Thursday, November 14, 2013

Defy by Sara B. Larson

Release Date: January 7, 2014
A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?
First I want to say I'm sorry that I have been MIA. Again. I was out of state last week and then my 3 year old had surgery on Monday so I've had my hands full and my mind on other things. Anyway...
I've never done an ARC tour before. To be honest, I'm always nervous about getting the book, finishing the book, liking the book, reviewing the book, and getting the book to where it needs to be after me. It just seemed like more than I wanted to commit myself to. But when my friend Katie told me about a "locals only" book tour, I decided that I wanted to give it a try. 
Then.... after I signed up for the tour, I read the book synopsis. It sounded a lot like another book I read last year (and loved). I wasn't sure if I would connect to a story that I felt had already been told. Of course at this point I had loads of anxiety and was thinking, This is exactly why I don't do book tours! And now I'm friends with the author on Facebook and if I hate her book and have to review it there is absolutely NO WAY she won't see it (and, c'mon, we all know I'm not shy about giving a bad review if I hate a book). What did I get myself into?!?!?
One day, Defy showed up in my mailbox. I opened it with dread in the pit of my stomach and began reading. And kept reading. And as I read, the dread dissolved. I found myself completely drawn into a story that consumed my thoughts. The horrors Alexa ("Alex") saw. The arrogant and aloof prince. And Rylan. Sweet, best friend Rylan.
The dangerous secrets. The intriguing and fast paced plot. The different degrees of love mixed with the abundant hatred of war. Once I started, I literally could not stop. And not only was it not anything like that other story as I feared, it blew not only that book, but most others with similar settings, OUT OF THE WATER. I am so excited that I was able to experience this book early. I am even more enthused to share my thoughts and recommend it to you all. 
This is not a "check out from the library" or "borrow from a friend" book. This is the book that you get off your behind for, put some jeans and makeup on for, go out to your local bookstore (or front porch if you order it on Amazon) for, and BUY. I know I've already read it, but I am still counting down the days until it comes out so I can purchase a copy and re-read it immediately. This is not one to pass up. Seriously add it to your "To Buy" list or mark January 7th on your calendars. You will be so glad you did!
Happy Reading! 

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Prodigy by Marie Lu

This is the SECOND book in a trilogy.
Read Legend by Marie Lu before reading this review!

  Release Date: January 29, 2013
 Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. June is now the Republic's most wanted traitor. Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots - a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?

Amazingly, I think I'm finally done throwing my temper tantrum and am ready to review another trilogy. Especially since the final book in this particular trilogy just came out TODAY. So now I feel a burning desire to get you all hooked on Marie Lu, too.
This may have been the best *second book* I've ever read.


And you all know I have serious problems when it comes THOSE.

I'm not sure what it is about June and Day, but I just can't get enough of them. They are not only awesome characters alone, but they are even better together. When I finished the first book in the series, Legend (review HERE), I felt much the same thing I always do when I finish a really awesome book that I know is going to be a series.....DREAD. It's sounds silly but I always cringe when I think about a continuation of a really great story. I have been let down so many times. And if it's not the second book that bombs, it's the final book (which I promise you is much more catastrophic. But we won't get started on that...again.) I have to tell you that Marie Lu absolutely knows what she's doing when it comes to a series. Instead of June and Day severely disappointing me with general stupidity and drama like other *cough* unnamed couples do in the "means to an end" (second) book--wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles!--there was none of that to be found! They were just as crazy and adventurous and easy to love as they were when I first met them. Hallelujah.

I love when I find a story that I never want to end. One that still surprises me with twists and turns that I never saw coming. One where the characters are real and I root for them and hurt for them--sometimes at the same time. This is that book. This is THAT series. If you read on, even when I told you not to, I hope you are glad you did. I hope you want to read these books. Because they WANT to be read, they NEED to be read. And yes, I did cave and buy them because THEY ARE WORTH EVERY PENNY. Now if I can practice self control and save Champion (the final book) for my trip this weekend... Will power! I can do this!

 ... Oh, pray for me. LOL

 Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Losing Faith

I really was going to post a book review today but I've had something on my mind literally all day that I wanted to talk to you all about.

So, recently a book was released that was the concluding book in a series. I'm not going to say which one it was (so don't ask), but it was a startling and incredibly huge disappointment. This isn't the first time this has happened and I feel like it needs addressing.

The problem is this: Writers building up a story, sucking in readers until they are thoroughly invested in the characters and what happens to them, only to write a CRAP ENDING. Like a REALLY crap ending.

Now I wouldn't have even brought this up unless something devastatingly catastrophic happened that pissed me off enough to broach the subject. And frankly, I'm frustrated and annoyed that this is even something I need to talk about.

Why are authors becoming more interested in a shock factor and less interested in 1) doing justice to a story that started out so fantastic, 2) the attachment of millions of readers, and 3) writing an ending they can be proud of?

It has made me lose faith in authors of series. Honestly. You all know that I have a difficult time already with "second books", and I rely on a strong ending to draw me back into a story and remind me why I loved it in the first place. I, as a reader, expect a CONCLUSION. I expect the characters, not necessarily to get a "happily ever after", but for the ending to be something that I can at least say, "Hmmm, that's not what I expected, but I liked it. I understand why the author did what they did and why it mattered to the overall story."

I always feel a bit frustrated when I wait a year (and sometimes two) for a conclusion to a series. But I always say that I would rather the author take their time and write a really awesome end. This particular series that sparked my outrage was one where I LOVED the first book. I finished it and wanted to read it again. I recommended it to everyone. The second book was much like they all are for me... I didn't love it but it was a means to an end. Then I waited almost TWO YEARS for what I expected to be a mind-blowing final book. I got what I wished for. Only it was mind-blowingly AWFUL. And now here I sit, stewing and totally mortified that I urged everyone and their dog to get invested in the series in the first place.

So please forgive me.


The end. 

And if you are wondering, NO, I don't feel better now. I'm still so disappointed it makes me sick. 

Happy Reading!  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Release Date: January 8, 2013
A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay

When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.
Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

The awesome thing about playing catch up on my book reviews is that I get to pick and choose what I want to review. And it just so happens that I'll be reviewing all my favorite books that I read this year instead of having crap books sprinkled in. Don't worry, those will come later I'm sure. 

A few years ago I read a little book called If I Stay (review HERE) by an author I'd never heard of named Gayle Forman. It honestly changed my life. It was the most breathtakingly, heart wrenching novel I've ever read. It was real and it was tragic. It was absolutely stunning. Ever since that life-changing moment, I have made it a point to keep my eye out for Gayle Forman's work. So I was absolutely thrilled when I saw that she had released a new book. 

Just One Day was just as beautiful as Ms. Forman's previous novels. It was different, and it definitely wasn't as heartbreaking as her other work, but I loved it just the same. There is just something about the words and the way these stories are told that draws me in and changes how I see the world. I think I would be hard pressed to find someone who can weave such a thoroughly captivating story as Gayle Forman.

I loved that this book was centered on self-discovery and figuring out who you are. I loved "Lulu" and Willem. I loved having this tale of love and loss revolve around "the city of love". And most of all I loved the woman the Allyson grew into because of her experiences in Paris with Willem. In fact, I loved it all so much that I'm currently in the middle of the companion book, Just One Year. So read this!! That way, when I post about the next one, there won't be any spoiler alerts.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pivot Point by Kasie West

Release Date: February 12, 2013
Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.
Just reading the book blurb gives me chills. This is one of the very best books I've read all year.

Once upon a time,  about 15 years ago, there was a movie called Sliding Doors. It was about a woman who's life was split into two different outcomes based on whether or not she makes the subway on time. In the reality that she makes the subway, she gets home from work early enough to find that her boyfriend (fiancé?) is having an affair. She leaves him and the course of her life is forever changed. In the reality that she misses the subway, she gets home much, much later and is none the wiser. Anyway, there was a time when this was my very favorite movie. I think some of the reason I loved this book, Pivot Point, so much was because it appealed to the same part of me that is intrigued with the idea that small moments or decisions can change the course of our entire lives. I think the other part of the reason I loved it was because it was just a really fantastically written story.

There wasn't a single character in this book that I didn't like. (Which is uncommon for me!) I was drawn into their lives and their stories from the very first page. The ups and downs, twists and turns, intrigue, romance, and suspense of watching two different fates pan out was exhilarating. I loved everything about this book--even the very end when I had extremely mixed feelings, wanting things to tie up nicely in a bow. But really, when you have the ability to choose your future, can things NOT be messy?

You absolutely have to read this book. Scratch that. You absolutely have to BUY THIS BOOK. I'm not kidding when I say it's one of my favorites of the year. Maybe ever, actually. Yes, it was that good. Now what are you doing still reading this post???? GO GET THIS BOOK AND READ IT. NOW!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Blackmoore: A Proper Romance by Julianne Donaldson

Release Date: September 9, 2013
Kate Worthington knows her heart and she knows she will never marry. Her plan is to travel to India instead—if only to find peace for her restless spirit and to escape the family she abhors. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans. She makes a bargain with Kate: India, yes, but only after Kate has secured—and rejected—three marriage proposals.

Kate journeys to the stately manor of Blackmoore determined to fulfill her end of the bargain and enlists the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield. But when it comes to matters of love, bargains are meaningless and plans are changeable. There on the wild lands of Blackmoore, Kate must face the truth that has kept her heart captive. Will the proposal she is determined to reject actually be the one thing that will set her heart free?

Set in Northern England in 1820, Blackmoore is a Regency romance that tells the story of a young woman struggling to learn how to follow her heart. It is
Wuthering Heights meets Little Women with a delicious must-read twist.
I loved this book. Although it took me a little longer to get invested in this story than Ms. Donaldson's first book Edenbrooke (click HERE to read my review of it). But once I did, I was completely and utterly in love.
Yes, again.
I think the problem I had with this book to start was Kate. I didn't relate to her. It took time for me to connect with her character and learn to love her. What made all the difference for me was her interactions with Henry. Their friendship. The fact that he would do anything for her and truly cared about her--it made me care about her too.
Oh Henry. (Sigh.) 
[Funny, and SO far off the subject, but I say that phrase with a different kind of sigh about 18 times a day since my middle child is named Henry. Haha]
Back on track, I really loved Henry's character. It's interesting to me that I couldn't connect with Kate, but I connected with Henry immediately. I felt for him. Usually that happens the other way around for me. :)
I loved this story. It had everything I love in a romance and more. There were also twists in the story that I didn't expect which made it that much more awesome in my eyes. This is not only a MUST READ, it's also a definite MUST BUY. If you love romance, but want something without the heaving bosoms and rippling pectorals, with plenty of actual falling in love (minus the falling in bed), Julianne Donaldson delivers. She is fast becoming my absolute favorite romance writer. Read this!
Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Did You Know?

Did you know that the last post I did on here was my 300th post?? It's kind of crazy to me that I have reviewed even close to that many books these past few years.

Which got me thinking....

There's no way I can give this up.

I have been thinking about it for a few months now, trying to decide if I wanted to keep reviewing books. The past few months, I have had the awesome opportunity to intern for a literary agency reading, editing, and recommending (or not recommending....) YA manuscripts. I have loved it so far. And it's made me really, really miss blogging.

The last time you heard from me I was about 4 months pregnant with my third child, and tomorrow that little one will be 6 months old.

So I made an executive decision. It's time to quit dragging my feet. It's time to start blogging again! I'll be back to my Tuesdays and Thursdays schedule starting this coming Tuesday, October 15th. I have read so many great books since I last blogged. I'm excited to share them with you! (Although they won't be in any particular order--definitely not the order I read them in!) Enjoy!