Tuesday, July 31, 2012

TOP TEN TUESDAY (31): Switching Places



TOP TEN CHARACTERS I'D LIKE TO SWITCH PLACES WITH FOR 24 HOURS

1. Anna from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
I have always wanted to go to Paris so this was kind of a given.  Plus I might be able to go on a movie date with Etienne!

2. Mia from the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot
One of my favorite series from when I was in high school.  I don't think I would want to be Mia all the time especially if I had to deal with Grandmere (who is much meaner in the books, BTW).  But, it could be fun to experience princess lessons for one day.

3. Jane Jameson from the Jane Jameson series by Molly Harper
Another character that I wouldn't want to permanently switch places with due to the whole vampire and people always trying to kill you thing.  But, if I were Jane for a day, I could hang out with my super hot vampire husband and work at a bookstore!

4. Phoebe Somerville from It Had To Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Phoebe is the owner of a professional football team in Chicago which sounds like a dream to me.  I'm a huge football fan so any excuse to meet all those gorgeous athletes in the locker room beforehand and then hang out on the field is good enough for me.

5. Eve Dallas from the In Death series by JD Robb
I definitely wouldn't want Eve's life permanently...police work is not for me...I'm a little squeamish.  But, it would be nice to go on a holiday with Roarke for a day.

6. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
While I wouldn't mind being Lizzie, I don't think I could live in 19th century England with no indoor plumbing or electricity.  But, for a single day trip, I could visit Pemberley, hang out with Darcy, and maybe even go to a ball!

7. Cat Crawfield-Russell from the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost
I would be very cool to be Cat with all the superpowers associated with being half-vampire though I'm not sure I would like to always be in danger.  But, having a sexy guy like Bones could make up any problems I could come up with.

8. Haruhi Fujioka from Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori
Haruhi is the main character in a very popular Japanese manga series.  Essentially, she is a middle class girl who goes to a fancy school on scholarship.  Through a series of confusing events, Haruhi gets mistaken for a boy and is invited to be a member of the high school's host club.  I would love to hang out with all the host club guys for an afternoon and dress up in all the weird costumes they find. 

9. Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
This actually could have been any character in the series because I really just want to visit Hogwarts.  But, then I thought that I would especially love to be in Ravenclaw so Luna would be perfect!


I could only think of nine characters that I would willingly switch with since most of my favorite characters: Katniss, Tris, Chess, etc. live in worlds I wouldn't like to visit.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

WEEKLY RECAP: July 22-28, 2012




BOOKS READ (5)

Half-Blood (The Covenant #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout (4 Stars)
Finally read this very popular YA paranormal book!  I was a little thrown off by the Vampire Academy similarities, but I liked the mythology aspect.  The middle to the end definitely started stepping away from VA-lite and I found myself really enjoying it.  I already bought the next in the series, Pure, and I am excited to see where Armentrout goes with her storyline.
 
Pole Star by Josephine Myles (3 Stars)
A short, free read that offered a half-hour of fun.  Both heroes were well-written and I found myself wanting to know more about them.  I would love to have seen Myles make this into a lengthier story, but it was okay for what it was. 

The Asylum Interviews: Bronx (The Asylum Tales #0.5) by Jocelynn Drake (4 Stars)
Jocelynn Drake is a new-to-me author so I thought I'd test the waters with this prequel novella.  Angel's Ink, the first in the Asylum Tales series, doesn't come out until October, but Drake is publishing some introductory stories.  I really liked her writing style and loved the way she depicted her paranormal/fantasy world.  Gage seems like he is going to be a fascinating protagonist plus he sounds like he has some dark secrets to reveal.  Bronx, the troll, was a fun character and I look forward to seeing more of him.  He was giving me some wonderful Terrible vibes!  Also, bonus points for Drake choosing a unique aspect of a paranormal world to focus on: potions and tattooing!

Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles #2) by Melina Marchetta (4.5 Stars)
Another wonderfully creative and moving addition to this high fantasy series!  Froi was one of my favorite characters in the first book, Finnikin of the Rock, so I really enjoyed getting to find out more about his personality and his mysterious past.  Once again, the cast of characters continued to grow, but never seemed overwhelming.  Each person was given a definite purpose and really helped move the plot along.  I especially liked the mad princess of Charyn, Quintana, who will be the main focus of the final book coming out in September!

Ceremony In Death (In Death #5) by JD Robb (4.5 Stars)
Absolutely loved this installment in what is becoming a favorite series!  I loved almost everything about it from the dark, creepy case to all the wonderful characters.  Eve and Roarke are an amazing couple and so much fun to read about.  And audiobook narrator Susan Ericksen did a fantastic job as always.

REVIEWS

Friday, July 27, 2012

FOLLOW FRIDAY (35) and TGIF (23)

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:
Q: Summer Reading: What was your favorite book that you were REQUIRED to read when you were in school?


Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson--9th Grade English 
This was a summer reading assignment for all freshman and almost everybody actually finished it before school started!  It really spoke to me and I've re-read it several times since then.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee--10th Grade English
A pretty standard required reading selection, but I loved it. 
Night by Elie Wiesel--10th Grade World Civilizations
This memoir was assigned to go along with our World War II/Holocaust section.  I'm not sure I could re-read it because of the subject matter, but it was very powerful.
The Testament by John Grisham--11th Grade English
Another summer reading assignment which introduced me to the wonders of John Grisham. 
Persuasion by Jane Austen--12th Grade English Seminar
This was an assignment for a specialized English course I took and it has become one of my favorite books of all time!
A Time To Kill by John Grisham--12th Grade Government/Economics
Another summer reading by Grisham...my high school was a little obsessed, I'm thinking.  It did provide a decent introduction to the way the law works in society.

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Hosted by Ginger at GReads.

This Friday's Question
Christmas in July: If Santa were to come down your chimney in the middle of summer, which books would you want him to leave for you under the tree?

Already Released
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
I have heard so many awesome things about this book and right now I don't have the funds to buy it. 

Tricked (Iron Druid Chronicles #4) by Kevin Hearne
I freaking love this series!  Atticus is an amazing narrator and I am excited to read more about him.

Not Yet Released
Rogue Rider (Lords of Deliverance #4) by Larissa Ione
Ione is one of my favorite paranormal writers so I definitely can't wait to read about the last Horseman of the Apocalypse, Reseph/Pestilence!

The Lost Prince (Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1) by Julie Kagawa
The Iron Fey series is one of my favorites so I am pumped that there is a spin-off series featuring Ethan!  So much excitement!!
Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Mayer
Mayer's Cinder is one of my favorites and I can't wait to see what she does with the Red Riding Hood myth.  Plus I want to see more of what the Lunar Queen has in store for Cinder and Kai!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

THROWBACK THURSDAY (3): "Games of Command" by Linnea Sinclair




Throwback Thursday is weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books.  This feature focuses on recommendations for books that aren't New Releases, specifically books released more than five years ago in any genre.  These titles may be older, but they are still worthy of readers' time and attention!

This week I decided to feature a book that was a huge surprise for me last year.  While I have always enjoyed science fiction television and movies (Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar, etc.), I never really got into science fiction books.  Mostly I think it was because I felt like there was so much time spent on worldbuilding, but never enough on the characters for my personal taste. 

Then I heard about Linnea Sinclair's Games of Command which featured my favorite romantic theme of all time: the unrequited love of a hero for his heroine.  I found a used copy of the book shortly after hearing about it and devoured it in a single day.  Branden Kel-Paten, a biocyborg in love with a woman who hates him and everything he stands for, just stole my heart in this story and I know he will work his way into yours as well.  I really recommend this book for fans of well-written romance even if they don't care for science fiction.


Games of Command
by Linnea Sinclair

The universe isn’t what it used to be. With the new Alliance between the Triad and the United Coalition, Captain Tasha “Sass” Sebastian finds herself serving under her former nemesis, biocybe Admiral Branden Kel-Paten–and doing her best to hide a deadly past. But when an injured mercenary winds up in their ship’s sick bay–and in the hands of her best friend, Dr. Eden Fynn–Sass’s efforts may be wasted.

Wanted rebel Jace Serafino has information that could expose all of Sass’s secrets, tear the fragile Alliance apart–and end Sass’s career if Kel-Paten discovers them. But the biocybe has something to hide as well, something once thought impossible for his kind to possess: feelings . . . for Sass. Soon it’s clear that their prisoner could bring down everything they once believed was worth dying for–and everything they now have to live for.

MINI-REVIEWS: Historical Romance

Wallflower by Catherine Gayle
(The Old Maids' Club #1)

RATING: 4 Stars

SUMMARY: The choice between adhering to a long-held pact and finally accepting love could prove Lady Tabitha Shelton’s unhinging. She is plump, plain, pleasant...and thoroughly unappealing to any of the men of the ton—apart from fortune hunters. A self-appointed wallflower, she has every intention of remaining one. Tabitha made a vow of spinsterhood with her cousins when they were girls, and she refuses to go back on her word. So far, she’s proven herself quite adept at warding off the blasted fortune hunters’ pursuits.

Noah deLancie, Marquess of Devonport, would prefer to marry for love and companionship—he’s a gentleman through and through—but circumstances have forced his hand: he needs money as badly as he needs a bride. When Noah’s brother-in-law suggests pursuit of his sister, Tabitha, a woman with a dowry large enough to cause even Croesus to blush and who is tantalizingly good company to boot, Noah stumbles into the future he hopes to secure. He’ll stop at nothing to convince Tabitha to marry him.  Nothing, that is, except perhaps the barrel of a dueling pistol, held to his face by his ladylove.

Catherine Gayle is a new author to me, but I had to check her out especially because Wallflower was free!  What I found was a lovely story that pulled at my heartstrings and had me grinning from ear to ear by the end. 

I really loved the heroine, Tabitha, and how she was able to gain confidence in herself despite her unconventional looks.  She did not have an easy road to travel with her self-confidence, but I admired her determination and cheered on her triumph.  The hero, Noah, was so sweet and tender with Tabitha without seeming like a pushover.  He appreciated her for who she was and just wanted her to feel loved.

I felt badly for Noah when Tabitha kept mistrusting his motives even though he strived to prove himself to her over and over again.  This is the only part of the book that I didn't like since it got a little repetitive and annoying.  But, I understood that this was all a part of Tabitha's growth as a confident woman so it din't bother me too much.  Tabitha's family sounds like they are so much fun and I look forward to reading more about her fellow Old Maids' Club members.  I am especially intrigued by Bethanne and the scandalous Aunt Rosaline. 

Purchased for free on June 10, 2012 from Amazon.


A Night Like This by Julia Quinn
(Smythe-Smith Quartet #2)

RATING: 4 Stars

SUMMARY: Anne Wynter might not be who she says she is . . .But she's managing quite well as a governess to three highborn young ladies. Her job can be a challenge--in a single week she finds herself hiding in a closet full of tubas, playing an evil queen in a play that might be a tragedy (or might be a comedy--no one is sure), and tending to the wounds of the oh-so-dashing Earl of Winstead. After years of dodging unwanted advances, he's the first man who has truly tempted her, and it's getting harder and harder to remind herself that a governess has no business flirting with a nobleman.

Daniel Smythe-Smith might be in mortal danger . . .But that's not going to stop the young earl from falling in love. And when he spies a mysterious woman at his family's annual musicale, he vows to pursue her, even if that means spending his days with a ten-year-old who thinks she's a unicorn. But Daniel has an enemy, one who has vowed to see him dead. And when Anne is thrown into peril, he will stop at nothing to ensure their happy ending.

I am a certified Julia Quinn fangirl and I am enjoying her foray into the world of the tone-deaf Smythe-Smith family.  A Night Like This was a very cute story with two likable characters. 

Daniel Smythe-Smith was swoon-worthy without being over-the-top and I admired his tenacity at admitting his feelings.  I had wondered about his characterization after hearing about in the first book, but I had nothing to worry about.  I really liked Anne Wynter's character and her protective nature especially when it came to her students and Daniel.  She did have a few moments that bordered on TSTL territory, but they didn't effect my overall enjoyment that much.  I love the whole Smythe-Smith gang and find their interactions so much fun. 

The two "villains" got a little confusing at times, but I thought the conflict was well balanced with the romance.  I also enjoyed seeing the direct aftermath of Daniel's sister's engagement from the first book.  I really liked Honoria and Marcus and had fun seeing more of their interactions.  I am looking forward to the next Smythe-Smith novel which I am hoping will involve the actually musically gifted Sarah!



Winter Garden by Adele Ashworth

RATING: 4 Stars

SUMMARY: Though a celebrated French beauty in 1849, Madeleine DuMais's cleverness is her greatest asset --- and one she puts to good use as a spy for the British. When her expertise is needed in the south of England to break up a smuggling ring, Madeleine willingly puts her life on hold to help the crown ...

Arriving in the quaint resort town of Winter Garden, Madeleine meets her partner in subterfuge. Thomas Blackwood is unlike any man she has ever met. His quiet confidence and mysterious intensity send shivers of pleasure coursing through her ... shivers that slowly melt into a desperate passion. As duty gives way to desire, surrender holds its reward. And Madeleine will never recover from the touch of Thomas's hands on her body --- and the touch of his heart on her soul.

I have heard so much about this book ever since I starting reading historical romance.  After years of searching, I finally found a used copy and dove straight into it.  Winter Garden is a very character-driven story that relies heavily on its leads and for good reason.  I fell completely in love with the hero, Thomas Blackwood, from the moment we met him.  I spent a good amount of time rooting for him to tell Madeleine the truth.  For her part, Madeleine DuMais was a joy to read with her intelligence and self-confidence despite a difficult past. 

The espionage plot was interesting, but never took away from the love story.  I also enjoyed the secrets that the characters kept and how they were revealed at the perfect time. The moment of discovery was one of my favorite scenes ever in a historical romance.  Another aspect of the book I enjoyed was the setting.  It takes place in the village of Winter Garden which is full of some interesting characters.  Ashworth gives readers hints of the drama that occurs in this small town, but never lets that overshadow the main storyline.

I am really glad that I finally read this "classic" of historical romance and recommend it to anyone looking for a sweet, romantic novel.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

REVIEW: "Thief of Shadows" by Elizabeth Hoyt


Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt
(Maiden Lane #4)

Historical Romance -- Georgian England
For Ages 18+
Steam Level: Burning

Grand Central--June 26, 2012
Mass Market Paperback, 360 pages

Rating: 5 Stars



SUMMARY

A Masked Man . . .

Winter Makepeace lives a double life. By day he's the stoic headmaster of a home for foundling children. But the night brings out a darker side of Winter. As the moon rises, so does the Ghost of St. Giles—protector, judge, fugitive. When the Ghost, beaten and wounded, is rescued by a beautiful aristocrat, Winter has no idea that his two worlds are about to collide.

A Dangerous Woman . . .

Lady Isabel Beckinhall enjoys nothing more than a challenge. Yet when she's asked to tutor the Home's dour manager in the ways of society— flirtation, double-entendres, and scandalous liaisons—Isabel can't help wondering why his eyes seem so familiar—and his lips so tempting.

A Passion Neither Could Deny. . .

During the day Isabel and Winter engage in a battle of wills. At night their passions are revealed . . . But when little girls start disappearing from St. Giles, Winter must avenge them. For that he might have to sacrifice everything—the Home, Isabel . . . and his life.

MY THOUGHTS

I have been a fan of Elizabeth Hoyt ever since the debut of her first book, The Raven Prince.  Over the years, I have fallen in love with her unconventional characters, daring plotlines, and passionate love scenes.  Her Maiden Lane series has really impressed me and Thief of Shadows is no exception.  I was intrigued by Winter Makepeace, brother of Temperance and Silence, since his introduction and was very excited to read his story. 

I absolutely adored Winter in this book!  I loved almost everything about him from his "superhero" persona to his schoolmaster tendencies.  It should come as no surprise that Winter is a virgin, but he is not simpering weakling.  One of the best parts of this book was watching him delve into his baser instincts that he had restrained for so long.  I was really inspired by his mission and how it wasn't just for fun.  Winter passionately believed in the causes he was supporting and had no problem explaining his opinion to others. 

His heroine, Isabel, is another example of a person hiding behind a mask though an invisible one.  At first, she appears to be nothing more than a bored widow who spends her days socializing and financially supporting charity causes.  I really enjoyed watching the different layers of her personality reveal themselves, particularly when she was around Winter.  He had an uncanny ability to see past her mask and find the true woman inside.  I also liked that Isabel had obvious vulnerabilities, but she strived not to let them define her. 

Together Winter and Isabel were sensual and vivacious.  They really brought out the best in each other and their happily ever after is easily believable.  They also had a load of sexual tension that just crackled through the pages.  Like all of Hoyt's books, there is no lack in hot scenes once the tension gets to be too much.  She really knows how to turn up the heat without making it seem sordid or cheesy.  I, for one, like that she is not afraid to make her characters passionate especially around each other.

The suspense plot of the book, which revolved around children working in a sweatshop type of factory, was action-packed and kept me interested.  Hoyt really made the reader feel nervous that Winter would not find these children and her descriptions of their plight made it that much more poignant.  These scenes really tugged at my heart and gave me an even deeper understanding of why Winter does what he does.  Also, in a different tone, I really liked the swashbuckling feel that the Ghost scenes provided which reminded me of a comic book.

There were a few minor subplots that involved Lady Margaret Reading, sister of Notorious Pleasures's Griffin Reading, and the overbearing Lady Penelope.  These side stories provided a brief retreat from the main plot without overshadowing it.  I am especially looking forward to Megs's story after the way this book ended. 

In conclusion, I continue to adore this series and Hoyt's writing.  She is definitely an author who researches methodically and isn't afraid to push the envelope.  I am never bored reading one of her stories.  Can't wait to read Lord of Darkness (February 2013) and Duke of Midnight (December 2013)!

SERIES INFORMATION

Maiden Lane
1. Wicked Intentions
2. Notorious Pleasures
3. Scandalous Desires
4. Thief of Shadows
5. Lord of Darkness (To Be Released February 2013)
6. Duke of Midnight (To Be Released December 2013)


SIMILAR TITLES

All Through the Night by Connie Brockway
Unclaimed by Courtney Milan
His at Night by Sherry Thomas
The Bride Thief by Jacquie D'Alessandro
The Imposter by Celeste Bradley

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY (26): Etiquette and Espionage

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




Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)

(FINISHING SCHOOL #1)
by Gail Carriger

Young Adult -- Steampunk/Paranormal
Little Brown and Company -- Expected February 5, 2013

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

MY BOOK BOYFRIEND (46): Roarke



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:

ROARKE
from
In Death series by JD Robb


About Roarke:
  • Shoulder-length black hair, blue eyes, pale skin
  • Irish accent
  • Billionaire owner of Roarke Industries
  • Wasn't always involved in the legal side of business.
  • Genius at business, technology, and finances.
  • Known only by one name, Roarke.
  • Mysterious past that is slowly revealed throughout the series.

Swoon-worthy Quotes:


"I want to see you again."  He stopped, took her face in his hands.  "I need to see you again."
Her pulse jumped, as if it had nothing to do with the rest of her.  "Roarke, what's going on here?"
"Lieutenant."  He leaned forward, touched his lips to hers.  "Indications are...we're having a romance." --Naked in Death 


"We're standing here, beat to shit, walking away from a crime scene where either or both of us could have bought it, and you're asking me to marry you?"
"Perfect timing." --Glory in Death
  

"For once, he slept first.  She lay in the dark, listening to him breathe, stealing a little of his warmth as her own body cooled.  Since he was asleep, she stroked his hair.
"I love you," she murmured, "I love you so much, I'm stupid about it."
With a sigh, she settled down, closed her eyes, and willed her mind to empty.
Beside her, Roarke smiled into the dark.  He never slept first. --Ceremony in Death


"Do you remember the first time we made love?"  He touched his lips to hers as he said it.  "We rode up in the elevator like this and couldn't keep our hands off each other, couldn't get to each other quick enough.  I was mad for you.  I wanted you more than I wanted to keep breathing.  I still do."  He deepened the kiss as the elevator doors opened.  "Its never going to change." --Big Jack

My Roarke: David Gandy (IMDB page)


About Naked in Death (Book One):


It is the year 2058 and technology now completely rules the world.  But, New York City Detective Eve Dallas knows that the irresistible impulses of the human heart are still ruled by just one thing--passion.  

When a senator's daughter is killed, the secret life of prostitution she'd been leading is revealed.  The high-profile case takes Lt. Dallas into the rarefied circles of Washington politics and society.  Further complicating matters is Eve's growing attraction to Roarke, one of the wealthiest and most influential men on the planet, devilishly handsome...and the leading suspect in the investigation.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

TOP TEN TUESDAY (30): Vivid Worlds and Settings in Books



TOP TEN VIVID WORLDS AND/OR SETTINGS IN BOOKS


1. Hogwarts and the rest of the Magical World (Harry Potter)
If there is one fictional setting I would like to visit, it would be Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  Of course, I wouldn't say no to visiting any of the other wonderful settings in this series like Diagon Alley, The Leaky Cauldron, and the Ministry of Magic.


2. The Never Never (Iron Fey series by Kagawa)
A fantasy world that consists of the Fey Summer Court, Winter Court, and all the mysteries that surround them.   One of Kagawa's greatest strengths in these books is her description of this magical place that becomes a character of its own.

3. 2058 New York City (In Death series by JD Robb)
Homicide detective Eve Dallas solves murders that take place in a futuristic version of New York City.  The best part of this setting is the effortless way that Robb showcases how the city has changed and how it has remained the same.  I especially love it when she mentions events that happen "off planet".



4. Downside (Downside Ghosts series by Stacia Kane)
This isn't a beautiful, optimistic world.  Instead it is full of dirt, drugs, and poverty.  But, the way that Stacia Kane describes Downside brings it to life and provides the perfect backdrop for witch Chess Putnam's adventures.



5. Middle Earth (Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien)

I remember reading The Hobbit in middle school and being completely engrossed in the adventures of this fantasy world.  Everything was so creative and detailed from the inhabitants to the food to the buildings.  Tolkien truly created a living, breathing world that feels like it could jump out of the page.


6. Space (The League series by Sherrilyn Kenyon)
This is a very large setting...it is the whole universe.  But, Kenyon's science fiction romances take place on multiple planets in multiple systems.  Each planet has its own appearance and culture which always serves a purpose in the series.  I was especially impressed with the way she described all the different technologies, particularly the spaceships. 


7. Panem (Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins)
My first experience with a dystopian world.  Collins is a genius at providing a picture of the poverty-stricken District 12 and the contrast of the glitzy, glamourous Capitol.  I don't know if Collins's message would have been so powerful without the vivid imagery.

8. New Beijing (Cinder by Marissa Mayer)
Another dystopian, futuristic world that is an example of contrasts.  Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, lives and works in a more poverty-stricken area while the royalty of New Beijing lives in a high-tech, glittering palace.  The sights and smells are perfectly portrayed by Mayer and I look forward to exploring the rest of this world in other books in the Lunar Chronicles series.


9. 18th Century Scotland (Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon)
I will admit that I have never been to Scotland, but I can truly imagine what it must be like after reading Gabaldon's time travel series.   The way she describes the plants and the animals and the people just gives the books a mystical feel.  It also provides insight into many of the characters since their livelihood is based on the resources of the land around them.

10. Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky (Jane Jameson series by Molly Harper)
A fictional small town that is modeled after Harper's hometown of Paducah, Kentucky...only smaller.  Like many other settings on this list, the Hollow ends up with a personality all its own by the end of the Jameson series.  I especially enjoy the mix of modern and historical that peppers the landscape which really sets the mood for all the supernatural happenings in the series.



Monday, July 23, 2012

REVIEW: "Once Burned" by Jeaniene Frost


Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost
(Night Prince #1)

Urban Fantasy -- Vampires
For Ages 18+
Steam Level: Hot 

Avon -- June 26, 2012
Mass Market Paperback, 346 pages

Rating: 4 Stars



SUMMARY

She's a mortal with dark powers...

After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: terrifying powers that let her channel electricity and learn a person's darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude...until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world's most infamous vampire...

He's the Prince of Night...

Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest vampire legend of all—but whatever you do, don't call him Dracula. Vlad's ability to control fire makes him one of the most feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against him—a beautiful mortal with powers to match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites between them, threatening to consume them both. It will take everything that they are to stop an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames.

MY THOUGHTS

I have been a devoted fan of Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series for over a year.  And one of my favorite side characters has been Vlad Tepesh, the pyrokinetic vampire who inspired the Dracula myth.  So it should come as no surprise that I was ecstatic to hear that Vlad would be getting his own spin-off series.

One of the best parts of this book was getting to know more about Vlad.  Frost has provided hints throughout the Night Huntress series, but now there are actual details.  The one word that I would say describes Vlad is "survivor."  His past is very tortured and his personality definitely reflects that.  The arrogant and ruthless demeanor is a little jarring at first, but Vlad is so charming and protective that he quickly found a place in my heart. 

As for the heroine and narrator Leila, I was a little hesitant about her at first.  Mostly this was because I was wondering how Frost was going to provide a character worthy of my beloved Vlad.  Thankfully, my concerns were unfounded because I loved Leila!  Her sassy personality never evolved into the dreaded feisty stereotype and I really sympathized with all the issues she had with the whole superpowers thing.  A great part of her character was her ability to turn Vlad upside down with her sarcasm, strength, and no-nonsense attitude.  She was definitely not a weeping damsel in distress which is what I think Vlad truly needed.

There is a ton of action and suspense in this story, primarily concerning the mystery of who was trying to use Leila to get to Vlad.  The setting of modern-day Romania was wonderful to read about especially with its relation to Vlad's character.  I also enjoyed seeing the Night Huntress and Night Huntress World couples pop in at random times.  Bones was especially fun to see with his bickering bromance with Vlad.  I do wish Ian, the redheaded man-whore, could have appeared, but I'll just have to wait for the next Night Huntress book. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to seeing how Vlad and Leila's relationship develops in the aftermath of all the drama at the end.  I'll say one thing...Vlad better watch out because Leila doesn't seem like she's fooling around anymore.
SERIES INFORMATION

Night Prince
1. Once Burned
2. Twice Tempted (To Be Released 2013)

BOOK TRAILER


BOOK CHALLENGE ENTRY

Friday, July 20, 2012

FOLLOW FRIDAY (34) and TGIF (22)

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:

A Glass of Wine

Booktastic Reviews

Q: Christmas in July!!  Someone gives you a gift card for two books (whatever that costs).  What two books will you buy?


Cinder by Marissa Meyer
I read an e-ARC of this that I received through Netgalley and absolutely adored it!  I really need to get a paper copy so that I can get caught up before Scarlet comes out next year!








For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen story so I am really wanting to read this sci-fi/dystopian retelling.  I've heard great things about it and have had a hard time getting my hands on it. 







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I have created different ways for you to follow my blog: GFC, LinkyFollowers, email, Twitter, or Goodreads.  Comment, follow me, and I'll return the favor!!


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Hosted by Ginger at GReads.

This Friday's Question
Throwback TGIF: Pick a previous question you posted on your blog in the past and revisit your answer.  Has it changed since then?

Back on February 10, 2012, I provided a list of my favorite fictional love stories (link).  The ones that I mentioned are still in the top, but I have added two more to the mix.

Previously Featured:

*Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth -- Persuasion by Jane Austen

*Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger -- Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

*Eve Dallas and Roarke -- In Death series by JD Robb














*Cat and Bones -- Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost

*Robin Chadwick and Jules Cassidy -- Troubleshooters series by Suzanne Brockmann

*Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall -- Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

New Additions:

*Rose Hathaway and Dimitri Belikov -- Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
Oh my god!  I have heard about these two ever since I started blogging, but hadn't gotten the chance to read the series until this year.  I fell in love with these two and their complicated, and forbidden, romance.  The drama and angst that Rose and Dimitri went to throughout the series kept me glued to the pages.  I won't go much more into them since I probably won't say anything that hasn't been mentioned before, but I will say that I totally get all the hype now!



*Ty Grady and Zane Garrett -- Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban
Two tortured FBI agents who have somehow found comfort, and love, with each other.  There are alot of steamy and tender moments between these two alpha males which always make me smile.  I've only read the first three books, but I can already see how much they care for each other despite the obstacles I'm sure they will see along the way.  A great romance that is well-balanced with humor and plenty of suspense!





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**BOOKS READ**
Collision Course by K.A. Mitchell -- 3.5 Stars
His Heart's Obsession by Alex Beecroft -- 3 Stars
Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh -- 4 Stars

**BLOG FEATURES**
TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books for Fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood (link)
MY BOOK BOYFRIEND: Zacharel from Wicked Nights by Gena Showalter (link)
WAITING ON WEDNESDAY: The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James (link)
THROWBACK THURSDAY: Beauty by Robin McKinley (link)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

THROWBACK THURSDAY (2): "Beauty" by Robin McKinley



Throwback Thursday is weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books.  This feature focuses on recommendations for books that aren't New Releases, specifically books released more than five years ago in any genre.  These titles may be older, but they are still worthy of readers' time and attention!

This week I decided to feature one of my favorite fairy tale retellings.  I have loved fairy tales my whole life (hence the blog name) and am always pumped to read a great retelling that makes me think twice about these classic stories. 

Beauty
by Robin McKinley
Harper Collins -- Originally Published in 1978

A strange imprisonment...

Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.

When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, "Cannot a Beast be tamed?"

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY (25): "The Ugly Duchess" by Eloisa James



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



(Fairy Tales #4)
by Eloisa James

Historical Romance -- Avon
Expected Date: August 28, 2012

How can she dare to imagine he loves her…when all London calls her "The Ugly Duchess"?

Theodora Saxby is the last woman anyone expects the gorgeous James Ryburn, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook, to marry. But after a romantic proposal before the prince himself, even practical Theo finds herself convinced of her soon-to-be duke's passion.

Still, the tabloids give the marriage six months.

Theo would have given it a lifetime…until she discovers that James desired not her heart, and certainly not her countenance, but her dowry. Society was shocked by their wedding; it's scandalized by their separation.

Now James faces the battle of his lifetime, convincing Theo that he loved the duckling who blossomed into the swan.  And Theo will quickly find that for a man with the soul of a pirate, All's Fair in Love—or War.

NOTE: Even though it is the fourth in the series, these books are not continous.  Each fairy tale is its own stand-alone story.  So feel free to jump in whenever!  The earlier books provide retellings of Cinderalla, Beauty & the Beast, and The Princess & the Pea.




MY BOOK BOYFRIEND (45): Zacharel



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:

ZACHAREL
from 
(Angels of the Dark #1)
by Gena Showalter

About Zacharel:
  • Black hair, green eyes, tan skin, white wings lined in gold
  • A born warrior angel who became cold and unfeeling after his beloved brother's death.
  • As punishment for killing humans in pursuit of demons, he put in charge of an army of rebellious angels for one year and is whipped every time one of his soldiers kills a human.
  • Falls in love with Annabelle, a human who was branded as a demon's consort and institutionalized after her parents' murders.
  • Is not the most romantic hero, but makes up for the lack with protectiveness and self-awareness.




"Look, Winged Wonder.  Get me out of here, then we'll hammer out the details about where I'm staying.  Okay?"
"Winged Wonder," he said, nodding.  "I find that I do not mind that one.  It fits."
"Captain Modesty fits better," she muttered.
"I disagree.  Winged Wonder is clearly the better choice for a man such as me."









"You know, you're pretty when you smile." She said, patting the side of his cheek.
"Fierce, woman.  I am fierce."
"If you say so."







"You are mine," he rasped.  "Only ever mine.  I accept all that you are and we can be together."



He cupped her jaw.  Forever he simply stood there, continuing to peer at her, allowing her to study him and hiding nothing from her.  He wondered if she saw the same loveliness he saw in her, if she saw the reverence and the hunger he felt for her.  If she saw the hope for something more.  For all.  She must have, for she reflected everything back at him.  For so long, he'd had nothing--and she had somehow become his everything.



My Zacharel: Model Nathan Kamp

About Wicked Nights:

Leader of the most powerful army in the heavens, Zacharel has been deemed nearly too dangerous, too ruthless--and if he isn't careful, he'll lose his wings. But this warrior with a heart of ice will not be deterred from his missions at any cost...until a vulnerable human tempts him with a carnal pleasure he's never known before.

Accused of a crime she did not commit, Annabelle Miller has spent four years in an institution for the criminally insane. Demons track her every move, and their king will stop at nothing to have her. Zacharel is her only hope for survival, but is the brutal angel with a touch as hot as hell her salvation--or her ultimate damnation?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

TOP TEN TUESDAY (29): Books for Fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series



TOP TEN BOOKS/SERIES FOR FANS OF THE BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD SERIES BY JR WARD

This was a hard topic for me because it required me to find a book (or series) that I enjoy and that I could find similar recommendations.  After much deliberartion, I decided to do JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood paranormal romance series.  The aspects of BDB that I used to find similar reads are well-written, often tortured characters (usually heroes), tons of action, overarching plotlines, well-done worldbuilding, and plenty of sexy romance.


 1. Dark Hunters series by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Ongoing)
A paranormal romance series deals with a group of warriors known as Dark-Hunters, vampire hunters who are given powers by the goddess Artemis in exchange for an act of revenge.  In addition to vampires (known as Daimons in this series), readers also encounter demons, shapeshifters, deities, and other creatures.  Each book includes an individual love story though there are many overlapping plots that appear throughout the series.  This is an extremely lengthy series (22 books and counting) with no end in sight.  The book count includes two side series (Were-Hunters and Dream-Hunters) which fall into the DH order.  There is also a YA spin-off series, Chronicles of Nick.


2. Demonica series by Larissa Ione (Complete)
This is a paranormal romance series that includes five books and two novellas.  It tells the stories of five demon siblings who share the same father, a special brand of incubus known as a Seminus demon.  Most of the series revolves around the setting of Underworld General Hospital, a hospital for demons.  Each book has a different romance, but the series storylines do overlap.  This specific series is complete, but Ione is currently writing a spin-off that focuses on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.


3. Fever series by Karen Marie Moning (Complete)
An urban fantasy series that includes five books and tells the story of a young woman named Mac who discovers the hidden world of the fae after searching for the truth behind her sister's murder.  Romance isn't the main focus of this series, but there is a main couple to root for: Mac and the always delicious Jericho Z. Barrons.  There is a lot of mystery and creativity involved in this series.  Moning is now writing a spin-off series known as Fever World. 


4. Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh (Ongoing)
A complex and highly entertaining paranormal romance series that is currently on book eleven and counting.  It tells the story of an alternate future which includes three main species: Psy -- psychic beings, Changelings -- animals shifters, and Humans.  This is one of the most original series I've read and the worldbuilding is "blow your mind" amazing.  Each book includes its own love story, but I would not recommend reading this series out of order.  




5. Lords of the Underworld series by Gena Showalter (Ongoing)
A paranormal romance series that provides a wonderful twist on Greek mythology.  Showalter imagines what would have happened if Pandora's box wasn't opened by her, but by a group of jealous immortal warriors.  For punishment, these warriors were then forced to act as host for the demons they released.  The series deals with a variety of species like demons, angels, and harpies.  There are currently nine books with many more in the making.  There is also a spin-off series, Angels of the Dark, which just started this summer.

6. Midnight Breed series by Lara Adrian (Ongoing)
A paranormal romance series that tells the story of the Breed, a vampire race that originated from ancient aliens.  There are ten books in this series with number eleven due out in 2013.  There are different couples in each book and I believe that this is a series which could be read out of order though I think the enjoyment may lessen a bit.  I really like the interactions of the Breed warriors which remind me of the BDB.





7. Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole (Ongoing)
A paranormal romance series that consists of a massive supernatural world and many different species.  The couples in the books have run the gamut from vampires to valkyries to demons to weres to ghosts.  There are twelve books with number thirteen coming out in 2013.  It definitely needs to be read in order because the author likes to re-live certain events from different points of view.  She also excels at taking villains and turning them into protagonists though not always heroes and heroines.

8. Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost (Ongoing)
An urban fantasy series that deals with the adventures of my favorite paranormal couple: half-vampire Cat and her vampire bounty hunter boyfriend, Bones.  There are currently six books in the series with nine books planned by the author.  There are two spin-off series that provide the love stories of side characters, Night Huntress World and Night Prince.



9. Downside Ghosts series by Stacia Kane (Ongoing)
An intense urban fantasy series that is not afraid to delve into the darker aspects of paranormal life.  The heroine is a witch with a secret drug addiction who deals with some very nasty ghosts/spirits.  Everything about this series is unusual from the potential hero to the setting to the violent action.  There are currently five books in the series with, hopefully, many more in the future.


10. Feral Warriors series by Pamela Palmer (Ongoing)
This is a paranormal romance that doesn't always get the attention I believe it deserves.  Palmer provides a new twist on shapeshifter stories and gives it a violent twist.  The Feral Warriors are a core group of fighters with different personalities like BDB.  Each book tells a different love story, but there is a definitely an overarching plot that Palmer is telling.  There are currently six books and book seven will be released in late 2012.


Honorable Mentions: Shifters Unbound series by Jennifer Ashley, Darkyn series by Lynn Viehl