Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review: Angel by Johanna Lindsey

Angel (Wyoming #3) by Johanna Lindsey

Release Date: April 3, 2001
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Adult, Romance, Western
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Goodreads • Amazon

Hoping to cool off a twenty-five-year-old feud between two neighboring families, Cassie Stuart only succeeds in pouring kerosene on the flames. Both sides have warned her to get out of Texas pronto. . .or they will burn her father's ranch to the ground. What Cassie needs is a peacemaker but she ends up with a widow-maker instead.

He is called Angel , a ruggedly handsome hired gun with eyes as black as sin. Unwanted and unwelcomed by his ungrateful employer, he would just as soon leave Cassie to fend for herself. But a stubborn sense of duty , and a desire to taste the sweetness of her kiss steels Angel's resolve to make Cassie want him, come hell or high water. . .and for more than his gun alone.

Disclaimer: I am shifting how I rate books. I typically stay within the 3-5 star range, but I have found that I need to widen the scope to allow for varying gradations of books.

Do you like westerns?

Do you like gunfights?

Do you like shotgun weddings?

If yes, this is the book for you!

The story of Angel and Cassie is definitely entertaining. There is never a dull moment in their relationship. From the moment he rides up to her ranch and her panther (yes, panther) spooks his horse, they are at odds. She is a willful woman and he is a stubborn man, and other than their ass-like personalities, they have little in common. But you know what they say about opposites attracting.... ;)

Angel is a gun for hire that is repaying a debt. A friend of his asks him to go down to Texas (Whoop!) to protect the daughter of a family friend. Cassandra Stuart is an independent young woman who just can't seem to stop meddling in other people's livesa quality that has gotten her into a serious amount of trouble. Due to her pertinent nature, two families are both coming for her head. She really should have just let the feud continue.

Angel isn't particularly fond of Cassie's iron will and would love to just leave her to fight off ten-or-so wrathful Texans, but his debt keeps him at her side. That, and the fact that she seems to grow more beautiful every time he sees her.

In a moment of stupidity and panic, Cassie declares that Angel is her fiancee to the two families, trying to conceal that he is a deadly gunfighter, and goes the extra-mile to prove it: she kisses him right then and there on her front porch.

He never stood a chance.

As Angel battles his growing attraction to her and Cassie tries to conceal her desire for him, they discover more and more about each other.... (That was an innuendo... just to be clear). Eventually, they simply cannot deny their mutual desire, and fate happens to put them in a position where they can act upon it....

Okay, I enjoyed the story, but there were a lot of idiosyncrasies that bothered the heck out of me! For one, the culture of the time was way-off. I'm no historian, but I do believe that Cassie's behavior was out of line for a woman in the early West. Don't get me wrongI love how independent she wasbut a lot of what she does simply wouldn't be tolerated.

And she has a panther. In 19th-century-Texas. And an elephant roams the grounds of her family's ranch in Wyoming. What the hell? The only explanation (granted, there are two books in the series before this one) is that she has an eccentric grandfather who travels the world and gave her a panther.

Um...thanks, grandpa?

And Angel! I don't object to him personally. Given his background, I understand why he acts the way he does. However, if he tried to pull a stunt with me like he did with Cassie, I would've shot him. End of story. He may be a loner, but he should try and have some decency on occasion!

I don't mean to detract from the storyit really was enjoyable; it just wasn't remarkable. I wouldn't reread it, but I don't regret reading it.

So take my review with a grain of salt. If you're interested in the premise, please, by all means, proceed with it! If nothing else, you can laugh at the historical inaccuracies! :)

About the Author

Johanna Lindsey is one of the world's most successful authors of historical romance. Every one of her previous novels has been a national bestseller, and several of her titles have reached the no. 1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list.

Ms. Lindsey lives in New England with her family.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

Fire & Flood (Fire & Flood #1) by Victoria Scott

Release Date: February 25, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Adventure
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Goodreads  Amazon

A modern day thrill ride, where a teen girl and her animal companion must participate in a breathtaking race to save her brother's life—and her own.

Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she's helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

First off, let me address something: Fire & Flood definitely has a Hunger Games vibe to it. There's a dangerous competition with only one winner that involves a perilous trek across treacherous landscapes. A sister competing to save her sibling (in this case, a brother). But, as far as I'm concerned, that's where the similarities end.

The Brimstone Bleed is no Hunger Games; all of its contestants are willing and they compete not for their lives, but for the lives of their sick loved ones. And it's not necessarily a fight to the death. Is it dangerous? Absolutely! But there's no direct barrier to everyone's survival in the Bleed. It may seem like a small shift, but it definitely gives a different feel. Sure, they all want to win over the other Contenders, but it's not about killing each otheras a result, alliances are more believable and it's easier to become attached to the characters Tella encounters on her journey.

Speaking of Tella... I kind of loved her. Granted, there were times I wanted to smack her—her priorities, on more than one occasion, were rather misaligned. But she felt so genuine. This is a teenage girl trying to come to terms with how she found herself in this situation. She's quirky, silly, often a little obnoxious. She loves her brother, and her entire family, fiercely, even if she's not always good at showing it. Tella is the kind of heroine I love, but people tend to bash. Imperfect and at the will of questionable teenage decision-making, her journey is not without stumbles. More than once, we hear about how much she misses makeup, clothes and looking pretty. She's often scared. She becomes rather attached to a boy and spends a lot of time thinking about him. But, seriously? I dare anyone criticizing this girl to actually claim they'd do better.

On the subject of boys... Oh my Guy. Mysterious? Check. Brooding? Check. Possibly dangerous? Check. Easy on eyes... Uh, yep. He's exactly the person I'd want on my side, and Tella certainly feels the same way. She's instantly fascinated. And who wouldn't be? Not only does he fit many of the characteristics we love about our book boys, but he seems to know a lot more about the Bleed than those around him. Guy may be the only way for Tella to make sure she not only survives but figure out just what she's found herself a part of. There's a lot more to be learned in this series, that's for sure.

But this brings me to what is, almost definitely, my favorite part of this concept: the Pandoras. Genetically modified animals that help their contenders through the Bleed. They. Are. Awesome. Especially Madox. I adore Madox. I want one, plain and simple.

The secondary characters Tella met along the way were also great: well-developed, diverse, and inspiring of sympathy. This is a tough situation for more than just Tella, and seeing the way the Bleed affects the different personalities really serves to round out the story.

At the core of all of this is the wonderful style of Victoria Scott herself. Her humor and flare is excellent and flawlessly transitions between the nail-biting scenes. More than once, I texted Izzy to share a particularly hilarious scene (Does that count as taunting? Quite possibly... Whoops...). It was certainly distinctive and this is what really set the book apart from similar stories. There are jokes and awkward blunders you certainly won't find in the Hunger Games, and I loved it!

My last comment on the comparison is that, to me, this is not a novel that can be classified as dystopian. This could be our world now; the premise of the story pretty much hinges on this occurring in our universe, just under the nose of everyday folk.Which makes it all the more disconcerting as you're reading, if you ask me.

Fire & Flood was a perfect mix of on-point humor, vibrant characters, and enthralling adventure! I'd definitely recommend this book to YA adventure fans. People who love dangerous quest stories. Even those just looking for a humor/adventure combo. This was a great read!

About the Author

Victoria Scott is a teen fiction writer represented by Sara Crowe. She's the author of the Fire & Flood series published by Scholastic, and the Dante Walker trilogy published by Entangled Teen. Her books have been bought and translated in eleven foreign markets including the UK, Turkey, China, Poland, Germany, Australia, Israel, Taiwan, Brazil, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.

Victoria lives in Dallas with her husband and hearts cotton candy something fierce.

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Review: Endless Knight by Kresley Cole

Endless Knight (The Arcana Chronicles #2) by Kresley Cole

Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Dystopian, Adventure
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Goodreads • Amazon

In this seductive follow-up to Poison Princess, #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole takes us deeper into the dark world of the Arcana Chronicles.

Shocking secrets

Evie has fully come into her powers as the Tarot Empress, and Jack was there to see it all. She now knows that the teens who’ve been reincarnated as the Tarot are in the throes of an epic battle. It’s kill or be killed, and the future of mankind hangs in the balance.

Unexpected allies

With threats lurking around every corner, Evie is forced to trust her newfound alliance. Together they must fight not only other Arcana, but also Bagmen zombies, post-apocalyptic storms, and cannibals.

Gut-wrenching treachery

When Evie meets Death, things get even more complicated. Though falling for Jack, she’s drawn to the dangerous Endless Knight as well. Somehow the Empress and Death share a history, one that Evie can’t remember—but Death can’t forget…

He made the sign of the cross.

He made the sign of the cross when he saw what she was. Evie tries not to let it hurt her, his sign of revulsion, but it's difficult. She's in love with him, and she knows it. A part of her hoped that he would accept herregardless of her true naturebut that seems impossible now.

The cat is out of the bag now, so to speak. Jack knows everything: he knows that Evie has supernatural powers. He knows that she and their companions are part of a much larger game. He knows that she's a killer. He knows that this is no longer "his party."

And he knows he still wants Evie.

As the odd man out in their hodgepodge group, Jackson Deveaux immediately returns to his brooding nature. And Evie is going out of her mind thinking that he hates her.

The gang continues their journey to find her grandmotherEvie's last hope at learning how to play the game to end it. As they travel, their purpose is revealed; alliances are formed; secrets are uncovered.

And Death is on their heels.

More specifically, Evie's heels. For some inexplicable reason, Death is obsessed with her. And she gets the feeling that it is not because of the game. Something has happened between them in the past. She can't remember what, and he can't help but to.

But now she's in his grasp. And she can't deny her attraction to him.... There is something so eternalinevitableabout them.

I want to start by saying: I got a lot of grief for the cover of this novel. I pretty much spent all my classes reading (don't worry, my classes were boring), and all my friends laughed at the vampire-esque cover photo. It was pretty funny in retrospect, but at the time I was slightly mortified and took extra care to conceal the cover. Yes, I know I could have taken it off, but I didn't want to rip the cover either.

But it was a great conversation starter!

"Elizabeth, are you reading a vampire romance?"
"No! It's about Tarot Cards and an apocalypse. And there are zombies. And now they have to form an alliance and ohmygawd they're having sex right now! What is going on?!"
"Wait reallycan I see?!"

These are mostly guys I'm talking to. So enjoy that image of me getting a few guys to hold a book with that cover. I was so proud and should have gotten a photo.

Downside, though? I was definitely blushing in the middle of classso people knew. And a few probably thought I was reading Fifty Shades of Grey.

But how did I feel about this novel?

In a word: confused. I mean, I liked it. I definitely was engrossed by it. But I cannot sort out my particular feelings about it.

I still love the characters! Matthew and Finn are my homeboyza true bromance! And I especially love the teenage girls and their dynamics. They are so ridiculously catty and it brings me great joy to watch them all but scratch each other's eyes out.

And, to an extent, it is a fairly accurate representation of teenage girls' behavior when it comes to boys.

Aaaand now it's time for my rant! Buckle up, ladies and gentlemenI have a lot to say!

So remember when I said that I thought I could tolerate Evie as a person? Yeah, I withdraw that statement. She skipped past stupid and landed right on dumbass for this round.

I have a strong suspicion that Evie is the kind of girl who can't help but be in a relationshipwhich is impressive and unfortunate, given her apocalyptic setting. There is slim pickings in the After Flash world, but boy, does she know how to pick 'em!

Spoiler alert: she is definitely experiencing major Stockholm Syndrome, and I want nothing more than to slap her and isolate her from all men. She just cannot seem to make a rational decision. And she is attracted to terrible qualities in men: like possessiveness. I am not talking about jealousy, that is fineyou do you Jackson and Deathbut I am talking about how both of her suitors seem to view her as an object to be coveted rather than a person to be loved. And I strongly disagree with that notion and don't think that this view of "what love should be" should be perpetuated for young(er) readers. Both men are vindictive and manipulative and I don't think they should be presented as desirable.

Also, I am sorely tempted to tag this as "Raunchy Reads with Izzy." This bookI don't know howtook a sharp left turn and somehow ended up with semi-explicit sex. Which, I do not mean to demonize sexit is a perfectly natural and enjoyable part of human lifebut I am disconcerted by it being depicted this way in a YA novel.

To be perfectly honest, I don't know how I feel about it. I think it wouldn't have bothered me, had it not been tied to an unhealthy representation of a relationship.

Also, the age difference between Death and Evie weirds me out. I don't mean the fact that he's about a millennia older than her, I mean that he is 23 and she is 17. Give her three years, Death, and I might feel better about you.

Okay, rant done.

I did enjoy this book. But you all know how particular I am about romance and the representation of what is a healthy relationship. The plot itself is interesting, though, and I definitely recommend you guys read this series!

Until next time, my loves!

About the Author

Kresley Cole is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Immortals After Dark paranormal series and the young adult Arcana Chronicles. Her books have been translated into many foreign languages, garnered three RITA awards, and consistently appear on the bestseller lists in the U.S. and abroad.

Before becoming a writer, Cole was a world-ranked athlete, coach, and graduate student. She has traveled over much of the world and draws from those experiences to create her memorable characters and settings. Two of her favorite places to visit include the rain forests of Central America and the Far North Queensland area of Australia (where, by the way, she would not recommend swimming outside of the stinger nets–at night).

Cole lives in Florida with her family and “far too many animals.” She spends any free time traveling and enjoys all things related to boats and water.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Review: Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles #1) by Kresley Cole

Release Date: July 9, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Dystopian, Romance
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Goodreads • Amazon

She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life—until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, killing everyone she loves, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally trust Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side…

In Poison Princess, New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces a dark and intriguing world, full of unspeakable danger and irresistible romance.

About a week into Evie's sophomore year, the world is all but destroyed by the great cosmic event called "The Flash." The night where the sun shone and the Earth was scorched. After the Flash, life is brutal; civilization is slipping away as people struggle to survive in this barren, new landscape. With no water, no plants, and the zombie-like bagmen that sate their insatiable thirst with human blood, things are looking pretty grim for the once-queen-bee Evangeline Greene.

Sure, she had seen the events of the Flash before they had occurred, had noticed how plants seem to beckon at her command, but she thought she had been insane! With voices in her head and survival on her mind, Evie sets out with the bad boy of her school, Jackson Deveaux, to find some answers.

Will romance blossom in this desert land?

The answer is yes. Yes it will. Be forewarned, my short synopsis does not even begin to cover all of the intricacies of this plot.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I thought the plot was interesting and am eager to see where it goesI've already lined up The Endless Knight (book #2) for me to read when I get the chance. I know nothing about tarot cards, however, so there may be inaccuracies in the plot. I'm sure the author would fact-check, but you know, sometimes they get creative with known truths.

I do have to say, though, that it took me a while to get into the story. I felt like the first third of the book was filler. Granted, it gave you context with the characters (such as Evie and Jack's standing relationship and events leading up to the Flash), but I felt that it could've moved faster. Also, the way it is written was hard for me to wrap my head around. It had something to do with the syntax, but I can't pinpoint exactly what it was. Maybe it was just the fact that it is narrated by a teenage girl and I am losing touch with my inner teenager? I don't know, BUT, the last half of the novel was really enrapturing! I stayed up until 1:00 AM to finish it (I am a grandma at heart, so my bed time floats around 10:00 usually)!

Now let's get into the characters, because you all know how I love to pick them apart!

This girl has a crap-ton of issues, and I'm not just talking about the voices in her head and her weird powers. Sometimes, I think she is too naive to be true. And it can get super infuriating. But that is the author's call, of course. I understand why Cole wants Evie to be perceived as innocent and helpless, so that her growth as a character is more prominent, but sometimes I think it borders on the irrational. That being said, Evie is probably one of he few heroines that I think I'd be able to tolerate in person. For the most part (again voices and powers aside) she is a normal teenage girl. I can deal with normal teenage girls, just not "the destiny of the world rests in my hands, so let's go jump off of a building" kind of girls. I'm talking to you, Tris Prior. You are dumb some most of the time. If nothing else, I feel like I would keep Evie in line and talk her out of doing stupid things. But, to be fair, she is a little over sixteen, and I did some pretty dumb stuff when I was that age. Hell, if I were in her shoesnot sure if I were insane or notI probably would have caved in after a few months.

Jack is the classic bad boy that makes all the good girls swoon. Myself included some of the times. Other times, I would slap his backward, sexist ways right out of him. However, I'd like to think that I would be more physically competent than Evie is; so I would be justified in my slapping his beautiful face. Jackson "Jack" Deveaux is an enigma to me. His moods fluctuate faster than his sixteen-year-old girl companion, and it leaves me dizzy at times. I just cannot keep up with him. And neither can Evie, for that matter. So obviously, we both get frustrated with him.

He is a large, competent, and, not to mention, sexy boy, who is wrapped up in so many insecurities around Evie. He seems stuck on the idea that, just because she came from a wealthier family, she is always looking down her nose at him. Which is not true. At all. At least, not after the Flash. I can honestly say that his insecurities are probably my biggest pet peeve. Granted, Evie is not the best communicator. If I were Evie, I would've had a long chat with him a while ago about where I stand and how I feel, but I think that would be too rational of a move for the plot to bear.

She comes in later, and I just have to say this: the reader's perception of her is definitely biased. I actually like her and I just think she is in an unfortunate situation. Both Jack and Evie are unfair to her, and that makes me sympathize with her brusque nature.

Those are the three I wanted to cover, but obviously there are more and they are awesome/not-so-awesome! I am pretty excited to see where Cole is taking this story after how this novel ended, and I hope I can read it soon!

I would suggest you guys read it; just know you have to stick with it for it to get good!

About the Author

Kresley Cole is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Immortals After Dark paranormal series and the young adult Arcana Chronicles. Her books have been translated into many foreign languages, garnered three RITA awards, and consistently appear on the bestseller lists in the U.S. and abroad.

Before becoming a writer, Cole was a world-ranked athlete, coach, and graduate student. She has traveled over much of the world and draws from those experiences to create her memorable characters and settings. Two of her favorite places to visit include the rain forests of Central America and the Far North Queensland area of Australia (where, by the way, she would not recommend swimming outside of the stinger nets–at night).

Cole lives in Florida with her family and “far too many animals.” She spends any free time traveling and enjoys all things related to boats and water.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cover Reveal: All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

All Lined Up (Rusk University #1) by Cora Carmack

Release Date: May 13, 2014
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Pages: 320
Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • iTunes

In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That's what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn't always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It's obliterated.

Dallas doesn't know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn't know that Dallas is his new coach's daughter.

And neither of them knows how to walk away from the attraction they feel.

“Laughter + heartache + hot sexual tension = the perfect Cora Carmack book.”
—Monica Murphy

About the Author

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her lifeboring jobs (like working retail), fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, Losing It, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Cover Reveal: Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer

Sacrifice (Elemental #5) by Brigid Kemmerer

Release Date: September 30, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Pages: 432
Goodreads  Amazon  B&N  Book Depository
iTunes  IndieBound

One misstep and they lose it all. For the last time.

Michael Merrick is used to pressure.

He’s the only parent his three brothers have had for years. His power to control Earth could kill someone if he miscalculates. Now an Elemental Guide has it out for his family, and he’s all that stands in the way.

His girlfriend, Hannah, gets that. She’s got a kid of her own, and a job as a firefighter that could end her life without a moment’s notice.

But there are people who have had enough of Michael’s defiance, his family’s “bad luck.” Before he knows it, Michael’s enemies have turned into the Merricks’ enemies, and they’re armed for war.

They’re not interested in surrender. But Michael isn’t the white flag type anyway. There will be blood on the ground tonight…

About the Author

Brigid Kemmerer was born in Omaha, Nebraska, though her parents quickly moved her all over the United States, from the desert in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the lakeside in Cleveland, Ohio, and several stops in between, eventually settling near Annapolis, Maryland. Brigid started writing in high school, and her first real “novel” was about four vampire brothers causing a ruckus in the suburbs. Those four brothers are the same boys living in the pages of The Elemental Series, so Brigid likes to say she’s had four teenage boys taking up space in her head for the last seventeen years.(Though sometimes that just makes her sound nuts.)

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Spotlight: Take a Chance by Abbi Glines

Take a Chance (Chances #1, Rosemary Beach #6) by Abbi Glines

Release Date: February 25, 2014
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 288
Publisher: Atria Books (Simon & Schuster)
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From #1 New York Times bestselling author Abbi Glines comes the story of Grant, the sexy playboy who first captured readers’ hearts in Fallen Too Far.

When Harlow Manning’s rocker father goes on tour, he sends her to Rosemary Beach, Florida, to live with her half-sister, Nan. The problem: Nan despises her. Harlow has to keep her head down if she wants to get through the next nine months, which seems easy enough. Until gorgeous Grant Carter walks out of Nan’s room in nothing but his boxer briefs.

Grant made a huge mistake getting involved with a girl with venom in her veins. He’d known about Nan’s reputation, but still he couldn’t resist her. Nothing makes him regret the fling more than meeting Harlow, who sends his pulse racing. Yet Harlow wants nothing to do with a guy who could fall for her wicked half-sister—even if there are no strings between Grant and Nan. Grant is desperate to redeem himself in Harlow’s eyes, but did he ruin his chances before he even met her?

About the Author

Abbi Glines is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Rosemary Beach, Sea Breeze, Vincent Boys, and Existence series. A devoted booklover, Abbi lives with her family in Alabama.

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Blog Tour + Review: Scintillate by Tracy Clark

Scintillate (The Light Key Trilogy #1) by Tracy Clark

Release Date: February 4, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: 304
Format: eBook
Source: Review Copy from Netgalley
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A mighty flame follows a tiny spark.

Cora Sandoval’s mother disappeared when she was five and they were living in Ireland. Since then, her dad has been more than overprotective, and Cora is beginning to chafe under his confines. But even more troubling is the colorful light she suddenly sees around people. Everyone, that is, except herself—instead, she glows a brilliant, sparkling silver.

As she realizes the danger associated with these strange auras, Cora is inexplicably drawn to Finn, a gorgeous Irish exchange student who makes her feel safe. Their attraction is instant, magnetic, and primal—but her father disapproves, and Finn’s mother orders him home to Ireland upon hearing he’s fallen in love. After a fight with her father, Cora flees to Ireland, both to follow Finn and to look for her missing mother.

There she meets another silver-haloed person and discovers the meaning of her newfound powers and their role in a conspiracy spanning centuries—one that could change mankind forever…and end her life.

Scintillate had really intriguing fantasy elements for me. The idea of seeing auras was something I haven't read a lot of, and the back story concerning what Cora is definitely kept me interested and guessing. The whole concept was definitely different from things I've read before, especially the connection to Ireland. Although this has yet to be fully explained (it's only the first book, after all), it was a great element added to the story.

As a character, Cora fell into the mid-ground for me. There were times I really liked her: she strives for independence and is unfailingly curious. But other other times she'd make a decision that was just...far too questionable for my tastes. There also wasn't much more to her character in this first book. So she averaged into the middle, because I definitely didn't hate her, but I seriously questioned her judgement more than once and felt like so much of her wasn't defined.

And, of course, there's Finn. He's kind of a jack-of-all-trades. Sweet, mysterious, attractive, musically-inclined, and accented. While he felt like a pretty solid male counterpart for Cora and definitely held his appeal, there was also just something that felt off about him. and then, getting to the end, you find out why. As far as their romance goes, it fell into a grey area because, while it's definitely insta-love, there's a reasoning for it that's part of the plot.So I didn't hate it by any means, but there were certainly a few conversations that were a liiittle too intense, considering their circumstances.

Anyway, it was really the story that pulled me in. There's a lot of intricacy to this world that has yet to even be fully realized. The Irish and historical elements are there, but by the end there's even vaguely scientific pieces. It certainly kept me on my toes. And, despite my little hang ups, I really did feel for the characters. The ending was shocking and sad, and I definitely plan on reading the second book when it comes out.

So, as far as story line, Scintillate was a winner. The romance was a lit rough and pushy but not too hard to look past at the important parts. This is a solid, unique YA paranormal that will certainly keep you guessing!

Book Trailer


Tour Schedule

Week One:

2/3/2014 - Spare Reads - Review
2/3/2014 - Flutters and Flails - Review
2/3/2014 - Imaginary Reads - Guest Post
2/4/2014 - Bookshelf Reviews - Review
2/4/2014 - The Little Pink Book Boutique - Review
2/4/2014 - Auggie-Talk - Excerpt
2/5/2014 - Ficwishes - Review
2/5/2014 - Book briefs - Guest Post
2/5/2014 - Jump Into Books - Excerpt
2/6/2014 - Watcha Reading - Review
2/6/2014 - Fade Into Fantasy - Interview
2/6/2014 - Curling Up With A Good Book - Excerpt
2/7/2014 - All in a Book - Review
2/7/2014 - Addicted Readers - Guest Post
2/7/2014 - Fantasy Book Addict - Interview

Week Two:

2/10/2014 - The Demon Librarian - Review
2/10/2014 - Cyndyrene - Review
2/10/2014 - Stephanie Keyes - Guest Post
2/11/2014 - BiblioJunkies - Review
2/11/2014 - Fire and Ice - Interview
2/11/2014 - Mom With A Kinde - Guest Post
2/12/2014 - Curse of the Bibliophile - Review
2/12/2014 - Such a Novel Idea - Interview
2/12/2014 - Mythical Books - Excerpt
2/13/2014 - The Girl Bookaholic - Review
2/13/2014 - Sabrina's Paranormal Palace - Review
2/13/2014 - Library of a Book Witch - Excerpt
2/14/2014 - Fiddle Fadle - Review
2/14/2014 - Books Are Magic - Review
2/14/2014 - Page Turners Blog - Interview

About the Author

Tracy Clark is a young-adult writer because she believes teens deserve to know how much they matter and that regardless of what they’re going through, they aren’t alone. In other words, she writes books for her teen self.

She grew up a “Valley Girl” in Southern California but now lives in her home state of Nevada, in a small town at the base of the Sierra Foothills. Her two children teach her the art of distraction and are a continuous source of great dialogue. She’s an unapologetic dog person who is currently owned by a cat. Tracy was the recipient of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Work in Progress Grant. A two-time participant in the prestigious Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program where she was lucky enough to be mentored by bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins, who taught her so much about the art of writing and cured her of her ellipsis addiction.

Her debut novel was inspired by her enchantment with metaphysics as a teen, seeing it as the real magic in life. Tracy is a part-time college student, a private pilot, and an irredeemable dreamer.

Website   •   Blog   •   Goodreads   •   Facebook   •   Twitter

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Review: The Vampire and the Virgin by Kerrelyn Sparks

The Vampire and the Virgin (Love at Stake #8) by Kerrelyn Sparks

Release Date: March 9, 2010
Genre: Adult, Romance, Paranormal
Publisher: Avon
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Goodreads  Amazon
(3 out of 5)

Olivia's packing list:
1. Sunscreen
2. Bathing suit
3. Flip-flops

FBI psychologist Olivia Sotiris was looking for a cool ocean breeze, sand between her toes, and a break from her crazy, chaotic, and sometimes all-too-dangerous life. But when she escaped to the small Greek island of Patmos, all she got were meddling grandmothers trying to marry her off. Can't they see that none of the men around interests her—except Robby MacKay?

Robby's packing list:
1. Synthetic blood
2. More synthetic blood
3. Jogging clothes
(even vamps have to stay in shape!)

Robby needs to cool off, too, since all he can think about is revenge on the Malcontent bloodsuckers who once held him captive—but then he meets Olivia, the beauty with wild curls and a tempting smile. When a deadly criminal from a case back home tracks her down, Robby will have to save her life—along with giving her a first time she'll never forget . . .

Kerrelyn Sparks’s Love at Stake series continues with The Vampire and the Virgin—as a battle-weary immortal finds true love while on a well-deserved vacation. Funny, dark, and sexy, this eighth paranormal romance from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author is proof (O) positive that Sparks is going stronger than ever! Charlaine Harris/Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood aficionados will eat this one up. No time is better than now to drink in the heat and the humor of Kerrelyn Sparks—and to learn why Lynsay Sands (of the Argeneau vampire family novels fame) calls Sparks, “An absolute delight!”

So, I feel like it's necessary to describe the process of how I choose these novels. It's simple, really: I go into Half-Price with Emily and we go to the Romance section and pick the most ridiculous titles and/or covers. This one was both. I mean, how could I avoid that cover/title? It practically sang to me!

Like most of these novels, I was pleasantly surprised that it had a coherent and somewhat captivating plot. That wasn't meant to be a shaded insult...but that's what it sounds like—sorry! But really, it wasn't that bad. I mean—I was blushing for about half of it (it doesn't take much to make me blush—hell, I don't even have to be embarrassed or flustered to blush), but it was pretty entertaining.

Robby MacKay falls in love with the saucy and independent Olivia Sotiris, a FBI agent. He is soulless ginger. He is sexy. And he is a 300 year-old creature of the night. Who would've guessed?

Olivia, as aforementioned, is an FBI agent. However, she has a special ability: she's an empath. She is able to tell when someone is lying and, in general, what emotions they are feeling. But for some inexplicable (coughhe'sdeadcough) reason, her abilities do not work on the oh-so-sexy Robby. Can she love someone blindly? Of course she can! That's the entire point of this book!

Anyway, they meet on the Greek island of Patmos and almost instantly fall in love. But as fate would have it, before they can fully consummate their eternal love for one another, a serial killer who is obsessed with Olivia forces her to flee from Patmos. The (hardly) star crossed lovers are separated for close to a month before they are able to contact each other again. As their long-distance relationship grows more serious, Robby feels the weight of his lie profoundly. Can he tell her what he is and still keep her?

Okay, so I don't know all the vampire lore, but I'm pretty sure this book took a few liberties. And some of the logistics just don't add up. Emily, I expect your bulls@$t-science detector would go haywire and you would look like this for about 33.3333% of the story:

But I also didn't realize this novel was part of a series, so maybe things have been explained earlier on. I'll give Sparks the benefit of the doubt on that one.

But yeah, this actually was a decent plot. It could be cheesy at times, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Well...I get squeamish pretty easily, so I was super uncomfortable during parts. But that is a personal thing.

I can't say I have a long narrative about this book, though. It was entertaining, and that was about it for me. If nothing else, I recommend you read it for that title. I mean, how could you not read it? It says exactly what it's about!

I'm sorry I don't have more to say about it; I really wish I could offer you guys more of a review, but I'm just at a loss for words about it.

Love ya, darlings!

About the Author

Kerrelyn Sparks’ first paranormal romance, How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire, zoomed out of the bat cave so fast it became Borders bestselling debut romance of 2005. Each book in the Love at Stake series has become a USA Today bestseller. When the fourth book, The Undead Next Door, landed on the New York Times bestseller list, even the Undead sat up and took notice, which made Kerrelyn a bit nervous. She lives in the Greater Houston area with her husband, children, and a house full of garlic. So far, there are no vampires in her family. Werewolves are another matter entirely.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Release Date: August 7, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 404
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased and Well-Loved by Reviewer
Goodreads • Amazon

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass  and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

It just felt so wrong to not have a review for this masterpiece!

Celaena Sardothien was sent to the Salt Mines of Endovier to die. As if anything could kill her so easily. A year later, the Crown Prince and the Captain of the Guard raise her out of her slavery with a proposition: compete to become the King’s Champion and win your freedom or be sent back to the brutal mines.

She is an assassin. She has been betrayed. She has been beaten and brutalized. But she will never break.

Celeana must compete against twenty-three other prospective champions in order to win the title of King’s Champion. Along the way, champions begin to be horrifically murdered. There is a darkness that lurks in the Glass Castle of Adarlan, and she must seek it out before she becomes its prey.

She must fight to become the slave of the man she hates most. She must serve him for four years until she can be the one thing that she has never been before: free. Nothing will get in her way. After all, she’s Adarlan’s Assassin, and people still whisper when they mention her name.

I don’t know if you guys realize this, but I am completely smitten with this series and author. Smitten is probably putting it mildly; it’s more like unhealthily obsessed.

This is probably my fifth time to read this novel, and I became just as engrossed in it as I was the first time I ever read it. It never gets old and it’s always entertaining.

You guys should know that my standards for YA novels, and sometimes novels in general, are based off of this series. When I say I love a strong female protagonist, I mean Celaena Sardothien. When I say I love adventure, I mean Celaena’s adventures. When I say I don’t particularly like romance, but can appreciate it when it’s done properly, I mean this is how you do it and win my heart forever. I don’t think I can adequately express my love and admiration for this book and its author. In some ways they have both shaped who I am today. Is that cheesy? Just a tad. I might be getting swept away by my fangirling, but it feels true nonetheless.

For all of you who love YA for the endearing romance, this book has plenty for you. And the series will have even more! Yes, I’m actually excited about that, because I happen to be in love with all of the characters. When I do get into romance, I’m like every one else: I protect my preferred pairing with a savage aggression. However, in this novel/series, I simply cannot do that. You see, I love Celaena (and the boys too, but you’ll see what I mean). And no matter how many relationships she has, I will love that man just as much as she does. And when her heart breaks, mine will break with hers. Celaena doesn’t go into relationships half-hearted, so it’s impossible for me to prefer one guy to another—simply because, she loves everyone she’s ever loved.

Wow. That was convoluted. I need to break away from that now.

Let’s talk about Celaena and the awesomeness that is she. Celaena has been trained to be an assassin since she was eight. And she is the best. By far. Hands down. The best. She is beautiful, she is intelligent, she is witty and she is loyal, despite her being an assassin. Oh, and she can kill a man with a hairpin. Basically, if I had to choose a literary character to be, I would choose Celaena. Even knowing the pain and sorrow she has suffered already and having a tentative idea of what new torments will come to her, I would still choose her. Sure, she’s arrogant—but she has every right to be.

I fell in love with her over five years ago. You guys will fall in love with her from the first chapter.

Are you guys sold yet?

There is magic. It’s a tentative thing in the first book, but it will grow as the series continues.

There is fate. You know that Celaena had a life long ago that she is desperate to hide from, but the past will come back to her in due time.

There are beautiful men. Dorian, the Crown Prince, is your classic heartthrob. He will charm you out of your shoes, before you even know it. And Chaol, the Captain of the Guard, is the man every girl (hyperbolic speech) should want to marry. He is brooding, but he is hilarious. And there will be more.

Speaking of men; Sam Cortland, from the Throne of Glass prequel novellas, should be given a nod. Oh Sam, I loved you so dearly. Thank you for being Celaena’s first and great love. You changed her for the better. You made her the woman she is today.

I can’t convince you guys more than this. Please go read this series. It is definitely worth it. It’s well written and captivating.

But before you read Throne of Glass, I strongly urge you to read the prequel novellas. You can buy them separately for Kindle, or you can buy the newly released, bound composition, The Assassin’s Blade. Either way you should read them. Here’s the list in chronological order:

The Assassin and the Pirate Lord
The Assassin and the Desert
The Assassin and the Underworld
The Assassin and the Empire

And if you decide that you can’t get enough of Throne of Glass, don’t worry—Crown of Midnight is already out! And I speculate that we won’t have to wait too long (under a year, I mean) for the third installment, Heir of Fire.

So get to it, chickadees!

About the Author

I’m a 25 year-old YA fantasy author living in the desert in Southern California. My debut novel, Throne of Glass, was published by Bloomsbury Children’s in August, 2012. Book Two – Crown of Midnight – was released in August 2013.

I was born/raised in Manhattan, but traded freezing winters and sweltering summers for No Winter Ever Weather when I followed my then-boyfriend (now husband!) out to California in 2008. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College with a degree in Creative Writing, and a minor in Religious Studies. I’m represented by Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency.

Website   •   Goodreads   •   Facebook   •   Twitter