Monday, March 31, 2014

Review: It Takes A Scandal by Caroline Linden

It Takes A Scandal by Caroline Linden
Book Two of the Scandals series
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: April 29, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

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

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sometimes It Takes a Scandal...

Abigail Weston has everything: beauty, wit, and one of the largest dowries in England. Her parents hope she'll wed an earl. Abigail hopes for a man who wants her desperately and passionately. But the money seems to blind every man she meets—except one.

Sebastian Vane has nothing. He came home from war with a shattered leg to find his father mad and his inheritance gone. He's not a fit suitor for anyone, let alone an heiress. But Abigail lights up his world like a comet, bright and beautiful and able to see him instead of his ruined reputation. And it might end happily ever after...

To Reveal Your Heart's Desire

...Until Benedict Lennox begins courting Abigail. Ben is everything Sebastian isn't—wealthy, charming, heir to an earl. Sebastian won't give up the only girl he's ever loved without a fight, but Abigail must choose between the penniless gentleman who moves her heart, and the suitor who is everything her parents want.

What I Liked:

I haven't read many adult books for the year so far, which makes me a little sad, because I usually read a good amount of historical romance adult books. I love historical romance books, but I guess it's not the season for them yet? Well, in at any rate, I really enjoyed this book. The first book in the series was great, and this second book was AWESOME!

Sebastian is a young but injured war veteran with no money, no father, no wife, nothing. His father was a raving madman who disappeared, and everyone thinks that Sebastian killed him. They also think that Sebastian stole money from Lord Stratford, a rich lord whose son was friends with Sebastian. Sebastian is reserved and calm, but everyone thinks that he is reclusive and guilty. 

Abigail and her recently rich family moves to Richmond for the summer. Abigail and Penelope (sisters) want romance and passion. Abigail meets the brooding and mysterious Sebastian, and becomes fascinated with him. They are strangely alike, despite the fact that she is bubbly and innocent, and he is mysterious and dark. I LOVE the dynamic between the two of them - they are night and day. That seems really cliche, but I love this relationship. I feel like that's how I am - vivacious and bubbly - and the guy I like? He has a really great sense of humor, but he also has a "bad", sexy side. Love.

Sebastian is seriously the best part of this book. I LOVE him so much. He is dark, mysterious, brooding, and actually really honorable. I love his perspectives, and I love how Abigail sees him. She is fascinated by him, but she also cares for him greatly. I love how gradual and beautiful it is, the development of their relationship. Sebastian is just about perfect in a completely non-perfect way. His story is tragic and horrible, but he demonstrates true honor and respect throughout the book.

So I loved the romance. I loved the story of this book - it deals with the development of the relationship between Abigail and Sebastian, but also Abigail's personal life with her family, and who her parents want her to marry. I was quite intrigued with the story, even if it seemed a little bit long. The mystery of the book - what happened to Sebastian's father, where is the money, what happened with Sebastian and Samantha, what Benedict would do with Abigail... there were so many unknowns in this book, and I wanted to figure out everything! I love it when a historical romance novel does that - it's not just about the romance. Although, the romance is seriously breathtaking.

Basically, I really enjoyed this book. I loved Linden's first book in this series, and I'm really happy that the second book in the series lives up to the first book - in fact, to me, it's even better than the first book!

What I Did Not Like:

I can't think of any specific that I didn't like about this book. I really liked it! It's getting four stars from me, but it's definitely going to be a favorite historical romance novel of the year.

Would I Recommend It:

YES! I really enjoyed the first book, and I enjoyed the second book even more! Granted, they both got the same rating, but I seriously liked this book a lot. The male protagonist was definitely the best part of this book, and yet the book itself was simply wonderful. If you love historical romance novels, then you should DEFINITELY check out this book! This will most likely make my top ten of 2014, in terms of historical romance novels. 


4 stars. This was a really wonderful book! I haven't read a historical romance book in a while, so this one was a welcome change. And it was seriously great!

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

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Review: The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik

The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik
Publisher: HarperTeen 
Publication Date: April 22, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads): 

Anna Eliot is tired of worrying about what other people think. After all, that was how she lost the only guy she ever really liked, Finn Westbrook.

Now, three years after she broke his heart, the one who got away is back in her life.

All Anna wants is a chance to relive their last kiss again (and again and again). But Finn obviously hasn't forgotten how she treated him, and he’s made it clear he has no interest in having anything to do with her.

Anna keeps trying to persuade herself that she doesn't care about Finn either, but even though they've both changed since they first met, deep down she knows he’s the guy for her. Now if only she can get him to believe that, too....

With her signature wit and expertly authentic teen voice, Claire LaZebnik (the author of fan favorites Epic Fail and The Trouble with Flirting) once again breathes new life into a perennially popular love story. Fans of Polly Shulman, Maureen Johnson, and, of course, Jane Austen will love this irresistibly funny and romantic tale of first loves and second chances.

What I Liked:

The first thing I thought when I finished reading this book: I really want to read Persuasion now. Honestly, I thought I had read Persuasion at some point - apparently not. But now I want to read it, so see from where this book got its roots. I absolutely adored this book! It's really cute and sad and wonderful and poignant and did I mention wonderful? It's worth repeating. I've never read any of this author's books, but I must say, I really liked this one!

Anna's love life is a bit of a disaster - in her freshman year, she broke Finn's heart, and he moved away with his family. Three years later, he and his family moved back, and he won't give her the time of day. Now she is heartbroken, and she knows it's her fault that he hates her. It's not his fault that she refused to dance with him three years ago, because she cared too much about what others thought. Or that, three years later, he becomes interested in one of her friends, Lily. Or that she wants him back, but there is nothing she can do about it.

I recently read To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han, and let me tell you, that book BLEW ME AWAY. I'm not one for contemporary novels, but that one was so good. It's amazing how I chose that one, and this one, as two of the spring contemporary novels that I would give a chance - and I ended up loving both of them. That made me really happy.

This one deals with Anna and her broken relationship with Finn, her relationship with her sisters, and her relationship with her father. I like how many sub-stories this book had - it made this book less about the romance (which is automatically the first thing that one thinks of when one looks at this book), and more about the story and journey of a girl. 

For the majority of this book, the relationship between Finn and Anna is not a happy one. It's not like Finn is particularly pleased with Anna - she broke his heart and made him look like a fool. And Anna knows better than to hope that he is not angry with her. Finn acts very polite but distant with her - nothing more personal than that. This was sad, but at the same time, I totally understand Finn.

And yet, I found the progression of the second-chance relationship really beautiful. It's very subtle - not much can really happen physically, when Finn is practically dating Lily (a friend of Anna), and Anna is trying not to show her continuing interest in Finn. But eventually, it becomes clear that Finn never really lost interest in Anna, despite the fact that he is interested in someone else.

As for characters, I really liked how well LaZebnik characterized and developed each one. There are SO MANY, but all of them were unique in their own way. Like, I'm able to tell you something different about each character - that's not always easy! My favorite was probably Lucy - I can relate to her the most, in terms of relationships and academics.

I like how LaZebnik has the family life as a major part of this book. Anna and her father are practically strangers. Her mother doesn't put much of an effort to be in her life. Anna's oldest sister, Molly, is in college, as is her second older sister, Lizzie. Molly is a great big sister, but Lizzie seems a bit shallow and preoccupied with silly things (in my opinion).

LaZebnik incorporates a very real and authentic teenage voice - her writing style really lends itself to how a teenager would seem in real life. Of course, every teenager has a different voice, but LaZebnik really captures a teenager's personality and being in this book. Honestly, I would never do some of the things that the teens in this book partake in (including Anna), such as smoking weed (oh, but how you've tried, Victor), but LaZebnik definitely has a good grasp what goes on in a typical teenager's mind. 

I'm pretty pleased with the plot of the story - I was never really bored or disinterested. I definitely want to check out Persuasion, after reading this book, to see how the two match up.

What I Did Not Like:

The only that sort of bothered me was the way how everything wrapped up perfectly. I can't say anything without giving away serious spoilers, so I'm not going to describe exactly what I had a problem with, but the climax and ending seemed a little too perfect, in terms of how things ended for Finn and Anna. Like, things happened a little too conveniently, right? Or maybe not, I don't know. Maybe it would have happened for Finn and Anna anyway.

Would I Recommend It:

Hmmm, well, this is another contemporary novel that I really enjoyed, so YES! I'm in a shock, a little, because I don't usually enjoy contemporary novels (and yes, I do read a good amount of them each year). Maybe the cute yet subtly deep ones are the ones I like. 


4 stars. I'm so glad I chose this one, of all of Harper's spring contemporary novels! I told myself that I needed to take at least one contemporary novel from their uploaded spring contemporary titles.. This was the perfect one, in my opinion!

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

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (#66)

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, March 22nd to Saturday, March 29th?

(all links to Goodreads are provided!)

From Edelweiss:

Um. YES! I love this cover. And I enjoyed Hush, Hush (though not so much the rest of the series), so I can't wait to read this one!

I liked the first book, so I'm delighted to have the chance to read the companion novel!

Fairy tales! Free-verse poems! Sounds good to me.

First week back was LONG O_O But it's over. How are you all? :)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Review: Of Triton by Anna Banks

Of Triton by Anna Banks
Book Two of the Syrena Legacy series
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC won in a giveaway

Summary (from Goodreads):

In this sequel to OF POSEIDON, Emma has just learned that her mother is a long-lost Poseidon princess, and now struggles with an identity crisis: As a Half-Breed, she’s a freak in the human world and an abomination in the Syrena realm below. Syrena law states that all Half- Breeds should be put to death.

As if that’s not bad enough, her mother’s reappearance among the Syrena turns the two kingdoms—Poseidon and Triton—against one another. Which leaves Emma with a decision to make: Should she comply with Galen’s request to keep herself safe and just hope for the best? Or should she risk it all and reveal herself—and her Gift—to save a people she’s never known?

What I Liked:

***Potential spoilers for book one, Of Poseidon! You are warned. There shouldn't be any of book two, Of Triton***

What a fun sequel this was! I waited a really long time to read it, for some reason, and that was stupid. I'm definitely glad I read it now, before Of Neptune comes out! I will be reading Of Neptune - I wouldn't miss it. I don't read many mermaid books, but this series is one series that has held my attention. While my rating of this book wasn't incredibly high, I enjoyed this book and would encourage people who liked the first book to continue with this series. 

At the end of the first book, there was that HUGE cliffhanger, about Emma's mother. The book literally cuts off with the revelation that Emma's mother is Nalia, the lost Poseidon princess and original mate of Grom, the king of Syrena and Galen's brother. This book starts with Emma and Nalia fleeing - Emma, against her will. Nalia is quite sure that Grom is dead, and that Galen has been lying to Emma the entire time. And there are bigger problems at hand - like the fact that Grom JUST took a mate towards the end of book one - Paca - and that since Nalia is the Poseidon prince, she must mate with a Triton prince...

The plot of this particular book was not my favorite part of the book - it was entirely too simplistic and predictable (see more below). However, the book was still a fun ride, and the series itself has taken an interesting turn. Most books have a series climax in which the protagonists must save the world or the country or SOMETHING. In this case, the protagonists aren't necessarily trying to save anything, which is fine with me (because it's something different).

Galen remains my favorite character, but I feel like he isn't his usual self in this book. I really feel in love with him in the first book, but maybe he doesn't much page-time in this book, because I feel like he wasn't really there. Emma and Rayna are the primary characters in this book, and maybe Grom and Nalia. I didn't really love this change, but I rolled with it. 

I REALLY liked Antonius, Emma's grandfather and the king of Poseidon. He. Is. Hilarious. He's always saying or doing something incredibly ridiculous or strange and it is endearing. He was in self-imposed exile or something, since Nalia "died".

The climax kind of crept up on me and then exploded in my face. It wasn't particularly exciting, but the trial right before the climax was both exciting and funny. It's great to see that the humor in the series didn't decrease in this book - because it's one of the things that stuck out to me, that I really liked about book one.

While I enjoyed the first book more than I enjoyed this book, I liked this book well enough! I don't think it suffered from sequel slump too badly, and I'm glad I gave this one a shot! I hope to read the final book when it comes out!

What I Did Not Like:

There were several things that I didn't really like in this book, especially when you compare this book to the first book. In my opinion an author's books should get better and better, especially when they are within a series. That isn't quite the case with this series, in my opinion, which is sad.

For one, I wasn't a fan of the plot. It was really, really slow. Literally half the book was Emma being kidnapped by her mother - they were running away from Galen and Grom, because Nalia was SO SURE that Grom was dead, and that Galen was trying to arrest Nalia for her Syrena crimes. There is nothing wrong with this part of the plot, except that it dragged through half the book, and it was really boring and repetitive after a while. In general, the plot was kind of lag-y. The second half of the book focused primarily on who was allowed to mate with who, and why certain people couldn't mate with other people, and why some people had to mate with someone else. 

Honestly, it just felt like a soap opera, or some sort of drama. OF COURSE it's all about "arranged marriages" and love and who gets the girl. This book does not have any love triangles, within any of the relationships formed in this series. However, the drama and "excitement" in this book is due to Syrena rules about who can marry who and who can't. It just felt kind of old and repetitive. And a bit predictable. After a while, everything seems very obvious and you can totally tell what is coming next. That wasn't quite the case in the first book.

This book is so short, and I felt like this worked against Banks. For one, I feel like the characters did not get much exposure, like the first book. As I mentioned above, Galen definitely wasn't THERE like he was in the first book. One of the reasons why I loved the first book so much was because of the first book was because of Galen - he was really fun to read and follow. In this book, I feel like all he was doing was stressing out about Emma. Not. Attractive. 

This book just didn't have the spark and life that the first book had. It didn't FEEL the same as the first book, and I was sad to see that. I liked this book, but I didn't LOVE it. I'm glad I read it, but I'm hoping that the third book redeems the series a bit, because I wasn't really feeling this book at first. Hopefully, the third book is amazing!

Would I Recommend It:

Despite my rating not being super high, I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you've read the first book (and enjoyed it). It's a good series to start, if you haven't read book one! I like the slightly more original type of paranormal fiction, and I love the humor - it's not often that we find authors with a really great humorous writing style.


3 stars. I would have liked to see a little more, but overall, I'm pretty satisfied with this sequel. I have a pretty good idea as to what to expect for the third book, and that's exciting! Hopefully, the third book blows us away.

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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Swoon Thursday (#61): To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

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 To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han!

My heart is pounding like a million trillion beats a minute as I scoot closer to him. I bend my head down and press my lips against his, and I feel his jolt of surprise. And then he's kissing me back, open-mouthed, soft-lipped kissing-me-back, at first I'm nervous, but then he strokes my hair in a reassuring way, and I'm not so nervous anymore. It's a good thing I'm sitting down on this ledge, because I am weak in the knees. 

[...] I lean into him and kiss him. He starts to run his fingers through my hair, and it feels so nice I can't think straight. It's better than getting my hair washed at the salon. I move my hands down his back and along his spine, and he shivers and pulls me closer. A man's back feels so different than a girl's back - more muscular, more solid somehow. 

- ARC, pages 314-315

Read my review HERE.

GUYS I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH! I'm honestly not much of a contemporary person, but this book was SO GOOD. I mean, it got five stars from me. FIVE STARS. From ME.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (#65): Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

"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:

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date: September 23, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads):

A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

Historical fiction, you all. HISTORICAL FICTION.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

Welcome to the Salvage blog tour! I'm honored to be on the tour of such an awesome debut! Check out my review, and be sure to enter the giveaway! And don't forget to visit the other tour stops! :)

Salvage by Alexandra Duncan
Publisher: Greenwillow
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Official Summary:

Salvage is a thrilling, surprising, and thought-provoking debut novel that will appeal to fans of Across the Universe, by Beth Revis, and The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. This is literary science fiction with a feminist twist, and it explores themes of choice, agency, rebellion, and family. Ava, a teenage girl living aboard the male-dominated, conservative deep space merchant ship Parastrata, faces betrayal, banishment, and death. Taking her fate into her own hands, she flees to the Gyre, a floating continent of garbage and scrap in the Pacific Ocean. This is a sweeping and harrowing novel about a girl who can't read or write or even withstand the forces of gravity. What choices will she make? How will she build a future on an earth ravaged by climate change? Named by the American Booksellers Association as a Spring 2014 Indies Introduce Pick.

What I Liked:

I honestly was not sure if I would enjoy this book for several reasons, but I am really glad that I ended up really liking it! At first, while reading the beginning, I was like, there is NO WAY this book and I are going to get along. But Duncan has constructed a really beautiful novel!

There are several parts to this book. The first part is spent on the Parastrata, a merchant ship that flies in space. There is a society living on this ship - in fact, Ava has never NOT been on the ship. But trouble brews when she is given away as a bride, to a male on the Ă†ther ship. She hoped it would be her childhood friend Luck (and he hoped so as well). They do something unforgivable, and everything falls apart. They are separated, and both are to die. But Ava escapes, and ends up on Earth.

The next part deals with Ava's adjustment to Earth, away from her ship, from her lost love Luck. She is taken in by a lovely woman and her daughter (the daughter's name is Miyole). She meets a boy named Rushil. She searches for her mother's sister. She learns to read and write (poorly, but she learns somewhat). But where does she belong?

At first, I HATED the first part, the beginning, on the ship. I hate the society on the Parastrata! It's sexist and totally debilitating for women. Women can't learn to read or write or be anything except laundresses and farmers. They are married off to the man of their father's choosing. Oh, and it's a polygamist society. No no no. So, I really did NOT like the society. I thought I would hate this book.

BUT, that's just it: Duncan does an AMAZING job of building and creating the society on the Parastrata. It's obvious that readers are supposed to hate the sexist society (unless you're a sexist, then I suppose you'll enjoy the first part - disgusting). I even thought I hated Ava, because she has no spine or backbone or willpower. BUT, then I realized: this is just how brilliant Duncan's writing is. Ava can't see fault in her society. She can't see how women have no rights in her society. She can't understand, because she doesn't know better. Ava doesn't have that seed of rebellion that many dystopia novels feature (not that this book is a dystopia). She only comes to change her way of thinking because she is forced out of her ship, and she goes to Earth (which was literally the LAST thing she wanted to do).

So, yeah. I loved the worldbuilding and the writing style. Duncan does a really good job of creating the world on the Parastrata, as well as life on Earth. It's polluted, dirty, garbage-filled, and there are definitely environmental themes in this book. YAY for that! And Duncan's writing style is really flowing and lovely. Sometimes it seems a little dry and boring, but it definitely fits the story.

The story is rather long and drags a bit, because you feel like nothing is happening. However, I like the journey - it's Ava journey, her discovery of who she is as a woman, as a real person who is appreciated for her talents (and not her ability to make children). It sounds cliche to say that this book was all about a character's quest to find herself, but in this book's case, it's totally accurate. Sometimes, I can understand the excessive length, because many, many scenes are necessary, to show Ava's changing views and growth as a character.

The romance is pretty obvious, in this book. There aren't too many males in this book, especially males around Ava's age, so when you spot this one guy, or this other one, or this other one, it's pretty obvious that he will be a potential love interest. I will say that there are two - I already mentioned Luck and Rushil. But there is NOT a love triangle in this book - not in the physical sense. The romance is important, because it shows that Ava is capable of making her own choice for herself.

Feminism is a pretty big thing in this book. Ava comes from a very repressive society, where there aren't many males, and the males that are present have many wives and many children and all of the knowledge, strength, and power. But when Ava goes to Earth, she is shown how awful and messed-up her society is. She learns of choice and empowerment, which is really important. I like the strong presence of feminism in this book, but it's also really subtle. 

Overall, I enjoyed the plot of this book, Ava's journey. This book is great as a standalone, so I hope it stays that way. The worldbuiling is probably the best/most well-done part of the book. I hope that if others read this book, they enjoy and appreciate the undertones and themes of the novel! 

What I Did Not Like:

This book is very long, and sometimes, you really FEEL the length of the book. Meaning, sometimes I felt like this book was unnecessarily long. Length usually doesn't bother me, when the book is really engrossing. AT TIMES, this book was not engrossing enough, so the length was daunting. I think Duncan could have cut this one down by maybe fifty pages (or more), honestly. 

Otherwise, overall, I was pretty happy. Make sure you read what I said about the beginning of the book, on the ship. I HATED the society on the Parastrata, but it's that necessary evil that you hate, but at the same time, you totally appreciate it how WELL Duncan builds it and MAKES you hate it.

Would I Recommend It:

I would recommend this book mostly to science fiction fans. If you're looking for an amazing, heartstopping romance, try something else. If you want constant, nonstop action, try something else. If you want a heroine with a backbone from start to finish, try something else. My point is, this book is NOT for everyone (like every book, but this one definitely is not). Science fictions will appreciate this one, and fans of feminist literature. It's an excellent (debut) novel!


4 stars. I enjoyed this book! It is truly a remarkable debut novel (though that sounds really cliche), and I'm glad I had the opportunity to read and review it. 

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

About the Author:

Alexandra Duncan is a writer and librarian. Her short fiction has been published in several Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy anthologies and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Her first novel, Salvage, is forthcoming from Greenwillow Books in April 2014. She loves anything that gets her hands dirty – pie-baking, leatherworking, gardening, drawing, and rolling sushi. She lives with her husband and two monstrous, furry cats in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

Representation by superagent Kate Schafer Testerman of KT Literary

The Giveaway:

Follow the rest of the tour:

Week One:
3/24/2014 - IceyBooks - Interview
3/25/2014 - The Eater of Books! - Review
3/26/2014 - Fiktshun - Guest Post
3/27/2014 - Two Chicks on Books - Guest Post
3/28/2014 - Nerdophiles - Review

Week Two:
3/31/2014 - A Book Obsession - Interview
4/1/2014 - fangirlish -  Guest Post
4/2/2014 - The Book Monsters - Review
4/3/2014 - Owl Always Be Reading - Review
4/4/2014 - Tales of a Ravenous Reader - Interview

Release Day Blitz and Giveaway: Recklessly Royal by Nichole Chase

Welcome to the Recklessly Royal release day blitz! Congratulations on yet another release, Nichole Chase! I have so much catching-up to do, with this entire series. But for now, enjoy the post!

Recklessly Royal by Nichole Chase
Book Two of the Suddenly series
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: March 25, 2014

Official Summary:

Catherine has spent her life being the perfect princess. She’s kept her hands clean, her head down, and most importantly—men at arm’s length. After all, most men are after only one thing, and for Cathy there’s a lot more at stake than her bed; she has to worry about the fate of an entire nation. But at the rate she’s going, Cathy is afraid she’ll give the Virgin Queen a run for her money. She is tired of waiting for someone good enough to come along. She has a plan, and it all hinges on seducing the one man who seems utterly unimpressed by all things royal. The one man she is tempted by more than any other . . . 

When David arrives at the royal wedding of his friend, the newly ordained Duchess Samantha Rousseau, he expected to feel uncomfortable and out of his element, but he wasn’t prepared to be targeted by Prince Alex’s gorgeous younger sister. With Cathy’s giant blue eyes, killer figure, and sense of humor, it won’t take long before he gives in. But when he finds out just how innocent the crown princess really is, will he play the part of knight in shining armor or the dashing rogue?

About the Author:

Nichole Chase is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Suddenly Royal, Flukes, The Dark Betrayal Trilogy, and several short stories. She is also the instructor of Say What? a dialogue class at the Romance Academy. 

Nichole lives in Georgia with her husband, energetic daughter, superhero dog, Sulcata tortoise, and two cats. When not writing, you may find her reading, painting, crafting, or chasing her daughter around the house while making monster noises. 

The Excerpt:

I was a bit sloshed, but I wasn't going to tell Sam that. My legs slipped and I slid the rest of the way to the ground, my head stopping my fall. Maybe I was drunker than I thought. The doorbell rang as I scrambled up from my spot on the floor.

“I've got it!” Chadwick took off to the front door, his steps a little too loud.

Backing away from the pole, I took a running jump and grabbed directly in the middle. I used my momentum to swing my legs high in the air. Making sure I had a good grip on the pole, I spread my legs into a split.

“Wow.” A deep voice broke into my thoughts and I looked up. A man was standing next to Chadwick, wearing a backpack and carrying a large duffel bag. His dark eyes ran over my body and I shivered, which was a bad thing. My hands slipped and I fell, crashing to the floor with a loud oof.

“Are you okay?” Sam ran over and helped me stand up, but I wasn’t feeling any pain. In fact, I was feeling awesome. Looking past Sam’s shoulder, I smiled at the hottie and waved. He was perfection, from his messy dark hair down to his scuffed boots. And exactly what we needed to end the night with a bang.

“Heeeyyooou. I don’t remember hiring a stripper, but boy am I glad you showed up.” I let Sam help me up to my feet and wondered why she was making a choking sound. I slapped her on the back, worried. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Fine!” Sam barked a laugh. “That’s not—”

“Good! Because it looks like I outdid myself!” I turned her around with a flourish to look at the delicious man standing on the stairs. His shirt strained across his chest as he shifted his feet and I found myself thinking about tracing my fingers across those hard lines. I let my eyes run over him instead, taking in the tight plaid shirt, worn jeans, and work boots. There was nothing polished or metropolitan about him. Everything screamed outdoors. And I liked it.

“Cathy,” Sam tried to stop me, but I shrugged her off and skipped up the steps.

“What are you supposed to be? A lost lumberjack?” I pulled the heavy bag out of his hands and set it on the ground. “We’ll, c’mon! Someone start some music.” I gyrated my hips a little and wiggled my eyebrows. “Take it off, bab-ay!”

“If you insist, gorgeous.” His American accent gave me pause as a dim memory tried to fight through the fog in my brain, but it didn’t last long. His eyes stayed locked on mine as his calloused fingers worked the top couple of his buttons free. I wasn’t sure if it was the alcohol, or just his deep brown eyes, but I was entranced. I didn’t even notice when Sam climbed the stairs.
I couldn’t look away from him as he slowly unbuttoned his shirt and exposed the skin underneath. The need to touch that tantalizing bit of flesh raced through me and my fingers twitched. Hypnotized by eye the color of melted chocolate, I leaned forward. One corner of his mouth turned up into a smirk and it only added to his appeal. Where it might have been a turn off in another man, It simply added to this strippers appeal. I smiled in response, eager for him to continue.

“God, please don’t, David. I’ll never be able to look at you again.” She covered his hands with her own and laughed, her cheeks a bright red.

“David?” I looked at him, confused, before looking over my shoulder at Jess. She was nodding her head with wide eyes like I was supposed to remember something.

“David?” I said the name again, mulling over what that could mean.
I looked down at the bag I had taken from him and my eyes landed on his boots. It was then that a moment of clarity surged through my mind like a stampede of wild horses and I covered my mouth.

“Oh God.” A wave of nausea hit me. “You’re Sam’s friend.”

I promptly turned around and threw up into a potted plant.

The Giveaway:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Book One of the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Rating: 5 stars
Source: ARC won from a giveaway

Summary (from Goodreads):

Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren't love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

What I Liked:

I don't even know how to begin this review. I read this book several days ago, and I'm writing this review now, NOT because I'm lazy and couldn't write it right away, but because I couldn't find the words to create a review for this book. I still can't, honestly, but the review is supposed to go up on Monday (which you would be reading now), so I have to write something. I already know I'm not going to be doing this book (or my love for this book) justice, so... just know that I love this book so so so so so SO MUCH. Like, a lot.

This book follows the first person narration of Lara Jean, the middle child of three daughters. Her older sister, Margot, is about to go to college in Scotland for her freshman year. Her younger sister, Kitty, is nine years old, and needs her older sisters. Their mother is dead, and their father is a single parent, raising three daughters. 

But then there is the small problem of Lara Jean's love letters being sent. They aren't really love letters - they're Lara Jean's "goodbyes", letters that were for her to have closure, and for no one else to see. Well, someone sent them. And four of the five boys got the letters (one was sent back). Peter Kavinsky was smug and gloating. Josh Sanderson (who is now Margot's ex-boyfriend) was pensive and slightly regretful. Lucas Krapf is gay. McClaren (I can't remember his full name) never said anything to Lara Jean.

So, this story is really two stories - about Lara Jean's family life, and her personal life. I LOVE how Jenny Han focuses on both - many times in contemporary novels, we see the romance side really fleshed out, but the family side not-so-fleshed-out. In this book, the importance of sisterhood is really there. Lara Jean must "grow up" and be somewhat of a better role model for Kitty. BUT, Lara Jean must also keep a relationship with her sister in Scotland. Also, notice how one of of the five boys that Lara Jean used to love is Josh, the next-door neighbor, the best friend, and Margot's boyfriend (right until she went to Scotland). That is something that the sisters must reconcile. 

I promise I have not given anything away, in terms of the romance. I promise. The romance is so, so perfect, in my opinion. I've seen some reviewers say that they weren't feeling the romance, but I LOVED it. Lara Jean decides to take on a fake boyfriend, so that Josh won't think that she is still interested in him, and so that Margot can get back together with Josh when she comes back in December (and in that way, Lara Jean won't be guilty of liking Margot's ex-boyfriend). But with all things, it's hard not to fall for the fake boyfriend.

So, you might think to yourself, but Alyssa, that sounds a bit like a love triangle? Lara Jean and Josh? Lara Jean and fake boyfriend? Margot and Josh? WHAT?! Trust me, it doesn't seem like a love triangle when you are reading the book. One guy and one girl are CLEARLY meant for each other. I love the romance in this book - it is very well-developed and the progression is gradual and subtle. There were specific scenes that were so poignant and beautiful, but they were the smallest things, like the boy putting his head in Lara Jean's lap, or buying her a donut. LOVE IT.

I'm not telling you who ends up with who or who the fake boyfriend is, but I'm definitely all the way on one boy's side. I don't dislike the other, but there are two distinct pairs and I think the author is going in that direction as well. But I think the author is making the characters work for it, which is a tiny bit irritating but totally worth the read.

The plot of this book is straightforward except not. This book starts in the fall (beginning of a school year), and ends around Christmas time. It's about Lara Jean's romantic journey - figuring out her feelings for Josh and the fake boyfriend and even some of the other letter recipients. It's also about Lara Jean's friendship with a not-so-great influence, Chris. It's about her relationship with her older sister, Margot, her young sister, Kitty, and her father. I would even say it's about her friendship with Josh, even though he is one of the boys she was totally in love with, according to her letter.

The author's writing style is so great! It's cute and girly and definitely fits Lara Jean's personality. I was a bit taken aback when I started reading, because the narration was very informal and bubbly and cute, and I'm so used to a more serious tone. But I really liked this - it worked for Lara Jean, and this book. 

I seriously loved this book so, so much, people. I don't think I've said nearly enough about this book, but I think you all understand. I re-read this book about an hour after I finished it, which almost NEVER HAPPENS. It's rare, these days, that I have a desire to re-read books, especially so soon after reading it the first time. Well, this book had that effect on me! I NEED BOOK TWO!

What I Did Not Like:

That it ended. NOT the way it ended, but the fact that it ended. I HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE SECOND BOOK?! What madness is this?

Would I Recommend It:

Oh my gosh YES! I'm not a contemporary person, but this book BLEW ME AWAY. I was excited to read it beforehand (which is surprising, since it's contemporary), so I had a feeling that I would be pretty good (I don't read just ANY contemporary novel). Well, this book was not just good, or great - it was FANTASTIC. 

So, contemporary fan or not, you should read this book! It's *kind of* like Rowell's Fangirl - in the sense that anyone can read this book and love it, because it's easy to relate to this heroine and her life in some way or another. I highly recommend to anyone and everyone (which is super helpful, I know. Just trust me). 


5 stars. This book was simply AMAZING. I loved everything about it, even the heartbreaking yet beautiful ending. Trust me when I say that I will be HUNTING DOWN every and any advanced reader copy of the second book (if they are printed), because I must read that book AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

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