Sunday, May 31, 2015

Daisy's Review of The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

Title/Author: The Conspiracy of Us (The Conspiracy of Us #1) by Maggie Hall
Publisher/Date published: Putnam Juvenile, January 13th 2015
How I got this book: bought it

Goodreads summary: Avery West's newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.

To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle — beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family - but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she's falling in love with.

So this was a book I read with my book club, which is awesome, but this book was a HUGE disappointment. I mean, wow, it was one of my most anticipated books of 2015 and it was just... BAD.

I mean, I still gave it 2 stars on Goodreads, but honestly, that's mostly because it's just hilaribad. It was so bad at times that it was hilarious and endlessly entertaining (though not in the way it was meant to be if I might guess) and it was fun to rant aobut it with my book club girls ;)

Where to start? There are just so many cliches/mistakes/just plain weird stuff that will make people cringe:
-PURPLE EYES. I mean, honestly, haven't we moved past this? And also, if purple eyes aren't speshul snowflake enough, she's the only GIRL with purple eyes. I mean. UGH.
-She has multiple boys chasing after her and doesn't know why, cause 'she's not beautiful'. I. Wow. Please show this girl how to work a mirror.
-A very disproportional body on one of the guys, whose feet touch the floor when he's sitting on a barstool. If he's not a giant, this doesn't work.
-Obviously you're not going to be recognized when you're on the run and you wear a big hat. Or start making out. I mean, OBVIOUSLY.
-Also, at one point it's mentioned that there are 12 hours in a day. *headdesk*
-Being soaked through after standing in the rain for all of 5 seconds.

I could seriously go on. And on. Which is what we did when discussing this at book club, but the point is: while these things were cringe-worthy, Maggie Hall did make me keep reading. I just kept hoping this would get better and the writing STYLE isn't the problem, but mostly the plot and the clichés that had been overused before this book came out.
Aside from one pretty steamy scene, I wasn't much rooting for the romance either, but wow, Maggie Hall is very much able to create the sexyness, but I would have liked to swoon for the boy before getting to this part. To be fair: there's not much happening beside maybe a kiss, but it was VERY sexy.

Basically what I'm saying is that this book was a bit of a hot mess, but it did have entertainment value. Just don't expect it to be the YA Da Vinci Code or anything, like it was originally marketed.

My rating: 1,5 stars

Friday, May 29, 2015

Kimberly wants to know, what are your go to comfort reads?

We all have them.

The books we turn to after a long day.

The ones we open up when we are down.

Just seeing the cover art makes us smile.

You MUST own a copy, because our home feels empty without it.

For me, it's Harry Potter. (Yes, I know, that answer is pretty much cliché. Totally don't care.) I have them on my bookshelves in my living room, my shelves are one of the first things you see when you walk into my house, I want them visible! Plus, I'm still trying to get the Mr. to read them...

When I've had a rough day, or I've been sick, or I'm in a reading slump and don't feel like starting something new, I turn to those books. Sometimes it's just a chapter... sometimes it's a couple of books. ;)

So tell me. What are your comfort books?? Please share in the comments!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Cocktail and Conversation--Reader Quirks

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. 

What is one of your reader quirks?

Lauren says:  

My reader quirk is almost more of an annoyance than a quirk. Because I read so much and many of my FB and IRL friends don't, as soon as a bestseller or popular book comes out, they all automatically assume I've read it or am going to read it. Just because a book is on the NYT Bestsellers List does not mean I want to read it or that I should read it. When 50 Shades of Grey became popular, my friends were literally BAFFLED that I hadn't read it. I'd explain the normal reason why: it's Twilight fan fiction, it was first published with unspeakable grammatical errors, that I really don't care, etc.... but people that don't read as much as us still don't get it. So basically I tell all my non-frequent reader friends that I read what I want, when I want. BOOM.

Julia says:  

I have to read series books in order. It is really hard for me to jump around or start in the middle, even if people tell me "The first two are crap, just read the third." It pains me. I am getting a little better with this lately when it comes to romance novels where I don't want to get sucked into another mega-book series, or another regency sibling set of stories. But I just like to read things the way they were written. I like knowing all the jokes because I too was there for them instead of scratching my head in wonder. This is doubly true for me when it comes to TV series. I haven't gotten better with those :)

Jana says:  

Good quirk, Julia! I have the same one! I can't figure one out for myself... I'm quirky, but I think I've mentioned many of them on the blog already!

Tahleen says:  

My quirk is I've often got at least four books going: two audios (one for running, one for the car), one in print, and one on my nook. Not to mention the kids' books I read for book club at the library!

Lori says:  

I think I've got a lot of reader quirks, but they just seem normal to me, so I don't notice them.  However, my mom routinely comments on this one, so it must be a quirk.  I have two copies of my favorite books.  One is my nice, pristine, sits on my shelf of favorites copy and the other one is marked all over--notes in the margins, dog-eared pages, highlighter marks, scraps of paper sticking out at off angles.

What are some of your reader quirks?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy Q&A + Giveaway

We are excited to announce the last book in Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy, The Book of Life, was released in paperback on May 26th! The Book of Life is the long-awaited final chapter in the smart, sexy All Souls Trilogy, about historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont. In this finale, Diana and Matthew continue their hunt for the magical alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, and reunite with beloved characters from the first two All Souls books to save their world from the powerful enemies who want to destroy it.

And if the release of The Book of Life not enough, this amazing boxset of the trilogy will also be on sale! I won't lie.. I've already pre-ordered this boxset and am foaming at the mouth to get it!

Also, I was lucky enough to get a Q&A from Deborah Harkness! Enjoy!

Q&A with Deborah Harkness

Q: In your day job, you are a professor of history and science at the University of Southern California and have focused on alchemy in your research.  What aspects of this intersection between science and magic do you hope readers will pick up on while reading THE BOOK OF LIFE? There’s quite a bit more lab work in this book!

A. There is. Welcome back to the present! What I hope readers come to appreciate is that science—past or present—is nothing more than a method for asking and answering questions about the world and our place in it. Once, some of those questions were answered alchemically. Today, they might be answered biochemically and genetically. In the future? Who knows. But Matthew is right in suggesting that there are really remarkably few scientific questions and we have been posing them for a very long time. Two of them are: who am I? why am I here?

Q: Much of the conflict in the book seems to mirror issues of race and sexuality in our society, and there seems to be a definite moral conclusion to THE BOOK OF LIFE. Could you discuss this? Do you find that a strength of fantasy novels is their ability to not only to allow readers to escape, but to also challenge them to fact important moral issues?

A. Human beings like to sort and categorize. We have done this since the beginnings of recorded history, and probably well back beyond that point. One of the most common ways to do that is to group things that are “alike” and things that are “different.” Often, we fear what is not like us. Many of the world’s ills have stemmed from someone (or a group of someones) deciding what is different is also dangerous. Witches, women, people of color, people of different faiths, people of different sexual orientations—all have been targets of this process of singling others out and labeling them different and therefore undesirable. Like my interest in exploring what a family is, the issue of difference and respect for difference (rather than fear) informed every page of the All Souls Trilogy. And yes, I do think that dealing with fantastic creatures like daemons, vampires, and witches rather than confronting issues of race or sexuality directly can enable readers to think through these issues in a useful way and perhaps come to different conclusions about members of their own families and communities. As I often say when people ask me why supernatural creatures are so popular these days: witches and vampires are monsters to think with.

Q: From the moment Matthew and a pregnant Diana arrive back at Sept-Tours and reinstate themselves back into a sprawling family of witches and vampires, it becomes clear that the meaning of family will be an important idea for THE BOOK OF LIFE. How does this unify the whole series? Did you draw on your own life?

A. Since time immemorial the family has been an important way for people to organize themselves in the world. In the past, the “traditional” family was a sprawling and blended unit that embraced immediate relatives, in-laws and their immediate families, servants, orphaned children, the children your partner might bring into a family from a previous relationship, and other dependents. Marriage was an equally flexible and elastic concept in many places and times. Given how old my vampires are, and the fact that witches are the keepers of tradition, I wanted to explore from the very first page of the series the truly traditional basis of family:  unqualified love and mutual responsibility. That is certainly the meaning of family that my parents taught me.

Q: While there are entire genres devoted to stories of witches, vampires, and ghosts, the idea of a weaver – a witch who weaves original spells – feels very unique to THE BOOK OF LIFE. What resources helped you gain inspiration for Diana’s uniqueness?

A. Believe it or not, my inspiration for weaving came from a branch of mathematics called topology. I became intrigued by mathematical theories of mutability to go along with my alchemical theories of mutability and change. Topology is a mathematical study of shapes and spaces that theorizes how far something can be stretched or twisted without breaking. You could say it’s a mathematical theory of connectivity and continuity (two familiar themes to any reader of the All Souls Trilogy). I wondered if I could come up with a theory of magic that could be comfortably contained within mathematics, one in which magic could be seen to shape and twist reality without breaking it. I used fabric as a metaphor for this worldview with threads and colors shaping human perceptions. Weavers became the witches who were talented at seeing and manipulating the underlying fabric. In topology, mathematicians study knots—unbreakable knots with their ends fused together that can be twisted and shaped. Soon the mathematics and mechanics of Diana’s magic came into focus. 

Q: A Discovery of Witches debuted at # 2 on the New York Times bestseller list and Shadow of Night debuted at #1. What has been your reaction to the outpouring of love for the All Souls Trilogy? Was it surprising how taken fans were with Diana and Matthew’s story?

A. It has been amazing—and a bit overwhelming. I was surprised by how quickly readers embraced two central characters who have a considerable number of quirks and challenge our typical notion of what a heroine or hero should be. And I continue to be amazed whenever a new reader pops up, whether one in the US or somewhere like Finland or Japan—to tell me how much they enjoyed being caught up in the world of the Bishops and de Clemonts. Sometimes when I meet readers they ask me how their friends are doing—meaning Diana, or Matthew, or Miriam. That’s an extraordinary experience for a writer.

Q: Diana and Matthew, once again, move around to quite a number of locations in THE BOOK OF LIFE, including New Haven, New Orleans, and a few of our favorite old haunts like Oxford, Madison, and Sept-Tours. What inspired you to place your characters in these locations? Have you visited them yourself?

A. As a writer, I really need to experience the places I write about in my books. I want to know what it smells like, how the air feels when it changes direction, the way the sunlight strikes the windowsill in the morning, the sound of birds and insects. Not every writer may require this, but I do. So I spent time not only in New Haven but undertaking research at the Beinecke Library so that I could understand the rhythms of Diana’s day there. I visited New Orleans several times to imagine my vampires into them. All of the locations I pick are steeped in history and stories about past inhabitants—perfect fuel for any writer’s creative fire.

Q: Did you know back when you wrote A Discovery of Witches how the story would conclude in THE BOOK OF LIFE? Did the direction change once you began the writing process?

A. I knew how the trilogy would end, but I didn’t know exactly how we would get there. The story was well thought out through the beginning of what became The Book of Life, but the chunk between that beginning and the ending (which is as I envisioned it) did change. In part that was because what I had sketched out was too ambitious and complicated—the perils of being not only a first-time trilogy writer but also a first time author. It was very important to me that I resolve and tie up all the threads already in the story so readers had a satisfying conclusion. Early in the writing of The Book of Life it became clear that this wasn’t going to give me much time to introduce new characters or plot twists. I now understand why so many trilogies have four, five, six—or more—books in them. Finishing the trilogy as a trilogy required a lot of determination and a very thick pair of blinders as I left behind characters and story lines that would take me too far from the central story of Diana, Matthew, and the Book of Life.

Q: A Discovery of Witches begins with Diana Bishop stumbling across a lost, enchanted manuscript called Ashmole 782 in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, and the secrets contained in the manuscript are at long last revealed in THE BOOK OF LIFE. You had a similar experience while you were completing your dissertation.  What was the story behind your discovery?  And how did it inspire the creation of these novels?

A. I did discover a manuscript—not an enchanted one, alas—in the Bodleian Library. It was a manuscript owned by Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer, the mathematician and alchemist John Dee. In the 1570s and 1580s he became interested in using a crystal ball to talk to angels. The angels gave him all kinds of instructions on how to manage his life at home, his work—they even told him to pack up his family and belongings and go to far-away Poland and Prague. In the conversations, Dee asked the angels about a mysterious book in his library called “the Book of Soyga” or “Aldaraia.” No one had ever been able to find it, even though many of Dee’s other books survive in libraries throughout the world. In the summer of 1994 I was spending time in Oxford between finishing my doctorate and starting my first job. It was a wonderfully creative time, since I had no deadlines to worry about and my dissertation on Dee’s angel conversations was complete. As with most discoveries, this discovery of a “lost” manuscript was entirely accidental. I was looking for something else in the Bodleian’s catalogue and in the upper corner of the page was a reference to a book called “Aldaraia.” I knew it couldn’t be Dee’s book, but I called it up anyway. And it turned out it WAS the book (or at least a copy of it). With the help of the Bodleian’s Keeper of Rare Books, I located another copy in the British Library.

Q: Are there other lost books like this in the world?

A. Absolutely! Entire books have been written about famous lost volumes—including works by Plato, Aristotle, and Shakespeare to name just a few. Libraries are full of such treasures, some of them unrecognized and others simply misfiled or mislabeled. And we find lost books outside of libraries, too. In January 2006, a completely unknown manuscript belonging to one of the 17th century’s most prominent scientists, Robert Hooke, was discovered when someone was having the contents of their house valued for auction. The manuscript included minutes of early Royal Society meetings that we presumed were lost forever. 

Q: Shadow of Night and A Discovery of Witches have often been compared to young adult fantasy like Twilight, with the caveat that this series is for adults interested in history, science, and academics. Unlike Bella and Edward, Matthew and Diana are card-carrying members of academia who meet in the library of one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Are these characters based on something you found missing in the fantasy genre?

A. There are a lot of adults reading young adult books, and for good reason. Authors who specialize in the young adult market are writing original, compelling stories that can make even the most cynical grownups believe in magic. In writing A Discovery of Witches, I wanted to give adult readers a world no less magical, no less surprising and delightful, but one that included grown-up concerns and activities. These are not your children’s vampires and witches.


We are happy to announce this AMAZING giveaway of the following items (all pictured below)...
A paperback copy of The Book of Life
A small The Book of Life mirror with ouroboros design
A signed copy of Diana's Commonplace Book
All Souls alchemical buttons


Giveaway open to US addresses only.
 Prizes provided by Viking/Penguin Book.
You must be 13 years or older to enter.
Winner will be contacted via email and has 72 hours to respond before a new winner is picked.
Please fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Julia's Top Ten Books that I Plan to Have in my Beach Bag

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

Hello, all! Julia here. I just got back from a lovely trip to Hawai'i and surprisingly didn't have a lot of time to sit on the beach and read. I guess if you fly all the way to those islands, it's not a place where you can just sit around, but instead you must take in the sites! So I am planning at some point to head east this time for an actual "sit on the beach and read" vacation. Here are the books I am going to bring along (nook style). And if these don't interest you, we have done this topic three other times! So check out our combined list from 2013, Jen's list from 2012, and Jamie's list from 2011

Top Ten Books that I Plan to Have in my Beach Bags this Summer 

1. The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin - I've read a short story by Ms Lin and I have really wanted to visit a full length book. I picked this ebook up on sale a year or so ago and would love to check it out. Historical Romance not set in England? I'll take it!

2. Lady of the Forest by Jennifer Roberson - I am a sucker for a good fairy tale retelling. I don't know if Robin Hood is considered a fairy tale or not, but all the same this is right up my alley. I think revisiting some familiar characters with a twist is just what a beach trip needs!

3. Between the Devil and Ian Eversea by Julie Anne Long- Speaking of revisiting characters, I am woefully behind in the Pennyroyal Green Series! What better time to catch up than on the beach? Plus the book we have all been waiting for, Olivia and Lyon's story, comes out in the fall! 

4. The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley - Another book that has been on my TBR for years. Time travel love story? Sign me up! Plus the cover is gorgeous so I would look all cool reading this in the sand. 

5. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson - This one hasn't just been sitting on my ereader forever, but was recommended to me as part of The Slumplist. Definitely something I'd want to take!

6. A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis by Jillian Stone - I read the first in this series ages ago and would love to continue reading. A detective love story would be great with the waves as my background music. 

7. Spy's Honor by Amy Raby - For these next few you'll notice a theme. Usually romance, usually second or something in a series. I just adore romance novels and eat them up in a beach setting. This one was the second in a series about an assassin in a fantasy world. 

8. Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook - Remember the Iron Duke that I mentioned last week in my TTT? Well this is book two. I've been meaning to read it for literally two or three years now. I must make this happen! The first was so good!

9. Daughters of Rome by Kate Quinn - This one isn't romance but historical fiction. 69AD and the world is falling apart around them. How do these two women make a mark on history or just live their lives?

10. Crown of Midnight by Sarah Maas - Same story, different line. Second in a series, haven't read it yet, but I want to. Beach = free time. So let's do this.

What about you guys? What books are you looking forward or enjoy reading with the sand in between your toes? Link up below!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Broke and Bookish Book Haul for 5/10 - 5/23

Daisy's Book Haul

-Lion Heart by A.C. Gaughen: I LOVED Scarlet, haven't read the sequel yet, but needed to have this one in my life!
-Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong: I get a bit of a Norse Percy Jackson vibe from the summary, so I'm in.
-Rook by Sharon Cameron: I've heard from our very own Kimberly that this is awesome, so I ordered it.
-The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh: a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, OBVIOUSLY I'm in!
-The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz: it's about the children of the villains from fairytales, I don't really need to know anything more than this to be excited for it!
-A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas: EEE! The precious is here!! I've heard SO many good things about this, I can't wait to read it and hopefully love it!
-The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West: it's Kasie West. And also fake relationship. It has all the theoretical elements I need.

Egalleys for review:
-A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston: another A Thousand and One Nights retelling! I like this fairytale retellings trend :)
-Manga Classics: Pride & Prejudice by Stacy King
-Manga Classics: Les Misérables by Lee SunNeko: I'm REALLY excited about both of these Manga Classics! I've been meaning to start branching out into reading manga and why not start with my favourite classic Pride and Prejudice in manga form?

Lauren's Book Haul

H2O by Virginia Bergin
172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley - Received in this month's OwlCrate box.
Since I have 2 copies of Magonia now, I am giving away a copy here.

eBooks for Review
The Escape by 
Insylum by 
From a Distant Star by 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Giveaway: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Happy Saturday everybody! We've got a giveaway for you today and it's one I personally (Jamie) am excited about as Every Last Word is one of my anticipated reads PLUS you also are going to get a chance to win Tamara's other novels as well.

If you're excited about Every Last Word already, scroll down to enter! But if you haven't heard of it, I'd suggest check out what it's about and see if it's your thing and then try your hand at winning below!

About the Book:

If you could read my mind, you wouldn't be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can't turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn't help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she'd be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam's weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet's Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more "normal" than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

About the Author:

Tamara Ireland Stone ( is the author of Time After Time and Time Between Us, which Melissa Marr praised as a "beautifully written, unique love story," and has been published in over twenty countries. A former Silicon Valley marketing executive, Tamara enjoys skiing, hiking, and spending time with her husband and two children. She lives just outside of San Francisco.


Learn more on
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One (1) winner receives the complete Tamara Ireland Stone collection:
  A copy of Every Last Word;
Plus copies of Time Between Us and Time After Time.
Guidelines to enter

Giveaway open to US addresses only.
 Prizing and samples provided by Disney Hyperion.
You must be 13 years or older to enter.
Winner will be contacted via email and has 72 hours to respond before a new winner is picked.
Please fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Julia Reviews The Scoundrel and the Debutante by Julia London

Title/Author: The Scoundrel and the Debutant by Julia London
Publisher/Year Published: May 2015 by Harlequin Books
How I got this book: I was provided an ARC in exchange for an honest review
Why I read this book: I enjoyed the last book in this series, so of course I am going to read the third
Rating: 3.5 stars

The dust of the Cabot sisters' shocking plans to rescue their family from certain ruin may have settled, but Prudence Cabot is left standing in the rubble of scandal. Now regarded as an unsuitable bride, she's tainted among the ton. Yet this unwilling wallflower is ripe for her own adventure. And when an irresistibly sexy American stranger on a desperate mission enlists her help, she simply can't deny the temptation. 

The fate of Roan Matheson's family depends on how quickly he can find his runaway sister and persuade her to return to her betrothed. Scouring the rustic English countryside with the sensually wicked Prudence at his side—and in his bed—he's out of his element. But once Roan has a taste of the sizzling passion that can lead to forever, he must choose between his heart's obligations and its forbidden desires.


I read a lot of family trilogies or series books in the historical romance genre, and I have to say that Julia London's Cabot Series is a new book every time. Well, you may be asking, of course it is! What a silly thing to say? But I have seen too many times where you pretty much just get the same story again with a slight deviation to make it seem unique. This is not the case here.

Prudence is tired of her sister's scandalous behavior ruining her chances at a happy life. After being unmarried into her twenties, she is not quite sure what to do with herself and falls into a morose outlook of the world. Her sisters decide that just what she needs to be cheered up is to go see her friend who just had a baby. I see a flaw in their logic.

Out of sheer desperation just for a break, she agrees but while waiting for her family friend to pick her up in their carriage for the ride north she meets a stunningly gorgeous and cutely befuddled American gentleman, Roan. Throwing caution to the wind, she decides to purchase a ticket on the public coach to spend more time with this handsome foreigner until her stop where she can rejoin her party. Hi-jinks ensue.

Let me just say there is a lack of ball rooms and ton parties in this book that makes it a nice refresher. It's sort of far-fetched in its realism, but it was enough of an adventure that I was along for the ride. Roan and Prudence are quite interesting leads. They have a good chemistry between them but still hold their own as characters. Prudence, for what I know of her from the last books, seems to sort of morphed into her sisters along the way, but the fact that she is aware of it make it okay.

The story has a pretty fast pace until about the last third where it sort of grinds to a halt. It's still engaging but not as much as the first two thirds. So it was sort of the same problem I had with the last book. I will say that I did read it in one plane ride, so it was definitely something I didn't want to stop reading.

If you enjoy previous Julia London novels, or Regency Romance with a twist and a fun adventure, this is a good pick. I don't think it is necessary to read the other two in the series before this one. There are minor spoilers but nothing too big.

It's not my favorite, but not horrible either. So a solid middle of the road read that put a smile on my face.

Thanks to Harlequin for providing me the ARC for this review.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lori's Pre-Summer Reading

I know--it's still the middle of May and summer doesn't officially start until June 21.  But for all intents and purposes it's summer in Oklahoma (well, except for today; it's freaking cold today!).  So I've been thinking about books that make me feel summery.  Not my official Summer TBR list, but definitely something to think about in the meantime.  My pre-summer reading, if you will.

Here are a few that I've come up with:

1.  Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion  This book of essays would be a fantastic one to take just about anywhere you might go this summer--the beach, a road trip, the pool, the backyard.  One of the things I really like about essays is that they're really accessible and you can read one in one sitting or read them all or whatever.  She really covers the gamut here--writing about writing, profiles of celebrities, and just generally writing about life in California in the 1960s (and who doesn't love reading about that?).  I've read a couple of Didion's essays in this collection, but am looking forward to diving in and reading more.

2.  Ruby by Cynthia Bond  I've got this one in my purse as I sit at Starbucks writing this post.  I plan on diving in after I hit "publish," even though I should be studying for the LSAT.  This one takes place in Texas.  Inexplicably this setting just makes me think of the heat.  This one has received a lot of attention, particularly since it was selected as an Oprah Book Club read, but don't let that deter you.  I've heard that it definitely lives up to the hype.

3.  Walden by Henry David Thoreau  I always want to read this when it warms up, especially if I'm spending a lot of time at my grandparents' house.  I love the thought of completely getting away from it all and seeing what you really and truly need.  I've spent a lot of time this spring getting rid of the clutter that has been choking me.  Summer is known for diving into fiction.  But I think that it is also a perfect time to dive into a slow-moving (though short) memoir.  Maybe.  Hopefully.  :)

4.  The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas  Summer seems like the great time for a nice, plotty adventure, you know?  This book is supposed to be sheer entertainment, with tons of swords fighting and rescuing the damsels in distress.  I think this will be a fun and light read by the pool.  Plus, I am excited to read about the character who is supposedly the ultimate badass female villain.

5.  The Unwitting by Ellen Feldman  Lastly, summer is the perfect time to read a thriller.  It's hot.  People are irritable.  Passions rise.  Read a thriller.  About a disappearing husband.  Who keeps big secrets from his wife.  This one takes place in 1950s Manhattan amongst the literary elite.  It has Cold War goodness and intrigue.  And the mystery of what on earth happened?  Definitely looking forward to that.

What books do you have on your shelves that are making you think of summer?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Jamie Reviews A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court Of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Yes, book 1.
Published: May 2015
Rating: 4.5 stars
I received this book from the publisher for review consideration.

Oh man, I LOVE Sarah's Throne of Glass series and I made this the first book I read in 2015 because I had faith she would give me the kind of good reading omen for the rest of the year. And ACOTAR proved to do that. 

I've never been super into fae in my reading but I trusted Sarah and HALLELUJAH for once in my life I was into a fae storyline. I loved how Sarah was inspired by fairytales like Beauty & the Beast and others but it was SO it's own story that I would forget it was a retelling of sorts.

I loved Feyre, she was strong but not like in that typical badass way. More so in that "life has knocked me down but I keep going way." She was resourceful and observant and smart and I liked that. I've seen some people fault her for staying with her awful family but I actually understood it -- making a promise to someone has since passed away carries a lot of weight on you plus FAMILY. I speak from experience. 

I loved the characters so much -- especially all the guys -- Tamlin, Lucian and Rhys. Leave it to Sarah to create a harem of hot guys. But, hotness aside, Sarah just is so talented in bringing characters to life and I felt like a lot of these characters had so much depth to them. There are some great secondary characters and characters I can't wait to get more of.

It was definitely steamier than most of what you find in YA and to be honest I'm not sure I'd even classify it as YA (particularly because they are quite older if I remember correctly)? I loved how sexy it was personally. STEAAAAMY.

I loved learning more about the fae world and all the history and getting to know the characters and then I was unprepared for how action-packed it would get and how I'd be a woman obsessed trying to race through the book. The THINGS happening in the kingdom were so interesting and I just wanted to find out more and then OH the end my heart was just RACING and thinking up ways to get my hands on book 2. It was a page-turner, that's for sure. TWISTS AND TURNS AND SO MUCH GOODNESS.

To sum it up: I LOVED this start of a new series. I didn't think I would be into the fae (wasn't ever much of a paranormal person) but this was totally gripping with interesting characters, a world I'm so intrigued by, romance and a lot of OMG moments.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Julia's Top Ten Romance Books for People who Read Other Genres

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

As romance is the thing I do best, I figured I could share the love this week, literally and figuratively, by giving some recommendations to people who may want to branch out but are overwhelmed and don't know what to look for.  I am going to try to limit the list to things I have read, but I may not be able to for some genre's because I read a set niche. So let's do this.

If you read Science Fiction, you'll like...
-Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher - I actually reviewed this one back in the day and I remember being really surprised at how much I enjoyed it. My review has a good summary, but it has aliens, trying to colonize an alien planet. Worth the time!

If you read Young Adult contemporary, you'll like...
- The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand - I have not read this one but started reading the second in the series before I was distracted away. I was enjoying what I was reading though, and every time I see it mentioned I think of Anna and the French Kiss, which makes no sense since I've read neither and have no idea if they relate besides being set in France maybe. But I think Florand writes in a way that would translate well for the YA reader looking to move to romantic fiction. Someone will have to read this and tell me if they are similar or not!

- The Rosie Project by Graeme Simpsion - I've mentioned this before and I'll say it again. This is a lovely book. It's full of all the romance and light on the sexy-times if that isn't your thing. It's a quick read and a heart warming book! My review

If you read Dystopian (and don't mind a bit of heat), you'll like...
- Beyond Shame by Kit Rocha - This one has an erotic twist, but is still really good. The story features a girl thrown out of the city and having to learn how to fend for herself in the outside world. But she meets this gang and one of the members... check out my review on Booklikes.

If you read fairy tales, you'll like...
- When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James - A historical romancey play on Beauty and the Beast. Hell, I could have done this whole thing on Beauty and the Beast retellings. This is pretty recent but another good one is Beauty by Robin McKinley

If you read paranormal, you'll like...
- Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon - The Dark-Hunter series was something I was really into about ten years ago. It was inventive and fun, and this is the first book. The more recent books in the series are kinda meh, but the first 6ish are pretty good. This one and Dance with the Devil are my favorite.

If you read Steampunk, you'll like...
- The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook - I think this is like required reading for steampunk people, but just in case it isn't on your radar, this is the first book in the Iron Seas series. I really enjoyed it enough to give up sleep while on a work trip. My review.

- Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster - I can't choose between the two of these. They are both so good! So I picked both. This series just is better and better with each book. Kiss of Steel I picked up on sale and enjoyed immensely. Vampires roaming the streets, clockwork mechanics, a whole victorian society. Outstanding. My review.

If you read Historical Fiction, you'll like...
- The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne - From the last list I did of historical recommendations a few years ago, "This one was my first review here at TBTB. Oh the days. Let me summarize. This is a spy romance. The spy story is super interesting and because the whole plot isn't a "big misunderstanding" or some other relationship centric thing it may be an easier book to get into over some other romances for a newbie."

- The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran - I really think this book would translate well because it is set in such a rich historical world. The hero is torn between the white culture of his father and the Indian culture of this mother. The heroine is in India because of her fiance. The backdrop of British controlled India kept me turning pages!

So what about you? Do you have any questions about the romance genre? Have you been wanting to try one but aren't sure where to start? Comment and I will see if I can help you out!

Also link up your Freebie post in the linkie below! I can't wait to check them all out!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Bridget goes to BEA!

I've been blogging for about four and a half years now, and I never thought it would be much more than a solitary hobby. I had no idea that I would be joining such a large community or that I would meet so many great people through blogging. I also never knew that there were enormous conventions just for people who like books, but the first time I heard about BookExpo America, I knew I had to go one day.

This year, that dream is finally becoming a reality, and I'll be going to BEA next week! (And meeting our fearless leader, Jamie, there!!)

And guys, I'm totally overwhelmed. Like whoa.

There are times when there are five different things on my schedule and times when there's nothing. Since this is my first time, and I'm not a huge fan of crowds, I'm almost dreading it because I'm so afraid I'm going to miss out on something that I want to do! I'm going to at least some sessions in the blogger conference, but there are also some authors signing that day who I don't want to miss. Then there are sessions that are hours long but a few things that are only 15-30 minutes during those long sessions that I would love to duck out to see...but I'm guessing it doesn't work that way. There are also so many books I want to pick up—check out my blog tomorrow for the ones I'm most excited about on Top Ten Tuesday—and I hope I bring a big enough bag!!

So basically, I'm wondering if any of you have ever been before and if you have any tips! (And if you're going again this year, let me know because I'd love to meet you!!) 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Lauren Reviews The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
PublishedJanuary 2015 by Riverhead Books
Acquired: Purchased from Amazon
Rating: 5 Stars

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life - as she sees it - is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

I had no idea what I was getting into when I picked up this book. I felt every single character's feelings... I felt angry, depressed, hopeless, hopeful, satisfied, imaginative. Rachel isn't a character I can relate to, but she allowed me to see alcoholism from a different perspective. I was around an alcoholic for most of my childhood and in my early teenage years. I was never an enabler and I have pretty strong views on drunks in general. That being said, Rachel is an alcoholic. She has blackouts and knows the consequences of drinking before she takes a sip, but still decides to drink at some times. This small aspect of the novel angered me, but it was integral to the story.

Rachel rides the train every day and observes the people around her. Her daily commutes to and from home take her by the same house, where she become slightly obsessed with the couple living there. One day she sees something different than the usual. This enrages Rachel and she takes her anger out by drinking more alcohol and harassing her ex-husband. Then she blacks out. Feeling guilty and not knowing what happened on a very important night, she starts investigating herself. She rips off small pieces of paper, writes down details, and then stuffs them in her purse. She wanted to be a part of something, but we find out quickly that sometimes it's not good to be in the inner circle. My favorite quote in the book...

"Life is not a paragraph, and death is no parenthesis."

I enjoyed this novel to rate it 5 stars. I don't normally read thriller/suspense novels, but this one surprised me. It is very hard to review this novel without giving details that I know a reader would want to discover themselves. So I'm basically saying to quit reading everyone's reviews and just go buy this book. I promise... you'll thank me later.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Top Ten Authors We Want To Meet

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

Jamie's Picks

I've been VERY fortunate to meet a lot of my favorites to be honest (Gayle Forman, Stephanie Perkins, RL Stine, Morgan Matson, John Green, Sarah J. Maas and MORE). Some even multiple times. But there are a couple who have still eluded me.

1. Jessi Kirby: I have loved all 4 of Jessi's books and I'm just DYING to meet her. She's on the West Coast and I don't *think* she's come close enough for any signings for me to go.

2. Judy Blume: Judy Blume was my childhood basically. I just would love to meet her and tell her what her books meant to me.

3. Trish Doller: I love Trish's books and I just REALLY love chatting with her on Twitter. I would love just a day to have some coffee and chat with her.

4. Melina Marchetta: MELINA IS MY QUEEN. Love her contemporaries and I'm in the middle of her fantasy series and she just....IS MAGIC. I just want to talk to her.

Lauren's Picks

5. Margaret Atwood: I love Atwood's novels so much, I got a quote from The Handmaid's Tale tattooed on my inner arm. Atwood embodies classy and literary to make the ultimate author for me.

6. Kurt Vonnegut: And yes... I have a quote from Vonnegut tattooed as well. "Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt." Vonnegut's novels have taken me out of some dark places and into the light.

Lori's Picks

I was tempted to go the easy (for me) route and rattle off all of the dead authors I'd love to meet, but I thought about some of my more recent favorites and stuck with live authors.

7.  Frances Mayes:  I love her writing.  She has such a wonderful way of utterly transporting you to wherever she is--Tuscany or the South.  And she frequently includes yummy recipes in her books, so maybe I could get her to cook me a lovely meal!  :)

8.  John Irving:  I've only read two of his novels, but they were both pretty great.  I would love to meet him and pick his brain about how he creates such rich stories and characters.

9.  JK Rowling:  How could I not include her?  Seriously!  I think she would be an absolute blast to meet and talk to.  And I would really try not to bug her with questions about what everyone is up to so that I wouldn't make her mad at me.

10.  Kate Bolick:  I'm in the midst of reading Spinster and I totally love it.  I think she would be a great person to meet and just talk to about life and reading and even writing.  Maybe we'd have as much in common as I like to think we do...

Who are some authors YOU want to meet??

Monday, May 11, 2015

For the Love of Historical Fiction

I am in love with so many genres, but historical fiction will always be my first love. Many people lump historical fiction and historical romance together and this to me is tragic. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking on romance novels, but these are two separate genres for me. These are a few historical fiction novels that captured my heart.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

An infected bolt of cloth carries a plague from London to a small isolated village, and a housemaid named Anna becomes an unlikely heroine and healer. The year is 1666 and Anna and her fellow villagers face the spread of disease and superstition. As more and more people keep dying, villagers turn from prayers to witch-hunting.

I read this book years ago and I still remember the bravery of the narrator, Anna. She saved so many lives in a small town and for this, people loved her and hated her. They believed her to be a witch. She had to choose.. keep saving lives and possibly burn at the stake or drop everything and hide. She chose the former. When I relate myself to the character, I believe I would do the same, but how do we know what we would do in a situation until that situation actually presents itself to us? 

Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

For a thousand years her existence has been denied. She is Pope Joan, the woman who disguised herself as a man and rose to become the only female ever to sit on the papal throne. When Joan is young, she exhibits the extraordinary ability to learn. Women were not allowed to read or write, so her brother secretly taught his younger sister and she just inhaled the knowledge of every subject under her dying breath. During a Viking attack, her brother is killed and she steals his identity to enter a simple monastery to live a life full of books and healing. Knowledge of Joan's medical expertise and passionate nature spreads far. She eventually becomes an advisor to the Pope, who dies and she is elected to take his place. She now holds the highest office in the Christian religion. She passes many new laws and changes even more for the good of mankind. I adore this book because I can once again relate, as a female. She achieves a role meant only for men and then excels in that role to a capacity that makes her loved by all. It may be the 21st century, but I can still sometimes feel the stigma of being female amongst a sea of powerful men that dictate society's future. Pope Joan was smart enough to use her knowledge to do what the men before her could not.

The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried, and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah is smart and curious. Even though mother and daughter have their different opinions, thy are forced to stand together against the craziness of the trials and the superstitious society that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha's courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived.

Sarah sticks by her mother's side like most daughters would do, but she also knows to keep herself in check. This resonates with me because I love my mother, but I am not my mother and I do not have the same personality traits or opinions that she does. Somehow Sarah must protect her mother while also protecting herself. Another thing I have head to deal with in my life. I also enjoyed the new perspective on the Salem Trials. I feel like that part of history has been played out too much in novels and movies, but that this book achieves a new look and feel to that time period. 

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Nefertiti and her younger sister, Mutnodjmet, have been raised in a powerful family that has provided wives to the rulers of Egypt for centuries. Nefertiti is destined to marry Amunhotep, an unstable young pharaoh. The other power players hope that her strong personality will temper the young Amunhotep’s heretical desire to forsake Egypt’s ancient gods, gods that have always been worships by all of the Egyptians. He wants to introduce a new sun god for all to worship. As in most royal families, there is the pressure to conceive a son, an heir. While Nefertiti is is engrossed in the troubles of conceiving, she fails to see that the powerful priests and military are plotting to overthrow her husband's rule. The only person to recognize the coming shift in power is Nefertiti's her younger sister, Mutnodjmet. Mutnodjmet doesn't care for money or power. She wants a peaceful life with a military general, but Nefertiti is selfish and demands that her sister stay at court and marry someone to gain more political power. To gain her freedom, Mutnodjmet must defy her sister, while also remaining loyal to the needs of her family. 

I love every single one of Michelle Moran's novels. She does her research for each novel and knows her history. This isn't just another historical fiction novel about Egyptian royalty. I became so immersed in the novel and my love/hate for the characters was off the charts. You aren't bogged down by historical facts... the author simply completely immerses you in the time period. I felt like I should like my eyes with kohl and wear gold jewelry every time I picked it up to read. 

These are just a few of my favorite historical fiction books. You've probably noticed all of them have strong female lead characters who have major obstacles to hurdle. These women inspire me and I hope they inspire you as well. 
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