Throwback Thursday Review: Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey

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Title: A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey

Publication Date: January 7, 2014

Genre: Historical Paranormal YA

Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Synopsis: In 1814, three cousins—Gretchen, Emma, and Penelope—discover their secret family lineage of witchcraft when a binding spell is broken, allowing their individual magical powers to manifest. Now, beyond the manicured gardens and ballrooms of Regency London, an alluring underworld available only to those with power is revealed to the cousins. By claiming their power, the three cousins have accidentally opened the gates to the underworld. Now ghouls, hellhounds—and most terrifying of all, the spirits of dark witches known as the Greymalkin Sisters—are hunting and killing young debutante witches for their powers. And, somehow, Emma is connected to the murders…because she keeps finding the bodies. Can the cousins seal the gates before another witch is killed…or even worse, before their new gifts are stripped away?


 

I was first enraptured by the cover. I mean it is totally beautiful and mysterious, how could I not be drawn to it? As a huge English history fan I was excited to find it. I expected it to be a bit Steampunky with lots of debutante style romance. To an extent I was correct; however, I found the book a little more campy than I imagined, and that wasn’t necessarily a positive. Anyway, let me break this all down for you. 

What I liked: As I said, I’m a big fan of English historical drama, and this definitely had elements of that. Sure, it seemed a little modern at times, but I chalked that up to the author attempting to fit a whole secret society into an actual time setting. I thought that the author did a good job of maintaining certain aspects of the era without letting it completely overtake her story. That sounds weird, but that’s the best way I can describe it. I sort of imagined the world as a fantasy world similar to Regency England vs. actual Regency England. It worked and I don’t think the story would have worked as well in a more modern time. This book has a sweet romance at it’s center, which really tugged at my heartstrings. Sure there are some problems with our romantic leads, but instead of it being totally heartwrenching, I feel like the characters were more “I do what I want,” about the supposed obstacles. Needless to say, I didn’t come away from this book feeling like I was punched in the face. 

What I didn’t like: I felt like there were a lot of stories happening at once and I wasn’t necessarily interested in all of them. I skipped some sections, and when I start skipping sections I start feeling cheated. There is a sequel to this book that focuses on another character, so I understand why the author had all these smaller back stories, but it doesn’t mean I enjoyed them. I’m not one of those people who wants to read a sequel about a character I’m not really invested in; even if the characters I am invested in will be in said sequel.

Overall, this was a decent enough read. Didn’t leave me shouting from the rooftops one way or another 2/5

Review: Vendetta by Catherine Doyle

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Title: Vendetta by Catherine Doyle

Genre: Suspense, Romance YA

Publication Date: February 25, 2014

Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: When it comes to revenge, love is a dangerous complication.With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago.

When five brothers move into the abandoned mansion in her neighbourhood, Sophie Gracewell’s life changes forever. Irresistibly drawn to bad boy Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling into a criminal underworld governed by powerful families. As the boys’ dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. She must choose between two warring dynasties – the one she was born into, and the one she is falling in love with. When she does, blood will spill and hearts will break.


This was an impulse buy. Saw it in the store, knew nothing about the author, and picked it up just because I thought the story sounded interesting enough. I had buyers remorse directly afterwards. Did I really spend $20 on a book without reading reviews or doing any research? The only thing that kept me from returning it was I felt general excitement at the prospect of reading this story. So I kept it and a month later I finally read it. Throughout this whole experience I realized that as much as I love blogging and being part of the online book community, sometimes it effects what books I buy. I don’t go into the bookstore anymore just to browse around and make impulse purchases. Instead, I go in like a woman on a mission, grabbing the things on my list. I rely on a few trusted bloggers to color my opinions of certain books and I’m beginning to wonder if maybe I should take a break from reading other reviews. In part, I have Catherine Doyle and “Vendetta,” to thank for opening my eyes to the fact that it’s still okay to browse, and that’s how you sometimes find real gems. Enough about that though: on to the review!


What I liked: This book is full of positives. I mean really, really full of them. So full of them, I finished it in the span of two nights during my last week of finals teaching/tutoring. The story completely enraptured me from the first page. Doyle begins with a mystery and ends just as mysteriously. From the moment I opened the book she had me hooked as I was curious to know why our main character Sophie (or Persephone which is her much hated birth name) father is in prison. She seems like a normal enough girl, too normal to have a dad behind bars, and so I waited and waited for the mystery to be solved. When that was solved, another sprung into it’s place. Who were the mysterious and seriously hot boys who moved into town? These mysterious became interwoven, interlaced, and entangled, until I thought I would go crazy with anticipation if I didn’t uncover them soon. I’m a mystery lover and when it is done correctly it makes for a wonderful read. Catherine Doyle knows how to write a mystery. My second praise for this book was in the romance between Nic and Sophie. There weren’t a ton of scenes where the two interacted and somehow their relationship was not the central focus of the books, yet I was totally captured by their intensity. Nic is my perfect book boyfriend. Little bit of danger, little bit of the good guy, and lots of protective instinct. He can rescue me from the clutches of evil overlords any day of the week. The passion between Sophie and Nic is subtle but intense. Doyle spends a lot of time building little moments between the two into big moments. 

What I didn’t like: Wasn’t crazy about the ending. I have so many questions and it just kind of cuts. I needed more. My biggest contention was that no one called the mafia thing from day one. Let’s get out our mafia check list and see if these boys fit. Italian (Check) Super Intense/Kind of Dangerous (Check) Carry knives (Check) Know how to break and enter (Check) Live in a Big Creepy Mansion (Check) DING DING we have winners. Come on town of Cedar Hill, get it together.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I’m so glad I trusted my instincts. It was a stellar read with a very intense plot. 4/5

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books in My Beach Bag

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For this weeks Top Ten Tuesday as hosted by The Broke and Bookish is all about the ten books I’ll have in my beach bag this Summer. I don’t know about you guys but I am so excited to be on Summer break. No kiddos for me, which means lots of reading. Here are my top ten books for reading this Summer. 

1. A Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson: This has been sitting on my bookself for the last several months and I honestly just have not had time to read it. I have heard its amazing, and I’m a huge fan of fantasy, so I’m excited to pick it up and read. 

2. Trust Me I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer: Ugh. I finally got my hands on it and have had no time to read. A book about a female con artist with a murder mystery laid out sounds right up my alley.

3. Persuasion by Martina Boone: I have the ARC! I have the ARC! My excitement is astounding. This one is the top of my beach reading. I’ll be sipping something fruity and smelling like sun screen while I enjoy the story of Barrie and Eight.

4. Fall With Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout: What is a beach vacation without a good romance, and JLA is the Queen of New Adult. Luckily, I grabbed this one on an Amazon sale for .99cents.

5. Inspire by Cora Carmack: I am stocking up on some fantastic New Adult books and I adore Cora Carmack’s writing. Plus, I love her internet presence.

6. The Orphan Queen by Jodie Meadows: I am a little hesitant to start this one. I’ve read some mixed review, but I’m planning to pack it in a bag for if I take a break from the beach romance and move to the Princess fantasy.

7. Magnolia by Kristi Cook: A YA novel about two kids who hate each other but fall in love–check. It’s also set in the South and lord knows I love those thing

8. Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind: I love these and I’m convinced I can finish the series this Summer. #goals

9. Vendetta by Catherine Doyle: This was recommended to me by a friend and I’m excited to read it. It’s supposed to be a sort of Romeo and Juliet retelling, so I’m sure it’ll make for a swoony, gut wrenching read.

10. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: Every Summer I take one of the HP books with me on vacation. It’s like a security blanket. I like having something I know is good on standby.

 

So, these are the books I plan to pack in my beach bags. As you can see, I like a lot of variety, since I never know what I’ll be in the mood to grab. What books are you guys planning to take with you? 

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Places I Love to Read

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I am never good with the freebies. Never. So I struggled coming up with a good topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday as hosted by The Broke and Bookish. The suddenly my bedroom flooded and I was ousted to my living room. This seems like a weird nonsequeter but stay with me here. My bedroom is my sanctuary, the place where all my books live, where my comfiest blankets live, and where I go to escape. Now, that I’m not able to be in there, I’m having difficulty finding the best place to do some late night reading. It’s effecting me big time. So, I said to myself, I should do a Top 10 of Places I like to Read. 

1. My Room: My room is where all my books live. It’s also where I have a fabulous reclining chair, that is just cushioned enough that I’m comfortable without being so soft I sink. My room is also always freezing, which is how I like it especially for reading purposes. I can’t wait for all the water damage caused by my lovely upstairs neighbors to be fixed, so that I can once again enjoy my favorite spot. 

2. The Library: I love reading in the library, especially if I get a bay window seat. I live in D.C. so the view isn’t great, but I love the hustle and bustle of people. The one thing that effects me is that I get distracted by other books. Reading in the library is minimally effective for me.

3. The Metro: I take a book on the metro (or if you are from anywhere not D.C. or surrounding areas “The Train”). It breaks up the time between trips and if there’s a delay I get more of my reading done.

4. The Gym: Okay, this one is weird. I know. Everyone stares at me, but whatever. I’m a very active person, but I hate going to the gym. Running on the treadmill or doing the elliptical takes the fun out of exercising. I’d much rather be in a ballet class, at yoga, or hiking. But, when it’s -2 degrees outside I’m heading to the gym. Reading while I’m on the elliptical makes the time seem less excruciating and I’m likely to go more than 15 minutes. Plus, I completely found the best spot to lay my books!

5. My Desk: Sometimes when I have a break session I whip out that Kindle app to remind me that there is imagination in the world. Shhhh don’t tell.

6. The Airport/ Planes: I’m a nerd. Nothing excites me more than reading about a place before I actually get there. Somehow that travel guide is 100% more enthralling when I’m actually traveling.

7. Cafe inside Politics and Prose Bookstore: Coffee is my second favorite love. Give me a steamy latte and a great read, especially in the Winter. The only problem is this place is small with limited seating, so sometimes I feel bad taking a table to just read.

8. The Waterfront: I’m not much on the great outdoors. D.C. in the Summer is humid and gross, but we do have the magical Georgetown Waterfront. It’s a great place to have dinner, take a book, and enjoy your own company. Just don’t go during the weekend when it’s tourist central (unless you are a tourist. Then go!)

9. My living room: We have a great couch. Really. It’s memory foam and perfectly formed so that you can lean back on the cushions but not too far back. It’s also the main space for my roommates and I to get together. That means, it’s generally loudish. I can read through a nuclear bomb. In High School I was well known for reading under my desk while chaos erupted. Nothing fazes me when I’m in the zone, except for my roommates. We catch-up, we make plans, we decide to marathon Outlander, and whoosh I have zero time to read. Needless to say, until this work get’s done, I’m going to have to trek to another place to get some books finished.

 

So, that’s my list. Honestly, I can read anywhere, but these are my favorite places to make a conscious effort to go and read. How about you guys, any favorite places?

Review: Dream a Little Dream by Kersten Gier

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Title: Dream a Little Dream (Book one Silver Trilogy) by Kersten Gier

Publication Date: April 14th, 2015

Genre: YA Paranormal

Buy Links: Barnes and Noble; Amazon

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: Mysterious doors with lizard-head knobs. Talking stone statues. A crazy girl with a hatchet. Yes, Liv’s dreams have been pretty weird lately. Especially the one where she’s in a graveyard at night, watching four boys conduct dark magic rituals.

The strangest part is that Liv recognizes the boys in her dream. They’re classmates from her new school in London, the school where she’s starting over because her mom has moved them to a new country (again). But what’s really scaring Liv is that the dream boys seem to know things about her in real life, things they couldn’t possibly know–unless they actually are in her dreams? Luckily, Liv never could resist a good mystery, and all four of those boys are pretty cute.


 

I’m a big fan of Gier’s previous series The Ruby Red Trilogy, so I was excited to pick up a new title from her. After reading the book, I have to say that I have a lot of mixed emotions. On to the review: 

 

What I liked: As usual the writing was phenomenal. Gier really makes a tremendous effort to describe her world, which is particularly apparent when she describes the different dreamscapes that our main character Liv encounters. The idea of the dreamscapes is also interested and Gier does a great job of exploring the morality behind going into peoples dreams, which I appreciates.  For me the standout character was Liv’s little sister Mia. She brought the humor and sass and I loved her for it. There’s a particularly fun scene where she throws an apple at her her sister for being so dopey in love. I appreciated the levity she brought to the situation. 

What I meh-ed on: So there wasn’t anything I out and out disliked, but it was difficult for me to absolutely love certain things. I felt like this book had a lot of cliches. Liv is a gawky fifteen year old girl, who of course is somehow oblivious to the fact that all the boys are into her…I wanted to like Liv more but she just felt so blah. There really was not much about her that stood out for me. The boys were also very cliche. All beautiful, English, and well-off. Thrown in a little bad-boy danger and we’ve got our group. Normally, I wouldn’t mind so much cliche, but the premise of the book was so original that I felt like the multiple cliche’s really did the book a disservice and detracted from my initial interest.

Overall, I enjoyed the book well enough. I thought the writing and the story itself were really strong; however, I felt like there were a lot of typical YA cliche’s that detracted from the book. 3/5

Throwback Thursday Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

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Title: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Publication Date: September 18th, 2014

Genre: Paranormal YA

Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks

Synopsis: It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.


It has been a crazy long time since I have done a Throwback Thursday post. Really, I have no excuse outside of the fact that it is the end of the school year and I have been crazy busy with students. For this week, I decided to go back to the start of one of my favorite series, which incidentally will be wrapping up this Fall. I discovered “The Raven Boys,” this past Winter during an epic binge and read all the currently released books. I’m pumped for the next one and also a little weary of the death of my favorite character Gansey. It’s coming. Stiefvater has already confirmed, and it’s just a heartbreaking notion. Anyway, on to the review. 

 

What I liked: I was nervous when I first picked this book up, because usually I like my YA to be chalked full of romance and this didn’t seem to be that type. That being said, I enjoyed that this is more about the story and development of characters than the usually bad boy/good girl routine. I felt like I really engaged with the entire ensemble, which was unusual for me in a group this large. I obviously have a favorite, Gansey, but I enjoyed all the boys, Blue, and her family’s stories. Outside of this, there’s a certain element of mystery surrounding the actual plot of the book. There’s a bad guy, a dead King, and at times I was generally confused as to which plot I should be watching. In the end it all tied together pretty nicely and the sub-plots actually enriched the overall arch of the story. I’m a big fan of any book that adds in elements or folklore and History as seamlessly as this one does, and I’m anxious to get to the final chapter to see where this all goes. 

What I didn’t like: Knowing that Gansey will die. The entire time I read, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop on this one, it ended up being super stressful. I couldn’t enjoy the action because I kept waiting for the moment Gansey’s life would end. Gah!

Overall, this is a great entry way into an exciting series. After reading it, I became a huge fan. 4/5

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Authors I’d Love to Meet

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So this weeks Top Ten Tuesday as hosted by The Broke and the Bookish is all about the top ten authors I’d love to meet. Luckily, this is a pretty easy one fore me, unlike the last few weeks. 

1. J.K. Rowling: She’s my number 1 idol outside of my mom and Anne Boleyn. If I ever met her I’d probably hyperventilate and die. Dramatic but kind of true. 

2. Jennifer L. Armentrout: She has done a ton of signing in and around my area but I never seem to catch her. One of these day…

3. Sarah. J. Maas: I wasn’t a huge fan of the bit I read of the Throne of Glass series, but I love how she writes and I’d love to talk to her about her process. (Cause Imma nerd)

4. E.L. James: Okay, I have major mixed emotions on Fifty Shades of Grey and while it’s entertaining I don’t think it’s extremely well written. That all being said, I’m curious to meet the women who started a crazed phenomena in the Romance world.

5. Cassandra Clare: I’ve missed her at a couple of events, but I’d love to meet her. I’m a big fan of the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series, and the pre-teen nerd in me would die.

6.  Richelle Mead: Gahhhh. I’ve been reading Richelle for years, and have never been able to go to one of her events; mostly, because she seems to stick to the West Coast/Mid-West. Come to D.C. Richelle!!

7.  Maggie Stiefvater: Her twitter literally kills me. She seems like the type I’d want to drink tea with and ask crazy, silly question.

8. Gillian Flynn: Her mind must be a dark and twisty place, I love it.

9. Gena Showalter: I love Gena’s books and she has a wonderful social media presence. She just seems so nice and lovely and I’m a huge fan. Plus, she fosters dogs, which only adds to her awesome.

10. Mary E. Pearson: She twisted and turned my heart in “The Kiss of Deception,” so I feel the need to share that with her.

 

So, that is this week’s list. What did ya’ll think? Has anyone met some of these people?