Sunday, July 29, 2012

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire


Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful, #1)
The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand. 

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.


BEFORE READING:
After seeing all the hype, I've decided to give it a try.
It seems like people either really love this book or really hate it.
I wonder which one I'll be...

AFTER READING:
Okay, I needed a while to process all of that. I can see why this book has gotten such strong reactions. Honestly, I'm a little unsure of my opinion at this point. I can see why some people were offended. But I can also see why some people loved this book.

Okay, first, let me talk about Abby. She is nice, smart, with a bad past that draws sympathy. And this girl is way more forgiving than I could ever be. Sometimes, that came out as a character flaw. But others, I thought that a forgiving person is exactly what Travis needs. He's impulsive and hot-headed and doesn't always mean what he does or says. He needs someone to be able to forgive him and put him in his place at the same time. Abby was that person. When that worked, I liked Abby.

But sometimes, it made her just seem weak-willed. Like when Travis beat up a guy right in front of her because he said something suggestive. That was not okay, but Abby treated it like it was. If I was her, I would tell Travis to find the nearest anger management class before he ended up arrested. It was moments like these that I thought Abby was a weak character. I understand that being with Travis requires a person to forgive and forget. But he also needed to be put in his place, and, though Abby claimed she was doing that, she never actually did. Unless you count leaving without a word a set down. And I don't. That just exacerbated the whole problem. It made him angry and depressed and the boy never actually knew what he did wrong, so he never actually fixed it.

 And sometimes, I just wanted to shake some sense into her. She was incredibly frustrating. I think two or three times, she vows to stay away from Travis. She storms off, stays diligently away from him, all the while pining for him, then they somehow end up together, have make up sex, and everything is just fine and dandy. WTF!?!?! Are you serious? Pick one, would you, you either love him or hate him. Stop putting everyone through hell and back with your stupid drama because you can't seem to make a decision. I have a love/hate relationship with her, just like I do with just about everything in this book. I liked her sometimes. She's nice, caring, smart. But sometimes, I literally wanted to slap some sense into her.

Before I go into the particulars about their relationship, let me just talk about Travis himself. I don't understand why he's messed up. He had problems in his past with his family, but now they're all fine, a happy, albeit dysfunctional, family. So why does he have so many issues? Abandonment issues, commitment issues, this guy would be a therapists nightmare. But why? And I really didn't appreciate his treatment of women. I honestly don't care if he likes one night stands. But what I do care about is the fact that he treated women like tools for his own pleasure before discarding them without a thought. And yet, he was never blamed for it. The girl got blamed, being called brainless sluts. But no one ever said anything about the fact that he uses and throws those girls away. They all act as if it's the girls' fault. Yes, they shouldn't have expected a relationship from a guy who is infamous for one night stands. But why is Travis' sex addiction their fault? It just didn't make sense to me. It reeked of unfairness, hypocrisy, and sexism. It reminds me of Victorian times. When a girl gets raped, society blames her for enticing the rapist and the rapist gets off free. The whole thing with Travis seemed like a watered-down version of that.

And the boy's temper. It is not okay to lose your temper and fly of the handle at a moments noticed. Travis seriously needed some anger management classes. Like, desperately needed them. And once again, when he flew into a rage, no one ever blamed him. They blamed the person that got him mad. WTF?!?!? I don't care how mad a person made him, he is at least partly to blamed for the impending chaos because he is unable to control his rage. Do you see a repeating pattern here? Travis is a flawed character, he has many deficiencies in his personality, just like everyone else. But for every flaw, his friends found someone else to blame. His sex addiction? Those sluts won't leave him alone. His temper? That asshole had it coming. And by the end, I found myself wishing these characters were real so that I could find them and shake some sense into them. Once again, I had a love/hate relationship with another character. Travis could be very sweet, and he's smart and protective of his loved ones. Yet, his boorish behavior was just ridiculous. It was not okay, and no one seemed to realize that.

Now their relationship. My goodness, I could go on and on, but, for the sake of brevity, I'll try to keep it short. Their relationship was...interesting. And by that, I mean dysfunctional. To say it was a roller coaster would be an understatement. They went forward backward, in circles, high up and down low. Okay, sometimes, I found their relationship sweet. When they were happy and in love, everything was butterflies and flowers. They were sweet and cute together. Then came the bump in the road and suddenly, the roller coaster got crazy. The amount of times they broke up and got back together is extraordinarily high, considering that their relationship spanned no more than several weeks. Honestly, I'm having a hard time putting into words how I saw their relationship, so bear with me if things start to get a little confusing. Their relationship made no sense. I swear, my head was spinning trying to keep up with their whirlwind romance. Their relationship wasn't normal. It was obsessive and a little creepy at times. Abby's roommate summed it up when she called it co-dependency. I'm not sure why no one else realized that. Abby was fine without Travis. She wanted him, but she was find without him. Travis, however, was another story. He was obsessive. He couldn't deal without Abby. He was absolutely dependent on her acceptance of him.

To be honest, they didn't actually get together until about halfway through the book. The first half was Travis obsessing over Abby and trying to sabotage her relationship with Parker. At those parts, I felt a little uncomfortable. Travis had no right to act the way he did, pulling Abby out of a car, waiting for her at the door. He was acting as a jealous boyfriend, when he wasn't even her boyfriend and he had made clear earlier that being a boyfriend wasn't in his plans. That whole jealous thing was not okay. Once again, another thing that was not okay, and yet Travis got off free while everyone else was blamed. Once again, why can't his friends every put the blame on him, where it should be? But, I digress. When they did get together, things were better, though Travis still couldn't control his jealousy. And their hasty marriage. I could call this a spoiler, but so many people have already mentioned it in various review, that I won't bother. Their marriage was strange, just like their relationship. They have only know each other for a matter of weeks. They have just gotten back together after their biggest fight. And they decide to get married. To be honest, I don't even know what to say to that. Yes, Travis was on better behavior and curbing his temper and jealousy, but marriage? I'm just going to leave it at that because I don't even know what I can say to describe my knot of feelings about their roller coaster of a relationship.

The minor characters were diverse. We had everything from best friends to gambling addict, to mob leader. I want to focus on the two best friends briefly, Shepley and America. Their relationship was like a little side story. I liked the two of them. But they were the ones I wanted to shake some sense into the most. They were the ones who never blamed Travis for anything he did, but blamed everyone else. When Travis flew into a rage because Abby left his room after they hooked up, America yelled at Abby. When a girl got upset that Travis was throwing her out without a word after they hooked up, America yelled at the girl. Shep and America really needed to open their eyes and see the reality of Travis.

The story line was fast paced. The ending was a neat tie-up. All the loose ends were dealt with.

From all that I've said, you'd think I hated the book. But I didn't. For some weird reason, I liked Beautiful Disaster. Despite the fact that I can complain about it all day, I liked it. Despite the fact that I thought Travis needed some serious mental help, I liked him. Despite the fact that I though Abby needed to grow a backbone and learn how to make a decision, I liked her. My feeling about this book are entirely love/hate. I can see why some people hated it. What they hated, I hated as well. But I can also see why some people loved it. What they loved, I loved as well.

This book has made my head spin and I have given myself a headache trying to put into words my tangled, conflicting feelings about it. Despite all my complaining, I liked this book.

So after much mental struggle and a couple of pain relievers, 5/5

Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1) by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1)
The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance



Not what I expected, but in the best way possible. I loved it!
I'm going to keep this short, since there are already so many reviews detailing this book.

I was expecting a zombie horror with blood and guts galore. Instead, this was a paranormal romance, where zombies happened to be present, with a few twists and turns.

I really liked Eleanor. She was a strong heroine. Despite all the horror surrounding her and having her brother missing, she's still strong. And she's not about to let the Spirit Hunters have all the fun themselves. She barges right in and more or less declares that she will help whether they like it or not. That's the way to do it :) I don't really have any complaints about Eleanor. She was wonderful.

And the only personal who can match wills with Eleanor...Daniel. Oh, I already have a soft-spot for the grumpy inventor. He's done some bad things in the past and helping get rid of the zombie threats all over the place is his way a making up for it. The romance is really light in this book. Besides one kiss and some serious sexual tension, the romance isn't a main component. Though I'm definitely hoping to see more in the next book :) But back to Daniel. He's a delightfully complicated character. Despite his grumpiness, he's a real sweetheart. I adored him.

The other characters were well-developed. All of them, from the other Spirit Hunters to the high society snobs. Each one drew a different emotional reaction from me, from amused (Jie) to conflicted (Clarence).

The story is fast-paced. There is a twist at the end that you will never see coming. I certainly didn't. Actually, there are multiple twists towards the end. So many that my head was spinning by the time I finished. Just the way I like it :)

If I had one complaint, it would be that I wanted a better description of the whole necromancy thing. It was explained a little, but not enough that I understood it. I'm assuming this will be remedied in the next book, after reading the summary. So it wasn't a huge problem, but it was a bit of an annoyance.

Otherwise, Something Strange and Deadly is absolutely wonderful.

4/5

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Warrior by Margaret Mallory

The Warrior (Return of the Highlanders, #3)
From the Isle of Skye to the battlefields of France, Duncan MacDonald has never escaped the memory of the true love he left behind. Deemed unworthy of a chieftain's daughter, Duncan abandoned the lovely Moira to prove his worth in battle. Now, when called upon to rescue her from a rival clan, one thing is certain: Moira's pull on his heart is stronger than ever.

Bartered away in marriage to a violent man, Moira will do anything to ensure she and her son survive. When a rugged warrior arrives to save her, the desperate beauty thinks her prayers have been answered—until she realizes it's Duncan. The man who once broke her heart is now her only hope. Moira vows never again to give herself—or reveal her secrets—to the fierce warrior, but as they race across the sea, danger and desire draw them ever closer




I LOVED The Warrior. It was a brilliant book with romance, action, and drama. Basically, it was perfection.


All of the characters were well built. There was more to each one than just their assigned role. Even the antagonists had more than one side. All of them catch your interest and make you feel something for them, be it love, hate, or something in between.


Moira is definitely a survivor. After years of marriage with an abusive husband, she emerges stronger than ever. She will do anything for the sake of her son, Ragnall, even enduring a marriage with a violent man. And when it came down to fighting for her life, she wasn't afraid to do whatever it took to stay alive. It was all very admirable. And she doesn't hold grudges. I was worried that I would end up with a book where Moira spent 90% of it acting like a shrew because she can't forgive. But, thankfully, she is forgiving. But she's no doormat. She wasn't afraid to call Duncan out on his crap and get her way. I really liked her character. She's probably one of the best romance heroines I've seen.


Duncan was also a fun character. He left Moira years ago after her father found out about their relationship and sent Duncan away. There's more to it than that, reasons that go deeper. But I'll let you discover that for yourself. But besides that, he proves to be a great hero. He's sweet with Moira and protective of her. After making a mistake the first time around, he's determined to do it right this time. And I loved how he acted with Ragnall. He was sweet with the little boy, and as protective over him as he was with Moira. He's definitely a worthy love interest.


The plot was fast paced and never had a dull moment. There are a few twists along the way, but nothing very big. The ending was perfect, not a single complaint there.


The Warrior is a wonderful book that combines romance with action and quite a bit of drama. I adored it!


5/5


Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer

The Demon Catchers of Milan
Mia's ordinary life is disrupted in the most horrifying way possible when she is possessed by a hungry and powerful demon--and only saved by the arrival of relatives from Italy, the country her grandfather fled many decades ago. Now her cousins Emilio and Giuliano say the only way to keep her safe is for her to come back with them to Milan, to live, to learn Italian, to fall in and out of love, and to master the family trade: fighting all demons with the lore of bell, book, and candle. Milan is not what Mia expected, but it will change her forever, in this stunningly well-written novel about an American girl who, fleeing an ancient evil, finds her only salvation in her ancestral home.



I feel a little conflicted about this book. I liked it, but I'm not sure that I loved it.


Let me start with what I liked.
I LOVED the setting. The author does an excellent job creating a real setting, one that I could fall into completely. I truly felt like I was in that setting, in Milan. 
I also liked the idea. It's a new one in YA. I haven't seen very many YA books like this. 
The story was good. There were some surprises and the plot moved quickly.
Mia was a wonderful character. I really liked her and I felt like she was relate-able. Emilio was also very nice. I had a soft-spot for the handsome Italian.


So, now to the bad.
For one, the whole demon thing was never fully described. I only halfway understood that whole thing. It was never completely explained, and that led to a lot of confusion as the questions built up. Where do the demon's come from? Do you need a certain power to fight the demons, or can anyone do it? Why are bells and candles used to fight the demons; how does that harm them? And the thing is, Mia was just as in the dark as I was. Her family never taught her everything about the demons. They just kept saying that she had to discover it herself. But that meant the reader didn't know anything about demons as well. It was just frustrating. And I couldn't understand why Mia's family couldn't just give her the information rather than a bunch of cryptic remarks.


Another problem is the romance. From the summary, I was expecting there to be some kind of relationship in this book. And I was kind of looking forward to some hot Italians. But that didn't happen. First, the whole Emilio thing. He's something like a third cousin to Mia, a distant relation. Now, the whole crush was a little strange, but I could have gotten over it. But she basically pines over him for just about the entire book and nothing happens. The only other guy was this psycho who is in and out of the story withing a couple of chapters. It was a little disappointing.


The last problem might not be a problem. The ending wasn't satisfying. Nothing was resolved. I haven't heard about a sequel yet, but I'm really hoping there is one. Because if there isn't, then this book had a really unsatisfying ending. If there does end up being a sequel, then this problem vanishes. 


I liked this book, but I didn't love it. It was good. But not brilliant. I would still recommend it, but I would have to issue a warning of the problems I had with The Demon Catchers of Milan.


3/5


Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Season for Sin by Vicky Dreiling

A Season for Sin
Introducing the Sinful Scoundrels...

The Earl of Bellingham is nothing is not a creature of habit: money, meals, and mistresses must be strictly managed if a man is to have a moment's peace. It's a system that works splendidly for him--until now. With his oldest and dearest friends succumbing, one by one, to wedded bliss, Bell is now restless and a trifle lonely. Enter the Sinful Scoundrels--Colin Brockhurst, Earl of Ravenshire, and Harry Norcliffe, Viscount Evermore--who drag him back into society and draw his rakish eye to the ton's new beautiful young widow. Bell isn't after a wife, but a challenge. And Laura Davenport should fit the bill quite nicely...




A Season for Sin is a well-written prologue to a new series that I am now extremely curious about. It's a short set up, but it got me interested to read the series.


I really liked that I got a feel for the characters. Despite the length, I felt like I got to know the characters a little. Laura is admirable. She loves her stepson and is strong enough to do whatever it takes to do what is best for him. Bell was interesting as well. I can already see that he's going to be a lot of fun. 


A Season for Sin sets up the plot of the first book, What A Wicked Earl Wants, nicely. It explains the background to the story and shows the first meeting between Bell and Laura. After reading this short story, I'm very excited to see what's next.


5/5


Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

An Heiress at Heart (Love's Grace #1) by Jennifer Delamere

An Heiress at Heart (Love's Grace, #1)
A youthful indiscretion has cost Lizzie Poole more than just her honor. After five years living in exile, she’s finally returning home, but she’s still living a secret life. Her best friend, Ria’s dying wish was for Lizzie to assume her identity, return to London, and make amends that Ria herself would never live to make. Bearing a striking resemblance to her friend, and harboring more secrets than ever before, Lizzie embarks on a journey that tempts her reckless heart once again . . .

A committed clergyman, Geoffrey Somerville’s world is upended when he suddenly inherits the title of Lord Somerville. Now he’s invited to every ball and sought after by the matchmaking mothers of London society. Yet the only woman to capture his heart is the one he cannot have: his brother’s young widow, Ria. Duty demands he deny his feelings, but his heart longs for the mysterious beauty. With both their futures at stake, will Lizzie be able to keep up her fa├žade? Or will she find the strength to share her secret and put her faith in true love?



An Heiress at Heart is a very sweet love story that is filled with secrets. I loved it, except for one thing...


The story is one that has been used before: a woman who looks remarkably like a lady takes the ladies place. But it's by no means cliche. The author manages to make the story unique and wonderful.


Lizzie was a character I could feel for. She's stuck in a pretty bad position. First, her life as her own identity is ruined because of a mistake she made years ago. Then, as her identity impersonating Ria, she is pulled one way by her promise to her friend and another way by the guilt she feels for deceiving people she has grown to love. It's a tough situation. But she was strong through it. She handled it realistically. She's not the most memorable or remarkable heroine you'll ever see, but she is a lovely character.


Geoffrey was complicated. He was a clergyman, a third son, until his two older brothers died and he was suddenly shouldered with a title. He goes through some growth throughout the story. He starts out as unforgiving and cynical. But then he turns into a sweet man who will do anything for the one he loves. I kind of had a hard time with him. This is the one problem I had with this book. There wasn't enough character development. I never felt like a really knew him. I knew him enough to like him. But I didn't feel like I really knew him, didn't feel like I really understood his character. This underdevelopment happened with a few other characters, but it was most noticeable in Geoffrey. That's not to say I didn't like him. I did, but I just wanted to know more about him.


The story moves pretty quickly. The plot was fast and never dull. There was a constant tension throughout the plot as you wait to see if anyone finds out the truth about Lizzie's identity. The ending was very sweet, a perfect ending for the story.


Other than one problem, I really like An Heiress at Heart. It's not the most remarkable book you'll ever see, but it's worth a read. It's a sweet story full of romance and secrets. A perfect formula for a good read.


4/5


Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Wedding Chase by Rebecca Kelley


The Wedding Chase: A Loveswept Historical Romance
What happens when a bride ends up with the wrong groom? In Rebecca Kelley’s witty, passionate tale of romance, sparks fly between an eligible lady who doesn’t trust her desires and the roguish suitor determined to prove her wrong.
 
Wolfgang Hardwicke, the Earl of Northcliffe, is up to no good, as usual. He doesn’t know why he comes to the aid of a drunken gambler. He certainly isn’t expecting to be rewarded with a glimpse of the gambler’s exquisite sister—and yet one glimpse is not enough. So Wolfgang is absolutely thrilled to see her again, lighting up a dull party as she plays piano. But to win this glorious musician’s hand, the notorious rake will have to change her tune—fast.
 
Miss Grizelda Fleetwood has no interest in romance—she’s only marrying to save her family from financial ruin. That is, if she can find a suitable match before the unprincipled and relentless Earl of Northcliffe ruins her reputation. Unlike her not-so-secret admirer, Zel is an unabashed do-gooder with a soft spot for those in need. But if Zel is too generous with Wolfgang, she might find herself walking down the aisle with the one man she never expected—a husband she loves with all her heart.




The Wedding Chase is a sweet story that has it all: drama, romance, hilarity, and surprises. Loved it!


The idea of the story is fairly standard in the world of historical romance, but the author doesn't keep it that way. She turns the used idea of a rake falling for a good girl into an original story that no one can call standard.


Zel was one hell of a character. She was so fun, and I adored her. Zel might be slightly crazy (you'll see why I say that) but it only makes you love her more. She refuses to let society run her life and lives exactly as she wants to. She's spent her life since her mom's death taking care of her father and brother-both of whom are reckless gamblers. She takes on the finances of the entire family to keep them afloat. I really admired her for that. Not only is she strong for managing everything that her gambling father won't, but she still would do anything for her brother and father. Besides that, her slightly crazy antics are hilarious. For example, she finds Wolfgang in her room one night and she doesn't want him there (yet). What does she do? She punches him and gives him a black eye. I swear, I burst out laughing during that part. Zel was a lovely character. I adored her.




Wolfgang was equally wonderful. For one thing, I love his name. It's a little strange, but it seems to fit him very well. He's very sweet. Even while he's still chasing her and he claims he has no feelings for her, he does everything he can to make sure nothing happens to her reputation. When he finally realizes that he's in love with Zel, he is the epitome of sweet. Of course, he doesn't come across that way at first. In the beginning, he is unrepentant in trying to seduce Zel. And he's not below taking every chance he has to get closer. But I loved both sides of him. He's handsome, charming, and sweet. In other words, he is perfect. 


The story goes by fast, despite the length of it. The story takes off right away and doesn't drag or fall into any dull moments. The ending was perfect. Not only is it happy, but the last scene is hilarious and seems to sum up the relationship between Zel and Wolfgang: wild. 


The Wedding Chase is wonderful, absolute perfection.


5/5


Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes

Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes
In this anthology, 20 authors explore the dark and hidden meanings behind some of the most beloved Mother Goose nursery rhymes through short story retellings. The dark twists on classic tales range from exploring whether Jack truly fell or if Jill pushed him instead to why Humpty Dumpty, fragile and alone, sat atop so high of a wall.



I'm going to keep this short, since there really isn't much to say.


Okay, this book is wonderful. I love retellings and none of these disappointed. They were all dark and imaginative. In other words, I loved it. 


If I were to say one thing against this anthology, it would be that I don't think that any one person will like every one of the short stories. Unless they are remarkably familiar with Mother Goose Rhymes. Let me explain. If I knew the Mother Goose Rhyme that the story was based off of, I liked the story. But if I didn't know it, then I would be very interested in the story. How exactly could I enjoy a retelling when I didn't know the original telling in the first place? 


This is not to say the I didn't like the stories that were based off of Rhymes that I wasn't familiar with. The problem was that when the story made references to parts of the original, I had no idea what they were talking about. So, it just made things a little confusing. 


But other than that little problem, Two and Twenty Dark Tales was a masterpiece of dark tales. I loved it.


4/5


Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

It Begins with a Kiss (The Drake's Rakes #3.5) by Eileen Dreyer

It Begins with a Kiss (The Drake's Rakes, #3.5)
Fiona Ferguson wants nothing more than to flee Miss Lavinia Chase's Finishing School. Rather than the safe haven the girls' families presume it to be, the school is intent on making its charges conform to the rules-by any means necessary. For Fiona, the only thing worse than staying at the dreaded "Last Chance Academy" would be abandoning the friends she's made there. But when she receives word from home that her sister is in trouble, Fiona plots her escape . . . A devoted spy in service to the Crown, Alex Knight takes his duties very seriously. His latest assignment-to ensure that the incorrigible Fiona remain safely at school-turns out to be far more of a challenge than he expected. After matching wits with the fiery Scottish beauty, he learns that the greatest danger of all . . . begins with a kiss.



Okay, I'm going to keep this short, since this is a short story.


It Begins with a Kiss was very good. The story was interesting and the ending left me itching with curiosity about what will happen next. Despite the length of the book, the author managed to fit in a surprising amount. I got a full view of each character and even some character growth withing the short story.


Excellent! Now where is the next book...?


5/5


Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse #1) by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse, #1)
Ananna of the Tanarau is the eldest daughter of a highly-ranked family in the loose assortment of cutthroats and thieves in the Pirate's Confederation. When she runs away from the marriage her parents have arranged for her, they hire Naji the assassin to murder her.

When a mysterious woman in a dress shop offers her magical assistance for dealing with the assassin, Ananna accepts. She never went in much for magic herself -- she lacks the talent for it -- but she's not quite ready to die yet, either. Unfortunately, the woman's magic fails.

Fortunately, Ananna inadvertently saves the assassin's life in the skirmish, thus activating a curse that had been placed on him a few years earlier. Now, whenever her life is in danger, he must protect her -- or else he experiences tremendous physical pain. Neither Ananna nor the assassin, Naji, are pleased about this development.

Follow Ananna and Naji as they sail across the globe, visiting such mysterious places as the Court of Salt and Waves, in their desperate effort to lift the curse. Soon they will discover that only by completing three impossible tasks will they be able to set themselves free.



Ananna of the Tanarau is the eldest daughter of a highly-ranked family in the loose assortment of cutthroats and thieves in the Pirate's Confederation. When she runs away from the marriage her parents have arranged for her, they hire Naji the assassin to murder her.

When a mysterious woman in a dress shop offers her magical assistance for dealing with the assassin, Ananna accepts. She never went in much for magic herself -- she lacks the talent for it -- but she's not quite ready to die yet, either. Unfortunately, the woman's magic fails.

Fortunately, Ananna inadvertently saves the assassin's life in the skirmish, thus activating a curse that had been placed on him a few years earlier. Now, whenever her life is in danger, he must protect her -- or else he experiences tremendous physical pain. Neither Ananna nor the assassin, Naji, are pleased about this development.

Follow Ananna and Naji as they sail across the globe, visiting such mysterious places as the Court of Salt and Waves, in their desperate effort to lift the curse. Soon they will discover that only by completing three impossible tasks will they be able to set themselves free.




Before I say anything, how awesome is that cover? It is absolutely gorgeous! I love the whole Arabian theme; since I'm Arab, I can definitely appreciate that :)


I was kind of disappointed in this book. The summary sounded so amazing and I had really high hopes for this book. It fell flat for me. It was good. But not quite great.


Let me start with the good. I really loved the idea. It was original and unique. I liked the characters. Ananna was a firecracker. As a pirate, she will not hesitate to slit your throat if she has to. Definite girl power there. Her constant jabs, particularly at Naji, were hilarious. Naji was wonderful, too. In the beginning, he's just the faceless assassin. By the end, you get to see how complicated a character he is. Even with the curse forcing him to protect Ananna, he eventually grows to actually care about her safety. The romance between those two grows slowly, very believably. There relationship develops naturally; first friendship, then slowly into something more. By the end, they're still not together, but the seeds of a romance are growing. The setting was nice. The imagery was detailed and created a clear scene that was incredibly fun and interesting.


Now, unfortunately, to the bad. It is really just one thing. But one thing that is really important: the world-building. The only thing that was well done was the imagery. But I didn't get a feel for that world at all. I didn't understand how that world works, if that makes any sense. The workings were only explained if it pertained directly to the plot. That's all well and good, but that meant that I never really understood how the world words. The biggest problem this caused was with the magic. I didn't understand how the magic works. Where does that power come from? What is the difference between the different forms of magic they mentioned? How does a person gain that power? None of that was explained and I was a little bothered by it. 


I do have one other problem, though this one is smaller. The plot didn't quite flow. It jumped from scene to scene without a clear break. I found myself confused several times because the plot jumped without warning.


The Assassin's Curse isn't a bad book. It just has a few problems. I still found the story interesting. It caught me enough that I would read the sequel; I'm really interested to find out what happens next to our cursed duo. This book isn't a perfect book, but it is good, and worth the read if you can get past the few problems. I would recommend it to anyone who likes a fantasy adventure with a few stirrings of romance.


In the end, 3/5


Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed (Sons of Sin #1) by Anna Campbell

Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed (Sons of Sin, #1)
Will a week of seduction...

Desperate to save her sister's life, Sidonie Forsythe has agreed to submit herself to a terrible fate: Beyond the foreboding walls of Castle Craven, a notorious, hideously scarred scoundrel will take her virtue over the course of seven sinful nights. Yet instead of a monster, she encounters a man like no other. And during this week, she comes to care for Jonas Merrick in ways that defy all logic—even as a dark secret she carries threatens them both.

...Spark a lifetime of passionate surrender?

Ruthless loner Jonas knows exactly who he is. Should he forget, even for a moment, the curse he bears, a mere glance in the mirror serves as an agonizing reminder. So when the lovely Sidonie turns up on his doorstep, her seduction is an even more delicious prospect than he originally planned. But the hardened outcast is soon moved by her innocent beauty, sharp wit, and surprising courage. Now as dangerous enemies gather at the gate to destroy them, can their new, fragile love survive?




Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed was a delightful romance full of secrets and hints of gothic creepiness. In other words, I loved it :)


So, this book has hints of beauty and the beast. A beautiful girl taking someone else's place in the castle of a beastly man. And of course, the girl sees past the face to fall in love. That by itself guaranteed a good story. But the author didn't stop there. She added layers of secrets and possible insanity (not one of the main couple), as well as several more little things that made this so much more than a rendition of beauty and the beast.


Sidonie (that's a cool name) was wonderful. She was strong throughout the story, even when Jonas was acting the part of the beast. But she also knew when to give in. She didn't fight against her love, she accepted it. She's been looking after her sister ever since the disaster of a marriage that got her sister bonded to an abusive husband until death do them part. So, she has been the strong one for a while. I can't really say anything bad about her. When I say that, you know that this character must be something special.


Jonas was complicated. He's had a hell of a time in his life. The amount he's been through is truly astounding. He has scars both inside and out. But even though he tries to play the part of a beast, he's not. He's still a sweet man, who is more inclined to kindness rather than cruelty. It doesn't take long for you to find out. As much as he tries to deny it, he is actually a nice guy. I do have one complaint about him, and this is a complaint big enough to knock off a point. Towards the end, he finds out that Sidonie did something. (No, I won't tell you what). I thought he had ample reason to be angry. But he didn't just get angry, he became furious and blew the whole thing WAY out of proportion, acting as if Sidonie has committed an unthinkable crime. I understood why he got angry, but I don't think he had any right to freak out the way he did. What Sidonie did was understandable and I felt like if he loved her, he should have understood her reasons. It made me really annoyed with him. This is repaired by the end, but literally at the last chapter. Even though I liked Jonas' character, that issue posed a huge problem for me.


The story is fast paced. There are no slow moments. The plot picks up immediately on the first page and keeps going right to the end. The ending was sweet. A nice happily ever after.


Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed was a lovely book, full of gothic romance and secrets. Other than that one problem, I loved it.


4/5


Thanks to Netgalley for a copy

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Forbidden by Nicola Cornick

Forbidden (The Scandalous Women of the Ton, #6)
Scandal isn't just for rogues, as the daring women in USA TODAY bestselling author Nicola Cornick's scintillating new series prove.... As maid to some of the most wanton ladies of the ton, Margery Mallon lives within the boundaries of any sensible servant. Entanglements with gentlemen are taboo. Wild adventures are for the Gothic novels she secretly reads. Then an intriguing stranger named Mr. Ward offers her a taste of passion, and suddenly the wicked possibilities are too tempting to resist....

Henry Atticus Richard Ward is no ordinary gentleman. He's Lord Wardeaux and he is determined to unite Margery with her newfound inheritance by any means-including seduction and deception. But when the ton condemns the scandalous servant-turned-countess and an unknown danger prepares to strike, will Margery accept Henry's protection in exchange for her trust?




Not exactly what I expected...but not in a bad way.


Forbidden has an interesting idea. A maid turned heiress? That's a new one, one that I could definitely go for. It doesn't mention it in the summary, but I feel like I should say that Margery learns about her inheritance pretty soon in. The book is less about Henry trying to tell Margery and more about Margery learning how to navigate her way through life as a Countess. 


And that brings us to that lovely character. I admired Margery. Her entire life was turned upside down, but she was strong and got through it, including all the nasty gossip. One thing I don't understand is why she was initially reluctant to leave her life as a maid. If I was in her place I would have jumped at the new life in a heartbeat. I can understand, to an extent. I know she would be leaving her entire life behind, but it struck me as kind of unrealistic that someone one balk at the opportunity to be the wealthiest heiress in all of England. My one other problem with her is her reaction to Henry when she finds out. Before she finds out, she is sweet and nice to him. But after, she suddenly finds every opportunity to hate him. It didn't make sense to me that the kind woman from the beginning turned into the resentful shrew later. I get that she would be a little angry, but I didn't understand why she flew into a massive temper and didn't let it go until very near the end. This is not to say I didn't like her character, despite what it sounds like. I liked her, but I had a few problems with her. And I wanted to shake some sense into her a few times.


So, now about Henry. He's a complicated character. He was the heir to the earldom until Margery was found to be the rightful heiress. You'd think that would make him bitter towards her. Nope. He backed away with dignity. That was enough to make me like him immediately. He tries to always be cold and distant to avoid heartbreak, but that never made me dislike him. I mean, he had good reason to be cautious. His relationship with Margery was...explosive, to say the least. Every moment, whether their hopping on each other, talking, or arguing, is filled with tension and sparks. There was passion from the minute they met. I really have to applaud the author for doing such a good job in creating that feeling. Whenever those two were together, sparks were flying. It made things interesting :)


The story is well done. It starts off immediately and takes off at a steady pace. There is one hell of a plot twist towards the end, one that I never saw coming. The plot as a whole was interesting throughout, no dull moments. 


Forbidden is a wonderful book. Passion, secrets, surprises. Fun, right?


4/5


Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tempted by the Highland Warrior (MacKinloch Clan #3) by Michelle Willingham

Tempted by the Highland Warrior (Harlequin Historical Series #1098)
After years of brutal torture, Callum MacKinloch is finally free of his captors--but his voice is still held prisoner. He'd never let anyone hear him scream.Although Lady Marguerite de Montpierre's chains may be invisible, they threaten to tie her to a loveless and cruel marriage.

When Marguerite discovers Callum waiting to die, her heart aches for the warrior beneath the suffering--but they can have no future. Yet she is the one woman with the power to tame the rage locked inside him. Maybe he can find another reason to live...for her.




Started off shaky but ended up being a lovely story about fighting for love. The beginning was a little frustrating, but it turned out to be a wonderful book in the end.


First off, the romance in this book is phenomenal. The love between Marguerite and Callum is the kind of love that saves loves, incites bravery, and changes lives. From the beginning, their love was pure and lovely. I think the most beautiful part of it is the fact that the glimpse of love that Callum got from Marguerite while he was still imprisoned motivated him to fight for life. From then on, it moves from fledgling romance, to fiery passion, to eternal devotion. The romance was, without a doubt, the best part of the story.


Now to the characters. There isn't much mention of characters other than the two main ones. They're there, but secondary characters don't play a very big role. Which is good or bad depending on your preferences. I liked that the story was focused on the love, as is obvious after I gushed about the romance. Marguerite was frustrating to me in the beginning. After showing bravery by helping Callum, she just loses her spine. When she has to either fight for Callum or submit to an arranged marriage, she doesn't really do anything other than offer a few feeble protests. It frustrated me so much that she had no backbone. I spent a large portion of the book wanting to shake her. I knew that she had bravery buried in there somewhere, but she wasn't showing it. Eventually, she does grow a spine, but only after causing me to get this close to throwing a fit. She was my one main problem. That whole coward thing just didn't work for me. However, I could understand why she was so submissive, and that kept me from getting too irritated. She was the youngest daughter, accustomed to obeying commands. And after she found her bravery, I had to forgive her. Because when she decides to fight for her love, she doesn't do it half-way. She goes all out. So, I ended up liking her. 


Callum is a much easier story to tell. I liked him from beginning to end. After being stuck in captivity for years, the poor man is broken. He's physically weakened and he's lost his voice. And once he finds his salvation in Marguerite, he holds on to that love with everything he has. He risks his life fighting for Marguerite and refuses to give her up. His determination and devotion were SO sweet. I absolutely adored him for it. He was absolutely perfect, one of the best romance heroes I've seen. Hot, tormented, devoted. What more could you want?


The story is, as I said, largely focused on the romance. The extra bits of political intrigue were interesting and added a lot to the story. The plot is paced well. It doesn't go by particularly fast, but it doesn't drag either. It's more like the author takes her time unfurling the plot to its best advantage. The ending was wonderful, just perfect. I was so glad that the two lovebirds got their happiness after all the tremendous struggle they went through. 


Tempted by the Highland Warrior is a wonderful book, one I would recommend to any lover of historical romance. 


4/5


Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sever by Lauren Destefano

Very important news! Lauren Destefano is holding a giveaway for ARCs of Sever, the third and final book in her Chemical Garden Trilogy!

Very exciting, yes? So, if you want to chance to win, go to her blog (http://www.laurendestefano.com/blog/) and see the rules.

I seriously can't wait to find out what happens in this one. Wish me luck in the giveaway and good luck to you : )

Monday, July 2, 2012

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

For Darkness Shows the Stars
It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth--an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret--one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen's "Persuasion", "For Darkness Shows the Stars" is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.




Heart-wrenching, unique, and, in the end, a brilliant book. There's not really much to say about this, so I'll keep it short.


First, let me tell you all the good. The world-building was impeccable. It was so utterly believable that I could almost see this world as a possibility of the future. Experiments gone wrong. Society devolving back into old traditions of aristocracy and the feudal system. It was truly impressive and absolutely flawless.


The characters were all dynamic. Elliot was lovely. She knows her responsibility and accepts it even when she has to deny herself what she wants. She truly cares for the people she is in charge of caring for and is clever about maintaining her estate. She was a wonderful character who I could truly admire.


Kai was an enigma. First, let me explain that the chapters are split up by letters between Kai and Elliot from before Kai left. Those letters were useful in the world building, the explanation of the circumstances, but, most importantly, the letters were really how I got to know Kai, since he was barely around Elliot in the actual plot. From what I say in the letters, I grew a soft spot for Kai. But his actions in the plot...let's just say they didn't endear me to him. I understand that he would be angry and hurt that Elliot didn't go with him when he asked her. But I didn't think that excused his truly atrocious behavior. I've never read Persuasion, I only know the story line, so I'm not sure if this is a direct parallel to the behavior of the same character in the original book or if this is the author's interpretation. But I got seriously angry with Kai several times, especially with what he did at the ball. By the end, my feelings about him were mixed, to say the least. But, in the end, the good won out over the bad and I had to admit that I still had a soft spot for him.


That moves us to the romance. That whole relationship was heart-breaking. I swear, I could hear my heart crack a little more throughout the story. The emotions were tangible; you will feel the pain and loss and longing. And it will affect you right into your heart. It took that happy ending to mend all that heartbreak, and I'm glad that these characters were able to have their happily ever after.


So, For Darkness Shows the Stars was wonderful. The writing, the world-building, the characters, the romance, the ending...all the of these blend together to form a lovely story.


4/5

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Loving Lady Marcia (House of Brady #1) by Kieran Kramer

Loving Lady Marcia (House of Brady, #1)
LOVING LADY MARCIAKieran Kramer In the House of Brady, three very lovely girls have hair of gold—and hearts to match—but finding a match among the gentlemen of London is one comedy of errors that could bring down the house… 
MARCIA GETS SCHOOLED…
Of the three Brady sisters, Lady Marcia has always seemed the girl most likely to lead a perfectly charmed life. But after a handsome cad breaks her heart, she swears off love and devotes her life to teaching girls at a private school. In spite of her family’s wish for a London debut, Marcia is happy where she is—until terrible news sends her back to the Brady clan…and into the arms of an unexpected suitor. ON THE SUBJECT OF LOVE
A dark and dashing earl who knows Marcia’s past, Duncan Lattimore is surprised by what a fascinating and independent woman she’s become. Marcia, too, is surprised—by the fiery attraction she feels for Duncan. But why—why—must he be the brother of the scoundrel who broke her heart? Why must Marcia’s rival at school forbid her from seeing him? How can this lady possibly resist this fellow—when they know that it’s much more than a hunch…? 



Loving Lady Marcia was sweet and adorable. I loved just about every part of it and it was amazing.


Lady Marcia was a different character. She is headmistress of a prominent school and she is entirely dedicated to her job. It was admirable how she cared so much about the school and its students. She was a lovely character, smart, kind, and forgiving. The one part of her I didn't like was the part that was so quick to jump at hating Duncan. To everyone else she was fair. But she was quick to judge with Duncan. To an extent, I understood. I mean, she thought that Duncan was the reason for her heartbreak with his brother. But at some parts, I just couldn't understand how this otherwise kind woman was so mean spirited with Duncan. It frustrated me a little. But besides that, she was a wonderful character. 


Duncan was just amazing. I adored him. He was very sweet to Marcia, even when she was less than kind. He was understanding, and thoughtful, and just wonderful. He kind of reminded me a bit of Mr. Darcy. I kept picturing him as the Mr. Darcy played by Matthew McFayden. It was the way the he seemed reserved and cold at first, but when you get to know him, he's sweet and adorable. Of course, I LOVE Mr. Darcy, so the comparison to him only made me like Duncan even more. I loved his character and I loved him and Marcia together. A sweeter couple you will never find. 


Finn, Duncan's brother, was one of the best antagonists I've seen. He's handsome and charming. But he seduces anyone without worry of consequences, leaving behind broken hearts, bastard children, and ruined reputations. You can be absolutely charmed by him one minute and absolutely hate him the next. He was a fun character.


The story was original. I've seen a lot of different historical romances, but this one is unique among the rest. It was fast-paced with a lovely ending. I was so happy that Marcia and Duncan got their happy ending. BTW, for those who like to know, there's not a lot of...rated R content. There is one scene, but this book isn't packed with them, which could either be a disappointment or a relief, depending on how you see it. Now, I would love to see the stories of the next Brady girls :)


So, Loving Lady Marcia was delightful. I loved it!


5/5


Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!