Sunday, March 5, 2017

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: August 31, 2010

I just finished Clockwork Angel and I really enjoyed it. I've seen the 'Shadowhunter' series all over booktube and GRs for a long time now and have been meaning to jump on the bandwagon to see if all the hype is justified. So far it lives up to its reputation as far as I'm concerned. I believe there's even a TV show adaptation of the Mortal Instruments series. If I understand correctly, The Infernal Devices, The Mortal Instruments, The Dark Artifices, several Shadowhunter Academy novellas as well as The Bane Chronicles are all connected and meant to be read in a very specific order which I've been told begins with Clockwork Angel. So altogether that adds up to...well, A LOT of books and it's a pretty big commitment to tackle but when I find a good series that I really enjoy I never want it to end so the more books, the better, in my opinion.

I find that for me, personally, it's a lot easier to keep up and follow a long fantasy series such as this,
 with many different characters, if I invest in the audio format. My preference for that format is Audible of which I am a member and therefore receive monthly credits that allows me to purchase any book they have in stock (which is basically everything) and if I wish to return it in exchange for a different title before I've received the next months credit I can do so, hassle free with no questions asked, which is what sets the Audible subscription service above the competition, in my opinion. I was very impressed with the narration of Clockwork Angel, it had multiple narrators who did a phenomenal job of bringing the characters to life and enhancing my overall reading experience. I also like the freedom that audiobooks allow me, giving me the opportunity to 'read' during times when I wouldn't be able to in the literal sense, for example- when I'm walking my dogs, working out, driving, doing dishes, or laying in bed at night and don't want to disturb my boyfriend with the light, so I'm able to get a lot more reading hours in with the audio option. I know it's not for everyone but I'm a huge fan and highly recommend other readers at least give the format a try. I believe Audible has a 30 day free trial but if you don't want to go with a subscription service another option would be to go to your local library. I get a ton of audiobooks from my library in a couple different formats including CDs - which I listen to in my car whenever I'm driving, or they also have digital files that can be signed out as well. I find it's a great way to enjoy more of the many books I want to read, more efficiently.

Anyway, I know I've veered off track with the audiobook plug but I just want everyone to be aware of the opportunities for that option but now ask to Clockwork Angel. This story takes place in the late 1800's when Tessa Gray travels from America back to her homeland of London to be reunited with her brother, Nick, after the unexpected death of their aunt in America left Tessa without any family or reason to stay. Upon her arrival she is kidnapped by two warlocks, called the Strange sisters, who hold her captive and force her to use an ability she didn't know she had, under threats that if she doesn't cooperate and do as they say they will kill her brother who they also hold captive in another location. The new ability is that Tessa can touch an article belonging to another person and fully transform into that person. Tessa soon learns that she is being held by order of the sisters boss who is called The Magister who intends to come for Tessa and marry her so that he can posses and control her unique ability. Tessa is then rescued by Will who is from an organization of Shadowhunters, angelic beings who vow to protect the world from demons and other evil forces. Will takes Tessa back to the Shadowhunters headquarters and they set out to uncover who The Magister is, the mysteries behind Tessa's past - who or what she is, why she has this ability and what The Magister plans to do with her, and where her brother is being held and how to rescue him.

This book has a little bit of everything in it, from angels and demons to warlocks and vampires, kidnappings and murders, betrayals and plot twists as well as a couple of love connections and plenty of action and suspense that I found to be very engaging to the very end. I thought the character development was fantastic and I feel very invested in their lives and can't wait to learn more about them as the series progresses. I've already begun reading Clockwork Prince and plan to binge through this series as well as all the other related works by Cassandra Clare. So far I've found the storyline to be very compelling and addictive, the book was very well written, and overall it was an entertaining book that I enjoyed very much and I love the fact that there are so many books that relate to this series. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading series, YA fantasy, historical fiction, or just a well written, entertaining book. Again, I enjoyed the audiobook and highly recommend that format but if that's not your thing I have no doubt that the regular book is equally amazing.

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Behind Her EyesBehind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: January 31, 2017

OMG! The ending of this book just blew me away! Wow! What a book. I need a minute...

I went into Behind Her Eyes without knowing much about it at all which, I think, is always the best approach especially with this genre of suspense. I've been seeing this book all over GRs and BookTube lately and I was immediately drawn to the fact that it had an unreliable narrator which has always appealed to me. I was not disappointed. This book was captivating from the very beginning and I remained completely enthralled until the very last page. The writing was excellent and the storyline was absolutely brilliant. It's one of those stories where you know something is off, something is not quite right but you can't quite put your finger on it. Then when you think you've figured it out - BAM! Plot twist! After you swallow that unexpected change of events and begin digesting what you assume is the conclusion-plot twist again!

I don't want to say much about the actual storyline because the less you know the better, in my opinion. But there are two narrators, Louise and Adele. In the beginning of the book we're introduced to Louise who meets a man named David at a bar and they hit it off, talk for hours, laugh together and share a passionate kiss until David relents admitting he is in fact married. When Louise shows up at work on Monday she is then horrified to learn that David is actually her knew boss...awkward! To make things even more complicated, through a series of events Louise ends up befriending Adele, David's beautiful and lonely wife who asks Louise not to tell David about their friendship. Louise is reluctant to give up either relationship as they are both very important and meaningful to her in very different ways but of equal measure. The plot thickens as bits of the past are revealed exposing a very unhappy marriage that hides dark and dangerous secrets and it doesn't take long before Louise realizes she is in way over her head and unsure of who she can trust.

I really want to give this book a 5 star rating because I really loved it but I'm inclined to go with 4.5, or even 4.75 stars, only because I did have a slight issue with how far fetched the storyline became. Although, I do understand where the author was going with it and her execution was brilliant and in doing so she provides an unexpected explanation of events that I never would have seen coming or been able to predict. Keeping that in mind I still would have liked for it to have been a little bit more realistic. But that is the only complaint I have of this book and it's a very minor one and certainly not a game changer by any means.

Behind Her Eyes has a very conclusive and satisfying ending but it also set the stage for the possibility of a sequel (fingers crossed) and I would love to see this saga continue so I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for that in the future. This is my first experience reading anything by Sarah Pinborough but definitely will NOT be my last, and this was a far cry from her debut in fact she has a fairly extensive collection of published work that I'm very much looking forward to diving into after how much I thoroughly enjoyed Behind Her Eyes. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a fast paced, suspenseful novel with an unreliable narrator and plenty of plot twists that will keep you guessing until the very end.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Alive (The Generations Trilogy #1) by Scott Sigler

Alive (The Generations Trilogy, #1)Alive by Scott Sigler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: June 14, 2015

Alive is one of those books that is difficult to review because it's better to go into this without knowing anything and most of this books appeal is the fact that the reader doesn't know what is going on, where the characters are or how they got there, and throughout the book you receive little pieces to the puzzle but it's not until the very end that the puzzle comes together and the big picture is revealed. The author, Scott Sigler, even adds a little note to the reader at the very end respectfully asking that, in this day and age of GRs, Amazon reviews, twitter, BookTube, blogging and numerous other platforms where reviews are posted, that readers be courteous and considerate enough to not include spoilers that will take away from the reading experience of others who have not yet had the chance to read this book and want to. I don't think that is an unreasonable request at all and it should really go without saying as a common courtesy in the book lovers community, as there is nothing more frustrating than having a book ruined because someone else spoils it, but unfortunately it happens. I always try to be as discreet as possible when writing my reviews but I thought it was a nice note for Sigler to include and I hope that others will heed his suggestion.

I know this is a series that has been out for a while, in fact the third book just came out and I received the arc for that one which is what prompted me to read book one in the trilogy. Overall, I had a difficult time staying focused on reading this book and getting into it but I think I've just been in a bit of a reading slump lately and I don't believe the book is at fault for my lack of interest and enthusiasm. It was very well written and intriguing but I found that the last quarter of the book was far superior to the first three, although, I guess that is because everything fell into place and was explained during the last section of the book so if you are someone who enjoys suspenseful reads that keep you guessing, and leave you hanging, until the end then this is definitely the book for you.

To give a brief description without giving anything away...the book begins when a girl wakes up to find she is locked in the dark in what appears to be a casket and finds a snake trying to bite at her neck. She breaks out into a room full of caskets, several contain other teenagers trying to break out as well so she helps them do so. None of the children know who they are, where they came from or how they ended up locked in coffins. However, they all share one thing in common and that is that they all believe it is their 12th birthday even though they appear to be several years older. They must figure out how to survive and how to escape their predicament without destroying each other in the process and the story definitely has somewhat of a "Lord of the Flies" vibe to it in parts. But they soon realize that they have bigger obstacles than each other that they will have to face and overcome if they want to survive to see the future and uncover the truth behind their past.

This was a very intriguing read and I think if I'd been in less of a rut I would have enjoyed it a lot more. It was very well paced and Sigler did a great job keeping his readers needing to know what happens next and on the edge of their seats. I'm looking forward to reading the second book in The Generations trilogy, Alight, as this book ended in a way that makes me wish I had the second book in hand right now. These books aren't super long and relatively quick reads and are excellent contenders to marathon if that's something you are into. I give this book a 3.75 rating but again, I think it would have been higher if I wasn't in such a slump right now so I would definitely encourage others who enjoy this type of book, dark and mysterious, to give it a try for themselves.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Go the F*** to Sleep by Adam Mansbach

Go the Fuck to SleepGo the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: June 14, 2011

This is just a quick little review of a fun book that I've been hearing about off and on for quite a while on Goodreads. It's been out for a few years but I just got the chance to check it out and wanted to share with all of you.

This book was hilarious. I think this is probably one of the most honest bedtime stories ever written and I'm sure most every parent can relate to the narrator, at least at one time or another. I saw this reviewed on someone else's GRs post and they were kind enough to include the link to the YouTube version of Samuel L. Jackson reading this delightful little gem so I'm going to do the same. In case the title isn't a clear enough giveaway this definitely isn't intended to be read to actual children unless you want them going to daycare sounding like trashy little pirates...although, I suppose itty bitty babies who can't yet talk wouldn't know the difference. This would make a great baby shower gag gift for any first time parent, or seasoned vet, with a good sense of humor.

Here's a link to Samuel L. Jackson reading this on YouTube:

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Gemina (Illuminae Files, Book 2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: October 18, 2016

I've been meaning to write a full review for this book for a few days and want to get it done now while it's still semi fresh in my mind...

I liked this book. I liked it quite a lot. I didn't love it, though, and I didn't enjoy Gemina quite as much as Illuminae but it was still a very interesting and creative story that I definitely don't regret reading and highly recommend.

This is what I would classify a sci-fi/contemporary with a lot of action and definitely in the YA genre as the swear words were all bleeped out in a way that I found both unrealistic and annoying but that's a very minor issue to have in the grand scheme of things. It follows two new characters who were not in Illuminae, Hanna and Nik, who are on the space station Heimdall, however, Ezra and Kady are mentioned about half way through and do play a fairly significant role in this story. There are several other cameos from the Illuminae cast throughout Gemina (including AIDEN!) but primarily this book has a whole new set of characters. For the most part I found that Hanna and Nik were basically carbon copies of Kady and Ezra with new names and different backstories, although Hanna wasn't as tech savvy as Kady so that's where Nik's techie cousin, Ella, comes into play. There are a lot of similarities in the plot during the first half of Gemina and that turned me off a bit. I was really worried I was simply reading another version of Illuminae and only the names and a few minor details had changed... BUT the second half of the books was absolutely authentic, unexpected and completely redeeming. I don't want to spend much time summarizing the plot in this review because I think it's better to go into this one blind but it's safe to assume that if you've read and enjoyed Illuminae then you'll enjoy this as well and you'll already have a solid grasp on what to expect.

This book was a bit difficult to follow and keep up with for me because there was so much going on, a ton of new characters to keep up with, multiple subplots, an illegal drug manufacturing operation, aggressive alien creatures, attacking drone ships, new scientific theories/discoveries, BeiTech assassins, betrayals and budding romances.... and all together just a lot of moving parts. For the first three quarters of the book there was one major conflict and when that was resolved the last quarter of the book involved an entirely new conflict that had to be delt with. I found the way the storyline was set up and the transition between conflicts a bit choppy but that might just be me being over critical. You know how sometimes you read a book and you really like it but then when you're writing your review it's full of negativity? I'm really not trying to make this like that.

I really did enjoy this book. I love the way it's created with mixed media format, ironically, because initially I was reluctant to read these books, despite rave reviews, because of the unique format, but the execution is practically flawless and the creative minds that created these books (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff) are so impressive and talented. As with Illuminae I listened to Gemina on Audible and I highly recommend that format to anyone else with an interest in these books. It really takes these books to a higher level, the narration is excellent and the sound effects and extras that reading alone doesn't include really brought this story to life, in my opinion. I also loved the way the authors were able to deceive the reader on more than one occasion and there were a couple plot twists that I didn't suspect and that always impresses me and makes a book more enjoyable.

Let's take a minute to talk about Nik Malikov! He was definitely my favorite and no surprise because I've always been drawn to the bad boys, like a moth to a flame, and Nik was the epitome of a bad boy! He was a tatted up, drug dealing, certified hustler with a very checkered past, a convicted felon, fresh outta prison, smoking cigarettes, born into a crime family on the wong side of the tracks, original gangsta! Oh be still my heart! My teenage self would have fallen hard for Mr. Malikov (or his real life equivalent) but luckily, with the wisdom of age and experience my 33 year old self has learned that it's a lot more fun to read and fantasize about the Nik's of the world (or of outer space as the case may be) than it is to actually exist with them irl. But Nik was a bad ass with a soft side, enhancing his appeal and my appreciation for his character. Needless to say, I really enjoyed reading about him.

Overall, I give this between a 3.75 and 4 stars out of 5 which is a very good rating, as far as I'm concerned. I definitely recommend this duo but if there's one thing I cannot stress enough to anyone considering these books, especially anyone who is deterred by the mixed media format, it would be to try the audio version! As far as I know Illuminae and Gemina are a duology but the ending, although there was definitely a solid, satisfying conclusion, definitely paved the way for a trilogy and I'd be really shocked if there wasn't a third installment in the Illuminae series (fingers crossed). I'm curious to know if anyone has knowledge of that possibility?

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison (memoir)

The KissThe Kiss by Kathryn Harrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: June 1, 1998

I have always been drawn to memoirs in which the subject matter is taboo, shockingly bazaar and unacceptable to even the most liberal minded of today's society. Anything that can stimulate my morbid curiosities, in a non-fiction format, fascinates me. So when I heard of The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison, after reading the review of another GRs member, the appeal was instant and I immediately went to my library, signed it out, and devoured it in (close to) one sitting. It had that additional element of tragedy, centered around incest, but also weaved into this story were topics of emotional abuse, codependency, depression, eating disorders and family relationships- both dysfunctional and loving, all packaged into 200 pages of beautifully written, poetic prose. I was not disappointed.

This is a true story in which the author, Kathryn Harrison, reunites with her father when she is twenty years old and their relationship crosses a line into a physical affair that evolves into an obsession, all consuming and even, at times, life threatening. As much as this story is about the forbidden relationship between father and daughter, it's just as much about the relationship between Kathryn Harrison and her mother and how the latter, quite possibly, set the stage for the former, if one were to really analyze cause and effect.

Growing up, Harrison lived primarily with her grandparents, the upper-middle-class parents of her mother, although, her mother played a very significant, albeit unreliable, role in her life and upbringing. Her father was banished when Harrison was just a baby, deemed unworthy as a provider on the meager salary of a preacher, seldom spoken of and cut out of all family photographs. To a young girl, craving attention, parental love and approval, he became almost like a mythical creature - sought after yet unreachable, enhancing the appeal and romanticizing the existence of without the disappointments and faults of reality.

When Harrison is 20, an adult and finally able to initiate, or at the least consent to, a relationship with the stranger who is her father she is, at first, infactuated by his undivided attention and interest in her after years of longing for nothing else. If only that were the extent of it. But the relationship quickly escalates from platonic to out of control and her father will no relent until he posses, and controls, all of her and allows no room for her to love, or be loved by, anyone else.

I was both surprised and impressed by how honest this story was and I have a lot of admiration for Kathryn Harrison to lay out her most intimate and shameful moments for everyone to see. This is a very personal account of her story and her vulnerability and bravery is endearing and impressive. The powerful strength of the subject matter of this book is equally matched by the talented writing that truly did the story the justice it deserves. I thought the ending was perfectly executed, extremely satisfying, and in perfect pace with the rest of the book.

This isn't a book for the faint of heart and for readers who have a personal history with sexual abuse, incest or otherwise, it might be upsetting and disturbing, or it could be inspirational and empowering depending on the individual and their comfort level with subjects addressed. It could possibly be a trigger for those who struggle with eating disorders as they are briefly mentioned, multiple times, during this memoir. For anyone else I absolutely recommend it. I'm giving it between 4-4.5 out of 5 stars and the only reason this isn't a full 5 star rating is because I did find some parts to be a bit vague and I would have appreciated a little more detail but given the personal, sensitive nature of this book I do respect that the author shares or omits whatever she chooses and aside from that I have no complaints and I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend this book.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

CommonwealthCommonwealth by Ann Patchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: September 13, 2016

Hands down I give this lovely gem of a read 5 stars without hesitation! This book was so satisfying from cover to cover. Literary fiction used to be my jam (if you will) and recently I've veered off into YA/fantasy but after reading Commonwealth I really want to steer my preferences back toward my old trusted default. Although, bad ass teenage assassins or dystopian society's in which everyone has magical powers or fairytales retold for grown ups are very entertaining and enjoyable, there's not a lot of real substance or relatable material in that type of genre, I don't see reflections of myself or those around me, in the everyday situations and struggles of the human condition, as I saw in this book. The character development in this book was 5 stars on its own! To be able to follow a character from a young child, through college, careers, marriage & children of their own, all the way up to their 60's and everything in between, really makes you feel like you know them personally, especially when portrayed in Patchett's beautiful writing style.

In the description it reads that this book follows five generations of families, but for the most part the focus is primarily on two. It begins with two married couples, who divorce and remarry, and their two sets of young children, blending their families and sharing custody between California and Virginia. The story follows the parents all the way up to old age and their children to middle age and illustrates the changes that occur, for both the individual and the family dynamic, as time goes by. This is a book about relationships in good times and bad, how families come together and endure dispite loss and grief and guilt, or how they fall apart because of it. It's about cause and effect and how one small decision can alter not only the life of one person but of everyone else that one person is connected to, their children and relatives. I often caught myself reflecting on my own life, choices and family, and how entirely different it could have been and could be as the result of one "small" decision.

I loved this book. I thought it was extremely personal and insightful and I'm very curious to know if it's at all based on the life of the author, Ann Patchett, and her own family and, honestly, I'd be surprised if it wasn't because the story is so honest and so convincing. It's interesting, captivating and beautifully written in a way that is so simplistically profound because it's simply telling the story of a family's life as they grow up and grow old but in a way that I was able to connect with personally as if I were reading about my own sister or mother or father and she did it in a way that wasn't heavy or depressing while still managing layers of depth.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys well written novels by talented storytellers. I borrowed this from my local library where all that was available was the audio version on CD which I enjoyed whenever I was driving, or riding, in my vehicle no my very critical, non-reading, boyfriend also enjoyed it very much which speaks volumes in itself! The narrator did a great job bringing the characters to life in a soothing, relaxed tone, so I can definitely recommend that format to anyone who enjoys audio books (or whose library is currently out of the print version).

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Heart of Betrayal (Book 2, The Remnant Chronicles) by Mary E. Pearson

The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles, #2)The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: July 7, 2015

I'll be honest, this book was a bit of a struggle for me but in all fairness I've been in a bit of a reading slump and I feel like I might be a bit burnt out on the YA fantasy genre so I don't know if the book is entirely too blame for my lack of interest or if the issue is a personal one.

**This review may contain spoilers for those who haven't read book one in this series, The Kiss of Deception, as I might reference significant events that took place in, or after, that book throughout this review. It does NOT, however, contain any spoilers for The Heart of Betrayal.

This is the second book in The Remnant Chronicles where we continue to follow our female protagonist, "Lia", a princess who, in book one, ran away from an arranged marriage to a prince she'd never met and was tracked down by both an assassin with orders to kill her as well as the prince she left at the alter. In book two, The Heart of Betrayal, the Assassin defies his orders and instead brings Lia to his faraway kingdom of Venda, where she is at the mercy of the Komizar, the ruthless leader with his own secrets and agendas. The prince is also held captive in Venda although his true identity is unknown by his captors and he holds onto hope that four of his best men will come to the rescue, although this seems impossible and unrealistic given the magnitude of the opposition and the difficult task of leaving Venda, which is only possible by way of a single bridge which is always drawn and takes at least twenty men to lower. Lia must try to stay alive, remain on the good side of the Komizar and juggle her feelings for both the assassin and the prince, all while trying to devise and execute an escape.

I finished the first book in this series, The Kiss of Deception, very quickly and although I didn't fall head-over-heels in love with that one, I obviously enjoyed it enough to pick up book two in The Remnant Chronicles, The Heart of Betrayal. My expectations weren't super high to begin with for this book and as it progressed my interest level continued to decline, in some parts more than others, and at times this book seemed to drag on endlessly, I found the plot to be extremely predictable, making some parts seem very slow and insignificant as I just wanted the storyline to get on it with it already. That's not to say other parts weren't interesting and engaging because this book wasn't all bad and I do like some of the characters and feel invested enough in their lives and their future to most likely continue with this saga and read The Beauty of Darkness, the third and, I believe, final book in the series. While this wasn't my favorite book, by a long shot, it wasn't awful either and I did think it was very well written with strong character development and a kick ass female protagonist, however, it was lacking in the way the story was paced and the tempo was rather dull, imo. I would rate this between 3 and 3.5 out of 5 stars but again, it may be one of those books that, had I read it at a different time when I felt more inclined to do so, the rating might have been higher and the criticism decreased, perhaps.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Book Giveaway! 'Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in NYC...' by Michael D. Blutrich

Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in New York City, Was Extorted out of Millions by the Gambino Family, and Became One of the Most Successful Mafia Informants in FBI History


Win a Hardcover Copy of...

Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in New York City, Was Extorted out of Millions by the Gambino Family, and Became One of the Most Successful Mafia Informants in FBI History by Michael D. Blutrich

"A fascinating, funny, and, at times, frightening tale of strippers, money, and the mob by one of the FBI's most unlikely informants ever!"
- Anderson Cooper

Just leave a comment below, include your name and email and I will randomly choose one lucky winner on February 25th which is my birthday and I want to celebrate it with you guys by giving one of you the opportunity to win this great book. I have teamed up with the publisher to host this giveaway of a true story that reads like fiction. Leave your comments and contact information below and good luck!

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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

A Court of Thorns and Roses
by Sarah J. Maas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Publication Date: May 5, 2015


What a book! I mean, like, holy shit did I enjoy this read! I was a little skeptical because there's soooo much hype surrounding this series and anything written by Sarah J. Maas these days so that can usually set the expectations a little to high and the outcome usually comes with disappointment. Not in this case. I read Throne of Glass, the first book in the other series by Sarah J. Maas and I liked it a lot and plan on reading the rest of the series very soon as I've heard it keeps getting better as the books progress...but I LOVE A Court of Thorns and Roses!

As I'm sure most of you have heard this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast which is one of my all time favorite Disney movies from childhood and I'm beyond excited that next month (March 2017) they are coming out with a real life adaptation with Emma Watson playing Belle! So I don't know if it was the nostalgia that made this book so appealing and enjoyable, or Sarah J. Maas is just a genius at her craft, or maybe it's a combination of both but this is definitely NOT the G rated Disney version, it was definitely written for grown ups because there is quite a bit of sexual content and some violence, which I can appreciate.

In this version we have Feyre (Belle) who kills a wolf when hunting to feed her family, unaware the wolf was a Fae which violated an ancient treaty between Faeries and humans. In exchange for the life of the wolf she is forced to go live with Tamlin (Beast) who is a High Fae lord whose court the wolf was from. With the alternative being instant death Feyre reluctantly agrees and as you can imagine, as time passes the relationship between Feyre and Tamlin begins to grow and evolve but there is a lot more to the treaty than Feyre was initially told.

This book has romance and magic and conflict and curses and it's absolutely enchanting and highly addictive. I had originally expected that because I knew the story of Beauty and the Beast that it would take away from this book but that wasn't the case at all because it is such a loose retelling with so many new and unexpected elements, characters, and outcomes. If anything I enjoyed this book even more because of my prior knowledge and I especially enjoyed seeing the new version of the characters...Mrs. Pots was a housemaid called Alis, Lumiere was a one-eyed Fae named Lucien, and of course there was a version of Gaston...but I don't want to give to much away in a spoiler free review.

I will say that Maas did this story justice which is no easy take when the bar was set so high by the original, but this is one of the few exceptions where a book, in my opinion, not only lives up to but actually surpasses all the hype surrounding it. I've heard that the second book in this series, A Court of Mist and Fury, is even better so I can't wait to read it for myself and I know the third book, A Court of Wings and Ruin, is coming out this spring and highly anticipated. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fairy tale retellings, fantasy, ya, or just a well written page turner that is so hard to put down. I usually find fantasy novels to be a lot of work to read but this one was a breeze and I loved that although it's classified young adult, the adult element is still there whereas a lot of YA seems to be more juvenile than young adult, in my opinion.

This was an easy five star rating for me and I don't know why I waited so long to pick it up but I will definitely be reading more by Sarah J. Maas in the very near future and highly recommend that anyone who hasn't read her books to do the same. And if you've read Throne of Glass and liked it, chances are you will LOVE A Court of Thorns and Roses.

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Giveaway! Owlcrate, Amazon, Audible

Giveaway for Amazon, Audible and Owlcrate: 

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent for $1

Burial RitesBurial Rites by Hannah Kent

I found this hardcover book at my local Dollar Tree for $1.00 today!

Review to come soon but for anyone with a Dollar Tree near them, be sure to check out the book selection because you never know what gem you might score for a buck!

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard

Glass Sword (Red Queen, #2)Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: February 9, 2016

Can we say "cliffhanger"?! Omg, Victoria Aveyard, how could you do this to me? I follow you faithfully through every page and you just leave me like this, hanging, needing to know what happens next but unable to do anything but pre order King's Cage and wait. I don't know if I can hold on until February 7th (a whole WEEK away!), I just don't know if I can do it. I have been wanting to read this series for quite some time now and I picked up Red Queen earlier this month with Glass Sword on deck and King's Cage on pre order, when deep down I knew this was going to be a binge worthy series that I should wait to begin only when I had all three books in hand. Unfortunately, patience is a virtue that I don't possess.

I was really impressed with this book. It's been especially fascinating for me to watch Mare Barrow change, evolve, grow and at times it seems digress. Aveyard did an excellent job with the character development and there are a lot of deep layers being revealed and peeled away the deeper we dive into her story and I'm interested to see how that will continue in the next book. I enjoyed Red Queen a lot but I think this book was even better. It was extremely fast paced and so much happened, so much was revealed about both the characters and the storyline, there were so many more interesting characters introduced in this book and it wasn't all predictable sunshine and rainbows, there were twists and betrayals, unexpected deaths of important characters and unlikely alliances that I didn't see coming.

I love the whole premise of the world that Aveyard created where a select few have special abilities including the affinity to control and conjure lighting, see the future, become invisible, defy gravity, read and control the thoughts of others, alter physical appearance and many more abilities that were fascinating to read about and imagine, not only for the obvious positive effects they had on an individual but also the negativity that accompanies the unknown and misunderstood and the fear of what is different. This world world also had a lot of negative characteristics that were, unfortunately, realistic and relatable both historically and even still in the present day world we live in like the discrimination, segregation and punishment of those who are different and thought to be inferior, the vulgar abuse of the great responsibility that accompanies power and leadership and the possibility of good and evil existing in everyone. Unfortunately their were many disturbing parallels between the government and citizens from this novel and the world we live in today and perhaps that was unintentional but I still found it to be very interesting and rather eye opening.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable read that I gave a five star rating. It had many typical aspects of YA fantasy, that I enjoy, with a bit of a dystopian twist and more than one romantic connection, plenty of betrayal, impressive character development, plot twists and a great storyline that when combined created an exceptional novel. My only complaint is that I don't have the next book, King's Cage, already in hand!

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club... by Michael D. Blutrich

Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in New York City, Was Extorted out of Millions by the Gambino Family, and Became One of the Most Successful Mafia Informants in FBI HistoryScores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in New York City, Was Extorted out of Millions by the Gambino Family, and Became One of the Most Successful Mafia Informants in FBI History by Michael D. Blutrich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Expected Publication Date: January 31, 2017

I really wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I'm typically not a big fan, or reader, of non-fiction or autobiographies, however, I love a well written, trashy memoir that is full of sex, scandal and corruption. This book definitely fit the part!

As a longtime listener of Howard Stern and lifelong resident of the northeast I've certainly heard of Scores before but my knowledge of the establishment was limited to the fact that it was very prestigious, in terms of strip clubs, where only the most beautiful women we're gainfully employed and didn't dance for just the occasional dollar bill but rather shattered the glass ceiling bringing home over six figures annually while working 3 days per week.

That was my perception, and I don't think it was all that inaccurate, but I had no idea what went on behind the scenes with management and the MOB, the Gambino family in particular, and all the crime and corruption that was either kept out of the headlines completely or at least never reached my local newspaper from what memory serves. This book was a real eye opener and I was completely captivated by the telling of it. The author and narrator, Michael D. Blutrich had my attention from the very first page and he managed to hold it until the very last. Not the typical owner of a nightclub that makes millions off of female sex appeal, this gay, Jewish, New Yorker brought an unexpected dynamic to the telling of his story. This struck me as a very open and honest account of the rise and the decent of his business and personal life paved with good intentions that were poorly executed with many bad decisions especially jumping into bed with MOB which ultimately costs him not only his freedom but also his identity and puts his very life on the line. This book has murder, mayhem, betrayal, corruption, FBI investigation and informants, prison sentences, witness protection, sex, scandal and celebrities. There's something for everyone in this book that reads like a fast paced fiction novel while exposing the underbelly and inner workings of a notorious New York nightclub the way only someone who actually experienced it firsthand could express.

I found this book to be extremely interesting and informative (no pun intended) because it exposed me to a world and way of life that is completely foreign to me and it read like something out of a Hollywood movie so the fact that this is a true story makes it even more compelling from start to finish. This wasn't a dry, slow going account with pages of boring facts that were only included to increase word count but should have been edited out, this was a must read page turner that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend!

I received an advanced copy of this publication from Netgalley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)Illuminae by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: October 15, 2015

OMG! This book was soooooo good! I'll be honest I was so reluctant to even dive into this read because of the mixed media format. I thought surely this isn't for me, however, I watched a review on book tube from someone whose opinion I trust (Christine @polandbananabooks) and she highly recommend the audio version of this book. So I took her advice and got this book from Audible and it was amazing! I can even articulate how good it was but the different voices, sound effects, special effects, along with a talented cast of narrators brought this story to life in a way that felt more like watching a movie than listening to a mixed media format audio book. I highly recommend that anyone who has even the slightest interest in Illuminae especially those who are intimidated or put off by the format, to try the audio version because it is so so good.

Aside from that, no matter how you read this book it's a really captivating, addicting novel. It takes place in outer space in the future, 2075, and gravitates around two teenagers, Kadey and Ezra, who recently went through a breakup and were then forced apart by extenuating circumstances but are able to remain in contact through emails and instant messages and such. This book has so many subplots and elements that create such a well rounded, unique and totally entertaining novel that you won't want to put it down and 600 pages will fly by like nothing! There's star crossed lovers, a virus outbreak resulting in zombie like afflicted, an artificial intelligence system that turns on its creators, outer space battles and corrupt corporations, all taking place on space stations and space ships in other galaxies in the future. Who wouldn't want to read about that. It sounds like a lot to include in one book but the storyline, the plot and the character development is all so well executed that every element fits into place to create a really great read that kept me one my toes and not wanting to put it down. As soon as I finished this book I immediately went back on Audible and purchased Gemina, book two in this series. I highly recommend this book to everyone and definitely think the audio version is the way to go with these books although the hard copies are absolutely gorgeous and great for any book lover to add to their shelves. Don't be deterred by the multi media format because after you get into the compelling story you don't even notice it.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Above Suspicion by Joe Sharkey

Above SuspicionAbove Suspicion by Joe Sharkey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: January 17, 2017

Non-fiction books are not my typical genre. I could probably count on one hand how many nonfiction I read last year. However, I am a true crime junkie! Although, my usual prefer preferred format is TV, which shows like Dateline or 20/20 and just about anything on the Investigation Discovery (ID) channel. So when I saw this book and read the synopsis I had to pick it up. I used to read a lot of true crime books. I've read almost everything written by Ann Rule, however, although they are generally very factually accurate and extremely detailed, I also find them to be extremely dry and slow reads. Having that in mind I was a bit apprehensive in reading this book, despite its appealing description, and very skeptical whether or not I would enjoy or even finish it – knowing worst case scenario I could always hold out for the movie. However, I'm glad I didn't wait. This book was worth the read!

This is a true story about an FBI agent named Mark Putnam, who seems to have it all – a supportive wife, two beautiful children, a successful career, but against his better judgment he engages in an extra marital affair with a drug addict name Susan, who also happens to be an informant on the FBI's payroll. This book is a detailed account of what leads up to this betrayal, the repercussions that follow, one poor decision after another, unbearable guilt, remorse, and regret as one man goes from having a happy, normal, existence to destroying not only his own life, but the lives of those closest to him as well.

This did not read like a typical, old-fashioned true crime. It was fast-paced, extremely interesting and engaging and I often forgot I was reading nonfiction. The author, Joe Sharkey, did a great job collecting facts and researching this book. It was in debt and informative but again, very enjoyable and easy to read. I am looking forward to to watching the movie adaptation which is scheduled for release sometime this year (2017), directed by Philip Noyce and starring Jake Houston, and the lovely Emilia Clarke who I adore from Game of Thrones and Me Before You. Both, coincidentally, also originated as books adapted to TV and film. I highly recommend this read to anyone who enjoys true crime, fast-paced thrillers, investigative reporting, or just an overall exciting, eventful read.

I received an advanced copy of Above Suspicion from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

$100 Starbucks Gift Card Giveaway...

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I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

I'm Thinking of Ending ThingsI'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: July 14, 2016

WOW! This crazy little book just took me for a ride...and all I can say is WOW!

I'm Thinking of Ending Things was a little slow getting started because nothing really happened until about pg 80 but i could tell it was building up for something and that I'd either be very disappointed or very pleased with the outcome. Luckily I was pleased. This is definitely a book that's best read without knowing much, if anything, so I'm not really going to get into a description or summary, other than to say it's about a guy named Jake and his girlfriend, who is also the narrator but whose name is never revealed. They're going on a long car ride to have dinner with Jake's parents, all the while she's thinking of ending things with him. It's very well written and nicely paced although, it's not a very long book, about 205 pages, but I couldn't put it down because I was dying to figure out wtf was going on and the further I read the more I needed to know, it was very well paced for optimum tension and anticipation! Iain Reid did an amazing job both creating an atmosphere that is both terrifying and extremely realistic and deceiving his readers.

Psychological thrillers can either be the best books, when done well, or the worst books, when done poorly and this book was one of the best! Reid has way of creating scenes that I can imagine myself apart of and he knows how to give his readers the ability to really empathize with his characters and what they are experiencing on a very deep and personal level, literally giving me goosebumps as I was reading. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this book when I started it but I knew I would either love it or hate it, as the reviews of others have reflected in pretty much equal measure, but I thought it was amazing and I would love to read more by this author and hope he continues to pursue writing fiction.

This book is like reading a puzzle, with bits and pieces that finally come together at the end creating a final result that is incredible and leaves the reader feeling satisfied (and possibly a little shaken up). I don't know why I'm Thinking of Ending Things is not getting higher ratings but to each their own, I guess. I loved it and I'd love to see it made into a movie. If you're a fan of really griping, suspenseful, psychological thrillers this book is for you.

There's a little blurb on the cover that reads "You will be scared. But you won't know why..." and that couldn't be more accurate.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Buzz Books 2016: Young Adult Fall/Winter

Buzz Books 2016: Young Adult Fall/WinterBuzz Books 2016: Young Adult Fall/Winter by Publishers Lunch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Dates: May 2, 2016

I've read several of the Buzz Book Publications and have greatly appreciated the reference they provided in helping decide what to read, and specifically, what to read next! The YA 2016 fall/winter edition was certainly no exception. I've been on a bit of a YA kick as of late, fueled in part by all the attention the genre gets on book tube and blogs that I follow but there are always so many new books coming out all the time in this genre, that it's hard to narrow it down to the one book I'm capable of reading at one time. I've found that often I either love ya or hate it and can usually tell with in the first chapter or two what category a book will fall into, not always, but most of the time. With that being said this handy dandy little reference is must have for me and readers like me and I've found it to be an excellent tool for helping me find excellent reads, beefing up my tbr shelf significantly, and also in steering me away from books that have gotten good reviews but either aren't what I was expecting or don't appear to be something I would enjoy. This particular edition is of 20 different fall/winter 2016 YA reads and it includes, for each novel sample featured, a brief summary, a lengthy excerpt from the books, and a small bio about the author, in that order. I believe that any and all readers who enjoy reading from the YA genre need this little gem on their bookshelf. I easily rated it 5 out of 5 stars - now that's not to say that all 20 of the featured books with samples within deserve, or will receive, 5 stars individually, but this publication as a whole, which readers the opportunity to gain insight and reference on their next read, is certainly deserving of 5 stars, in my opinion.

I received a copy of this publication from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

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Buzz Books 2016: Fall/Winter

Buzz Books 2016: Fall/Winter: Exclusive Excerpts from 40 Top New TitlesBuzz Books 2016: Fall/Winter: Exclusive Excerpts from 40 Top New Titles by Publishers Lunch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: May 2, 2016

These publications are difficult to review because it's not one specific work but rather a sample of several books that have received a certian amount of hype, all published in fall and winter of 2016. For what it is, I absolutely adore this little gem and other similar samplers, as an excellent reference tool to get a feel for upcoming popular releases and to read the beginning of these books prior to purchasing to get an accurate impression of the writing and the storyline. I find that 99% of the time I can tell within the first two chapters weather or not a book is going to entice my interest enough to continue reading on and this sampler is the perfect way to form that opinion as well as an excellent tool in helping one decide on what to read next, or what to read period. I've found that 9 times out of 10 the features in this publication are excellent selections that I thoroughly enjoy and more often than not they are also selections that I wouldn't have personally picked out without the suggestion. This is a handy reference tool and an excellent companion for all readers and reviewer's out there and I highly recommend this to everyone - from avid reader to novice- this is definitely a must have!
This is definitely a five out of five star rating for me, although, that's not to say that all the novel featured within will receive five stars but rather the ability for one to sample these featured novels deserves five stars.

I received a copy of this publication from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: September 29, 2015

"Let's say my currency carries more sway."
"Money is money."
"I trade and information… the things men do when they think no one is looking. Shame holds more value than coin ever can. "

Six of Crows is a story about six thieves from the bottom of the Barrel (*you see what I just did there?), hired to carry out an impossible heist for a ridiculous pay out. The leader of this unlikely crew is Kaz, a member of mysterious and relentless bad ass, who at the age of 17 already has developed quite the name and reputation for himself and is known by locals as "dirty hands". He carries a cane with a crows head for the handle and is never seen without his notorious black leather gloves, creating plenty of rumors and speculation about what he's hiding underneath. His crew is just as mysterious and extremely diverse, although, as the story progresses we are revealed bits and pieces of their pasts and explanations of how and why they turned out as they are and exactly what this conquest means to each of them individually. Their group is made up of both allies and enemies and when they are forced to trust each other with their lives and freedom during this impossible mission the only thing they can truly rely on is that nothing and no one is always as it seems.

I was very much looking forward to beginning reading this and do well, although, I've never read anything byLeigh Bardugo, these books are highly recommended with excellent reviews from readers whose opinions I value and trust. However, I made it about 150 pages in and was honestly about ready to quit. I just found it to be incredibly slow paced with all the foreign names and places. It was hard for me to keep everything straight and it was beginning to feel like a chore to pick it up and continue reading – not a quality I look for or enjoy in a book. I decided to stick with it and give the audio version a try, went on Audible to pick up where I left off and that made all the difference! I'm so glad that I stuck it out because the story was fantastic! All the plot twists, deceit and betrayal, make it impossible to predict the outcome – a quality I adore in the books I read – and the ending makes me want to run start reading Crooked Kingdom immediately! All the hype surrounding this book was definitely justified, in my opinion, and I'm so glad that I didn't give up on it.

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The Fifth Petal (The Lace Reader-book 2) by Brunonia Barry

The Fifth Petal (The Lace Reader, #2) The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: January 24, 2017

I received a copy of The Fifth Petal without realizing, initially, that it was book #2 in The Lace Reader series. I've never read anything by Brunonia Barry before but I was so intrigued by the description on the back of The Fifth Petal that I went out and bought myself a copy of book 1, The Lace Reader, thoroughly enjoyed it and immediately read The Fifth Petal right afterwards. I was equally pleased and impressed with the second book in this series.

Its a book that I find is very difficult to define, as far as genre goes because there are so many different categories it could fit into ...there's a bit of mystery/suspense, a bit paranormal/New age/magic, some romantic/contemporary aspects, all thrown into it in equal measure making it impossible for me to classify into just one category.

The novel is about a series of murders, one incident from over 20 years prior in which three women were killed and a little girl was spared and a second incident years later, when a teenager died under questionable circumstances. The common link in both is Rose, a local historian turned crazy person who was present at both incidents and claims a banshee killed the victims with its screams. The general assumption of the town is that Rose committed the murders and her crazy ramblings are viewed as proof. Detective John Rafferty, along with Rose's psychiatrist, and Call I, the little girl now grown who witnessed the first murders and has now returned to try to get the truth from Rose, all try to uncover the truth of what really happened.

I loved the mix of reality and magic in this book but it was magic that didn't seem all that unbelievable especially when set in Salem, Massachusetts with its notoriety for witches and witchcraft. It was also a nice follow-up to The Lace Reader with reoccurring characters like Rafferty and his now wife, Towner, yet the storyline was completely new and honestly I think this could be read as a standalone and still be very much understood, although it's great to have the backstory of the characters and a better grasp on their development so I would definitely recommend reading these books in order. Being from New England myself I felt Barry did an excellent job capturing the feel and charm of a northeast coastal town filled with hard-working, three dimensional characters that were easy for me to understand and relate to. This book also did a great job illustrating the effects of trauma and grief over the course of many years in the lives of several individuals and how differently it can affect different people.

I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys murder mystery detective novels, or new age paranormal romances because this book truly has a little bit of something for everyone. I'm giving The Fifth Petal four out of five stars.

I received an advanced readers copy of The Fifth Petal from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire #1) by C.J. Redwine

The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire, #1)The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: February 16, 2016

I'll be honest, this probably isn't a book I would have normally went out and purchased, however, I received an ARC of 'The Wish Granter', book #2 in the Ravenspire series, and sequel to 'The Shadow Queen' and I was intrigued enough to give the series a try (great marketing by Balzer + Bray). I opted to go with the audio version on audible which is my preferred format for reading high fantasy, especially book 1 in a series containing unique names and places with difficult pronunciations that would slow me down where I reading the hardcopy. The narrator, Khristine Hvam, did a good job, not a great job, I would have liked to see a bit more of a range of contrast when narrating the different characters, especially the villain, but overall she captured the essence of the story and sufficiently gave it a life and a voice. I would listen to her narration for other books in the future.

The Shadow Queen is a retelling of snow white in which Lorelai, the teenage heroine escaped the wrath of her evil aunt turned stepmother, Irina, when she was a young girl. Irina has assumed that both Lorelai and her younger brother, Leo, were killed along with their father when I Reena bewitched the kingdom and took over the crown. However, rumors of Lorelai's existence cause Irina to negotiate a blood oath with Kol - the young and newly appointed king of Elder, who has the ability to transform from human to Dragon at will -to hunt down Lorelai the rightful queen of Ravenspire, and return with her heart. The blood oath ensures that if Kol fails at this mission he will die but if he succeeds Irina has agreed to use her magic to save his people, the kingdom of Elder from the certain annihilation brought on by an opposing force that is quickly closing down upon them. To guarantee his cooperation, Irina takes Kol's human heart as collateral, leaving him with only his predatorial dragons heart, as she sends him out to do her bidding.

Will Irina succeed in destroying Lorelai, the last and only threat that could take away her crown and reclaim her birthright as the queen of Ravenspire or has Irina greatly underestimated the strength and power of Lorelai's magic and the loyalty of her friends and followers???

Overall, I rate this story with 3.5 stars. It wasn't my favorite book of all time but it wasn't horrible either. I found the characters to be a bit flat and the storyline was quite predictable, but considering this was a retelling of a fairytale I guess that was to be expected. It was entertaining enough but lacking in any real substance but I will continue to read C.J. Redwine and look forward to book 2 in the Ravenspire series, The Wish Granter, said to be a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin and from what I can tell from the synopsis, has completely different characters altogether, which is a bit of a disappointment in my opinion. I definitely highly recommend the audio version opposed to the regular print version of this book.

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Throne of Glass (Book 1) by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: August 7, 2012

"Your scars are awful" he said, almost whispering. She put a hand on her hip and walked to the dressing room door. "We all bear scars, Dorian.… Mine just happened to be more visible than most."

I feel very accomplished, and less like I'm missing out on a significant reading experience, to have finally read Throne of Glass, book one of the five book fantasy series, by epic storyteller, Sarah J. Maas. I was not disappointed.

In this book we are introduced to our heroine, 18-year-old, world renowned, female assassin, Celaena Sardothien. Fresh out of prison, more specifically, the salt mines of Endovier, A notorious DEF can't wear few survive more than a couple months of hard labor and brutal conditions, and no one gets out alive. But Celaena is retrieved from Endovier by Prince Dorian Havilliard personally and he propositions the young assassin with the opportunity to be his champion in a competition to determine who the best of the baddest is, the winner of which will be named the kings assassin. Furthermore, if Celaena when's this is steamed title, after four years of service to the king (who she utterly despise is for conquering her country and enslaving her people), she will be granted not only a clean slate and a fresh start but also her freedom, a liberty and luxury that the good hearted assassin has never experienced. Despite her profession, we learn that Celaena is morally sound, loyal and just, although a bit misguided, who has fallen victim to her circumstances yet managed to hold onto her integrity and spirit and has merely done what has been necessary for her survival and nothing more.

Now, Celaena finds herself an unlikely guest at the Kings Castle as more than one prestigious mail admirer tries to win her affection and attention while jealous onlookers will stop at nothing to see the assassin gone for good. However, Celaena's attention tries to remain focused on the multitude of tests she must compete in before the ultimate battle for the title of kings assassin. With so much at stake and everything to lose Celaena tries not to be distracted when her competitors keep turning up dead, brutally mutilated by someone or something that can only be defined as pure evil yet elusive and at large.

Celaena finds herself fighting for more than just her freedom while the scars from her hunting past won't allow her to forget where she came from and what she's at risk of returning to, all the while making unexpected connections and friendships, despite herself, only to learn that both allies and enemies aren't always as they appear.

I enjoyed reading this book tremendously. Celaena is a bad-ass bitch! An entertaining protagonist, likable, albeit flawed, and overall an absolute pleasure to read about. It was impossible not to become invested in her. It was obvious that this was only the beginning of Celaena's story and Maas set the stage for an intriguing, addictive saga. The romantic-triangle subplot was also nicely laid out, without overpowering the storyline but suggesting more will be revealed as the series progresses.

I'm giving Throne of Glass 4 out of 5 stars and for readers who enjoy YA fantasy with a strong, kick-ass, female protagonist, this is a must-read series.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray

Cooking for PicassoCooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: August 9, 2016

This is the story about two women of the same family, living in different times and separate continents, who are connected by blood in history. The narration alternates between 17-year-old Ondine, a cook at her family's café in a small town on the French Riviera in 1936, and Celine, Ondine's granddaughter, who lives in present day California and learns from her ailing mother that Grandma Ondine once cooked exclusively for the great and notorious Picasso. With her mother's health in rapid decline, Celine finds herself traveling to the small town of Juan-les-Pins, France, in hopes to uncover the mysteries of her family's history and determine what part the great painter, if any, played in her grandmother Ondine's life and legacy.

This was my first introduction to author, Camille Aubray, and I was pleased to find she is an absolutely exquisite writer. I listened to the audio version of 'Cooking for Picasso' on CD and it was such a beautiful and relaxing experience that I was truly sad when the book was over. I primarily listen to audiobooks while driving in my car and I found myself purposefully taking longer routes and remaining in my vehicle even after reaching my destination in order to continue listening to this eloquent novel. Aubray's descriptive style and attention to detail made me feel like I was on holiday in the French Riviera, at a café in a little seaside village, enjoying authentic French cuisine, cooked to order and prepared with love.

My boyfriend is an inspiring chef who recently returned to school for a degree in culinary arts and he listened to most of this book along with me (which isn't at all typical behavior for him) and he was completely captivated by all the references to food preparation and cooking and all the detailed descriptions of French meals and the ingredients included to make them, as was I.

Overall, this book was an absolute joy and I feel I must give credit not only to the author, but also to the talented narrator, Mishandled Marino, who did a wonderful job giving voice to these three-dimensional, complex, characters and really bringing the story to life. The only complaint I have is a very minor one and more of a technical issue then one with the writing itself and that is that I felt like the narration speed was extremely slow and I would have liked the narrator to pick up the pace significantly because at times it felt like it was being read in slow motion to me. However, after a while I was able to adjust, somewhat, but I normally get my audio books from Audible, where I have the option of adjusting the narration speed and I normally set it to x1.5 or x2, when listening. But again, that is just a personal preference and, of course, no fault of the authors so it did not affect my ratings for this book to which I happily gave five out of five stars! I highly recommend this book, especially to those readers who enjoy beautifully descriptive writing, art lovers, or "foodies."
Bon appéti!

I received a complimentary copy of 'Cooking for Picasso' from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

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Monday, January 9, 2017

The Lace Reader (#1) by Brunonia Barry

The Lace Reader (The Lace Reader, #1)The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: September 1, 2007

I received an ARC of The Fifth Petal without realizing, initially, that it was book #2 in The Lace Reader series and I found myself intrigued enough from the description that, upon that realization, I purchased a copy of The Lace Reader from Audible.

After finishing this novel I'm a little bit confused by the storyline, specifically after certain revelations towards the end which I won't disclose, but overall it was a very complex story with a lot of moving parts and different characters and at times I found it difficult to keep everything and everybody sorted and straight. I had to go back and reread several passages and paragraphs on more than one occasion throughout the book, however, that could be attributed to the fact that it was an audio book with so many layers to it. That's the only reason why I rated this four out of five-stars opposed to giving it a five star review but other than that minor complaint I really enjoyed this novel a lot. I've noticed a lot of negative reviews for The Lace Reader on Goodreads which goes to show that you can't always go by the opinions of others because everyone's take is unique. I was especially attracted to the setting of this story, modern day Salem, Massachusetts, being a New England native myself and living just north of Salem in Portland, Maine I have visited the area several times and was therefore really able to connect to this story and visualize the different scenes. It even made reference to my home town of Portland and mentioned different landmarks that I frequently go to so that's always fun.

This story is told from the point of view of Towner, the female protagonist who returns home to Salem after years removed when she gets word that her beloved aunt has gone missing. Tower comes from a long line of Lace Readers who are gifted with the sight and can see premonitions of future events, among other supernatural abilities and are thought of as modern day witches of Salem. When Towner returns she is forced to face her haunting past filled with tragedy and family secrets that have nearly driven her crazy. Meanwhile a cult of religious fanatics run by Cal, an abusive preacher who has brought nothing but pain to the women in Towner's family, herself included, remains a constant threat while a good intentioned detective, with demons of his own, tries to bring Cal to justice before he can cause any more pain and damage. This is a very diverse book with a few fantasy/paranormal elements, a bit of myself and suspense and also a romantic triangle, or quartet rather, thrown in to really thicken the plot. It's about relationships, family, loss and grief and mental illness and also addresses domestic violence and the patterns of abuse that a battered woman suffers. Somehow Brunonia Barry was able to weave all these complex themes together to create a beautifully written, creatively original and undeniably unique novel that I really enjoyed and highly recommend to all female readers of fiction. I'm very much looking forward to reading the second book in The Lace Reader series, The Fifth Petal, in the very near future and I cannot wait to take another trip to Salem, Massachusetts.

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

A List of CagesA List of Cages by Robin Roe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Expected Publication Date: January 10, 2017

Oh my God what a book! What a heartbreaking, beautiful, horrible, story of human beings at their very worst and very best. I didn't know a lot about A List of Cages before I began reading it aside from the fact that it had two teenage protagonists- 14 year old Julian and 18 year old Adam Blake, so this book really caught me off guard and took me for one hell of an emotional ride! This book is full of "feels" so be prepared! It's beautifully written, with such a unique and powerful storyline that deals with several controversial issues including learning disabilities, the foster care system and mental health issues as well abuse and how to handle a situation when someone you know is being abused.

I really enjoyed reading this story and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone! It's hard for me to review this book because it's so unique and unlike anything I've read before. The narration alternates between the two protagonists, Adam and Julian, who have known each other since they were young children. They are now in high school, Adam a senior and Julian a freshman, and are reconnecting for the first time in several years since Julian moved in with an uncle after living with Adam in foster care for several months after his own parents died unexpectedly. They are both exceptional characters who I found myself completely attached to and invested in and by the end of the book I cared deeply for both of them in different ways.

I don't want to say too much about the plot but it's a great read and don't just take my word for it - get this book for yourself and read it! This book comes out on January 10 and I think it's going to be a huge hit in the ya world in 2017 and I'm very anxious to read more by Robin Roe!

I received an ARC of A List of Cages from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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