Saturday, February 6, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (96) and Giveaway Winners

Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon - Thanks to Atria and Edelweiss
Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase -  Thanks to Putnam and NetGalley

How to Mend a Heart by -- Sara Gillingham - Thanks to Random House

Congrats to the following winners! I hope you enjoy your books.
ARC of Seven Ways We Lie and an ARC of Pearl - Gabbi C.
ARC of The Forgetting Time and The Other Me - Susan L.

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty 

So what do you guys think? Have you read any of these books or are they on your TBR list? Let me know! This meme is hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews.

Friday, February 5, 2016

If You Love Romance...

It's that time of year again...Valentine's Day. That has me thinking about my favorite "romance" novels, but you see, I don't like traditional romance novels. I find most of them pretty cheesy, but I do love a great believable romance. So, if you are like me and you enjoy romance and swoon-worthy moments without it being overly cheesy or too much like a romance novel, then check out some of my favorites:

1.  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - The best couple hands down. Who doesn't love Mr. Darcy?

2.  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - Hazel and Augustus still tug on my heartstrings. 

3.  The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks - Ok, so Sparks can be a little too much at times, but this story is pretty darn romantic.

4.  The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (and the rest of the series!) - This is my favorite young adult series and even though there's a sort of love triangle at times, it's done really well.  Plus, it's very realistic.

5.  The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani - This sweeping tale is includes star-crossed lovers at their best.

6.  Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - Swoon.  That's all I'll say. One of my favorite YA contemporary novels for sure.

7.  The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen - This is my favorite of Dessens and I love the characters of Macy and Wes.  You can't go wrong with this book.

8.  Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - Jamie Fraser. There's no need to say anything else. 

9.  Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - I love the complicated relationship between Scarlett and Rhett. They are both so stubborn and sometimes I'm in the mood for an angsty-type of love story.

10.  Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (and the rest of the series!) - Gilbert Blythe stole my heart back in the 80s. He still has it.

11.  Persuasion by Jane Austen - Oftentimes people over look this book, but I love the relationship between Captain Wentworth and Anne. This Austen novel shouldn't be missed.

12.  Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead - So, sometimes this series can be cheesy, but what is never cheesy is the relationship between Dimitri and Rose. Love it!

What are some of your favorite romances? Let me know in the comments below.  

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Book Review: Banished by Kimberley G. Little

Pages: 416
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Forbidden
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "She thought she’d lost everything . . . After spending months traveling the harsh, unforgiving Mesopotamian desert, Jayden reunites with a broken, injured Kadesh. Although everyone was convinced the violent and unpredictable Horeb, Jayden’s betrothed, killed the handsome prince, Jayden knew in her heart that her love was alive and safe. But their reunion is short-lived, as they learn Horeb is on their trail and determined to take back the girl he has claimed. Soon, the two star-crossed lovers are on the run toward Sariba, Kadesh’s homeland, where, as heir to the Kingdom, he plans to make Jayden his princess. But the trek to Sariba is fraught with heartache and danger. After narrowly escaping being stoned to death for a crime she didn’t commit, and learning that her sister has disappeared, Jayden’s only solace is her love for Kadesh. But even he is keeping secrets from her . . . secrets that will change everything. This gorgeous and enchanting sequel to Forbidden, is full of love, danger, and heated passion that will leave readers breathless."

Banished picks up where Forbidden left off and we are reunited with Jayden who has decided to search for Kadesh.  There are rumors that he may not have survived the attack from Horeb, but she comes to find him after a long trek and he is indeed injured and scarred.  Jayden hoped that they would be reunited and this would fix all of her problems, but Horeb is still on her trail and doesn't plan on giving up anytime soon.  Kadesh and Jayden's only option is to return to Sariba, where Kadesh is from, and then hopefully they can be together. But Kadesh knows that Horeb is not likely to give up and is recruiting a large army; war is immenent.  To complicate matters further, Jayden experiences many troubles in this sequel to Forbidden. She is dealing with trying to find her missing father, there's also her aging grandmother's welfare, her sister's involvement with the Temple of Ashtoreth, and ultimately, there are many secrets that Kadesh is hiding from her.  Kimberley G. Little's second installment in the Forbidden series is a breathtaking adventure through the Mesopotamian desert; there's romance, danger, a lot of action, and historical details that all added to my enjoyment.

I really liked Jayden in Forbidden and I continued to do so in Banished. She's a tough girl and one that often deals with a myriad of problems. She really couldn't catch a break in Banished, but that definitely added to the book's suspense.  As in the first book, I continued to love her relationship with her grandmother as well as her father; the politics of her tribe also interested me.  

Unfortunately, Horeb, her betrothed and also a dangerous killer, is hot on her trail and just won't give up.  Although we don't see too much of him in Banished, his ominous presence is always felt as Kadesh, Jayden and company are always trying to be one step ahead of him.

The romance between Kadesh and Jayden was also well done in Banished. However, the course of true love never ran smoothly, right? There's some secrets about Kadesh that are going to come to the surface and Jayden will have to deal with the many different things thrown her way once she is in his homeland.

The historical details are fantastic in this novel. I'm not sure they are entirely accurate, but I loved the enchanting, yet dangerous world of the Bronze Age and the desert.  The role that females played in this society was a tough pill to swallow, but that made me root for Jayden even more.

So, if you enjoy historical fiction and you want something new and fresh with a unique setting, I urge you to check out Little's Forbidden series.  I haven't been disappointed yet!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: A Certain Age

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  "Waiting on Wednesday" spotlights upcoming releases that I'm eagerly anticipating.

A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams
Pub. Date: June 28, 2016

Goodreads says, "The bestselling author of A Hundred Summers brings the Roaring Twenties brilliantly to life in this enchanting and compulsively readable tale of intrigue, romance, and scandal in New York Society, brimming with lush atmosphere, striking characters, and irresistible charm. As the freedom of the Jazz Age transforms New York City, the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue and Southampton, Long Island, has done the unthinkable: she’s fallen in love with her young paramour, Captain Octavian Rofrano, a handsome aviator and hero of the Great War. An intense and deeply honorable man, Octavian is devoted to the beautiful socialite of a certain age and wants to marry her. While times are changing and she does adore the Boy, divorce for a woman of Theresa’s wealth and social standing is out of the question, and there is no need; she has an understanding with Sylvo, her generous and well-respected philanderer husband. But their relationship subtly shifts when her bachelor brother, Ox, decides to tie the knot with the sweet younger daughter of a newly wealthy inventor. Engaging a longstanding family tradition, Theresa enlists the Boy to act as her brother’s cavalier, presenting the family’s diamond rose ring to Ox’s intended, Miss Sophie Fortescue—and to check into the background of the little-known Fortescue family. When Octavian meets Sophie, he falls under the spell of the pretty ingĂ©nue, even as he uncovers a shocking family secret. As the love triangle of Theresa, Octavian, and Sophie progresses, it transforms into a saga of divided loyalties, dangerous revelations, and surprising twists that will lead to a shocking transgression . . . and eventually force Theresa to make a bittersweet choice. Full of the glamour, wit and delicious twists that are the hallmarks of Beatriz Williams’ fiction and alternating between Sophie’s spirited voice and Theresa’s vibrant timbre, A Certain Age is a beguiling reinterpretation of Richard Strauss’s comic opera Der Rosenkavalier, set against the sweeping decadence of Gatsby’s New York."
Beatriz Williams is one of my favorite authors; I absolutely adore her historical novels. I am very much looking forward to reading one set during the Jazz Age in New York City. What do you guys think?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Historical Settings I Love

This week I am sharing my top ten favorite historical settings/time periods.  Here they are in no particular order:

1.  1700s in Scotland - Outlander and The Winter Sea are two of my favorite reads with this setting. Who doesn't love Scotland?

2.  1950/1960s in America - There are so many books that I love, which have this setting.  Here are a few: Along the Infinite Sea, Tiny Little Thing, The Seceret Life of Violet Grant, Searching for Grace Kelly, The Help, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Out of the Easy, and Brooklyn.

3.  Old Hollywood - I love the allure and glamour of Old Hollywood, which is the setting of these books: All the Stars in the Heavens,  and A Touch of Stardust.

4.  Cousins' War in England - I thought I loved the Tudor Court, but then I read about the Cousins' War, which I like so much more. Two of my favorite books that fit this setting: The White Princess and The White Queen.

5.  1930/1940s - The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach (Philadelphia), The Nightingale (France), A Hundred Summers (Rhode Island) - such an interesting time period in history! 

6.  1700s in Cornwall, England - After reading Ross Poldark and watching the show on PBS, I fell in love with this time period and the gorgeous setting of Cornwall.

7.  1930s in the Florida Keys - I love the Florida Keys, so anytime I can read a book that takes place there, I jump at the chance. My latest favorites:  Under a Dark Summer Sky and Hemingway's Girl.

8.  1800s America to Gilded Age - I also think this time period of American history is very interesting and turbulent as demonstrated in The Invention of Wings and Mrs. Poe. Plus, the Gilded Age is so extravagant. I loved reading the Luxe series, which takes place then and The American Heiress

9.  1920s in America - Who doesn't love this time period? There's so much to love! Here are some of my favorite reads: The Diviners, The Great Gatsby and Bright Young Things.

10.  Jane Austen's England - Last but not least, a favorite time period of mine.  Any of Jane's novels would be a perfect example.

So, what are some of your favorite historical settings and/or time periods? Let me know in the comments below. 
This meme is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Monday, February 1, 2016

Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Pages: 416
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen 
Source: Library Book
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others. In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well. Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires. Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness. Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch."
Safi is a Truthwitch, which means she has special powers. She can figure out if someone is lying and her best friend, Iseult, is a Threadwitch, which is someone who can literally visualize the emotions of other people.  They are both fugitives of the law, but more importantly, best friends.  But things get dangerous for both girls when they realize that Safi's special skills make her a target.  Many people want Safi for her powers and to make matters worse, a dangerous Bloodwitch is tracking her.  Susan Dennard's much-talked about young adult fantasy, Truthwitch, is an action-packed novel that fans of high fantasy will enjoy.

For starters, I want to applaud Dennard for creating such kick-butt heroines in Truthwitch. I loved Safi and Iseult's strong friendship and bond. It's so refreshing to see females supporting other females as I feel like young adult literature is often riddled with mean girls.  I wanted to see more of this in young adult literature and I'm I got it! Safi balances Iseult out well, vice versa, and their relationship is my absolute favorite aspect of Truthwitch.  

My issue with Truthwitch stems mainly from the world-building. Guys, I found it to be confusing. There are so many kinds of witches, there's three empires, political intrigue and readers are thrown right into it without much background. I was hoping for more of an explanation regarding the politics as well as exactly what a Truthwitch is..... Instead readers are plunged knee deep right into the action with little to no explanation.  I felt like I was playing catch-up the first quarter of the novel; it was tough just trying to keep it all straight.  When a book is hyped as much as Truthwitch is, I expected a bit more in this department.

Dennard jumps from various points of view in Truthwitch: Safi, Iseult and Prince Merik as well as bad-guy Aeduan's perspectives are all shared.  I thought Dennard did a good job keeping the story flowing and the various points of view were easy to discern.  

Truthwitch isn't strong in the romance department; in fact, the romance felt rather blah to me.  But like I said, I wasn't reading it for the romance. I was reading it for the strong female friendship, the courageous heroines, as well as the adventure.  And there's a lot of adventure here!

Ultimately, I had some issues with Truthwitch, but nothing too serious.  If you love high fantasy and you love to see strong heroines and an even stronger female friendship, then check out this book this winter. I can see why it has already accumulated many fans.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

January Confessions

The theme of this month has been snow, snow and more snow. We got hit hard with a blizzard and it was our first snowfall of the season.  I am glad we got some snow (since my son loves to play in it), but now I am ready for spring! Who is with me?

Books Read in January:

1.  Passenger by Alexandra Bracken - 3.5 out of 5 stars
2.  A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas - 5 out of 5 stars
3.  The Other Me by Saskia Sarginson - 4 out of 5 stars
4.  The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright - 3.5 out of 5 stars
5.  Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers - 3.5 out of 5 stars
6.  Truthwitch by Susan Dennard - 4 out of 5 stars (Review to come)
7.  Banished (Forbidden #2) by Kimberley G. Little - 4 out of 5 stars (Review to come)
8.  The Outlandish Companion by Diana Gabaldon - 4 out of 5 stars

1.  Favorite Book:  A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas was my absolute favorite of the month. I LOVED this book and can't wait to continue with the series. I highly recommend it if you are fans of YA fantasy. 

2.  Biggest Surprise: The Other Me by Saskia Sarginson - I am trying to read more adult fiction and I am so glad I checked this one out. It had a bit of everything that I enjoy: historical fiction, family drama, a coming of age tale, and romance.

3.  Biggest Disappointment: I wouldn't say I was disappointed by any book in particular, but I read a lot of just "ok" books this month....books that were definitely middle-of-the-road reads, but compelling enough to finish.

4.  Favorite Post from January:  What I Want to See More of in Young Adult Literature

5.  Favorite Part of January: I loved watching my son play in the snow, thanks to the Blizzard of 2016. Thankfully we didn't lose power, so we were able to enjoy all the snow while still keeping the house warm. My son definitely enjoyed the snow more this year than last....we couldn't get him inside! (I'd still rather be at the beach!) 

What was your favorite book that you read this month? 

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