Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In My Mailbox

So I have had like this insane urge to buy books (what else is new) and have been. Unfortunately for me, I'm so overwhelmed with how many I have that I really need to stop myself for a whole and just read the ones I actually do have. With that being said, this is probably the biggest batch I'll be posting about for a while.



For Review

Friday, January 27, 2012

Review: Secrets of an Accidental Duchess by Jennifer Haymore

Title: Secrets of an Accidental Duchess
Author: Jennifer Haymore
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Romance, Historical Romance
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: With her pale hair and slim figure, Olivia Donovan looks as fragile as fine china, and has been treated as such by her sisters ever since a childhood bout with malaria. But beneath her delicate facade, Olivia guards a bold, independent spirit and the kind of passionate desires proper young ladies must never confess...

It was a reckless wager, and one Max couldn't resist: seduce the alluring Olivia or forfeit part of his fortune. Yet the wild, soon-to-be Duke never imagined he'd fall in love with this innocent beauty. Nor could he have guessed that a dangerously unpredictable rival would set out to destroy them both. Now, Max must beat a madman at his own twisted game-or forever lose the only woman to have ever won his heart.

Review: I have to mention that I did not read the first book in the Donovan series, so this installment is being reviewed as a stand-alone story.

The book focuses on Olivia, one of the Donovan sisters, who has a history of extreme fevers after contracting malaria during her family's time living in the West Indies. Olivia is tiny, pale, and prone to fainting spells. She's also basically resigned herself to never marrying and being a wonderful aunt to her sister's future children.

Max Buchanan, our male lead, is strong, dark, and rake-ish. He is immediately drawn to Olivia's beauty. Unfortunately, so is the evil Lord Reece, Marquis of Fenwicke. The two ultimately end up making a bet about who can succeed in seducing the innocent Olivia.

At this point, I was already turned off. I really dislike the "bet" plot device that is often used in romance novels. It kind of skeeves me out and has the added detriment of being really predictable.

I got even more frustrated with the book when Olivia's family was introduced. There is clearly a lot of back story in the first book that would have greatly enhanced understanding in the second installment. We really don't get any idea about what happened in the first, and Haymore chooses not to write a short paragraph kind of summarizing - which I have often seen done in other romance books that are part of a series.

Olivia was also very frustrating for me. She's a tiny, pale, fainting little thing. While her physical issues are due to her illness, I find that her personality is very much within the same genre. There are two specific moments, which I am not going to reveal here, where I felt like she just wasn't strong or didn't fight as much as she absolutely could have to avoid a bad situation from happening. I found myself almost screaming at the book in frustration!

What I did enjoy was the secondary plot to that of the budding romance between Max and Olivia. Lord Fenwicke is perfectly evil and much more cruel than most antagonists in books of the same genre. It is a little bit over-the-top but enjoyable nonetheless. My absolute favorite character was Beatrice, Lord Fenwicke's wife. She really deserves her own book. It is one I would definitely pick up.

Overall, I wavered between a 3 and 4-star rating for this book, but had to go with a 3. Although generally entertaining, "Secrets of an Accidental Duchess" had to many problems for me to consider reading the other books in the series (with the one exception listed above).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Inappropriate Language?? What??

So today, I happen to visit the Barnes & Noble website to see how much they are selling a book for. The book, "Firelight" by Kristen Callihan, is one that I had written a review for about a week ago. I posted it to their site.

I was kind of shocked to see that my review was hidden and flagged as containing inappropriate language. Huh?? I re-read the review to myself several times and really have no clue why they would flag it as such (You can scroll down a post or click here to see what I wrote). Am I just jaded to "bad" language or are they ridiculous? I mean, they sell erotica and have reviews for that!

Now, they want me to edit what I wrote so that it can get approved again...but how am I to edit when I see no problem?

Ok Ok. End of rant! Stay tuned though, because there is going to be a big giveaway soon as I try to amass 50 followers!! :D

Monday, January 23, 2012

Review: French Milk by Lucy Knisley

Title: French Milk
Author: Lucy Knisley
Publisher: Touchstone Books
Genre: Graphic Novels, Travel, Memoir
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: Through delightful drawings, photographs, and musings, twenty-three-year-old Lucy Knisley documents a six-week trip she and her mother took to Paris when each was facing a milestone birthday. With a quirky flat in the fifth arrondissement as their home base, they set out to explore all the city has to offer, watching fireworks over the Eiffel Tower on New Year's Eve, visiting Oscar Wilde's grave, loafing at caf├ęs, and, of course, drinking delicious French milk. What results is not only a sweet and savory journey through the City of Light but a moving, personal look at a mother-daughter relationship.

Review: I just finished reading "French Milk" and came away with a strong feeling that this book could have been so much more than it was. Instead, it was very much "middle of the road" for me, with the one benefit of it being a very short read.

Knisley's travel diary is littered with photos and cute little drawings that recount her time in Paris with her mother. A large part of the book is spent talking about food. While food is such an essential component of Paris, I really felt that, due to Knisley's drawing style, the multitude of food pictures could have been totally left out. I mean, it all just looked like scribbles and triangles. I kind of felt like it was filler for the lack of a real, thoughtful experience that you'd expect from a diary of an American girl in Paris. There are glimpses, yes (such as Knisley's awareness of French men, and body issues as an American in super-skinny Paris) but they are gone a page later - leaving you wanting to know more.

The preface mentions that the book "also deals with the valuable and significant influence that we take in from our mothers" yet we see none of that in it's pages. Knisley's mother is a side-character that we don't really even get to know - definitely not enough to draw any ideas about the influence she has on her daughter.

One thing I did enjoy about the book was the format - a perfect mix of drawings, photos, and text. Maybe it's because I myself have always dreamed of going to Paris for a significant amount of time, but the book struck that envious chord in me. I'd recommend picking it up if you're a Francophile, but don't expect too much from it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Fairy Tales
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Review: For me, fairy tale re-tellings are kind of hit or miss. As with any re-telling, you kind of have to assume you already know what's going to happen. That was not the case with "Cinder." Although it definitely has elements of the classic Cinderella story, there were really enough new additions that I was kept guessing! Primarily, the setting was so...quirky and new that it totally pulled me in! Seriously. About 10 pages in and I hooked!

Generally, I'm not a big sci-fi fan. I don't like to read books that feature robots and spaceships and stuff, yet Cinder's world somehow didn't come off as cold, metallic, and unfeeling - even though the main character is a cyborg. And man, I never thought I could actually be rooting for a cyborg! I found Cinder to be really well-written. She was smart, independent, and every bit the tomboy. She just came off as real and down-to-earth, which really helped highlight the nastiness of her step-mother and sister. My absolute favorite was the side character of Iko - an android and Cinder's best friend. She's the perfect support to Cinder's otherwise lonesome life. I wish I could get my hands on her personality chip.

The world that Meyer writes is also really well-developed. New Beijing is a fully realized place which merges technology with elements of the traditional. I never thought I could appreciate an environment that featured both hover-crafts AND cherry blossoms. The conflicts and cultures that are portrayed in the book feel deeply rooted in the story - and never rushed or forced. Even the race of Lunars have depth and so much thought behind them.

If you like your story packaged into one neat story, beginning to end, you won't get that here. The book is built on there being a sequel. With that being said, I completely and utterly LOVED "Cinder," and feel it's absolutely worth it to read this book and wait for the sequel!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Please Don't Censor the Net

Many sites are protesting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and I am one of them.

Millions of Americans oppose SOPA and PIPA because these bills would censor the Internet and slow economic growth in the U.S.

To add in your support, and let Congress know you don't want your internet censored, please sign the petition located at this link. Together we really can make a change.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Review: Firelight by Kristen Callihan

Title: Firelight (Darkest London #1)
Author: Kristen Callihan
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Romance, Paranormal Romance, Historical Romance
Rating: 5/5
Release Date: January 31, 2012

Synopsis: London, 1881
Once the flames are ignited . . .

Miranda Ellis is a woman tormented. Plagued since birth by a strange and powerful gift, she has spent her entire life struggling to control her exceptional abilities. Yet one innocent but irreversible mistake has left her family's fortune decimated and forced her to wed London's most nefarious nobleman.

They will burn for eternity . . . Lord Benjamin Archer is no ordinary man. Doomed to hide his disfigured face behind masks, Archer knows it's selfish to take Miranda as his bride. Yet he can't help being drawn to the flame-haired beauty whose touch sparks a passion he hasn't felt in a lifetime. When Archer is accused of a series of gruesome murders, he gives in to the beastly nature he has fought so hard to hide from the world. But the curse that haunts him cannot be denied. Now, to save his soul, Miranda will enter a world of dark magic and darker intrigue. For only she can see the man hiding behind the mask.

Review: I am completely floored. After just finishing the last page of this book on my Kindle, I am still reeling from the effect it had on me. What a thoroughly amazing and unexpected read!

"Firelight" takes place in 1880's London - a dark, Gothic place brimming with supernatural elements and dark forces. For me, it was very much steampunk, "Phantom of the Opera," "Beauty and the Beast," as well as historical and romance. Kristen Callihan's descriptive writing really sucked me and I was truly transported into the magical world she built around the main characters, Miranda and Lord Archer.

Miranda is the perfect heroine - beautiful and sharp (with a cutting tongue). I loved that she was curious, bold, and strong - not at all a wilting waif ready to be taken by a handsome male. Lord Archer...well, he was probably one of the best written male leads I have ever encountered in a romance novel. Though mostly hidden behind a mask, he was so dashing and handsome that I could completely see how Miranda fell for this tragic hero, even with his oddities.

Watching the relationship build between these two strangers was so sweet. I loved their back-and-forth banter, as well as reading how tortured each of them was with their own secret buried deep within. As much as Miranda anticipates knowing what lies beyond Archer's mask, I did too! As much as she kept digging to uncover the truth, I was there with her, devouring every page.

The story itself was so engrossing that to me, the love scenes were really secondary. I really feel that this book could stand alone without any of the more risky scenes and be just as wonderful. When they did happen, they were sweet and filled with so much desire and longing that I felt just as frustrated as the characters did!

Overall, I greatly enjoy this book. I would strongly recommend it to fans of any romance sub-genre. Now it's just a matter of waiting for the second book in the series to come out!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

In My Mailbox

I've had an INSANELY huge book haul to report back on. With Christmas and all those post-holiday sales, I've really upped the amount of books on my TBR pile. I can't guarantee that this will be the ONLY books I will buy in January, but I'm really trying to hold myself back. :D

Books I Have Bought

"Jellicoe Road" by Melina Marchetta
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"Fallen" by Lauren Kate
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"Delirium" by Lauren Oliver
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"All These Things I've Done" by Gabrielle Zevin
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"Daughter of Smoke and Bone" by Laini Taylor
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"The Future of Us" by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer" by Michelle Hodkin
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"Anna Dressed in Blood" by Kendare Blake
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"Divergent" by Veronica Roth
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"The Darkest Night" by Gena Showalter
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"Impossible" by Nancy Werlin
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"Wintergirls" by Laurie Halse Anderson
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"Winter Garden" by Kristin Hannah
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"The Queen's Fool" by Philippa Gregory
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"The Virgin's Lover" by Philippa Gregory
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"The Historian" by Elizabth Kostova
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"Cinder" by Marissa Mayer
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"The Pledge" by Kimberly Derting
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"Starcrossed" by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

Books I Was Gifted

"1Q84" by Haruki Murakami
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"Dark Rain: A New Orleans Story" by Mat Johnson
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"Habibi" by Craig Thompson
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"Lost Boy by Brent W. Jeffs
Goodreads | Amazon |

Books I Have Won

"At the Mercy of the Queen: A Novel of Anne Boleyn" by Anne Clinard Barnhill
(Thanks to dreamonus.com)
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"The Flight of Gemma Hardy" by Margot Livesey
(Thanks to Goodreads. This is a retelling of "Jane Eyre" so I'm excited!)
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

Books I Received For Review
(No cover for "The Peculiars" available yet)

"Friends With Boys" by Faith Erin Hicks
(This one I'll have up in February, as it's not due out until February 28th)
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

"The Peculiars" by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
(This one is not due out until May 2012 so I may hold the review for a bit) 
Goodreads | Amazon | Author's Website

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme run by Jill from Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases bloggers are eagerly anticipating.

I'm waiting for...

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

I think most YA readers are highly anticipating this read! It's not due out until the end of April, but I'm loving the cover and the little blurb!