Saturday, February 28, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (84)

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
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

From NetGalley:
Siren's Fury by Mary Weber

What books did you add to your shelves this week?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Book Review: Captive by Brighton Walsh

Author:  Brighton Walsh
Publisher:  St. Martin's Griffin, 288 pages
Expected Publication Date:  March 24, 2015
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
Madison Frost is desperate to escape her life. Daughter of a prominent businessman, she has everything a girl could ask for. Except for a family who’s present in her life, and anyone to talk to outside the four walls of the prison she calls home. Madison dreams of one day leaving her life behind. She never thought being kidnapped is how it would happen.

Now she’s being held captive by a man who’s as frightening as he is sinfully gorgeous. Enormous, muscular, and filled with secrets, the man they call Ghost is an enigmatic mercenary, and Madison is trapped with him. She doesn’t know who hired him or why, but the more time she spends at his mercy, the more she realizes he’s not what he seems. Beneath his rough exterior lies an unexpected gentleness and a heart as broken and battered as her own.

But as Madison lets down her walls, Ghost holds tight to his, hiding secrets that could destroy everything.

Even though this is the typical damaged characters healing each other story, it's combined with a kidnapping plot that kept me entertained.

Madison is a sympathetic character.  She has serious self-esteem issues (hates her body, thinks she's unattractive), and these issues play a crucial role in the plot and who she is as a character.  She's smart and rich, but she's never had any friends due to the fact that her mother's an alcoholic and she had tutors instead of going to school.  She's finally in college but she lives at home to take care of her mother since her father works all of the time.  So it makes sense that when someone finally shows her kindness, even when he's her kidnapper, she would feel a connection to that person.  I felt so bad for her!  And Ghost obviously has his issues and as they get to know each other during the time he's keeping her captive, they realize they actually have a lot in common and they open up to each other.

I liked the dual POV and the fact that we got into Ghost's head too.  Their relationship progresses in what feels like a gradual and natural way even though the captivity lasts maybe a week.  The plot is interesting and well-paced, although I did guess one of the twists early on.  And I appreciated that everything didn't instantly and magically work out.   

I'll definitely be reading more by this author!

Posted by:  Pam

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Audiobook Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) 
Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA 
Publication Date: August 20, 2013

Narrator: Alana Kerr
Listening Length: 14 hours and 57 minutes
Audiobook Publisher: Audible Studios for Bloomsbury

From Goodreads:
The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people's minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

Sometimes the narrator makes all the difference in the world and Alana Kerr is the perfect narrator for this book. The voice of Paige has just enough of an Irish accent to remember where she's from but not so much that you're distracted by it.  Warden's voice holds just enough detachment and concern that I was never sure if he was helping Paige or following orders. 

It's truly hard to believe that this is Samantha Shannon's first book and that she wrote it so early in her life.  The world she has created is unique and has so many layers that I can't wait to read to future books.  I also loved all of the secondary characters that are introduced from her gang in London, her life in Ireland, and her friends and enemies in Sheol 1.  Shannon did a great job using the gifts of the other clairvoyants as a way to reveal more about the larger society and as an opportunity to learn more about Paige.  My only complaint about the book was the end, which seemed very abrupt and unexpected. 

As a sociologist I found myself thinking about all the ways I could use this book in the classroom.  The most obvious discussion would focus on how societies define "deviance" and what they do with "deviants."  Another theme would focus on social unrest and social protest and identifying what factors push individuals to protest versus accept their situations.  Finally, there would be several opportunities to discuss gender exploitation and the men Paige relies upon who simultaneously care for her and take advantage of her. It's probably been awhile since most of you read this book but if you can think of other themes I should discuss please share your ideas.

Now I can't wait to listen to The Mime Order.

Posted by:  Sheri

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Review: Claimed by Sarah Fine

Claimed (Servants of Fate #2)
Author:  Sarah Fine
Publisher:  47North, 341 pages
Expected Publication Date:  March 24, 2015
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
Galena Margolis, a brilliant scientist with a tragic past, is determined to fulfill her destiny and develop the vaccine that could save millions. Yet when Galena’s test subjects meet with foul play, it’s clear that someone is still determined to stop her, and that Galena herself is a target. As the Ferry empire forges a plan to keep her safe, Declan Ferry, the politics-hating black sheep of the family, steps forward to protect her—but the emotional cost may be more than either of them is willing to pay.

As unknown enemies close in, it becomes terrifyingly clear that they threaten to destroy not only Galena’s lifesaving work but also the very fabric of fate. As Galena and Declan race to uncover the traitor, they also forge a special bond that could save both Galena and those she’s sworn to help. Torn apart by the past and hunted by those she trusted, can Galena find room amidst her fears for a passion that could make her stronger than ever? And even if she and Declan can find their way together, will it be enough to keep the future from coming apart at the seams?

I enjoyed this book.  I love that it's a blend of futuristic elements with paranormal romance.  The mythology is interesting, although there's an inconsistency with the mythology and the plot that bugged me the entire time I was reading the book (it bothered me in the first book as well).  In spite of that, it's a fun, fast-paced, and entertaining book.

I liked Galena, she's a great main character.  She's smart and focused on her work, but at the same time vulnerable because of an event that happened in her past.  

I loved Declan.  He's tired of being a Ferry (guiding people into the afterlife), and he's basically going through the motions of his life, not really interested in anything. Galena and Declan are attracted to each other and just starting to get to know one another when circumstances push them into a much more serious relationship than they are ready for.  Declan's such a good guy, he's perfect for Galena and I loved the way their relationship progressed.  It's partly the two damaged characters healing each other story, but it's well done and believable, and there's also the paranormal mystery to keep things exciting as people are being killed left and right and Galena's life is in danger.  

I'll definitely be reading the next book and I'm curious who it will focus on…I'm guessing Aislin (and Moros).

Posted by:  Pam

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Heroines

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

Sheri's List: This may be one of the most difficult lists of all times.  How does one choose among all the wonderful heroines and do I choose based just on her characteristics or on the story in which she resides.  For each heroine I have tried to identify one or two character traits that makes this heroine special for me.

Hermione Granger, My Favorite Witch

Rose Hathaway, My Favorite Vampire

Celaena Sardothien, My Favorite Fairy Assassin

Lola, My Favorite Quirky Girl Next Door

Gwyneth Shepherd, My Favorite Time Traveler

Monday, February 23, 2015

Recommend It? Super Mini-Reviews (3)

I got this idea from Danielle at Love at First Page. I read a lot of books that I don't review so I thought I would give a super short review of some books and let you know whether I recommend them or not.

The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.  Loved this one.  It has it all: political intrigue, class divisions, rebellion, special powers, girl pretending to be someone and something else (loved the undercover aspect of it), betrayal, and romance. Great villain, I can't wait to read the next one!  Highly recommend!

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta.  Gritty, raw, realistic, complicated, messy, emotional, smart, sad, funny, devastating, and hopeful. Loved the focus on family and friendship, especially how much his family and the girls meant to Thomas. I actually liked this one better than Saving Francesca. Recommend.

The Return by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I loved being back in this world!! I admit, I was not the biggest fan of Seth in the Covenant series (ok, I hated him), but I love Seth now! He feels such regret for the things he did so he's much more serious in this book (and less psycho, obviously). I loved the relationship between him and Josie. The mythology, the fast-paced plot, the steamy scenes…JLA can do no wrong! Definitely recommend!

Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan.  This was just ok.  The focus is on Simon, which I loved, since I was a little dissatisfied with how things were left for his character in the Mortal Instruments.  Simon doesn't remember much, and he can't stand being around the gang because he feels like he's not the person they want him to be.  So he's off to the new academy that has been started to train shadowhunters.  Two main problems with this novella:  nothing really happens and it read a little young.  I can't really recommend it, but I'm sure I'll be reading all of them because I do love this world.

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (83)

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 Return by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan

What books did you add to your shelves this week?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Discussion Question: How Important Are Covers?

Do you care what the cover of the book looks like?  Does the cover make you buy the book?  Not buy the book?  Since I read mostly on my Kindle, I have to admit that I don't really care about the cover when I'm clicking that buy button.  A beautiful cover will not make me want to read a book if the synopsis doesn't sound interesting.  And a horrible cover will not make me not read the book either.  But it does affect whether I want the physical copy of the book.  One of the best things about my Kindle is I can be reading a book with an embarrassing cover and no one knows.  So if a book has an awful cover, I will still read it, but I won't want to have it sitting on my bookshelf.  There are exceptions to this, of course, because if it's one of my favorite books, I'll buy it no matter what the cover looks like.  

What about you?  How important are covers?

Posted by:  Pam

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Book Review: The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons

The Glass Arrow
Author:  Kristen Simmons
Publisher:  Tor Teen, 336 pages
Publication Date:  February 10, 2015

From Goodreads:
In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning.

I liked this book, but it was underwhelming and it may just be a case of high expectations.  I absolutely loved Kristen Simmons' Article 5 trilogy, but this one just didn't do it for me.  Why?  It was interesting, it had a tough heroine, and a good guy for a love interest (plus no love triangle and it's a standalone), but I just wasn't feeling it.  And part of it is the lack of dialogue between Aya and Kiran since Kiran is mute.  Because of that I didn't feel like I knew Kiran at all.  And we never get much information about Kiran and his life.

The main reason this book ended up being just ok for me is the world-building.  I. Didn't. Get. It.  Now I know that if you have a main character who grew up isolated in the mountains, she won't know much about the world, but still.  That's an easy out for not explaining anything.  Aya doesn't know anything.  About the history of the world, how things work, etc.  Which means we don't either.  Why do they have electric cars but it's a sign of higher status to ride a horse?  Why do they eat meal pills in the city and not food when they know it's better to eat food and there seems to be plenty of food outside of the city?  These are just a few of the questions I had that never get answered.  I have no idea how this world came to be (except for some strange story about a love triangle leading to war).  What??  

And you know those books where there are a lot of deaths and some heartbreaking ones?  Well, there's not much death in this book at all, but there is a heartbreaking one.  For. No. Reason.  

And one last thing…why does the synopsis say females are scarce?  They're not scarce, there's too many of them and they routinely kill female babies.  Females who can have babies are scarce (and they only want boys although how they can have boys without having girls at some point….)  That bugged me.

I hate writing negative reviews, and I wanted to love this one, but I didn't.  

Posted by:  Pam

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Related Problems We Have

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

Pam's List:

1.     Too Many Books!!!  This is a common problem, I'm sure, but my TBR list is out of control.  I have so many unread books on my shelves, on my Kindle, and I keep buying more! (Of course, this is a good problem to have).

2.     Forgetting books.  I have the worst book memory and I forget books so easily.  A day later and I may not even remember the basic plot and the names of the main characters.  This becomes a huge problem with all of the series I'm currently reading (over 75), meaning that I have to reread almost every single book that is in a series when the new one comes out.

3.     Buying cheap books on Amazon just because they're cheap.  With so many great books to read, I should be more selective, but I just can't resist those daily/monthly deals.  That one-click is a HUGE problem!

4.     Getting too emotionally involved, especially about my couples.  I'm sure we all have this problem, but sometimes I care too much.  I just want my HEA!

5.     Being impatient for the next book to come out.  It's so hard to wait in between books in a series!

Sheri's List:

6. I don't have enough time to read every day.  My problem is that I read in bed after 9 pm which generally means I fall asleep within 30 minutes of starting my book.

 7. My friends are constantly recommending books.  Some of my closest friends are HEAVY book readers, so I am constantly updating my goodreads TBR shelf based on their recommendations.
8. I abuse my library privileges.  My local library has an amazing interlibrary loan system so I literally request a book and it will eventually appear like magic.  The problem for me is that I can't control when books will arrive.  I currently have 26 books checked out from the library and this just seems wrong but I can't return them because who knows when I will get them back.  Fortunately if someone else requests the book the library will recall my copy.
9. I read multiple books at one time.  I have a tendency to stop reading a book for a period of time when the plot irritates me, when the story becomes too suspenseful, or when another book catches my eye.  This often means I am reading multiple books at one time and it can take me forever to finish a book even when I really like the book.

10.  I love audiobooks. An exciting plot, an amazing narrator, and a great cup of coffee means a wonderful morning commute or a relaxing evening ride home.  On the downside it can take a really long time to finish a book. Plus, I now have to make up excuses to have my ear plugs in at home.  At least my family has accepted that they have to look at my ears before they start talking.

What are some of your book related problems?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Book Review: The Infinite by Lori M. Lee

The Infinite (Gates of Thread and Stone #2)
Author:  Lori M. Lee
Publisher:  Skyscape, 378 pages
Expected Publication Date:  March 10, 2014
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
Kai always believed the only danger to the city came from within. Now, with a rebel force threatening the fragile government, the walls have become more of a prison than ever.

To make matters worse, as Avan explores his new identity as an Infinite, Kai struggles to remind him what it means to be human. And she fears her brother, Reev, is involved with the rebels. With the two people she cares about most on opposite sides of a brewing war, Kai will do whatever it takes to bring peace. But she’s lost her power to manipulate the threads of time, and she learns that a civil war might be the beginning of something far worse that will crumble not only Ninurta’s walls but also the entire city.

In this thrilling sequel to Gates of Thread and Stone, Kai must decide how much of her humanity she’s willing to lose to protect the only family she’s ever known.

The Infinite is an amazing sequel which is just as good, if not better, than the first book.  That doesn't happen often.  Kai is struggling in this book.  Struggling with figuring out her place in the city.  Struggling with why her brother is acting so distant.  Struggling with her powers and her future.  Struggling with her feelings for Avan and not wanting to give up on him (I missed the old Avan, by the way--I think my heart may be broken, but I have hope).  

There's a ton of action (very consistently paced), and the world-building expands as we learn more about life outside the city and more about the Infinites and their history.  Kai spends a decent amount of time in the book away from her brother and Avan while she goes on a diplomatic mission to visit potential allies.  Given that, there's not as much focus much on romance and instead the emphasis is on Kai and her character growth and politics.  The author has created a fascinating world and I can't wait to get my hands on the next one!

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (82)

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 Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead
Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons
The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

From NetGalley:
One Night by A.J. Pine
The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
Captive by Brighton Walsh

What books did you add to your shelves this week?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Discussion Question: Too Many Books?

Do you sometimes get overwhelmed and stressed out because of all of the books you want to read?  I'm not talking about ARCs (that's a whole subject in and of itself) but the books you want to read and have no obligation to read.  Sometimes I look at the books on my bookshelves and my Kindle and even the ones on my TBR list on Goodreads and I just feel like there are TOO MANY BOOKS THAT I WANT TO READ.  I read a lot of books, over 300 a year, and I still feel like I'm getting behind, that the books are just piling up.  And I keep buying new ones so I'm not making a dent.  And sometimes this leads to me reading a book way too fast just to get done and get to the next one.  It feels weird complaining that there are too many books to read, but maybe I should be more selective?  Is it just me or do you feel this way?

Posted by:  Pam

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Recommend It? (2)

I got this idea from Danielle at Love at First Page. I read a lot of books that I don't review so I thought I would give a super short review of some books and let you know whether I recommend them or not.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.  Why did I wait so long to read this book? Jellicoe Road is a beautifully written book filled with mystery, romance, and tragedy. I loved every single word. This is one of those books that you will think about long after you've finished it.  Highly highly recommend.
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta. I loved the friendship aspect of the book and the fact that family was so important, but I wasn't shipping the romance that much. Plus a very open ending (granted, it's realistic, but still).  I do know that there's a sequel set five years in the future that's focused on a secondary character and that we do get to see what happens with Francesca so that lessens my frustration with the ending. Recommend.
The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines #6) by Richelle Mead.  I can't believe it's over!!  Adrian and Sydney are one of my favorite couples.  The ultimate slow burn romance that develops over time and feels so realistic and natural.  Such sexual tension and chemistry between these two (although it's a bit lackluster in this book).  The final book wraps everything up in a satisfying way, although it felt a little like things were being repeated, but at the same time, it was necessary to revisit old friends and enemies to tie up the loose ends. One big part of the plot of the series was not resolved, but according to Richelle Mead, "I don't think we've seen the last of these guys."  Definitely recommend this series, even more than VA!
City of Savages by Lee Kelly.  An interesting stand-alone dystopian about two sisters living as prisoners in New York City (the entire city is a POW camp).  Liked the importance of family and amazingly, the mother is present and an integral part of the plot.  Also liked that one of the "bad" guys was complex.  However, I have mixed feelings about where the plot went and I was pretty meh about the love interest.  Oh, and by the way, a love triangle, but with two girls and one guy.  Not sure I can recommend this one.

Posted by:  Pam