Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday -- ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS from the past 3 years

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



Bridget's Picks

1. 14 – Peter Clines. A super fun story about a possibly-haunted, possibly just really WTF building in Los Angeles. I originally read it on NetGalley and recently bought a hard copy so I could read it again, and it was just as awesome as when I read it the first time.

2. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson. Easily one of the best horror stories I’ve ever read. So wonderfully creepy.

Julia's Picks

3.  Ready Player One by Richard Cline
This book surprised me. It was the first book that my now defunct work bookclub read and I was blown away. I loved the nostalgic adventure and devoured the audio book read by none other than Wil Wheaton. For geeks like me with a love of things from the 80s/90s, this book is a must read. (review)

4. Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare
Another book that fell into my lap. I went to a book signing for Eloisa James and Tessa Dare. There were some travel mishaps and only Eloisa could make it. I loved the way Eloisa sold Tessa's book and decided to give it a try. And wow did I love it! It is one of the few romance's that don't blend into all the others that I read. (review)

5. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
I found this book on Netgalley a while back and it surprised me how much I liked it! It was a twist on the dystopian YA and I loved it so much! Just two characters trying to survive on a new world, running into all of these unexplained problems. Seriously a fantastic book! (review)

Jana's Picks

6. Love, Lucy by April Lindner: This is a retelling of A Room With A View. Lucy backpacks through Florence, Italy and not only falls in love with the food in the architecture--she falls in love with the street performer. I love books that take place in Italy, and that focus on travel. The books made me so happy, and I wish it could have gone on forever. (my review)

7. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson:READ this. The plot is complex and exciting, and there's a pretty amazing twist. Plus, Lia is spunky and the writing is glorious. (my review)

8. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker- I just love this contemporary romance so much! It takes place over the summer on a sailboat, and it deals with heartbreak, new love, family, friendship, and so many smiles. (my review)

Jamie Picks:

9. I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson: THIS BOOK IS THE MOST PERFECT THING IN THE WORLD. My words = paltry little things when it comes to this book.

10.  Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: I haven't read a ton of adult books in the past 3 years but this one so totally blew me away. MUST READ.

Monday, March 2, 2015

February Favorites & Our TBR For March

Hello March, where did you come from?!! Today we'll talk about our favorites from February and the books that are on our TBR list for March!

February Favorites    

Jamie's pick:

Mosquitoland by David Arnold: This book comes out tomorrow and MAN, you guys need to meet Mim. She is unlike any character I've met and her journey from Mississippi to Ohio is full of mishaps, tears, laughs and a whole vibrant cast of characters that she meets along the way. Equal parts funny and tender, brilliantly written and like nothing I've ever encountered before—get on this one!

Bridget's Pick

The Glittering World by Robert Levy. The Glittering World is magical in the way that Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane is magical: it's a dark contemporary fairy tale that will leave you breathless with its beauty. This is author Robert Levy's first novel, and it is one heck of a debut. You've gotta pick this one up. (My review)

Julia's Pick

Soulbound by Kristen Callihan - I love The Darkest London series. It never fails to live up to the hype. Adam and Eliza's story was unique, and it was lovely to watch how they fell for each other or ended up together. This is seriously my favorite paranormal series and I am always super excited when the next one is available. (review)

Daisy's Pick

Half the World by Joe Abercrombie: I LOVE this series and all the characters in it and this one was the much appreciated sequel to Half a King.

Lori's Pick

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom  I worked on this one for a while before finally deciding to finish.  It's about two sisters during the World War II years who search for stardom and purpose.  It was an absolutely lovely novel about family and finding (and being true to) yourself.  The last chapter alone is worth the read.  (Honorable mention to My Sunshine Away by M. O. Walsh because it left me kind of destroyed--I would have done two if I could have!)

Jana's Pick

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - I've been wanting to read The Book Thief for a long time, and finally had to because it was on my reading list for my YA lit course this semester. I loved it, even though it was really heavy and hard to read at times. The writing and narration are beautiful, and I love the character of Death. I'm so glad I finally got to it!

On Our March TBR List 

Jamie's Pick

I've been SUPER excited about this one ever since I heard of it. An asteroid is headed down to earth and all the future plans people made kind of go out the window as they are prepared that this could be their last days on earth. I started a book that had a similar premise and I couldn't even finish it because it was awful...but I'm hoping THIS one is everything I wished THAT one had been!

Bridget's Pick

I've heard a lot of good things about this one, and I'm always up for a good pandemic story. This one is different from most I've read in that the disease begins with Alzheimer's-like memory loss instead of grotesque physical symptoms. This is Laura van den Berg's debut novel after publishing two short story collections.

Julia's Pick

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith - I loved the Cockoo's Calling. It was one of the best mysteries I've read in a while. J.K. Rowling certainly lived up to my expectations. So I can't wait to crack the spine on this second Strike novel!

Daisy's Pick

Liars, Inc by Paula Stokes - I really like Paula Stokes' writing and this sounds SO good!

Jana's Pick

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas - I received this in the mail in January, and have been so slammed with required readings that I have not had time for it until now! I can't begin to tell you how excited I am!!

Tell us your favorite book from February and something you are planning on reading in March!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Broke and Bookish Book Haul for 2/15 - 2/28

Bridget's Haul

The top 7 books were my Valentine's Day present from my husband (he took me to Books-A-Million for Valentine's Day...God, I love him) and the bottom two recently arrived from Amazon.

Ready Player One - Ernest Clines. Actually just reviewed this one! It was really good! Definitely recommended for fans of Ender's Game.

Silver Sparrow - Tayari Jones. Bought this for my Dive Into Diversity challenge. I just finished and I really liked it, though it wasn't quite what I thought it would be.

The Martian - Andy Weir. When one of the first men on Mars is abandoned there by the rest of his crew (who presume him to be dead), he must do the impossible: figure out how to survive until he can be rescued.

A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess. I've been meaning to read this for ages and now I finally have a copy!

And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie. This is my first Agatha Christie! I'm so excited to finally start on these classic mysteries.

The Never List - Koethi Zan. I read this a few years ago on Netgalley and LOVED it. I rarely charge my iPad and find it hard to concentrate on reading when I do, so I'm psyched to finally have a hard copy.

A Sound of Thunder & Other Stories - Ray Bradbury. I've loved Ray Bradbury ever since I read some stories from his collection R is for Rocket in 7th grade English class. This collection has all of those stories and more!

Find Me - Laura van den Berg. When a pandemic that begins with memory loss and ends with death sweeps America, Joy seems to have finally caught a break: she's immune. This gains her admission to a hospital in Kansas where scientists study those who are immune, and she sees it as a way to escape her bleak existence.

Touch - Claire North. As he's being murdered, Kepler reaches out to his killer in one last plea for mercy. Suddenly, he's looking through the killers eyes at his own dying body. Instead of dying, he's discovered that he has the ability to jump from host to host, living inside others' bodies for days, weeks, months, or even years at a time.

Jana's Book Haul

This is not everything I got this month... I can't remember all of it! Haha.

* My #OTSPSecretSister was the best this month! She got me:
Nearly a Lady by Alissa Johnson (Kindle)
Graceling by Kristin Cashore (paperback)
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (paperback)

* I won the January prize pack for the Contemporary Reading Challenge!
Vendetta by Catherine Doyle (hardback)
I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios (hardback)
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (hardback)

* I traded a few of my ARCs with friends as part of the "Have You Seen This?" feature.
Just One Day by Gayle Forman (traded my ARC for a hardback - Thanks Brittany!)
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey (traded my ARC of Fangirl for a Kindle copy of this - Thanks Sarah)

* I got a lot of books from publishers this month!
Love, Fortunes, and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius (ARC)
How to Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo (ARC)
First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan (ARC)
Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu (ARC)

Daisy's Book Haul

-A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: SO MUCH EXCITEMENT!!! I can't wait to read this!
-Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder: I'm so excited to be reading more about Yelena and Valek and just a whole lot of YES! I love Maria V. Snyder's writing! :)
-Promposal by Rhonda Helms: this just sounds adorable!
-The Way of Shadows
Shadow's Edge
Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks: I've been eyeing this series for FOREVER and finally decided to get the pretty boxed set :)

Egalleys for review:
-City of Fae by Pippa DaCosta: I haven't had the best luck with the fae before, but this sounds really good and that cover is gorgeous!
-Powerless by Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs: being the only normal girl in a world full of Heroes and Villains? Uhm, YES I'M IN!!
-The Elusive Lord Everhart by Vivienne Lorret: this sounds like revenge and misunderstandings, I like! :)
-Bomb by Sarah Mussi: this sounds exciting and amazing and I cannot wait to read it!

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!!

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