Saturday, February 28, 2015

Julia Reviews Soulbound by Kristen Callihan

Title/Author: Soulbound by Kristen Callihan
Publisher/Year Published: February 2015 by Forever/Grand Central Publishing
How I got this book: I was provided an ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Why I read this book: I absolutely adore The Darkest London series!
Rating: 4.5 stars
(warning, very minor spoilers for the earlier books in the series)

When Adam's soul mate rejected him, there was more at stake than his heart. After seven hundred years of searching, his true match would have ended the curse that keeps his spirit in chains. But beautiful, stubborn Eliza May fled-and now Adam is doomed to an eternity of anguish, his only hope for salvation gone . . . 

No matter how devilishly irresistible Adam was, Eliza couldn't stand the thought of relinquishing her freedom forever. So she escaped. But she soon discovers she is being hunted-by someone far more dangerous. The only man who can help is the one man she vowed never to see again. Now Adam's kindness is an unexpected refuge, and Eliza finds that some vows are made to be broken . . .

If I had to choose one romance series out there now to declare my favorite this series would be it. Soulbound is the sixth book in The Darkest London series and it lives up to the expectations I have formed for this series. 

The thing with this series, unlike a lot of other paranormal romance series, is that each book is completely unique. I have yet to read in the six books the same storyline at all. Each character isn't just a slightly different writing of the same trope. It's wonderful and refreshing. 

Soulbound is the story of Adam and Eliza. We met them in the fifth book (I think... it actually may have even been the fourth), where Eliza is killed but her soul not ready to leave this world. Adam is summoned to turn her into a Ghost in the Machine (GIM), in which the just killed person declares themselves to serve Adam and in return he gives them a clockwork heart and life again, unaging and with some cool powers (like being able to leave their body and like flit around like ghosts).

Well, when Adam sees Eliza, he does not make her a GIM but chains him to her and disappears. In the fifth book she is freed but this is the book where their story takes off. Eliza is living with the Fae queen and struggling to figure out life in London. She is faced with some horrid prospects and what she was running from in Boston has followed and found her in London.

She stumbles on a captured Adam and comes up with an idea to run involving him. But how do they break him free without any of the powerful Fae knowing? Seriously the story is the secondary part in my opinion; the romance between the two takes the lead.

Adam has a lot to atone for from the previous books, but he needs to if he is ever going to have his curse lifted and find true love. Eliza has to learn to forgive for past transgressions and see Adam for who he really is. I loved how much the story focused on the two of them. And the ending is seriously not what I expected! 

I love these books. They are some of the best, most unique paranormal romances out there. I will say if you haven't read the other five, that book six isn't the best place to start. Can you read it as a stand alone? I guess... but I wouldn't recommend it. You would miss a lot of the background of the secondary storylines as well as the beginnings of the relationship between Adam and Eliza. But I would recommend this entire series. Callihan continually surprising me with engaging stories and character and is truly one of the best out there in paranormal romance today.

If you are looking for a great paranormal romance set in lovely Victorian London, this series is the best. Other reviews of the first five books in the series can be found at these links -  Firelight, Moonglow, Winterblaze, Shadowdance, and Evernight.

I thoroughly enjoyed Soulbound and can't wait to see what is next in The Darkest London. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lori Reviews The Intern's Handbook by Shane Kuhn

Title:  The Intern's Handbook

Author:  Shane Kuhn

Publication Information:  April 2014 by Simon & Schuster

How I Got a Copy of This Book:  I can't remember exactly how I got a copy of the ARC, but the publisher asked if I would be interested in reviewing the book, so I decided to give it a shot.

Goodreads Summary:  Interns are invisible. That’s the mantra behind HR, Inc., an elite "placement agency" that doubles as a network of assassins-for-hire, taking down high-profile executives who wouldn't be able to remember an intern’s name if their lives depended on it.

At the ripe old age of twenty-five, John Lago is already New York City’s most successful hit man. He’s also an intern at a prestigious Manhattan law firm, clocking eighty hours a week getting coffee, answering phones, and doing all the grunt work no one else wants to do. But he isn't trying to claw his way to the top of the corporate food chain. He was hired to assassinate one of the firm’s heavily guarded partners. His internship is the perfect cover, enabling him to gather intel and gain access in order to pull off a clean, untraceable hit.

The Intern’s Handbook is John Lago's unofficial survival guide for new recruits at HR, Inc. (Rule #4: "Learn how to make the perfect cup of coffee: you make an exec the best coffee he’s ever had, and he will make sure you’re at his desk every morning for a repeat performance. That’s repetitive exposure, which begets access and trust. 44% of my kills came from my superior coffee-making abilities.")

Part confessional, part how-to, the handbook chronicles John’s final assignment, a twisted thrill ride in which he is pitted against the toughest—and sexiest—adversary he’s ever faced: Alice, an FBI agent assigned to take down the same law partner he’s been assigned to kill.

My Thoughts:  This book was extremely fun to read.  I've gotten rather into thrillers over the past few years.  This book reminded me quite a bit of Archer if Sterling Archer were doing a long-term undercover assignment.  The protagonist, John Lago, is pretty smooth.  He's an assassin who is great at what he does and he's a bit cocky about it.  But he finally meets his match on his last mission ever.  The ending is one I didn't see coming, but once I got there, it was the only ending that there could be.

Most of the book is Lago writing instructions and tips for future assassins.  Occasionally, there are FBI transcripts.  These transcripts do an excellent job of furthering the plot in ways that John's narrative could not do.  He also includes his rules for how to do his job.  John spends a good amount of time discussing how being an orphan helps him do his job because he has not had an easy life with clear rules and feelings towards other people.  This was really interesting to ponder.  Finally, he gets to the point where he finishes his handbook and continues to tell the story.

I really enjoyed the thriller from a first person perspective.  I'm sure there are other novels out there that use this technique, but I haven't read any before, so it was new for me.  I liked the depth that it brought to the story.  And I liked the voice of John Lago.  He was intelligent and funny, but also removed and distant.

I read good bits of this book with NCIS playing in the background.  This was a great combination!  Both are about agents who have a job to do.  The NCIS agents sometimes bend the rules to the breaking point in order to get their man.  John is an assassin who disregards all rules and laws to get his man (who is usually a very bad person who really kind of deserves to die, even if it's not exactly legal).

Four stars for a fun read and an awesome narrator!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How do you space out your books?

I’ve noticed an odd phenomenon lately. Usually, when I finish a book, I’ll feel the immediate need to fill that book-shaped void in my life—I’m sure you’re all familiar with this feeling—and in a lot of cases, I start a new book almost immediately. Recently, though, this hasn’t been the case.

Part of it is due to blogging guilt. I know that if I don’t write a review within a few days of finishing a book, the review is either not going to get written (likely) or it’s just going to be a shitty review (more likely). It’s even harder to write a review of one book when I’ve already started reading another, because by then I’ll be caught up in the world of the new book and my brain will only reluctantly return to the world of the old one.

The other part, though, is something else with which I’m sure you’re all familiar: the book hangover.

I’ve been experiencing this a lot more lately. I’ll finish a book, have that I need to start a new book RIGHT NOW thought…and then not start another book for a day or two (or three).  For example, I finished Ready Player One (so good!) on Friday, and I’ve been meaning to start Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones since then, but just haven’t quite made myself do it yet. And I’m not really sure why, other than the fact that I only just finished my review of Ready Player One. So maybe now my brain will stop guilting me into NOT reading.

But while this most recent time has been a more extreme version of the book hangover, I’ve begun to notice that I need at least a day between books. This is in sharp contrast to most of the rest of my life, wherein I’ve pretty much always finished a book and immediately started another. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to start a new book; I almost always want to start a new book. But there’s this mental block that prevents me from doing it.

I’m curious about how our readers read! Do any of you have this book hangover issue? I know everyone has different reading timelines and preferences—some people can read on a schedule, some are mood readers; some read slow, others read fast; some drink it all in, some skim. (For what it’s worth, I’m halfway between a schedule and a mood reader, and I generally read pretty quickly because I tend to skim.) I’ve also noticed that my reading habits have definitely changed over the years. Did blogging influence your reading habits? It has definitely changed mine, in the ways I mentioned above as well as in things like making me think a lot more critically about what I’m reading.

I want to hear from you! How do you read?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Our Favorite Heroines

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!
(I'm planning on updating the list this week...sorry, haven't had time!)


Lori says:

1.  Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice  I love how real she is.  Aside from her interest in reading, I can totally relate to her foibles as well...and I think most people can too.

2.  Mame Dennis from Auntie Mame  The name of my personal blog was inspired by her.  She is so fun and exotic and well-meaning, though everything always messes up for her, then comes out all right in the end.

3.  Nora Ephron  OK, fine.  She was a real person.  But I think she was the heroine of her own essays, which are totally amazing.  She's funny and smart and totally relatable.  A true pleasure to read and read about.

Jamie says:

4. Celaena from Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas: SHE IS MY FAVORITE EVER. I feel like I've watched her grow so much in these first 3 books of the series and I cannot wait to see how her arc continues to develop. SHE IS BADASS.

5. Adelina from The Young Elites by Marie Lu: Adelina is such an interesting pick for me but she really sticks out. She isn't always your typical heroine because she is sort of a villain too! But she's so complicated and I just really FEEEEL her despite how difficult it could be to get past some of her choices.

6. Sam from Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley: So my first two picks are fantasy but LET ME JUST TELL YOU...there is nothing like real life badassness. She has physical and mental strength that I can't even fathom and what she endures in this book is NUTS. Seriously, YOU NEED TO MEET HER.

7. Skylar from I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios: This is another contemporary YA but the kind of quiet strength Skylar has to rise from her circumstances and have her eye on what she wants...I couldn't help but root for her so hard! She is an amazing heroine that I won't soon forget. PLUS the other main character, Josh, is just as amazing!

Bridget says:

8. Alice Quinn from The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Alice is your typical painfully shy, super-smart girl…until you get to know her. Quentin may be the main character, but Alice is truly the hero of The Magicians. You have to read it to find out why, though—I’m not going to spoil it for you.

9. Daenerys Targaryen from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. If there’s such a thing as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl in the fantasy world, Dany would be it. Young, beautiful, incredibly strong but also witty and intelligent, all the men in her world pretty much want her—but her only interest is in reclaiming her lost throne (and in her dragons, of course). Getting through A Song of Ice and Fire can be a slog, but reading about all of Dany’s badassery is what gets me through.

Julia says:

10. Lyra from the His Dark Materials Series - Lyra is awesome. Reading this book as a 17 year old, she was a bit young to fully relate to, but I understood her. She learned through trial and error and experience. She didn't wake up being the hero but had to grow into it. I love that series and I love her as the heroine. 

Kimberly says:

11. Elisa from the Fire and Thorns Series- Elisa is such an amazing character. I liked her even when we first meet her in the first chapter of Girl of Fire and Thorns, and she grows SO MUCH. She goes from being likable, to being incredible. Her determination, her loyalty, her faith. I adore her. 

Tell us your favorite heroines!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Kimberly wants to know: if you could read any book for the first time again, what would you pick?

If you could go back and read any book/series for the first time again, what would you pick?

This was a Top Ten Tuesday topic back in 2011, so it will seem familiar, however, I was dying to talk about it and see what others would say.

For me, my automatic reaction is, and will most likely always be: Harry Potter.

But this got  me thinking about other books/series that really affected me. What other books would I want to experience again?

The first one that came to mind is the Fire and Thorns series. I ADORE those books, and have read the series twice. However, reading it for the first time was magical. I wish I could recapture that feeling!

The next one I thought of was The Book Thief. Oh, that book. I have suggested it to everyone I can possibly think of. I remember getting the chills the first time I picked it up and was introduced to Death's unique narrative. The storytelling is beautiful. Heartbreaking, but wonderful.

So You Want to Be a Wizard. This is the series that introduced me to the wonderful quote “Reading one book is like eating just one potato chip.” I immediately identified with the characters and fell head over heels in love with the story. I was 12 when I first read it, I'd love to experience that feeling of delight I had when I read it.

Those books were the ones that stuck out to me the most, though there are others. What about you? What would you pick?? Please, share in the comments below!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Cocktail and Conversation: Influences In Your Reading Life

Every other Thursday here at the Broke & The Bookish is  A Cocktail Conversation time. One of the TB&TB members will pose a question to 2-3 of the other members of TB&TB crew about books, life, music, etc and then they'll answer and we can converse about it. So grab a cocktail & cozy up for some conversation. It's 5 o'clock somewhere, friends.

 The question:

"Is there anyone who helped make you the reader you are or helped cultivate your love for reading?"

Bridget says:  Definitely my parents, which I'm sure is a pretty common answer—they're the ones who would read to me all the time, and later financially supported my book-buying habits (along with my grandparents). Later in life, I can claim influence from tons of people who have recommended books, helping me shape my preferences into what they are today—especially my lovely cobloggers and commenters both here and on my own blog! <3

Julia says: There are few people that cultivated my love of reading early, primarily my parents. They read to me as a baby, which helped get things going. Also in grade school, my dad would take my sister and I to the library every Wednesday. So we had that base love of reading. The third person who really helped turned me into the romance lover I am today is my cousin, Erin. She came over one summer day around the age of 12 and introduced me to romance novels. She let me borrow her favorite (So Worthy, My Love by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss) and I was hooked. So I can thank her for introducing me to my favorite genre of books.



Jamie says: I remember being read to always by my parents/them letting me buy books but one of the biggest things that I think made me into the reader I am today is my stepmom. We split time between my dad's house and my mom's but we were always there every day in the summer. My stepmom would take us once a week to the library and just let us roam for 30 minutes in the kid section while she went and looked for her own books. It was this tradition I just LOVED. She let me take out ridiculous stacks and I think that being able to wander and discover made me find so many different things. I would read SO many different things because I had time to wander. Nobody was rushing me out of there. That HABIT of going every week helped me to be a consistent reader. Plus I REALLY looked forward to it!

What about you all? Who helped cultivate your love for reading/make you the reader you are today?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top Ten Bookish Problems We Have

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!




 Bridget says....

1. I’m getting old. No, seriously guys. I remember my parents talking about how they could never read all that much because it made them fall asleep, and I remember scoffing because how could you fall asleep while reading, reading is awesome! But now…I’m lucky if I get through two chapters before my eyelids get heavy. And that goes for almost every book I’ve read recently. Maybe I need to get my eyes checked.

Kimberly says....

2. MOVING. I moved twice in six months. Moving my books? Even worse than moving my ridiculously heavy couch. I now have all of my books nicely organized in my living room and library. We don't even think about moving to another house because neither me or the Mr. want to move my books. AGAIN.

3. Choosing which edition to buy. It's a serious dilemma! UK edition? US? I have two editions of Harry Potter, the original US hardbacks ( midnight release hardbacks!) and the gorgeous new paperback editions. I'll be adding the new illustrated editions too....

Jana says....

4. I want to read everything at the same time! It never fails. I'll be reading one book I've been DYING to read while longingly looking at my shelves at another book I'm DYING to read. I wish I had the brain to read 5 books at once and keep up with them all, but I'm a 1 (sometimes 2) book kinda girl.

5. I don't have enough space! I love physical books, but I have so many that they are becoming furniture. I love ebooks because they take up no space. But how do I decide when to buy a physical copy and when to buy a digital one? I like pretty covers. I love owning physical copies of my favorites so I have something to read when the apocalypse comes and electronics are no more (haha). I don't know what to do!!

Julia says....

6. Series! Everything is a series. I am not particular about many things, but I am about reading or watching something in the order it was intended. It doesn't matter to me if it can 'stand alone'. I must read everything in order! It makes things really difficult sometimes when I hear that book 3 of a 6 book series is wonderful and I should read it. But I can't until I read one and two. Also, finishing a series is almost impossible.

7. This goes along with my last one but forgetting what I have read in between reading books in a series. So book 1 is published in a certain year, and then even if it is only a year later, it is so hard for me to remember specifics about book one! That is one of the reasons I love it when I write reviews of books in a series. I can use it to jump start my memory of events. I will definitely have to use wikipedia to remind me of the events in A Song of Ice and Fire for when (if ever) Winds of Winter comes out!

Jamie says....

8. I can never ever return my library books on time: NO SERIOUSLY. I have no reason half the time other than I'm just too lazy to go or I forget about them. I mean, my money could be going towards worse things but BASICALLY I KEEP THE LIBRARY OPEN WITH MY "donation."

9. I always forget about the books on my Kindle: I'm a physical book kind of gal but I totally love my kindle! Especially for egalleys. But I tend to forget about the books on there because I will always grab for a physical book first when I survey what I have available to me to read.

10. I have books on my shelves that I bought at least 6-8 years (or more) ago that I've never read: I just get so distracted. I get all excited and buy books and then I forget about them because the next new shiny thing comes back. I've culled some because my tastes have changed but I feel REEEAALLY guilty about some of them still being there. Going to try harder to read those!

Tell us your bookish problems!!

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