Friday, August 7, 2015

Uprooted by Naomi Novik | Review

Uprooted by Naomi Novik | ReviewUprooted by Naomi Novik
Published by Del Rey on May 19th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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5 Stars

Naomi Novik, author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.

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

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

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

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

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

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I’m sure you have all heard about Uprooted by now but maybe a few of you haven’t been convinced  by the rave reviews.  Let me add my voice to the mix and attempt to make you realize how much you need this book in  your life.

Uprooted is one of those books that you want to both devour and savor.  There were so many times that I wanted to keep reading but I knew I’d be devastated when I reached the end.  I definitely forced myself to slow my pace with this one and I’m glad I did.  There was always so much going on that I really feel I would have missed something crucial had I not slowed down.

Agnieszka is a very odd girl but it’s understandable since she’s lived a very odd life.  Her best friend was raised basically as a sacrifice and she’s always known she would lose her.  However that isn’t what happens.  Instead Agnieszka is chosen by the Dragon and off she goes to be captive in his tower for 10 long years.  She is scared, clumsy, naive, and quite clueless.  There were times when I wanted to laugh at her crazy assumptions and other times when I wanted to smack some sense into her.

As for the Dragon, it’s not actually a dragon. He’s just a powerful wizard who protects the towns close to the Wood and definitely scares the crap out of most people.  He was beyond rude to Agnieszka but besides that he wasn’t all that scary.  Having lived as long as he had I feel that human interaction was not a big thing for him and I actually felt bad for him at times.

The Wood is the villain in Uprooted and it’s interesting how you can grow to hate a place.  Yes there was a person behind everything but the Wood itself was kind of its own character.  As for the creatures inhabiting the Wood, they were uniquely creepy.  I was terrified of what was going to happen next, both when they were in the Wood and when they weren’t.  Also, don’t expect everyone to make it out alive.  Naomi Novik shocked me quite a bit.  Just because they were a major player didn’t mean they were safe.

There is some romance involved and I absolutely loved it.  At first I was worried that it was going to be some weird thing with Agnieszka falling in love with her captor and yes that is what happened but it wasn’t weird at all.  They grew from captor and captive to equals and I loved how they pushed each others boundaries.  They were alike in some ways but their differences were what made them so compatible.  Every scene they were in together was perfect.  The sexy scenes were even better.  Ooh boy.

Overall, just go get a copy of Uprooted.  It’s an amazing novel that I plan to re-read many times in my future.  Also, buy the UK copy if you can.  It’s so gorgeous!

What others are saying about Uprooted:

Angieville’s review: “There is almost nothing not to love about Uprooted.”

Books, Bones, and Buffy’s review: “A glorious, intricate fantasy with strong horror elements, that drew me in and held me spellbound.”

There Were Books Involved’s review: “It’s a little bit dense — Uprooted isn’t YA — but if you give it the time it deserves, it is so worth it.”

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli | Review

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli | ReviewSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 7th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 303
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

picadillyblueSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of those books that has been getting a lot of buzz lately.  I truly do not think I have read a single bad review for this book and I’ll go ahead and tell you now that my review is going to be just as lovely as the rest.  Becky Albertalli’s debut novel was completely epic.  She is definitely one author I have added to my auto-buy list.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is unlike any book I’ve read.  It’s a romance and a mystery and a drama and so much more.  From the start of the book I was hooked and I probably only put the book down once and that was only because I was forced to at work.  The mystery of who Blue was kept me guessing until the end and while I did figure it out before the big reveal, it didn’t take anything away from my love of the book.  Like seriously, I’m not kidding when I say I squealed and maybe even threw in a fist pump when I discovered who Blue was.  Let’s just say I was pretty invested in the relationship by that time.   The interactions online between Blue and Simon were too cute and too perfect for words.  They built up this amazing relationship without even knowing who they were talking to.  Yes, Simon gave more clues than Blue about his identity but I think there was still a lot of mystery for Blue too.  And let me just say, things did not fizzle when they finally met in person.  No, in fact, things just got better from there.  I have a new favorite couple and it’s Simon and Blue.

The blackmail scheme bothered me so much.  I couldn’t believe anyone would threaten Simon the way Martin did.  I didn’t see Martin as this terrible person but he made some huge mistakes and he was definitely not someone I liked or could ever like.  I also hated that Simon didn’t ever do anything about it.  He went along with Martin’s scheme even though I thought he should have told someone.  I thought it was adorable how he wanted to protect Blue more than anything but Martin didn’t deserve to get away with what he did.

The friendships throughout the story were amazing.  Really all the relationships were fabulous.  Leah, Nick, and Simon had this bond from knowing each other for so long.  Sure there were times when they were at each other’s throats but it was easy to see how much they loved each other.  They had a true friendship without all that backstabbing and jealousy that seems to be present in so many friendships.  And while Abby wasn’t necessarily part of that original group, she was quickly finding her place with them and I thought she was a great addition to the group.  I loved the friendships but my favorite relationships in the book were definitely between Simon and his family.  They were so quirky and funny and they reminded me so much of my own family.  I don’t believe family plays a big enough role in most YA books and that was not the case with this one.  Sure Simon may have found his parents and siblings to be a little nosy but they cared about each other and all they wanted was to be involved.

Now let’s talk one minor thing that may not matter much to some people but that I really loved: Harry Potter.  Simon loved Harry Potter and he wasn’t afraid to show it.  The references to Harry Potter just made me smile.  I adored every little mention, no matter how small.  Simon Spier, will you be my best friend?

Oh and drunk Simon is possibly the cutest thing ever.  And Bieber!  I could go on and on about this book.

Overall, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a new addition to my list of favorite books.  I look forward to reading anything Becky Albertalli ever writes.  This book was just pure perfection.

What others are saying about Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda:

Prettybooks’ review: “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a majorly cute LGBT romance with awesome friends, many adorable moments, and a lot of laughs.”

Writability’s review: “5/5 stars to this one for sure, and I can’t wait to see what Albertalli comes up with next.”

The Tales Compendium’s review: “As I said before, I didn’t want Simon to end, I was just so happy being in Simon’s world.”

Monday, August 3, 2015

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas | Review

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewCrown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #2
on August 27th 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 418
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
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5 Stars

"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie... and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

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You guys, why did I ever expect a happy ending from Sarah J. Maas?  I really should have known better but I was still completely unprepared to have my heart broken by this series for the billionth time!  Crown of Midnight was full of shocking twists, horrifying betrayals, and more secrets than I could possibly keep track of.

So Celaena became the King’s Champion and now she has to put her badass assassin skills to use for someone she absolutely hates. Not only that, the king has her killing people for really dumb reasons and Celaena can’t stand it.  She may be an assassin but she’s always been able to choose which contracts she takes and who she actually kills.  She no longer has that choice.  What’s even worse is that her friends now look at her differently because of what she is forced to do for the king.  Nehemia, Chaol, and Dorian don’t like the person she has become but she’s really not different, she just acts like she is.  Celaena definitely puts on a front for the king, acting completely unaffected by what she does.  Underneath that facade she does have feelings though and she hates what she does.  She’s the same person she’s always been and she has one goal in mind: her freedom.  If that means she has to appear to be working for the king, she will do it and she won’t put her friends lives at risk by telling them what she’s really doing.  She may be selfish at times but Celaena is a loyal friend, that’s for sure.

Nehemia, Chaol, and Dorian really tested my limits this time around.  Nehemia really bothered me at times.  I understood where she was coming from when she tried to get Celaena to stand up for what was right but she was downright mean about it sometimes.  Nehemia’s people were being tortured, enslaved, and killed so she definitely had a right to want to fight for them and to be upset but she took things a little too far when she called Celaena a coward.  Chaol didn’t  bother me all that much but he made some mistakes when he kept certain things from Celaena.  Things could have been prevented if he just bothered to talk to her.  I’m not saying everything that happened could have been prevented but definitely some things.  Dorian, on the other hand, really impressed me.  Dorian is a prince but he is so far from spoiled.  He is smart and talented and kind and if he is allowed, he will become a great ruler.  I still don’t necessarily think he should be with Celaena but she could do a lot worse.

Speaking of who Celaena should end up with… I’m truly torn here.  Chaol is a great guy and I loved seeing his relationship with Celaena evolve but there are just certain things about him that I dislike.  He has a problem accepting all aspects of Celaena and I hated that.  She is who she is and he should not want her to change in any way.  I felt that at least Dorian accepted all of her.  They still work better as friends to me but I could understand why she might fall for him, if that ever happens.

The story is so twisted and convoluted.  I powered through this book when I probably should have taken my time with it.  Sarah J. Maas layers so many things throughout her stories that sometimes it takes a second glance to realize what exactly is happening and what it could mean for the future books.  I continue to be impressed with her storytelling skills.

I feel like at this point I don’t even need to say this but I’m going to anyway; nothing and nobody is safe.  I knew from other peoples’ reviews and reactions to Crown of Midnight that something big was going to happen and it was going to affect the fate of one of the main characters.  I didn’t know which one and I truly did not expect what happened.  I was stunned.  Sarah J. Maas makes you fall in love with her characters and then completely destroy you when you least expect it.  I love her and hate her for that.

Overall, Crown of Midnight does not suffer from second book syndrome.  This series does not lose an ounce of momentum in this sequel.  It sets things up for an epic third book!

What others are saying about Crown of Midnight:

Book Rock Betty’s review: “Fantasy readers will love this series.”

Mostly YA Book Obsessed’s review: “It doesn’t get any better than Celaena Sardothien!”

Writer of Wrongs’ review: “Crown of Midnight is an action-packed, rollercoaster ride of a book that will make mincemeat of your emotions, and it is, I feel, an improvement on the already glorious Throne of Glass.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway | Review

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway | ReviewEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Published by HarperTeen on June 23rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

picadillyblue Ever since I read Audrey, Wait! a few years ago I’ve been wanting to read another of Robin Benway’s books. For some reason I only just now got around to doing that but I’ll go ahead and say that it was worth the wait.  Emmy & Oliver was just what I was looking for.

Emmy, Oliver, Drew, and Caro were best friends growing up and Emmy, Drew, and Caro remained best friends even after Oliver’s disappearance.  While Drew and Caro felt Oliver’s loss, it was nothing compared to how it affected Emmy.  When Oliver returns 10 years later, Drew, Caro, and Emmy don’t exactly know what to do with him.  He’s not the same boy that left them and they aren’t the same people that he used to know and none of them realize exactly how his return is going to affect their lives.

The friendship aspect of this book was by far one of my favorite things.  Emmy, Drew, and Caro were so perfect together.  They really had been best friends since they were extremely young so they knew everything about each other and they went through everything together.  They accepted each others random quirks and they were not afraid to do completely goofy stuff together.  (The Beatles thing cracked me up.)  Having Oliver come back changed everything for them.  At one point it had been the four of them but that was a completely different Oliver.  That’s not to say they didn’t welcome him back though because they did.  There were bumps along the way but even after all those years, he was still their friend and they proved that time and again.

The romance was something that you will see coming from a mile away (I mean, hello, the title says it all) but that didn’t detract from it at all.  In fact, it may have made it even better.  It was so fun to see Emmy and Oliver attempt to come back from everything and really start over.  There were things they remembered from growing up together but a lot of stuff was completely new to them.  It was kind of a conundrum since their relationship seemed to progress rather quickly but it was also something that probably would have grown from friendship to more over the years if Oliver hadn’t been taken.  I have never had a problem with instalove and I don’t think that’s really the case with Emmy and Oliver but at times it does come across that way.

The kidnapping aspect was something that has definitely been done before but I liked Robin Benway’s spin on it.  Oliver never saw his dad as the bad guy.  He was the one who wanted him and he always thought that his mom didn’t.  He comes to find out that that was not the case but it’s been 10 years and it’s hard to change the way you view people overnight.  Being back with his mom, with her new husband and twin daughters, throws him for a loop.  Add to that the fact that everyone wants him to help get his dad arrested and Oliver is a really confused guy.  I felt so bad for him.  His dad never meant to hurt him but he did.  I don’t approve or condone what he did but let’s just say that Oliver wasn’t the only one that I ended up feeling bad for.  His dad loved him and was afraid that he would lose him if he didn’t do something so he took some drastic measures.

Also, the only books I’ve ever read about this subject were told from the point of view of the kidnap victim.  This one was different because it was told from the point of view of someone that was left behind.  Emmy was Oliver’s next door neighbor and best friend before he left.  His parents were also good friends with Emmy’s parents.  That meant that everything that happened to Oliver, Emmy’s parents knew about and it changed how they parented and controlled Emmy’s life.  Emmy became extremely sheltered and anything she wanted to do, she had to take into her own hands.  She had to hide aspects of her life because her parents would be terrified if they knew about them.  I actually really liked that Robin Benway chose to show how the kidnapping would affect not just the family of the victim but also the people around the victim.  It was a fresh take on things.

Overall, Emmy and Oliver was a lot deeper than I expected but also still managed to contain tons of love, laughter, and friendship.  I’m definitely not waiting this long before I read another of Robin Benway’s books.

What others are saying about Emmy & Oliver:

Adventures in Reading’s review: “I’m so glad that I stuck with this book. I ended up really enjoying it.”

The Perpetual Page Turner’s review: “OMG DID I REALLY JUST READ THAT IN 4 HOURS? I DIDN’T MEAN TO. OOPS. OH WELL. SO GOOD.”

YA Midnight Reads’ review: “Sure, there is a hella adorable romance… but at it’s core, Benway’s story is one about friendship, growing up, making your own path in life, and more importantly, family.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak | Review

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak | ReviewThe Heartbreakers by Ali Novak
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 4, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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3 Stars

"When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. Unbeknownst to him, I was the only girl in the world who hated his music."

Since Cara's health has been deteriorating, all Stella Walter can think about is trying to cheer her sister up. Her life revolves around Cara to the point where Stella drops out of one of the country's top photography programs so she can spend what little time she has left with her sick sister.

With Cara's birthday around the corner, Stella wants to get her the perfect gift. An autographed poster of her sister's favorite boy band should do the trick. Sounds simple enough, right? But life isn't always so easy.

Not only does Stella hate The Heartbreakers because of their terrible music, but when she realizes that the cute boy she met at Starbucks is really Oliver Perry, the lead singer of the band, her life seems to spin out of control...

Will Stella be able to swallow her pride and get the autograph that she so desperately needs to make Cara happy? And will Oliver be able to show Stella how to live her own life again?

Meet... The Heartbreakers.

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I have a weakness for books involving romance between celebrities and normal people. The Heartbreakers features that and while it was a fun aspect, it just wasn’t enough to make me love the book as a whole.

The Heartbreakers hooked me from the start and kept me entertained to the very end. I read the whole book in a matter of hours. For a contemporary novel, there is enough going on that I never felt bored or that it was just about the romance. There is more going on than just the romance between Stella and Oliver. The Heartbreakers almost could be classified as new adult because Stella and her siblings are at the point where they are trying to discover who they are and what they want to do with their lives. And of course there is also the fact that Stella’s sister has cancer. That plays a big role in the book as well.

The characters were mediocre. Oliver was pretty swoony but he didn’t have a ton else going for him. As for Stella, I found her to be quite scared. She used her sister’s illness to protect herself from possible heartache. She was also quite rude at times. I understood her dislike for The Heartbreakers but they were still just people who didn’t really deserve her anger. Don’t get me wrong though , I liked her feisty temper. I related to it and it made me laugh quite a bit.

The friendships and relationships made The Heartbreakers more than just an okay book. Starting out, I loved the relationship of Stella and her two siblings (triplets). They loved each other quite a bit. They were more like friends with an unbreakable bond. I was disappointed not to see more of this though because it didn’t play a huge role after the first part of the book. The second part focused more on the bond between the members of The Heartbreakers. They were friends that acted more like family. The pranks they played were hilarious. Sure they fought but they loved each other like brothers. They also accepted Stella into this family. Everyone but Oliver treated her like their little sister, teasing her, protecting her, and loving her. They were adorable.

The romance was very back and forth. I felt that Oliver and Stella needed to speak up and just say what they wanted. I know the book would have been a lot shorter that way but they were really immature about things. If they just accepted what they wanted and were willing to ask for them they would have been much happier people and I wouldn’t have felt like slapping them so much. There were quite a few moments where I saw where things were going and just wanted to stop them before everything fell apart.

The celebrity aspect was interesting in The Heartbreakers because Ali Novak portrayed the boys as normal people. There were definitely things that showed their fame but overall they were pretty down-to-Earth guys. Seeing them with each other and with their families just made it sink in that they were normal people deep down.

Overall, The Heartbreakers was a fun, fast read that I completely devoured. It’s a good read for a rainy day but don’t expect anything complex or profound.

What others are saying about The Heartbreakers:

Of Paper and Words’ review: “Overall, The Heartbreakers is a cheesy romance book with an ability to keep me reading.”

Real Rad Reads’ review: “I haven’t lost faith in her completely, but this novel did lower the bar.”

tumbling in books’ review: “If you’re looking for a fluff read, THE HEARTBREAKERS would be the book for you.”

Friday, July 24, 2015

Blog Tour: A School for Brides by Patrice Kindl | Review

Blog Tour: A School for Brides by Patrice Kindl | ReviewA School for Brides: A Story of Maidens, Mystery, and Matrimony by Patrice Kindl
Series: Keeping the Castle #2
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on July 14th 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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4 Stars

The eagerly awaited companion to the award-winnng Keeping the Castle.The Winthrop Hopkins Female Academy of Lesser Hoo, Yorkshire, has one goal: to train its students in the feminine arts with an eye toward getting them married off. This year, there are five girls of marriageable age. There’s only one problem: the school is in the middle of nowhere, and there are no men.Set in the same English town as Keeping the Castle, and featuring a few of the same characters, here’s the kind of witty tribute to the classic Regency novel that could only come from the pen of Patrice Kindl!

picadillyblueA School For Brides, the companion to Keeping the Castle, is an adorable read.  Having read Keeping the Castle, I was intrigued enough to come back to this setting once again.  While A School For Brides can definitely be read as a standalone, it reminded me why I enjoyed Keeping the Castle so much.

Like I said, this can totally be read as a standalone.  I read Keeping the Castle a few years ago and I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read since that time so it’s not like that story was fresh in my mind when I started this one.  I only very vaguely recalled what happened and the characters from that story only make a couple appearances throughout A School For Brides.  This story focuses on a new cast of characters and they are quite a mix!

The girls at the Winthrop Hopkins Female Academy of Lesser Hoo, Yorkshire are technically there to be educated and trained in the arts that they will require to run a household.  They all know they are really there to find husbands though.  That’s harder than they imagined though since Lesser Hoo only has one eligible bachelor and he’s not one that anyone is terribly interested in marrying.  That all changes though.  When an accident causes a young bachelor to break his leg and be forced to move into the Academy, he brings some friends along and the young girls at the Academy suddenly have quite an array of men to choose from.

The girls were all extremely unique.  Some of them were younger and didn’t play a huge role in the story but their antics were cute.  The older girls who were of marrying age were determined to make something out of all the young men suddenly in Lesser Hoo.  Each girl really found her match in some way or another.  The men and women varied from incredibly intelligent to rather clueless.  However, each one had something different to offer the story.  Some of them were clearly there for humorous reasons and they definitely played their parts well.  I found myself giggling a time or two while reading A School for Brides.

The story really reads like a Jane Austen novel or something similar to that.  It’s definitely historical fiction, that’s for sure.  I got a bit annoyed with all the talk of how women were inferior and only required to run a household once they got married.  I understand that that is how people saw things back then but it was a bit repetitive.  There were definitely some girls at the Academy though who put that idea out of their minds and did what they wanted.  I appreciated that.

Also, while it is a story about girls searching for husbands, it’s not really a romance.  Being set in the time and location that it is, romance was very different.  It’s nothing like a romance today.  It was very chaste and slow moving.  Like I said, very much like a Jane Austen novel.  The romance aspect was extremely cute though so I liked it.

Overall, A School for Brides is perfect for fans of historical fiction and Jane Austen novels.  It was fun seeing the cameos from Keeping the Castle and I enjoyed revisiting Lesser Hoo.  If you ever get the chance to read these books, I would recommend them.

What others are saying about A School for Brides:

The Psychotic Nerd’s review: “This was a very quick and easy read with charming fun!”

The Book Cellar’s review: “A School for Brides is an absolutely charming read that captures everything I love about a good historical fiction read.”

And if that’s not enough to convince you, check out this super cute limerick from the author!

Limerick 3
Limerick #3

Once there was a girl with a brain,
Stuffed to the brim with knowledge arcane.
She spoke Latin and Greek
(These days we’d call her a geek)
And she dwelt on a cerebral plane.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings #1) by J.R. Ward | Review

The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings #1) by J.R. Ward | ReviewThe Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings, #1) by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #1
Published by Penguin Publishing Group on July 28th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood delivers the first novel in an enthralling new series set amid the shifting dynamics of a Southern family defined by wealth and privilege—and compromised by secrets, deceit, and scandal.... For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet. For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets. As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.

picadillyblueI’ve always been a fan of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series so when I was given the chance to check out The Bourbon Kings, I jumped at it.  It’s extremely different from what I’ve read of hers but I think it will appeal to her fans.

J.R. Ward is a master at weaving together the storylines of many different characters.  While the synopsis makes it seem like The Bourbon Kings is a story of Lizzie and Lane, it’s actually so much more that that.  It’s a story about the Bradford family as a whole, specifically Lane, Edward, and Gin.  They do have another brother, Max, who I’m hoping will pop up in the next book.  Edward was extremely gruff but his circumstances broke my heart.  He and Sutton had such a crazy relationship but I’m rooting for them.  Gin also has some rough times.  I liked her even though she made some stupid choices.  It seemed like she really wanted someone to love her and she was looking in all the wrong places.  As for Lane and Lizzie, I truly adored how they butt heads but still fall for each other.  Lizzie was a strong heroine but she seemed almost a little too perfect.  I wanted more flaws from her.  Lane was very much a typical J.R. Ward love interest but hey, why fix what isn’t broken?  He was rich and cultured but also seriously messed up due to his family.

The story is so much more than a romance.  There is mystery,  intrigue, scandal, and murder.  Yeah there is romance too but it’s not all The Bourbon Kings has going for it.  Clearly J.R. Ward has a type of story that works for her and she sticks with it.  The romance underlies everything going on but it’s not the focal point of the story.  Also, while most things appear tied up at the end of the book, it’s clear that this will be a series.  I had so many unanswered questions at the end of The Bourbon Kings but it just has me even more excited for the sequel.

For a J.R. Ward novel, it was pretty tame as far as sex.  There were actually very few sex scenes and only one was between Lizzie and Lane.  I was surprised but pleased by this.  There was just so much more to this story than sex.  There is one scene that is pretty rough to read.  I don’t want to give anything away but there is one non-consensual scene.  Just be warned about that before starting this one.

As for the whole bourbon making stuff, it was very interesting although not a huge part of the story.  There was a lot more about the actual money side of things and I loved seeing everything to do with the lifestyles of the rich and famous.  Not everything was as perfect as it seemed at first glance.

Overall, The Bourbon Kings is a wonderful start to a new series that I know I’ll be addicted to.  Go into this one with an open mind and I think you’ll enjoy it.  J.R. Ward as a contemporary author definitely works for me.

What others are saying about The Bourbon Kings:

Fresh Fiction’s review: “Not your average Contemporary Romance, THE BOURBON KINGS is rife with scandal, forbidden love and twists and turns no one will see coming!”

My Para Hangover’s review: “This book reads more like a (cough) soap opera but on fast forward.”

Alexa Loves Books’ review: “In spite of my slight reservations towards the romance, I really wound up enjoying The Bourbon Kings.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas | Review

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewThrone of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's on August 7th 2012
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 404
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

"Nothing is a coincidence. Everything has a purpose. You were meant to come to this castle, just as you were meant to be an assassin."When magic has gone from the world, and a vicious king rules from his throne of glass, an assassin comes to the castle. She does not come to kill, but to win her freedom. If she can defeat twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition to find the greatest assassin in the land, she will become the King's Champion and be released from prison.Her name is Celaena Sardothien.The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her.And a princess from a foreign land will become the one thing Celaena never thought she'd have again: a friend.But something evil dwells in the castle—and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying, horribly, one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival—and a desperate quest to root out the source of the evil before it destroys her world.

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Where do I even begin with this one?  I was going to do mini reviews for this series but there is just too much I want to say about each book.  I started with The Assassin’s Blade so I felt like I was already invested in Celaena’s story when I started this one.  Maybe that explains why I just devoured this book in less than a day.

Celaeana’s story picks up a year after the end of The Assassin’s Blade.  If you haven’t read the novellas, that’s okay too but I felt like it was a great introduction and they really set things up perfectly for Throne of Glass.  Celaena is approached by the crown prince of Adarlan.  He tells her she can stay in Endovier or she can go with him and compete to be the King’s Champion.  If she wins she will have to serve as his Champion for 4 years but then she will earn her freedom.  Needless to say, she goes with Dorian.

Characters are everything to me and the characters in Throne of Glass are epic.  Celaena Sardothien is a 17 year old girl who is trained as an assassin and has spent the past year as a slave in the salt mines of Endovier.  She’s fierce and badass but also very scarred and troubled.  Her past is somewhat of a mystery but what readers do know is that she has never had trouble killing people and she shouldn’t have any trouble becoming the King’s Champion.  I loved her cockiness and there were a few times when I just wanted to laugh at her antics.  She does not lack confidence, that’s for sure.  I can’t possibly go into detail about all the characters but I’ll mention Dorian and Chaol.  I mean, I have to.  There is a bit of a love triangle but who cares?  I’d be torn too if I had both of them as options.  Dorian is the Crown Prince but he’s nothing at all like his father.  He could truly do good on the throne.  He’s a kind person with a sense of humor and serious smarts.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s also described as being extremely handsome.  Chaol is not supposed to be as handsome as Dorian and his personality isn’t all that great at first but he definitely grew on me.  He was the only one who saw exactly what Celaena was capable of and yes he was a bit of an ass to her because of that but he had good reasons.  Oh and I can’t forget Nehemia.  She’s another badass female lead that was a perfect fit for Celaena.

The story is dark and twisted and while I definitely saw some things coming, I was taken by surprise a couple times.  There is something evil lurking in the castle and it’s taking care of some of the competition, that’s for sure.  The thing I really loved about Throne of Glass though was how everything, no matter how small something seemed, tied together in the end.  The thing lurking in the castle that’s taking out the Champions isn’t just a threat to the Champions.  It’s also somehow related to the king and his plans that really aren’t good for anyone, anywhere.

The history surrounding magic and Celaena and the kingdom was fascinating and something that definitely needs to be expanded on in the future books.  As the first book in the series though, Throne of Glass does a great job setting things up and showing what could come in the future for Celaena and everyone around her.  Maas hints at some things and she really does a great job getting you intrigued enough to keep reading.

Overall, Throne of Glass is pretty damn epic.  It’s got romance and magic and mystery and betrayal and friendships and really just everything I could have ever wanted.  Just read it already!

Also, forgive me for writing this review that is all over the place.   Let me just say, I’ve already read Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire and I’ve kinda gotten them all mixed up and don’t want to spoil things for anyone who hasn’t read them.

What others are saying about Throne of Glass:

Dawn of Books’ review: “I’d recommend Throne of Glass to readers who enjoy YA fantasy as well as to those who have been feeling hesitant to pick it up.”

Knite Writes’ review: “If you enjoy YA in general, you’ll probably like Throne of Glass, especially if you don’t mind a younger tone.”

Shanny Reads’ review: “I also thought the premise of the book was unique and captivating.”

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas | Review

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewThe Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1-#0.5) by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury Childrens on March 13th 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 430
Format: Hardcover
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Celaena Sardothien owes her reputation to Arobynn Hamel. He gave her a home at the Assassins' Guild and taught her the skills she needed to survive.

Arobynn's enemies stretch far and wide - from Adarlan's rooftops and its filthy dens, to remote islands and hostile deserts. Celaena is duty-bound to hunt them down. But behind her assignments lies a dark truth that will seal her fate - and cut her heart in two forever...

picadillyblueThe Assassin and the Pirate Lord (#0.1):

As a first introduction to Celaena Sardothien, this was a pretty good one.  She may be an assassin but she has morals.  The Assassin and the Pirate Lord showcased her skills as well as her softer side.  It also did a great job showing the relationship between Sam and Celaena.  While the synopsis of The Assassin’s Blade gave away the future of their relationship, I could definitely see it coming even without the hint.  They have a spark even with all the “hatred” they have for each other.  Their banter was adorable and they really worked well together.

The Assassin and the Healer (#0.2):

This one seemed a bit unnecessary to me.  There wasn’t a whole lot of content in The Assassin and the Healer, at least not really any that seemed super important to the story.  It really just seemed more like a bridge between Pirate Lord and Desert.  I liked the introduction of the healer and I’m kind of expecting her to make an appearance sometime later in the series.  I have no idea if that will actually happen but I’d love to know what happens to her after Celaena leaves.  Really this one just showed how badass Celaena is and that she has a temper.  Nothing new there.

The Assassin and the Desert (#0.3):

I loved The Assassin and the Desert.  It was the first time I really felt like I was getting to know Celaena.  This was one of the longer novellas and it really added depth to her character.  I saw a lot of good in her here but also her selfish side.  She was very cocky and I admit, there were times I wasn’t all that impressed with her.  I liked seeing her knocked down a peg or two but I hated seeing her hurt emotionally.  This is one girl who can take whatever you throw at her but emotions are difficult for her.  I could really see that here.

I’ll also go ahead and mention, I started the novellas before I read the rest of the series and this is one that I feel was good to have read first.  Events from this one come to play later on in the series, that’s for sure.

The Assassin and the Underworld (#0.4):

This is where things got interesting.  Things between Celaena and Sam are different after her return from the Red Desert and I both loved and hated it.  They were so strong willed and stubborn that neither wanted to admit that things had changed.  Seeing Celaena get jealous sucked but it forced her to realize what she felt for Sam.  Other than the relationship front though, things really changed here.  Celaena’s mission was challenging and from the start, I knew there was something going on with it.  I won’t give anything away, obviously, but let me just tell you, I was pissed at the end.  I have never hated someone as much as I hate Arobynn Hamel.

The Assassin and the Empire (#0.5):

Speaking of hatred for Arobynn Hamel… I didn’t think it was possible to hate him more than I did at the end of The Assassin and the Underworld but I was so wrong.  I knew something bad was going to happen in The Assassin and the Empire but I had no clue how bad it was going to be.  Prepare for tears with this one.  Just have a box of tissues on hand.  I sobbed like a baby and I couldn’t stop thinking about this one long after I finished it.  In fact, it still breaks my heart just thinking about it.  This one really changed everything for Celaena and if you didn’t love her before, you will now.

Overall, these novellas flow perfectly.  I honestly felt like The Assassin’s Blade read as a book rather than a collection of novellas.  It was a great introduction to Celaena Sardothien, her story, and the world of the Throne of Glass books.  I definitely recommend reading these before you get into the Throne of Glass series and don’t worry if things don’t seem super exciting at first.  They pick up really quickly.

What others are saying about The Assassin’s Blade:

Beauty and the Bookshelf’s review: “Sometimes novellas seem kind of pointless, but these are totally not.”

Utterly Bookish’s review: “That’s it, I can’t hold it back anymore: I am completely in love with Sarah J. Maas and her books.”

Readers in Wonderland’s review: “If you haven’t started this amazing series, you really should!”

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Blog Tour: Survive the Night by Danielle Vega | Review + Interview

Blog Tour: Survive the Night by Danielle Vega | Review + Interview

Blog Tour: Survive the Night by Danielle Vega | Review + InterviewSurvive the Night by Danielle Vega
Published by Penguin on July 7th 2015
Genres: Horror
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

We're all gonna die down here. . . .  Just back from rehab, Casey regrets letting her friends Shana, Julie, and Aya talk her into coming to Survive the Night, an all-night, underground rave in a New York City subway tunnel. Surrounded by frightening drugs and menacing strangers, Casey doesn’t think Survive the Night could get any worse...   ...until she comes across Julie’s mutilated body in a dank, black subway tunnel, red-eyed rats nibbling at her fingers. Casey thought she was just off with some guy—no one could hear her getting torn apart over the sound of pulsing music. And by the time they get back to the party, everyone is gone.   Desperate for help, Casey and her friends find themselves running through the putrid subway tunnels, searching for a way out. But every manhole is sealed shut, and every noise echoes eerily in the dark, reminding them they’re not alone.   They’re being hunted.   Trapped underground with someone—or something—out to get them, Casey can’t help but listen to Aya’s terrified refrain: “We’re all gonna die down here.”From the Hardcover edition.

picadillyblueDanielle Vega has done it.  She not only managed to scare the crap out of me, she also managed to tell a captivating story that kept me hooked from start to finish.  Survive The Night seriously impressed me.

The whole book takes place over one night and I can’t tell you how much I love stories like that.  Casey and her friends set out for a night of adventure and instead they get a night of terror.  The Survive the Night rave takes place once a year in the abandoned subway tunnels beneath New York City.  There have always been rumors that people are killed in the subway but nobody really takes those rumors seriously.  That all changes when Casey stumbles upon the body of her friend Julie, gruesomely murdered by someone or something hidden in the subway tunnels.  And, of course, instead of being able to leave the same way they entered the subway, their way is blocked and they must set off through the tunnels to find a way out before it’s too late.

To be completely honest, the characters weren’t the greatest but I didn’t care that much about that.  Casey was the only one that I really ended up liking.  She made some serious mistakes but she was trying to change things.  She was easily led astray by people that she thought were her friends.  Shana was bad news.  She drugged Casey, she encouraged her bad habits, and she betrayed her every chance she got.  I wanted her to get what was coming to her.  Casey did not deserve how her supposed friend treated her.  As for Aya and Julie, they cracked me up but they weren’t anything too special.  Sam and Woody were the same way.  Sam seemed like a sweetheart but he had some secrets and he hurt Casey too.  He was just so judgmental.  I didn’t like that about him.

The creep factor was definitely up there with this one, at least for me.  I admit to being easily scared but books don’t usually have that capability.  That was not the case with Survive the Night.  There was a lot of gore but that wasn’t the only scare thing.  I never knew what was going to happen from page to page.  I didn’t have a clue who or what was coming for Casey and her friends.  I was jumpy and biting my nails from start to finish.

Overall, Survive the Night was everything I hoped it would be.  Danielle Vega’s sophomore novel is one that I will surely be recommending to all horror fans and anyone looking to give the genre a try.

What others are saying about Survive the Night:

Good Books and Good Wine’s review: “This pink covered book reads like a horrific thrill ride.”

Escape Through the Pages’ review: “I will definitely be checking out Danielle Vega’s other book The Merciless and recommend Survive the Night to anyone looking for a little creepy in their life.”

Interview with Danielle Vega

Describe Survive the Night in 140 characters or less!

When an illegal rave turns deadly, 5 teens must fight their way through the abandoned NYC subways while someone hunts them from the shadows.

Have you always been a horror fan? Do you prefer horror books or movies? What’s your favorite?

I have been a horror fan since I was a very tiny child. My mom never shielded me from scary movies and books, in fact she used to read me Stephen King to help me get to sleep. I can’t choose between books and movies—they’re too different and wonderful in their own special ways. Favorite horror novel is HOUSE OF LEAVES, favorite movie is SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? What’s your inspiration?

Yup, I’ve pretty much always wanted to be a writer. There really isn’t one person or career that I look to for inspiration, but I love hearing about other writers’ journeys. Recently, I found Amy Poehler’s honesty about the writing process in YES PLEASE very refreshing, and Stephen King’s ON WRITING is a classic for a reason. Writing is such a hard, weird, crazy job and I love hearing about how people end up doing it for a living. The stories are always good.

Do you have any must haves while you’re writing?

Coffee! I’ve also recently become addicted to Muji pens, and had a minor panic attack this morning when I thought I forgot it.

Can you share anything about what you’re currently working on?

I have a novel called BURNING coming out in April 2016 under the name Danielle Rollins—it’s been called Orange is the New Black meets Carrie. But the book I’m writing now is a secret! Be prepared for boys and bunnies and blood.