Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Review: Getting Lucky Number Seven by Cindi Madsen

Getting Lucky Number Seven by Cindi Madsen
Publisher: Entangled Embrace
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Kindle copy bought from Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads):

What's your lucky number?

Lyla Wilder is done being the shy, chemistry nerd extraordinaire. While every other college student is out having fun, Lyla is studying. With her cat. Well, she's played it "safe" quite enough, thank you. So she creates a "College Bucket List"?with item #7 being a night of uninhibited, mind-blowing sex...

But she needs some help from her man-whore best friend.

Hockey player Beck Davenport thought Lyla's transformation would be subtle. Man, was he wrong. With every item she ticks off, Beck finds himself growing seriously hot for his sweet, brainiac best friend. And if he's not careful, he'll end up risking their friendship in order to convince Lyla that he might just be her lucky #7...

What I Liked:

This review might start to get less review-ish and more personal. We can blame Cindi, it's her fault for writing a book that pretty much parallels the current state of my personal life - to a point. For about half of this book. But in any case, this one hit close to home. I almost stopped reading at one point because it was too much like my own life. Then the halfway point hit and things were radically different and I kept reading because the similarities disappeared and my heart could handle this book.

Lyla is tired of being the boring smart nerd who studies all the time (girl, I feel you. This so much). After a disastrous time of embarrassing herself and someone making her feel bad about herself, Lyla decides to make a list of things that she wants to do - things like doing a keg stand, dancing on a bar, getting a tattoo. Wild things that she would never do without a little nudge. That nudge comes from her friend, Beck. He's a hot, smart hockey player who always has a string of girls in and out of his apartment. Who better to help her get out from under her nerd rock? But both of them will realize that that have real feelings for each other that have nothing to do with friendship.

Lyla is going all in for this list. She's a chemistry major. a corny, awkward girl who is officially frustrated with herself - is she not fun? Or attractive? Lyla dyes her hair, ditches the long skirts and colorful shirts, attempts to learn to flirt. She lets herself drink a little, loosen up. I'm definitely a "Lyla" - I'm a conservative dresser, I don't drink, I'm an engineering major who takes things way too seriously, I've taken up a second residence in the library. I can't say I'm terribly awkward or embarrassing but... I don't know if people would agree or disagree. Wink. 

Beck is quite an interesting guy. He's hot, he's charming, he's easygoing. Everyone likes him (me included). He plays hockey, and he loves it, but he's not sure if that's a career path for him, though he can't see himself doing anything else, despite the chemistry major. Beck is a lot like my gilipollas boy I always mention (he's a soccer player though) - they are carbon copies. 

So this story was extremely realistic for me. In fact, up until about halfway through the book, it was my life. My gilipollas boy and I are no longer best friends, but we used to be best friend. The nerdy environmental engineer girl and the soccer player boy, best friends, the strangest pairing, really. He would always be pushing me to be more fun, take more risks, do this and that. I'd always be pushing him to study more. Ha. The difference between Lyla and Beck, and me and my gilipollas boy is him and I are no longer friends. Or anything. There will be no happy ending for us. Midway through this book, it's clear that Lyla and Beck have feelings for each other, or at least serious lust.

And then their relationship takes a turn that my and his never did, and that was when this book got easier for me to read. Not that it was HARD to read before - just, too personal. Too close to home, too fresh. But after Lyla and Beck does some surprising things on her list, I started really seeing this as a story very separate from my life.

Don't get me wrong, I really liked this story. It was so fun to see Lyla transform and slowly fall for Beck, and for Beck to open his eyes to what is in front of him. Neither of them really had feelings for each other before the bucket list of Lyla's. So it was nice to see them fall for each other, from best friends to more, at pretty much an even pace. I always believe that the best relationships start from friendship to relationship (dating, whatever). 

It's interesting to see the relationship grow and develop. They don't go from friends to boyfriend/girlfriend. There's this modern-day in-between, in which people aren't dating but they're more than friends - historic times would call them "lovers", I guess we call it hooking up? The person you're hooking up with? Exclusively? I'm in college and I see this all the time and it still baffles me what I should call this relationship. But everyone hates labels these days. In any case, while I dislike this type of relationship, Madsen doesn't an EXCELLENT job of capturing it. Until Lyla and Beck outgrow that relationship! And then it turns into something lovely.

The romance is quite steamy! It takes a while to get there, but when it does, be prepared to fan yourself! Nothing on the level of some historical romance novels, or this book's sister imprint, Entangled Brazen, but still, quite steamy.

There is a great deal of character development in both protagonists! Oh yes, we get both of their first person points-of-view. Lyla changes a lot, physically and mentally and emotionally. Beck has to grow up in terms of his family. He has to make a lot of difficult decisions, and I liked seeing him stand up and be decisive.

Overall, this book was very authentic (college definitely has most/all of the elements in this book these days), very funny (gosh, Lyla is awkward/embarrassing), and very hot (yay chemistry... on several levels). I don't usually like New Adult contemporary romance novels, but this one hit me personally (up until a point), and it was quite enjoyable!

What I Did Not Like:

One thing that bothered me was Lyla's need to feel like she needed to accomplish things and change herself? I'm just like Lyla in many ways but I have no desire to do a keg stand of dance on bars. But Lyla learned a lot about herself and gained confidence as she went - I don't think I need to much help with confidence (and I wouldn't do those things to gain confidence, thank you very much). But I'm not sure how I feel about that the fact that she felt like she had to change her appearance! What's wrong with conservative dressing? Oh - unless you're trying to attractive the attention of boys (which she was) - then she decided to strip way down. Le sigh. Anyway.

Would I Recommend It:

I would! I liked this book a lot. It's New Adult contemporary romance, and I know there are a lot of NA fans, so this one is right up your alley. And for those of you who are like me and DON'T enjoy NA - this one is STILL up your alley! Or maybe I enjoyed it so much because I could relate so much, on many different levels. Eh.


4 stars. I'm glad I threw out my reading schedule for this one (notice it's a book I bought, not a review book, and it's post-published). I should have been reading a review book, but oh well! This one was enjoyable, and definitely the light romance I needed to read!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Why Am I Blogging?

Last night as I was studying for finals and attempting to write a review for Getting Lucky Number Seven (OMG so good by the way), I watched tweets upon tweets roll in from person to person as a response to THIS one. #BloggerLove is such a great idea, hats off to whoever started it. Seriously, it was beautiful to see everyone love and support each other! I know a lot of people were really moved by the support and love. I'm not trying to rain on this parade or be the Negative Nancy. Definitely not my intention.

It was bittersweet for me, because not a single person tweeted anything to or about me.

Let me be clear: this post isn't meant to be a pity party. Heck, I don't know if I'll even publish it. I don't want people to go and say, oh, she's doing it for attention, she wants people to feel sorry for her, blah blah blah. Not at all what I want people to think.

In a way, #BloggerLove (or whatever the Twitter event was) was a catalyst for a thought I've had in my mind for quite some time now. It made me put more thought into one serious thing that's been on my mind for a while now - why am I doing this? Why am I blogging? Why am I putting so much time and effort into this?

Call it a blogging/reviewing crisis of a sort. I've been thinking about this for a looooong while now, so please don't think this is a cry of attention response to the Twitter thing. It was more of a wake-up call.

Not a single person said anything nice to or about me (or mean, so I guess that in itself is a win). No one said I was a blogger they admired, despite the s***ton amount of work I do for my blog, for authors, publishers, etc. No one remembered my four reviews a week, my 200+ books read a year, so on and so forth.

So why am I doing this?

Why am I burning myself out, trying to read as many books as I can, trying to support as many authors and publishers as I can? I'm a college student - I barely have time to sleep, let alone blog/review full-time. For free. For fun. For enjoyment. And last night was a good time to realize that no one really cares how much work I put into this, because it means basically nothing to them. If you're an outgoing person who likes books, you'll be an accepted individual in the community. Me? Someone who reads a lot, reviews a lot, but doesn't get the chance to talk to people a lot? Which is my fault, because of school. But me? Not an accepted individual. Never have been.

People in this community have bonded over bookish events and conventions they've attended, or how much they chat on Twitter, or the proximity in which they live. I can't attend conventions and events (few in Baltimore, and I have no means to get to D.C.). I don't have time to talk on Twitter (completely my fault, academics are hard). Few bloggers live in Baltimore, and while there are a ton in D.C., they either don't know me or don't like me (harsh truth, but true nonetheless).

So, what am I doing wrong? Not attending events? Not chatting enough on Twitter? Not fangirling enough? It breaks my heart that I've commented on so many blogs, lent (mailed, asking for no money or anything in return) so many books to other bloggers, been nice to so many people, and it. Meant. Nothing.

Do I feel insecure about this? Yes. Because the blogging community is so much more than reviewing and reading books - this I know and completely agree with. But I'm totally lacking that "more" quality that seems to bonding everyone together. I'm sitting here trying to write a review at 12:30 am on a Monday night and everyone on Twitter is crying and hugging and favoriting tweets and spreading love and support to one another. Which is great - for them. For someone like me who is totally excluded - it hurts.

Granted, I tweeted nothing at no one, for two reasons: what if I forgot to include someone, or didn't think to include someone, and they felt the exact same way I feel right now? That would break my heart. The other reason was this whole post - I really didn't feel like spreading love last night. Sorry, you all. I love a lot of you and I wish I had had the heart to join the chains of tweets last night.

But more to the point - it doesn't help my feelings of inadequacy. Why am I doing this? Why am I doing SO MUCH, if no one cares, no one remembers how hard I work, no pops in during a lovathon and say, "Alyssa! She's pretty awesome!". It's not like my blog is private and no one can see my posts - everything is open and people can see my xxx reviews, xxx posts, etc.

For you "young" bloggers, this goes to show: posting liberally (like me) doesn't mean s***. Reading a ton doesn't mean s***. Reviewing a ton doesn't mean s***. Talking a lot to people on Twitter means a lot. And it does - kindness and time and effort goes a long way into a relationship with another person, virtual or in real life.

Will anything change? Will I slow down? Will I stop blogging? I don't know. Knowing me, I'm so committed to reviewing books, and this black cloud will sit above me for the rest of my life and I'd still be blogging because I'm a disciplined control freak like that.

Maybe I'm just stressed about finals (this semester has been waaaaay rough), or frustrated with something I can't even quantify, in terms of blogging. I've been blogging for abut 2.5 years and I love reading, reviewing, and sharing my love of books - but I hate feeling like an outsider in the community, someone who is working entirely too hard (college + blogging = difficult) and feels like she's shouting into the void. I don't know. I don't know what the point of this post was. I have no idea why I'm posting this, or blogging in general. 

Maybe this is my blogging mid-life crisis. I especially hope some "older" bloggers read this and shed some light, I could use encouragement (or perhaps discouragement, maybe someone needs to tell me to quit and leave) at the moment.

Anyway. Back to writing that review. See what I mean?

EDIT: thank you to the three of you that did tweet something including me - I didn't see those until after I wrote this entire thing (I haven't published it though). Now I'm scared to post this. But it was never about attention, right? It was about my ongoing existential crisis. Right.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Blog Tour Giveaway: The Girl At Midnight by Melissa Grey

The Girl At Midnight by Melissa Grey
Book One of The Girl At Midnight series
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: April 28, 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

For readers of Cassandra Clare's City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone, The Girl at Midnight is the story of a modern girl caught in an ancient war.

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

"Sparks fly...This first novel will please fans of Cassandra Clare and Game of Thrones watchers with its remarkable world building; richly developed characters...[and] a breathtaking climax that...cannot come soon enough!"—Booklist, Starred

"Grey's energetic debut offers a strong protagonist... [this] well-built world, vivid characters, and perfect blend of action and amour should have readers eagerly seeking the sequel."—Kirkus, Starred

About the Author:

MELISSA GREY was born and raised in New York City. She wrote her first short story at the age of twelve and hasn't stopped writing since. After earning a degree in fine arts at Yale University, she traveled the world, then returned to New York City where she currently works as a freelance journalist. To learn more about Melissa visit melissa-grey.com and follow @meligrey on Twitter.

The Giveaway:

Review: End of Days by Susan Ee

End of Days by Susan Ee
Book Three of the Penryn & the End of Days series
Publisher: Skyscape
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

End of Days is the explosive conclusion to Susan Ee’s bestselling Penryn & the End of Days trilogy.

After a daring escape from the angels, Penryn and Raffe are on the run. They’re both desperate to find a doctor who can reverse the twisted changes inflicted by the angels on Raffe and Penryn’s sister. As they set off in search of answers, a startling revelation about Raffe’s past unleashes dark forces that threaten them all.

When the angels release an apocalyptic nightmare onto humans, both sides are set on a path toward war. As unlikely alliances form and strategies shift, who will emerge victorious? Forced to pick sides in the fight for control of the earthly realm, Raffe and Penryn must choose: Their own kind, or each other?

What I Liked:

I almost feel bad about getting to read this book early. I didn't have to suffer and wait like the rest of you at all. I read Angelfall in March, and World After in March (2015), and now I've read End of Days, in early May! I'm not bragging because there's nothing to brag about - I had no desire to read this series, to be honest. My bloggy friend Pili kept nudging me towards the series, and when the first two were made available on NetGalley in March, I jumped at the chance to binge-read the series!

So, just like Angelfall (which was technically my February Pili-Pushed book), and World After (which was my March Pili-Pushed book), End of Days is my May Pili-Pushed book! To see all of my reviews of Pili-Pushed books, click on the "Pili-Pushed" tag at the bottom of my blog!

In this "explosive conclusion" to the quite popular trilogy that has been torturing most of you all for three years, Penryn and Raffe must deal with an entirely new threat to the world - or several of them. The angels following Uriel are bent on killing humans, and Uriel and his scientists have constructed a new horror to unleash on humans. But there's also something that will threaten angels too - angels that don't support Uriel's mission to become Messenger. Penryn fights for her family's safety, as well as for all the humans around her. Raffe struggles to find a doctor to sew back his wings - so he can take on Uriel once and for all.

I struggled a bit with World After - it was predictable for me, and kind of stagnant. I liked Angelfall though. This book was redemption! It could have easily gone south, but I enjoyed it, and I'm glad. Wouldn't it be so disappointing if a book you've been waiting to read for years was terrible? I haven't been waiting for years (it hasn't even been months for me), but I know a lot of you have been waiting for years.

One thing that I really noticed and I was quite pleased about was the romance. FINALLY, the romance takes off from where it was in Angelfall and World After. One of my complaints in my review of World After was that I didn't like how the romance wasn't really addressed. It was just kind of barely there, and the author didn't do much with it. In this book, the romance is very much addressed. Raffe and Penryn push and pull each other, and at first it seems like things aren't going anywhere yet again. But it's clear that while Raffe wants to respect the laws of the angels, he cares about Penryn. And we know how Penryn feels about Raffe.

I think this book is the least creepy of the three, which is weird, considering where Penryn and Raffe have to go for help, and the new creatures that are unleashed by Uriel. But I wasn't as scared or creeped out by this book was I was with the other two book. Good thing or bad thing, take that as you may.

Penryn and Raffe find themselves descending into this type of Hell to get help against Uriel. Literally my favorite part of the book, to be honest. The people they're trying to find are HILARIOUS. I'm trying not to give too much away, but I really loved this part of the book and must point that out!

We continue to see Penryn grow in this book. She has to make difficult decisions just like in the last two books, especially when it comes to Raffe. Paige also grows up in this novel, and her role in the story is critical. Penryn's mother is still wacky, and we don't get any answers about her and her shenanigans at all (disappointing). Raffe is a very prominent part of this book, and even he undergoes character development, despite being a fairly static character.

I already mentioned the romance - it was my favorite aspect of the book. The chemistry between Raffe and Penryn has always been there, throughout each book. In this book, we get a little more than just chemistry and sparks. I absolutely love that Ee takes what Raffe and Penryn have to another level, despite both of them still in denial about what's between them. You will be very satisfied with the romance!

You'll be satisfied with the ending in general! It's a great ending, with sacrifices and bittersweet aspects and an overall good feeling. There is something that HAS to happen at the end of the book, and I know it bothered one person who has also already the book; the thing is, that thing HAD to happened. And it makes the story that much more better, that much more real. The ending is not cookie cutter perfect, but it fits the series like a glove. It's a good one, I promise! In all aspects.

What I Did Not Like:

The one thing that still irks me is that I still don't understand Penryn's mother! There are no answers provided, in terms of why she is the way she is! Maybe the author just wants us to think that she is crazy and it's a helpful kind of crazy? I don't know. It's open to interpretation!

Would I Recommend It:

In any case, I would absolutely recommend this book! It's a very good end to the series, quite possibly my favorite of the three. After been slightly disappointed by World After, I can safely say that I am content with the series, after reading this book!


4 stars. I'm glad peer pressure got to me and I finally read this book! It was worth every page, and I am certain that, for everyone else, it is worth waiting years to read.

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

My reviews of: Angelfall | World After

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Chantress Fury by Amy Butler Greenfield

Welcome to the blog tour for Chantress Fury by Amy Butler Greenfield! Some of you may remember me revealing the cover for this one, as well as the new cover for Chantress and Chantress Alchemy. Check out my review of this conclusion novel, and enter the giveaway!

My reviews of: Chantress | Chantress Alchemy

Chantress Fury by Amy Butler Greenfield
Book Three of the Chantress series
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Official Summary:

The sea is coming. We are coming. And we will drown you all.

With a song, Lucy can control the wind and the water; she can bring castles and kingdoms to their feet. Since Lucy mastered her powers, King Henry has kept her close as he’s rebuilt England. She’s his best ally—and his workhorse. And now he’s called her to investigate attempted murder: His men claim they were almost killed on the Thames…by a mermaid. All Lucy can glean from the creature they’ve captured is a warning: The sea is coming. We are coming. And we will drown you all.

And then the floods begin. Swaths of London are submerged as the people scramble to defend themselves against the water—and the monsters—that are flooding their streets. As mistrust of Lucy's magic grows, the king relies on Nat, Lucy's great love, to guide them through the storm. But Nat is cold and distant to Lucy. He swore his love only a year before, and now he calls her “stranger.”

Lucy is determined to defeat this powerful new magic alone if she must. But then she hears an eerie song within the water…can it mean that she’s not the last Chantress after all?

Sweepingly romantic and crackling with magic, Chantress Fury triumphantly concludes the powerful Chantress trilogy.

What I Liked:

Yes! This book was a wonderful addition and conclusion to this series! Any small worries or doubts I had from the previous two books were totally addressed in this book, and I finally got to experience the even bigger "big picture" of this series. I absolutely adored this book! I think Chantress is my favorite, but Chantress Fury comes in close second. Very close.

It's been over a year since Nat and Lucy parted ways. Nat is the right-hand man of King Henry, and Lucy is King Henry's fix-all lackey, sent to fix situations and help bring nobles in line with the King's orders. Lucy has been avoiding Nat, pretending she doesn't care about him - and he's been cold with her. When the old, constant threat spills over and threatens to drown the world, Lucy knows she might sacrifice everything - her love, her life, her reputation, her place in London - to save London. 

This book started in such a heartbreaking manner. We all know how Chantress Alchemy ends - I refused to believe that the ending would be permanent for the rest of the series. But when this book starts, we find that it's been over a year since Nat and Lucy separated. Nat believed that it would be better for them not to be together, and Lucy, despite still loving him, begins to believe it. Who wants to be with someone who is always being sent to do the King's dirty work? Someone who London is now beginning to fear, not revere? A "monster", a witch, not a noblewoman. When Nat returns to the kingdom, Lucy does her best to avoid him, but they can't avoid each other forever.

My heart really broke for both of them. Lucy never stopped loving Nat, despite never seeing him and feeling like he didn't want her anymore. Nat felt like he was doing right by Lucy. But when they meet again in this book, they both realize they still love each other. But Lucy pushes him away, telling him that he shouldn't want to be with a "monster".

This kind of self-deprecation would usually annoy me, but it's totally warranted, in this situation. The people of London think Lucy is the one calling the floods, that it's her fault. Magic calls to magic, they say. Eventually, people are calling for her to be burned. Lucy is truly a monster in their eyes, and she feels like one. The powerful magic that is surging and causing the floods is after her, and wants to destroy London because of her. 

Which makes this book all the more beautifully heartbreaking! Not only is Lucy feeling abandoned by Nat, but she is feared by Londoners. And Lucy struggles to find out the identity of the mysterious force that is threatening London. Nevertheless, Lucy remains diligent and strong, determined to work harder than ever, despite her personal problems. 

I really liked the direction of the story. Finally, we get to see the big picture of the series - the powerful force that is trying to destroy London and Lucy. It's an old, elemental force that is not so easy to defeat. The survival of London depends on Lucy - no small task at hand. Mermaids are a part of this - and krakens! All kinds of odd sea creatures pop up in this book. Without spoiling anything, I will say that the stakes are extremely high in this book, and the dangers are very scary.

The world-building, as always, is superbly crafted. Greenfield has such beautiful writing, and her style really lends itself to the genre. Historical fiction requires a lot of things, like a certain manner of speaking for the characters, and little anachronisms. It's clear that Greenfield has done her research and knows what she's talking about! The "history" is aspect is realistic and authentic, and the fantasy aspect is well-written.

The romance is so heartbreaking at first! Nat and Lucy tiptoe around each other at first. But they love each other, and the sparks and flares are there. The romance takes on an... interesting quality, but I think it really works in this book's case. We know that Nat and Lucy love each other, and that there are no others for either of them. Regardless, you have to read the book to really understand what happens with the romance in this book. I love how hard Nat and Lucy both work to find their way back to each other, even when it seems hopeless or pointless or impossible. There is a lot more romance in this book than the other two books - which is GREAT, in my opinion!

This book is a such a great conclusion to the series. The ending is very, very satisfying, and there are no lingering questions by the end of the book. You'll have no trouble picking this one up after the wait between this one and Chantress Alchemy, I promise! Greenfield does an amazing job of reacquainting readers with the story. Prepare yourself for a good one!

What I Did Not Like:

I really can't think of anything! Hopefully no one is bothered by this, as I try to have dislikes in any review, no matter the rating. 

Would I Recommend It:

I would certainly recommend this book! It's pretty much tied with Chantress as my favorite of the series, and I really liked Chantress. I really liked Chantress Alchemy too! This series is beautifully written and very unique - I'd highly recommend the books if you haven't read any of them!


4 stars. Definitely give this series a shot, if you can! Historical fantasy, beautifully written, gorgeous romance, lovely story!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

The Excerpt:

The other men in the circle were now coming over to us—and one of them was Nat.  For more than a year, I’d pretended that he meant nothing to me.  Now, in the half-dark of this moonlit night, I stopped acting a part. I was simply myself, hungry for the sight of him.

The King’s right-hand man, Sybil had called him, and he looked it.  He’d always had a quiet strength about him, but now that strength was in the open.  Tall and sure and capable, he came toward me, and what I saw in his face made my heart hammer like a drum…

But then I caught sight of what had been at the center of the men’s circle, and my heart nearly stopped altogether.  It was an enormous barrel, stood on its end. Just visible inside it was a woman, and she was gagged.

Seeing her, I felt sick.  Gags and muzzles and scold’s bridles—until the King had come to the throne, these had all been common ways of stopping a woman’s tongue.  Especially a Chantress’s tongue.  My own godmother had been gagged before she’d been killed, and the memory filled me with horror. 

“What’s going on here?”  My voice was shaking with anger.  “You’re gagging women and putting them in barrels?”  

I could’ve asked the question of any of them.  But it was Nat I was looking at.

Even in the dim light I saw his face change.  When he answered, his voice was guarded, almost steely.  “She isn't a woman, Chantress.  She’s a mermaid.  And she’s gagged because she tried to kill us.”

Check out the first two books in the series:


(Click on the covers for more information!)

About the Author:

Amy Butler Greenfield was a grad student in history when she gave into temptation and became a writer. Since then, she has become an award-winning author. 

Amy grew up in the Adirondack Mountains and later studied history at Williams College, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Oxford. She now lives with her family in England, where she writes, bakes double-dark-chocolate cake, and plots mischief.

The Giveaway:

Win (1) signed copy of Chantress Fury by Amy Butler Greenfield (INT)
Win (1) finished copy of Chantress Fury by Amy Butler Greenfield (US Only)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (#123)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!

So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, April 26th to Saturday, May 2nd?

(all links to Goodreads are provided!)

In the mail:

To be edited on Sunday.

From NetGalley:

I love historical fiction! Eleanor is super fabulous and I can't wait to read this one.

Retelling! Fantasy! Yay!

From Edelweiss:

I don't think this is an related novel to Black Ice but I'm excited for a new book by Fitzpatrick!

I liked Compulsion a lot! I'm excited for this sequel.

AHHHH!!!!! THE CONCLUSION!!!!! The Burning Sky and The Perilous Sea are two of my favorite novels!

Snow Like Ashes was quite good!

The sequel to Exquisite Captive, a book I read last year and LOVED!

I haven't really enjoyed McGinnis's previous books, but this one is different from her survival stories. So I'll give it a shot!

WOW, lots of books! This week has been crazy. As most of you know, I live in Baltimore (the city), so it's been... different. Curfews and protests and mass police presence, sirens and ambulances and emergency text alerts and mass amounts of panic, racism, tension, and fright at the university and in the city in general. But my family and family's property are safe. And the case is moving forward, there have been peace in the city since Monday night, so things have been slighter... calmer. That eerie calm though.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Review: The Beautiful One by Emily Greenwood

The Beautiful One by Emily Greenwood
Book One of the Scandalous Sisters series
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

The first book in a delightfully scandalous new Regency romance series from blossoming author Emily Greenwood…

Tomboy Anna Black has no idea how a book containing nude drawings of her is traveling around town. Everyone’s calling the woman in the drawings the “Beautiful One,” but Anna knows that if her true identity is revealed, she’ll be ruined. To escape scandal, she becomes a temporary companion to the outrageous teenage ward of Will Halifax, Viscount Grandville.

Will wants nothing but to be left alone. When cheeky Anna unexpectedly arrives with his scandalous ward, suddenly he has two intolerable women filling up his once-quiet manor. But as Anna’s charms begin to soften Will’s hard exterior and uncover his shrouded heart, she hopes that love can fully blossom before her scandal erupts…

What I Liked:

Good but not great. That's what I was thinking, when I finished this one. I love historical romance novels a lot, and it's hard for historical romance novels to please me. I love the intriguing combination of simplicity and complexity in the romance, as well as the other pieces of the story that make historical romance novels interesting and entertaining reads. This one was okay... just not that good. Definitely not terrible, but not a new favorite.

Anna has been caught in a bit of a scandal, and she flees when she realizes that the scandal is catching up with her. Someone has been drawing her, naked, as she bathes. Anna wants no part of the scandal, so she agrees to escort Miss Elizabeth Tarryton Stillwell Hall, where Elizabeth's guardian resides. But Viscount Grandville wants no one to bother him as he continues to grieve (his wife died over a year ago). But Anna is persistent and refuses to let Will send Lizzie away. It's not long before attraction swirls between Will and Anna, but Anna doesn't want him to know about her being "The Beautiful One" - until it's too late.

This one was an enjoyable read. I don't know if I'd read it again or recommend it to anyone, but I liked the book. The romance is sweet, if a little insta-love-y. The protagonists certainly fell in lust and love pretty quickly, which annoyed me (see below). But I liked Anna and Will together, so I just enjoyed the romance when there were interactions between them.

I liked Anna - she's not a lady of royal or gentle birth, though she is a lady nonetheless. Her upbringing is a little unconventional - her father was a widow and never remarried, and her brother was her companion. Anna is intelligent and well-educated, but not entirely ladylike at times, though she has good manners. She is very blunt and honest, and I definitely liked that about her.

I really liked Will. He's a bit of an ogre at first, as all he wants it to be left alone. Come to think of it, this story and its protagonists reminded me of Elizabeth Boyle's The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane. Will is very surly and almost rude, and doesn't want Elizabeth to live with him. Really, it's because he's still grieving, still recluse, and doesn't think it's suitable for anyone to live with him. But Will is quite thoughtful and a little wicked even. 

The romance is what kept me reading. The other plot - the one with a marquess trying to find "The Beautiful One", didn't really interest me. The ending of this book is exactly as you would expect it, which is fine, but somewhat predictable. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book!

What I Did Not Like:

Even for a historical romance novel, the fall-in-lust and fall-in-love aspects happened fairly quickly. Will sees a soaked woman trying to get a carriage out of a ditch and is immediately attracted to her? It just seemed very odd and very sudden. I think the timing was a bit rushed, especially given the circumstances (rain storm? He and Anna barely interacted and then he can't stop thinking about her? Hmmm). I know people think historical romance novels have a lot of insta-love, but that's actually not the case. Most authors take care to have their characters fall in love slowly and surely. It's one of the things that really attracts me to these novels!

I feel like there was a whole layer to this book that was missing. I don't know how to describe this feeling, but it was like this story was very much on the surface. Something was missing. I couldn't really put my finger on it, but throughout the book, I was thinking, is that all you've got? Is that all there is? It's clear that Greenwood is a slowly rising author in the genre - she's not quite as artful and knowledgeable in the ways of writing these novels, it seems. I actually really enjoyed her novel Gentlemen Prefer Mischief, but this novel was not anywhere near the quality of that book. I'm surprised the books are by the same author!

I didn't connect with Lizzie at all. This book is written in third person, but we get Anna's, Will's, and Lizzie's perspectives throughout the book. I didn't like her from the start, and I can't say I like her now that I'm finished the book. Lizzie is snobby and stuck-up, and her character development is staggered at some times, and rushed at others. Towards the end of the book, it's like all of a sudden a light switch is flipped and Lizzie is a different person. I never connected with Lizzie, despite having her perspective.

The writing and the language is so modern. This isn't a good thing, because the quality and authenticity of this HISTORICAL fiction novel was quite lessened. Sometimes the language was so modern and pedestrian, I was shocked. But then at other times, the author did a good job of keeping the language to its time. Again, rising author. Not established.

In any case, this book was okay, but I don't know if I'll be reading any more of the books in the series.

Would I Recommend It:

Ehhh, probably not. I like supporting rising historical romance authors, and I love finding new ones. This book is the second one I've read by Greenwood, but it is easily the less flattering of the two. I do recommend Gentlemen Prefer Mischief though!


2.5 stars -> rounded up to 3 stars. These "meh" reviews are so hard to write! Basically, just pass this one. Try something by Elizabeth Hoyt, Tessa Dare, Caroline Linden, or Julie Anne Long!

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