Saturday, November 29, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (71)

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
Timebomb by Scott K. Andrews.  I love time travel books!
The Key by Jennifer Ann Davis.  This one was free on Amazon.  Read it already and it totally sucked me in so I bought the next two.  Be warned, the first one ends in a huge cliffhanger, but since the entire trilogy is out, I don't mind!
Red by Jennifer Ann Davis  
War by Jennifer Ann Davis
Corruption by Jessica Shirvington.  Thank you Fishpond!  I have no idea when this one is being released in the U.S., but I loved Disruption, love Jessica Shirvington, so I couldn't wait.

From the library:
Every Breath by Ellie Marney.  Already read this one. Loved this clever, teenage Sherlock and Watson story. Mystery plus great characters. And the best friends to love story…it has all the feels! Full review to post next week.
Talon by Julie Kagawa. I've read mixed reviews, but I liked the Iron Fey series and I LOVED The Immortal Rules series so I thought I would give this one a try.
Atlantia by Ally Condie. I've also read mixed reviews of this one, but I loved the Matched series.

What did you add to your shelves this week?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Book Review: Captive by Aimee Carter

Captive (The Blackcoat Rebellion #2)
Author:  Aimee Carter
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen, 304 pages
Publication Date:  November 25, 2014
*ARC received by publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
For the past two months, Kitty Doe's life has been a lie. Forced to impersonate the Prime Minister's niece, her frustration grows as her trust in her fake fiancé cracks, her real boyfriend is forbidden and the Blackcoats keep her in the dark more than ever.

But in the midst of discovering that her role in the Hart family may not be as coincidental as she thought, she's accused of treason and is forced to face her greatest fear: Elsewhere. A prison where no one can escape.

As one shocking revelation leads to the next, Kitty learns the hard way that she can trust no one, not even the people she thought were on her side. With her back against the wall, Kitty wants to believe she'll do whatever it takes to support the rebellion she believes in—but is she prepared to pay the ultimate price?

Action action action!  Most of the book takes place in Elsewhere, which is not just where people are hunted, it's basically a community where horrific things happen.  There are many surprises and twists and turns in this book and I couldn't put it down.  

Knox is my favorite character, mostly because he's complicated and unpredictable. Is he good?  Is he bad?  Does he have feelings for Kitty at all?  Can she trust him?  There were definitely some jaw dropping moments involving Knox.

Kitty…she's a bit frustrating.  She makes the typical YA heroine mistakes, not thinking things through, reacting, trusting the wrong people, being easily deceived, etc.  But her heart is in the right place and by the end of the book you can see how she's starting to become the badass she needs to be.  

My main complaint about the book is Kitty's relationship with Benjy.  I still don't feel like I know Benjy.  At all.  His character only seems to be important because he motivates Kitty.  He says the exact right things all the time.  I love you, I'll do whatever you want, I trust you.  He's too good to be true, which means he doesn't feel real.  So I'm not shipping this romance.

Fast-paced, intense, and filled with political intrigue, I really enjoyed Captive!

Posted by:  Pam

Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Review: What If by A.J. Pine

What If (If Only #2)
Author:  A.J. Pine
Publisher:  Entangled Publishing, 300 pages
Expected Publication Date:  December 8, 2014
*ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
During his semester abroad, Griffin Reed almost gave his heart to a girl who loved someone else. Lesson learned. Now he’s home, where following in his father’s footsteps may not be what he wants, but it’s what his parents expect. It might be taking the easy road, but he doesn’t see a way out.

Something that could have killed Maggie Kendall took away the person she used to be instead. Her condition makes her dependent on sticky notes, photos, and medication just to get through each day. The last thing she needs is a distraction—or someone new to disappoint.

What they refuse to see is they are perfect for each other. Maggie makes Griffin want to be a better man, and he makes her believe a future is possible. But these two have to find a way to share the secrets ripping them apart, if they’re ever going to have a chance at happiness.

Such a cute read, I really enjoyed this one.  The feels!!  Griffin and Maggie are such likable characters.  I felt for Maggie.  She's still trying to get used to this new life, where her brain doesn't work the way it used to and she has all of these systems in place to get through each day.  She feels like she doesn't have anything to offer anyone because she's not the Maggie she used to be and she'll be a burden.  This felt so real to me.  It didn't feel contrived, like a lot of books where the main character is closed off. Maggie has a reason for not wanting to be in a relationship.  Then she meets Griffin and he makes her feel like her old self and she pretends with him that she doesn't have this medical condition.  It's supposed to just be one night, but they both feel such a connection to each other that it turns into more.  

Griffin…oh Griffin, I fell for you.  The guy who had his heart broken by Jordan in If Only (although you don't have to have read that book, by the way, to enjoy this one).  Griffin doesn't date, he has one night stands.  He's agreed to join his father's business, but he's really lost and unhappy about it because he doesn't want to do it but at the same time, he has no clue what he wants to do with his life.  He deflects, he avoids responsibility and commitment, but then he meets Maggie and he can't avoid things anymore.  

Loved them together and loved how their relationship progressed. Loved their non-dates.  They fell fast, but it didn't feel like insta-love, it felt natural and it made me smile. Amazing secondary characters as well.  If you want a feel good NA romance, read What If.  

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (70)

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
Stolen by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston
Wild by Sophie Jordan
From NetGalley:
Rebellion by Stephanie Diaz

What books did you add to your shelves this week?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Review: Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

Stitching Snow
Author:  R.C. Lewis
Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion, 338 pages
Publication Date:  October 14, 2014

From Goodreads:
Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

This is one of those books that I wanted to love, but it fell short.  I liked the premise, sci-fi Snow White re-telling, drones instead of dwarves, interesting world-building with different planets, and a strong MC (she fights, she's tech savvy).  My main complaints are the similarities between this book and The Lunar Chronicles and the lack of feels.  The romance had so much potential.  The set-up was perfect for tension, banter, and passion, but it didn't have any of that (no steamy scenes, unfortunately).  I did like the book, though, but it was a bit of a mixed bag.  

Fair warning:  there are some dark aspects to this book that surprised me.  

Posted by:  Pam

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes
Author:  Sabaa Tahir
Publisher:  Razorbill
Expected Publication Date:  April 28, 2015

From Goodreads:
Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier— and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Vow your blood and body to the empire.

Keep your heart for yourself.

Wow.  Just wow.  This was an amazing debut and here's why:

1.  World-building.  Sabaa Tahir has created a fascinating and brutal world and when I say brutal, I mean brutal.  The Empire is evil (I know, it's the EMPIRE, so I shouldn't be shocked that it's evil), and it's horrible what happens to the soldiers at the academy, and the atrocities committed against the Scholars.  Reminded me of Red Rising and The Winner's Curse.  There's torture and death.  Prepare yourself.  

2.  Laia.  I liked that the main character is weak in the beginning and she stays weak physically, but slowly becomes brave.  That was a refreshing change.  She's tried to quietly live her life in this world where the Scholars were conquered by the Martials, but circumstances force her to join the rebels.  She's scared, she's in over her head, and she grows a tremendous amount in this book.  Loved her internal journey.

3.  Elias.  One of the strongest soldiers, but at the same time, he's good and moral and fed up with how horrible the Empire is.  He just wants to live his own life, but he becomes ensnared in the contest to choose the next emperor and he has to make impossible decisions.  It just hurts even thinking about what happens in this book.

4.  The relationship between Laia and Elias.  It's slow and subtle and not really a romance at this point.  I loved that it's not the typical fall in love, can't live without each other type of relationship, but there's a spark between them and I can't wait to see how it develops.  

5.  The relationship between Elias and Helene.  Elias and Helene have been friends since they were children.  They have each other's backs, but their relationship is tested in this novel.  What happens is HEARTBREAKING.

6.  Secondary characters.  Other than Helene (who is a complicated character), there are other slaves that live and work in the academy.  And then there are certain rebels we get to know.  Each and every character is vivid and real.  And the evil characters...I hate them so much.  For an author to evoke this much emotion from me...she's doing something right.

Spectacular, I highly recommend it.

Posted by:  Pam

Monday, November 17, 2014

Discussion Question: Reading Phases?

I've definitely gone through different reading phases.  From middle school to high school, I mostly read romance books.  I loved Jackie Collins, Judith Krantz, and Danielle Steel.  I also loved historical romance, like Kathleen E. Woodiwiss.  

After college and before law school, I read mostly legal thrillers.  Just couldn't get enough.  Then I started reading "literary" book club type books, although I would read some mystery too.

And now I'm in a YA phase.  I still read the occasional adult book, but I've been reading mostly YA for over two years.  Within YA, I read basically every genre, although my favorites are dystopian, paranormal, and fantasy.  I also like more light and fluffy contemporary, with the occasional "issue" book if it gets great reviews.

Have you gone through different phases where you mostly read a certain genre?  It makes me wonder what I'll be reading in a few years.  Will I still be reading YA?  (Is YA even a genre?  That's another question, I guess).

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (69)

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
Revolution by Jenna Black
As Long as You Love Me by Ann Aguirre
From the library:

From NetGalley:

What books did you add to your shelves this week?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Book Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1)
Author:  Claudia Gray
Publisher:  HarperTeen, 368 pages
Publication Date:  November 4, 2014

From Goodreads:
Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

A unique twist on the parallel worlds premise, where you can only travel to parallel worlds where you exist because you take over your double's body.  Brings up all sorts of moral dilemmas about what you're doing with that body.  And where is the person's consciousness while you're in their body?  Asleep?  Aware?  Will they remember what you did?  You find out some of that and let me just say…awkward.

I loved the different worlds…a futuristic London, Russia in a world that's about a hundred years behind ours, a world where Marguerite is living in an underwater station.  Fascinating stuff!

The romance…let me just say this.  There's sort of a love triangle, but not really.  There's sort of three guys, but not really.  I was surprised by what happened with the romance, it was unexpected and I'm still not sure how I feel about it.  

And then there's a twist…that I didn't see coming.  At all.  Again, surprised.  It's the first book in a new series, but the main plot wraps up and it ends in a good place, but with plenty of story left.  Happy to recommend this one!

Posted by:  Pam

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Book Review: Suspicion by Alexandra Monir

Author:  Alexandra Monir
Publisher:  Delacorte Press, 368 pages
Expected Publication Date:  December 9, 2014
*ARC received by publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
Mysterious. Magnificent. Creepy. Welcome to Rockford Manor.

"There's something hidden in the Maze." Seventeen-year-old Imogen has never forgotten the last words her father said to her seven years ago, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family's English country manor.

Haunted by her parents' deaths, Imogen moves to New York City with her new guardians. But when a letter arrives with the news of her cousin's untimely death, revealing that Imogen is now the only heir left to run the estate, she returns to England and warily accepts her role as duchess.

All is not as it seems at Rockford, and Imogen quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind the mansion's aristocratic exterior, hinting that the spate of deaths in her family were no accident. And at the center of the mystery is Imogen herself--and Sebastian, the childhood friend she has secretly loved for years. Just what has Imogen walked into?

Combining a fresh twist on the classic REBECCA with a spine-tingling mystery and powerful romance, SUSPICION is an action-packed thrill ride.

I enjoyed the Downtown Abbey meets Princess Diaries aspect of this book, with Imogen being the American girl who has to learn about being a Duchess and deal with having servants.  I liked the mystery of the maze and what happened to the family members.  I liked that it was a standalone.  But the paranormal part of the book didn't work for me because it didn't make sense in this normal world and then not much was even done with it.  So I'm not sure what the point was.  I also didn't feel like I got to know the love interest in the book and what I did learn I didn't like. He was a pretty weak character.  

Finally, the big reveal was not believable.  At all.  I can't say more without spoiling it, but that tainted the whole book.

There were parts of the book I did like, but given that it's a mystery, the fact that the whodunit part of it (along with all that entailed) wasn't believable made this just an ok read for me.

Posted by:  Pam

Monday, November 10, 2014

Book Review: Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

Princess of Thorns
Author:  Stacey Jay
Publisher:  Delacorte Press, 400 pages
Expected Publication Date:  December 9, 2014
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora's throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it's too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

I loved this book and here's why:

1.  Curses.  Both Aurora (Ror) and Niklaas are cursed.  Loved that.  If Ror kisses a guy who loves her, he basically turns into a shell, only wanting to live to make her happy.  And Niklaas is going to turn into a swan on his 18th birthday and he thinks that if he marries Aurora he can break the curse.  And of course neither one knows that the other is cursed and, in fact, Niklaas doesn't even know that Ror is Aurora. Instead, he thinks that she is her brother, which leads to…

2.  Girl pretending to be a guy.  I don't know why I love this so much because I'm always wondering what in the world the girl looks like.  She's usually fairly attractive, but somehow she's convincingly a guy.  I just shrug my shoulders and go with it.  In this book, it actually makes sense because Ror has enhanced strength so she can fight really well.  

3.  Ror and Niklaas.  Loved their relationship.  Niklaas thinks that Ror is Aurora's 14 year old brother and he wants to marry Aurora so he's helping "him."  Niklaas and Ror work together, bicker and fight, and spend every moment together.  They truly become friends and partners.  LOVED THIS.

Niklaas has some pretty old-fashioned views about girls and Ror tries to set him straight about that (without letting him know that she's really a girl).  In fact, Niklaas is pretty obnoxious at first.  He's arrogant and thinks very highly of himself, but he has such a good heart, he truly is a hero. And Ror has resigned herself to a life alone and her brother means everything to her.  I liked Ror, she's tough and feisty, and it makes sense that she doesn't trust Niklaas at first, and then when she does, she doesn't want to lose his friendship.  

4.  Traveling together to raise an army to save her brother and hopefully one day reclaim her throne that was stolen from her by an evil ogre.  Great plot filled with action and adventure.

5.  It's a stand-alone!

Thoroughly enjoyed this one, I highly recommend it.

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (68)

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 Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross
Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier

From NetGalley:
Soulprint by Megan Miranda
Captive by Aimee Carter
For Real by Alison Cherry

What books did you add to your shelves this week?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Book Review: The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #3)
Author:  Michelle Hodkin
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 480 pages
Publication Date:  November 4, 2014

From Goodreads:
Mara Dyer wants to believe there's more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.
Retribution has arrived.

I love love love this series and this was a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.  Just when you thought it couldn't get any darker….

Most of the book is spent searching for answers.  And searching for Noah, who Mara doesn't believe is dead.  I can't say much more about the plot without spoiling it, but suffice it to say that the book provides answers to most of the questions.  About her powers and where they come from.  About who is behind Horizons.  About the motivations of Dr. Kells.  About the relationship between Noah's mom and Mara's grandmother.  I still have questions that weren't answered, and there are a couple of things I'm confused about, but for the most part, the author does a good job.  The ending is a bit open, however, but I didn't mind.  Too much.

Although it was a strong conclusion, I did miss certain things.  The first is Mara as an unreliable narrator.  That's what made the first two books so amazing, because you never actually knew if what was happening was really happening.  They messed with your mind in such a fantastic way.  The second is that I missed Noah Shaw.  He will forever rank as one of my all time best book boyfriends.  It made me realize how much of what I loved about the first two books was Noah.  His relationship with Mara.  Them together.  M.A.D.N.E.S.S.  Honestly, the book just wasn't as good without him in it.  I'm not saying whether Noah is alive or not, but just know that this book is focused on Mara.  It's her story.  And she is different. Becoming someone different. A bit dark, a bit scary, a bit creepy.

The dedication by the author and the quote at the beginning of the book pretty much tell the story:

"For the bad girls, and the boys who love them"

"What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil."

Still loved it, but I didn't LOVE IT.  

Posted by:  Pam

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Book Review: Magnolia by Kristi Cook

Author:  Kristi Cook
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster, 336 pages
Publication Date:  August 5, 2014

From Goodreads:
In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.

I really wanted to love this book, but I just liked it.  I loved the premise, a reverse Romeo and Juliet, where the moms are best friends and are pushing Jemma and Ryder together, but the execution was just ok.  It was the perfect setup to have a lot of banter and heat, but there wasn't as much as I wanted and I just wasn't feeling it. 

And I couldn't get past not understanding why Jemma's feelings for Ryder start changing.  They go on vacations together, have the same group of friends, and all of a sudden she starts noticing how hot he is.  What?  That wasn't explained to my satisfaction.  It would have made more sense for that to happen during the storm with them being forced together, but she starts feeling jealous and paying attention to him before all of that happens.  But it was cute and I enjoyed the message about being independent, doing the unexpected, following your dreams, etc.  And I loved the southern setting, I could completely picture it.

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (67)

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
In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken
From the Library:
Magnolia by Kristi Cook
From NetGalley:
Gone Too Far by Natalie D. Richards
Denton's Little Deathdate by Lance Rubin
Court by Cat Patrick

What books did you add to your shelves this week?