Book Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren

Book Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren


Rating: 4 Stars
 
 
Expected publication: December 5th 2017 by Gallery Books
Summary: Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.

Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a big-time musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway. In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realise that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

(from Goodreads)


Review: This book had a few rough spots, but overall I really liked it. The book is written in the first person present tense from Holland's point of view, which works. Usually I like my romances to give the point of view of both leads, but due to the nature of Holland and Calvin's relationship the single viewpoint works and is the best way to tell the story. I could probably have done without some of Lulu's more crass stories, but I suppose Holland and Calvin felt the same so maybe it's good they were in there.

Holland is a total spaz (and thus I identify with her on some level). I also get what it's like to struggle to find your own identity and feel special when you're surrounded by highly talented, exceptional people. I love her passion for music (and for Calvin), her love of her uncles, and the fact that she was so driven to complete her MFA in creative writing (and I did have to go Google what an MFA is - Master in Fine Arts, for the uninitiated) and then struggled to find her passion/muse/whatever you want to call it once she was out of school and suddenly faced with turning her passion into a career. Holland's relationship with her uncles is also great (love love love Robert and Jeff!) and I appreciated her interactions with her brother Davis as well (who reminds me a little of my own bearded bro).

I love Calvin. He's a hot musician so what's not to love? (haha!) All joking aside, Calvin has a sensitive heart (which he needs to be such a great musician), a sexy Irish accent (which I can hear in my head) and a wonderfully silly way he phrases things sometimes. He does his fair share of stupid boy things, and sometimes does better than other at understanding why Holland is upset about things.

Throughout the book Holland is forced to examine her life, her relationship with (and dependency upon) her uncles, and her relationship with herself. The book is a love story between Holland and Calvin, but it's also a story about Holland discovering who she is and learning to love herself. That element of self-discovery is what makes this an excellent New Adult (NA) novel, and the hunka-hunka-burnin'-love makes it a great contemporary romance.

*I received a free copy of this book from BookishFirst and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Kindle Unlimited (Cyber Monday Deals Week Offer!!)

The selection on Kindle Unlimited doesn’t seem to be the greatest. There are a lot of Indie publishers (not that there's anything wrong with that!) but you don't see a lot of main stream publishers (hello, Avon!) There are still a lot of gems, they're just sometimes pretty well hidden in the pile of… I don't want to say "poorly edited self-published trash," so pretend I said just that but in much nicer terms. :)

Kindle Unlimited has a price point of $9.95 a month, most of the ebooks available on Kindle Unlimited have a purchase price of $0.00-$2.99. So unless you're reading 3+ of the higher price point books each month, this may not be worth your time. It's nice that you can "borrow" up to 10 books at a time, and if you get a dud you can just return it and check out another one, but unless you're a super reader this might not be the most cost effective product for you.

However, if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, you can also get the Audible Romance Package for the lower price point of $6.95/month (normally $14.95/month unless you are an Audible Gold/Platinum member). So if want to subscribe to the Audible Romance Package and are not an Audible Gold/Platinum member, it might make sense to subscribe to both Kindle Unlimited and Audible Romance Package for a combined total of $16.90. (Basically you get the Audible Romance Package and then Kindle Unlimited for $2, which IS totally worth it.)

Amazon has a deal on Kindle Unlimited this week for Cyber Monday Deals Week. They don't specify when the sale ends, so check it out soon! You can also check the box to gift a year (or two years!) of Kindle Unlimited to a friend, so think about if this might be a great gift for your favorite book-lover!

12 months for $80.32 (33% discount, regularly $119.88) or
24 months for $143.86 (40% discount, regularly $239.76)

You can also try Kindle Unlimited for a one month free trial (if you've never tried it before). The Audible Romance Package also has a free one month trial available, which I just signed up for, so expect a review of that in about a month!

Do you have any bookish subscriptions you participate in? How do you like them? Are they worth it?

Book Review: How the Duke Was Won by Lenora Bell

Book Review: How the Duke Was Won by Lenora Bell

Rating: 5 Stars
 
Published April 26th 2016 by Avon
Summary: The pleasure of your company is requested at Warbury Park. Four lovely ladies will arrive… but only one can become a duchess.

James, the scandalously uncivilized Duke of Harland, requires a bride with a spotless reputation for a strictly business arrangement. Lust is prohibited and love is out of the question.

Four ladies. Three days. What could go wrong?

She is not like the others…

Charlene Beckett, the unacknowledged daughter of an earl and a courtesan, has just been offered a life-altering fortune to pose as her half-sister, Lady Dorothea, and win the duke’s proposal. All she must do is:

* Be the perfect English rose [Ha!]

* Breathe, smile, and curtsy in impossibly tight gowns [blast Lady Dorothea’s sylph-like figure]

* Charm and seduce a wild duke [without appearing to try]

* Keep said duke far, far from her heart [no matter how tempting]

When secrets are revealed and passion overwhelms, James must decide if the last lady he should want is really everything he needs. And Charlene must decide if the promise of a new life is worth risking everything . . . including her heart.

(from Goodreads)


Review: All of Lenora Bell’s Disgraceful Dukes books are… I don’t want to say “based on,” so let’s say… linked with a book/movie/story. They are as follows:
How the Duke Was Won (The Disgraceful Dukes #1) - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
If I Only Had a Duke (The Disgraceful Dukes #2) - The Wizard of Oz
Blame It on the Duke (The Disgraceful Dukes 3#) - Alice in Wonderland

I will admit, I did not pick up on the very subtle Charlie and the Chocolate factory references my first time reading How the Duke Was Won, possibly because I’ve never read the book and thus my only point of reference are the movie versions starring Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp. The second time I read this I listened to the audiobook and picked up on the links between the impoverished Charlene Beckett (Charlie Buckett), the Duke of Harland's hot cocoa manufactory (chocolate factory), and so on. The main plotline is set up like an elimination style reality show, which at first reminded me of The Bachelor but it's also like the holders of the golden tickets being eliminated one by one in the tour of Willy Wonka's factory, I realize just now while writing this review, haha!

I love Charlene's character, though I find the fact that her younger sister doesn't realize the business of the house she lives in rather unbelievable. Charlene is a strong woman who doesn't take any crap, and I absolutely love that she has martial arts training! The dynamic between Charlene and James is great, and I love how it's their bumps and rough edges that they like about each other. They're both misfits crammed into roles that they were neither born nor groomed for, which is a character archetype I can always get behind (being somewhat of a misfit myself).

I love Lenora Bell’s books so much that I own the entire Disgraceful Dukes series both in paperback and audiobook (narrated by Beverly A. Crick). Ms. Crick does an excellent job narrating, giving great personality to the voices of the characters and making the men sound alluring and deep-voiced without putting on a falsely high voice for the women.


Check out my reviews of the other books in the series:
How the Duke Was Won (The Disgraceful Dukes #1)
If I Only Had a Duke (The Disgraceful Dukes #2)
Blame It on the Duke (The Disgraceful Dukes 3#)

Challenge: Alphabet Challenge

ALPHABET CHALLENGE!

Challenge: Read a book whose title begins with each letter of the alphabet.

Below is my challenge outline, and I will update/edit this post as I complete letters.

Challenge start date: November 28, 2017
Challenge (goal) completion date: November 28, 2018
Challenge (actual) completion date:

A:
B:
C:
D:
E:
F:
G: Geekerella by Ashley Poston (read 12/5/17) (review coming soon)
H:
I:
J:
K:
L:
M:
N:
O:
P:
Q:
R: Roomies by Christina Lauren (read 11/29/17)
S:
T:
U:
V:
W:
X:
Y:
Z:

(from The Hufflepuff Basement group on Goodreads)

Book Review: Curses, Foiled Again by Sera Trevor

Book Review: Curses, Foiled Again by Sera Trevor


Rating: 4 Stars

!!Happy Book-Birthday!!

 
Expected publication: November 27th 2017 by NineStar Press
Summary: Felix is a vampire—a fierce creature of the night who strikes terror into the hearts of everyone unlucky enough to become his prey. Or at least, that’s what he thought was true, until he met John. John is completely unimpressed with Felix, much to his dismay. Felix becomes fixated on proving his ferocity to John—and when that doesn’t work, he strives to make any impression on him at all.

John is a witch, and as all witches know, vampires are notoriously stupid creatures who only have the power to hurt those who fear them. Besides, he’s under a curse much more frightening than any vampire. Felix’s desperate attempts to impress him annoy John at first, but gradually, they become sort of endearing. Because of his curse, John has pushed everyone in his life away. But Felix can’t be hurt, so there’s no harm in letting him hang around.

Felix is technically dead. John has nothing left to live for. But together, they might have a shot at life.

This dark and witty vampire romance for adults is complete at 100,000 words, with no cliffhanger. Despite some dark twists and turns, it ends with a solid HEA.

(from Goodreads)


Review: The first chapter is such a total train wreck that I almost DNF’d this book, but there was also something compelling enough about it that I kept reading - and I’m so glad I did! Chapter one reads like a goth teen’s unedited NaNoWriMo novel, and then the rest of the book reads like it was written by an entirely different person. I love the evolution of several of the relationships (but won’t say more because spoilers) and was pleasantly surprised by the depth and growth of the main characters - definitely something I was NOT expecting from that first chapter! The name of John’s cat (Astray) was awkward for me (I kept reading it as “Ashtray” and thinking what an awful name that is for a cat). Also kind of bugged by how many characters in this book are gay. Which isn’t to say that I disliked the 80-90% gay cast, but each time another character was revealed to be gay/lesbian/bi I was like what are the odds? Also, I know a guy who is rather John-like and he can’t pick up chicks to save his life - is he playing to the wrong crowd? Because John seems to be man catnip for some reason.


Book Review: Lady Be Bad by Megan Frampton

Book Review: Lady Be Bad (Duke's Daughters #1) by Megan Frampton

Rating: 4 Stars
 
Published July 25th 2017 by Avon
Summary: Once upon a time, a duke had five daughters who never made a stir. They practiced their French, their pianoforte, and their dancing…until one ran off with the dancing instructor, and the rest were left to face the scandal.

Lady Eleanor, the Duke of Marymount’s eldest daughter, knows the burden is hers: she must marry well to restore the family name. So a loveless match is made and her fate is set. But then Eleanor meets her intended’s rakish younger brother. With his tawny hair, green eyes, and scandalous behavior, Lord Alexander Raybourn makes her want to be very bad indeed.

With his very honorable sibling too busy saving the world to woo Eleanor, Alexander is tasked with finding out her likes and dislikes for his elder brother. But the more time he spends with the secretly naughty Eleanor, helping her tick off all the things on her good list for being bad, the more he knows what they want, and need, is each other.

(from Goodreads)


Review: I liked Eleanor's character a lot, especially how she thought of blurry half-seen Alex as a tree. Some of her inner musings made me crack up laughing. I also love how she and Alex both grow and balance each other out from two extremes. She goes from someone who not only doesn't speak her mind but is so penned in by expectations of propriety that she doesn't even allow herself to think and feel fully. On the other hand Alex goes from someone known for his "blunt speaking" and learns to curb his tongue in deference to the feelings and reputations of others. I love that they both feel worthless and help each other find value in themselves, not just because someone else values them but for the people they truly are.

The gambling den scene seems awkward and irrelevant, like it was just stuck in there for filler. About three quarters into the book Alex thinks something like he loves the chaise-lounge red if her face now when he used to hate it. I didn't feel a hatred of her blushes was ever expressed in their early interactions, so that really stuck out as strange to me. Besides, why should such an easy going fellow HATE a lady's blushes, be they ever so red and though he thinks her ever so dim-witted? And, um, why did they all need to meet to strategize a plan of attack when it was decided that Alex would talk to his father and Eleanor would speak with her parents? How does speaking about their wishes to their parents help avoid a scandal for calling off the engagement? Another weird superfluous scene.

I adored this book. Megan Frampton's characters are realistically flawed, lovable, and charming, and her writing is wonderfully witty. However I have to knock off a star for the repeated awkward scenes inserted as seemingly superfluous filler, making an otherwise streamlined storyline jerk off course briefly at repeated intervals.

Book Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Book Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Guide #1) by Mackenzi Lee

Rating: 3 Stars

Published June 27th 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books
Summary: Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores



Review: Let me first lead by saying I read a LOT of historical romance set in the Georgian/Regency era. Let me then follow that with - holy anachronisms, Batman!! (The most painful: "Hey there, my foxy lady.")

This is definitely YA/NA by the tone. unread plenty of adult Regency romance featuring 18 year old leads and the immaturity of Henry "Monty" Montague is much more like an 18 year old in this day and age than one in the 1700s.

I wanted to slap Monty several times, and he's very much one of those people who manage to take two steps forward then one step back. He's got a major case of the poor-pitiful-me's as a titled, white non-cis man in the 1700s. Meanwhile his best friend is half-black and an orphan being raised by his English aunt and uncle in a society that is very unwelcoming to people of color, and his sister is a scientifically minded woman interested in medicine in an age when women aren't allowed an education and are technically owned by their fathers and then their husbands. So yeah, Monty, things are tough all over. But then I also hurt for him and wanted to see him have a happy ending.

Though I had to throw this book to the side several times and read something ELSE for a while, it did grow on me (rather like a fungus). And darling Monty did manage to have some personal growth so I suppose I felt slightly less like slapping him by the end of the book. I look forward to learning more about Felicity and her adventures in the next book - now there is a strong woman!!

Book Review: Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer

Book Review: Spindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1) by Lexa Hillyer


Rating: 5 Stars


Published April 11th 2017 by HarperCollins
Summary:  A kingdom burns. A princess sleeps. This is no fairy tale.It all started with the burning of the spindles.

No.

It all started with a curse…

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.
(from Goodreads)


Review: This is a lovely fairy tale fantasy romance and adventure. I appreciate the nods to the original Sleeping Beauty story as well as the Disney version.

I had some confusion while reading this because I just finished An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson (see my review here) featuring a heroine named Isobel, and then Spindle Fire’s main characters are Princess Aurora and her half sister, Isabelle. I’m also reading a Regency romance called The Wicked Heir by Elizabeth Michels where the heroine’s name is (did you guess it?) Isabelle. So many Isabelle/Isobels!!

Spindle Fire is told in the present tense and focuses each chapter on a different character, typically either Aurora or Isabelle but also sometimes also one one of the various fairies that play a role in the overarching plot. It’s interesting because once Aurora and Isabelle go their own ways, each learns elements important to the overall storyline that the reader is able to piece together an understanding of the big picture, but Isabelle and Aurora are often given a puzzle piece that fits into her sister’s picture, rather than her own. It adds a depth of intrigue to the story that’s really interesting.

The rules that govern the behavior and magic of the fairies are great. The tithe paid in exchange for a gift bestowed really fits with the fairy compulsion for a trade or exchange - nothing is given or taken for free, it's always a trade. True, it's not always a good or fair trade, and tricksy fairies will twist things and trick you if given half a chance… But it makes sense that they don't just bestow blessings all willy-nilly like in the Disney movie.

I don’t want to say too much about the actual plot because there are some twists and turns (some that I saw coming, and some I didn’t) and I don’t want to ruin it. Suffice it to say that both women get their romance on in ways that made me giggle with glee. Also, prepare for some second-lead syndrome (Korean Drama fans know what I’m talking about!)

I listened to the audiobook version of Spindle Fire on Audible. Fiona Hardingham does a great job narrating a very broad cast of characters. I especially love her interpretation of several of the animal voices - a certain white panther in particular. I also love her accent and wonder if this is her normal accent, and if so where on earth is she from that people sound like the Wildlings from Game of Thrones? I will definitely be pre-ordering the next book from Audible, and have my fingers crossed that Fiona is the narrator for that one as well.

Now my only question is: Is it April 2018 yet? Because I need the next book!! Which is titled Winter Fire, in case you were curious.

Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Rating: 5 Stars

Published September 3rd 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Summary: Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown's gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

(from Goodreads)

Review: I don't read much YA anymore these days because I just don't have the patience for most of it. Maybe that means I'm old, I don't know.

I really enjoyed The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. I listened to it on audiobook as narrated by Christine Lakin, and Ms. Lakin was a joy to listen to. She reads with a depth of feeling that was admirable, and gave each character a distinct voice of their own. I LOVED her accents for several of the characters, and she reads with a sensuality that's thrilling as well.

The vampires in this book are very The Vampire Diaries-esque, which I love. Dark and mysterious and sexy but also disgusting, compelling and at the same time repulsive. Definitely not sparkly with normal looking but somehow poison teeth (WTF, Twilight?)

Definitely left me wanting more!

Classics Spin #16 - Emma by Jane Austen

Classics Spin #16 - Emma by Jane Austen



On November 12, I posted about doing the Classics Spin #16, hosted by The Classics Club. They spun the wheel of excitement and so I'm reading #4 from my list, which happens to be Emma by Jane Austen.

I'm really pleased with the results of the Classics Spin. There were a few books on my list that I was going to be in trouble if I needed to finish them over the course of the next month, but Emma will be a re-read for me (even though it's been a really long time since I read it last). It helps that it's a shorter book by an author whose works I'm familiar with, so it should be an easy, pleasurable read for me. I look forward to reading this novel with new eyes since it's been so very long since I read it last. I honestly couldn't pin down how long ago I read it, but it's been at least five years and likely closer to ten...


I took advantage of the Classics Spin choice to buy myself the fancy version of Emma from Penguin's Clothbound Classics series. I have copies of Mansfield Park and Pride and Prejudice from this series in beautiful clothbound hardback, and I hope to have the whole collection someday. I'm getting there slowly but surely.

Check back on December 31 for my review of Emma!

Book Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Book Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Rating: 5 Stars
 
Published September 26th 2017 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Summary: Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There's only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.
(from Goodreads)


Review: Wow. Just… wow. I loved this book. I can't believe this is Margaret Rogerson's debut novel, either. As soon as I finished reading An Enchantment of Ravens, I immediately went to see if I could find more books by her and followed her author profile on Goodreads.

Julia Whelan did a phenomenal job narrating this book. The second thing I did after finishing this book (after desperately searching for more to read by Margaret Rogerson) is to go on Audible and look up other books Julia Whelan has narrated. She is just amazing to listen to. Julia reads with a depth of feeling that really embellishes the text, without overdoing it and sending it into absurdity. This is impressive as she voices several non-human characters with somewhat mercurial ranges of emotion. I now want to read this book again in print, rather than listening to it, to see how much of my love was the book itself and how much can be contributed to Julia's reading of it.

This books has so many classic elements of faeries, and I love Rogerson's fantasy and almost-horror interpretation of the fae folk. I've been on a romance kick for a while now, but this stirred up a thirst in me and sent me searching for more fantasy with a focus on the fae. I love Isobel's relationship with her fae patrons, especially with Gadfly and Rook. I found myself with tears welling in my eyes on more than one occasion, and this book resonated with me, touching something in my heart that is filled with a yearning, keening longing. Isobel is challenged throughout to book to question her preconceived notions and what she knows to be true, as well as being placed in a situation which seems to basically be up against a rock and a hard place, with no real good solution. I admire her resourcefulness, her strength, and her courage of conviction. And, oh Lord, Rook… *dreamy sigh* My poor, sweet, confused Rook. I just want to hug him and squish him and call him mine.

You know you've stumbled across a real jewel when you're ready to read it again immediately upon finishing it. I even listened to all the audible credits and nonsense at the end because I wasn't ready for it to end!

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novak

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik


 
My Rating: 5 Stars
Published May 19th 2015 by Del Rey
Summary: “Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

(Goodreads)

Review: This may well be my new favorite book. It has the wonderful feel of a Russian wonder tale, the world-building is exquisite, and the main characters are wondrous enough to make them exciting while remaining human enough to make me love them. I have a soft spot for Russian fairy tales, and Uprooted made me hungry for more. The system of magic Novik has created is believable and fleshed out without becoming overwhelming with details. Agnieska does have some of the typical YA Mary-Sue elements with being an "ordinary" girl who turns out to be extraordinary, but franky - who wants to read about boring people?! I love that both Agnieska and the Dragon have flaws and foibles that make them feel real, while still being super-amazing-kick-ass characters who will SAVE THE WOOOORLD! So I love the setting, I love the characters, what's left? The plot. OH MY GOSH, the plot. This is a multi-layered adventure with elements of romance, revelations about friendship and what it means to be special, insight into what "evil" is (or is not), how events can shape a lift in drastic ways... Uprooted can be read on a number of levels, from enjoying the shade from the trees of the obvious plot to digging into the moist, nutritious mast of the forest floor.

I only wish I hadn't read this book so I could experience reading it for the first time all over again. I hope to find even more to love on my next re-read.



Book Review: Only You by Denise Grover Swank

Book Review: Only You (Bachelor Brotherhood #1) by Denise Grover Swank

Rating: 5 Stars
 
Published October 25th 2016 by Forever
Summary: Never say never . . .

Romance isn't an option for Holly Greenwood. With her wedding planner career on the line she needs to stay focused, and that means pleasing her demanding boss, not getting distracted by her mind-alteringly hot neighbor . . .

Ex-Marine Kevin Vandemeer craves normalcy. Instead, he has a broken-down old house in need of a match and some gasoline, a meddling family, and the uncanny ability to attract the world's craziest women. At least that last one he can fix: he and his buddies have made a pact to swear off women, and this includes his sweetly sexy new neighbor.

After one hot night that looks a whole lot like a disaster in the light of day, Kevin and Holly are about to learn that true love doesn't play by the rules...

(from Goodreads)


Review: Only You is the first book of The Bachelor Brotherhood series, but it strongly features characters from the first book in another of Denise Grover Swank’s series, The Substitute (The Wedding Pact #1). While you can definitely read Only You on its own, I strongly recommend reading The Substitute first, both because it gives the reader a better background for Kevin, Megan, and Nicole, and because Only You does have some spoilers for The Substitute.

I was feeling really wishy-washy and picked up three other books as well as starting to watch two movies before I started reading Only You, and then it was like Cinderella’s glass slipper. This was exactly the book I wanted to read, and I didn’t want to put it down. I woke up with my 1 year old at 3 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I actually sat down and read “one more chapter” of this book for an hour and a half before I just couldn’t keep my eyes open any more!

I liked Kevin a lot from The Substitute and was excited to see Megan’s protective ex-marine older brother get his own book. Holly’s character is also adorable as well as being multi-dimensional, and I love her relationship with her grandmother and the plot that revolves around that and her cousin. Nicole drives me batty, just like she did in The Substitute, but even she has her moments. While the timeline was pretty fast-paced, I feel like the leads acknowledge that and it doesn’t require a complete suspension of reality. The story was beautifully and compellingly written, as I’ve come to expect from Ms. Swank, and I’m really looking forward to reading the next two books in the series about Kevin’s buddies Matt and Tyler.

Happy Birthday to Me!

A very merry birthday to me!!


Okay, okay, maybe that's a teensy bit conceited... But I'm pretty excited, because as a birthday gift to myself I got myself (you may have already guessed it...) books!

For my birthday, I pre-ordered several books that I'm really excited about, which is a treat because I've been trying to buy (and hoard!) less books, so I've been checking them out from the library whenever possible. The wait for new releases can be so painful, though! The new releases I'm treating myself to are:



It's Hard Out Here for a Duke by Maya Rodale, releasing November 28, 2017. This is book #4 in the Keeping Up With the Cavendishes series, and I loved the other three so I'm excited for this new installment to come out.


A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase, releasing November 28, 2017. I guess that last week in November is going to be a busy reading one for me! I've actually never read anything by Loretta Chase, but I loved the cover and the blurb for this book so much that I'm excited to give her a try. I hope I like it, because the library has a bunch of her back catalog just waiting for me to put in requests!


Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas, releasing February 27, 2017. Another book #4, this book concludes (I assume) Kleypas' The Ravenels series. I really liked the first and third books in this series, though the second was a bit of a miss for me. I'm excited about the female lead for this book, so I'm looking forward to it! I don't love the cover on this one - what do you think?


What a Difference a Duke Makes by Lenora Bell, releasing March 27, 2018. Whyyyy is it so far away?! Lenora is easily one of my top 5 favorite romance authors, and this is the first in a new series. (If you haven't read her first series, I strongly advise you to check her out!)

I love birthdays, and so does my three-year-old, James. He was pretty excited to "help" me blow out my candles and eat cake. I had a nice dinner with my parents, my brother and sister-in-law, and my husband and two kids James (3) and Link (1).

Book Review: Have Yourself a Crazy Little Christmas by Megan Crane

Book Review: Have Yourself a Crazy Little Christmas (The Greys of Montana #5) by Megan Crane


Rating: 4 Stars
 

Expected publication: November 15th 2017 by Tule Publishing
Summary: Dependable Devyn Voss is no stranger to cleaning up her mother’s messes, but this one’s gone supernova. In search of love, her flighty mom has invited all of her exes to celebrate her Christmastime 50th birthday. Which is trouble enough, but only gets worse when Devyn’s former stepbrother shows up to the party. His dark brown eyes and lazy smile still setting sparks off inside of Devyn that she’s desperate to ignore.

Nashville songwriter Vaughn Taylor only came to the party to support his dad. And if he happens to see his pretty ex-stepsister there, that’s just fine. But the minute he lays eyes on her, he’s gripped by all his old desires--to undo all her uptight and get past that guarded exterior.

They were never supposed to see each other again, but now that they have--all those sparks have become a bonfire. But will this little bit of Christmas crazy last... or will it end with the season?

(from Goodreads)


Review: I love the dynamic between Devyn and Vaughn. And I love Vaughn, period. I love his sexy Cowboy-ness, his honey whiskey voice with its southern drawl that I can practically hear as I read the pages, his casual throwin' around of southern slang and the word darlin'… Yum. Him being 6'4" seems a little excessively tall though. I have a brother-in-law who is about that tall and he's TALL. And I suppose I relate to Devyn as well, as someone who was always a "good girl" and never really did anything wild (though thankfully my Mom is NOT like Melody AT ALL! Dad is a tattooed biker dude though… Hmm…)

Partway through the book Devyn meets up with her cousins and there is way too much of what I assume is recap from the first four books in the series. I found myself skimming through this waiting to get back to what I thought of as the "real" storyline. I suppose there are spoilers there for the first four books, but it's all thrown at you in such a big blob of word-vomit that I honestly couldn't tell you what the other storylines are, other than that they seem to have little to no bearing on the storyline for this book. So while this is the 5th book in a series, it can be read as a stand-alone with possible spoilers for the earlier books, but you're not missing anything by not reading them.

Aside from the little chapter and a half where Devyn is catching up with her cousins and the author feels the need to bash the reader over the head with the history of all the Grey Cousins, Have Yourself A Crazy Little Christmas is really well written, in a style that's fun and flirty. It's a quick read with lots of holiday family craziness against the festive backdrop of a Montana ski town at Christmas. It also has several poignant moments, several beautiful ones, and several the glisten like snowflakes falling in the twinkling Christmas lights. I originally deducted two stars for all the Grey Family Saga stuff that cluttered up the story, but gave one back for all the beautiful moments that followed and tugged at something deep in my chest. (See what this book did to me? It got me waxing all poetic. Dang.)

*I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Book Review: Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu


Rating: 5 Stars
 

Published September 12th 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Summary: For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

(from Goodreads)


Review: This book is so fun! It's like Sword Art Online meets Quidditch meets Hunger Games. Emika is a great character with a past and motivation that make sense, and a fair amount of personal growth throughout the story. I found myself cheering for her and thinking fiercely at this book "GO EMIKA, GO!!" There are a lot of supporting characters, but Lu does a good job of giving them each a distinct, unique presence so I didn't get them all jumbled up in my head. I loved the Warcross games competition, the spectacle of it all reminded me of Hunger Games, while the game itself reminded me more of Quidditch from the Potterverse. The digital technology of the neurolink reminds me of Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale. It's almost speculative fiction more than sci-fi because it's like it could be the next step for Google Glass, or something Apple will come out with soon.

There was a point in the book where I felt extreme anxiety, fluttery lovey/lust excitement, and then extreme frustration in the span of about half an hour. You know it's a great book when it takes you on an emotional roller coaster and makes you grumpy at anyone who interrupts you because you just HAVE TO know what happens next!

Also - HOLY PLOT TWIST, BATMAN! I thought about 3/4 of the way through I had the ending figured out, and then BAM. Think you're so smart, do you? Nope. You know nothing, Jon Snow.

I listened to an audiobook version of this book as narrated by Nancy Wu. Let me tell you something - Nancy Wu is an amazing narrator. There are characters who are from all over the world and she gives them each their unique voice, making a good attempt at mimicking various different accents. She reads with great feeling and inflection that really made the characters feel real.

Classics Spin #16

Classics Spin #16!!

(But for me it's #1!!)
Remember that Classics Club I talked about next week? They do these super fun events called a Classics Spin, where you pick 20 books from your Classics Club to-read list and post them numbered 1-20. On Friday, November 17th they'll announce the "winning" number, and participants will read the book that corresponds with that number on their spin list by the end of this year.

So without further ado, here's my spin list, and I'll post on the 17th with which book I'll be reading (and reviewing here!) soon. :)

1. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
2. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
4. Emma by Jane Austen
5. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
6. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
7. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
8. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
9. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
10. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
11. Persuasion by Jane Austen
12. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
13. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
14. The Tempest by William Shakespeare
15. Watership Down by Richard Adams
16. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
17. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
18. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
19. Moby Dick or, The Whale by Herman Melville
20. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

There are definitely some of these longer ones that I'm rather hoping don't get picked, haha!!

Book Review: The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

Book Review: The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson


Rating: 5 Stars

Published August 15th 2012 by Fire & Ice Books
Summary: Everyone knows how all those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince, falls instantly in love, lives happily ever after and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you’re the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect—read pretty, smart, and, worst of all, sickeningly nice—stepsister is dating the charming, tall, devastatingly handsome guy you’ve had a thing for since you were nine years old?

Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her on Skype. Mercedes, the school mean girl, has made it her personal mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister Ella is the most beautiful, popular girl in school and is dating Mattie’s secret longtime crush, Jake Kingston.

Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own stupid fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She’ll start by running for senior class president against wildly popular Jake.

Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie’s going to rule the school.

And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her.

(from Goodreads)


Review: I feel like the blurb for this one doesn’t do it justice. Mattie has been in love with Jake since she was 9 and he knocked her off the swing with a rogue kickball to the face. She’s a zaftig gal with pink hair and a love for manga, John Hughes movies, and The Princess Bride. And, ok, I will admit that my love for this book mayyyybe has something to do with feeling a lot like Mattie for most of my life, right down to her fandoms and pink hair, haha. But I digress.

Mattie has some understanding hang-ups that create problems, and there are the obligatory misunderstandings to do timing and unfortunate circumstances. I really appreciated the inclusion of a bonus section at the end that gives the reader things from Jake’s point of view. I almost skipped this section but boy, am I sure glad I read it anyway!! I loved Jake’s take on Mattie, especially the reveal on when he fell for her.

Set in Mattie and Jake’s senior year of high school, this is YA/NA but written in a very relatable way that I thoroughly enjoyed at almost-32.


*I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Enchanted by the Highlander by Lecia Cornwall

Book Review: Enchanted by the Highlander (A Highland Fairy Tale #4) by Lecia Cornwall


Rating: 5 Stars
Expected publication: November 14th 2017 by Swerve
Summary: Gillian MacLeod is shy and quiet, the least likely of all her sisters to seek out excitement and adventure. But on a moonlit night at a masquerade ball, Gillian steals a kiss from a mysterious stranger, knowing she’ll never see him again.

John Erly, disowned by his noble English father, started a new life in Scotland. Most people are suspicious of the foreign mercenary and he does everything is his power to avoid romantic entanglements. But he can’t forget the bewitching beauty who kissed him in the dark, and stole his heart, even though he has no idea who she might be.

A year later, John is given the duty of escorting Gillian to her wedding and immediately recognizes her as the temptress he’s dreamed of for months. There’s not much he can do when she's promised to another man, but fate intervenes and this time, passion—and adventure—can’t be denied. Honor demands he stay away from the MacLeod’s enchanting daughter, but love has a very different ending in mind...

(from Goodreads)


Review: I don't normally read Scottish/Highlander historical romances (I'm more of a Regency England kinda gal) but DANG, am I glad I made an exception! This book is AMAZING. I still don't think I'm much of a fan of clans and plaids and claymores and what-all, but the writing is spectacular and the characters are just… JUST. Words can't even. I know it's cliché, but I really DID stay up way past my bedtime because I just could not put this book down. I'd tell myself "one more chapter… ok, one MORE chapter… just ONE more, for real this time…"

I love Gillian's character. She's quiet and everyone says she's so shy, and maybe she is a bit but it seems she's more soft-spoken in a crowd of eleven sisters (eleven!!), all who seem to have no trouble ploughing right over them. When she's apart from her father and sisters (who speak for her in a well-intentioned way that Gilly tolerates but I would end up snapping eventually) she is pretty much the embodiment of Shakespeare's line "Though she be but little, she is fierce."

John is also great, a little bit broken, a whole lot of misunderstood, and thoroughly a good man.

It wasn't until about 75% of the way through the novel that the "fairy tale" part of the series name ("A Highland Fairy Tale") came to light, but when it did I was so delighted. It's a tale I don't see much of in romantic retellings, and it's worked into the story in a way that's totally believable. I won't say more than that so you can be pleasantly surprised.

This book is the fourth in Lecia Cornwall's A Highland Fairy Tale series. I felt like I wasn't missing too much by not reading the other books in the series first, though there are definitely spoilers for the earlier books just judging by some of the backstory of Gillian's sister Fia and her husband. If that kind of thing bothers you, definitely read the series in order. I'm going to go back and start with the first book now, and I've added all of Lecia Cornwall's books to my To Read list.


*I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Homemakers Nov. 9 - Fleece Tie Blankets

I love my neighborhood. ❤ We have a group of ladies that get together once a month during the school year to do things. Every September we have a meeting to talk about what we want to do each month for the upcoming season, and it's always a lot of fun. In October we had a bonfire at my mom's house.

For November, we got together at my neighbor Pam's house and put together fleece tie blankets to donate to Alexandra House, which provides services to people and families suffering from domestic violence. Each blanket uses two yards of fleece, one yard for one side and one yard for the other, and then we cut 3" strips all along the edges and tied the two pieces of fabric together. I bought a whole bunch of styles of fleece in two yard increments from JoAnn Fabric a long time ago, so it was great to finally have a use for all that fabric! We ended up making some that were two yards large, some that were one yard, and two that were half a yard (because of cutting error on my part, whoops!) All together we made 10 blankets in about an hour and a half!! That's what I call teamwork!

Below are some pictures of our event last night.


The Homemakers with our completed blankets (I'm the one with the purple blanket)
This is me working on one of the kid sized blankets.
My neighbor Karen likes filters for her photos, haha!


 


 
 

 It was a really fun night. I sure love my neighborhood! Special thanks to my neighbor Pam for opening up her lovely home for us to gather in.

Do you do any crafting type things? I am currently working on knitting a Hufflepuff scarf and hand-sewing a quilt made with the English pattern piecing technique (but I'll share more on that later!)

The Classics Club

I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I know this is a lot of posts in one day! But I keep stumbling across these really neat blog posts with ideas that are just too awesome.

I'd love to join the Classics Club, which is a challenge to read 50+ Classics in the span of 5 years. That's 10 classics per year! They do something called a Classics Spin where you pick 10 books from your list and they do a sort of lottery spin and you read whichever number in your list is picked. So fun!

To join the Classics Club, they ask you to choose 50+ classics and list them on your blog with your completion goal. My completion goal is November 9, 2022 (that seems so far away!) As I read through my list and post reviews on my blog, I'll update this original post with read dates and link to my reviews.

Are you ready? Here's my list:

1. Watership Down by Richard Adams
2. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
3. Emma by Jane Austen
4. Sense and Sensibility to Jane Austen
5. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
6. Persuasion by Jane Austen
7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
8. Mansfield Part by Jane Austen
9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
10. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
11. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
12. Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll
13. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
14. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
15. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
16. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
17. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
18. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
19. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
20. Middlemarch by George Eliot
21. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
22. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
23. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
24. Siddhartha be Hermann Hesse
25. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo
26. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
27. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
28. The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling
29. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
30. Pippi Goes on Board by Astrid Lindgren
31. Pippi in the South Seas by Astrid Lindgren
32. Moby Dick or, The Whale by Herman Melville
33. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
34. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
35. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
36. Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
37. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
38. The Tempest by William Shakespeare
39. As You Like It by William Shakespeare
40. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
41. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
42. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
43. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
44. Dracula by Bram Stoker
45. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
46. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
47. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
48. Candide by Voltaire
49. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
50. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Book Blogger Hop (Two posts in one day!!)


November 3rd - 9th - When reading a book, do you use a bookmark to mark your place in the book, or do you just fold over the top corner of the page? (submitted by Maria @ A Night's Dream of Books)
 
 
 
OK, I stumbled across this on Singer of Stories and thought it was super cool! I just had to post about it (even though, I know, I know, I already posted today!) So now I'm following this Book Blogger Hop pages and have set myself  reminder to check it out every Monday for the week's prompt.  
 
 
I am definitely a bookmark user. Usually I just grab whatever bit of paper is closest to mark my page (typically a receipt or the hold slip from the library), but I have a weakness for magnetic booksmarks. There are several Etsy shops that make really cute ones, but I've even found some adorable Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and funny smiling cacti ones at Target. HelloPapersCo has a very unique collection on Etsy, though they run a little pricey. ReadAndWonder also sells great sets with various fandoms at a great price point.

How about you? Are you a user of bookmarks, or a corner folder? If you do use bookmarks, what type do you like?

ARCs - NetGalley and BookishFirst

In the past month or so, I've really gotten involved with two great sites for book lovers. Both give you the opportunity to get free copies of books to read and review before they're published.

The first is NetGalley. NetGalley gives reviewers (that's me!), booksellers, librarians, educators and media the opportunity to browse books by category or publisher and request digital copies for review. NetGalley supports all reading devices, and it's super easy to have books emailed to your Kindle account (my personal preference) or be delivered electronically in a number of other ways. The expectation is that you then review the book and share said reviews with friends, family, social networks, etc. They also allow you to vote on whether or not you like the covers of all the books they host (thumbs up or thumbs down). NetGalley is free to join and super easy to navigate. There's a convenient "Your Shelf" section where you can see books ready for you to download and start reading, and books you've already retrieved that are awaiting your feedback, books you've sent feedback on, and books you've requested that are either pending approval or denied.

The only thing I don't love about NetGalley is I get rejected for way more books than I request, so I tend to go on requesting binges and all of a sudden have six approvals come through all at once, and then I'm trying to power read through them all so they're not back logged. I've developed a system now where I organize my NetGalley and BookishFirst books pending reviews by publish date, so I can be sure to at the very least read and review before their publish date. You'll see some of those reviews here soon, and I'll take each review with where I received the ARC from.

Which leads me into my other new favorite book site, BookishFirst. BookishFirst is also free to join (bonus!) and is a new site that's only been active for a little over a month. Every Monday they post a handful of upcoming releases and give readers the opportunity to read the first few chapters and get a sneak peek by reading what they call a "First Look." Readers can then write a short blurb giving their first impression of the book, at which point they can opt to be entered into a raffle to win a free ARC copy of the book. There is a raffle every Tuesday to draw winners for the books posted the previously Monday, so you basically have eight days to check out the new books for the week and read any first looks and post any first impressions.

According to BookishFirst's website, some books are available in multiple formats (print or ebook), but I've only seen print books thus far. You also earn points for each First Impression you post, as well as for posting reviews, sharing reviews to various sites, and for sharing a review to Amazon on the day of release. These points add up to let you basically purchase a book posted for that week rather than entering the first impressions raffle and leaving it up to chance. I have to say that, at least so far, your odds are pretty good for getting a free ARC of the books you enter into; so far I've entered four raffles and won all four books I entered. I imagine that success ratio will go down as more people discover this great site and start getting in on these raffles.

So there you have it! I'll make posting ARC reviews a priority on this site, but will also post reviews for other books I'm buying and checking out from the library. Some of them will be new releases, but there will also be a healthy mix of books that have been around for a while in there.

Do you have a favorite book site? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle

Book Review: The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle

I'm going to post a few reviews really rapid-fire for a few days because there are several I read ARCs for recently that have just released or are releasing with the next week, and I want to be sure to share about them while they're still top of mind for me!!

My Rating: 4 Stars

Expected publication November 14th 2017 by Tachyon Publications
Summary: An odd couple patrols a county full of mythological beasts and ornery locals. A familiar youngster from the world of The Last Unicorn is gifted in magic but terrible at spell-casting. A seemingly incorruptible judge meets his match in a mysterious thief who steals his heart. Two old friends discover that the Overneath goes anywhere, including locations better left unvisited.

Lyrical, witty, and insightful, The Overneath is Peter S. Beagle's much-anticipated return to the short form. In these uniquely beautiful and wholly original tales, with new and uncollected work, Beagle once again proves himself a master of the imagination.

(from Goodreads)

Review: J'adore. An incredible collection of short stories with viewpoints and flavors from all over the globe. I don't normally care very much for short story collections, and this one had its share of stories I absolutely loved and other that I slogged through waiting for them to be over (like most short story collections inevitably do.)

• "The Green-Eyed Boy" It's funny because I had just recently been talking to someone about examples of the second person narrative. This is a lovely story about Schmendrick the Magician (whom you may remember from The Last Unicorn) and his origins. As a child, I loved Schmendrick in the movie of The Last Unicorn, and I'm a little ashamed to say I haven't actually read the book. Reading about Schmendrick in this short story made me resolve to read The Last Unicorn, and soon. 5 bright, shiny stars full of childhood wonder.
• "The Story of Kao Yu" Set in China and featuring the Chinese unicorn, the chi-lin. This short story read like some of my favorite fairy tales, and makes me wonder if this is entirely out of Beagle's head, or based on a Chinese fable? I give this story 4 imperial stars.
• "My Son Heydari and the Karkadann" Set in Persia, this story features the Karkadann, the Arabian unicorn that is "powerful, pitilessly aggressive, and ugly as fried sin" (or so writes Peter S. Beagle). Another second person narrative, this story is told from the point of view of the father of the (for lack of a better term) hero of the story, Heydari. I didn't care much for this story, 2 stinky Karkadann stars.
• "The Queen Who Could Not Walk" Loved this story, it touched my heart in a number of ways. What the heck is up with their system of governance though?! Reads like a traditional, classic fairy tale with characters known only as the beggar woman, the queen, the king, and the servant. The ending was one of those bitter sweet ones that just hit you right in the feels. 5 sweetly sad stars.
• "Trinity County, CA: You'll Want to Come Again and We'll Be Glad to See You!" Set in an alternate modern-day California where drug traffickers use dragons to protect their labs, as well as trafficking illegally in dragons themselves. Gruber works as a county D Patrol (dragon patrol) officer and Connie is intern on her first day on the job. I loved this story, and would happily read a full novel set in this world; preferably about Connie and Gruber, but about another set of characters as well. 5 fire-proof stars.
• "The Way It Works Out and All" Didn't care for this one as much, it was jumbly and confusing - Which, to be fair, I'm pretty sure it was supposed to be. 2 stars.
• "Kaskia" …Not sure what I just read, but I think I liked it?? 4-ish stars?
• "Schmendrick Alone" YAY SCHMENDRICK! All the Schmendrick, all the time! I just want to hug him up and tell him it will all be okay. 5 stars with tears in their eyes.
• "Great-Grandmother in the Cellar" Amazing story. That's all I can say. 5 bones… I mean stars.
• "Underbridge" As a lover of children's books, I loved this story. Super uncomfortable, but loved it. Because trolls, man. TROLLS. 5 stone stars.
• "The Very Nasty Aquarium" I love the note in the preface that "This one began as an intriguing title, with absolutely no story to go with it." Way to come up with a killer story, Mr. Beagle. Just wow. Loved this, and I want to be Mrs. Bascomb when I grow up, but I will probably end up being Mrs. Lopsided. 5 sinister stars.
• "Music, When Soft Voices Die" Found myself skimming this one just to get to the end. Not sure if the story itself wasn't for me, of if I'm just growing tired of short stories. Angelos did remind me the teensiest bit of Schmendrick in his bumbling, well-meaning way, but I can still only give this story 1 skimming star.
• "Olfert Dapper's Day" Read the first couple pages of this and didn't even skim the rest. It just did not capture my attention.


*I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Discussion Posts & 2019 Discussion Challenge

I've loved participating in the 2018 Discussion Challenge hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at M...