Monday, November 30, 2015

REVIEW: "Winter" by Marissa Meyer


Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)
(Lunar Chronicles #4)

For Ages 14+ (Language, Violence)
Young Adult -- Science Fiction

Feiwel and Friends -- Published on November 10, 2015
Hardcover, 827 pages
Read in November 2015
Purchased from Amazon

RATING: 5 STARS

THEMES/TROPES
Fairy Tale Retelling, Childhood Friends

SUMMARY
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?



FIRST LINE
"Winter's toes had become ice cubes."

MY THOUGHTS
Holy smokes!  It takes an amazing book to make me squee in a review nowadays and that is definitely what Marissa Meyer gave me in this conclusion to the already fabulous Lunar Chronicles series.  It did everything I wanted it to do and is making me want to re-read the entire series again.

Winter is the stepdaughter of Queen Levana and is considered to be one of the most beautiful women on Luna.  She is also being driven insane due to the fact that she refuses to use her glamour powers.  The only time she feels and acts "normal" is when she is around Jacin Clay, her childhood friend and personal guard.  When Levana decides that Winter is too popular with the Lunar population, she tries to have her eliminated.  This forces the princess to escape the city and dive into the revolution that Cinder and the gang are attempting to start.

I will admit that I was worried when I first started this book because I wasn't sure how everything would end up and whether Meyer would be able to balance all the characters that she had introduced.  Thankfully, my fears were never realized and I was able to become completely engrossed in this book though it took awhile to read due to the page length.  The plot was able to move forward while helping the main characters develop in a realistic fashion.  There was a nice balance between action, political intrigue, and, of course, romance as well.

I can't really say much more about the book in order to avoid spoiling it for future readers, but I do want to give shout-outs to some key moments.  My favorite couple is definitely Cress and Thorne so I enjoyed the scene between them in the Lunar palace.  It made me so happy that I think I re-read a few times before moving on.  I also enjoyed getting to see Cinder and Kai figure out how to use one another's strengths in order to achieve their mission,  I was especially impressed with the way that Kai reacted to all the events around him and how brave he was at certain points.

Wolf and Scarlet's story was the most angst-filled (I felt) and I was really scared about how that would end.  Jacin and Winter's romance was the least developed due to this being the final book, but I still felt like it was handled appropriately.  I love a reformed villain and Jacin definitely made up for his earlier actions in the books.  And, of course, I can't do a review for this series without gushing all over Iko whose journey was just as harrowing as the others, but she managed it with a positive attitude and some hilarious one-liners.

I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for an epic tale with unique female characters and plenty of action.  The suspense involved in reading these books was unimaginable and the author really excelled at keeping me on the edge of my seat at times.  As a conclusion, I thought Winter did an amazing job at bringing everyone together and figuring out a resolution to their problem.  It was addicting, emotional, and just a wonderful reading experience.

FAVORITE QUOTE
“Right now, a kiss is the going rate for near-death experiences. It's kind of a point system.”

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
0.5. Glitches
1. Cinder
1.5. The Queen's Army
2. Scarlet
3. Cress
3.5. Fairest
3.6. The Princess and the Guard
4. Winter

LEARN MORE
Goodreads -- Author Website

WHERE TO GET IT
Amazon -- B&N -- BAM -- Book Depository -- Kobo -- Google Play -- Audible

Sunday, November 29, 2015

UPCOMING RELEASES: December 2015

A list of new releases that grabbed my attention for the coming month. As always, release dates are subject to change.  All titles link back to Goodreads.

1st
Sweet Ruin (Immortals After Dark, #16)
Sweet Ruin (Immortals After Dark #16) by Kresley Cole (paranormal romance)
A foundling raised in a world of humans
Growing up, orphaned Josephine didn’t know who or what she was—just that she was “bad,” an outcast with strange powers. Her baby brother Thaddeus was as perfect as she was flawed; protecting him became her entire life. The day he was taken away began Jo’s transition from angry girl…to would-be superhero…to enchanting, ruthless villain.
A lethally sensual enforcer on a mission
A threat to the Møriør has brought archer Rune the Baneblood to the mortal realm to slay the oldest living Valkyrie. Whether by bow or in bed, he never fails to eliminate his target. Yet before he can strike, he encounters a vampiric creature whose beauty conceals a black heart. With one bite, she pierces him with aching pleasure, taking his forbidden blood—and jeopardizing the secrets of his brethren.
A boundless passion that will lead to sweet ruin…
Could this exquisite female be a spy sent by the very Valkyrie he hunts? Rune knows he must not trust Josephine, yet he’s unable to turn her away. Despite his millennia of sexual conquests, he can’t ignore the unfamiliar longing she arouses deep within him. When Jo betrays the identity of the one man she will die to protect, she and Rune become locked in a treacherous battle of wills that pits ultimate loyalty against unbridled lust.

In Search of Scandal (London Explorers, #1)
In Search of Scandal (London Explorers #1) by Susanne Lord (historical romance)
A DARING EXPLORER
All of London is abuzz with the tale of Will Repton. The lone survivor of a massacre in Tibet has returned to England a hero, but the traumatized explorer has no time for glory. Another dangerous expedition awaits. Nothing will deter him from his quest, and no one will unearth his secret—until Will meets Charlotte Baker.
IS NO MATCH FOR AN ADVENTUROUS HEART
Vivacious Charlotte Baker also has a mission—to find a man whose bold spirit matches her own. When she meets Will Repton, she immediately recognizes him as her soul mate, and she’s naively willing to turn her back on the rules of propriety to ensnare him. Will is torn between his fascination with Charlotte and his vow to finish his quest. He knows what it is to risk life and limb—but what if his most perilous adventure doesn’t lie across an ocean, but within his own lost heart?

Blood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy, #1)
Blood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy #1) by JR Ward (paranormal romance)
Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself…be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.
And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated—and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.

The Pirate's Tempting Stowaway (Dukes of War Book 6)
The Pirate's Tempting Stowaway (The Dukes of War #6) by Erica Ridley (historical romance)
Captain Blackheart leads a simple life of roving the seas, wenching and treasure-hunting. He steers clear of romantic entanglements that could tie him to land. He shouldn't have any trouble keeping his hands off the gently-bred lady he's commissioned to abduct—except his cargo turns out to be feisty and passionate! She'd be a prize worth treasuring, if having her aboard didn't jeopardize everything...

Clara Halton thought the worst loss she could suffer was to be stripped of her family, stricken with consumption, and left to die alone. Then she meets Blackheart. Their attraction is ruinous...and irresistible. When he delivers her like so much plunder, his mission is over — but hers has just begun. She'll force him to acknowledge their connection, even if she must storm his ship to do it!

A Lady's Guide to Ruin (Birch Hall Romance, #1)
A Lady's Guide to Ruin by (Birch Hall Romance #1) Kathleen Kimmel (historical romance)
A romantic debut starring a reluctant earl and the beautiful thief who has put them both in danger—and stolen his heart...

Joan Price is a wanted woman. A thief and a fugitive from the mental hospital where she was falsely committed, she’s now on the run from her former partners in crime. But luck must be on her side—just when it seems all is doomed, she runs straight into the arms of Martin Hargrove, Earl of Fenbrook, who mistakes her for his distant cousin, Daphne.

Lord Fenbrook has no intention of marrying, and certainly doesn't consider his notoriously scatterbrained cousin a prospect. But her flighty persona seems to hide something far more intriguing—a secret self she trusts with no one. And Martin is determined to earn that trust…
When Martin’s sister discovers Joan’s charade, they strike a bargain: Joan can remain within the safe walls of Birch Hall, as long as she doesn’t allow Martin to fall in love with her—for their flirtation would surely ruin them both. She’s convinced she poses no threat to his heart, but she’s beginning to realize that her heart may be the one in danger. Especially as he seems very set on seducing her...

One Rogue at a Time (Rakes and Rogues, #2)
One Rogue at a Time (Rakes and Rogues #2) by Jade Lee (historical romance)
As the illegitimate son of a duke, Bramwell Wesley Hallowsby grew up tough, on the fringes of society, learning to hide his hurt and cynicism with charm and Town polish. He’s carved out a place for himself as a mercenary, serving as bodyguard and general strong arm for the peerage. Bram has nothing to lose… and he’s exactly what Maybelle “Bluebell” Ballenger needs.
Maybelle needs a mentor to teach her to speak and act like a lady, so she can claim the place in society she was denied. As they team up to take on the ton, Bram knows she’s hiding something even from him. Despite the deception he sees behind those sparkling blue eyes, Bram wants to believe that Maybelle’s love is no lie. But it seems fate has served him up his just desserts in the likes of this determined damsel.

The Warrior Vampire (Last True Vampire, #2)
The Warrior Vampire (Last True Vampire #2) by Kate Baxter (paranormal romance)
A WOMAN SEDUCED
Naya Morales is no ordinary mortal. Born with a shaman's power, she has devoted her life to tracking down stolen magic—and punishing those who take it. But one fateful night, she follows the alluring call of a sensual magic that is too glorious to be true—and finds herself face to face with a stunningly handsome thief who is too magnificent to resist...
A VAMPIRE ENSLAVED
From the moment he sees her, Ronan knows Naya is his mate. Driven by a deep, almost mystical connection, he aches for her body, hungers for her blood, and swears their souls are anchored together. Naya refuses to believe the words of a vampire—or risk the wrath of her tribe. But when she tries to make Ronan her prisoner, neither chains of silver nor fires of hell can help her escape the truth: she is the one who's been captured...

Their Fractured Light (Starbound, #3)
Their Fractured Light (Starbound Universe #3) by Amie Kaufman and Meghan Spooner (YA science fiction)
A year ago, Flynn Cormac and Jubilee Chase made the now infamous Avon Broadcast, calling on the galaxy to witness for their planet, and protect them from destruction. Some say Flynn’s a madman, others whisper about conspiracies. Nobody knows the truth. A year before that, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux were rescued from a terrible shipwreck—now, they live a public life in front of the cameras, and a secret life away from the world’s gaze.
Now, in the center of the universe on the planet of Corinth, all four are about to collide with two new players, who will bring the fight against LaRoux Industries to a head. Gideon Marchant is an eighteen-year-old computer hacker—a whiz kid and an urban warrior. He’ll climb, abseil and worm his way past the best security measures to pull off onsite hacks that others don’t dare touch.
Sofia Quinn has a killer smile, and by the time you’re done noticing it, she’s got you offering up your wallet, your car, and anything else she desires. She holds LaRoux Industries responsible for the mysterious death of her father and is out for revenge at any cost.
When a LaRoux Industries security breach interrupts Gideon and Sofia’s separate attempts to infiltrate their headquarters, they’re forced to work together to escape. Each of them has their own reason for wanting to take down LaRoux Industries, and neither trusts the other. But working together might be the best chance they have to expose the secrets LRI is so desperate to hide.

3rd
Bitter Springs
Bitter Springs by Laura Stone (M/M historical)
In 1870s Texas, Renaldo Valle Santos, the youngest son of a large and traditional family, has been sent to train with Henry “Hank” Burnett, a freed slave and talented mesteñero—or horse-catcher—so he may continue the family horse trade. Bitter Springs is a sweeping epic that takes themes from traditional Mexican literature and Old Westerns to tell the story of a man coming into his own and realizing his destiny lies in the wild open spaces with the man who loves him, far from expectations of society.
8th
Lord Dashwood Missed Out (Spindle Cove, #4.5)
Lord Dashwood Missed Out (Spindle Cove #4.5) by Tessa Dare (historical romance)
A snowstorm hath no fury like a spinster scorned!
Miss Elinora Browning grew up yearning for the handsome, intelligent lord-next-door…but he left England without a word of farewell. One night, inspired by a bit too much sherry, Nora poured out her heartbreak on paper. Lord Dashwood Missed Out was a love letter to every young lady who’d been overlooked by gentlemen—and an instant bestseller. Now she’s on her way to speak in Spindle Cove when snowy weather delays her coach. She’s forced to wait out the storm with the worst possible companion: Lord Dashwood himself.  And he finally seems to have noticed her.
George Travers, Lord Dashwood, has traveled the globe as a cartographer. He returned to England with the goal of marrying and creating an heir--only to find his reputation shredded by an audacious, vexingly attractive bluestocking and her poison pen. Lord Dashwood Missed Out, his arse. Since Nora Browning seems to believe he overlooked the passion of a lifetime, Dash challenges her to prove it.  She has one night.

The Trouble with Destiny
The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill (YA contemporary)
It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey...

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.
But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

15th
A Seditious Affair (Society of Gentlemen, #2)
A Seditious Affair (Society of Gentleman #2) by K.J. Charles (M/M historical)
Silas Mason has no illusions about himself. He’s not lovable, or even likable. He’s an overbearing idealist, a Radical bookseller and pamphleteer who lives for revolution . . . and for Wednesday nights. Every week he meets anonymously with the same man, in whom Silas has discovered the ideal meld of intellectual companionship and absolute obedience to his sexual commands. But unbeknownst to Silas, his closest friend is also his greatest enemy, with the power to see him hanged—or spare his life.
A loyal, well-born gentleman official, Dominic Frey is torn apart by his affair with Silas. By the light of day, he cannot fathom the intoxicating lust that drives him to meet with the Radical week after week. In the bedroom, everything else falls away. Their needs match, and they are united by sympathy for each other’s deepest vulnerabilities. But when Silas’s politics earn him a death sentence, desire clashes with duty, and Dominic finds himself doing everything he can to save the man who stole his heart.

Prejudice & Pride
Prejudice & Pride by Lynn Messina (contemporary romance)
You know Darcy: rich, proud, standoffish, disapproving, one of the greatest romantic heroes of all time. But you don't know this Darcy because THIS Darcy is a woman.

In PREJUDICE & PRIDE, Lynn Messina’s modern retelling with a gender-bendy twist, everything is vaguely familiar and yet wholly new. Bingley is here, in the form of Charlotte "Bingley" Bingston, an heiress staying at the Netherfield hotel on Central Park, as is Longbourn, transformed from an ancestral home into a perennially cash-strapped art museum on the edge of the city. Naturally, it employs an audacious fundraiser with an amused glint in his eye called Bennet.

All the favorite characters are present and cleverly updated: Providing the cringe-worthy bon mots is Mr. Meryton, the nerve-wracked executive director of the Longbourn who’s always on the lookout for heiresses to join his museum’s very important committees. (Universally acknowledged truth: Any woman in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a social committee to chair.) Collin Parsons is still in obsequious, if ironic, awe of his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. The wicked Georgia Wickham toils as a graphic designer at Redcoat Design by day and schemes against Darcy by night.

17th
Broken Records
Broken Records (Spotlight #1) by Lilah Suzanne (M/M contemporary)
Los Angeles-based stylist Nico Takahashi loves his job—or at least, he used to. Feeling fed up and exhausted from the cutthroat, gossip-fueled business of Hollywood, Nico daydreams about packing it all in and leaving for good. So when Grady Dawson—sexy country music star and rumored playboy—asks Nico to style him, Nico is reluctant. But after styling a career-changing photo-shoot, Nico follows Grady to Nashville where he finds it increasingly difficult to resist Grady’s charms. Can Nico make peace with show business and all its trappings, or will Grady’s public persona get in the way of their private attraction to each other?

29th
The Rogue Not Taken (Scandal and Scoundrel, #1)
The Rogue Not Taken (Scandal and Scoundrel #1) by Sarah MacLean (historical romance)
LADY SOPHIE'S SOCIETY SPLASH
The youngest of the infamous Talbot sisters scandalized society at the Liverpool Summer Soiree, striking her sister’s notoriously philandering husband and landing him backside-first in a goldfish pond. And we thought Sophie was the quiet one…
When she finds herself the target of very public aristocratic scorn, Sophie Talbot does what she must to escape the city and its judgment—she flees on the back of a carriage, vowing never to return to London…or to society. But the carriage isn’t saving her from ruin. It’s filled with it.

ROYAL ROGUE'S REIGN OF RAVISHMENT!
The Marquess of Eversley was espied descending a rose trellis—escaping an irate Earl and his once-future countess. No lady is safe from Eversley’s Engagement Ending Escapades!
Kingscote, the Marquess of Eversley, has never met a woman he couldn’t charm, a quality that results in a reputation far worse than the truth, a furious summons home, and a long, boring trip to the Scottish border. When King discovers stowaway Sophie, however, the trip becomes anything but boring.
WAR? OR MORE?
He thinks she’s trying to trick him into marriage. She wouldn’t have him if he were the last man on earth. But carriages bring close quarters, dark secrets, and unbearable temptation, and suddenly opposites are altogether too attractive…

Dukes Prefer Blondes (The Dressmakers, #4)
Dukes Prefer Blondes (Dressmakers #4) by Loretta Chase (historical romance)
Biweekly marriage proposals from men who can't see beyond her (admittedly breathtaking) looks are starting to get on Lady Clara Fairfax's nerves. Desperate to be something more than ornamental, she escapes to her favorite charity. When a child is in trouble, she turns to tall, dark, and annoying barrister Oliver Radford.
Though he's unexpectedly found himself in line to inherit a dukedom, Radford's never been part of fashionable society, and the blonde beauty, though not entirely bereft of brains, isn't part of his plans. But Clara overwhelms even his infallible logic, and when wedlock looms, all he can do is try not to lose his head over her.
It's an inconvenient marriage by ordinary standards, but these two are far from ordinary. Can the ton's most adored heiress and London's most difficult bachelor fall victim to their own unruly desires?

One-Eyed Dukes are Wild (Dukes Behaving Badly, #3)
One-Eyed Dukes are Wild (Dukes Behaving Badly #3) by Megan Frampton (historical romance)
The scandalously unmarried Lady Margaret Sawford is looking for adventure—and is always up for a challenge. Her curiosity is aroused by a dangerous-looking stranger with an eye patch, an ideal companion for the life she longs for, no matter what Society might say. So when the piratical gentleman turns out to be a duke—and just as boringly proper as any other nobleman—she can't help but incite him to walk on the wild side.
Well-heeled, well-mannered, and well beyond any interest in society's expectations, the Duke of Lasham is tired of being perfect. Margaret's lush beauty and gently laughing eyes are an irresistible temptation to embrace the imperfect—and her. But if a little misbehavior is appealing, unleashing his wild side is completely seductive—as long as the lovely Margaret is the object of his passion.

More Than You Know (The Harrisons, #1)
More Than You Know (The Harrisons #1) by Jennifer Gracen (contemporary romance)
Hotel owner Dane Harrison, middle brother of a wealthy Long Island family, needs a lounge singer for his new luxury property. With her stunning voice and amazing curves, Julia Shay is perfect. She also seems be the only woman in New York City who isn’t falling at Dane’s feet. And despite her feisty attitude and his rule against workplace affairs, he wants her—in his arms, in his bed, anywhere and everywhere.
Julia loves her new job, and she knows better than to think she can keep itand Dane. Even if he wasn’t her boss, Julia’s painful history has given her ample reason to steer clear of rich, powerful charmers. Still, their chemistry is unlike anything she’s known, and when it becomes too much to resist, they agree to one no-strings night together. But instead of quenching the fire, the intense encounter only proves how much they have to lose—or win…

The Lie and the Lady (Winner Takes All, #2)
The Lie and the Lady (Winner Takes All #2) by Kate Noble (historical romance)
Clerk John Turner thought only of winning a bet when he switched places with his friend, Lord Edward Granville, at a country house party. But while posing as a lord, he fell for a lady—the Countess Letitia! Now she's learned the truth, and he must win her back as plain John Turner. He'd better hope that love truly conquers all...
Lady Letty was publicly humiliated when it came out that she had fallen for the man, not the master. When she meets him again, she's determined to avoid him, but some things are too intoxicating to be denied. Letty knows what choice she must make to survive, but if she turns her back on her dashing rogue—again—will she lose her chance at love forever?



Saturday, November 28, 2015

2016 OLDIE BUT GOODIE READING CHALLENGE: Sign-up Post

Oldie but a GOODIE (1)
Renee over at Addicted to Romance is hosting a new challenge, starting from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016.

This challenge is to try out those books that were published before 2008. This challenge is to be centered around historical romance.  There are many wonderful romance that have become forgotten or not top priority. This is a way for those to discover those hidden gems. Any of these books can be from your aging TBR pile or they can be recently added to your wishlists. Any historical romance published before 2008 counts.

CHALLENGE DETAILS
  • Choose at least 5 books…Minimum.
  • Only romance books, and must have been published before 2008.
  • Must be a historical romance, but no limits to any time period or sub genre.
  • Click HERE to sign up!!!

LEVELS
  • 5-10 Books-The Newbie Looking For Swoon Worthy Adventure.
  • 11-20-Seeking Passion on the High Seas.
  • 30-45- The Pirate, Scot, and Duchess of Love
  • 50-100+ Full Era Traveler of Romance and Passion.

MY CHALLENGE GOALS
Seeking Passion on the High Seas -- 11-20 Historical Romances Published Before 2008

For my reading challenges, I always like to create a preliminary list of books that I want to complete.  I usually like to look back at the end of the year and see how accurate my predictions were.

  1. The Windflower by Laura London
  2. Mistress by Amanda Quick
  3. Ransom by Julie Garwood
  4. Cotillion by Georgette Heyer
  5. The Lion's Daughter by Loretta Chase
  6. Promise Me Heaven by Connie Brockway
  7. Reforming Lord Ragsdale by Carla Kelly
  8. Brazen Angel by Elizabeth Boyle
  9. Marry Me by Susan Kay Law
  10. The Pirate Next Door by Jennifer Ashley
  11. An Arranged Marriage by Jo Beverley

Friday, November 27, 2015

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: "The Single Undead Moms Club" by Molly Harper; Narrated by Amanda Ronconi


The Single Undead Moms Club (Half-Moon Hollow, #4)

(Half-Moon Hollow #4)

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Paranormal Romance -- Vampires

Pocket Books -- Published on October 27, 2015
Audiobook, 9 hours and 33 minutes
Read in November 2015
Purchased from Audible

RATING: 4 STARS

THEMES/TROPES
First Person Narrative, Alternate Universe, Comedy, Enemies to Lovers, Small Town Setting, Widow Heroine, Self-Made Hero

SUMMARY
Widow Libby Stratton arranged to be turned into a vampire after she was diagnosed with late-stage cancer. It wasn’t the best idea she’s ever had, but she was desperate—she’s not about to leave her seven-year-old son to be raised by her rigid, overbearing in-laws.

On top of post-turning transition issues, like being ignored at PTA meetings and other mothers rejecting her son’s invitations for sleepovers, Libby must deal with her father-in-law’s attempts to declare her an unfit mother, her growing feelings for Wade—a tattooed redneck single dad she met while hiding in a closet at Back to School Night—and the return of her sire, who hasn’t stopped thinking about brave, snarky Libby since he turned her.

With the help of her new vampire circle, Libby negotiates this unfamiliar quagmire of legal troubles, parental duties, and relationships.


FIRST LINE
"If you have your choice about how to be turned into a vampire, I strongly suggest that you do not post an ad on the supernatural version of Craigslist offering cash to any creature of the night willing to bite you."

MY THOUGHTS
Now this is what I expect from a Molly Harper paranormal romance!  I was disappointed the earlier book in this series (The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire), but this book helped bring me back to the happiness I often associate with this world.  Things shift to new characters which I thought brought more unpredictability to the plot.

The narrator is Libby Stratton who lost her husband a few years ago and is now facing a terminal illness which will leave her young son an orphan.  Danny is only thing she cares about in the world and she is determined to stay in his life as long as possible.  So, she puts out an ad to be turned into a vampire and, once that is done, must try to adjust to life as a single, undead mother.

I thought Libby was a great heroine to read about.  She is funny, sharp-tongued, intelligent, and willing to go through anything to make her son happy.  She is a bit more on the straight and narrow than other Half-Moon Hollow protagonists, but she does have some quirks that made her stand out.  Some of my favorite scenes involved her verbal spats with the "living" members of the PTA at her son's school.

While most of the book focused on Libby adjusting to her life as a vampire and figuring out how to keep custody of Danny, she also has to deal with some unexpected romantic entanglements.  Specifically, readers get to meet Wade Tucker, a tattooed single father with a sexy drawl and the ability to irritate Libby at the most inopportune time, and Libby's mysterious sire whose past isn't as clean as she would like it to be.  I am not a fan of love triangles, but I thought this one was handled well especially since I could predict the ending and was happy with it.  I also have to mention that it was interesting to read about a possible romance where the heroine is the supernatural creature and the hero is normal person.

The Single Undead Moms Club is part of the larger Half-Moon Hollow world so, obviously, there are a ton of side characters, new and recurring.  I loved getting to see the return of Jane, Dick, Andrea, and the rest of the gang especially with Jane and Dick's new positions at the Council for the Equal Treatment of the Undead.  Unlike with the previous book, I thought the side characters were allowed to interact in the background without taking over the story.  I also enjoyed meeting Libby's son, Danny, who was cute and smart without being precocious.

While I always suggest reading series like this in order, I do think this is one that could be read as a stand-alone.  Libby is new to the whole vampire community so key points are explained without feeling repetitive for long-time fans.  And, of course, readers get Harper's signature, pop-culture infused humor which is paired perfectly with Amanda Ronconi's narration.  So, if you are looking for a hilarious, but sweet paranormal story with a quick-witted heroine, I can't recommend The Single Undead Moms Club enough.

FAVORITE QUOTE
You should be just as respectful to authority figures and public servants, even if you can now drain them dry. Because your kids are watching you. Also, because it’s still illegal to drain authority figures and public servants dry.

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. The Care and Feeding Stray Vampires
1.5. Driving Mr. Dead
2.5. Undead Sublet
2.6. I'm Dreaming of an Undead Christmas
3. The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire
4. The Single Undead Moms Club
4.5. Fangs for the Memories
5. Where the Wild Things Bite (Coming 2016)
5.5 Big Vamp on Campus (Coming 2016)

LEARN MORE
Goodreads -- Author Website

WHERE TO GET IT
Amazon -- B&N -- BAM -- Book Depository -- Kobo -- Google Play -- All Romance -- Audible

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Thanksgiving Freebie--Fictional Families I'd Like to Celebrate With


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

I love reading about family relationships in literature.  For this particular topic, I am focusing on families that I think would be fun to hang out with like on Thanksgiving.  The book covers belong to the first book in each series featuring the designated family.

The Duke and I (Bridgertons, #1)
1. The Bridgertons -- Julia Quinn
Violet, Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory, Hyacinth

Mine Till Midnight (The Hathaways, #1)
2. The Hathaways -- Lisa Kleypas
Leo, Amelia, Win, Poppy, Beatrix

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)
3. The Weasleys -- JK Rowling
Arthur, Molly, Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George, Ron, Ginny

Much Ado About You (Essex Sisters, #1)
4. The Essex Sisters -- Eloisa James
Tess, Annabel, Imogen, Josie

Slightly Married (Bedwyn Saga, #1)
5. The Bedwyns -- Mary Balogh
Wulfric, Aidan, Rannulf, Freyja, Alleyne, Morgan

Pleasure Unbound (Demonica #1)
6. Seminus Family -- Larissa Ione
Eidolon, Shade, Wraith, Lore, Sin

Obsidian (Lux, #1)
7. The Blacks -- Jennifer L. Armentrout
Daemon, Dawson, Dee

In Bed with a Highlander (McCabe Trilogy, #1)
8. The McCabe Brothers -- Maya Banks
Ewan, Alaric, Caelan

A Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark, #2)
9. The MacRieves -- Kresley Cole
Lachlain, Bowen, Garreth, Uilleam, Munro

Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane, #1)
10. The Makepeaces -- Elizabeth Hoyt
Verity, Concord, Asa, Temperance, Winter, Silence

Monday, November 23, 2015

REVIEW: "Sweetest Scoundrel" by Elizabeth Hoyt


Sweetest Scoundrel (Maiden Lane, #9)
(Maiden Lane #9)

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality, Violence)
Historical Romance -- Georgian England

Grand Central Publishing -- Published on November 24, 2015
eARC, 352 pages
Read in November 2015
Received from Netgalley

RATING: 4.5 STARS

THEMES/TROPES
Artist Heroine, Tormented Heroine, Animals, Enemies to Lovers

SUMMARY
SHE'S TAKING CHARGE

Prim, proper, and thrifty, Eve Dinwoody is all business when it comes to protecting her brother's investment. But when she agrees to control the purse strings of London's premier pleasure garden, Harte's Folly, she finds herself butting heads with an infuriating scoundrel who can't be controlled.

HE'S RUNNING THE SHOW

Bawdy and bold, Asa Makepeace doesn't have time for a penny-pinching prude like Eve. As the garden's larger-than-life owner, he's already dealing with self-centered sopranos and temperamental tenors. He's not about to let an aristocratic woman boss him around . . . no matter how enticing she is.

BUT LOVE CONQUERS ALL

In spite of her lack of theatrical experience—and her fiery clashes with Asa—Eve is determined to turn Harte's Folly into a smashing success. But the harder she tries to manage the stubborn rake, the harder it is to ignore his seductive charm and raw magnetism. There's no denying the smoldering fire between them—and trying to put it out would be the greatest folly of all.


FIRST LINE
"It took an extreme provocation to rouse Eve Dinwoody."

MY THOUGHTS
I received a free copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sweetest Scoundrel is another successful romance in Hoyt's super popular Maiden Lane series.  I have been devouring these books since the beginning and I am happy that they continue to be of the highest quality.  I am also left wanting more which is always a good sign.

Eve Dinwoody is the illegitimate half-sister of the notorious Duke of Montgomery and she helps him by protecting his business interests in London including the renovation of the Harte's Folly pleasure garden.  Things get complicated when Eve meets Asa Makepeace, the grumpy, but sexy owner of the garden.  Now, she is forced to deal with a man that both enrages and intrigues her while trying to make sure the garden is a success for her brother.

Both Eve and Asa were complex, well-developed characters that I enjoyed reading about.  Eve has major trauma in her past which has caused her to become terrified of men and also avoid social situations if possible.  But, despite her issues, she is very strong emotionally and much braver than she ever gave herself credit for.  Asa comes from a lower class background and is supremely proud of the work he was able to do after being disinherited by his very conservative father.  He is crass and powerful, but he hides a gentle heart that wakes up when he is around Eve.  I just loved the way that the inner workings of their personalities were revealed throughout the story.

I love the "enemies to lovers" trope, mostly due to the high probability of entertaining banter in those types of stories.  And I was not disappointed with repartee in Sweetest Scoundrel.  Eve and Asa begin battling from the moment that they meet and their interactions slowly turn into something much more sensual than any of them thought would happen.  There was a nice balance of drama and humor in their romance that I thought worked well for their character arcs.  And, since this is an Elizabeth Hoyt novel, there is plenty of sexy moments with my personal favorite being the one in the carriage. ;)

I was able to engross myself in Sweetest Scoundrel from beginning to end.  All the characters were strong from the main couple to the theatre workers to the recurring Maiden Lane inhabitants that pop in and out.  The subplot of figuring out who was sabotaging the folly's renovations was interesting and suspenseful yet didn't take away from the romance.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the scenes with the housekeeper Bridget Crumb who, I believe, will have some type of connection with the Duke of Montgomery in the next book.

I highly recommend this book...well, this entire series.  The 1730s England setting is fascinating as Hoyt explores both the lives of all classes, wealthy and impoverished.  The characters are always a bit unorthodox, but their stories never fail to make me swoon with happiness.  Can't wait to read Duke of Sin next year!

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. Wicked Intentions
2. Notorious Pleasures
3. Scandalous Desires
4. Thief of Shadows
5. Lord of Darkness
6. Duke of Midnight
7. Darling Beast
8. Dearest Rogue
9.  Sweetest Scoundrel
10. Duke of Sin (Coming 2016)
11. Duke of Pleasure (Coming 2016)
12. Duke of Desire (Coming 2017)

LEARN MORE
Goodreads -- Author Website

WHERE TO GET IT
Amazon -- B&N -- BAM -- Book Depository -- Kobo -- Google Play -- All Romance -- Audible

Saturday, November 21, 2015

2016 PICK YOUR GENRE READING CHALLENGE: Sign-up Post


This year, instead of a separate historical or erotic challenge, Herding Cats & Burning Soup is doing something a little different.  Everyone can pick their own genre to focus on in the challenge! Any genre is welcome even if not listed. You can tackle more than one genre too!  Check out the sign-up post here.

CHALLENGE DETAILS:
  • Challenge Dates: Jan 1, 2016 and ends Dec 31, 2016
  • Once you've read it...review it then link it up! 
  • What Counts...
    • Any book over 80ish pages counts (please no short stories)
    • Books MUST be read in 2016
    • All book formats count!
    • Re-reads & challenge cross overs count!
  • Anyone can join! If you don't blog you can use a dedicated shelf on Goodreads or similar.
  • There's an event giveaway! Each review (one per book) left on a major platform--Goodreads, Amazon, etc--and linked in the review widget will be an entry for the end of the year.
  • Quarterly Update posts will be done so we can see how everyone's doing and cheer each other along :) They'll count for the year end giveaway too!
  • There's a FB group for the challenge--join to get book suggestions, socialize and get event news!
LEVELS:
**you can join at any level and move it around during the challenge
  • Level 1 (Sunbathing): 6 books
  • Level 2 (Dipping the Toes): 12 books
  • Level 3 (Wading In): 25 books
  • Level 4 (Going for a Swim): 50 books
  • Level 5 (Diving In): 75 books
  • Level 6 (Cannon ball! ALL in!): 75+ books

MY CHALLENGE GOALS:
  • Historical Romance -- Level 5 (Diving In): 75 books
  • Contemporary Romance -- Level 3 (Wading In): 25 books
  • M/M Romance -- Level 3 (Wading In): 25 books
  • Paranormal Romance -- Level 3 (Wading In): 25 books
For my reading challenges, I always like to create a preliminary list of books that I want to complete.  I usually like to look back at the end of the year and see how accurate my predictions were.

Historical Romance Predictions
  • The Duke and Duchess Trap by Valerie Bowman
  • Seven Minutes in Heaven by Eloisa James
  • After the Wedding by Courtney Milan
  • Lady Bridget's Diary by Maya Rodale
  • Duke of My Heart by Kelly Bowen
  • The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne
  • A Gentleman's Game by Theresa Romain
  • Along Came a Rogue by Anna Harrington
  • The Study of Seduction by Sabrina Jeffries
  • Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
  • The Earl Takes All by Lorraine Heath
  • Temptations of a Wallflower by Eva Leigh
  • The Untamed Earl by Valerie Bowman
  • Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt
  • Marrying Winterbourne by Lisa Kleypas
  • Forevermore by Kristen Callihan
  • The Highlander by Kerrigan Byrne
Contemporary Romance Predictions
  • The Score by Elle Kennedy
  • On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
  • Coming in from the Cold by Sarina Bowen
  • Killer Queen by L.H. Cosway
  • Still Life with Strings by L.H. Cosway
  • Once and Always by Julia Harper
  • Blurred Lines by Lauren Layne
  • Stealing Second by Alison Packard
  • Body Check by Elle Kennedy
  • Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Laurens
  • The Other Side of Us by Sarah Mayberry
  • Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid
M/M Romance Predictions
  • A Clean Break by Keira Andrews
  • A Way Home by Keira Andrews
  • Beguiled by Joanna Chambers
  • Special Delivery by Heidi Cullinan
  • Focus on Me by Megan Erickson
  • The Bells of Times Square by Amy Lane
  • Crash & Burn by Abigail Roux
  • Cross & Crown by Abigail Roux
  • A Fashionable Indulgence by K.J. Charles
  • Mending Him by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon
  • The Gentleman and the Lamplighter by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon
  • Prosperity by Alexis Hall
  • According to Hoyle by Abigail Roux
  • Convincing the Secretary by Ava March
  • Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat
Paranormal Romance Predictions
  • Big Vamp on Campus by Molly Harper
  • Z by Larissa Ione
  • Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh
  • Where the Wild Things Bite by Molly Harper
  • Bound by Flames by Jeaniene Frost
  • Into the Fire by Jeaniene Frost

Friday, November 20, 2015

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: "Promises in Death" by JD Robb; Narrated by Susan Ericksen


Promises in Death (In Death, #28)
(In Death #28)

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality, Violence)
Romantic Suspense

Putnam -- Published on March 24, 2009
Audiobook, 12 hours and 46 minutes
Read in October/November 2015
Purchased from Audible

RATING: 4 STARS

THEMES/TROPES
Murder Mystery, Alpha Hero, Kick-Ass Heroine, Futuristic Setting 

SUMMARY
Amarylis Coltraine may have recently transferred to the New York City police force from Atlanta, but she's been a cop long enough to know how to defend herself against an assailant. When she's taken down just steps away from her apartment, killed with her own weapon, for Eve the victim isn't just "one of us."

Dallas's friend Chief Medical Examiner Morris and Coltraine had started a serious relationship, and from all accounts the two were headed for a happy future together. But someone has put an end to all that. After breaking the news to Morris, Eve starts questioning everyone from Coltraine's squad, informants, and neighbors, while Eve's husband, Roarke, digs into computer data on Coltraine's life back in Atlanta. To their shock, they discover a connection between this case and their own painful, shadowy pasts.

The truth will need to be uncovered one layer at a time, starting with the box that arrives at Cop Central addressed to Eve containing Coltraine's guns, badge, and a note from her killer: "You can have them back. Maybe someday soon, I'll be sending yours to somebody else."

But Eve Dallas doesn't take too kindly to personal threats, and she is going to break this case, whatever it takes. And that's a promise.


FIRST LINE
"She was dead the minute she answered the link."

MY THOUGHTS
Office Amarylis Coltraine was a recent addition to the NYPSD and her presence was noticed immediately by Dr. Morris, Chief Medical Examiner.  They began a steady and passionate relationship that everyone around them believed could become permanent.  Unfortunately, their happy ending did not come to pass when Amarylis was discovered murdered in the basement of her own apartment building.  Now, Eve Dallas and her team must try to figure out the truth which gets even more complicated when Eve discovers a possible connection to Roarke's old boss and rival, Max Ricker (first seen in Judgment in Death).

Promises in Death was a difficult book to get through due to how personal the murder felt for both Eve and the reader.  Morris has been a good friend to her for years and she struggles with how to help him in such a time of need.  I love it when older cases are brought back to the forefront and Eve is forced to look at them in a different way.  And, of course, it is always awesome to see Eve dealing with personal relationships since she is so awkward yet genuine about them.  Part of the reasoning for the title of the book is her promise to Morris to figure out who killed Amarylis and not treat him like a victim.

As has been shown in other books where cops are the victims, the full force of the NYPSD is thrown into the case.  The regular cast of Peabody, Mira, Feeney, Baxter, Trueheart, and MacNab are prominent and given plenty of snappy lines.  Readers also get to hang out with some other favorite recurring characters like Webster and Callendar.  And, of course, Roarke is another important part of the team especially when it is revealed that Ricker might be connected.  With such a large cast, an author could easily get overwhelmed, but JD Robb is an expert and I felt like everyone got the appropriate amount of development.

Eve is also forced to deal with something in her personal life.  In this case, one of her best friend, Dr. Louise Dimatto, is preparing to marry former licensed companion, Charles Monroe, and Eve is the matron of honor.  One of her duties is to host Louise's bridal shower.  Those brief chapters of levity help balance the drama of the murder mystery and were some of my favorite parts.

Promises in Death follows the pattern of the other books in the series and I enjoyed it just as much.  There is something comforting about being reunited with some of my favorite characters and watching them go about their lives.  Susan Ericksen does another fabulous job with narration and I had a great time listening to this.

FAVORITE QUOTE
There it was, Eve supposed. There was the answer to why people got tangled up with people. Because when you were down, when you were wallowing, someone you mattered to would ask if you were okay.
BOOKS IN THE SERIES
There are too many to show here, but I'm providing a link to the Goodreads listing and the listing from JD Robb's website.

LEARN MORE
Goodreads -- Author Website

WHERE TO GET IT
Amazon -- B&N -- BAM -- Book Depository -- Kobo -- Google Play -- Audible

Thursday, November 19, 2015

THEME THURSDAY: Ireland in Romance

This is part of a feature where I focus on a specific theme (or trope) that I have found in my years as a voracious reader/blogger.  I love finding commonalities between my favorite books and how that helps define me as a reader.

Please note this is not meant to be a comprehensive list.  I am just picking a few examples of this trope.  So, if you have a favorite example of this theme, let me know about it in the comments.  I'm always on the lookout for more books to be added to my wishlist.

Image result for ireland
IRELAND IN ROMANCE
Ireland is a country that has always fascinated me, but, unfortunately, it isn't represented in romance as much as Scotland and England.  This is particularly true in historical romance and I kinda get it.  The history of Ireland is so tragic and violent at times that it can be difficult to provide readers the fantasy they expected from romance.  But, I am determined to read more romances set in this country so that is why I decided to focus on it for this week's theme.

The Wife Trap (The Trap Trilogy, #2)
The Wife Trap by Tracy Anne Warren -- I gave it 3 stars.
Historical Romance, 19th Century
After orchestrating a scandalous high-society ruse, Lady Jeannette Brantford is banished from her family's estate in England and sent to live with boring elderly cousins in the Irish countryside. But Jeannette's exile is surprisingly eventful. En route to her dreaded destination, she encounters Darragh O'Brien, a devilishly handsome architect who transforms Jeannette's punishment into a delicious whirlwind of wits, words, and undeniable passion.
Although no less than a duke could satisfy a lady of her status, Jeannette is unable to extinguish the burning desire she has for Darragh's smoldering looks and sizzling kisses. Little does she know, her dashing Irishman is no commoner. He's the eleventh Earl of Mulholland-and he's thoroughly enjoying the irresistible game of hard-to-get. But before he reveals his true identity, a little temptation and trickery are in order to teach his fair lady a lesson or two about love.

Countess of Scandal (The Daughters of Erin, #1)
Countess of Scandal by Laurel McKee
Historical Romance, 18th Century
As children, Eliza Blacknall and William Denton ran wild over the fields of southern Ireland and swore they would be friends forever. Then fate took Will away to England, while Eliza stayed behind to become a proper Irish countess.

Years later, Will finally makes his way home—as an English soldier sent to crush the Irish uprising. When he spies the lovely Eliza, he is captivated by the passionate woman she has become. But Eliza's passions have led her to join the Irish rebel cause, and Will and Eliza now find themselves on opposite sides of a dangerous conflict.

When Ireland explodes in bloody rebellion, Will's regiment is ordered to the front lines, and he is forced to choose between his duty to the English king and his love for Eliza and their Irish homeland.

Her Warrior Slave (MacEgan Brothers, #1)
Her Warrior Slave by Michelle Willingham
Historical Romance, Medieval
Kieran Ó Brannon is no ordinary slave—defiant, daring and dangerous, he is untamable! Iseult MacFergus is drawn to this powerful man with the strength of a warrior and the honor of a king. She trusts him to help find her lost child….
Kieran sold himself into slavery to save his brother's life, but Iseult, with the face of an angel, gives him hope that he can again be a free man. Determined to find her child, Kieran may finally have his freedom—although now his heart is tied to Iseult's forever….

The Irish Warrior
The Irish Warrior by Kris Kennedy
Historical Romance, Medieval
As his men are slaughtered around him, legendary Irish warrior Finian O'Melaghlin is held captive by the despised English Lord Rardove. Struggling to break free, Finian finds aid from an unlikely source: the beautiful Senna de Valery, who is also trying to escape Rardove's bloodthirsty grasp. Risking both their lives, Senna releases Finian from his shackles so they can both flee, but their plight has just begun...
Seeking safe refuge, Finian and Senna have only each other to depend on for survival. Neither can deny their immediate attraction, but indulging their desires will put them both in grave danger. Finian vows to protect the woman who saved his life, but he soon learns she is a pawn in a much larger battle. For Senna has an unbreakable link to a priceless treasure many centuries old. It is the stuff from which dreams are made and for which men will kill—and not even Finian may be strong enough to save her.

Lady of Conquest (Brides of Legend)
Lady of Conquest by Teresa Medeiros
Historical Romance, 2nd Century
She had the fierce spirit of a warrior--and the passionate heart of a woman in love.
He is called Conn of the Hundred Battles, the warrior-king who forged a nation from a land of isolated clans. As High King of Ireland, he rides with the legendary Fianna, his elite band of warriors. But a threat to the throne looms from a mysterious scourge who has vanquished several of Conn's bravest warriors. Conn rides out alone to face a seemingly invincible foe, never expecting that he will confront a grief-maddened hellcat with emerald eyes and hair like liquid flame....
Wielding a sword called Vengeance, Gelina ó Monaghan has sworn to defeat the man she holds responsible for her family's ruin. She never dreamed she'd be bested by him in combat...and lose her heart in the bargain. Their forbidden passion will become a private war fought with swords and kisses, promises and betrayal--and surrender will be only the beginning....

On Dublin Street (On Dublin Street, #1)
On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
Contemporary Romance
Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare…
Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well—until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core.
Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to get Jocelyn into his bed.
Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached.
But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won’t be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her… down to the very soul.

Born in Fire (Born In trilogy #1)
Born in Fire by Nora Roberts
Contemporary Romance
Gifted, reclusive, stubborn, free-spirited...Maggie Concannon is a glassmaker whose exquisite works are more than mere objects of beauty, but reflections of her own true nature. One man saw the soul in her art, and vowed to help this complex woman build a lucrative career. When gallery owner Rogan Sweeney came to Maggie's isolated studio, her heart was enflamed by their fierce attraction - and her dark past was slowly healed by a gentle and forgiving love...

Painted Faces (Painted Faces, #1)
Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway -- I gave it 4 stars.
Contemporary Romance
Come forth with an open mind, for an unconventional tale of love...
Dublin native Freda Wilson considers herself to be an acquired taste. She has a habit of making offensive jokes and speaking her mind too often. She doesn't have the best track record with first impressions, which is why she gets a surprise when her new neighbour Nicholas takes a shine to her.
Nicholas is darkly handsome, funny and magnetic, and Freda feels like her black and white existence is plunged into a rainbow of colour when she's around him. When he walks into a room he lights it up, with his quick wit and charisma. He is a travelling cabaret performer, but Freda doesn't know exactly what that entails until the curtains pull back on his opening night.
She is gob-smacked and entirely intrigued to see him take to the stage in drag. Later on, Nicholas asks her if she would like to become his show assistant. Excited by the idea, she jumps at the chance. Soon she finds herself immersed in a world of wigs, make-up and high heels, surrounded by pretty men and the temptation of falling for her incredibly beautiful employer.
In this story of passion and sexual discovery, Nicholas and Freda will contend with jealousy, emotional highs and lows, and the kind of love that only comes around once in a lifetime.

Darkfever (Fever, #1)
Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning -- I gave it 4 stars.
Urban Fantasy
"My name is MacKayla, Mac for short. I'm a sidhe-seer, one who sees the Fae, a fact I accepted only recently and very reluctantly.  My philosophy is pretty simple - any day nobody's trying to kill me is a good day in my book. I haven't had many good days lately. Not since the walls between Man and Fae came down. But then, there's not a sidhe-seer alive who's had a good day since then."
When MacKayla's sister was murdered, she left a single clue to her death, a cryptic message on Mac's cel phone. Journeying to Ireland in search of answers, Mac is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to master a power she had no idea she possessed - a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae.
As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister's death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysteriou Jericho...while at the same time, the ruthless V'lane - an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women - closes in on her. As the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac's true mission becomes clear: to find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book - because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control both worlds in their hands.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

2015 TBR CHALLENGE REVIEW: "Throne of Glass" by Sarah J. Maas


Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)
(Throne of Glass #1)

For Ages 14+ (Language, Violence)
Young Adult -- Fantasy

Bloomsbury USA -- Published on August 17, 2012
Hardcover, 404 pages
Read in November 2015
Purchased from Barnes & Noble

RATING: 3.5 STARS

THEMES/TROPES
Alternate Universe, Kick-Ass Heroine, Love Triangle

SUMMARY
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.


FIRST LINE
"After a year of slavery in the Salt Mines of Endovier, Celaena Sardothien was accustomed to being escorted everywhere in shackles and at sword-point."

MY THOUGHTS
Read for the 2015 TBR Challenge--November--It's All About The Hype.  The challenge is hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian.

Why I Chose it for my TBR Challenge Read: I bought this book shortly after its release due to all the fabulous publicity I saw about it.  The heroine being a famous assassin was an intriguing concept to me.  Then I got gun shy about reading it since I was afraid that it wouldn't live up to my expectations.  And, over the years, I have continued to see hype surrounding the series so I decided to finally pull it out for this month's theme.


Throne of Glass begins with the heroine, Celaena, being taken from the salt mines where she has been imprisoned for over a year.  She is given an opportunity to earn her freedom by representing the Crown Prince in a competition to find the king's champion aka personal assassin.  The first half of the book involves Celaena's journey to the capital and the second part focuses on the competition itself.

Celaena's character was interesting and I liked how the author slowly revealed how deadly she really could be.  I know some people might have issues with the early portrayal of her which is on the vulnerable side, but I think that is on purpose so that readers underestimate her abilities like the rest of the characters.  I also enjoyed meeting the various people at the capital.  My personal favorites were the captain of the guard, Chaol, and the visiting princess with a mysterious mission, Nehemia.

There is some romance hinted at throughout the book and it wasn't really my favorite part, surprisingly.  A love triangle is definitely looming on the horizon and I don't have much patience for that particular trope.  But, I do like both guys in the triangle so it wasn't a big issue in this book.  Depending on how it is handled in later books, I can see it as being a deterrent for me as happens in other series.

I think the main reason that I am not rating this as high as I would have hoped is the way that the action is handled.  I was expecting (due to the premise) for there to be much more.  The first half of the book really dragged for me as things were explained and characters were put into place.  I caught myself wanting to put it down for other books a couple times which is never a good sign.  The latter parts were able to draw me in, but I still felt like there was more talking rather than action even during the competition scenes.

While Throne of Glass did not really merit (IMO) the hype that I have seen, I don't regret reading it and can see myself giving the next book in the series a try.  If you enjoy politically charged YA fantasy with a pretty obvious love triangle, you might like this more than I did.  The characters were interesting and I am intrigued by what is going to happen to them next.

FAVORITE QUOTE
“Libraries were full of ideas–perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.”
BOOKS IN THE SERIES
0.5. Assassin's Blade
1. Throne of Glass
2. Crown of Midnight
3. Heir of Fire
4. Queen of Shadows
LEARN MORE
Goodreads -- Author Website

WHERE TO GET IT
Amazon -- B&N -- BAM -- Book Depository -- Kobo -- Google Play -- Audible

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Quotes I Loved From My 2015 Reads


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

I love quotes and I had a ton of them to choose for this topic.  I decided to divide them into two categories: Funny and Serious.

FUNNY
Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)
1. “What kind of a woman greets the Beast Lord with 'here, kitty, kitty'?” --Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter #1)
2. This was the kind of job that made legends out of hunters. Of course, to be a legend, you generally had to be dead. --Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh

When a Scot Ties the Knot (Castles Ever After, #3)
3. Oh, Lord. Now he was not only an impoverished orphan, but an impoverished, unloved orphan with a passion for books. Her every feminine impulse jumped to attention. --When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare

Soulbound (Darkest London, #6)
4. With infinite care, as though he were handling a babe, he lifted the sword out, and a sigh seemed to go through him, "Ah, my lovely, it's been far too long."
"Shall I leave you two alone, then?" Eliza's lips twitched. She'd never seen such a look of reverence mixed with old familiarity. It was nearly indecent.
Adam spared her a glance, "Quiet, woman, a man's relationship with his sword is a sacred thing."
"So I've heard." 
--Soulbound by Kristen Callihan

The Martian
 5. Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped. -- The Martian by Andy Weir

SERIOUS
Carry the Ocean (The Roosevelt, #1)
6. "My emotions feel loud and big. It's hard for me to keep hold of them. They weigh me down. Make me heavy and tired and overwhelmed. Sometimes I feel like everyone else is carrying a bucket of water, but I'm trying to carry an ocean." --Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan

The Escape (The Survivors' Club #3)
7. "One does tend to assume that life must be far easier for others than it ever is for oneself,” he said. “I suspect it rarely is. I daresay life was not meant to be easy.” --The Escape by Mary Balogh

Forever Your Earl (The Wicked Quills of London, #1)
8. "We're slow-moving targets, us writers of entertainment. They call us hacks, panderers, scribblers. You name an insult, I've heard it: our readers are fools; the writers themselves are imbeciles; we have no talent. And God forbid a woman should attempt to write something that isn't moralistic tripe. Then the insults are tripled." --Forever Your Earl by Eva Leigh

Sweet Disorder (Lively St. Lemeston, #1)
9. "It’s the worst sort of snobbery to condemn a book without reading it, merely because it’s popular." --Sweet Disorder by Rose Lerner

The Friend Zone (Game On, #2)
10. "All our lives, we're told work hard, strive for more, do all you can to live that life less ordinary. Money, power, fame, everyone wants it. But you get there and suddenly you're supposed to be ashamed, be humble?" He shakes his head. "Fuck that noise. I say live your life on your terms. If someone judges you about material things, that's their problem." --The Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan