Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Julia Reviews The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Title/Author: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Publisher/Year Published: 2013 by William Morrow Books
How I got this book: I borrowed it from a friend
Why I read this book: We have a book club at work and this was the July choice!
Rating: 2.5 stars

Summary: via Goodreads
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy. 
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
I have read one other Neil Gaiman book in my life (The Graveyard Book which I loved), and I think it is important for me to start there. The problem with Gaiman is that is he super awesome and famous (a rough problem to have I guess) but it gives these high expectations to his books. I really liked The Graveyard Book and I've checked out Stardust for a car ride later today, but I just could not connect with The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

My favorite quote from book club was that this book at the same time felt too long yet underdeveloped. There were times I wanted to know more (everything with the Hempstock family) and times where I just didn't think anything was happening. It has this strange story like feel to it where you kind of expect something to be left up to the imagination, but I think the wrong parts were.

There were times in this story where I was quite freaked out (the nanny) and other times where I was enchanted (the kitty). But overall it has the feel of a short story stretched out into a novel, though it still only clocks in at a hundred fifty pages and some change.

If you are new to Gaiman, I would not recommend this be your first book. If you are a fan, you may like this. If you need a book for book club, I will say that this was a book that had a lot of different reactions that were really interesting to talk about. It ran the gamut on if people loved it or hated it and sparked really interesting discussion points. So I guess it is up to you if you want to take an afternoon to read this. Based on the reactions though, I would get it from the library first :)

Questions for Gaiman readers out there, what would you recommend be the first book in his back list for new readers to try? I'd say the Graveyard Book (since it is the one out of two that I've read and liked).

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Beginnings/Endings Of Books

For a list of past and future Top Ten Tuesday topics and to find out more about Top Ten Tuesday, click here!
This week was all about our favorite beginnings and endings. You could have just gone with beginnings or endings or both and we decided to split it right down the middle. 


1. Tahleen's pick - A Wrinkle In Time: "It was a dark and stormy night." That's right, the classic starting line of A Wrinkle in Time  by Madeleine L'Engle. She makes such a cliched line work so, so well. Love it.

2. Tahleen's second pick - Anna Karenina: "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." This one is Anna Karenina by the one and only Leo Tolstoy. I like this one mostly because it's just so true. Think about it.

3. Julia's pick - The Book Thief:  I can't remember the beginning quote, I remember the scene a bit but that is not why I picked it. I picked it because it sets you up brilliantly for the rest of the book. I remember being really pleasantly surprised and thinking "What did I just get myself into? I can't wait to find out"

4. Bridget's pick - Pride & Prejudice: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." This line is so beautifully sarcastic, I love it. Jane Austen rocks.

5. Jamie's pick - Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta"My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted." It just started out with such a BIG, powerful sentence that hooked me from the beginning. 


1. Daisy's pick - The Darkest Minds: "I turned from the window, and I didn't look back." OMG, THAT ENDING!! It totally broke my heart and stomped on it and I cannot wait for Never Fade!!
***Spoiler alert***
That moment when Ruby erases Liam's memories of her?? Broke. My. Heart. Seriously.

2. Jamie's Pick - Memoirs of a Geisha: "Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper."

3. Julia's Pick - The end to Catching Fire. I am going to be deliberately vague and say that I thought I saw one twist coming and was all like "Called it bitches!" then it came around and slapped me in the face and was like "Haha. Fooled you"

4. Julia's Other Pick - The Time Traveler's Wife: It rips my soul out at the end. Like the whole end. Urgh! My favorite book. I think it is time for a reread...

5. Jamie's Pick - The Book Thief by Markus Zusack: "A LAST NOTE FROM YOUR NARRATOR. I am haunted by humans." I loved that Death was the narrator and this last line was just so perfect. 

What do you think of these beginnings or endings? What are some of your favorites? 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Kelly reviews "The Queen's Rivals" + giveaway!

The Queen's Rivals by Brandy Purdy
Tour and giveaway hosted by:
 Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Kensington Publishing | 384p | June 25, 2013

Jane Grey is known in history as the Nine Days Queen - she briefly held the throne of England between the time of her cousins Edward VI and Mary. There are countless books telling her story, but what about two other equally fascinating characters, her two sisters Katherine and Mary? They are often overlooked during this turbulent period of history. Interestingly, in The Queen's Rivals, Brandy Purdy chose to have Mary as the narrator. Mary was the youngest sister and was historically described as either a dwarf or a hunchback. In this story, she stopped growing at the age of five and is thus often overlooked or pushed to the back. Because of this, Mary offers the best view of all the events surrounding her tragic family.

The Grey sisters, daughters of the Duchess of Suffolk, who is the daughter of Henry VIII's sister, are all very sympathetic characters. Yes, as is typical, Jane is painted as a prude and generally unlikable, and Katherine is seen as ditzy and naive, but they are so real. You really feel sorry for them as they are treated as pawns in games they really wanted no part of. Even though the sisters are completely different, they stuck together through everything. Each character, especially the sisters, had such a depth and the story was vividly brought to life. The book follows through to Jane's attempt for the throne and her consequent downfall, to Katherine's marriage and later demise, and as well as Mary's heartbreaking time as the only Grey left. None of the sisters had an easy life nor a happy ending.

Mary holds nothing back, whether it be the tantrums thrown by Jane, the abuse given by her mother, or the unusual interests of her father. There was an entirely creepy undertone to the book that I'm finding hard to explain. It may be the difficult family the sisters had, the lack of anything positive really ever happening to them, or a jaded narrator, but I constantly felt queasy and like I was the one personally subjected to all this bad luck. It was discomforting to tell the truth, but really hit home as great writing and characterization. Overall, The Queen's Rivals struck me as a truly unique look at Jane Grey and the ascent of Queen Mary, making it a standout reading experience.

GIVEAWAY: You have a chance to get a copy of The Queen's Rivals for yourself! Simply leave a comment below to enter, you have until August 3rd (U.S. only).

U.S. cover
U.K. cover
A side note: The Queen's Rivals will be published in the UK this September as The Fallen Queen under the name Emily Purdy (confusing!) and of course, there's another cover comparison! I do like the UK one better. The stained glass background is quite pretty.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Jen Reviews Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys


Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Published: 2013, Philomel Books

Source: Library

Rating 4 stars


There's one girl who I work with who I can talk books with. Unfortunately, we rarely work together because we're in different departments and tend to have opposite work schedules. So whenever I do see her one of the first things we ask each other is if we've read any good books lately. I was in the middle of reading Out of the Easy the last time I saw her, and since she had never heard of the book, asked me to describe it in one sentence.  I said it is, "a coming of age story and a murder mystery all in one". I think that's a fairly good description of the book and she added it to her to-read list (bonus: I also talked her into picking up Code Name Verity).

Josie, is seventeen years old and growing up in New Orleans in 1950. She lives in the Quarter and her mother is a prostitute. Josie is determined to go to college and not follow in her mother's footsteps. She works two jobs, one in a bookstore and the other is a less glamorous job as a maid, cleaning the rooms in the same brothel her mother works in. One day a man comes into the bookstore while Josie is working and for some reason she becomes almost obsessed with him. The following day she finds out he has been murdered.

I really liked the murder mystery aspect of the plot. I'm not usually one for mystery books, probably because I watch too much Law & Order SVU. When I read I want something different, and this book delivered. While the mysterious murder did impact the story it wasn't the focus of it. That was refreshing to me.

Willie. My favorite character in this novel. She is the madam of the brothel Josie's mother works for. Willie is strong and tough. No one pushes her around and she is fiercely protective of Josie while letting her make her own mistakes (there was one mistake that Josie made and I wanted to scream, "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!").

I was a huge fan of Sepetys first novel, Between Shades of Gray. I was not disappointed by her sophomore novel!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Jen's Top Ten Words/Topics That Make Her Not Pick Up A Book

For a list of past and future Top Ten Tuesday topics and to find out more about Top Ten Tuesday, click here!

Top Ten Words/Topics That Make Me NOT Pick Up A Book

This turned out to be a difficult topic for me! I thought I'd have no problem coming up with ten words or topics that automatically put books on my mental do-not-read list. Then I sat down to write my post and I had the biggest brain freeze.
  1. Horror/Thriller: Scary books are not for me. At all. I avoid this genre. I don't need to be creeped out and looking over my shoulder every five seconds while I'm reading! I also can't watch Criminal Minds when I'm home alone. What can I say, I'm a baby.
  2. Fairytale Retellings: As much as I love fairytales I just can't get into retellings.
  3. Chick-Lit: I hate this phrase! I like easy reads for the beach or when I'm stressed but I hate when books are referred to as "chick-lit". It makes me cringe. *shudder*
  4. Time Travel: When a character is jumping back and forth so many times I start getting confused and can't keep up!
  5. Motherhood: Not at the point in my life and it is something that I don't want to be reading about.
  6. Aliens: Zero interest.
  7. Poetry: I want to LOVE poetry. I've made myself read countless poems but I just can't get into it. Every one in awhile I'll come across a line or stanza in a poem that I LOVE but won't like the rest of the poem.
  8. Pirates: It's hard for me to follow along with pirate dialogue.
  9. Autobiographies: Always seem greatly exaggerated and sometimes not believable.
  10. Zombies: I just don't get it.  

There are exceptions to every rule so there is a very good chance I could love books about any of these things! Are there any books I am missing out on based on my list?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tahleen puts together a link-up of the latest "Speak" controversy

I don't know if you guys have all heard, but Laurie Halse Anderson's book Speak (too soon to call it a modern classic?) has run into some trouble again. (Honestly, reading this stuff, I almost don't believe this guy is a real person.)

On BookRiot, blogger and librarian Kelly Jensen responded with a well-thought-out and articulate response. This, of course, elicited a response from the original "journalist" who wrote the piece about Speak being "child pornography" in the comments, which are incredible to read through. Incredible for many reasons, not only for how circular the man proposing the ban's arguments are (he all but admits he's never read the book), but also for how universal and united the commenters are in their responses to his arguments. It's all worth reading.

Here are some more links of note regarding this incident.

Kelly's blog post at Stacked responding to what happened on BookRiot, and some more links of note.

Laurie Halse Anderson's response.

Kelly's response to the comment page on The Huffington Post when her original post was put up there. (Also, really commenters? Librarians only know how to shelf books? Please—your ignorance is showing.)

After the 2010 challenge on Speak, which I wrote about on my personal blog, I know there are plenty of people interested in following these kinds of challenges and controversies in the book blogging world. I just wanted to make sure anyone who is interested in reading about this gets a chance to see the whole thing as it unfolded, Internet style.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Broke and Bookish Book Haul for 7/7 - 7/20

Daisy's Book Haul

-The Heartbreakers by Pamela Wells: sometimes I'm REALLY smart and accidentally pick up the second book in a series. So I had to order this as it's the first part :)
-For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund: I've heard NOTHING but amazing things about this book! Am very excited to read it!!
-Poison Princess by Kresley Cole: I hear Kresley Cole's books are very popular, I want in on this action.
-The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan: I haven't actually read the first book, but I LOVED the Percy Jackson series, so of course I'm book hoarding these.
-Pretty Little Liars
Unbelievable by Sara Shepard:
So I've been OBSESSED with the TV series lately and the boyfriend's sister really loves these books, then I received a coupon and ordered them :)

Egalleys for Review:
Ok, so there was this outbreak of AMAZING Harper titles on Edelweiss and well, I have no self control when it comes to those... Mostly because lots of them were on my pining-for list :)
-Grasping At Eternity by Karen Amanda Hooper: this sounds fascinating! I'm always intrigued by reincarnation stories!
-Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas: this sounds adorable!
-The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine: I'm such a sucker for cute contemporaries! And this cover alone is lovely :)
-Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell: this sounds SO CREEPY!
-Uninvited by Sophie Jordan: OMG, ALL THE EXCITEMENT!! I've been waiting for this book FOREVER! (or it feels like it) It sounds AMAZING!
-Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge: SO EXCITED! I love fairytale retellings and this one is about Beauty and the Beast! One of my favourite fairytales :)
-No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale: isn't the title alone so creepy?? This sounds a little Pretty Little Liar-esque and YES I'LL READ THIS!
-All That Glows by Ryan Graudin: so the Fae and I haven't always been best buddies, but this sounds so good that I'll give them a 15th chance :)
-Perfect Lies by Kiersten White: LOVE the cover! I actually own the hardcover of Mind Games, still need to read it though, but then I'll read this straight after! :)
-Elusion by Claudia Gabel: the dangers of submerging yourself in a virtual reality are endlessly fascinating to me!
-Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd: OMG, I totally LOVED The Madman's Daughter!! SO excited for this sequel!
-The House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple: there is witchcraft and a curse and OMG I'M SO IN!
-Warrior by Ellen Oh: I really enjoyed Prophecy, the first book in the series, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what adventures Kira will go on this time!
-Pretty Sly by Elisa Ludwig: I haven't read Pretty Crooked yet, but this series sounds so good with a girl that has the modern Robin Hood thing going on!
-Panic by Lauren Oliver: SO EXCITED! LOVE LAUREN OLIVER!

-The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan: Courtney Milan is self-publishing her new series and I read one or two of her books before that I loved!
-Great by Sara Benincasa: a retelling of The Great Gatsby, which I haven't actually read, but sounds totally amazing!
-Gemini Rising by Eleanor Wood: an exclusive private school and Ouija bords. Seriously, do I have to say more?
-The Seduction of Lady Phoebe by Ella Quinn: I love swooning over historical romances :)
-Royal Inheritance by Kate Emerson: I'm slightly obsessed with Henry VIII and this book is about one of his illegitimate children.
-Sometimes a Rogue by Mary Jo Putney: there is a rogue and racing across Ireland and kidnapping and YAYYY!
-When The Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke: the heroine is a matchmaker who doesn't want to help the the hero find a match, of course this will be fun!!
-The Strangled Queen by Maurice Druon: this series is being re-released and comes highly recommended by George R.R. Martin.
-The Chronos Clock by Wendy L. Callahan: I was contacted by the author and this definitely sounds like my kind of steampunk :)
-Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick: this sounds absolutely heartbreaking!
-Things Good Girls Don't Do by Codi Gary: I really like the sound of this, but I'm not really a fan of the cover... She looks awkward.
-(no cover)
Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott: I cannot imagine having your mother lying in a coma, basically being a baby incubator!

Our Broke & Bookish book haul is inspired by memes like IMM & Stacking the Shelves & Mailbox Monday. This is just our very simple way of doing it collaboratively so we can participate in all of them and not have to choose one.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bookish Deals (21)

Happy Saturday, everyone! Welcome to today's biweekly edition of Bookish Deals where I (Julia) try to scour the Internet to find you guys an array of deals to fit in with any budget!

Today's theme: YA paranormal-looking covers with a one word title. GO!

Defiance by C.J. Redwine - $1.99  
While the other girls in the walled city-state of Baalboden learn to sew and dance, Rachel Adams learns to track and hunt. While they bend like reeds to the will of their male Protectors, she uses hers for sparring practice.

When Rachel's father fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the city's brutal Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector: her father's apprentice, Logan—the boy she declared her love to and who turned her down two years before. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father's survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can't be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

Spellcaster by Claudia Gray - $2.99  
When Nadia’s family moves to Captive’s Sound, she instantly realizes there’s more to it than meets the eye. Descended from witches, Nadia senses a dark and powerful magic at work in her new town. Mateo has lived in Captive’s Sound his entire life, trying to dodge the local legend that his family is cursed - and that curse will cause him to believe he’s seeing the future … until it drives him mad. When the strange dreams Mateo has been having of rescuing a beautiful girl—Nadia—from a car accident come true, he knows he’s doomed.

Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his family’s terrible curse, and to prevent a disaster that threatens the lives of everyone around them. Shimmering with magic and mystery, New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray’s new novel is sure to draw fans of the Hex Hall and Caster Chronicles series, and fans of the hit CW TV show The Secret Circle.

Entwined by Heather Dixon - $1.99  
Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to keep things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

Starling by Leslie Livingston - $1.99  
Mason Starling is a champion fencer on the Gosforth Academy team, but she's never had to fight for her life. Not until the night a ferocious, otherworldly storm rips through Manhattan, trapping Mason and her teammates inside the school. Mason is besieged by nightmarish creatures more terrifying than the thunder and lightning as the raging tempest also brings a dangerous stranger into her life: a young man who remembers nothing but his name—the Fennrys Wolf. His arrival tears Mason's world apart, even as she feels an undeniable connection to him. Together, they seek to unravel the secrets of Fenn's identity as strange and supernatural forces gather around them. When they discover Mason's family—with its dark allegiance to ancient Norse gods—is at the heart of the mystery, Fennrys and Mason are suddenly faced with a terrifying future.

Set against the gritty, shadowed back-drop of New York City, this first novel in award-winning author Lesley Livingston's epic Starling Saga is an intoxicating blend of sweeping romance and pulse-pounding action.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Kelly reviews The Tudor Conspiracy + giveaway

The Tudor Conspiracy by C.W. Gortner
St. Martin's Griffin | 352p | July 16, 2013

The Tudor Conspiracy is the second book in C.W. Gortner's Spymaster Chronicles series.  Brendan Prescott is caught between trying to show loyalty to Princess Elizabeth and trying to stay alive with Queen Mary. His mission is to help hide a letter of Elizabeth's that may potentially have her arrested or killed as part of a treason plot against Mary. His comings and goings between the two women are made difficult because of a shady ambassador and a beautiful woman (isn't there always) who may or may not be all that she seems (....but isn't there always?). Brendan himself has secret ties to the royal family and struggles to keep his true self out of harm's way.

Perhaps me not reading the first book in the series is the reason for feeling a little disconnected from the characters. It would probably help if you read the first book of the series, The Tudor Secret, before reading this one. I think I was missing a large plot piece in this book: how was Brendan involved with the Dudleys and why do they hate him so much now? There were a lot of characters that I think were in the first book and got some good development, yet here fell a little flat without knowing their backstories. Elizabeth, one of my favorite historical women, didn’t seem that interesting to me, yet I loved the portrayal of Queen Mary. She was still a bit crazy, but she’s very sympathetic and seems simply misguided and lonely.

I thoroughly enjoyed having a male narrator. I made a mental list of the fiction books I've read this year so far (81), and except for Fight Club, a John Green book, and Harry Potter, NONE of them have had a male narrator or main character. My two favorite genres, historical fiction and YA, seem to be severely lacking in attempts to get into the male brain. This fact made The Tudor Conspiracy so refreshing, though I did quite miss detailed descriptions of the women's dresses, as are usual in historical fictions! I really loved C.W. Gortner’s other book on Queen Isabella of Castile and enjoyed his writing style; this carried over to his recent book as well. Even though I felt disconnected from the characters (perhaps my own fault) I still thought the story was an interesting ride overall!

I am able to giveaway my copy of the book (I simply can't keep books anymore) to one of you readers! Like I said earlier, try to get your hands on The Tudor Secret before reading this one. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and you have until July 26th. Simply leave a comment below! Good luck!

U.S. cover
U.K. cover

 I love doing cover comparisons, whether they be by county, language, or time. I received the U.S. version on the right and was constantly giggling at the determined look on the girl's face (and still wasn't sure of who she was) but I am absolutely in love with the U.K. cover! It's both mysterious and serious, two things I associated with the story. Is it just me or are all British covers usually better?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Julia's Romance Roundup - Thus far 2013

As you all are probably aware, I am an avid reader of romance. I usually get into a nice groove and read a ton in a row. Sometimes I feel like I inundate you guys with romance reviews, so occasionally I try to review a ton of them at one time in mini-paragraph format. So as I sit and sway to the seventies-esque sounds of "Get Lucky", I will regale you with my woes and wins. Let's start with the woes and work up to the wins.

Secret Fire by Johanna Lindsey 
Published: 1987 by Avon
Rating: 1 start

I went on a little back-track into back lists of some of my favorite authors when I first started reading romance. Some turned out good, one turned out awful. That was this book. I finished it, but only because I wanted to see how she would try to redeem characters I thought irredeemable. It was a like a wreck that you know you shouldn't slow down for, but end up slowing down to look anyway.

My review on GR captures my full, just finished feminist rage, and the first sentence sums it up pretty well. "This book is the most frustrating, rapetastic, victim blaming schlock I have had the pleasure of reading" 

Let's move on to something marginally better, shall we? Earlier this year I had a SWATH of 2-star romance reads. They were all best classified as "meh". Here is one.  

Jake by R.C. Ryan
Published: February 2013 by Forever 
Series: Wyoming Sky #3
Rating: 2 stars

Mostly I read historical romance, and most of that set in England, but I have always had a soft spot for westerns. This was my first contemporary western, and it was just okay for me. It was pretty predictable and continued for about 100 pages after the climax, but that may have been due to it being the last in a series and having a lot of story to wrap up. Since I didn't read the others, I was just bored. Saying that makes me a bit unsure if I could recommend this (also due to my inexperience in this particular genre), but it was something I did finish because the plot was a little bit entertaining in a secret mystery sort of way. In a completely unrelated note, I have a question for anyone in other parts of the English speaking world (aka not Ohio): Are jeans really called denims? 

The others of my two star reads were honestly so 'meh' for me I was reading the summary trying to remember what they were about, and if I have to do that I might as well move on to the more awesome three and four star reads!* 

Assassin's Gambit by Amy Raby
Published: April 2013 by Signet
Series: Hearts and Thrones #1
Rating: 3 Stars

Assassin's Gambit was a pleasant surprise. I stumbled on a review somewhere that didn't really like it. I find two and three star reviews on Goodreads the most useful because when people give me a critical analysis of what didn't work for them, I can decide if it would work for me. Well, I saw it at the library and decided to give it a go. And honestly, this book was a sweet Fantasy-spy romantic suspense type of book. I really enjoyed it and devoured it! I look forward to the next in the series. A few things about the heroine bothered me a bit and the romance sometimes took a backseat to the overall plot, but it was entertaining. And the way that sex plays into the society of this world, or at least into this spy organization amused the hell out of me.

The Pirate Next Door by Jennifer Ashley
Published: 2012 by Ms. Ashley, originally out in 2003
Series: Regency Pirates #1
Rating: 3 stars

Remember how I mentioned a soft spot of cowboys? Well I have a soft spot for pirates, too. This was a delight to read. A mysterious neighbor moves into a townhouse in London and the widow next door hears some shit going down. She rushes over to help and finds out he is a pirate and is sucked into his crazy world. 

The characters are dynamic and the story engrossing. I'd recommend this one as well :) Who doesn't dream of the moment when a reformed pirate moves in next door? Disney, if you are listening sign me up for that Pirates of the Caribbean reboot!

Defiant by Pamela Clare
Published: July 2012 by Berkley Sensation
Series: MacKinnon's Rangers #3
Rating: 4 stars

Oh, this book. I read it as part of the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books RITA Reader Challenge. This challenge tries to get reviews from the readers to cover every book nominated for a RITA (romantic times version of the Oscar I guess). I looked through the historical romance category and chose this for the fact that it was NOT set in England, but in America during the French and Indian War (which to my embarrassment I had to wrack my brain to remember who came out on top in that war (the English/colonies)). Anyway, I wrote a nice big full length review over there if you are interested in checking it out. But I will also quote the final paragraph. 
Overall, Defiant is historically (as far as I can tell) accurate, well written, gripping, and page turning in the beginning. It slows down in the latter half, but I was still crazy enough involved with it to put off my day and keep reading. Despite some flaws, I highly enjoyed Defiant. It was a refreshing look into a different part of history with an engaging plot and interesting characters. I would recommend it for someone looking for something new in the historical genre."

Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare
Published: May 2013 by Avon
Series: Spindle Cove #4
Rating: 4 Stars

This was another book that I read without reading the other books in the series, and it didn't matter at all (I love that). This book was hilariously, bark laughter funny. It reminded me of the earlier Bridgerton books by Julia Quinn, which says a lot about it's lightness content -- great book if you like Bridgerton!

The poignant parts are poignant, the funny parts are funny, and the sexytimes are hot. What more can you ask for? I would highly recommend this to the lovers of the historical romance genre. It is worth your time even if you have not read the first three, and it wont ruin the first three for you either (I hate it when that happens!)

*A Note about my star ratings in this post. I am going by the way I rank on Goodreads, not so much what it says in our sidebar. Most of the books I read and rate are three stars. To me that means they were good, enjoyable in the moment but not super memorable or amazing. Four stars are a big deal because the resonated in some way. Five stars for me are like life changed moments of amazing. Out of the 500ish ratings I have, only about five are 5 stars. When I write full reviews here, I usually round up a bit to match more of what we have in the side bar. So if these seem strict that is why :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Kimberly Reviews the warrior heir

Book: The Warrior Heir
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Series: Yes
Angst Level: 1
Rating: 3.5 stars

Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity. Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high schoolers. Then one day Jack skips his medicine. Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before. And it feels great - until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts.

Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself: he is Weirlind, part of an underground society of magical people who live among us. At their helm sits the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game - a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death. The winning house rules the Weir.

As if his bizarre heritage isn't enough, Jack finds out that he's not just another member of Weirlind - he's one of the last of the warriors - at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.

I read Cinda’s Seven Realm series last year and LOVED it. It’s a brilliant series and I devoured it quickly. I was excited to read more of her writing. The Warrior Heir was good, much of what I like about her writing was present and the plot was intriguing. However… for some reason I just didn’t connect with the characters the way that I did with the Seven Realms. There is still a lot to enjoy about the book. The main character is a teenage boy. It is so rare to come across a YA novel with a male MC, and it’s refreshing.  I always seem to be at a loss when recommending good YA books for a boy, some of them are just too girly for a teen. I like them, but I’m a girl in her mid-twenties. Big difference.  I’m excited to lend this one to my 12 year old cousin, he will LOVE it.

I’d recommend this to anyone who has read Cinda Williams Chima’s other books, fantasy lovers, or someone looking for a male MC.

(The ‘Angst Level’ is borrowed from my blog. It indicates the level of angst in the story, because if you’re like me, I like a fair warning of how much angsty drama I’ll have to put up with in a story.)
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