Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Review: Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore

Just Like the Movies
Author:  Kelly Fiore
Publisher:  Walker Books for Young Readers, 300 pages
Publication Date:  July 22, 2014
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson.

Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend.

While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques?

Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.

Just Like the Movies is a cute fun read about love, friendship, and growing up.  I loved the movie references (Say Anything, When Harry Met Sally, Never Been Kissed, Sixteen Candles, etc.) and both of the main characters are likable and relatable.  The story is told from alternating POVs.  There's Marijke, the track star who has a boyfriend, but he's never told her that he loves her and she's very insecure about their relationship.  Her whole life revolves around him (she hasn't even picked a college yet because she's waiting to see what his plans are), but his life does not revolve around her.  Then there's Lily, who's smart and sarcastic, but she feels invisible and really doesn't have any close friends.  She has a crush on Joe, a motocross guy.

The best part about this book is not really the romance, but the friendship that develops between Marijke and Lily.  Although I liked both of them, I didn't really like the guys (although there are some awwww moments).  Part of me thought that Marijke was being pretty psycho, constantly thinking that Tommy was cheating on her and wanting him to make her his number one priority, but another part of me thought he just wasn't that into her.  So I wasn't sure if I should even be rooting for their relationship.  And with Joe, I didn't feel like I got to know him well enough. But the book did send positive messages about being yourself, the importance of friendship, and not making a guy the number one most important thing in your life.  

In the end, a fun rom-com with some unexpected insights.

Posted by:  Pam

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review: Idols (Icons #2) by Margaret Stohl

Idols (Icons #2)
Author:  Margaret Stohl
Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 432 pages
Publication Date:  July 8, 2014

From Goodreads:
The Icons came from the sky. They belong to an inhuman enemy. They ended our civilization, and they can kill us.

Most of us.

Dol, Ro, Tima, and Lucas are the four Icon Children, the only humans immune to the Icon's power to stop a human heart. Now that Los Angeles has been saved, things are more complicated - and not just because Dol has to choose between Lucas and Ro, the two great loves of her life. As she flees to a resistance outpost hidden beneath a mountain, Dol makes contact with a fifth Icon Child, if only through her visions. When Dol and the others escape to Southeast Asia in search of this missing child, Dol's dreams, feelings and fears collide in an epic showdown that will change more than just four lives -- and stop one heart forever.


Although I enjoyed Idols, this one didn't really work for me.  I still find the premise intriguing, but there was so much focus on the plot that the character development was lacking.  For example, in the beginning of book 1, we know Ro has a temper and he loves Dol.  At the end of book 2, what do we know about Ro?  That he has a temper and he loves Dol.  And Tima, who had so much potential to be a fantastic character, barely does anything in this book.  Lucas and Dol's relationship sort of progresses, but none of the characters ever really talk to each other.  And there is down time, where they could have conversations, but they don't, which led me to feel so disconnected to the characters, I didn't really care what happened to them.

And to be honest, they just travel from one place to another place so in a way, nothing really happens.  We learn a bit more about the aliens, but not much.  In the end, this was pretty bland and a bit dull.

Posted by:  Pam

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book News: No Sequel to All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Some of you probably already know this, but for those who don't, on July 21, 2014, Cristin Terrill posted that there will not be a sequel to All Our Yesterdays.  According to her, she wrote the first draft and it was terrible, and as she kept revising, the book just wouldn't come together and she decided that her sequel idea just wasn't meant to be a book and that it would be better to have no sequel than a bad sequel.  Click here for the post.  I absolutely loved All Our Yesterdays and I would have loved to read a sequel, but it ended in a good place, I think.  Click here for our review.

She also wrote that there will be an e-novella published in fall of 2014.  On July 22, 2014, she posted a scene that takes place about nine months after the end of All Our Yesterdays.  And it's from Finn's POV!! Click here to read it. So even though I'm sad that there won't be a sequel, we still have more of Marina and Finn to look forward to!

Posted by:  Pam

Monday, July 28, 2014

Book Review: The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas

The Perilous Sea (The Elemental Trilogy #2)
Author:  Sherry Thomas
Publisher:  Balzer + Bray, 414 pages
Expected Publication Date:  September 16, 2014

From Goodreads:
After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.

This is one of my favorite fantasy series and here's why:
1.  A girl who has to pretend to be a guy and not only that, she's popular as a guy, one of the star cricket players.

2.  Fantastic secondary characters.  In this book, we get to know some of the students at Eton College even better.  There's so much depth to their characters.

3.  Swoony romance.  I love Titus and Iolanthe together.  They have such great chemistry.  And in this second book, the author has come up with a creative way to keep their relationship fresh.  You know how a lot of times, in second books, there's the dreaded new love interest, or the couple is kept apart and you don't even see them together?  That does not happen here.  Repeat, no love triangle, and they are together the whole book, but at the same time, their relationship is new. I know that's vague, but hopefully I've piqued your interest.  

4.  Fast-paced, incredible world-building, interesting plot.  There are two timelines and each chapter alternates between them.  It worked really well and each chapter has a cliffhanger ending so there was literally no way I could put this book down.  

I cannot recommend this series enough, I am madly in love with it.  
READ IT!!!!!!!

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (55)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!  It is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Pam's Weekly Haul
Dissonance by Erica O'Rourke
Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard
Endless by Kate Brian

From the Library:
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner 
From NetGalley:
Midnight Dawn by Jocelyn Adams
Loop by Karen Akins

What books did you add to your shelves this week?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Discussion Question: LGB Characters

I have recently finished City of Heavenly Fire, the last book in the Mortal Instruments series, and I find myself completely satisfied for many reasons.  One of the primary ones, is that most of the characters get to live happily ever after and every single secondary character of importance has resolution, a few fairy tale endings and a few bittersweet.  I have been particularly interested in the relationships in this series between Alex and Magnus and between Helen and Aline and the storyline built around Shadowhunter culture accepting LGB members of their society. 
I wonder why Cassandra Clare decided to introduce this storyline and so many LGB characters into this series.  If anyone knows I would love some insight.  I was also wondering how these characters and relationships make you feel towards the book and if they influence who you would recommend the book to?  I personally think it’s a great way to get readers to think critically about their own biases toward the LGB community and the passage of laws that limit or deny basic rights.

Posted By Sheri

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Help! Library Books: Read or Return?

In the past year, I've read a lot of books from the library, which has really helped to defray book costs.  With library books, I tend to pick up books I wouldn't necessarily buy because I figure if I start reading it and I don't like it, no big deal.  But that also means that I have many library books that I just keep renewing because I don't read them.  There are generally other books that I'm more excited to read and library books tend to get pushed down the TBR list in terms of priority.  So below are five library books that I've had for awhile and I'm wondering:  read or return?  

If you've read any of these, let me know if it was good or not worth reading.  I need help!

Posted by:  Pam

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review: Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

Mortal Danger (The Immortal Games #1)
Author:  Ann Aguirre
Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends, 384 pages
Expected Publication Date:  August 5, 2014
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn't imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She's not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he's impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes, and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly... bad things are happening. It's a heady rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil's bargains, she isn't sure who—or what--she can trust. Not even her own mind...

Let me start by telling you that I loved Ann Aguirre's Razorland series, but Mortal Danger just didn't work for me.  The premise was fairly interesting, but it just felt like so much was going on, with the author shuffling too many ideas at once, leading to it feeling very disjointed.  There's the revenge sub-plot along with the high school drama, all of the different supernatural type groups, and urban legends and monsters.  And then there was the romance.  Never was feeling the romance, which was rushed.  I wanted to, but it was just meh, with no tension between the two.  Part of it was due to Kian, who was rather bland.  The plot was definitely dark and twisty and I was surprised, with the author killing off people left and right.  The book had potential, but the execution was lacking.

Posted by:  Pam

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Who I Want With Me On A Deserted Island

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

So who would we like to be on a deserted island with.....

Sheri's Picks:
1. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games.  I will never go hungry.
2. Lola Nolan from Lola and The Boy Next Door.  I will be well dressed.
3. Cinder and Iko from Cinder.  I will always be entertained and I will have a mechanic.
4. Lena Duchanees from Beautiful Creatures.  I will have a little magical help.
5. Gwyneth Shepherd from Ruby Red.  Hopefully she will have her chronograph and get us off the island every now and again.

Pam's Picks:
1.  Perry from Under the Never Sky series.  He would be able to make a fire, hunt and cook for me, find shelter, etc.  Oh yeah, and he's hot.
2.  Adrian from the Bloodlines series.  Although Adrian's pretty useless (he likes the creature comforts of life), he would be very entertaining. Also, he would be able to heal me with his spirit magic if I got hurt.  Oh yeah, and he's hot.
3.  Raffe from Angelfall and World After.  Raffe is a warrior so he could take care of me (fight off all of those wild beasts).  And he would be able to fly me off the island.  Oh yeah, and he's hot.
4.  Guy from Fire & Flood.  As much as I would like to be a badass female, I'm a big wimp, just like Tella.  Guy helps her out in this outdoor nightmarish game and that means he would know what to do to survive on the island.  Oh yeah, and he's hot.
5.  Thad from Nil.  Thad's already survived on a mysterious island so he'd be very helpful.  Oh yeah, and he's hot.

Who would you want with you on a deserted island??

Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Review: Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park

Flat-Out Celeste (Flat-Out Love #2)
Author:  Jessica Park
Publisher:  Self-published, 273 pages
Publication Date:  May 22, 2014

From Goodreads:
For high-school senior Celeste Watkins, every day is a brutal test of bravery. And Celeste is scared. Alienated because she’s too smart, her speech too affected, her social skills too far outside the norm, she seems to have no choice but to retreat into isolation.

But college could set her free, right? If she can make it through this grueling senior year, then maybe. If she can just find that one person to throw her a lifeline, then maybe, just maybe.

Justin Milano, a college sophomore with his own set of quirks, could be that person to pull her from a world of solitude. To rescue her—that is, if she’ll let him.

Together, they may work. Together, they may save each other. And together they may also save another couple—two people Celeste knows are absolutely, positively flat-out in love.

Review (No Spoilers for Flat-Out Love):
I just want to gush about this author and this series.  The feels.  The feels!  I had a smile on my face pretty much the whole time (except when I was practically in tears). Flat-Out Celeste is absolutely adorable and I loved every single word.  I could just include quote after quote instead of writing a review.  

It's five years later (from Flat-Out Love) and Celeste is still her smart, funny, and quirky self. For those of you who haven't read Flat-Out Love, Celeste is a secondary character in that book.  She has zero social skills,no friends, and she has difficulty connecting with anyone other than her family.  She just wants to get through high school and go to college.  She seems to think everything will magically change in college.  She receives an e-mail from Justin, who's a student liaison at a school in California that's trying to recruit Celeste.  They start e-mailing and develop a friendship and Justin visits quite a bit (loved the e-mails and texts between them…so cute).  

Celeste…oh Celeste.  I loved her so much.  She's painfully aware of her social awkwardness and she honestly can't believe anyone would like her given all of her quirks (for example, when she's feeling anxious, which is most of the time, she doesn't use contractions).  She's such a good person and my heart ached for her after all she's been through.  And Justin…he's perfect for her.  He's a little odd himself.  He babbles, he's clumsy, he's cute, and he gets Celeste in a way no way has before. Loved him!!  Their conversations…I couldn't stop smiling.  Although the focus is on their romance (and it's so so adorable), it's also about accepting who you are, and celebrating being different. What a great message.

“You are who you are. Don't be ashamed of yourself. At all. Surround yourself with people who cheer you on.”

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

“I want to destroy anyone who has hurt you for a dumb reason like just being yourself. What? Do we want the entire universe made up of people who are all clones of each other? How damn boring would that be? You know the expression that love makes the world go ‘round? That might be true, but love comes from the way differences interact. How personalities interact. How we bounce off of each other, challenge each other, and how we push and pull. It’s through those tensions that we connect with others and with ourselves. And it’s how we fall in love. Because there is magic in diversity. Without the Celestes, the world wouldn’t go ‘round. Do you see that?”

I know I haven't adequately expressed how much this book (and Flat-Out Love) touched my heart, but all I can say is READ IT!!!!

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (54)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!  It is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Pam's Weekly Haul
The Caller by Juliet Marillier
Shimmer by Paula Weston
Idols by Margaret Stohl
My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak
Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

From the Library:
Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

What did you add to your shelves this week?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Discussion Question: Why do they care what I read?

I recently read a number of articles on the topic of young adult fiction.  While many cultural critics came down on the positive side of young adult fiction, others did not.  What is interesting about these critics is they often focus on the readers rather than the books themselves.  The critics seem to take issue with the idea that adult women are reading YA.  They can't seem to understand why adult women would want to read books where the main character is under twenty and the story focuses on contemporary teenage experiences, are set in fantastical worlds, or focus on the paranormal.  They seem to be somewhat more understanding when adults read YA dystopian but even then they suggest adult dystopian would be more appropriate.  Since I am an adult woman and a heavy reader of YA I obviously ignore these critics but I am aware of their censure and the negative response of many friends and family. 

So why do I read YA? I've never enjoyed thrillers, suspense, and crime dramas which are the genres that seem to dominate the adult market.  As a result I used to read a lot of literary fiction and historical romance UNTIL I started reading YA.  YA books have helped me to discover there are so many more genres that I enjoy.  For the first time in my life I am reading science fiction, I am reading about female heroines who fight and kill, I am reading about fairies, vampires, and witches.  I still love a good contemporary or historical romance or a book about families and relationships but now the main character is usually under the age of 20.

What drew you to YA books and do your friends or family comment on your reading choices?

Posted By: Sheri

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection (The Selection #1)
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: Harper Teen, 336 Pages
Publication Date: April 24, 2012

From Goodreads:
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

So many of our regular readers know that I teach courses on women and gender studies and many of my reviews often focus on the role that the construction of gender plays in the books.  I love what I teach because I can often challenge college students to think critically about what they think they know and why they believe what they do.  As a feminist scholar, I teach that men and women are BOTH limited by society’s ideas about what is socially acceptable masculine and feminine behaviors.  While there are both necessary and socially constructed differences, differences do not have to create social inequalities.  The entire time I was reading The Selection I found myself thinking this would be a GREAT book for generating interesting discussion among students.  Some of the topics I would bring up would be the regulation and punishment of sexual behaviors, gendered expectations for helping one’s family, and gender dynamics among women competing for power, to name just a few.  For those who have read this book, did you also pay attention to these topics or did something else stand out for you? 

Posted By: Sheri

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book Review: Onyx and Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Onyx (Lux #2) 
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Entangled Teen, 366 Pages
Publication Date: August 14, 2012

Opal (Lux #3)
Author: Jennifer Armentrout
Publisher: Entangled Teen, 382 Pages
Publication Date: December 11, 2012

Oh books two and three in the Lux series.  I’ve had these books on my to be read shelf for quite awhile but I wanted to read them when I was back in Poland where I read book one.  I think these books are the perfect substitute for your standard television programming.  So put down the remote and pick up a book or in my case find a great coffee shop in a beautiful city and enjoy yourself!

With only a few characters, straightforward plots, and no world building to keep up with I find these books easy to pick up and put down or just as easy to read in single evening.  Book two focuses on Kat coming into her own powers and the evolving relationship between Kat and Daemon dominate the story.  We begin to learn a little more about how twisted the DOD might be and the fate of some of the missing characters.  It was sad to think about how little Kat’s mom noticed her daughter's coming and going but I guess it was necessary for the plot.  I really enjoyed the suspense of not knowing when disaster was going to strike and the fact that Armentrout didn’t dwell too long in those parts of the story.  I also continue to enjoy the word play between Kat and Daemon but I’m tired of them not trusting and not listening to one another. 
Book three begins with Kat and Daemon finally comfortable with one another and with their Luxen friends dealing with changes in the community.  We continue to learn more about the the DOD, Daedaleues, and other implants in the community.  With this being my first time to read an "alien" series I have to admit I am beginning to wonder just how would humans react to living next door to aliens and how would aliens view us.  Frankly, Armentrout's books make the human race out to be selfish, aggressive, and na├»ve.  This book ends in a major cliffhanger and I can't wait for book 4 in the series, Origin.
Onyx Goodreads:

Being connected to Daemon Black sucks…

Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to town…

The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we're linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And there's this new boy in school who’s got a secret of his own. He knows what’s happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that's possible. Against all common sense, I'm falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changes…

I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies….

Opal Goodreads

No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger... and they know it.

Posted By: Sheri

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bookstores in Oxford and London

I recently traveled to England and had such a great time.  We stayed with a friend in Oxford and then traveled to London and Bath.  Saw Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, British Museum, British Library, Parliament (sat through a few minutes of debate in both the House of Commons and House of Lords), Tower Bridge, etc. Drank a lot of beer in pubs. And went to some bookstores!  

In Oxford, went to Blackwell's, which is an incredible bookstore.

In London:
Waterstone's:  Europe's largest bookstore, eight floors!

Hatchards:  London's oldest bookstore, established in 1797.
Foyles:  On Charing Cross Road since 1906, it's five floors crammed full of wonderful books!
Loved exploring all of these bookstores!  Was so tempted to buy books I already had because of the different covers.  And we were there long enough for me to order and pick up Shimmer by Paula Weston, which came out July 3rd in the UK but doesn't come out in the United States for awhile (there's not even a US release date, I don't think).  Read it on the plane back and loved it!!!!

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (53)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!  It is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Pam's Weekly Haul
Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne

What books did you add to your shelves this week?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Discussion Question: Should E-Books Be Treated Like Printed Books?

Sometimes I don't feel like I own my e-books.  I can't touch them, smell them, or give them to friends.  Obviously there's nothing that can be done about the touching and smelling, but if I buy the book, shouldn't I be able to do whatever I want to with it? Yes, I paid less for it, but I'm assuming it costs the publisher a lot less for me to buy it as an e-book than as a printed book (anyone have any idea how much are the relative costs?)  It's just strange that if I read an amazing book on my Kindle that there's no way for me to lend it to a friend.  I know there's a lending feature on Amazon, but I checked quite a few of my books and none of them have that option (my understanding is that it's up to the publisher).  Plus the fact that, from what I read, you can only lend it once.  And I know I could share a Kindle account with multiple people and that's another way books can be shared.  But other than that (which really doesn't count), I can't lend my e-books.  Should I be able to?  Thinking about it from the publisher's perspective (and Amazon's), if we were able to send a Kindle book to anyone to share, they would lose money.  And probably more money than they lose by people sharing their printed books because I generally loan books to people who live near me, I don't mail them to people.  If I could send e-books, I could just hit a button and send it to anyone anywhere.  Which makes it more likely that I would.  So I do understand it, but at the same time, it feels like I don't really own the book.  

Thoughts? (And obviously I'm not talking about ARCs, that's a whole different subject).

Posted by:  Pam

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Book Review: Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends #1)
Author:  Kelley Armstrong
Publisher:  HarperCollins, 416 pages
Publication Date:  April 8, 2014

From Goodreads:
In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

Magic, mystery, adventure, and a hint of romance all play a part in this amazing beginning to a new series!  The story alternates between each sister's POV and I enjoyed getting to know each sister.  Even though they're twins, they're very different.  Moira is fierce and tough, she's a fighter, although she does have a soft heart, telling stories to the children of their village.  Ashyn is more of a dreamer, she's shy,  wanting to find romance, and she doesn't know how to fight at all.  They each are bound to spiritual animals, a wildcat and a hound, who protect them.  Loved the animals.

When something goes terribly wrong with the Seeking (where Ashyn finds the bodies of the damned and puts their spirits to rest), the girls are separated and then on the run.  Moira is accompanied by Gavril, a warrior guard who's very stoic and hard to read.  He's prickly, argumentative, and "confuse[s] debate with conversation."  I wish the author had written a chapter or two from his POV, but we slowly learn more about him through his actions, and I admit, I have a soft spot for him.  He's got tattoos, by the way.  According to Moira:

"There were few physical shortcomings a man could possess that could not, in her mind, be compensated for by good warrior ink. She glanced over at him and had to admit there were blessed few physical shortcomings that needed compensating for. It was a shame to waste such a face and physique on such a surly--and, yes, exceedingly difficult--boy."

Ashyn is accompanied by Ronan, who was exiled to the Forest of the Dead.  He's much more open than Gavril and provides some humor to this dark tale.  Loved him too!

During this journey, the sisters encounter one horrible thing after another (shadow stalkers and death worms, to name just a few), and the action is pretty non-stop.  There are twists and turns, and a cliffhanger ending that leaves me anxious for the next book.  I have to know what happens next!  I really enjoyed this one, highly recommend.

Posted by:  Pam

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book Review: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2)
Author:  Robin LaFevers
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 385 pages
Publication Date:  April 2, 2013

From Goodreads:
When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge - but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.

But her assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father's rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother's love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for…

I really liked this book and here's why:

1.  Sybella.  Sybella is such a wonderfully well-drawn and complex character.  It's slowly revealed throughout the book how brutal her life has been.  Her father, even her brothers…it's all just so dark and twisted.  My heart broke for her and what she had to endure. Although Sybella is broken to a certain extent, she's also strong and the main thing keeping her going is vengeance against her father.   

2.  World-building.  I love the world Robin LaFevers has created.  Assassins trained by nuns…brilliant.  The politics, back-stabbing, and scheming…loved it all.  

3.  Sybella's relationship with Beast.  I loved how good he was for her and how he accepted every single part of her, even though she kept many secrets from him.  To see how he loves her unconditionally when she doesn't feel worthy to be loved was beautiful.  My only complaint is that their relationship progressed a bit too quickly for me.  They hadn't really had many conversations when Sybella realized that she loved him.  But maybe, given her tortured background, it makes sense that she fell so quickly for such a decent guy.

4.  Action and adventure.  Plenty of it.  I couldn't put it down.

If you haven't read this series, I definitely recommend it and I can't wait to read Mortal Heart.

Posted by:  Pam

Monday, July 7, 2014

Book Review: Threats of Sky and Sea by Jennifer Ellision

Threats of Sky and Sea (Threats of Sky and Sea #1)
Author:  Jennifer Ellision
Publisher:  Self-published, 360 pages
Publication Date:  May 20, 2014

From Goodreads:
Sixteen year-old Breena Perdit has spent her life as a barmaid, innocent to her father’s past and happily free from the Elemental gifts that would condemn her to a life in the Egrian King’s army. Until the day that three Elemental soldiers recognize her father as a traitor to the throne and Bree’s father is thrown in jail—along with the secrets from his last mission as the King’s assassin. Secrets that could help the King win a war. Secrets he refuses to share.

Desperate to escape before the King’s capricious whims prove her and her father’s downfall, Bree bargains with him: information for their lives. It’s a good trade. And she has faith she’ll get them both out of the King’s grasp with time.

But that was before the discovery that she’s the weapon the King’s been waiting for in his war.

Now, time is running out. To save her father’s life and understand her own, Bree must unravel the knot of her father’s past before the King takes his life– and uses her to bring a nation to its knees.

I loved this book!  The world-building is solid, with certain people revealing as Elementals on their seventeenth birthday and then conscripted to work for the King, who is a power hungry guy.  Bree lives with her father, running a tavern in a small village, when she is suddenly caught up in this world, finding out that her father is not who she thought he was.  He's now in jail and she's now learning how to be a lady, living in the palace as a prisoner.  

I liked Bree, she was smart, she didn't make rash, stupid decisions, and she was loyal to her father and just trying to figure out how to free her dad and get out from under the King's control.  There was just a bit of romance, but no insta-love, and in fact, Bree was very level-headed about it, which was refreshing.  There's one scene where she basically pushes the guy away because it's not the right time.  And no love triangle.  At all.  I wish we got to know Caden a little bit better, I wasn't swooning as much as I would have liked, but that's only a small complaint.  

I enjoyed Bree's friendship with Princess Aleta, which slowly evolved from almost hate to almost friendship.  Aleta is one tough princess.  Two strong female characters, that was a plus.  I also liked Tregle, an Elemental who, although he does the King's dirty work, doesn't seem to enjoy it.  I enjoyed the court politics and the different complexities of the characters.  It was a somewhat familiar story, but it was entertaining.  To be honest, I don't read that many self-published books and I'm always a bit wary, but I do recommend this one.

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (52)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!  It is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Pam's Weekly Haul
Hexed by Michelle Krys
On the Fence by Kasie West
The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove

From NetGalley:
The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

What books did you add to your shelves this week?