Friday, January 31, 2014

Review (Epic Recs): Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans


Earlier this month, I told you about doing Epic Recs and being paired with Becca of I'm Lost in Books. I made it through Level 2 last minute (this morning), and my review follows!

Title: Level 2 or The Memory of After (The Memory Chronicles #1)
Lenore Appelhans
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Acquired Via: Personal Collection
Release Date: January 15, 2013

In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

My Review

First, I want it to be known that the original title of the book, Level 2, works so much better for the story than The Memory of After. You see, the majority of the novel takes place in Level 2, but we'll get to that later. I also want to say in this opening paragraph (I know most of you just skim - I do, too) that this book was yet another victim of the hype monster.

Cover Reveal (Giveaway): Now That You're Here by Amy K. Nichols

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Title: Now That You're Here (Duplexity #1)
Amy K. Nichols
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House)
Release Date: December 9, 2014

Danny and Eevee are meant to be together . . . Just not in this universe.

Eevee Solomon has high school down to a science. Get the grades. Get the recommendations. Get into an Ivy League college, and eventually land a killer job at NASA.

Then Danny Ogden enters the equation.

Danny is a street-smart graffiti artist. He’s always managed to stay out of serious trouble, but this time he’s out of luck. One minute he’s running from the cops, and the next, he jolts awake in an unfamiliar body–his own, but different. Somehow, he’s crossed into a parallel universe. Now his friends are his enemies, his parents are long dead, and coolheaded Eevee is not the brazen girl he once kissed back home. Then again, this Eevee may be his only hope of getting home.

Eevee tells herself she’s only helping him in the name of quantum physics, but there’s something undeniably fascinating about this boy from another dimension...a boy who makes her question who she is, and who she might be in another place and time.

About the Author

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Internal Review: The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks


Title: The Way of Shadows (Night Angel #1)
Brent Weeks
Narrator: Paul Boehmer
Publisher: Orbit & Tantor Media
Acquired Via: Personal Collection
Release Date: October 1, 2008

For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city's most accomplished artist.

For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he's grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly - and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins' world of dangerous politics and strange magics - and cultivate a flair for death.

My Review

Me: Once upon a time, there was a girl who was terrible about reviewing books. She was even terrible about books that she loved, like The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks.

Myself: Are we going to do this today?

Me: Now, this girl will rave about The Way of Shadows to all of her library patrons and has ordered it for several of them, but she still can't be arsed to post a review on her blog.

Myself: Very funny.

Me: The girl, who insists upon hand-writing out reviews first, even wrote down a lot of notes in addition to her review of The Way of Shadows, but eventually lost that notebook because IT SAT AROUND FOR SO LONG.

Myself: *sigh* Here we go...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Review: Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore


Title: Manor of Secrets
Katherine Longshore
Publisher: Scholastic
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Release Date: January 28, 2014

It's DOWNTON ABBEY for teens! Gorgeous gowns, handsome boys, delicious intrigue, and upstairs-downstairs drama collide in the British countryside of 1911.

At The Manor, nothing is as it seems...

Lady Charlotte Edmonds: Beautiful, wealthy, and sheltered, Charlotte feels suffocated by the strictures of upper-crust society. She longs to see the world beyond The Manor, to seek out high adventure. And most of all, romance.

Janie Seward: Fiery, hardworking, and clever, Janie knows she can be more than just a kitchen maid. But she isn't sure she possesses the courage--or the means--to break free and follow her passions.

Both Charlotte and Janie are ready for change. As their paths overlap in the gilded hallways and dark corridors of The Manor, rules are broken and secrets are revealed. Secrets that will alter the course of their lives...forever.

My Review

Oh historical fiction, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height... Okay, okay, I won't wax poetic (cut and paste poetic, rather) about Katherine Longshore's Manor of Secrets, but it's hard not to because it has everything I love about period pieces - promise of scandal, fabulous clothes, intrigue, betrayal, and swoonworthy romance. It is pretty typical of what I expect from Edwardian-era stories, but it was still enjoyable nonetheless.

Waiting on Wednesday (39): Evernight by Kristen Callihan


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Title: Evernight (Darkest London #5)
Author: Kristen Callihan
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: August 26, 2014

Once the night comes . . .

Will Thorne is living a nightmare, his sanity slowly being drained away by a force he can't control. His talents have made him the perfect assassin for hire. But as he loses his grip on reality, there is no calming him—until he finds his next target: the mysterious Holly Evernight.

Love must cast aside the shadows . . .

Holly cannot fathom who would put a contract on her life, yet the moment she touches Will, the connection between them is elemental, undeniable—and she's the only one who can tame his bouts of madness. But other assassins are coming for Holly. Will must transform from killer to protector and find the man who wants Holly dead . . . or his only chance for redemption will be lost.

I just finished Shadowdance (Thanks Kayla!!) and really enjoyed it! I love this series! (even though I ALWAYS confuse it with the London Steampunk series by Bec McMaster! If you love this series, then you should definitely check out the London Steampunk series too! And vice versa.) I'm so glad that Callihan continued with the series past the original three sisters, even though I wasn't sure at first if I would like it. And, from what we see of Will Thorne in Shadowdance, I can't help but feel sorry for him.

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Review: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan


Title: Uninvited (Uninvited #1)
Sophie Jordan
Publisher: Harper Teen
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Release Date: January 28, 2014

You can't change your DNA . . . even when it says you're a murderer.

When Davy tests positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome, aka "the kill gene," she loses everything. Once the perfect high school senior, she is uninvited from her prep school and abandoned by her friends and boyfriend. Even her parents are now afraid of her—although she's never hurt a fly. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.

Without any say in the matter, Davy is thrown into a special class for HTS carriers. She has no doubt the predictions are right about them, especially Sean, who already bears the "H" tattoo as proof of his violence. Yet when the world turns on the carriers, Sean is the only one she can trust. Maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems.

Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

My Review

This is an absurdly difficult review to write because I neither loved or hated Uninvited. Don't get me wrong - I liked the book. However, Sophie Jordan did not really wow me with the characters, world-building, or the plot. I think there was some sort of oomph that it was missing, making Uninvited neither terrible or great.

Top Ten Tuesday: Worlds I Never Want to Live In


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Worlds I Never Want to Live In

1. U.S. Sometime in the Future
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

This is pretty close to my own personal nightmare.

2. U.S. Sometime in the Future
Partials (Partials Sequence #1) by Dan Wells

If I made it through the war and the plague, that is...

Monday, January 27, 2014

Blog Tour (Guest Post): The Professor by Robert Bailey

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The Professor Tour Schedule

Title: The Professor
Robert Bailey
Publisher: Exhibit A (Random House)
Release Date: January 28, 2014

“In trials, like sports, sometimes winning means everything…”

Thomas Jackson McMurtrie is a living legend scorned. Forty years ago, he gave up a promising career as a trial lawyer to become a law professor at the University of Alabama at the request of his mentor, Alabama football Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Now Tom is forced into retirement, betrayed by both a powerful colleague and his own failing health.

Meanwhile the young family of one of his oldest friends is killed in a tragic road collision. Believing his career is over, Tom refers the case to a brilliant, yet beleaguered, former student, who begins to uncover the truth behind the tragedy, buried in a tangled web of arson, bribery and greed.

But as the eve of trial approaches, the young attorney’s case begins to unravel. In over his head and at the end of his rope, he realizes there’s only one man who can help…

The Professor is the first in a series of tense legal thrillers featuring the enthralling and brilliant legal team of McMurtrie and Drake, combining the thrills and authenticity of a John Grisham novel for the audience that flocked to “Friday Night Lights.”

Guest Post

Writing The Professor: Beginnings…
Robert Bailey

The idea for The Professor began with a spark that came during a daydream in law school. A question, really. Could one of my law professors try a case if he had to do it? Would the classroom cross over to the courtroom? I carried that question around in the back of my mind for several years before I put fingertips to keyboard, slowly visualizing the character of Tom McMurtrie in my mind.

After reading Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing, I thought I was finally ready to take a stab at writing this story. I went to a room in my house where I could shut the door, thought about the situation in my mind—longtime law professor comes back to try a case—and began writing. What came out was the prologue to The Professor.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Review: The Secret Diamond Sisters by Michelle Madow

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Title: The Secret Diamond Sisters (The Secret Diamond Sisters #1)
Michelle Madow
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Release Date: February 25, 2014

Savannah. Courtney. Peyton.

The three sisters grew up not knowing their father and not quite catching a break. But it looks like their luck is about to change when they find out the secret identity of their long-lost dad—a billionaire Las Vegas hotel owner who wants them to come live in a gorgeous penthouse hotel suite. Suddenly the Strip's most exclusive clubs are all-access, and with an unlimited credit card each, it should be easier than ever to fit right in. But in a town full of secrets and illusion, fitting in is nothing compared to finding out the truth about their past.

My Review

I don't read a lot of contemporary novels, but Michelle Madow has been on my radar since she first published her Remembrance trilogy. I never got around to reading those books, but I was game to give her a shot when I got the opportunity to read The Secret Diamond Sisters. This book was a lot of fun to read because though it is a contemporary novel, it could most certainly be called "fantasy", too, because of the over-the-top glitz and glamour of life of Las Vegas Strip.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Review: Enders by Lissa Price

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Title: Enders (Starters #2)
Lissa Price
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House)
Acquired Via: Publisher
Release Date: January 7, 2014

The riveting conclusion to the sci-fi thriller STARTERS!

Someone is after Starters like Callie and Michael—teens with chips in their brains. They want to experiment on anyone left over from Prime Destinations—Starters who can be controlled and manipulated. With the body bank destroyed, Callie no longer has to rent herself out to creepy Enders. But Enders can still get inside her mind and make her do things she doesn't want to do. Like hurt someone she loves. Having the chip removed could save her life—but it could also silence the voice in her head that might belong to her father. Callie has flashes of her ex-renter Helena's memories, too... and the Old Man is back, filling her with fear. Who is real and who is masquerading in a teen body?

No one is ever who they appear to be, not even the Old Man. Determined to find out who he really is and grasping at the hope of a normal life for herself and her younger brother, Callie is ready to fight for the truth. Even if it kills her.

My Review

You can read my reviews of Starters HERE.

I have a terrible habit of not finishing series, but I loved Lissa Price's Starters so much that I've been on the edge of my seat for nearly two years waiting on Enders. Unfortunately, Enders did not do much to show me that I should discontinue my bad habit, though I was glad to finally discover the identity of the Old Man. I found that I was not as attached to Callie and her situation, and I was even disinterested at times as events unfolded. There was still plenty of action and twists to keep my interest, despite that.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Early Review: Sekret by Lindsay Smith (2)

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Title: Sekret (Sekret #1)
Lindsay Smith
Publisher: Roaring Book Press (Macmillan)
Acquired Via: NetGalley
Release Date: April 1, 2014

From debut author Lindsay Smith comes an espionage thriller with a dash of both history and dystopia.

Yulia’s father always taught her that an empty mind is a safe mind. She has to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive in Communist Russia, especially because she seems to be able to read the minds of the people she touches. When she’s captured by the KGB and forced to work as a psychic spy with a mission to undermine the U.S. space program, she’s thrust into a world of suspicion, deceit, and horrifying power where she can trust no one.

She certainly can’t trust Rostov, the cruel KGB operative running the psychic program. Or handsome Sergei who encourages her to cooperate with the KGB. Or brooding Valentin who tells her to rebel against them. And not the CIA, who have a psychic so powerful he can erase a person’s mind with his own thoughts. Yulia quickly learns she must rely on her own wits and power to survive in this world where no SEKRET can stay hidden for long.

My Review

You can read Kayla's review of Sekret HERE.

Yulia gets abducted by the KGB because she has special psychic powers and they need her in the Russian’s race to space and the Cold War against the U.S. I really liked the story and was immediately interested - spies, the KGB and the CIA. But, it was really slow in parts. When the psychics are going on missions and we are learning about the KGB or the race to space, it was entertaining. When they are back at the mansion and Yulia is either plotting (and failing, because she’s plotting in a house full of psychics) or moping, it was slow and easy for me to put the book down. I’m still a little confused on all of the powers. Can everyone read everyone’s minds at all times and they just each have some other ability too?

Cover Reveal (Giveaway): ELEVATED by Elana Johnson

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Title: Blood Crown
Elana Johnson
Release Date: February 18, 2014

The last person seventeen-year-old Eleanor Livingston wants to see on the elevator—let alone get stuck with—is her ex-boyfriend Travis, the guy she's been avoiding for five months.

Plagued with the belief that when she speaks the truth, bad things happen, Elly hasn’t told Trav anything. Not why she broke up with him and cut off all contact. Not what happened the day her father returned from his deployment to Afghanistan. And certainly not that she misses him and still thinks about him everyday.

But with nowhere to hide and Travis so close it hurts, Elly’s worried she won’t be able to contain her secrets for long. She’s terrified of finally revealing the truth, because she can’t bear to watch a tragedy befall the boy she still loves.

Praise for Elevated

"ELEVATED will take you on an emotionally gripping journey through the highs and lows of first love." - Carolee Dean, author of Take Me There and Forget Me Not

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: Poison Dance by Livie Blackbourne

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Title: Poison Dance (Midnight Thief #0.5)
Livie Blackburne
Publisher: Lion's Quill Press
Acquired Via: Author
Release Date: September 12, 2013

James is skilled, efficient, and deadly, a hired blade navigating the shifting alliances of a deteriorating Assassin’s Guild. Then he meets Thalia, an alluring but troubled dancing girl who offers him a way out—if he’ll help her kill a powerful nobleman. With the Guild falling apart, it just might be worth the risk. But when you live, breathe, and love in a world that’s forever flirting with death, the slightest misstep can be poison. Poison Dance is approximately 14,000 words, or 54 printed pages.

My Review

I received this novella from the author herself after I added her debut novel, The Midnight Thief, to my to-read shelf on Goodreads. I wanted to read The Midnight Thief because I love a good fantasy story about assassins. I usually don’t read novellas unless I know that the author added something in the novella I might need to know for an upcoming book. But, I agreed to read this novella because I figured I could get a good idea about her writing before picking up The Midnight Thief. I’m so glad that I was given the opportunity to read Poison Dance, because I really enjoyed the novella and now I can’t wait to see what Blackburne has in store for us with The Midnight Thief.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Blog Tour (Review): Netherwood by Jane Sanderson

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Title: Netherwood (Eve Williams #1)
Jane Sanderson
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Acquired Via:
TLC Book Tours

Two remarkably different worlds—one of wealth and privilege, the other of poverty and desperation—are about to collide in one shattering moment in this mesmerizing tale of high drama, forbidden love, and families fighting to hold on to what they have

Upstairs: Lord Netherwood, a coal baron, earns his considerable wealth from the three mines he owns. Supplying a bustling industrial empire with the highest-quality coal keeps his coffers filled—money he needs to run his splendid estate, Netherwood Hall, and to dress his wife and daughters in the latest fashions. And keeping his heir, the charming but feckless Tobias, out of trouble, doesn’t come cheap.

Downstairs: Eve Williams, the wife of one of Lord Netherwood’s most stalwart employees, cleverly manages her family’s well-being on the low wages her hardworking husband earns in the mines. But when her ordered life amid the terraced rows of miners’ houses is brought crashing down by the twin arrivals of tragedy and charity, Eve must look to her own self-sufficiency and talent to provide for her three young children.

And soon the divide between “upstairs” and “downstairs” is about to close . . . and neither world will ever be the same.

My Review

When I was a teenager, I stumbled across Marion Chesney's Poor Relations series, and I devoured them. I've gone back to reread them several times over the years, and I've never been able to find a series that gave me quite the same enjoyment. That is, until I found Netherwood by Jane Sanderson. It does not have the same lightness and swoony romance as the aforementioned Victorian-based novels, but it was an absolute pleasure to read.

Waiting on Wednesday (38): Skin Game by Jim Butcher


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Title: Skin Game (The Dresden Files #15)
Author: Jim Butcher
Publisher: Roc
Release Date: May 27, 2014

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day…

Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful.

He doesn’t know the half of it…

Mab has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. And now he must help a group of supernatural villains—led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can then access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever.

It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world—which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry.

Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance….

It has an official release date and a cover! I have been not-so-patiently awaiting this since I finished Cold Days in August. I can't wait to see what trouble Dresden and the gang get up to in this one. I do hope to see a lot more of Molly and Murphy being bad-asses.

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Blog Tour (Review & Giveaway): Forbidden by Jacquelyn Frank

To celebrate the release of Forsaken, the third book in Jacquelyn Frank’s wildly popular series, The World of Nightwalkers, she is putting the whole series on tour through TLC Book Tours. Welcome to my stop, where I am reviewing Forbidden, the first book in the series!

Title: Forbidden (The World of Nightwalkers #1)
Jacqueline Frank
Publisher: Ballantine Books (Random House)
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Acquired Via:
TLC Book Tours

From New York Times-bestselling author Jacquelyn Frank comes this first book in The World of the Nightwalkers—an exciting and sensual new spin-off series in which the Bodywalkers, an ancient race of the night, battles the evil forces who prey on them.

The unexpected happens in an instant. On her way to work, secretary Docia Waverley hurtles into a crashing crossroads, and she quickly begins to suspect that things will never be the same. Then, when a tall, blond, muscular stranger intervenes on her behalf, telling her it is his duty to protect her at all cost, what is just a feeling turns to proof positive. That is, as long as Docia’s savior doesn’t turn out to be a crazed kidnapper.

When Ram finds Docia, he has no doubt that she is his queen. But as this golden warrior sweeps in to protect her, he feels something more than body heat every time they touch. He is overwhelmed by a searing connection that goes deep into the twin souls inside him. A desire rises in him that is forbidden—this woman is his queen, the mate of his king, his leader, his best friend. And yet Docia is so vulnerable and attractive that she awakens a hunger in Ram that is undeniable, a carnal craving he cannot yield to...not without risking the very survival of the Bodywalkers.

My Review

One of my absolute favorite guilty pleasures is romance novels, but paranormal romances are generally the ones I delve into the least. (That's weird, right, since I love urban fantasy so much?) That being said, Forbidden, was a fun and sexy trek into PNR that I didn't expect but completely enjoyed. I was expecting something along the line of vampires or werewolves, but Forbidden focused on Bodywalkers with Egyptian origins. Not since Queen of the Damned have I read a supernatural novel spun from Egyptian mythology.

Blog Tour (Spotlight & Giveaway): Inside Passage by Burt Weissbourd


Inside Passage Tour Schedule

Title: Inside Passage
Burt Weissbourd
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Release Date: January 15, 2013

Corey Logan was set up. She knows Nick Season’s terrible secret. Coming home from prison, all Corey wants is to be with her son. To get him back, she needs to make a good impression on the psychiatrist evaluating her. But Dr. Abe Stein doesn’t believe she was framed–until his well-heeled mother falls for the charming state attorney general candidate, Nick Season.

As the dogs of war are unleashed, Corey and her son run for their lives–taking her boat up the Pacific Northwest’s remote Inside Passage. Inside Passage is the first in Weissbourd’s haunting, heart-stirring Corey Logan trilogy.

Buy Links
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Top Ten Tuesday: Things on My Reading Wishlist


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Things on My Reading Wishlist

My wishlist this week is about the perfect lead female character with five characteristics I wish more female leads had and five characteristics I don’t want to see in a female lead. There are a lot of authors who get their bad-ass heroines just right, and there are some authors who need to shake up their heroines. I don’t need a female character turning into a ball-buster or into a stubborn know-it-all with a propensity for too-stupid-to-die actions. I just need a strong, independent lead who can take care of herself and those that she loves.

5 Things I like to see in my heroines:

1. Intelligence

See Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

2. Healthy self esteem

3. Just Being Plain Good at Your Job

See Eve Dallas from the In Death series by J.D. Robb

4. Saving the Man Instead of Needing to be Saved

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Blog Tour (Spotlight & Giveaway): The Hunted One by Meg Collett


Tour Schedule

Title: The Hunted Ones (End Of Days #1)
Meg Collett
Release Date: January 17, 2014

The fallen have trespassed into Heaven for the first time in eternity. Prepared for battle, Michaela and her Archangels open Heaven’s gates to confront the fallen. Only, Michaela’s Archangels—her brothers and sisters in Heaven—betray her. And when the fallen attack the sanctuary in the skies through the gates Michaela inadvertently left open, the holy angels accuse Michaela of planning the invasion.

One simple mistake with a thousand consequences.

Dragged to Earth by an Archangel turned fallen, Michaela will do anything to return to Heaven and save it. In her fervor, she kills the Archangel—something no angel has ever done before. Wingless, without any hope, Michaela welcomes death when an unlikely human ally, Clark, finds her. With the help of Clark and Gabriel, an innocent Archangel whose friendship deepens into something far more torrid and unexpected on Earth, Michaela must prove the holy angels have their own plan for Heaven, and it is one that may prove to be the End of the Days.

It may be too late to save herself, but Michaela is the only one who knows the truth about the holy angels. If she fails, she may never be able to return to Heaven. But even that may be a hopeless dream.

Buy Your Copy on Amazon!

About the Author

Friday, January 17, 2014

Quickie Update

1 comment:
I hate to leave the blog unattended or without posts very long without explanation. I just want to let you guys know that we've had some illness at our house, and I'm trying to adjust to a new medication (never fun). There will be reviews and features that'll be coming your way again starting on Sunday.

While you're here, go enter my 2 Year Blogoversary Giveaway - there'll be an extra entry for the downtime this weekend.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge


Title: Cruel Beauty
Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Acquired Via: Publisher
Release Date: January 28, 2014

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom—all because of a reckless bargain her father struck. And since birth, she has been training to kill him.

Betrayed by her family yet bound to obey, Nyx rails against her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, she abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, disarm him, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her. As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. But even if she can bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him?

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

My Review
In my family, nobody’s love had given anything but cruelty and sorrow, and nobody’s love had ever stopped giving.
- p. 35, ARC
I am so glad that this was a stand alone. That, in itself, is refreshing - a young adult fantasy novel that is a stand alone!

The story itself kept me captivated. I was so caught up in the story, the mysteries, and Nyx that I read this all within a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. The mysteries in the house about Ignifex and the mystery of the house itself were intriguing and kept me guessing. Who was Ignifex really? However, the story lost a little of itself and got a little murky with some unbelievable parts toward the end. Also, while there was a wonderful love story, there wasn’t a lot of other plot. Nyx is married to Ignifex due to a bargain, but her father also has an assassination plot. This plot and the world building along with the reasoning for the plot are strong in the beginning but sort of peeter off and take a back seat to the love story. This didn’t bother me as I was expecting a Disney Beauty and the Beast story and not an epic fantasy full of great plots and world building. But I can see that a lot of readers will probably have issues with the story that strays away from the assassin story to a love story.

Book Blast (Giveaway): Destined for Love by Melissa Foster

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Title: Destined for Love (Love in Bloom: Snow Sisters & The Bradens #5)
Melissa Foster
Publisher: World Literary Press
Book Blast Organizer: Book Nerd Tours
Release Date: November 28, 2013

You met Rex Braden in Lovers at Heart, Book One of the The Bradens (Love in Bloom Series). Jade Johnson is about to turn his comfortable rancher's life upside down. Don't miss this powerful love story.

Destined for Love is a hot contemporary romance with alpha male heroes and sexy, empowered women. They're flawed, funny, passionate, and very relatable for readers who enjoy adult romance, contemporary romance, and women's fiction.

Rex Braden is wealthy, hard working, and fiercely loyal. Sweat at his brow, he works the family ranch by day, then kicks back at night with part time lovers who require nothing more than his physical presence a few times each week. But that was before. Before Jade Johnson, the daughter of the man his father has been feuding with for over forty years, moves back into town.

After ditching a horrific relationship—and her veterinary practice in the process—Jade Johnson returns to the safety of her small hometown and finally finds her footing. That is...until her horse is injured and Rex Braden comes to her rescue. The last thing she needs is a bull-headed, too-handsome-for-his-own-good Braden complicating her life.

Despite the angry family history, sparks fly between Rex and Jade, and attitudes follow. Fifteen years of stifled, forbidden love stirs a surge of passion too strong for either to deny—and the rebel in each of them rears its powerful head. Loyalties are tested, and relationships are strained. Rex and Jade are about to find out if true love really can conquer all.

Watch for the full LOVE IN BLOOM series:

Sisters in Love
Sisters in Bloom
Sisters in White

Lovers at Heart
Destined for Love
Friendship on Fire
Sea of Love
Bursting with Love
Hearts at Play

Buy Links
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Waiting on Wednesday (37): Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Title: Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3)
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: February 4, 2014

One day I might break
One day I might break free

Nothing will ever be the same.

The fate of Omega Point is unknown. Everyone Juliette has ever cared about could be dead. The war could be over before it ever really began.

Juliette is the only one standing in The Reestablishment's way. She knows that if she's going to survive, The Reestablishment cannot.

But to take down The Reestablishment and the man who very nearly killed her, Juliette will need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together to bring down their enemy, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew—about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam—was wrong.

I am in equal parts eagerly awaiting and dreading this release. I love Mafi's writing and really want to get back into this unique world, but I'm scared of another terrible dystopian trilogy ending. I don't really have an opinion on whether Juliette should end up with Warner or Adam, but I do want everyone I care about to live through the end and for all of my questions to be answered.

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Guest Post: The Mystery of Shadow Hills by Carrie Cross

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Title: Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills
Carrie Cross
Publisher: Ward Design LLC DBA Teen Mystery Press
Release Date: July 30, 2013

Thirteen-year-old sleuth Skylar Robbins plans to become a private detective like her grandfather. Stuck at her bullying cousin Gwendolyn’s Malibu estate for the summer, Skylar brings her detective kit, portable spy tools, and her journal for taking notes in secret code. She had no idea how dangerous the next eight weeks would prove to be. On the first day of summer school an odd classmate named Kat passes a note in backward writing, introducing Skylar to the secret world of witchcraft. Practical Skylar didn’t believe in magic—until the spells they perform in an abandoned garden actually begin to work. Skylar finds herself accepting the increasingly risky challenges made by her new BF, and when Kat tells her that a mysterious group is doing wicked things up in Shadow Hills at night, she can’t help but investigate. Her classmates are nervous and rumors are flying. The teen sleuth uses the tools in her detective kit and faces her most embarrassing fear to find the truth. If Skylar survives the summer, her life will be changed forever.

Guest Post

Inspiration for Writing Skylar Robbins
Carrie Cross

Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills was written for the bullied kid in school, and the strong girl who protected her. The intelligent student who is misinterpreted as a nerd. The creative one who isn’t afraid to appear weird and different. And everyone who is afraid to take a risk—but is glad in the end that they had the courage.

My favorite books of all time were the ones I read in junior high, and they were further inspiration for the Skylar Robbins series. I have great memories of lying in bed on stormy nights reading Judy Blume novels like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s The Changeling and The Velvet Room, Nancy Drew mysteries, and Harriet the Spy,. Since books for this age group were the most fun to read, I thought that they would also be the most enjoyable to write.

I planned to create a teen detective series, and decided to start a new trend: that the smartest kid in class can also be the coolest. The one kids look up to and want to follow. So many television shows over the years have had a main character who was the opposite of intellectual. Think of the lead roles in Happy Days, Beverly Hills 90210, Married with Children, That 70's Show, Vampire Diaries, and Gossip Girl. None of them use their brains in a way I'd want today's 'tweens to emulate.

So I created Skylar Robbins: a rational 13-year-old sleuth who methodically pieces together clues until she finally solves each challenging mystery. Very often smart kids in books, television shows, and movies are portrayed as dorks. I wanted to create a protagonist who kids could relate to, empathize with, and look up to. One who was quick-thinking, courageous, and determined, while also funny, cute, and cool.

Put a detective kit in a young girl's hands, and ask her to look for clues. Then decipher their meaning, put them together in the proper order, and use deductive reasoning to solve a fun and challenging mystery. Now that's a goal I'd be happy to see today’s teens going after. I want the smart kids in class to be proud of their brains, and not afraid to show them off for the asset that they really are.

Skylar Robbins is a relatable main character. She admits her fears to her readers while showing them creative ways to stand up to bullies and find the guts to try new things. Many of us have a secret phobia that we are ashamed to admit. Like an intelligent thirteen-year-old sleuth who is afraid of horses, while the rest of her class is horse crazy. We’ve all gone through the nervousness of the first day at a new school, had a relative or nasty classmate who picked on us, and have experienced feeling left out. Everyone has met a mean girl who keeps everyone on edge so they won’t realize how desperately afraid she is that no one likes her. We’ve all had that aggressive friend who pushed us to take dangerous chances or experiment with something we were ashamed to admit we were afraid to try. These characters all appear in Shadow Hills, and Skylar shows us clever ways to deal with them.

The storyline concentrates on Skylar's introduction into witchcraft. When an intriguing classmate promises her that the spells they’re about to cast in an abandoned garden will charm a cute boy and enable them to grow their own diamonds, Skylar reluctantly agrees to participate. She was too practical to believe in magic—until the witchcraft actually starts to work.

On a more important level, this book illustrates what true friendship is all about. The novel portrays the shallowness and dishonesty of the classmate who teaches Skylar about witchcraft with the genuineness of hearing-impaired Andy, a very tall African-American artist, Rudy “Beanpole” Dean, and especially Skylar's dyslexic BFF, Alexis. Rudy's parting words after the climax of the story, "Stay real, Skylar," are the essential message of the book.

At the end of The Mystery of Shadow Hills, Skylar sends a shout out to the readers: The Skylar Robbins Detective Agency needs a few secret agents to help solve her next case: The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels (June, 2014). But they must have mad detective skills. They need to decipher her web address (, find the Secret Agent Application Form, and decode their password using a code they learned in the first book. The second mystery is interactive: Skylar’s agents will help her figure out what the clues mean by posting their guesses on the website. Seven secret agents have already signed up. Who’s next?

Buy Links
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Carrie Cross is the author of the Skylar Robbins teen mystery series. She is currently at work on the fourth novel in the series, The Curse of Koma Island (2016).

Follow Carrie on Facebook, on Twitter and visit her Website for more information.

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Debuts I'm Excited For


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten 2014 Debuts Amber is Excited For

1. A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
January 23, 2014

Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.

After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

I love historical fiction set in London. I don't think I have read anything set in London as late as the 1900's, but this looks extremely interesting.

2. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
January 28, 2014

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale, and I hope this retelling lives up to its greatness!