Tuesday, April 30, 2013

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Words or Topics that Attract Me to a Book


Hosted by the ladies at The Broke and Bookish.

TOP TEN WORDS/TOPICS THAT ATTRACT ME TO A BOOK

1. Unrequited Love (Preferably on the Hero's Side)
This is my number one favorite plot line in literature!  There is just something about a hero being in love with another for an extended period of time and, hopefully, getting the chance to show their feelings at some point.

As You Desire (Braxton, #1)   Secret Desires of a Gentleman (Girl Bachelors, #3)  Games of Command  Play of Passion (Psy-Changeling, #9)



2. Virgin Hero
I usually seek out romances with virgin heroes mostly because of how unique it is.  There is usually a reason behind the hero's virginity and I like seeing how authors handle the situation.

Outlander (Outlander, #1)   Demon from the Dark (Immortals After Dark, #10)  Caressed By Ice (Psy-Changeling, #3)  Born in Sin (Brotherhood/MacAllister, #3)



3. Retelling of Classics
I am a retellings junkie...ever since I discovered Jane Austen fanfiction when I was in high school.  I will read almost any type of retelling whether fairy tale, classic literature, or mythology.

For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #1)  Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)  The Proposition  An Affair to Remember (Talisman Ring #1)


4. Demons
Everyone has their favorite supernatural character and, while I love my fair share of vampires and werewolves, I am always going to pass them over for some sexy demons.  I think the worldbuilding potential is huge and I always like to see how authors handle the morality aspect of being a demon.

Pleasure Unbound (Demonica, #1)  The Darkest Pleasure (Lords of the Underworld,  #3)  A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)  First Drop of Crimson (Night Huntress World, #1)

5. Sports
I am a huge sports fanatic so it should come as no surprise that I gravitate towards romances set in the sports world.  I am not picky about which sport...I just want some type of athlete involved.


It Had to Be You (Chicago Stars, #1)  See Jane Score (Chinooks Hockey Team, #2)  Tigers and Devils (Tigers and Devils #1)  Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes


6. Unusual Settings
While I love Regency-era England and small town America just as much as the next reader, I do sit up and pay attention when a book comes out that takes place somewhere different.  It can be an unusual time period or unusual place, I'm not picky.


The Shadow and the Star (Victorian Hearts, #2)  Mr. Impossible (Carsington Brothers, #2)  How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf (Naked Werewolf, #1)  Not Quite a Husband


7. Opposites Attract
Romances were the hero and heroine (or hero and hero) are on completely different ends of the personality spectrum always sound like so much fun for me.  There is just something entertaining about these two people trying to deal with their differences and fall in love at the same time.

Slightly Dangerous (Bedwyn Saga, #6)  Dreaming of You (Gamblers, #2)  Heaven, Texas (Chicago Stars, #2) Between Sinners and Saints


8. Librarians, Teachers, Booksellers, etc.
I am a trained teacher and librarian so I am always on the lookout for books with characters in these professions.  I do try not nitpick the little details associated with the professions so it just makes the reading fun and relatable for me.


Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs (Jane Jameson, #1)  Lady Be Good (Wynette, Texas #2)  A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)  Beauty Like the Night (Rutledge Family, #1)

9. Beta Heroes
I love alphas, but there is nothing that grabs my heart like these guys.  Who doesn't love hero who is genuinely nice guy that may get overlooked at times, but is always there for the heroine?

My Life Next Door  Goddess of the Hunt (The Wanton Dairymaid Trilogy, #1)  Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Bridgertons, #4)  Morning Glory

10. Male Narrators
This is a topic that I don't see enough in literature, both YA and adult.  I love it when authors write from the male perspective and actively seek these books out.


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian  Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles, #1)  The Iron Knight (Iron Fey, #4)  Breathing Underwater


WHAT WORDS AND TOPICS ATTRACT YOU TO A BOOK?  DO YOU HAVE ANY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ME BASED ON MY LIST?  

Monday, April 29, 2013

NOVELLA REVIEW: "Flirting With Maybe" by Wendy Higgins

Flirting with Maybe
Flirting with Maybe by Wendy Higgins
For Ages 15+
Young Adult -- Contemporary
Harper Collins --March 5, 2013
Ebook, 92 pages
Purchased from Amazon

SUMMARY
When sophomore Ryan "The Kid" McPhearson makes the Varsity baseball team, he finds himself submersed into the life of upperclassmen, and falling in love with senior Brooke Bennet. To Ryan she's his dream girl, perfect. Maybe to the outside world a two-year age difference doesn't matter, but this is high school. Everything matters.

Ryan soon realizes Brooke's life is not so perfect. He becomes her closest friend, her safe place to fall when she needs to escape. Ryan seems to be benched in the friend zone with no chance to bat.

Time is both a curse and a blessing. It ushers Brooke away to college, and Ryan into the arms of his first girlfriend. It alters Ryan from a kid to a high school graduate, ready to venture to college himself. But when Ryan sees Brooke again he realizes there are some things even time can't touch.

Though much has changed, one question still remains. Will the things that mattered in high school always stand between them?

FIRST LINE
He was fifteen and she was seventeen.

MY THOUGHTS
I was really excited to read Flirting with Maybe because of my love for Wendy Higgin's debut novel, Sweet Evil.  This YA contemporary novella has a very original premise with the hero falling in love with an older girl and dealing with that age difference through the turbulent high school years.  The story follows Ryan and Brooke's changing relationship over a few years.

My favorite part of this book was the hero, Ryan.  It is rare for a YA contemporary to have a male narrator and I loved how Higgins depicted Ryan's experiences.  His voice is realistic and really helped readers understand his character.  His personality was well-developed and he matured quite a bit over the course of the story which is sometimes difficult for authors to show in shorter stories.  I am also a huge baseball fan so I loved all the scenes involving Ryan's games and relationships with his teammates.  

The main issue I had with this book was the character of Brooke, the girl Ryan has been in love with since his sophomore year.  She annoyed me from the moment I met her and I just never got over that initial impression.  I thought she was whiny, ignorant, and completely selfish regarding her relationship with Ryan.  Readers didn't get to know much about Brooke's personal life other than her issues with her stepfather.  I could sympathize with her difficult home life, but it was frustrating when she didn't show the maturity that I thought Ryan did.  I just couldn't see what Ryan saw in her and why he was willing to put up with her crap throughout the story.

I also thought the development of Ryan and Brooke's romantic relationship was a bit lacking despite the fact that the story took place over two years.  I appreciated how, in the beginning, Higgins emphasized their friendship and how comfortable they were with each other.  But, the romance aspect (on Brooke's part especially) seemed out of the blue and underdeveloped.  I also thought the ending was abrupt and not very satisfying.

But, despite my dislike of Brooke and overall disappointment with the love story, I did find this story to be enjoyable.  Ryan's voice and character is refreshing in the YA contemporary genre and really kept me interested.  The sports subplot also captured my attention and made it stand out from others in the genre.  I do recommend this story, but I do it with some hesitation regarding Brooke's character and the development of the love story.  I also have to mention that I loved seeing the excerpt from Higgin's next release, Sweet Peril, sequel to the wonderful Sweet Evil.

***3 Stars***

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Sunday, April 28, 2013

WEEKLY RECAP: April 28, 2013

I have been on the hunt for a great way to recap my week and figured that I would try this one out.  It is partially inspired by Clock Rewinders, an awesome feature created by Amanda at On a Book Bender and Tara at 25 Hour Books.   Check out their posts every week!

THIS WEEK ON FEMINIST FAIRY TALE REVIEWS
MY READING UPDATE

  • When She Was Wicked by Anne Barton -- Historical romance debut that really impressed me with its character development and sweet love story.  Full review coming soon.
  • The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper -- Hilarious paranormal romance with a female alpha and a sexy scientist...all set in rural Alaska!  Full audiobook review coming soon.
  • Family Man by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton -- Male/male romance between a thrice-divorced guy from a large Italian family and a twenty-five year old student with an alcoholic mother.  Really enjoyable characters and a well-developed romance.
  • Promises by Marie Sexton -- Starting a re-read of the Coda series in preparation for this summer's Fear, Hope, and Bread Pudding, sequel to Jon and Cole's story!  This book was just as wonderful as the first time I read it.  Original 4.5 star review can be found here.
  • Currently Reading: Winterblaze by Kristen Callihan; Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid; Eon by Alison Goodman

FUN FINDS OF THE WEEK
Up From the Grave (Night Huntress, #7)
Up From the Grave by Jeaniene Frost (Expected Publication: January 28, 2014)

Duke of Midnight (Maiden Lane, #6)
Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt (Expected Publication: October 15, 2013)

Once She Was Tempted (Honeycote, #2)
Once She Was Tempted by Anne Barton (Expected Publication: October 29, 2013)

READING CHALLENGE UPDATES

Seriously Series Challenge: 
Series Starting In 2013 -- Completed of 12 series
Series Started Before 2013 -- Completed of 12 series
Series Rereads -- Completed of series

Why Buy the Cow Reading Challenge:
Completed 5 of 24 free books

Debut Author Reading Challenge:
Completed of 12 YA/MG debuts

Immortals Reading Challenge:
Completed 11 of 20 books

Paranormal Reading Challenge:
Completed 6 of 12 categories

Dystopia Reading Challenge:
Completed 4 of 13 dystopian reads

Friday, April 26, 2013

FEATURE AND FOLLOW FRIDAY (69)

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow
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:
Beauty but a Funny Girl
I'll Tumble for YA
 
Q: Is there a song that reminds you of a book?  Or vice versa?  What is the song and the book?

This is a hard question for me because I absolutely love connecting songs to books and can't pick just one.  I have done two different TOP TEN TUESDAY posts on this topic which can be found here and here.  Here are three of my favorite "theme song" ideas:

1. Fever series by Karen Marie Moning
A Star-Crossed Wasteland by In This Moment



2. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Ordinary Day by Vanessa Carlton


3. Across the Universe series by Beth Revis
Nemo by Nightwish




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

Thursday, April 25, 2013

REVIEW: "The Lady Most Willing" by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway

The Lady Most Willing...: A Novel in Three Parts
The Lady Most Willing by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway
For Ages 18+
Historical Romance
Avon -- December 26, 2012
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Purchased from Amazon

SUMMARY
During their annual Christmas pilgrimage to Scotland to visit their aged uncle in his decrepit castle, the Comte de Rocheforte and his cousin, Earl of Oakley, are presented with unique gifts: their uncle has raided an English lord's Christmas party and kidnapped four lovely would-be brides for his heirs to choose from ...as well as one very angry duke, Lord Bretton. As snow isolates the castle, and as hours grow into days, the most honourable intentions give away to temptations as surprising as they are irresistible.

FIRST LINE
Some said the legendary storm of 1819 that screamed down from the north pushed madness ahead of it.

MY THOUGHTS
The Lady Most Willing is another joint effort of three of my favorite historical writers (Quinn, James, and Brockway) to create one full-length novel with three different romances.  Their previous collaboration was enjoyable so I had some decent expectations for this book.  And, thankfully, these ladies accomplished what I wanted them to by, once again, combining their very distinct writing styles into a story that flowed pretty well...though I could easily identify who wrote which section. 

This book was not anything groundbreaking in terms of plot or even characters, but it was still an entertaining way to spend a few nights.  The main problem I had was the utilization of insta-love, but that is one of the main pitfalls of novellas where there just isn't time for the romances to be developed like in full-length stories.  But, I thought all three authors handled that plot point pretty well and tried to help the audience see that these couples would work well together.

This time the ladies were obviously inspired by the plot of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, one of my favorite musicals of all time.  A Scottish landowner named Taran is tired of his nephews, and heirs, refusing to "do their duty" and get married.  So he devises a plan (with the help of some of his clansmen and alcohol) to invade a neighboring castle during a ball and kidnap women for them to choose from.  From there, readers receive three different love stories (and hints of a fourth) set in the backdrop of the aftermath of the kidnapping when a snowstorm strands everyone into Taran's castle.

Our first story was written by Julia Quinn and involved Catriona Burns, a Scottish squire's daughter, and the Duke of Bretton, a lofty British lord.  Both of these characters were kidnapped by Taran's men by mistake which meant they were treated in a different way from the others.  I thought this story was sweet and romantic.  It followed a typical "across the tracks" storyline, but kept things interesting by forcing them into some pretty funny situations during their courtship.  I do wish there had been a bit more spice to go along with the sweetness of the love story, but I appreciated Julia Quinn not throwing these two into bed with each other quickly.

Next, we have Eloisa James's contribution and she concentrated on one of Taran's nephews, the Earl of Oakley, and Fiona Chisolm, the oldest and most scandalous of the sisters that were captured.  This was easily my favorite of the trio.  I love the satirical undertones that Ms. James's brings to her writing and it is in full force with this short, but funny story.  I thought both Fiona and Oakley were intriguing characters who were coming to the table with differing experiences on society's notion of pride and censure.  I especially love it when a stoic, stubborn hero falls head over heels for a woman that logically would be completely wrong for him.  This was just tons of fun to read!

And, finally, readers get to experience the love story between a quiet British lady, Cecily, and Taran's direct heir, the Comte de Rochforte written by Connie Brockway.  This was another sweet story though there were quite a few steamy moments to keep readers on their toes.  I absolutely loved the Rochforte character and wish we could have spent more time on his past and how difficult it was growing up the poverty-stricken son of a disgraced French comte.  I would probably say that this story was the weakest of the three, mostly because I thought this one more than the others had the potential to be a full-length novel and suffered from the short page-length.

All in all, I thought The Lady Most Willing was a nice collaboration between three well-known writers and would probably provide new readers with a great introduction to their styles.  The overall setting was unique and provided as realistic a background as it could with something inspired by Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  I definitely look forward to any future plans these ladies have for writing another "novel in three parts."

***4 STARS***

FAVORITE QUOTES
"I cannot be left alone with that woman," he said, and he felt no remorse at the low desperation in his voice. "Please, if you have any care for your fellow man."
Her lips clamped together in a suspicious line, "I’m not certain what I get out of the equation."
"You mean besides the joy of my delightful company?"
"Yes," she said, with an impressive lack of inflection, "Besides that..."


JULIA QUINN INFORMATION
Website
Facebook
Goodreads

ELOISA JAMES INFORMATION

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY (55): "The Moon and More" by Sarah Dessen




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








The Moon and More
THE MOON AND MORE
by Sarah Dessen

Expected Publication: June 4, 2013
Young Adult -- Contemporary

Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?
WHY I'M WAITING: I adore Sarah Dessen's writing and have been a fan of hers since I was in high school.  She is just one of those writers that I will read regardless of the genre or the summary.  And, for this one, I"m intrigued by the description of Theo and am wondering how Dessen does with the love triangle trend.





Tuesday, April 23, 2013

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books I Thought I'd Like More or Less Than I Did


Hosted by the ladies at The Broke and Bookish.


TOP TEN BOOKS I THOUGHT I'D LIKE MORE OR LESS THAN I DID

Wonderful Surprises...

1. Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux
I'm not a huge fan of romantic suspense, but I kept hearing about how awesome Ty and Zane were together.  So I took a gamble and read the first book.  Then, before I knew it, I had completed all the currently published books (four at the time) and was eagerly awaiting the next one.

2. Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan
I am also not a fan of horror...I'm a big baby about blood and gore.  But, there was something intriguing about the blurb for Jenny Pox since it reminded me of my favorite comic book character, Rogue from X-Men.  While there were parts that made me cringe in this book and its sequels, I still found the characters and plot fascinating.

3. Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
I have been obsessed with vampires for a very long time and most of my favorites have come from the adult side of the bookstore.  That is part of the reason for my dislike of Twilight because I like my vampires violent and dark...not sparkly.  So I was really hesitant about trying out another YA vampires series.  But, thankfully, Richelle Mead provided a kick-ass set of books with richly developed characters, a steamy teen romance, and some amazing worldbuilding.

4. The Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
I wasn't sure about this series because of the similarities to Vampire Academy that I saw in reviews and in blurbs.  But, I love Greek mythology and decided to give it a try.  While Half-Blood doesn't break new ground in the world of YA paranormal/fantasy, its sequels take the series to a whole new level of fun and suspense.

5. Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway
This is a contemporary romance about a straight drag queen and his assistant.  That distinction both caught my eye and made me hesitate, but I am really glad I went ahead and read it because it was refreshing and sexy.

Was Disappointed By...
 
6. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
As I mentioned in the Vampire Academy blurb, I am a huge vampire fan so I was excited to see this one get so much publicity.  But, like I said, I was disappointed by the worldbuilding, the bland characters, and the melodramatic romance.  Just not for me!

7. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
This seemed like the perfect book for me...Robin Hood, a girl disguised as a boy, historical setting, etc.  But, I just couldn't get into it.  I found myself bored and flipping pages to get to some action.  I may try it someday in the future...or not.

8. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Full disclosure: I have not seen True Blood, but all the hype around it caught my interest and I decided to try the books.  Unfortunately, Sookie annoyed me from the moment I started and I had to give up halfway through.  I love urban fantasy, but that one just wasn't for me.

9. Jinx by Meg Cabot
For the record, I absolutely adore Meg Cabot!  Her books were some of my favorites in high school and I continue to anxiously await her newest release (regardless of genre).  It is really hard for me to figure out why I disliked Jinx.  I'm hoping that it may have had something to do with me rather than the actual story.

10. Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase 
Another book by a favorite author that I just couldn't finish.  Both the hero and the heroine of this one got on my nerves though I did love the Venetian setting.