Thursday, March 19, 2015

In Despair by Megan Derr

In Despair (Princes of the Blood #3)

by Megan Derr

19162088Prince Telmé Guldbrandsen has been groomed since childhood to become a Prince of the Blood and Commander of the Legion. He will be the youngest person to ever take the Blooding—if he can behave long enough to prove he can be trusted with the responsibility. But behaving is difficult when he is constantly forced to endure Korin: heir to the Reach of the House and the Temple of the Sacred Three, and the snotty brat Telmé is expected to someday marry.

Then the unthinkable happens, leaving Castle Guldbrandsen—and the Legion—in pieces. Overwhelmed by fear and grief, Telmé convinces Korin to help him attempt the impossible. But rather than relief, Telmé's triumph is met with anger and rejection …

This is the story of how Telme and Korin came to be the people that they are.  It's a story about magic and love, and standing up for what's right even when the people you expect to have your back reject you.  The story was painful and heartbreaking but worth every minute reading it. 

Telme and Korin begin as brats.  They are a constant disappointment to their superiors with their fighting and inability to get along, even though they are betrothed.  I loved seeing their relationship grow into true respect and affection.  This book is non-explicit since it takes place when the characters are young: sixteen and seventeen, respectively.

I had a wonderful time reading In Despair and I hope that Mrs. Derr will write more in the series some day.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the free review copy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Rusted Sword by R.D. Hero

The Rusted Sword



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Kiss the Earl by Gina Lamm

Kiss the Earl





Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman




 I think that maybe I wasn't the right audience for this book.  I've read other reviews and most of them give it four or five stars and talk about the mastery of the writing and emotion behind it all. 
For me? Not so much.
To be honest, I was bored for most of the story.  While I certainly agree that the ending was a great surprise, it wasn't enough to make me like the book.
 I didn't like Bilodo (let's be honest here, the dude's a creeper) and I didn't really care what happened to him or his haiku.

This is probably better suited to a reader who likes cerebral-type books with an emphasis on poetry and introspective thought.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for sending me a copy to review.

Losing Ground by Sasha L. Miller

Losing Ground

by Sasha L. Miller

23904009Carter Bellwood's family has Earth-claimed the Bellwood territory for generations and they've always had an excess of Earth energy to back it up. Until Carter, whose energy is barely a fraction of that his mother has. But he's the only Earth wizard in his generation and set to inherit the territory—if there's anything left of it. The territory is being ravaged by a disease that kills all plant life it comes into contact with. They can't cure it, can barely contain it, can only watch as their territory turns into a barren landscape.

Then a new Earth wizard shows up. Tai is everything Carter is not when it comes to the strength of his magic, and more importantly he knows how to cure the disease. But he's also terrified and clearly on the run from something, and Carter's not sure Tai's help is worth the risk of him trying to stake his own claim on the territory—or the risk that whatever he's running from finds him...
This was a bit of a miss for me.  It wasn't bad, but I thought it was forgettable.  I couldn't connect with the characters at all and I wasn't convinced by their burgeoning romance. 
The ending was very anti-climatic.  I kept expecting something else to happen, something the characters missed or a new threat...but no.  It was just over and I was really disappointed by the sudden letdown.  Also, the book was non-explicit up until the ending when the author tacked on an epilogue for the sole purpose of giving the readers a sex scene.  It felt clunky and I would have rather had a completely non-explicit book or one where the characters had sex within the main section of the book.  This just made it seem like an afterthought. 
It was a mildly interesting novella and would be good for those who want to read a short book about magic and romance. 
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for sending me a review copy.

RIP Sir Terry Pratchett

“They do not want to shout. Their hearts are too full for worrrrds. … But for now, each Feegle remembers her in silence. We dinna mourn like ye do, ye ken. We mourn for them that has tae stay behind.”
--The Wee Free Men

“Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?”
--Going Postal

Today I want to do nothing but curl up and read some Discworld novels.  I knew there was a reason I didn't want to get out of bed this morning.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz


Gone, Gone, Gone

by Hannah Moskowitz

In the wake of the post-9/11 sniper shootings, fragile love finds a stronghold in this intense, romantic novel from the author of Break and Invincible Summer.

It's a year after 9/11. Sniper shootings throughout the D.C. area have everyone on edge and trying to make sense of these random acts of violence. Meanwhile, Craig and Lio are just trying to make sense of their lives.

Craig's crushing on quiet, distant Lio, and preoccupied with what it meant when Lio kissed him...and if he'll do it again...and if kissing Lio will help him finally get over his ex-boyfriend, Cody.

Lio feels most alive when he's with Craig. He forgets about his broken family, his dead brother, and the messed up world. But being with Craig means being vulnerable...and Lio will have to decide whether love is worth the risk.

This intense, romantic novel from the author of Break and Invincible Summer is a poignant look at what it is to feel needed, connected, and alive.

"I wake to a quiet world.
There's this stillness so strong that I can feel it in the hairs on the backs of my arms, and I can right away tell that this quiet is the sound of a million things and fourteen bodies not here and one boy breathing alone."

This was a beautiful story. It was lyrical and captured all of the emotion and confusion of the aftermath of 9/11 and the D.C. sniper shootings.
Craig brings animals home and cares for them. It's his way of coping with events that have happened in his past. He wants to fix them, make them better. He also wants to fix Lio, his quiet friend who barely says a word most days.

Their friendship was sweet and I loved seeing each of them them through the other's eyes.
"I cry, like, all the time," I say.
He nods. "I know." A smile plays with his mouth. "It's okay. Sometimes I get cancer."

I really connected with Lio. He is quiet but sure of himself...usually. Mostly he just feels talked out and doesn't want to be seen as the cancer boy anymore.
The thing I loved most about Lio is that he was fully capable of fixing himself. I think it's too common in books these days (especially YA) to find a character that has to rely on another person to fix them. It creates a power imbalance and an unequal relationship, IMO.

"I don't want to die, but I wish waking up every morning didn't feel like such a fuck-you every single time."

This was a very beautiful book. I was constantly making notes because some of the passages were just so beautiful that I had to read them over and over.
I'd recommend it to anyone who likes YA romance.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Angry Optimist: The Life And Times Of Jon Stewart by Lisa Rogak

Angry Optimist: The Life And Times Of Jon Stewart

by Lisa Rogak

20575404A New York Times Bestseller Since his arrival at The Daily Show in 1999, Jon Stewart has become one of the major players in comedy as well as one of the most significant liberal voices in the media. In Angry Optimist, biographer Lisa Rogak charts his unlikely rise to stardom. She follows him from his early days growing up in New Jersey, through his years as a struggling standup comic in New York, and on to the short-lived but acclaimed The Jon Stewart Show. And she charts his humbling string of near-misses—passed over as a replacement for shows hosted by Conan O’Brien, Tom Snyder, and even the fictional Larry Sanders—before landing on a half-hour comedy show that at the time was still finding its footing amidst roiling internal drama.

Once there, Stewart transformed The Daily Show into one of the most influential news programs on television today. Drawing on interviews with current and former colleagues, Rogak reveals how things work—and sometimes don’t work—behind the scenes at The Daily Show, led by Jon Stewart, a comedian who has come to wield incredible power in American politics.
I grew up in a family that watched Fox News religiously.  Every day, from the time I was home from school to the time we went to bed there was hardly ever anything but Fox in the background.  It was like the soundtrack to my life.  My dad's favorite: Bill O'Reilly.  I have a family member who keeps the radio tuned to Rush Limbaugh and I've had to suffer through whenever I was visiting.   I hated every moment of it and after a while I grew anxious every time the tv was on. 
One day I ran across The Daily Show, quite by accident, and was amazed that someone dared to call out Fox News.  Even better, Jon Stewart was making fun of these people that I had always thought ruled the news world.  It was funny and it made me think.  There was no spewing hatred at homeless people or immigrants like you see on Fox.  It was like Jon Stewart understood how disillusioned I had become with news commenters.
I requested this book hoping to gain more insight into Jon Stewart as a person.  I'm not sure that the book delivered quite what I was hoping.  There were a lot of quotes and facts from past interviews.  The author wrote in such a way that felt very detached from Jon Stewart.  It was hard to believe that she had ever met him.  I was hoping to understand him better and get a sense of his personality off-camera. 
It was a good book for a general sense of Jon's life.  I just wish it delved deeper.
*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this free review copy*

Saturday, March 7, 2015

200 books a year should be enough, shouldn't it?

I have recently realized that I suffer from reading envy.

 I am quite blessed to have a lot of time to read (though I don't use it wisely) and a pretty good reading speed.  I average about 200 books a year. 

I'm quite active on Goodreads (probably much more than I should be) and every year I join the GR reading challenge.  I used to think that reading 200 books a year was a lot until I met some other readers who read 400+ books a year.  And these people work and have families! 

You know that thing about emulating masters?  Well, that's what I've taken to doing.  I regularly check how many books my 400+ friends have read so far and use that to spur myself on.  I see how many of those are shorter books and plan to read some shorts, too.  It's a sad, sad thing, people.  These are the lows that readers can sink to. 

At least there is a bright side to my obsession.  Reading more means that I can visit more worlds, discover more characters to fall in love with.  There is so much more to learn! 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Darker Shade of Magic (Preview Excerpt) by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic (Preview Excerpt)

From V.E. Schwab, the critically acclaimed author of Vicious, comes a new universe of daring adventure, thrilling power, and parallel Londons, beginning with A Darker Shade of Magic.
Kell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes—as such, he can choose where he lands. There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, ruled by a mad King George. Then there’s Red London, where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne—a place where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London...but no one speaks of that now.Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see—a dangerous hobby, and one that has set him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations, first robs him, then saves him from a dangerous enemy, and then forces him to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—and that is proving trickier than they hoped.
*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me this excerpt*
I don't usually read excerpts because I tend to be impatient and I hate to leave a book half finished.  I gave this one a try because, really, how can I resist a synopsis like that?
This is definitely a book that I want to find soon so I can read the entire thing.  The worldbuilding is very unique and I was constantly amazed by the little things Schwab imagined.  Kell's coat was especially interesting. 
I loved the writing style and the characters.  I won't say much about the plot since I don't yet know exactly how much I'll love it in the end.
From what I've seen I can say that this will be an excellent book and I think you should read it.  I think I should read it, too.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Restless Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk

Restless Spirits

by Jordan L. Hawk

23569031After losing the family fortune to a fraudulent psychic, inventor Henry Strauss is determined to bring the otherworld under control through the application of science. All he needs is a genuine haunting to prove his Electro-Séance will work. A letter from wealthy industrialist Dominic Gladfield seems the answer to his prayers. Gladfield’s proposition: a contest pitting science against spiritualism, with a hefty prize for the winner.

The contest takes Henry to Reyhome Castle, the site of a series of brutal murders decades earlier. There he meets his rival for the prize, the dangerously appealing Vincent Night. Vincent is handsome, charming…and determined to get Henry into bed.

Henry can’t afford to fall for a spirit medium, let alone the competition. But nothing in the haunted mansion is quite as it seems, and soon winning the contest is the least of Henry’s concerns.

For the evil stalking the halls of Reyhome Castle wants to claim not just Henry and Vincent’s lives, but their very souls.
   This was another amazing book by Jordan L. Hawk. I'm really impressed with her writing. Most books of this genre focus on the romance and leave the plot full of holes or sometimes abandon it altogether. Restless Spirits was a perfect balance of romance and plot and Ms. Hawk obviously spent a lot of time thinking things through.

This was also a book about racism and discrimination. The characters weren't white-washed. There was a Native American man, an African American girl, and...well, someone else... in a time period when people like them were thought to be of less worth than anyone else. And Jordan L. Hawk handled it perfectly. Bravo!

All of the characters were amazing. I loved Henry and Vincent and their relationship felt natural to me. Even the side characters were fleshed-out and they added a lot to the story. I just saw that this is meant to be a series and I'm looking forward to seeing more of these characters in the future.

Monday, March 2, 2015

When the Rogue Returns by Sabrina Jeffries

When the Rogue Returns

by Sabrina Jeffries


 Victor Cale never imagined that his sweet, shy bride, Isabella, would use her talents for creating exquisite imitation jewels criminally. But there's no denying that her handiwork was used in the theft of the Dutch royal diamonds-- right after Isa disappeared into the night.

Ten years later, Victor is sent to Edinburgh to investigate a wealthy baron's mysterious bride-to-be... who turns out to be Isa, masquerading as an alluring widow. No longer the meek girl he once knew, Isa boldly asserts that it was Victor who abandoned her, after he helped steal the royal diamonds!

Piecing together the truth of the past reawakens their volatile passions, which burns hotter than ever. But with a decade of secrets between them, Victor and Isa must trust each other to bring the real thieves to justice-- without getting burned themselves.
*I received a free copy for review from the publishers via Netgalley*
 I really enjoyed this one!  The synopsis was intriguing enough that I requested it from Netgalley a while back.  Quite a while back, if I'm being honest here.  It's my mission this year to read most (or all) of my Netgalley books.  Since this book was one of my earliest requests I started here.

Since this book has a "big misunderstanding" theme, I expected a lot more fighting and tantrums.  It was surprising that the main characters actually behaved like adults and had an honest to God conversation!   That made my rating go up immediately.  I love some angst now and then, but mostly I like when the characters are mature enough to work things out.
I loved the plot and the writing.  It was interesting, and while it was slightly unbelievable at times, I thought the author did a great job.
The characters were especially well-written.  I loved Victor and his loyalty to Isa even when he was under a lot of pressure.  Isa herself was strong and courageous.  I loved the interactions between the two of them.
I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to read a good romance.