Sunday, February 26, 2017

Review: Undeclared by Julianna Keyes


Undeclared by Julianna Keyes
Book Two of the Burnham College series
Publication Date: February 27, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

***Warning: this is a New Adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

Kellan McVey is Burnham College’s most prolific athlete, partier, and ladies’ man—and that’s just how he likes it. Returning to reign for his third year, he wants nothing to change. Then Andrea Walsh shows up. 

It wasn’t too long ago that Andi and Kellan were lifelong friends, mortal enemies, and, for one hot summer, more. Then Kellan left and Andi stayed behind. 

Kellan thought he’d moved past that last summer’s heartbreak, but with Andi sitting next to him in class, befriending his friends, and battling for the same once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity, he’s starting to remember why he hated her…and why he loved her. 

Kellan has a long list of reasons that falling for Andi again is a terrible idea, though every new moment together challenges that theory. But Andi’s all too familiar with Kellan’s love ’em and leave ’em approach—and she’s found someone else to get serious about. 

Burnham’s campus king has never had to fight for a girl, but if he wants Andi to give him another chance, he’ll have to do the one thing he’s never had the nerve to do: admit it.

What I Liked:

Undeclared was without doubt my most anticipated New Adult publication of 2017. I loved Undecided - so much it became my new favorite NA book - and I couldn't wait to read the follow-up. While I didn't love this book like I loved Undecided (would that even be possible?), I enjoyed it and definitely recommend it.

Undeclared is Kellan's story, and it starts at the end of summer, leading into the beginning of hir junior year. Before heading back to Burnham for the new academic year, Kellan seeks out his childhood and former hook-up, Andi. He and Andi did not part on good terms two summer ago, before Kellan left for Burnham and Andi stayed in Avilla. Years later, she is still angry with him. And as it would turn out, she is starting her first year at Burnham, with a volleyball scholarship. Kellan is notorious for his promiscuous behavior, but what everyone doesn't know is that he left Avilla two years ago with a broken heart, and wanted a fresh start from Andi. But now that they're back to being in the same space - and having the same friends too - Kellan and Andi can't ignore their brokenhearted past, or their unknown future.

Clearly this is a second-chance romance story, and I will be very upfront by saying that I do not usually like second-chance romances. It's because someone got burned a long time ago, and now here is the story of two hurt people (at least one, anyway) falling in love again... it's not always pretty, it's never fun, and I'm not here for that kind of story. However, I've read several of Keyes' adult novels, and one was a second-chance romance. I loved that book (Time Served). And I loved Undecided (which was not a second-chance romance, by the way), so there was no way I wasn't going to give this book a chance. 

Both Kellan and Andi are hurt about what happened two summers ago (when the "broke up", Kellan went to Burnham, Andi stayed in Avilla). Andi has always openly loved Kellan, but Kellan could never force the words into his brain, let alone out of his mouth. Fast-forward to now - there is even more angst and heartbreak between the two of them. With Kellan's literal list of women he's hooked up with between him and Andi, and Andi being tired of waiting for Kellan, you know this story isn't going to be easy. And it wasn't. But... that's one of the things I liked about it.

This book is written in Kellan's point-of-view, which was awesome! Exclusively his first-person POV. I loved getting in his head, when it came to track, Andi, his promiscuous past, his friends. It broke my heart, experiencing his feelings whenever his sexcapades were brought into conversation by one idiot or anything, because you can tell how Kellan isn't proud of himself anymore. Kellan has matured so much, between Undecided and Undeclared, but also in Undeclared. He has so much more depth than what everyone expects (the jock playboy who will sleep with anyone). This book is about Kellan, and not just his romance with Andi. He matures and becomes a better guy, a better student, a better athlete, and a better person in general. I like Kellan 2.0.

I was surprised when I actually liked Andi, from the start. I thought I'd dislike her initially because she was the one that put the brakes on their "relationship" those summers ago, and honestly she was a little mean to him, when they first start interacting at Burnham. But then I put myself in her shoes... honestly, she was much nicer than I would have been. My petty butt would have been vicious. 

Anyway, Andi was fine in the beginning and she grew on me even more. I didn't really like that she was interested in another guy at first (I like the romance linear), but I didn't mind because that ended up trickling out less than halfway, and she wasn't interested in him like she was in Kellan. Even though Andi wasn't one to play games, she was quite good at getting Kellan to notice her and want to seek her out. Andi is smart and also protective of her heart - and with good reason.

Watching the pair stumble along and find their way was hard, heartbreaking, but also sweet and sometimes steamy. They fight constantly in the beginning, and that leads to some other passionate encounters... they are great together. The romance is different because they both already loved each other - but they grew into those feelings, and that was fun and swoony to watch. They have to hash out and work through a lot of stuff, but it was worth the angst and occasional (small) drama.

No love triangle, no cheating, no surprise babies - it's all Kellan and Andi (though at first, like I said, it seems like Andi might be into someone else). I don't really like the diversion bit (Andi being interested in someone else) but it served a purpose. The romance is both bittersweet and swoony, steamy and passionate. 

I loved how the male relationships are so important in this book. Crosbie, Dane, Choo, and several other male characters make a lot of appearances in this book, and they are so crucial to Kellan's story. They're a hilarious and solid support system for Kellan, whether he knows it or not. She's not a dude but Nora (Crosbie's girlfriend) is also frequently in this book, and I loved all of her and Crosbie's snippets. They are the cutest!

I've probably said enough! This book was great overall. I'm not a big fan of second-chance romance novels, but this one was good. I think Keyes did Kellan's story justice.

What I Did Not Like:

The diversion aspect of the romance could have just not existed (Andi being interested in the basketball player - they didn't "do" anything, for anyone wondering). Sure, there was nothing sexual about Andi and the basketball player BUT that whole plot point was unnecessary.

I've mentioned how I struggle with second-chance romances so if you're like me, know that this book has those aspects of second-chance romances that you struggle with (the angst, the heartbreak, the anger, the hurt, and a wee bit of drama). It's not terrible, like some books?

Would I Recommend It:

I didn't love this book like I loved Undecided (again, probably because of the second-chance romance aspect), but I liked it a lot and I don't think it disappointed at all. I definitely missed the funny back-and-forth banter of Crosbie and Nora's relationship, but Kellan and Andi's relationship had its own tone and quality to it, and for that, I can't fault the book. I do recommend this book if you've read Undecided. If you haven't read Undecided and are thinking about starting with this book (Undeclared)... don't - read Undecided (first). You won't regret it!

Rating:

4 stars. A solid companion sequel and addition to the series. I liked this book and I adored Kellan even more than I already did. I think he really redeemed himself in this book, with Andi and in general. Take whatever you thought about him in Undecided and be prepared to take a closer look at this guy!


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

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Stacking the Shelves (#218)


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, February 19th to Saturday, February 25th?


(all links to Goodreads are provided!)


In the mail:

FROM THE PREVIOUS WEEK (Feb. 12th - Feb. 18th)



Thank you, BHM! Look for a giveaway of this book in a few weeks. :D



My latest BookOutlet order! I am so excited because I've been looking for this particular paperback edition of Wrath (which I loved, by the way, and its sequel) - and there were two copies available on BookOutlet! Shout-out to Mithila for pointing out the book on BookOutlet to me! Saved me from attempting to find it on #booksfortrade. ;)



Two completely separate mailings from one awesome publisher! Thank you, Sourcebooks Casablanca! I won My Highland Rebel, which was exciting. And then the publicist of the Highland Weddings series surprised me with an ARC of Highland Hellion - squeee! So nice of her.



Thank you, Susan! Windwitch was great, y'all. Check out the series if you get the chance!



HUGE thanks to Gail for sending this to me - she is so nice! She saw that I was looking for one and offered to send hers, which was so sweet. <3


A whole bunch of buttons

BUTTONS! I love buttons. This was from a trade with Jenefer (who is awesome), via #booksfortrade. She was looking for an ARC that I had. This trade worked out nicely because she got her ARC and I got more BUTTONS!


FROM THIS WEEK (Feb. 19th - Feb. 25th)

I'll update this section when I go home, Saturday evening!


EDIT: UPDATED!



Ahhh! I won these from Brooke's Valentine's Day giveaway - I am so excited! So many great books to read. Best giveaway ever! Thank you, Brooke!



Thank you, Abrams!



Thank you, Disney! What an interesting title, right?


From NetGalley:

  
  


Thank you, Entangled Brazen, Forever, and Tor Teen! So many great sequels to read (and the start of a new series, with Roar)!


PEOPLE! I did A Thing this week and I finally get to talk about it! I'll do a post on Tuesday. In other news, I might be going to one of the Penguin Teen on Tour stops in March - or maybe two! The Nova Teen Festival one, and the Fairfax one. How cool is that? Most events are too far away from me, but I might be able to make it to these two events. Cross your fingers for me!

In other OTHER news... THANK YOU!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Reviews: Brazen Edition! (#3)

Sweet Victory by Gina L. Maxwell
Book Four of the Fighting For Love series
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Publication Date: February 27, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

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

Summary (from Goodreads):

Confident but distrustful Sophie Caldwell needs help if she's going to save her family business. Her grandma left one rule for Sophie to maintain ownership from her uncle before she's thirty: get married. But how does she get her uncle off her ass when she's only twenty-seven and hasn't had a boyfriend in years?

Lean, cut, British-born MMA fighter Xander James has never lost a fight, and he's not about to start now. On the brink of a comeback to be a UFC champion, his landlord wants to take away his last chance by shutting down his gym. No. Hell no. Fortunately, his landlord's niece has a problem of her own. Time for a proposal she can't refuse.

What I Liked:

Years ago, I read Seducing Cinderella and absolutely LOVED the book. To this date, that book is one of my favorite Brazen novels. I must say, Brazen doesn't make 'em like they used to. Seducing Cinderella and a slew of other "older" publications were among their very best. Sweet Victory is the fourth book in the Fighting for Love series (Seducing Cinderella was book one). The series closes with Sophie and Xander, a feisty baker and a sexy British MMA fighter.

Sophie's bakery and Xander's gym are across the street from each other, and under the same property ownership. The property owner, who happens to be Sophie's uncle, decides to sell the property. But Sophie is set to inherit the bakery from her grandmother, either when she turns thirty, or when she gets married. So what does she do when Xander suggests they get married? She accepts, to save the bakery, and his gym. So they get married. But what happens when both of them don't want the marriage to have an expiration date?

I liked this book, which is great because I read the synopsis and immediately thought that I would enjoy. I mean, which woman wouldn't like a romance novel with a British male protagonist? And an MMA fighter, no less. This is only the second book I've read by Maxwell, but she has not disappointed me yet.

Xander is every bit as sexy and swoony as the synopsis - and cover - make him out to be. He's a flirt when it comes to Sophie, but he's also a good man and a dedicated fighter. He trains incredibly hard and is so driven. But he also has a hero complex and a heart of gold. When he hears Sophie's uncle belittling her, he swoops in and defends her. Not in a I-am-man-let-me-fix-everything-for-you type of way, but in a selfless, incredible way. Xander had me hooked from the start. He seems like a ladies' man and an incorrigible flirt, but he's so sweet and so good. 

Sophie loves her bakery, and she is determined to protect it. Marrying Xander seemed absurd but she doesn't realize just how much she likes him, before they get married. Sophie is a feisty, tough lady. She likes things her way but she also balances her way and Xander's way - I like how she compromised to him too (it wasn't all Xander and his selflessness). 

The two of them together are dynamite and firecrackers! They have serious chemistry from the start, and it practically boils and sizzles between them. I do like how they knew each other from before the start of the story - with their respective places of work being across the street from each other, they see a lot of each other. Xander comes by the bakery to flirt with her before his run. I like how they had chemistry before the story started, and it got more intense after they got married. Because holy guacamole, did they have some intense chemistry. The two of them in close quarters was hot! 

The whole rushed marriage thing was handled well, and not totally cheesy and inauthentic. They had six months to play married and then they could file for divorce and go about their merry ways. But of course both of them fall for each other during that time... I like how it wasn't an insta-love type of romance. Lust, yes, but the progression of feelings was well-written. 

You know in the climax of romance novels (especially Brazen romance novels) when the hero breaks up with the heroine or the heroine breaks up with the hero? And then one of them (usually the man) has to grovel, whether it's his fault or not? I LOVE how that whole thing is handled, in this book. Sophie is the one who jumps to some dumb conclusions and leaves him, BUT she is also the one who owns up and chases him back. I was really really pleased to see that Sophie went after her man (and not the other way around), especially since she hurt him by leaving him. 

I enjoyed this story and the characters, the fun banter and the sexy romance. The swoony, hot British guy really made the story, but I also loved the feisty by vulnerable heroine, and beautiful love story presented. This was definitely a great end to the series!

What I Did Not Like:

The drama towards the end of the book was fairly minimal, but it was there. Don't we all hate watching a woman jump 45435345 miles to some dumb conclusion? At least Sophie woman-ed up and ran after him.

Would I Recommend It:

If you're looking for a quite, steamy, swoony read, then give this one a shot. It's only the second Maxwell book I've read but I liked it a lot. I highly recommend the first book, Seducing Cinderella - Reid and Lucie are fiery together. This book is great too! I'm sure the series in general is amazing.

Rating:

4 stars. Perhaps I'll read the second and third book in the future, but for now I'm content with having read books one and four. They were excellent! I'll definitely be looking for more Brazen novels by Maxwell in the future.


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


Delicious Satisfaction by Sabrina Sol
Book Three of the Delicious Desires series
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Publication Date: February 27, 2017
Rating: 2 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley


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

Summary (from Goodreads):

As LA’s hottest up-and-coming chef, Alexa Montoya is known for her ruby red lipstick, award-winning arroz con pollo and a penchant for falling for the wrong kind of men. And when a confrontation with a loser ex-boyfriend lands her in some legal trouble, she’s forced to call her long-time friend, Dante Perez, to bail her out. Only this time, Dante seems different, somehow. More gorgeous, more sexy, more…mouthwateringly irresistible. Suddenly she’s tempted to give the lawyer much more than a simple thank you…

Dante is tired of seeing Alexa with guys who only know how to steal her money and break her heart. He’s watched--and waited for--her long enough. Helping with her legal situation will finally give him a chance to win her over for good. His plan? He’ll seduce her into finally believing that there’s something deliciously right between them…

Despite their chemistry, Alexa can’t trust that Dante won’t leave. But Dante knows how to win a case. And he’ll do whatever it takes to convince Alexa that she’ll always leave him hungry for more…

What I Liked:

Uuuugggghhhhhh, the melodrama (and straight-up drama) hurt this book. I was partly enjoying the story, partly raising a skeptical eyebrow, and partly rolling my eyes. Alexa got on my nerves, and that was that.

Restaurant owner and chef Alexa and her friends decide to go to her ex's new restaurant... and when they get there, Alexa realizes that Nick (the ex) has copied all of her ideas for her dream restaurant. Confronting him in the back, she loses her temper and dumps oil all over him, and when she's leaving, she accidentally breaks a ton of hanging wine bottles. Oops? Good thing Dante Perez, her and her brother's long-time friend and lawyer, is around to clean up her messes. Dante is tired of seeing Alexa date idiot after idiot. How can he prove to her that he's the one for her, and he has been in love with her for years? Alexa has dated a lot of terrible idiots in the past, and Dante is a sweet guy, but how does she know he won't leave her?

The good things about this book: it was short, it was steamy, it was diverse, there was a HEA. I'll start with the length. Usually you want romance novels to be longer, with more steamy scenes and tension and chemistry and tender moments. But the length of this book, as abbreviated as it was, was good. It was a quick read, and it didn't feel rushed.

It was steamy. The author definitely wrote some hot scenes in the book. There could have been more, but I think she got the proportion of steamy scenes just right, for such a short book. Alexa and Dante have known each other for a long time, and both have cared about the other for a long time. They also have a lot of chemistry between them, which led to some pretty steamy encounters.

It was diverse. Both characters have Hispanic background. If I remember correctly, Dante's background is Mexican and Alexa's is Puerto Rican. Alexa and her brother's restaurant serves a variety of Hispanic foods. You could clearly see some touches of Puerto Rican culture, and Hispanic culture in general. Props to the author for that!

A happily-ever-after ending is a given, in romance novels. But I'll state it as a "like" because I don't have a ton of things I liked about the book. The ending was a HEA, which was good and not disappointing.

What I Did Not Like:

Drama drama drama. I honestly cannot stand drama in romance novels (or any novels?). There is enough of it in real life! Don't riddle a romance novel with so much drama. A little drama won't set me off in a rage but when the entire book is full of drama? No thank you.

To begin with, the whole premise of this book is how Alexa lost her temper at her ex-boyfriend's restaurant, and he is suing her and her restaurant for damages and such. NO, Alexa does not have feelings for Nick (the ex) - they broke up a long time ago. But it really bothers me how quickly Alexa lost her temper - and proceeded to dump a bottle of cooking oil on his head? Like a 5-year old? Are we in elementary school? Alexa is so temperamental and impulsive but that... you don't DO that. 

Did I mention that Alexa is temperamental and impulsive? Honestly this girl has to be one of the stupidest heroines I've encountered in romance novels, in a long time. I couldn't stand her. Sure, she had her moments here and there (in which I didn't mind her), but for the most part, I really didn't like her. Let's see... she falls for the most idiotic of men - and then cries a river when they cheat on her or dump her or whatever. She has ridiculous trust issues BECAUSE of the dumba**es she dated, which makes her relationship with Dante difficult. 

I could not stand how Alexa treated Dante. So hot and cold, push and pull. She kept expecting him to leave her or break her heart or start picking up with every girl on the block. Girl, like you're any better? His past bothers you - what about YOURS? Alexa has dated sooooo many losers, and yet she gets to judge Dante about his (NOT-drama-filled) past relationships? HER relationships cost money and drama (believe me, it's insane, the type of guy she picks over and over). And yet here is Dante, a sweet, selfless, sexy guy who loves her, and she decides to be a little wuss when it comes him? Do you detect my disdain? I couldn't stand Alexa.

The icing on the cake was the end of the book. You know in the climax of romance novels (especially Brazen romance novels) when the hero breaks up with the heroine or the heroine breaks up with the hero? And then one of them (usually the man) has to grovel, whether it's his fault or not? Yeah, that's a thing in this book. ALEXA dumps Dante, but it's Dante that has to make the effort to patch things up with her. Alexa isn't the first to break, isn't the one to fight for her man. But she's the one that broke up with him, hurt him, and ruined the relationship. Um, do we not see the problem her?

That was the last straw and pretty much ensured that this book wouldn't get a positive rating. If that part of the ending had been different, I would have given this book three stars.


Would I Recommend It:

I do not recommend this book to anyone. Trust me when I saw that there are better romance novels, even with Entangled Brazen, that are steamy, sweet, quick, and well-written, that won't piss you off or make you want to strangle the heroine. 

Rating:

1.5 stars -> rounded up to 2 stars. And thus ends my foray into Sabrina Sol's romance novels. 


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

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Swoon Thursday (#213): Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton


- 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 Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton!


So I didn't say anything else as I closed the last of the distance between us.

He said he would have torn the desert apart looking for me. And I felt in that kiss his desperation as his mouth found mine.

It wasn't enough with Jin; it was never enough. His hands were in the mess of my torn palace clothes, trying to find me under the too-heavy stitching and the weight of the gaudy khalat. One hand tangled into my hair, pulling away the delicate gold circlet that still clung there. He freed it from my hair, casting it aside, pulling pieces of the palace away from me, trying to return me to him.

It was like being caught in a wildfire, desperate for breath, like if we stopped we would extinguish. Without thinking, I pulled my hands away from his chest. It took one quick movement for my torn khalat to join his shirt in the heap on the groun, until I was waring nothing but the thin linen chemise underneath.

- eARC, 84%




I loved this book! You can enter to win a paperback copy of Rebel of the Sands HERE, if you're interested. Get ready for the amazing sequel!

Promo and Giveaway: Stealing Mr. Right by Tamara Morgan

Hey hey, bibliovores! Today, I'm sharing information about an upcoming Sourcebooks Casablanca publication, and a giveaway! I've not read this book but if you're a fan of jewel heists and sexy federal agents, check this one out!


About the Book:


Stealing Mr. Right by Tamara Morgan
Book One of the Penelope Blue series
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: March 7, 2017

Official Summary:

I'm a wanted jewel thief. 
He's FBI.
What's that saying? Keep your friends close...and your husband closer. 

Being married to a federal agent certainly has its perks.

1. I just love the way that man looks in a suit.
2. This way I always know what the enemy is up to.

Spending my days lifting jewels and my nights tracking the Bureau should have been a genius plan. But the closer I get to Grant Emerson, the more dangerous this feels. With two million dollars' worth of diamonds on the line, I can't afford to fall for my own husband.

It turns out that the only thing worse than having a mortal enemy is being married to one. Because in our game of theft and seduction, only one of us will come out on top.

Good thing a cat burglar always lands on her feet.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository


Follow the Author:

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


The Excerpt:

His voice was softer than I expected: low but controlled, the sound of an authority figure who knows he doesn’t have to shout to be heard. I’ve since realized that’s the most dangerous kind of man to go up against in a fight. He didn’t bluster and yell the way Riker did, and he didn’t speak in terse rebukes, the way I remember my dad doing when I made an error in the middle of a job. Grant was all control and manners.

I hadn’t expected manners.

“I’ve never seen a man so intrigued by concrete before,” I said, less polite but still within the bounds of friendliness. “I’ve run past you a total of four times now, and you never once glanced up to check me out.”

The surprise faded to amusement. “Is that a fact?”

“Yes. And I thought for sure three times would do it.”

Since it appeared he wasn’t about to book me for fifty counts of conspiracy, I took a moment to appreciate him up close. From a distance, packed into a dark suit, always on the scent of something we didn’t want him to be, he really was more like a ferocious guard dog than anything else. But up close? Unf. There was nothing canine about him, and fear wasn’t my primary reaction. He was a behemoth, taller than me by at least a foot, his build not powerful so much as overpowering. He wasn’t handsome—at least, not in a clean-cut, underwear ad sort of way—but he was incredibly attractive. It’s possible for a man to be a perfectly assembled collection of model parts and invoke nothing more than a mild appreciation, like looking at a sculpture or a really nice diamond tiara. It’s equally possible for a man to boast coarse features, oversized limbs, and a rugged smile—and make a girl want to take off her clothes on the spot.

Happily, I refrained.

“How do you know I didn’t watch your ass as you ran past?” he asked, picking up my flirtation with ease. I should have been disappointed that he was sharp enough to follow along—a  slow, stupid nemesis is always preferable to a fast-witted one—but all I felt was a warm feeling of pleasure. “Maybe I was being discreet.”

“You didn’t,” I said smugly and switched to stretching the other leg. “If you had, you would’ve stopped me ten minutes ago and asked for my number.”

“Maybe I’m in a relationship.”

“You’re not. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be watching my ass now.”

He laughed but didn’t relax. I only noted this because men have a universal way of dropping their shoulders and opening their stance once they realize they’re being hit on. Women probably do it, too—you can almost see the walls coming down around their hearts—but Grant’s wide shoulders remained firmly in place.

I stuck out my hand, hoping physical contact would do the trick.

“I’m Penelope,” I said, not bothering with an alias. That was one lie I’d never had any use for. I was born a thief, raised a thief, and would probably die one. A fake name wouldn’t benefit me any more than changing spots would a leopard. “Penelope Blue.”

That look of surprise moved across Grant’s face again, but he managed to quell it long enough to take my hand and shake.

It would have been pushing things to say there was a tingle of electricity, or that my life flashed before my eyes as the rough texture of his palm grazed mine, but there was no mistaking how strong his grip was. With just the flick of his wrist, he could have broken the bones in my hand, conquered me right then and there. Instead of being alarmed by his physical mastery, I felt no sense of danger. Only wonder.

This man could crush me, I thought. But he won’t. 


The Giveaway:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (#217): Fireblood by Elly Blake


"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:


Fireblood by Elly Blake
Book Two of the Frostblood Saga series
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 12, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

In this action-packed sequel to Frostblood, the future of Ruby's world and a court ruled by the love of her life depends on the uncovered secrets of her past..

Against all odds, Ruby has defeated the villainous Frost King and melted his throne of ice. But the bloodthirsty Minax that was trapped inside is now haunting her kingdom and everyone she loves. The answers to its demise may lie to the south in Sudesia, the land of the Firebloods, and a country that holds the secrets to Ruby's powers and past....

Despite warnings from her beloved Arcus, Ruby accompanies a roguish Fireblood named Kai to Sudesia, where she must master her control of fire in a series of trials to gain the trust of the suspicious Fireblood queen. Only then can she hope to access the knowledge that could defeat the rampaging Minax--which grows closer every moment. But as sparks fly in her moments alone with Kai, how can Ruby decide whom to trust? The fate of both kingdoms is now in her hands.




Yes, I am worried about That Sentence in the synopsis (and I'm not happy about that line). Yes, I am still looking forward to reading this book. Consider me your guinea pig! I did love Frostblood a lot. =)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Happy Tuesday, friends! Today I'm participating in the Rebel of the Sands blog tour, to celebrate the paperback publication of this wonderful book. Check out my mood board below!



About the Book:


Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Book One of the Rebel of the Sands series
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 8, 2016

Official Summary:

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from. 

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him... or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.



Check out book two, Traitor to the Throne!


(Click on the cover for more information.)


About the Author:


Alwyn Hamilton was born in Toronto and spent her childhood bouncing between Europe and Canada until her parents settled in France. She grew up in a small town there, which might have compelled her to burst randomly into the opening song from Beauty and the Beast were it not for her total tone-deafness. She instead attempted to read and write her way to new places and developed a weakness for fantasy and cross-dressing heroines. She left France for Cambridge University to study History of Art at King’s College, and then to London where she became indentured to an auction house. She has a bad habit of acquiring more hardcovers than is smart for someone who moves house quite so often. Follow her at @AlwynFJH.



My Mood Board:



The Giveaway:

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of ten (10) paperback copies of Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton (ARV: $10.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on February 13, 2017 and 12:00 AM on March 6, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about March 8, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Follow the rest of the tour:

Week One
2/13 – ButterMyBooksRebel Scents
2/14 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Reasons to Read Rebel
2/15 – My Friends Are Fiction – Guide to Bookstagram Featuring Rebel
2/16 – The Reader Bee – 5 Reasons to Look Forward to Traitor
2/17 – Fiction FareRebel Recap Part 1

Week Two
2/20 – USA Today Happily Ever After – Excerpt
2/21 – The Eater of Books!Rebel Mood Board
2/22 – The YA Book Traveler – Fan made Rebel Trailer
2/23 – Lost in LitRebel Book Look
2/24 – Mundie MomsRebel Recap Part 2

Week Three
2/27 – Seeing Double in NeverlandRebel Makeup Looks
2/28 – A Page with a View – Favorite Repackages List Featuring Rebel
3/1 – What Sarah Read – Top 5 Reasons to Love Amani
3/2 – A Book and a Cup of CoffeeRebel Playlist
3/3 – Once Upon a TwilightRebel Recap Part 3

Monday, February 20, 2017

Review: The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon


The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
Book Three of The Bone Season series
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London's criminal population. 

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilising the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging. 

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it…

What I Liked:

It's been quite a long time since I read (and enjoyed) The Mime Order, and even longer since I read The Bone Season. But this is a series that sticks with you, even if it's just the major events. It didn't take me long to get back into London 2059, where Paige Mahoney has taken the deadly position of Underqueen. Overall I think I enjoyed this third novel. It'll be interesting to see how Shannon makes this a seven-book series. 

In this book, Paige has assumed the role of Underqueen, with Jaxon Hall's shocking betrayal. Many voyants are not happy with her or her assent to power, and she has many more enemies than she ever has. But an entirely different problem has risen - the creation of the Senshield, a technology that has incredible sensitivity in detecting clairvoyants, especially since the power of the Senshield is to be harnessed into handheld detectors for the military. Paige knows she must prove herself as Underqueen, but she is also determined to find the core of the Senshield's power. 

The book starts off a little too slowly for my taste, but I got back into the story fairly quickly. Once the story shifted focus to the introduction of the Senshield and its deadly implications, I was more hooked. The Senshield is a game-changer for voyants, and Paige is forced to move the Mime Order underground to survive. Destroying the Senshield is the main focus of this book, but there are other problems. For example, Paige's tenuous hold as Underqueen, the Rephaite-human Mime Order relations, her complicated relationship with Warden, Hildred Vance (a villain almost as bad as Nashira). There is no shortage of threats and death surrounding Paige.

This book really tests Paige's character. As Underqueen, she must make difficult and sometimes cruel decisions. Paige doesn't like who she is becoming. She wants to prove herself and she also wants to redeem herself. You can also see how Paige resolves herself to become a martyr, at a certain point in the story. But it was good to see how Paige handled conflict after conflict, because she didn't become a martyr or a coward - she survived and fought and became stronger, by the end of the book.

One of my favorite aspects of this series is the barely-there romance. This book was a little odd, in terms of the romance. On the one hand, things definitely progress in a little steamier direction (though not overly so), between Warden and Paige. But on the other hand, Paige plays the I'm-Underqueen-and-I-can't-afford-to-be-distracted card, for much of the book. The two of them share a very powerful connection, both psychically and emotionally, and it's of course very silly for her to think they can turn it off because she's now Underqueen. Like I said, the romance is barely there and very subtle, but I also liked its progression. By the end of the book, things there were unsaid are better handled by Paige. I definitely want to see more from the romance in future books. 

There is plenty of action, plenty of close calls, and plenty of betrayals and double-crossing. The secondary characters are so important in this book, and I loved seeing some of them flourish. I adore Nick, and Eliza, and Warden of course (though I think of Warden as more of a primary character). I would love to see Warden play a more critical role in future books - though he was instrumental in this book. 

As always, the world-building of this series is so well-written. It's an easy world to lose yourself in, though it's a brutal and unforgiving world. I'm still trying to wrap my head around all of the different orders of clairvoyants, but I like that we get to see so many different types and their powers in action. 

I'm going to put this as a little bit of a warning - there is some torture in this book, which broke my heart. As far as torture goes, it's not the worst that could have happened, but be prepared to read about Paige getting tortured. Again, it's not as bad as it could have been, but it's there. Paige definitely comes out a lot stronger, and that part of the plot served a higher purpose for the story in general. 

We know this is going to be a seven-book series and so this book ends nowhere near resolved. Certain aspects of this book specifically are resolved, but the overall plot (voyants being screened and hunted, Nashira's grand plan, etc.) is far from concluded. While this book does not end in a cliffhanger, it'll definitely leave you wanting more. 

What I Did Not Like:

I suppose this one moved a little too slowly, initially. It took over one hundred pages for me to finally feel like I was invested in the story. The first one hundred or so pages focus more on Paige's struggles as Underqueen, which I found... boring? Perhaps necessary to the story (especially given the ending of the book), but boring nonetheless. 

So you know when the books in a long book series are almost like episodes of a TV show, in which there is a problem and it's resolved by the end of that one episode? That's definitely the setup of this book, with a new problem introduced and a resolution to that problem by the end of the story. There is nothing really wrong with this, but I guess I wanted more from the overall series plot, how this book is tied in with the other two books and the remaining four. Yes, there is always the threat of Nashira, and the threat to voyants by the government, but I guess I wanted to know more about where this series is heading. 

Also, this is book three of an adult fiction series. I am unashamed when I say that I wanted more from the romance. Hint. HINT. 

Would I Recommend It:

I can't speak for the series overall, because it's such a long series and I'm not sure if it'll pay off (long series scare me). I can't really gauge the direction of the series at this point, and I can't tell if Shannon is the type of author to slaughter everyone in the end, or give a hopeful ending, or whatever. It's too early to tell, and she doesn't give us much to look forward to, in terms of the overall plot. So I can't say I do (or don't) recommend the series in general. So far, it's an intriguing series, and fans of dystopian novels will enjoy it. 

But in terms of this book, sure, I recommend it. If you've read the other books, you won't be disappointed by this sequel. It does move the story along, and there is a fair amount of character growth (Paige), heightened stakes, developing romance, etc. It's a good sequel.

Rating:

3.5 stars -> rounded up to 4 stars. So far, Shannon has not disappointed. While this isn't a new favorite or anything like that, I am pretty pleased with this book and it has left me wanting to read book four. I hope Shannon writes it faster than this book, or The Mime Order!


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