Saturday, December 20, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (#104)

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, December 14th to Saturday, December 20th?

(all links to Goodreads are provided!)

In the mail:

An ARC of All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Thank you, St. Martin! I didn't request this one, and I'm not entirely sure I want to read it (definitely not my thing). Anyone excited for this one?

Thank you so much, Little, Brown!

THANK YOU, LILI! I was sooo not expecting this! SO EXCITED!

A (purple) mask - my favorite color!


A #TeamBelow necklace

Prize pack from the Atlantia blog tour! Unfortunately, I've read Atlantia... didn't like it very much.

#TBTBSanta gift!

Thank you so much, Hayley! <3

FINALLY HOME! I'll be home until January 4th (so, two weeks). I'll be heading back to school for winter classes and work (no rest for the weary)!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Review: Down for the Count by Christine Bell

Down for the Count by Christine Bell
Book One of the Dare Me series
Publisher: Brazen 
Publication Date: September 20, 2012
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Bought from Amazon

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

Summary (from Goodreads):

Truth or dare…or TKO?

When Lacey Garrity finds her groom in flagrante delicto in the reception hall closet with her bridesmaid, she's saved by her best friend’s older brother—childhood tormentor, crush, and boxing bad boy Galen Thomas. Galen’s solution is both exciting and dangerous. What better way to forget the mess of her life than go on her honeymoon with a hot guy who can’t promise anything beyond today?

Galen had been counting on Lacey's wedding to put her out of reach—and out of his mind—once and for all, but their steamy Puerto Rican escape is testing all his boundaries. Now that Lacey’s embracing her inner bad girl, Galen is tempted to throw in the towel and claim her for himself. But with the biggest fight of his career on the line and an important business merger threatening to derail Lacey’s resolve, their romance might be down for the count before it even begins.

What I Liked:

I read Dirty Trick, one of Christine Bell's books from another Brazen series, and mostly enjoyed it. It was pretty good, and Grace was a character that I could somewhat relate to, but I wanted more from the novel. This book, Down for the Count, was much shorter, but I liked it more. 

Lacey just got married - only to find her new husband cheating on her with her bridesmaid/second best friend, Becca. The thing is, Marty and Lacey weren't really in love; they were marrying to solidify a business merger (or something like that). Marty liked Lacey, and Lacey liked Marty, but there was no spark there. Galen, Lacey's friend Cat's brother, helps Lacey escape the wedding and takes her to his cottage. Galen and Lacey have known each other since they were kids, and Lacey always had a crush on him. When Galen convinces Lacey to still go on her honeymoon... with him as company... things get heated.

I totally FEEL for Lacey. It's pretty extreme to marry someone you don't love, or don't feel any lust or passion towards, but I understand her situation. She kind... settled for Marty. Lacey could do so much better, but she totally settled. Good thing she caught Marty before it was too late. Lacey is a total control freak, completely neurotic, reined in, polished exterior. I *get* her, because I'm totally the same way. The thing is, I always say that the boring, "controlled" ones are always the most passionate... and fabulous. Closet wild child.

Anyway. I liked Lacey a lot. I liked Galen a lot as well, though I feel like I didn't get as good a read on him as I wanted. Galen is a boxer, a fighter, so he has a lot of reined control as well. But he's much more wild, in terms of appearance. Lacey's mother doesn't quite like him. The thing is, he's a considerate person. He's not stupid or dense, and he always thinks of Lacey and what she needs (especially in that vulnerable state). While Lacey is a closet wild child, Galen is a closet sweetie.

There are sooo many sizzling scenes of hot chemistry between these two. It builds slowly, but once the wedding is over and Lacey gets over her initial shock... it's actually pretty impressive, how much built-up tension there is between Galen and Lacey. They definitely had some attraction building since childhood. 

The chemistry was not lacking, but neither was the romance. I loved watching these two fall for each other completely, despite the short length of the book. The conflict of the book comes full circle, and Lacey must face her fears and her problems. Lacey must also fight for what she wants (Galen?), and she does just that.

Overall, I liked this one a lot. I'll be keeping an eye out for more Bell books (and Brazen titles in general)!

What I Did Not Like:

Hmmm... like I said, I didn't get as good a read on Galen as I would have liked. In most Brazen books, the author alternates perspectives, between the mail and female. I feel like there was more female perspective than male perspective. Maybe they were equal, I don't know, but it feels like Galen's thoughts were less.

Would I Recommend It: 

I liked this one a lot, so I would recommend it! Not all of Brazen's books are omg-so-good, but this one is a short and steamy read. For those who love adult contemporary romance novels, you should check out Christine Bell's novels!


4 stars. I'm glad I got this one! I really enjoy Brazen novels.

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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Swoon Thursday (#99): The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

Swoon Thursday is a hot meme hosted by the fabulous ladies at YA Bound!

- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting

This week, my swoon is from The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon!

I smoothed my hands over his shoulders, up the slope of his neck, and at last, when my heart was pounding, his mouth took hold of mine. 

In the darkness, I was nothing but feeling. Fingers pushing through my hair, climbing up the column of my spine. I pulled him closer, draping one arm around his neck, winding my fingers into rough-spun hair. He tasted of red wine and something else, something earthen and rich and just faintly amaroidal.

A callused palm came to rest against my bare stomach, where my breaths came quick and shallow. Until now, I hadn't realized how much I'd wanted him to touch me. Intimacy had no place in either of our worlds.

Warden lifted me, swinging the floor from under my feet. His hand cupped my cheek, and we broke the silence with our breathing. He held me so our foreheads touched, as if he were reassuring me that this was all right.

- eARC, 79%

I loveeeeeee the progression of the romance in this series. It's not there, but IT IS :D

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (#103): The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

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

This week, I'm featuring:

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.

Loveeeeee the gorgeous purple cover! Purple is my favorite color! Plus this is fantasy! WOOT!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review: Cut Me Free by J.R. Johansson

Cut Me Free by J.R. Johansson
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Charlotte barely escaped from her abusive parents. Her little brother, Sam, wasn't as lucky. Now she's trying to begin the new life she always dreamed of for them, but never thought she'd have to experience alone. She's hired a techie-genius with a knack for forgery to remove the last ties to her old life. But while she can erase her former identity, she can’t rid herself of the memories. And her troubled history won’t let her ignore the little girl she sees one day in the park. The girl with the bruises and burn marks.

That’s when Charlotte begins to receive the messages. Threatening notes left in her apartment--without a trace of entry. And they’re addressed to Piper, her old name. As the messages grow in frequency, she doesn’t just need to uncover who is leaving them; she needs to stop whoever it is before anyone else she loves ends up dead.

What I Liked:

This is my third (of three) Johansson novels - Insomnia and Paranoia are the first two books of her debut series. Personally, Insomnia is my favorite book of the three, but this one would be my second favorite. While the Night Walkers series is paranormal, this book is strictly contemporary - realistic fiction, with a heavy dose of tough issues and an interesting mystery to it. Johansson definitely knows her way around scary thrillers! This novel definitely had a scare/creep factor to it, which freaked me out but had me hooked.

In this novel, Piper is desperate to escape her old life. She becomes Charlotte with the help of a boy about her age, who draws up a fake ID and documentation for her (for a hefty price, of course). She rescues a girl just like her, one that was abused by her parents, and decides to help the girl (Sanda). But Piper/Charlotte cannot run from her past. Messages begin to appear, and there is no one to protect Piper and Sanda.

This book is relatively short - very easy to read. There is an extremely heartbreaking tone to this book. Piper was locked in an attic by her parents, given the name "Girl", and her younger brother as well - "Boy". Piper names herself Piper, and her brother, Sam. I've seen these stories of children locked in rooms, starving, abused, scared, helpless, cut off from the world, illiterate... but reading the story of Piper (and Sanda as well) is heartbreaking.

That being said, this isn't your typical tough-issue contemporary novel. This book isn't solely about Piper running from her past and healing from her wounds (physical, emotional, or otherwise). Piper is literally running, but she is also taking care of a nine-year-old girl. Piper is always on edge and panics a lot. She's always on the defensive, and doesn't like people touching her. I think Johansson brought out the authenticity of the situation in Piper, in her character. You can very easily tell that she had a traumatic childhood - which she did. And her inner demons are actually pretty scary, and serious.

I was okay with Piper. I couldn't necessarily relate but I could empathize. What she did for Sanda was extremely brave. Piper pushed away people just by her attitude, but she let Sanda in, a girl just like her. 

The romance is probably one of my favorite aspects of the book. It's kind of obvious, because Cam is introduced within pages of the book beginning, but I liked Cam a lot, and I had a feeling that I would like Piper, so I thought they were good together - and they were. Cam is super sweet and attentive and protective and stubborn. Piper is also very stubborn and likes to push Cam away (she doesn't want to take anyone's help more than she has to), but that's one of the reasons why they work so well together.

The romance is structured in an interesting way. It seems like insta-love at first, because you can just TELL, but nothing happens in terms of feelings, until later in the book. And in terms of the physical sense, nothing happens until the end. I think this romance really worked in this book - the protagonist needed time to warm up to Cam, and the idea of someone caring about her. 

The plot is pretty fast and definitely interesting. The mystery takes up most of the story - who is sending the messages to Piper? I definitely couldn't not finish this book, for fear of not knowing.

Overall, I liked this book. Johansson is very skilled at writing these creepy thriller stories. I'm not sure if they're for me, but I like her storytelling!

What I Did Not Like:

I already touched on my small issue with the romance - the thing is, I liked the romance, but I could see why someone might cry "insta-love". It seemed like Cam fell for Piper from the start, which is okay, but that seemed like insta-love. He falls in love with her pretty quickly. Piper, on the other hand, doesn't fall for him that quickly, which makes sense, given her past and her distrust of people.

I'm kind of meh about scary stories, honestly. I don't know if one would classify this one as "scary", but either way, they aren't really my thing. This one was interesting, but I guess I just didn't LOVE it. The mystery was interesting, but it was kind of cliche that the person was sending messages to Piper - it just seems like that's a "bad guy"'s preferred method of intimidation in fiction, kind of cliche. But what do I know. 

I'm still a bit confused as to how the "villain" got into Piper's apartment. 

Also, I thought the ending was a little too happy. I thought that at least one person on the "good side" should have died - one person in particular, for sure. You'll have to read the book to know what I mean. But the ending was too peachy.

Would I Recommend It:

If you already have a copy of this book, or you pre-ordered it or bought it or whatever, then I say give it a shot! I liked it when I was reading it, but I probably won't re-read it. If it were part of a series, I probably wouldn't continue the series, either. There would have to be a really awesome hook for me to want to read the remaining books. BUT, this book is a standalone.


3 stars. Maybe 3.5 stars. But not 4 stars. I liked the book, but not that much. If horror/thriller/contemporary is your thing, then go for it! I'll continue to keep an eye out for this author's works.

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
Book Two of The Bone Season series
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal penal colony of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the fugitives are still missing and she is the most wanted person in London.

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on Paige, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take center stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner.

Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided. Will Paige know who to trust? The hunt for the dreamwalker is on.

What I Liked:

I really enjoyed The Bone Season. I put off reading the book for so long, because of all the hype surrounding the novel. It's immensely popular in the UK, as well as in the United States. But when I finally read it, I loved it! I was intrigued by the intricate and complicated world - I hadn't read too many novels like The Bone Season. Nevertheless, I think this sequel did the first book justice, and I'll definitely be impatiently waiting for book three.

In this novel, Paige has escaped the penal colony, and returned to SciLo, to the syndicate, to her mime-Lord, Jaxon. He doesn't want her to spread word of the Rephaim's existence, but she wants the syndicate to know. Certain events are set in motion - the syndicate Underlord is murdered, and a new Underlord (or Underqueen) must take his place. Meanwhile, EVERYONE is looking for Paige - or The Pale Dreamer - or the human that consorted with a Rephaim. The streets are more and more dangerous for her, but she will stop at nothing to bring justice to the clairvoyants who were taken, and to warn the syndicate of the existence of the Rephain - with or without the Rephaim (in particular, Arcturus, who has yet to be found).

This book definitely gets off to a slow start. The sampler that was available on NetGalley featured about 20% of the book, which is a solid chunk! I had read the sampler a few months ago, and wasn't all that satisfied or impressed. However, after certain events occurred, I was hooked. Once the Rephain came back into the picture (and I'm talking about Rephaim that aren't Arcturus, actually), things started to pick up.

There was all kinds of high stakes and sneaking around and straight-up MESS, in this book. Paige was constantly going behind Jaxon's back, meeting with other Sheol I fugitives, or meeting with the Rephaim, or doing things that she didn't want Jaxon - or anyone - to know about. My heart was literally pounding every time she went sneaking about - Jaxon really didn't seem like a person to piss off. I mean, the state of affairs with the Rephaim is pretty important, but Paige needed Jaxon's protection. Which she quickly finds out.

As with book one, the world-building in this book is intricate and impeccable. This book takes place completely in London, but you really get a feel for the futuristic city. Mention of the Americas is in this book, which I thought was nice - it put the setting of this book into perspective.

There is very little of the Rephaim in this book, yet their presence is always known, like an undercurrent. Nashira isn't present in this book, and several key Rephaim do not appear until about midway through the book. As for Arcturus... don't worry, he's in this book. Check out my blog on Thursday (December 18th), if you want to see a fun scene between Arcturus and Paige.

Okay, so, the romance. Honestly, I'm a huge fan of the romance. Arcturus (a.k.a. Warden, so no one gets confused) doesn't appear until more than halfway through the book. And even then, Paige and Warden kind of put a wall between themselves, because Warden is marked by the Rephaim, now that Nashira told everyone that he was "consorting with a human". BUT. The chemistry/physical/emotional connection between Paige and Arcturus is so obvious and burning and THERE, so, don't you worry about the romance. I love the progression of the romance, even if it feels like it isn't there.

I like Paige. She's very tough, and not just physically. She makes some incredibly difficult decisions, like going behind Jaxon's back, about many things. Honestly, I'd probably be very docile and most likely hiding, if I had a choice. But she totally stands up to the Sargas family, to SciLo, to the syndicate.

I'm quite pleased with this sequel. It was slow, but much happened in this book. A LOT happened, really, in small chunks, spread over a long book. The ending is kind of a slap in the face. No, a punch in the face. Holy guacamole. Book three book three book three!

What I Did Not Like:

Like I've been saying, this book starts off very slowly. I'd say the first thirty ish percent is pretty sluggish, though I can understand why. Shannon is setting the scene and tone for the rest of the book. But the book is really long to begin with, so it felt like things dragged. I feel like this will definitely be a deterrent to some, or possibly a reason for some to DNF, so I thought I'd mention it.  

Would I Recommend It:

Well, if you read book one, there is no reason for you not to read book two! I liked this sequel a lot, and I would highly recommend reading the sequel. And, if you haven't read The Bone Season, and you're interested, then I think you should get it a try! Just be warned, the books are loooonngggg (they're adult novels, not YA). So, tuck in!


4 stars. This book didn't end in a such a way that I felt anxious (like The Bone Season did), but some crazy truths were revealed at the end of the book, so I definitely want to keep reading. Book three, please!

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

December 2014 New Release Giveaway!

Welcome to the December New Release Giveaway Hop! The December New Release Giveaway hop is sponsored by Bo-ok Nerd.

This month, I'm giving an ARC of Zodiac by Romina Russell!

Read my review HERE.

The Giveaway: