Monday, January 15, 2018

Book Review: The Trouble with True Love (Dear Lady Truelove #2) by Laura Lee Guhrke

Rating: 4 Stars

Expected publication: January 30th 2018 by Avon
Summary: Dear Lady Truelove,

I am a girl of noble family, but I am painfully shy, especially in my encounters with those of the opposite sex . . .

For Clara Deverill, standing in for the real Lady Truelove means dispensing advice on problems she herself has never managed to overcome. There’s nothing for it but to retreat to a tearoom and hope inspiration strikes between scones. It doesn’t—until Clara overhears a rake waxing eloquent on the art of “honorable” jilting. The cad may look like an Adonis, but he’s about to find himself on the wrong side of Lady Truelove.

Rex Galbraith is an heir with no plans to produce a spare. He flirts with the minimum number of eligible young ladies to humor his matchmaking aunt, but Clara is the first to ever catch his roving eye. When he realizes that Clara—as Lady Truelove—has used his advice as newspaper fodder, he’s infuriated. But when he’s forced into a secret alliance with her, he realizes he’s got a much bigger problem—because Clara is upending everything Rex thought he knew about women—and about himself...

(from Goodreads)

Review: This is the second in the series, and you really should probably read the first book, The Truth About Love and Dukes, before reading this one. You can likely get away with not reading it if you really don't wish to, but it will explain Clara's relationship with her sisters in law as well as her family's history in relation to the ton.

I love that Clara is shy and that she's not classically beautiful, but that when Rex sees her smile that first time it just slays him. I saw the plot set up coming when she's sitting there trying to figure out how to advise these letters to Lady Truelove about how to get noticed by someone, when she has the same problem, and then overhears this suave rake giving his friend lady advice. Still, the way they got there was interesting. And I love that Rex is really such a gentleman, despite being labeled a rake. His mother sure is something else, though!

This is a fun, light read. I love the banter between Clara and Rex, and love the way he helps her, as she puts it, bloom. His advice to the shy is to laugh at yourself, let yourself be vulnerable and go ahead and admit to people that you're rather shy. Basically try to put others at ease around you and make them feel good about themselves, and everyone will love you. Clara doesn't magically transform into a beautiful swan to become the bell of the ball. Instead she works hard to overcome her shyness and gradually grows her own confidence, both in the ton as well as the rest of her life. They both have some great personal growth, but Clara especially. I also appreciate that Ms. Guhrke lets Clara's desire be to be a wife and mother - and that's OK, that's part of feminism too!

The only bit I didn't like was the scene at the wedding. I feel like Rex could have handled that better, and it just fell rather flat for the big scene it was supposed to be. It irked be enough that I knocked a full star off my rating. The ending matters, it can't just... fizzle.

*I received a free digital ARC of this book from Edelweiss+ and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Book Review: The Troll Whisperer (The Troll Whisperer #1) by Sera Trevor

Book Review: The Troll Whisperer (The Troll Whisperer #1) by Sera Trevor

Rating: 5 Stars
Summary: Oscar Lozada is repulsive, and he likes it that way. His apartment is always a wreck, he works at a sewage plant, and he’s an abrasive jerk to just about everyone. When he's not out drinking and hooking up with strangers, he trolls people on the Internet for lulz. His life changes when he finds out a victim of his trolling lives right next door. Noah is super hot and disarmingly nice. In spite of himself, Oscar starts to fall for him. All he has to do is make sure Noah never discovers the truth behind his trollish ways.
This book was written in collaboration with the Goodreads M/M Romance Group's annual Don't Read in the Closet story event. All proceeds will be donated to The San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center.

Review: I smiled like a doofus and also teared up a bit (ok, ok, I teared up twice...) It takes real talent to take a character as unlikeable as Oscar and make the reader really care about him, root for him, like him, and even cry for him. The description of why Oscar does what he does makes me think of a cutter trying to cut away their pain...

I really liked the Odd Couple vibe they had going on, and actually liked the character Oscar a lot more than Felix Noah in the end. I've seen an ASMR video or two and it doesn't float my boat personally, but I think it's cool how Sera Trevor incorporated something that has a big sub-community on YouTube into her book. I had to rate this 5 stars because I do love me some misfits, and I also love a good redemption story.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Book Review: Daughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King #1) by Tricia Levenseller

Book Review: Daughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King #1) by Tricia Levenseller

Narrated by Marisa Calin

Rating: 5 Stars

Published February 28th 2017 by Feiwel & Friends
Summary: There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

(from Goodreads)

Review: I love this book. Let me repeat, because I feel it so hard: I love this book.
Can I just start by saying: OMG, this cover.
Alosa is so bad ass. Her reminders of "Pirate" any time Riden questioned her unladylike behavior cracked me up. She's basically Captain Jack Sparrow only a tiny redheaded fury, and not drunk all the time. She's a brazen, smart-mouthed spitfire who is almost too good at her job. She has to keep pretending to be trying to escape so her captors don't get suspicious of her. I love how many steps ahead she thinks, and how many false trails she lays.
Without revealing spoilers, about all I can say is I loved Alosa fighting with herself, with her dual natures, her instincts.

I fell in love with Riden more than a little as well. He's just so honorable and un-piratelike. I like how confused he is about his feelings for Alosa, and is torn about his past, her past, his relationship with his family, her relationship with her family… He overthinks everything, and is way too much of a neat freak. He's so self-sacrificing and good, I want to shake him and go "How are you a pirate?!" OK, Will Turner. Go back to your room and clean it. I love you. *smooch*

Some of the side characters were pretty great as well, especially Alosa's superstitious guard (Enwyn? I listened on audiobook, so forgive if I'm getting it wrong!) There are a couple of plot twists in there that are very intriguing (though I did see the "big reveal" coming wayyyyyy in advance, but… well, that can you do?)

I listened to this on audiobook, and the narrator is amazing! Marisa Calin does an excellent job narrating Alosa, daughter of the Pirate King. She conveys Alosa's sassy, witty, fierce personality with excellence, and does a great job of voicing the other (male) characters as well, giving each their own voice. I especially loved this part:

“I’m going to show you something more magical than the stars.”
Oh yuck. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. I can’t do this. I can’t stand to hear him talk anymore.

You know the narration was good when you pop onto Audible to see what other books they've narrated and immediately buy any of them that look emotionally interesting.

You also know the book was good when you immediately go buy the sequel. (Or attempt to, at least. Audible doesn't have Daughter of the Siren Queen available for pre-order yet, and if it's not narrated by Maria Calin again I'm going to start a riot.)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Down the TBR Hole #5

Another installment of the meme (challenge?) from Lisa at Lost in a Story.

So as of Down the TBR Hole #4, by To Read shelf was sitting at 1,727.
Of course, I can't help but add new books to my to read list, so today my starting number is ... 1,704? ...Well huh. That's odd. I was sure it was going to be HIGHER, not lower, because I know I added more books...

Ah well, best not to look a gift horse in the mouth, eh? Here we go. (We're at April 13, 2010, btw - in case you are curious when I added these!)

Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper
I think I started trying to read this once and gave up because there are so many things going on and it's pretty convoluted. Letting this one go, but I think they're a physical copy buried somewhere in my stacks so maybe I'll run across it again someday.
Decision: Go

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
OK, I need o keep this one. Stop judging me.
Decision: Keep

Brisingamen by Diana L. Paxson
This one was written in 1986! That's almost as old as I am, haha. After reading (rereading? because I must have read it before?) the description, I don't know that I'm interested in this much anymore.
Decision: Go

Fitcher's Brides by Gregory Frost
Letting this one go, but again, I'm pretty sure I have a physical copy lurking around my house somewhere that I may stumble across again someday.
Decision: Go

How to Spin Gold: A Woman's Tale by Elizabeth Cunningham
Apparently told from Rumplestiltskin's point of view... Oh yeah, and Rumple is a woman.
Decision: Keep

Lady of Sherwood by Jennifer Roberson
This is #2 in a series, so I'm booting it. Will re-add if/when I ever read the first book and if it's any good!
Decision: Go

Lady of the Forest by Jennifer Roberson
Oh, here we go! Sherwood #1. I'll keep this one, it still looks interesting to me.

Maid Marian by Elsa Watson
Eh... I just kept Lady of the Forest, so I suppose one story about Maid Marian is probably enough. ...For now.
Decision: Go

Midnight Never Come (Onyx Court #1) by Marie Brennan
A secret Faerie England hidden in the catacombs underneath Elizabethan England? Sounds pretty cool.
Decision: Keep

Over Sea, Under Stone (The Dark Is Rising #1) by Susan Cooper
Urgh, meh.
Decision: Go

Kept: 4
Eliminated: 6
New Total: 1,698

Hey! I did good this time! Let's keep it going, shall we? Express style. Going to try to get through the rest of the books I added on April 13, 2010, LOL. Looks like I went on an adding frenzy!!

Kept: 10
Twice Upon a Time edited by Denise Little
White as Snow by Tanith Lee
Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede
The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye by A.S. Byatt
The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany
The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
The Shadow of the Bear (A Fairy Tale Retold #1) by Regina Doman
Aurelie: A Faerie Tale by Heather Tomlinson
Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terry Windling
Glass Slipp, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella by Paul Fleischman

Eliminated: 8
Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell
Black Swan, White Raven edited by Ellen Datlow (I think I have ALL of these anthologies on my to read. I'm just going to remove them and will read them as I read them, when I'm in the rare mood for short stories)
Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman
The Swan Maiden by Jules Watson
Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli
The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm edited by Ellen Datlow and Terry Windling
The Forever King by Molly Cochran and Warren Murphy
The Mermaid Bride and other Orkney Folk Tales by Tom Muir

NEW New Total: 1,690

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Book Review: You Say It First (Happily Inc #1) by Susan Mallery

Rating: 4 Stars

Published August 22nd 2017 by HQN Books
Summary: The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fool's Gold romances invites you to visit Happily Inc., a wedding destination founded on a fairy tale

Sculptor Nick Mitchell grew up in a family of artists and learned from his volatile father that passion only leads to pain. As he waits on a new commission, he takes a day job as a humble carpenter at a theme wedding venue. The job has its perks—mainly the venue's captivating owner, Pallas Saunders. Although he won't let love consume him, for ecstasy with an expiration date, he's all in.

Pallas adores Weddings in a Box. But if she can't turn the floundering business around, she'll have no choice but cave to her domineering mother and trade taffeta for trust funds working at the family's bank. Then when a desperate bride begs Pallas for something completely out of the box, her irresistible new hire inspires her. Nick knows she doesn't belong behind a desk, and she knows in her heart that he's right—where she really belongs is in his arms.

(from Goodreads)

OK first and foremost - what the heck kind of name is Pallas? There's a little blurb in there explaining it, but I don't buy it. Her name was distracting for me through the entire book. Also, I think the town name is stupid and don't understand the relevance of the title. There, that's most of the bad stuff I have to say done with, now let's get to the good stuff!

This is the first in a series about the people in a small town called Happily Inc, which caters to weddings. What I don't get is, if the town is entirely about weddings, are there other wedding venues and wedding planners in the town? If not, then if Weddings in a Box shut down, would the entire town fold? Or if there are, why don't we hear about any of them at all?

Anyway, if you've read any of Susan Mallery's Fool's Gold novels, you have an idea what you're in for. There are a lot of side characters and I had a hard time keeping them all straight. Our leading lady, Pallas, is one of a group of six gal-pals who are all creative women than own their own businesses (for the most part). Then our main man Nick is one of five brothers (though only two of his brothers are in town, though his oldest brother is also mentioned a number of times as being engaged and I assume is the star of his own show in another series). We also have Pallas's twin brother Cade, her cousin Drew, and the mysterious and semi-reclusive bad boy famous mystery author (whose name I can't remember) to round out the number of eligible lads and ladies in town. And of course each one is super quirky in their own very special way. Which is, actually, your basic set-up for the first book in a series about a small town. There are some little hints about potential future pairings, as well as a fair amount of info dump on the pasts of several of the side characters. Again, pretty typical for your small town romance series.

I liked Pallas and Nick as characters, and they both felt fairly real and rounded out to me. Pallas has a rough relationship with her mother, and Nick has a different but also rough relationship with his father. Both characters are able to give some insight to the other, and in doing so also gain some insight into their own situations, which I liked. There is a symmetry there that really works, and is even highlighted in some witty banter between Pallas and Nick!

"I like that you're emotionally broken," she said cheerfully. "It keeps the playing field level."
"I'm not broken. I'm quirky."
"Is that what we're calling it?"

This was a fun read, with a few emotionally-charged wrenches thrown in the works to keep things interesting. I didn't laugh out loud and I didn't cry, but I did smile a lot and almost tear up a time or two, so that's a solid 4 star rating for me.

This is the first in a series, but can for sure be read as a standalone.

  • #2018AtoZChallenge - letter Y
  • 2018 Unapologetic Romance Readers Challenge - #9 Contemporary Romance

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Giveaway!! Lenora Bell's Disgraceful Dukes Trilogy

What better way to start off the New Year than with a big, fabulous GIVEAWAY?!?!

I'm super excited to kick off my very first giveaway on my blog with a set of books by the fabulous Lenora Bell. I'm giving away a complete set of Lenora Bell's Disgraceful Dukes books.

The winner will be notified by email (and announced on my blog!) and will be able to choose if they'd like to receive these books in paperback or digitally.
The giveaway is international, as long as The Book Depository ships there free of charge (find that out here!) If you prefer, I will send a set of digital Kindle editions via Amazon gift. (Please note: You may only chose ONE of these options!)

Just jump through the hoops outlined in the rafflecopter below to earn some entries (some are worth more points than others!) Giveaway will run from 1/3/18 through 1/17/18. Winner will be notified by email and have 1 week to claim their prize, otherwise another winner will be chosen. ;)

But first, a little bit about the books. Lenora Bell has quickly become one of my favorite authors, and it's as delightful to follow her antics on Facebook as it is to read her books. I love that each of the books have some ties to some other classic works of fiction, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Wizard of Oz, and my personal fave, Alice in Wonderland. It's so fun reading these books and finding little snippets that make you go "Hey, I understand that reference!" Like Dorothea's red half boots (aka ruby slippers?) and the "mad" Hatherly line (Mad Hatter, anyone?) Gah! You'll just have to read the books and see! I own all of these books in paperback and audiobook, so I'm super excited to share them with you all now!

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.
(Check out my review of How the Duke Was Won here!)

After three failed seasons and a disastrous jilting, Lady Dorothea Beaumont has had more than enough of her family’s scheming. She won’t domesticate a duke, entangle an earl, or vie for a viscount. She will quietly exit to her aunt’s Irish estate for a life of blissful freedom. Until an arrogant, sinfully handsome duke singles her out for a waltz, making Thea the most popular belle of the season.

The duke ruined her plans and he’ll just have to fix them.

Garrett, Duke of Osborne, is far too heartless for debutantes or marriage—he uses dalliances and public spectacle to distract from his real purpose: finding the man who destroyed his family. When his search leads to Ireland, the last thing he needs is the determined, achingly innocent Thea, who arrives in the dead of night demanding he escort her to her aunt. His foolish agreement may prove his undoing. The road to the Emerald Isle is fraught with unforeseen dangers, but the greatest peril of all might just be discovering that he has a heart . . . and he’s losing it to Thea.

(Check out my review of If I Only Had a Duke here!)

Have you heard?
The future Duke of Barrington has just been gambled away by his father. To an heiress!
The delicious details thus far...

Nicolas, Lord Hatherly, never intended to marry—nor add to the “mad” Hatherly line—but now he must honor his father’s debt to a social-climbing merchant or lose the family estate.
A notoriously wild marquess, won by her father at a game of cards, is the very last thing Miss Alice Tombs wants. She’s spent the last three seasons repelling suitors in spectacular fashion so she’d be at liberty to explore the world. She’ll just have to drive this one away as well.
Until Nick proposes an utterly tempting arrangement: one summer together to prove the legitimacy of their union, then Alice is free to travel while Nick revels in the time he has left before the Hatherly Madness takes hold.
It will be easy to walk away after a few months of make-believe wedded bliss—won’t it? Alice and Nick are about to find sultry night at a time.
This ought to be fun...

(Check out my review of Blame It on the Duke here!)

Any now, on to the entries! (If you can't see them, click on where it says "A rafflecopter giveaway" and it should pop up!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If for some reason you have a grudge against Rafflecopter (as a friend tells me some people do) you can also enter by posting in the comments. Posting a comment at all automatically gets you one entry, let me know if you're following by blog (by GFC, email, or Bloglovin' and under what username) for 5 entries, follow me on Goodreads for 2 entries (let me know what your Goodreads name is), follow me on Twitter @elleykat for 2 entries (let me know your Twitter username), share this giveaway on your blog or website for 2 entries (post a link to where you shared), visit Lenora Bell Author on Facebook for 1 entry, tweet about the giveaway for 1 entry (share the link to your tweet), and/or refer a friend for 1 entry (just let me know in the comments that you spread the word!) It's much easier for me if you just use Rafflecopter, but I do want to make sure this giveaway is accessible to as many people as possible. :) Just be sure if you post your entry in the comments, you leave me your email address as well so I can contact you if you're my big winner!!!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Discussion: What types of blog posts do you like to see?

Happy New Year, dear readers!
One of my New Year's resolutions is to update this blog on the regular (and to apply again to be an Avon Addict when sign ups go up again, this time with a year's worth of kick-ass blog posts in my repertoire). Right now I've set up a schedule for myself to follow that looks a little like this:
Every Monday & Thursday: book review
First Tuesday of the month: Recap of last month's reading and challenges participation
Second Tuesday of the month: Discussion post
Third Tuesday of the month: Guest Post: Peekaboo's Corner
Every Friday: Down the TBR Hole
I want to also allow some flexibility for things that don't fit in with those few categories, like link-ups, giveaways, Top Ten Tuesday type of deals...
What are your favorite types of posts to read? Book reviews? Deep discussions? Lighthearted observations? Funny quizzes? Top Ten Tuesdays?
As the first Tuesday of the month, today should be a challenge recap post day, but as it's also the first Tuesday of the new year, I'm just starting all my challenges so I don't have anything to recap! Are challenge recaps something you like to see? Do they inspire you to work on your own challenges?
Here is the basic template I'm thinking of using. Let me know what you think. Am I missing any important info?

2018 Reading Challenge

Books read in [Month]: 0


Progress in [Month]: 0/1
Total Progress: 0/12


hosted by Novel Knight

Progress in [Month]: 0
Total Progress: 0/20


Progress in [Month]: 0
  • [Letter] :: [Title]
  • [Letter] :: [Title]
Total Progress: 0/26

Unapologetic Romance Readers 2018 Challenge

hosted by the Unapologetic Romance Readers group on Goodreads
Progress in [Month]: 0
  • [#. Category] :: [Title]
  • [#. Category] :: [Title]
Total Progress: 0/50


hosted by The Hufflepuff Basement group on Goodreads
Progress in [Month]: 0/2
  • [Category] :: [Cover]
  • [Category] :: [Cover]
Total Progress: 0/24


hosted by the Into the Forest group on Goodreads
Progress in [Month]: 0
  • [#. Category] :: [Title]
Total Progress: 0/12

Wellllll... What do you think? Too much information on those challenge recaps? Not enough? Just the right amount? (Where on earth is Goldilocks when you really need her?!)

Does this seem like a good balance of posts to you? Are there other types of posts you'd rather see? Or like to see as well? Let me know in the comments, because I'd like to make this blog as enjoyable to my readers as I can!

And what about you? If you blog, how do you decide what types of posts to do? What are you favorite to write versus fave to read? Let me know in the comments!!

Book Review: The Trouble with True Love (Dear Lady Truelove #2) by Laura Lee Guhrke

Rating: 4 Stars Expected publication: January 30th 2018 by Avon Summary: Dear Lady Truelove, I am a girl of nob...