Thursday, October 31, 2013

Blog Tour Review: Foreplay by Sophie Jordan


Foreplay by Sophie Jordan
ARC received from William Morrow via LibraryThing
Available:  November 5, 2013
Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  Reece, Reece, He’s Our Man, If He Can’t Do it..Wait, HE CAN!  (He really, really can!)
Before she goes after the life she’s always wanted, she’s about to find the one she needs.
Pepper has been hopelessly in love with her best friend’s brother, Hunter, for like ever. He’s the key to everything she’s always craved: security, stability, family. But she needs Hunter to notice her as more than just a friend. Even though she’s kissed exactly one guy, she has just the plan to go from novice to rock star in the bedroom—take a few pointers from someone who knows what he’s doing.

Her college roommates have the perfect teacher in mind. But bartender Reece is nothing like the player Pepper expects. Yes, he’s beyond gorgeous, but he’s also dangerous, deep—with a troubled past. Soon what started as lessons in attraction are turning both their worlds around, and showing just what can happen when you go past foreplay and get to what’s real…

Sophie Jordan makes me miss my college days!!  I just loved dorm life and going out trying to scope out the hot bartenders, and Sophie brought all that right back with her sexy NA, Foreplay. 

Sexy and dangerous bartender

BFF’s hot, older brother

Friends who love to be the wingman

This story has all the goods for a great, entertaining read.  But, it’s not all fun and games.  Behind the sexy wit and steamy scenes, there is a story of a girl and guy who both hold guilt and secrets.

Pepper is the quiet, shy “nice girl” who has a hard time cuddling up to guys.  She’s been in love with her best friend’s brother for as long as she can remember, and when he suddenly becomes available, she realizes she is oh-so-no-experienced in boy/girl relations.  The answer to her problems?  A little lesson in foreplay by the local hottie bartender, Reece. 

I liked Pepper for the most part, although at times I felt like her reactions were unrealistic.  She is a girl who has only ever had one kiss, and most girls like that, presented with a hot guy who is truly caring, would fall head of heels for him.  Pepper seems to be able to approach these “lessons” way to cavalierly than I think is realistic.  Other than that, I enjoyed her character, and I understand why she was so convinced that Hunter is the guy for her.

Reece had me from the moment he helped with Pepper’s car troubles.  The piercing and tattoo just screamed “bad boy,” but he had this seriousness to him that made him charming and cuddly right along with the danger.  I loved that he knew what Pepper wanted going in, but he kept trying to win her over.  It just made me say, “Awww,” over and over again.  Plus, the boy knows how to make a girl fall all over herself. 

Sophie did a great job bringing the minor characters to life, too.  I just loved Emerson, one of Pepper’s college friends.  She’s so dauntless and confident, and she wanted so much to help Pepper be more comfortable around guys.  She’s just the kind of girl that everyone wants to meet at college—someone that will always have your back, but will also push you out of your comfort zone in a good way.  I can’t wait for her story!

The romance was great, and the steamy scenes will make you want to read them all over again.  The only complaint I have is that the climax of the book seemed to be rushed.  I wanted more emotion in their connection, but it just seemed more Wham Bam to me.  I wish this would have been played out a little more so we could see the feeling beneath the fear and affection.

This is a great read, and fans of NA will definitely want to check it out! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sentinel Blog Tour: Spotlighting Pure (Covenant #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout & Huge Giveaway


Today we are celebrating Pure by Jennifer L Armetrout in honor of the Sentinal (the final book in the Covenant series releasing November 2nd) blog tour.  Thank you to Val at Stuck in Books for hosting and organizing this tour.  You are a blogger Goddess!!!  There are several stops on this tour, so be sure to visit them all!  This series holds such a special place in my heart.  Whenever we had first started this blog almost 3 years ago, we stumbled upon a new author by the name of Jennifer L. Armentrout.  She was coming out with a new book called Half-Blood.  We thought it sounded amazing, so we requested it from Spencer Hill.  We were merely tiny babes at that point in our blogging career (if I can call it that) with no real expectation of actually receiving an ARC.  Then one day a little wheat colored packaged showed up in that mail with a return address for Spencer Hill.  Needless to say, I freaked out A LOT!  In the package was Half-Blood, and it became the first official ARC the YA Sisterhood had ever received.  I took pictures of the package, the book and even brought it all to a book club meeting that night to show all my girlfriends.  And, that was just the beginning of our love of all the JLA!

For out part in the tour, we are taking a trip down memory lane and remember book 2 in the Covenant Series, Pure.


There is need. And then there is Fate. 
Being destined to become some kind of supernatural electrical outlet isn't exactly awesome--especially when Alexandria's "other half" is everywhere she goes. Seth's in her training room, outside her classes, and keeps showing up in her bedroom--so not cool. Their connection does have some benefits, like staving off her nightmares of the tragic showdown with her mother, but it has no effect on what Alex feels for the forbidden, pure-blooded Aiden. Or what he will do--and sacrifice--for her. When daimons infiltrate the Covenants and attack students, the gods send furies--lesser gods determined to eradicate any threat to the Covenants and to the gods, and that includes the Apollyon--and Alex. And if that and hordes of aether-sucking monsters didn't blow bad enough, a mysterious threat seems willing to do anything to neutralize Seth, even if that means forcing Alex into servitude--or killing her. When the gods are involved, some decisions can never, ever be undone.


Barnes and Noble | Amazon 

We loved this book so much!  Be sure to check out our glowing review by clicking the link below.  We also had a little fun on the original Pure blog tour.  We hosted a Jennifer L. ArmenTOURNEY.  Some of JLA's characters joined out tournament and battled it out to find out who were the fan favs.  So be sure to go back and check that out!  The link is also below.


Here's a special little interview with JLA about Pure:

For JLA – Pure has been called Seth’s book.  Did fans reaction to Seth surprise you?  I wasn’t really surprised by the reaction to Pure because I knew that the book focused more on Seth than Aiden.

For Alex -  Knowing what you know about Leon, do you think there was more to him being the one to find you in labyrinth?  Oh, I’m sure there was more to it.

For Aiden -  By far, the zoo was the best scene in Pure.  What did you enjoy most about being at the zoo with Alex?  I loved knowing that I was doing something for her that made her happy. 

For Seth – That whole sleeping issue that you and Alex have in Pure, did you realize what was up or were you just going with it?  I would’ve just gone with it.  But, truth?  I knew what was up.



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# 1 New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jennifer L. Armentrout Lives in West Virginia.

All the rumors you heard about her state aren’t true.

Well, mostly. When she's not hard at work writing, she spends her time, reading, working out, watching zombie movies, and pretending to write.

She is the author of the Covenant Series (Spencer Hill Press), the Lux Series (Entangled Teen), Don't Look Back (Disney/Hyperion) and a yet untitled novel (Disney/Hyperion), and new YA paranormal series with Harlequin Teen.

Jennifer also writes New Adult and Adult romance under the pen name J. Lynn. The Gamble Brothers Series (Tempting the Best Man/Tempting the Player) and Wait for You. Under her pen name, she is published with Entangled Brazen and Ha
rperCollins.



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Be sure to pick up your copy of Sentinel releasing November 2nd!  I can't believe this series is coming to an end.  We can't wait to see what JLA has in store for us!


Sentinel (Covenant, #5)
It's a beautiful day for a war.

As the mortal world slowly slips into chaos of the godly kind, Alexandria Andros must overcome a stunning defeat that has left her shaken and in doubt of their ability to end this war once and for all.And with all the obstacles between Alex and her happily-ever-after with the swoonworthy Aiden St. Delphi, they must now trust a deadly foe as they travel deep into the Underworld to release one of the most dangerous gods of all time.  In the stunning, action-packed climax to the bestselling Covenant series, Alex must face a terrible choice: the destruction of everything and everyone she holds dear… or the end of herself.

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Giveaway

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review: Just One Year

Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Available Now

Reviewed By: Honorary Sis Sarah P.

The Sisters Say: Like its main character, the book takes awhile to find itself.

Just One Day. Just One Year. Just One Read.

Before you find out how their story ends, remember how it began....

When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought...

The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents that happen—and the happiness we can find when the two intersect.

This is the second time that skilled author Gayle Forman has followed up a winning female perspective with a sequel from the boy's point of view. Fans of the bestselling If I Stay found a worthy pairing in Where She Went. In fact, Forman has said in an interview that she hadn't originally intended to give If I Stay a sequel. But then she realized she'd left her characters in a very difficult place, and the need to follow up propelled Where She Went.

The same could be argued for Just One Day. That book, told in "Lulu's" perspective, sends the female narrator on a journey to discover why her single perfect day with Willem has done such a number on her confidence and direction. As she searches for him, she's really searching for herself. The novel is quite a ride.

However.

The trouble with Just One Year is that Just One Day is its spoiler! Instead of picking up at the end of book #1, Forman traces Willem's year in much the same way--from the moment he loses Lulu until the same August day on which the first book ends. In other words, the narrative tension which pulls Just One Day along--the enduring question of whether or not she can find Willem again--is missing in book #2. Because the reader already knows the result.

Along the way, there is much to admire. Forman does good work with Willem's back story, weaving in his analysis of fate, accidents and happiness. Willem has issues to work through, including grief, his promiscuity, his anger at his mother. Those points are done up in the author's seamless writing.

But in the book's middle section, it isn't enough. Willem travels great distances to try to find his girl. Yet all those peregrinations in Mexico are likely to make the reader (or at least this reader) beat her forehead against the $17.99 hardback, as the near misses pile up. The point is supposed to be that Willem isn't ready to find Lulu at New Years. But the reader doesn't care enough, because she already knows that he won't.

So it isn't surprising that the book finally gels after Willem stops looking for Lulu. Reconnecting with his uncle Daniel and auditioning for a new play are dramas which carry their own tensions. And the themes from Shakespeare's As You Like It spice up Willem's interior monologue. The story pushes along in a satisfying way until the denouement on the last page, which mirrors the last page of Just One Day.

Whether or not there's enough resolution on that final page will vary from reader to reader. I know I was expecting more, even if Willem's final decision is quite tender. Romantics, fear not.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Trust In Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout Blog Tour & 1 Hour Giveaway

Welcome, welcome, welcome to the 4th stop on the Trust In Me blog tour!  Our tour stop will only be an hour long, so be ready to participate and help us celebrate Cam and Avery and the awesome JLA during our hour.
It’s Wait for You as you’ve never seen it. Trust in Me lets you in on Cam’s side of the #1 New York Times Bestselling story. Cameron Hamilton is used to getting what he wants, especially when it comes to women. But when Avery Morgansten comes crashing into his life – literally – he finally meets the one person who can resist his soulful baby blues. But Cam’s not ready to give up. He can’t get the feisty and intriguing girl out of his head. Avery has secrets, secrets that keep her from admitting the feelings Cam knows she has for him. Will persistence (and some delicious homemade cookies) help him break down her barriers and gain her trust? Or will he be shut out of Avery's life, losing his first real shot at the kind of love that lasts forever?


Image Map

On this stop we are celebrating all the great music that makes books so much better.  We want you to go make a spotify playlist for Cam and Avery.  We want all those songs that make you think of them or the ones that you listened to while you read them.  Make your playlist between 5-8 songs.  Here is a sample of some of the songs from Jennifer's official Wait for You soundtrack to help get you started.



GIVEAWAY
***$25 itunes giftcard and a turtle ring***
US only
Once you have your playlist, come link it back in the comments section. Then, fill out the rafflecopter and you will get an additional 10 POINTS!  The kicker is, the giveaway will only run for the hour of our tour (October 22nd, 3PM-4PM EDT).  Once the hour is up, I will pick a winner!  This is going to be great odds to win this awesome prize!!! There will also be one more tour stop on the Trust In Me tour.  They will also have a great prize to giveaway!  Here is the blog tour line up.





Start: 12PM EDT

Start: 1PM EDT
Start: 2PM EDT
Start: 3PM EDT
Start: 4PM EDT

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J. Lynn, also known as Jennifer L. Armentrout, is the USA TODAY Bestselling author of the adult romance Gamble Brothers’ series, the young adult Lux Series and award winning Covenant Series. She pretty much writes everything—contemporary, paranormal, and fantasy. All of her books have one thing in common no matter the name or genre: kissing… and stuff. When she’s not busy writing, which is never, she’s usually hanging out with dog Loki, watching reruns of The Walking Dead, or procrastinating on the Internet.



*HUGE, HUGE thanks to William Morrow/Harper Collins for organizing this tour and providing the giveaway.*

Monday, October 21, 2013

Endless Knight by Kresley Cole; Review and Theories!!!!


Endless Knight by Kresley Cole (The Arcana Chronicles #2)

Book received from author (Huge thank you!!!)

On Shelves Now

Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn

The Sisters Say:  Enthralling, Seductive and Heart-wrenching, A series that I wish coud be “Endless"
In this seductive follow-up to Poison Princess, #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole takes us deeper into the dark world of the Arcana Chronicles.

Shocking Secrets

Evie has fully come into her powers as the Tarot Empress, and Jack was there to see it all. She now knows that the teens who've been reincarnated as the Tarot are in the throes of an epic battle. It's kill or be killed, and the future of mankind hangs in the balance.

Unexpected Allies

With threats lurking around every corner, Evie is forced to trust her newfound alliance. Together they must fight not only other Arcana, but also Bagmen zombies, post-apocalyptic storms, and cannibals.

Gut-Wrenching Treachery

When Evie meets Death, things get even more complicated. Though falling for Jack, she's drawn to the dangerous Endless Knight as well. Somehow the Empress and Death share a history, one that Evie can't remember—but Death can't forget.

There are so many words that I could use to describe the magnitude of Kresley Cole’s new series.  I could go one and on with the, as Evie says, “SAT words.”  But instead, let me put it simply.  This is a beautiful story of how love and hate collide, how truth and deception walk hand in hand, and how the past always comes around again.

When I first read Poison Princess last year, I just knew that this was going to be an amazing series; and I am so glad that KC’s second book didn’t fall into the sequel slump.  Trust me on this one, this installment is even more amazing than the first.  There is action in every chapter, betrayal around every turn, and romance that will squeeze your heart and warm your extremities!

Endless Knight starts right where Poison Princess lets off, and right away we see how Jackson reacts to Evie becoming the Empress.  I just love how KC is able to capture the emotion in this scene. 

This is what I truly am…

Jackson stumbled back from me, making the sign of the cross.  Just as I once predicted.

With that one gesture, he has broken my heart utterly.”  PG 1

I can just feel the pain as the boy she loves stumbles back in fear.  This was such a perfect beginning to the book.  The rain is pelting down, and we know that with the rain comes the darkness, just as Matthew predicted.  And be ready, because with the darkness comes anger, fear, betrayal, and blood.

I just love KC’s characters.  So many books have minor characters that are completely flat, but KC manages to breathe life into each of them.  Good or evil, I feel like I know them; and that just shows you how amazing of a writer she is.  While I really do like many of her characters, one of my favorites remains Matthew, the Fool.  I love how his jibber-jabber is both nonsensical and cathartic at once.  He says so many things that are poetic and disturbing, and if you are like me, you spend much of the book trying to decode each of his messages.  Then when it comes clear, Wham!  It’s like you finally found the missing puzzle piece that has been troubling you.  But then, you discover that another one has gone missing.  I want to go back and re-read this just to hear Matthew’s not so random advice.

There is so much action in this book that you will NEVER get bored.  Page after page is filled with either blood and terror, love and romance, or mystery and deceit.  I was so wrapped up in the book that when it ended, I wanted to tear my heart out because I needed more!  I am dying knowing that I have to wait another year for the next installment.

One of the best parts of this book is the increase in the amount of romance.  I am a romance buff, so when all the kissing started, you can bet I was fully focused!!!!  Minor Spoiler (though not really because the blurb talks of Death’s seduction):  There is a sort of love triangle in this book, but I really loved how it was done.  We see Jack and Evie’s relationship grow, and there are points where you really can see how much Jack cares for her.  But Jack isn’t the sole focus in this book, now we have Death.

Death and Evie share a past (again, not a spoiler as its in the blurb), and let me just tell you—I love the bad guys.   I love the passion that drives them, whether it be from lust, anger, hatred, or whatever.  It’s always so potent, and that just makes their relationships all the more volatile.  This is extremely true when it comes to Death and Evie, and I really loved getting to see glimpses into their past.  Furthermore, you really get to see Death’s true self, and I have to admit, I’m kind of glad I liked him (even with the death threats and what not).

Kresley Cole has a forever fan in me.  This book is nothing short of amazing, and I highly recommend it to EVERYONE!!!  Seriously, go buy this series now because it is a must read.  KC has created the most unique post-apocalyptic world I have ever seen or read about, and I love the idea of people being Tarot Cards.  It’s so utterly distinctive, and there is just so much symbolism and mystery surrounding each of the Arcana.  Her world is bloody and beautiful, and if I were to be plunged head first into an apocalyptic fight to the death, I would certainly want a few of her characters by my side.

Content Warning:  There are some more mature romance scenes in this book.
 
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Favorite Quotes:

Said by Death to Evie:  “Your death is mine, which means your life is mine.”  PG 114

Said by Matthew to Evie:  “You are the card that Death covets.”  PG 195

“Empress?  You awake?—

I’m up.  Matthew, give me some good news.

--The snow hasn’t come yet.—“  PG 210

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And Finally…a few theories I would love to discuss!!!  Let me know if you agree/disagree or if you have your own theories you want to share!!  (There are SPOILERS contained in these theories, so do not read further if you have not read EK!)

SPOILERS!

It is mentioned that there are 2 Arcana immune to Evie’s poison.  We find out one is the Ogre, but what if the other one is Death??  They both have water on their cards, and Evie is immune to Death’s touch—it only makes sense, he would be immune to hers.

It is also mentioned that there is an Arcana that will not be activated until he/she kills another Arcana.  What if that’s Jack, and that is why he is drawn to them and Evie?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Blog Tour and Giveaway : Getting Rowdy by Lori Foster


Getting Rowdy by Lori Foster
Received from Harlequin HQN
On Shelves Now
Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  Steamy, Thrilling, and Oh So Rowdy! (For Mature Audiences ONLY)
An alpha hero's attraction to the one woman he can't have could draw him into a killer's snare in the sizzling new novel from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster

Charismatic bar owner Rowdy Yates isn’t the kind of man women say no to. So when he approaches waitress Avery Mullins, he fully expects to get her number. However, the elusive beauty has her reasons for keeping her distance—including a past that might come back to haunt them both.

Avery spends her nights working for tips… and trying to forget the secret Rowdy is determined to unearth. But when history threatens to repeat itself, Avery grows to rely on Rowdy’s protective presence. As the sparks between them ignite, she will be forced to choose between the security she’s finally found… and the passion she’s always wanted..

The wait is over!  I’ve been craving Rowdy’s story since the first book in the series, and Lori Foster came through with a sizzling sweet story. Ever since Rowdy threw his first punch, readers have been panting over his hot body and his protective streak, yet our hearts have broken for Rowdy, the abused little boy. Well, in Getting Rowdy, also the name of his bar as well as the novel, Rowdy is still fighting—fighting unruly bar patrons, fighting for unloved children, fighting to protect his sister, but now he is in for his toughest fight of all—fighting falling in love with Avery.

Avery is Rowdy’s sexy, red-haired bartender. Tiny and tough, a perfect combination for any heroine! But she’s witnessed Rowdy’s one night stands and she doesn’t want to be another conquest, shuffled out the door before the night is over. But when it comes to Avery, Rowdy has little patience, which makes for some wonderful humor in the plot. Through Rowdy’s frustration, Foster creates some adorable scenes, leaving us laughing and sighing in sympathy for the poor guy
.

But like all Foster reads, suspense soon creeps in and we find ourselves on a tilt-a-whirl, with our hearts racing in tune with the characters. Avery has a past—a past that has found her. Now choices have to be made—choices between family and survival.

Foster is a master creator of characters, and she has added two to the Love Undercover family.  First, Marcus is an 8-yr-old rescue, a touching parallel to Rowdy, who steals our hearts as well as Rowdy’s.  The scenes designed to reach the hidden demons of this mistreated child will have you wanting to run out to adopt an unwanted child.

Cannon Colter also joins this tight knit group. Foster leaves some mystery surrounding this hunk, who at first seems to be another punk gang member hanging around the neighborhood late at night up to no good. Yet, when Rowdy offers him money to keep an eye on Avery, he refuses—the money that is. He’s fine with watching Avery as well as every other innocent in the area.  He even takes a job at Rowdy’s bar so that he can keep a closer eye on happenings. Yes, we have another tarnished Knight to add to the mix, and I am definitely hoping Foster is planning Cannon’s story!

Finally, Dash, Logan’s brother, makes a return appearance, another hottie who owns his own construction company. Just because he isn’t in law enforcement doesn’t mean he isn’t involved; in fact, Foster sets up the action for Dash’s story with a little undercover action with Lieutenant Margaret, a co-worker with Logan and Reese. All I can say is my Foster fix won’t last and I’m back to waiting for another Love Undercover story!
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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review: Fifteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton

Fifteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton

Available Now

Reviewed by: Honorary Sis Sarah P.

The Sisters Say: Sweet lakeside romantic tale of first love

Chelsea isn’t looking forward to her summer at the lake. It’s the first time her family has been there since her grandmother died, and she can’t break out of her funk. But her summer takes a turn for the better when she meets a boy who works in the bookstore. Josh is cute, sweet, funny…and best of all, seems to like her as much as she likes him. As the days pass by in a blur of boat rides, picnics, and stolen kisses, she can’t believe how lucky she is. No one has ever made her feel so special, or so beautiful.

But Chelsea knows her days with Josh are numbered. She’ll be heading home at the end of the summer—and he’ll be staying behind. Will this be Chelsea’s summer of love? Or will it be the summer of her broken heart?

At fifteen, Chelsea does not have any experience with boys. And that’s putting it mildly. So the first bit of Fifteenth Summer is essentially a sweet and tender comedy of errors. There are more than a few laugh out loud moments as Chelsea tries to negotiate her feelings, and her inability to spend more than sixty seconds near Josh without either putting her foot in her mouth or running away. Or both.

While first love stories have been done before, the writing here is excellent. There are many carefully observed moments of first love which even the most jaded among us can appreciate. “When you see the boy you love through a crowd, he can look completely familiar and be a complete surprise, all at once,” Chelsea learns.

I’m a sucker for well drawn secondary characters, and the cast of Fifteenth Summer is charming as all get out. There’s a wise cracking father and two bossy older sisters. The bookstore dog, the owners of the coffee shop (who accidentally ordered ten times the useful amount of mayo and are determined to use it up by summer’s end) and the food snob popsicle guy make the town into a credibly quirky place.

Readers may be reminded of Sarah Dessen’s beach town settings. Yet this author has taken things in a more romantic direction than Dessen, and not just with the love story. We are treated to a romantic rendering of the small town bookstore, the blueberry festival and a marvelous invention called a lantern party.

Have you ever noticed how loooong the summers are in summer love books? The heroine can spend three weeks avoiding the hero, and yet somehow there are still days and lazy days left for staring dreamily into each others’ eyes? And then there’s still time for a big misunderstanding, for squandered August days of misery before the resolution? Yet in real life, summer ends the moment it begins. (Which is probably why I’m reviewing a summer read in October.)

But all is forgiven, because real life summers don’t deliver the sweet denouement that summer reads provide. Slipping into a slightly idealized world is the whole point of cracking open a book whose cover is dappled with light reflecting off the idyllic lake. So sit back with an icy lemonade and enjoy all that Fifteenth Summer has waiting for you.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas


The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
eARC received from Harper Teen via Edelweiss
Release Date:  9-17-2013
Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  Okay, but didn’t live up to its hype
It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.

I was looking forward to reading this one because I had heard that it was great.  Unfortunately, while many other reviewers loved it; this just wasn’t the book for me. 

My biggest problem was that the action was very slow up until the midway point.  I think I was over 200 pages into it before I became truly interested.  On more than one occasion, I thought about putting it to the side.  However, I wanted to finish it to see what everyone was talking about.  Overall, there was just too much down time in the plot.  I could have done with 100 less pages; I think it was have blotted out the dull moments and gave more emphasis to the important relationship being built.

Please don’t take this review as entirely negative because it is not.  I would give this book 3 stars because my interest level did pick up once I got to see more of the world that Sherry Thomas was trying to build.  The characters were fun, and while there was nothing special about them, I didn’t find myself not caring about their destinies.  I actually read the last part of the book rather quickly since the action picked up, and I found myself my interested in the outcome.

The two main characters are Iola (also known as Fairfax) and Prince Titus.  They were enjoyable characters, but they didn’t really stand out.  One good thing is they didn’t read as false, so I was never annoyed by them; I just didn’t really take to them all that much.  Iola was strong and stubborn, but I felt like we didn’t really get to know her that well.  Her emotions were not shown very often.  We get to see much more of Prince Titus’s emotions, and as a result, I did like him much more that Iola.  While trained in lies and deceit, he seemed much more real than any of the other characters.  I could see his fear and uncertainty, and for that, I enjoyed him.

While I was somewhat entertained with the plot, I was sadly disappointed in the weak ending.  It seemed like there were 350 pages of build-up, where there was going to be this epic battle.  Then, when the time came for said battle, it was over in a few pages.  There wasn’t much detail in it, and Iola’s break throughs were not a focus.  She is supposed to be this great mage, and yet, she wasn’t the focus at all.  It felt completely flat, and I was extremely disappointed.

Overall, I think fans of high fantasy will enjoy it, although there are many better high fantasy novels out there.  I don’t know if I will pick up the sequel to this one when it comes out.  I just finished the book about 30 minutes ago, so right now I think I’m a bit too close to my disappointment.  So, I’ll wait a bit and decide if it is something I care to try again in the future.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: The Dollhouse Asylum by Mary Gray


The Dollhouse Asylum by Mary Gray
ARC received from Spencer Hill Press
Release Date:  October 22, 2013
Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  A terrifyingly disturbing story of one man’s love and madness
A virus that had once been contained has returned, and soon no place will be left untouched by its destruction. But when Cheyenne wakes up in Elysian Fields--a subdivision cut off from the world and its monster-creating virus--she is thrilled to have a chance at survival.

At first, Elysian Fields,with its beautiful houses and manicured lawns, is perfect. Teo Richardson, the older man who stole Cheyenne's heart, built it so they could be together. But when Teo tells Cheyenne there are tests that she and seven other couples must pass to be worthy of salvation, Cheyenne begins to question the perfection of his world.

The people they were before are gone. Cheyenne is now "Persephone," and each couple has been re-named to reflect the most tragic romances ever told. Everyone is fighting to pass the test, to remain in Elysian Fields. Teo dresses them up, tells them when to move and how to act, and in order to pass the test, they must play along.

If they play it right, then they'll be safe.

But if they play it wrong, they'll die

Elysian Fields—supposedly the perfect place to hide away from a worldwide epidemic.  But, take a look behind the curtain (or through a crack in a wall), and you will see that this world is the true nightmare.  Mary Gray has created a fantastic, psychotic thriller of a novel.  Think about those creepy scenes in a horror movie---an empty room, pictures falling off the wall, silent—except for the mangled music box slowly playing a childhood favorite in the corner.  You know that feeling you get—that sinking feeling that consumes your and fills you with fear?  That’s this book!!!  It will immediately plunge you into a abyss of perfect terror, and at no point will you ever feel safe again.

I liked “Persephone,” Mary’s main character for the most part.  I thought she was strong and smart, and I admired her for not letting this psychotic yet mesmerizing man tear her apart.  At the same time, I felt like she was very wishy-washy at times.  Her loyalties didn’t mesh with her feelings, and it seemed like, on some level, she was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.  She could see Teo’s evil leaking from every pore, but there was a part of her that still wanted him.  This was the part of her that really bugged me.

The best character in this book is, by far, Teo, the villain.  She is so well written that you can hear the inner workings of his twisted mind.  He was completely insane and creepy, yet seductive at the same time.  Not seductive enough for me to like him even an inkling, though.  He is pure evil, and Mary did a great job of showing how madness and intelligence walk the same line.

I loved the literary aspect of this book.  I am a huge fan of tragic love stories, and this novel takes them to a new level.  We see them modernized and manipulated into something twisted and sick.  What an amazing idea and concept!!!  I loved it.

There were some things that bugged me, though.  First off, the description says that Teo is the “older man” who stole her heart.  So, right away, I had this picture of an old guy in my head.  Creepy much.  Teo is actually only 24, so I don’t think they should have described him in that way.  He wasn’t old at all, in fact, he is supposed to be gorgeous—but I had a hard time moving away from the “older man” comment.

The other thing that bugged me was some of the pacing.  I wanted a quicker pace that followed Teo and Persephone a bit more closely.  It wasn’t a slow pace, so don’t think that, but there was just some down times that I wished would speed up.

Overall, this is a great and unique read; and I highly recommend it to fans of tragic love stories, old classics, and creepy psychotic thrillers!
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Blog Tour Schedule and Links
 
The final dates and stops are as follows:

October 8 - Interview (Fantasy Book Addict - Stacey) http://www.fantasybookaddict.com
October 9 - Book Review (Books Live Forever - Jenea) www.booksliveforever.com
October 10 - Interview (Kiki's Bookshelf - Savanna) kikisdreambookshelf.blogspot.com
October 11 - Guest Post (The Bookshelf Sophisticate - Katelyn) http://bookshelfsophisticate.blogspot.com/
October 12 - Interview (Falling for YA - Emily) www.FallingForYA.blogspot.com
October 13 - Book Review (YA Sisterhood - Jennifer) Http://ya-sisterhood.blogspot.com/
October 14 - Interview (Fragments of life - Precious) Shusky20.blogspot.com
October 15 - Guest Post (Two Chicks On Books - Jaime) http://www.twochicksonbooks.com
October 16 - Book Review (Harley Bear Book Blog - Melissa) http://harleybearbookblog.blogspot.com
October 17 - Book Review (Lost in Believing - Alison) http://lostinbelieving.wordpress.com/
October 18 - Guest Post (Jessabella Reads - Jessica)  http://www.jessabellareads.com
October 19 - Book Review (Stuck In YA Books - Amanda) lovesbooksreviews.blogspot.com 
October 20 - Guest Post (The Book Goddess - Jana) http://jana-thebookgoddess.blogspot.co.uk/
October 21 - Interview (Swoony Boys Podcast - Meg) http://www.swoonyboyspodcast.com/
 


 
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Rafflecopter Giveaway for one signed copy of TDA: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dark Angel: A Dark Fairy Tale by TJ Bennett


 
The following novel is recommended for Ages 18 and up!!!!
 
 
 
Dark Angel:  A Dark Fairy Tale by TJ Bennett
eARC received from Entangled Edge via Netgalley
Available Oct 22
Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  Long winded and disappointing
When young widow Catherine Briton is washed ashore, the sole survivor of a violent shipwreck, all she wants is to go home to London. But injured as she is, she can’t escape when a shadowy stranger rescues her and takes her to his castle—where she’s healed with suspicious, almost magical speed.

The more time Catherine spends in the castle, the more her curiosity rises where her fiercely handsome new "master," Gerard, is concerned. As she begins to investigate, though, her discoveries only bring more questions. It seems Gerard isn't the only one on the island keeping secrets…

The small town is full of strange mysteries and townspeople who know more than they should about her. And when a hulking beast that stalks the nearby hills and valleys catches up to her, Catherine must figure out what’s going on before it’s too late.

I really wanted to like this one, so much so that I pushed through it even though I found myself disinterested around the 25% mark.  I kept reading hoping it would get better, that the characters would really start to suck me in, that the romance would sweep me off my feet.  However, sadly, that time never came; and now I just find myself bitterly disappointed.

I love gothic stories—the mysterious and morose setting, the Byronic heroes, the never-ending mystery.  While there are elements of all these things in this novel, none of them really stood out and made a lasting impression.  Each one was, for lack of a better word,  just “okay.”  The setting was interesting—an island that disappears and reappears at the whim of some unknown power.  I really liked this idea, but I wanted to see more of the island.  We got brief descriptions of it here and there, but it was mainly just a bunch of fog.  I wanted to see the mesmerizing cliffs, hear the dangerous call of the sea; but it was never really given to me.

I somewhat enjoyed our dark hero, Gerard.  But again, he didn’t really capture me the way so many other gothic characters have.  He was gorgeous, full of secrets, and sexily domineering; but I wanted to see more of his and Elizabeth’s relationship.  One minute it was angry words, the next minute they were kissing against a wall; but there was no feeling to the scenes.  It wasn’t so sexy or powerful that it stole my breath away or that I wanted to read it again.  There was so much potential for a great and steamy love story, and I’m sad that we didn’t see it.

I think the thing that bugged me the most was the overwhelming amount of details.  I hate to say this, but there were times when I would skip 5-6 pages on my kindle and not miss a single thing!!!  That’s when you know there is too much description.  I got so frustrated with it because I wanted more suspense, more romance, more danger.

I think fans of historical romance will find parts of this story fun and mesmerizing; however, those who like a good dose of romance mingled with the history will be sorely disappointed.

Fall Into Fantasy Blog Tour: Kristin Cashore, Author of Bitterblue


 
 
Welcome to Penguin’s Fall Into Fantasy blog tour. Join Alison Goodman, Morgan Rhodes, Kristin Cashore, Melissa de la Cruz, and Michael Johnston as they share what fantasy means to them in a series of guest posts throughout the week of October 7th. Today’s post comes courtesy of Kristin Cashore, author of the New York Times bestseller Bitterblue.
 
Mastering Details in Bitterblue
Kristin Cashore
 
One of the things I love about writing fantasy is that I end up needing to know the answers to odd and specific questions—the kind of questions you can’t Google. For example, it turns out that Google can’t tell you how much rope a nefarious lord can hide under his jacket during a state visit to a queen in a high tower. (My trapeze instructor, Kaz, helped me with that one, by letting me fool around with the ropes at trapeze class.) Nor can Google easily tell you what adjective describes a lord who’s been stripped of his title and property. (With the help of my friend Marc, I settled on “disennobled,” then ended up taking the entire line out of the book. That’s another thing that happens a lot: you take time to find the answer to a question, then the book changes and you don’t need that information anymore.) Another question that’s too overwhelming for Google: “If a government is comprised of two legislative bodies with equal power, one of which is made up of members of the nobility and the other of which is made up of representatives elected by the people, but there is no longer a monarch, not even a representational one—what would you call that?” Happily, my friend JD, who’s got a human brain (vastly superior to a search engine), did not find the question overwhelming. Consequently, on page 534 of the Penguin edition of Bitterblue, Bitterblue describes the new government of Nander as “a sort of . . . aristocratic and democratic republic.”
 
Bitterblue presented me with a whole range of weird questions I had fun asking my friends. Could a nine-year-old child, precocious in arithmetic, divide 1058 by 46 in her head? (Maybe.) If you entered a maze, put your left hand on the wall, then walked, keeping your hand on the wall and turning left at every corner, would you be guaranteed to find your way out of the maze? (Not necessarily.) If our real-world days were divided into thirty hours instead of our real-world twenty-four hours and our watches consequently showed fifteen hours, what real-world time would it be when the fifteen-hour watch said twenty-five past two? (Almost two o’clock.)
 
Some of these questions were more important to the integrity of the book than others, but I found myself treating each and every question, no matter how small, with respect. Little things in a book can make a big difference. And it doesn't matter to me that the amount of time I spend working on a particular aspect of a book be proportional to the space it takes up in the book. What matters is that I believe in all the parts of any book I'm writing, big or small.
 
One particular Bitterblue question was so much fun for me to think about, and provided so much entertaining conversation, that I want to share it with you in more depth. It hails from a scene near the beginning of the book, when a character is tasked with disguising a boat so thoroughly that people looking at it might not see a boat at all.
 
Here’s the question I posed to friends: “Could a small boat, like a rowboat, covered with small mirrors, blend into a river so that you might not notice it at first glance? If one were careful about angles and approach, could it even stay slightly hidden as it approached shore?”
 
JD’s response should demonstrate why I like to ask JD questions:
 
“What is the ambient light level in which this boat is designed to operate? Are we talking bright daylight, with or without clouds? Dusk? Deep night (with or without moonlight)? I find it hard to believe that this would work, unfortunately. One of the big issues is that mirrors are nearly 100% reflective (at all angles), while a water surface is nearly 100% transparent when you look straight at it, and it becomes more and more reflective as the angle away from straight-on increases. This is why you see dappled light bouncing off ripples in the river when you look across it from the banks, while staring straight down into it from the middle of a bridge leads you to see mostly the water, with perhaps a very faint reflection, depending on lighting conditions. And don’t even get me started about polarization! A boat with a bunch of mirrors would, I think, stand out, because (a) it wouldn’t ripple; (b) the reflections would not look the same as reflections from the water (due to being mirrors and not water); (c) the reflections would at least in part reflect the watcher and whatever was behind them; and (d) I think it would be obvious that the boat was above the waterline, the same way that you can tell that water is rushing over a big rock by the way the water humps up. I could imagine such a boat confusing someone, but not working as a method for infiltration. You might be better off inventing a submarine, a diversion, or hiding your characters in a hollow log....”
 
(JD later suggested the Pirates of the Caribbean trick of walking under the rowboat on the bottom of the river, even though MythBusters has proven it's not possible--which led to an excellent tangential conversation about exploding toilets and underwater escapes from cars on MythBusters.)
 
Lance’s response should demonstrate why I like to ask Lance questions:
 
“That sounds to me like a fundamentally empirical question. You get the rowboat; I’ll start collecting mirrors.
 
“It does seem to me that it would be practically impossible. Even if things were sufficiently shaded such that the mirrors didn’t catch the sunlight, it’s going to reflect things from all the wrong places. I think it’s going to look like an approaching disco ball.”
 
Of course, this made me want to write an approaching disco ball into this book (and every book), but, unfortunately, brought me no closer to a solution for my boat problem. Lance also provided a few links to photographs that made my day—and made me wish I was a visual artist, instead of being trapped behind words. For example, the invisible shoe and the man of mirrors(scroll down). He also provided a link to the Ghost Blind , a mirrored device for hunters that didn’t make my day, but that made me want to take it into Harvard Yard and have fun popping out at people.
 
Anyway. At this point in the conversations, it was becoming clear that my mirrored-boat camouflage wasn’t going to work. Luckily, Marc’s more encouraging response should demonstrate why I like to ask Marc questions:
 
“I’ve been thinking about this question all day. I suspect it is possible, but difficult, and would depend more heavily on lighting than on approach. Something covered with mirrors will sparkle in the sun, but if the entire river is sparkling, that could be okay. A large, leafy, fallen branch over the top would probably help.”
 
A large, leafy, fallen branch! Marc was a genius! At this point, I took out any language about mirrors and resorted to language about large, leafy branches.
 
Weeks later, however, the conversations were still going on, and Marc added: “Note that a well-designed boat can have a lot of its mass under the water. And like the blind, the mirrors only have to be on the front of the boat if you’re trying to hide from people on the shore you’re approaching.” To which I responded: “I took out the mirror language, but maybe I’ll take another look at it today. I could say something vague. When in doubt, I try to be vague.”
 
Ready for the final result?
 
Here’s an excerpt of Po speaking to Bitterblue on page 89 of the Penguin edition:
 
“Well, from what I gather, you’d be impressed with the way she’d hidden the boat. It was all rigged up to look like a big, leafy, floating tree branch…. It involved mirrors…. when we got closer and your guards recognized it for a boat, they were quite bowled over.”
 
So. Does that seem like an awfully big production for the sake of a few words in a throwaway paragraph?
 
If so, welcome to novel writing. J
 
(My thanks to Kaz Stouffer, Marc Moskowitz, JD Paul, and Lance Nathan!)
 
About Bitterblue:
 
Enter the Graceling Realm and let it work its magic . . .

When Queen Bitterblue took the throne of Monsea, she was a child, and her advisers ran the kingdom for her. Now she is beginning to question their decisions, especially how they handle the legacy of her father Leck, who who ruled through his Grace—a special talent for mind-altering—and his taste for darkness and violence. Bitterblue needs to know Monsea’s past to lead it into the future, so she begins exploring the city sreets at night, disguised and alone. As she does, she meets two thieves, who hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, with a Grace that he hasn't yet identified, holds a key to her heart.
 
About Kristin Cashore:
 
Kristin Cashore received her master's degree in children's literature in 2003 from Simmons College, where she was named a Virginia Haviland Scholar. She is a freelance educational writer who writes content for textbooks and teacher editions, as well as book reviews and articles on children's literature. She lives in Cambridge, MA, and has an incredibly witty, funny blog at: www.kristincashore.blogspot.com