--Introduction--
I feel like I have been waiting for Lothaire's story forever!  But, like always, I was a little hesitant because I was afraid that my expectations were too high.  I had similar pauses before reading other books that focused on beloved characters in series such as Acheron in Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters and Hawke in Nalini Singh's Psy-Changelings.  Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about because Kresley Cole gives readers a hell of a good ride full of fascinating characters, detailed worldbuilding, and a plot that always kept me guessing.

--Main Characters--
The title character of this story is the bad boy of the Immortals After Dark series, Lothaire Daciano.  Lothaire has been anti-hero that pops up throughout the series to either antagonize or grudgingly assist the Loreans.  One of my favorite things that Cole did with Lothaire was letting readers get into his head and understand his motivations.  He witnessed his mother's exile and murder and swore revenge on the vampires he believed responsible.  He has developed a detailed Endgame to accomplish this task which includes finding his destined Bride.  Lothaire has had this plan forever and does not react well when things start to come apart at the seams. 

At his core, Lothaire is sexy, tortured, and completely insane. While Cole allows her readers to see Lothaire's inner turmoil and even fall in love with him, she never forgets his true nature.  There is no ultimate "I must be a good guy now" epiphany scene because it just wouldn't work.  But, Lothaire does show himself to be heroic in a lovely, but twisted way.

Due to Lothaire's polarizing nature, Cole had to pair him with a unique woman who could handle his issues and still make him a hero.  Elizabeth Pierce (Ellie) is the perfect character for this purpose.  She is from the mountains of Appalachia and has dealt with povery for most of her life.  Just when it seems like she might be able to make something of herself, she is possessed by a vampiric demon, Saroya, who is determined to extinguish her soul and use her body to wreak havoc throughout the world. 

At first glance, Ellie is the exact opposite of what Lothaire wants.  He believes that Saroya is his Bride and, despite his attraction to Ellie, strives to eliminate her to accomplish his goals.  I got into Ellie's corner from the very beginning and admired her strength, loyalty, and intelligence.  She has been put into a bad situation, but, rather than sitting around whining about it, takes the proactive path and does her best with it. 

--Secondary Characters--
I thought Saroya was an interesting villain.  She appears to be everything that Lothaire wants and believes he deserves in a Bride: beautiful, bloodthirsty, accustomed to luxury, etc.  But, it becomes clear to both readers and eventually Lothaire the truth.  Her horrible treatment of Ellie and Lothaire makes her a villain that irritated me, but I still could appreciate the depths of her evil nature.  She was a great contrast to Ellie.

Like most IAD books, there is a large cast.  The world of the Lore is full of wonderful characters so it is always a blast to meet new ones and catch up with favorites.  Nix, the all-seeing Valkyrie, is very important in this book due to her background with Lothaire and we see a more vulnerable side to Nucking Futs Nix that gives her character a new twist.  We also meet up again with Thad, the vampire/phantom hybrid whom Lothaire meets during his escape from the Order, and see the complex friendship he has with Lothaire.  There are quite a few other regulars that pop up and it was fun seeing them again especially Regin the Radiant.

In terms of new characters, we meet Balery aka the Hag who has been Lothaire's confidante for years.  Her character was a cool way for Ellie and readers to get to know more about Lothaire's past and inner thoughts.  And then we have the Daci vampires who are a group of natural-born vampires that were thought to be a myth by even the Loreans.  Lothaire's revenge includes his involvement with these characters and the IAD spinoff (Realm of Blood and Mist) will focus on the Daci and their adventures.

--Romance--
The relationship between Lothaire and Ellie is complicated, to say the least.  Due to the complexity of their situation, it takes a bit of time for them to get comfortable with each other.  Trust is a strong topic for this couple and both of them have issues giving it freely.  This was definitely a relationship that required work on both sides though, to be honest, Lothaire had a bit more groveling to do than Ellie.  I personally love the opposites attract theme and believe that they will definitely have an interesting life together.

--Worldbuilding--
Worldbuilding continues to be a strong suit of this series.  It is full of complex details, overarching plots, and an ever-growing cast of characters, but rarely becomes confusing for readers.  This has much to say about Cole's writing style and comfort level with her story. 

--Plot--
The plot of Lothaire is like most of the Immortals After Dark books.  It is full of action and is very unpredictable.  Even though it is a paranormal romance and it is a given that there will be a happily ever after, I found myself wondering how the story would progress.  While there is a conclusion to the romance of Lothaire and Ellie, Cole continues the overarching storyline of the series which is the Ascension and the coming war amongs the Lore.  There are also little tidbits that tell  readers the issues of the Order from the past few books is not resolved.

--Conclusion--
All in all, this was a fabulous story of one of the most complex heroes I've read about in years.  The plot was fascinating, the world of IAD continues to blow me away, and the characters remain the heart and soul of one of my favorite paranormal series. 


COVER

Since the book is simply the hero's name, I like the fact that the cover is just his face.  Not sure about the hair, but I like the model's features and the fact that they added the red eyes. 


FAVORITE QUOTES

“I never knew I could hate someone as deeply as I do you.”
“I often help others discover the outer limits of their hatred. It’s a talent of mine.”




SERIES INFORMATION

Immortals After Dark
1. The Warlord Wants Forever (Nikolai and Myst)
2. A Hunger Like No Other (Lachlain and Emmaline)
3. No Rest for the Wicked (Sebastian and Kaderin)
4. Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night (Bowen and Mariketa)
5. Dark Needs at Night's Edge (Conrad and Neomi)
6. Dark Desires after Dusk (Cadeon and Holly)
7. Kiss of a Demon King (Rystrom and Sabine)
8. Untouchable (Murdoch and Daniela)
9. Pleasure of a Dark Prince (Gareth and Lucia)
10. Demon After Dark (Malkom and Carrow)
11. Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Declan and Regan)
12. Lothaire (Lothaire and Ellie)

Realm of Blood and Mist (spinoff)
1. Shadow's Claim (To Be Released 2012)

BOOK TRAILER


BOOK CHALLENGE ENTRY


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

REVIEW: "Slumber" by Samantha Young

TITLE: Slumber
AUTHOR: Samantha Young
SERIES: Chronicles of the Fade #1
GENRE: New Adult-Fantasy-Romance
AUDIENCE: 15+
PUBLISHER: Create Space
PUBLICATION DATE: May 2011
READ DATE: January 2012
SOURCE: Bought-Kindle



SUMMARY: A sleeping beauty may be the damsel in distress, but her White Knight? Why her rather un-knightish best friend of course. And the White Knight’s White Knight? Well… none other than her reluctant mortal enemy…

When Haydyn falls victim to the mysterious Sleeping Disease, the world of Phaedra is thrown into Chaos.  Rogan, Haydyn’s best friend and handmaiden, is the only one who can save her. Together, with the Royal Guard and their young Captain, Wolfe Stovia, Rogan must set off across the provinces to find the Somna Plant that will wake Haydyn from her dying sleep.

Beset on all sides by the chaos, Rogan tumbles into a dark world of kidnapping, prejudice, betrayal and love… a journey that will change her forever, and a journey that will change their world forever, if she does not retrieve the cure.


 MY THOUGHTS:

Anyone who has read my blog can probably figure out that I love fairytales.  Therefore, the trend of fairytale retellings is a godsend to me.  I am fascinated by the way that authors can take a familiar story and put their own twist on it.  Slumber by Samantha Young takes the idea of Sleeping Beauty and gives it a wonderful gender-bending twist.  The characters are unique and well-developed, the fantasy world is richly detailed, and the overarching theme is poignant without being overbearing.

Rogan, the heroine of the story, was captured and forced to bear witness to her family's murder as a child.  The reason for her abduction was her magic which allows her to find something when asked by another.  Despite her kidnapping, Rogan creates a decent life in Phaedra's royal court by befriending Haydyn, but she is always conscious about her origins. 

I absolutely adored Rogan's character.  Her childhood has left mental scars, but she does not let them define her.  She was loyal to her friend and willing to do anything for her even if it means going on a death-defying adventure to the outer areas of the kingdom.  For someone who has been raised in a royal court, Rogan is fairly strong and confident in her abilities.  But, she has been sheltered and has a lot to learn about the truth of the outer realm of Phaedra.

Wolfe is the Captain of Haydyn's Royal Guard and assists Rogan in her quest for the Somna plant.  He is also the son of the man who kidnapped Rogan and murdered her family.  This makes him awkward around Rogan despite his obvious attraction to her, but he remains devoted to protecting her throughout their adventure. 

He is a very honorable hero who keeps his true feelings close to his heart.  His father's treatment of him and his mother is not obvious at the beginning, but definitely shaped his character.  He feels guilty for the horrible things his father did to Rogan and is determined to  make her happy anyway he can.  Wolfe was the epitome of the "look beyond the surface" type of character.  A strong resemblance to Mr. Darcy and his aloofness was obvious to me as a self-proclaimed Austenite. 

Rogan and Wolfe's relationship is pretty complicated, but satisfying by the end.  Opposites definitely attract with these two.  I really enjoyed the way the author portrayed Rogan's feelings about Wolfe and how they shifted from hatred to love.  Also, I loved the concept of the hero being in love with the heroine for a long time.  Unrequited hero love is one of my favorite romance themes! 

There are quite a few secondary characters and they are pretty well-developed though not enough to overshadow Rogan and Wolfe.  Haydyn's character was a shadow over the entire premise of the book despite the fact that we didn't really get to know her until closer to the end.  I was particularly interested in her "forbidden" relationship with her bodyguard, Matai.  Kir and Jarek are two guy friends of Rogan that I would love to know more about.  I was also excited that Young did not go the melodramatic route and try to do a love triangle with any of these guys and Rogan/Wolfe.  Very refreshing nowadays!

And then we have L, one of the many people that Rogan encounters on her journey.  L was a delightful surprise both to me and Rogan.  She has a unique way of looking at life that was refreshing and stole the show in all the scenes she was in.  I am particularly happy that the next book in this series will focus on L and her experiences after the events of Slumber.

The world of Phaedra is absolutely engrossing, but slightly confusing at first.  I appreciated the fact that the author provided a cheatsheet at the beginning.  I was particularly fascinated by the way Young mixed the fantasy aspects with some valuable political themes.  It gave the story a sense of depth and meaning that is difficult to do in young adult literature.

The plot is full of action from the very beginning though it did have a few slow parts in the middle.  Young did not shy away from the darker aspects of this world and used them to prove a point rather than just simply as shock value.  Most of the problems of this book are not solved by the end so I am looking forward to more in this series and how Rogan, Wolfe, and the others deal with the changing world around them.

COVER:

Simplistic, but eye-catching.  Love the fantasy aspect and the color.

FAVORITE QUOTE:

I blinked owlishly, hoping I’d heard wrong. “That’s your big plan? A distraction?”
He smiled cheekily at me. “Yes. It’s good, right?”
“You’re going to get us killed.”
“Well, since you got us kidnapped in the first place, I think it’s only fair."

RATING: 4 Stars

SERIES INFORMATION:

1. Slumber
2. Sneak Thievery (To Be Released 2012)

INTERESTING LINKS:

Goodreads Page
Amazon Kindle Page
Author Blog
My Book Boyfriend: Wolfe Stovia

MY BOOK BOYFRIEND (21): Lothaire


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 the uber-bad, uber-sexy vampire Lothaire from Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series.  He just got his own story in the creatively titled Lothaire, but he was prominent throughout the series so his quotes will probably come from different books.

About Lothaire (the book):

Driven by his insatiable need for revenge, Lothaire, the Lore’s most ruthless vampire, plots to seize the Horde’s crown. But bloodlust and torture have left him on the brink of madness—until he finds Elizabeth Peirce, the key to his victory. He captures the unique young mortal, intending to offer up her very soul in exchange for power, yet Elizabeth soothes his tormented mind and awakens within him emotions Lothaire believed he could no longer experience.

Growing up in desperate poverty, Ellie Peirce yearned for a better life, never imagining she’d be convicted of murder—or that an evil immortal would abduct her from death row. But Lothaire is no savior, as he himself plans to sacrifice Ellie in one month’s time. And yet the vampire seems to ache for her touch, showering her with wealth and sexual pleasure. In a bid to save her soul, Ellie surrenders her body to the wicked vampire, while vowing to protect her heart.

Elizabeth tempts Lothaire beyond reason, as only his fated mate could. As the month draws to a close, he must choose between a millennia-old blood vendetta and his irresistible prisoner. Will Lothaire succumb to the miseries of his past . . . or risk everything for a future with her?


About Lothaire (the character):
  • Ancient natural-born vampire.
  • Has pale blonde hair, red eyes, and pale skin. 
  • Has spent centuries striving for revenge for his mother's death.
  • Desperate to find his destined Bride to help him obtain his ultimate revenge.
  • Known as Lothaire, Enemy of Old...though Ellie has shortened that to "Leo."
  • Loves luxury and loves buying presents for his Bride.
  • Absolutely insane due to the memories he receives from drinking people's blood.
  • Has a snarky sense of humor.
Quotes:

His tone dripping condescension, Lothaire crooned, “Ah children, it’s not yet story time.” He closed his eyes and turned away, saying over his shoulder, “To anyone who contemplates even nearing me while I sleep: I will garrote you with your own viscera.” --Dreams of a Dark Warrior


His debtors always assumed he'd demand their firstborn. Like I'm fucking Rumpelstiltskin? What would Lothaire do with countless squalling babes? Raise them in a kennel? --Lothaire


"I never knew I could hate someone as deeply as I do you.”
“I often help others discover the outer limits of their hatred. It’s a talent of mine.” --Lothaire


She swallowed, "I-I haven't agreed to go with you."
"Then tell me where I may do those things to my Bride.  If we remain here, we'll break this flimsy bed, possibly this entire conveyance." --Lothaire

"Admit it, love, you like it when I'm a little bad....” --Lothaire


"My heart doesn't fucking work right without you." --Lothaire

My Lothaire: Paul Marron