February 28, 2013

GIVEAWAY HOP: Leap Into Books

Raise your hand if you're ready for spring! Even if the weather where you are is still cold and crappy and not quite ready to leap into spring, at least you have this chance to leap into books, right? So, thank you to I Am A Reader Not A Writer and Jinky is Reading for sponsoring this giveaway hop!

And, you know, with the bad weather, family colds, a crazy work schedule lately, and LOTS of great books to read, I just haven't had the time to think of something clever to give away. So, you get to pick. What book will make the sun come out for you? You have up to $15 at The Book Depository to help you decide.

So, you know what to do! Get your Rafflecopter on, and then hop on down the line. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

February 27, 2013

COVER REVEAL: Wait For You by J. Lynn

I am so excited to participate in this cover reveal for J. Lynn's (Jennifer L. Armentrout) first New Adult novel, WAIT FOR YOU!

What do early readers have to say about WAIT FOR YOU?

J. Lynn creates a wonderful cast of characters that will make you laugh, swoon, and cry. Cam stole my heart.” – Cora Carmack, NYTimes and USA TODAY Bestselling Author of LOSING IT

“For the love of all that is Cameron without a shirt on! Wait for You will have you laughing out loud, fanning yourself and anxiously waiting to know what will happen next.” – Molly McAdams, NYTimes and USA TODAY Bestselling Author of FROM ASHES and TAKING CHANCES

I don't think I have ever read a NA Contemporary novel with as much depth as this one. It really moved me and by the end I was just speechless over how inspirational and uplifting it was as well as being sexy and cute and funny and emotional.” - K Books

Wait For You is uniquely different from anything else J. Lynn's written but it might possibly be her best work yet.” – Jenuine Cupcakes

For all of you in love with Aiden and Daemon, PREPARE YOURSELVES! Your heart will have to expand a little more for Cam.” Total Bookaholic

For the love of all things CAM, this book deserves more than 5 stars.” – Mundie Moms

I cannot even begin to explain how much I adored this perfectly crafted contemporary.” – Shortie Says

Excited? Ready to see the cover for WAIT FOR YOU?

Some things are worth waiting for…
Traveling thousands of miles from home to enter college is the only way nineteen-year-old Avery Morgansten can escape what happened at the Halloween party five years ago—an event that forever changed her life. All she needs to do is make it to her classes on time, make sure the bracelet on her left wrist stays in place, not draw any attention to herself, and maybe—please God—make a few friends, because surely that would be a nice change of pace. The one thing she didn’t need and never planned on was capturing the attention of the one guy who could shatter the precarious future she’s building for herself.

Some things are worth experiencing…
Cameron Hamilton is six feet and three inches of swoon-worthy hotness, complete with a pair of striking blue eyes and a remarkable ability to make her want things she believed were irrevocably stolen from her. She knows she needs to stay away from him, but Cam is freaking everywhere, with his charm, his witty banter, and that damn dimple that’s just so… so lickable. Getting involved with him is dangerous, but when ignoring the simmering tension that sparks whenever they are around each other becomes impossible, he brings out a side of her she never knew existed.

Some things should never be kept quiet…
But when Avery starts receiving threatening emails and phone calls forcing her to face a past she wants silenced, she’s has no other choice but to acknowledge that someone is refusing to allow her to let go of that night when everything changed. When the devastating truth comes out, will she resurface this time with one less scar? And can Cam be there to help her or will he be dragged down with her?

And some things are worth fighting for…

Get it NOW!
Here is the best part - you don't have to wait for WAIT FOR YOU! It's available now in electronic format from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. So, what are you waiting for??

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. You can find out more about Jennifer by visiting the following websites:

REVIEW: On Dublin Street (On Dublin Street #1)

On Dublin Street (On Dublin Street #1), by Samantha Young
Published August 31, 2012
Publisher:  NAL
Format:  e-book - own
Genre:  Adult Contemporary Romance

Rating:  4 STARS

(From Goodreads) Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare…

Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well—until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core.

Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached.

But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won’t be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her… down to the very soul.

This was my first Samantha Young book. I actually own several, but I chose On Dublin Street to read first based on recommendations from some good friends. I definitely think that my first Samantha Young experience was a good one. 

I gotta tell you - Jocelyn was a really difficult character to like. I get that the events in the beginning of the book scarred her forever. That they affected who she ended up becoming. All I have to say is that Braden was a VERY patient man. Because, well, frankly, Jocelyn was a bitch most of the time to him. I'm really not quite sure why he was so persistent. Or, maybe I do...

It's obvious that Braden's initial attraction with Jocelyn was pretty physical in nature. What I don't get is, usually, in order for someone to fall in love with someone else, there has to be something else there besides great sex. Right? So, what is it that Braden saw in Jocelyn that made him want more than the great sex? I'm still trying to figure that out. But, it does appear that the sex was really... great, actually. (I'm not kidding about that!)

Braden is the real hero in this story. He takes care of his family, even those that aren't technically his family. He loves the woman that was unlovable. He's hot and rich and has good taste in architecture and design. Oh, and he's Scottish. Accent and everything. 'Nuff said.

Despite my distaste for Jocelyn as a character, I really did enjoy this book. It sucked me in from the first page and kept me there until it was done. I wanted to know how it would end for Joss and Braden - how she intended to conquer her demons and when she planned to admit to herself that she was being an idiot. The last chapter was the best part and made the entire book worth the read.   

February 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This is one meme I can get on board with - I LOVE lists! I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Top Ten Authors on My Auto-Buy List

1. Richelle Mead - The Vampire Academy series was the first YA series I read after Harry Potter, and it absolutely captivated me. Rose and Dimitri's story was just what I needed to chase away my post-Hogwarts blues. And, since then, I've become big fans of the spin-off Bloodlines series. Richelle Mead's newest series, Age of X, starts this summer with Gameboard of the Gods. It will undoubtedly be on my bookshelf as soon as it is released.

2. Julie Kagawa - I believe I've read everything Julie Kagawa has published. I've read every book in the Iron Fey series, including novellas and free shorts. I've read the first in her spin-off series Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten. And, the first in her newest Blood of Eden series was one of my favorites in 2012. I've loved all of them.

3. Amy Plum - Amy Plum has published only three books, all in her Revenants series, and I've rated every one of them 5 stars. If she writes a new series, I'll read it, without question.

4. Chloe Neill - Chloe Neill's Chicagoland Vampires series is my favorite urban fantasy series. I've read them all (a few of them, I've read several times), and the rest of the books in the series are some of my most eagerly anticipated ones of 2013. I've recently acquired her Dark Elite series, and I can't wait to dive into it.

5. Jennifer L. Armentrout - Jennifer L. Armentrout is the Book Boyfriend Queen. Between Daemon Black in the Lux series, Aiden St. Delphi in the Covenant series and the Gamble Brothers in her Gamble Brothers series, I can't decide who is the most dreamy. She sure knows how to create unforgettable heroes and heroines. Her first NA book is coming out on March 4 - Wait For You. I can't wait to read it!

6. Tahereh Mafi - Shatter Me was unbelievable. I've never encountered that style of writing before, but I was an immediate uber-fan. It was incredibly captivating and intriguing. And, her books have elicited such strong emotion. I think I will read anything this talented woman writes.

7. J.R. Ward - J.R. Ward created the Black Dagger Brotherhood. That's enough for me. I've read them all, and I've recently started her Fallen Angels series. Ward writes some seriously amazing guys.

8. Cinda Williams Chima - I read Chima's Heir Chronicles series two years ago, and I thought it was so unique. Although I wasn't a big fan of high fantasy, I gave her Seven Realms series a try, and found it was one of the most amazingly epic series I've ever read. She will now be continuing the Heir Chronicles series with a few more books, and I'll definitely be along for the ride.

9. Patricia Briggs - Briggs created the Mercy Thompson series and the spin-off Alpha and Omega series, both of which are favorites of mine in the UF genre. Mercy, Adam and the pack members almost feel like members of my own family at this point. I can't wait to see where they go next.

10. Cassandra Clare - I started with Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices series. Clockwork Angel fascinated me so much so that it spurred me to start her Mortal Instruments series right away. City of Bones had been out for years before I picked it up. I'm not sure why I waited so long. I was so captivated from page one. The final installments in both series are due out within a year's time, as is the large screen adaptation of City of Bones. And, you know I'll be pre-buying both the books and the movie tickets.

February 25, 2013

NEW ADULT MONDAYS: The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden (Coincidence #1)

You all have heard me singing the praises of the New Adult genre for a few months now. And I'm not the only one. I've been seeing NA books reviewed all over the blogosphere. Their bad boys and big problems and epic loves make them engrossing tales that are so easy to lose yourself in. What's not to love about that? And, now, thanks to the cool chicks at Bewitched Bookworms, we can show these books the love they deserve in a bi-weekly feature - New Adult Mondays.

The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden (Coincidence #1), by Jessica Sorensen
Published December 13, 2012
Publisher:  Sphere
Format:  e-book - own
Genre:  New Adult Contemporary

Rating:  4 STARS

(From Goodreads) There are those who don’t get luck handed to them on a shiny platter, who end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, who don’t get saved.

Luck was not on Callie’s side the day of her twelfth birthday when everything was stolen from her. After it’s all over, she locks up her feelings and vows never to tell anyone what happened. Six years later her painful past consumes her life and most days it’s a struggle just to breathe.

For as long as Kayden can remember, suffering in silence was the only way to survive life. As long as he did what he was told, everything was okay. One night, after making a terrible mistake, it seems like his life might be over. Luck was on his side, though, when Callie coincidentally is in the right place at the right time and saves him.

Now he can’t stop thinking about the girl he saw at school, but never really knew. When he ends up at the same college as Callie, he does everything he can to try to get to know her. But Callie is reserved and closed off. The more he tries to be part of her life, the more he realizes Callie might need to be saved.

 I love reading book reviews. I mean, obviously, right? They help me select books that I might want to read, and sometimes they help me avoid books that I think I may not like. I read reviews before reading nearly every book. For some reason I didn't for The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden. So, I was totally unprepared for the last page. 

The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden was so good. Callie was equal parts pitiful and heroic. It was fun trying to figure out which version of her was going to come out in the situations she was put in. Callie had such an awful thing happen to her. Something like that, and then the six years after would destroy anyone. Yet, she keeps jumping in to save Kayden. Why does she do that? How does she find the strength? It's intriguing and made this book very, very hard to put down. 

What are the chances that two people with such broken pasts would find each other? It's the whole question risen in the title - is it coincidence? Is it fate? Makes you wonder, really.

Kayden, too is both amazing and sad. The way he protects Callie and tries so hard to help her come out of her shell is inspiring. And takes him to the top of the Best Book Boyfriends list. He meets all the necessary criteria - hot, flawed, supportive, great kisser. The "flawed" part, Kayden has in spades. His home life is beyond dysfunctional. He deals with it as poorly as Callie deals with her stuff. And, yet, when they are together, they find peace. It's the stuff a really great romantic story is made of. 

But, something else that a really great romantic story is made of is a great ending to the story. And, this is the only place that The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden is found lacking. Believe me - I have no problem with cliffhangers. They make stories so exciting sometimes. But, even books with great cliffhangers have a good ending. This book had no ending. It was a cliffhanger with literally no ending. I clicked the advance button on my Kindle and saw the acknowledgments, I was kind of shocked. I thought I had a defective file. But, when I finally went on Goodreads to check out the rest of the reviews, I saw that I did, in fact, have the full version. 

If it hadn't been for that, this would've been near a 5-star book. And, worse yet, no one seems to know when the next book in the series is coming out. I definitely recommend this book. But, I  think it would be best to wait until all three in the series are out so you can read them all in a row. It will cause far less mental anguish that way.

February 22, 2013

REVIEW: The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3)

The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3), by Richelle Mead
Published February 12, 2013
Publisher:  Razorbill
Format:  e-book - own
Genre:  Paranormal Romance, YA
To Buy:  Amazon * Barnes & Noble * The Book Depository

Rating:  4.5 STARS

(From Goodreads) In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch--a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood--or else she might be next.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, the Bloodlines series explores all the friendship, romance, battles, and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive—this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone’s out for blood.

I was so anxious to read The Indigo Spell, mainly for one reason. Adrian needs his HEA. Don't you think it's time already? I mean, the poor guy got the shaft in a big way at the end of the Vampire Academy series. It was clear that he was still miserable in Bloodlines. Finally, in The Golden Lily he has learned to love again, only to be pushed away. How can you not feel for him? And when he says things like this, you have to wonder how Sydney has resisted him this long:
"You can think whatever you want, do whatever you want... I'm going to just go on loving  you, even if it's hopeless." - Adrian
Sydney is a character that I've had a very hard time warming up to. Perhaps it's because she's really not very warm herself. I realize she's been indoctrinated into thinking and acting the way she does. But, to me, she just seems like a big, walking, talking dichotomy. Sydney is a genius. Yet, how she thinks about some things is so backwards and stupid. She knows that the way the Alchemists believe is wrong on so many levels. Her book experience and her own feelings tell her that. Yet, she fights and fights. It's so frustrating, and it makes it seem as if she's much stupider and weaker than she's supposed to be. It makes it so hard to like her. 

And, yet, that's what I found myself doing. Sydney made some tough choices in The Indigo Spell, and in doing so, wormed her way into my heart as a pretty kick ass chick.

Meanwhile, on the flip side, Adrian was always a bit of a flippant ass in the VA series. In Bloodlines, he's got a chance to shine on his own. He's still a flippant ass, but it's tempered with sweet words and kind gestures. He's kind of amazing, you know?
"...you're my flame in the dark. We chase away the shadows around each other. Our backgrounds don't matter. What we have is bigger than that. I love you, and beneath all that logic, calculation and superstition, I know you love me too." - Adrian
There was a ton of pre-release day hype surrounding the enigmatic Marcus Finch and who he was. I was very happy that he didn't dominate the storyline, as I was a little afraid he would. He is a new character, and I did appreciate the new blood injected into the mix. But, let's face it - I was really reading mostly for Sydrian. You do find out exactly who Marcus Finch is, what he wants from Sydney, and how he might shape her future. Thankfully, it's not at all to the detriment of the main story line and the development of Sydney's and Adrian's budding relationship.

I love the way this story is working out. There's self-contained parts to each book that are brought up and resolved within the cover. But, then there's the over-arching story of the Alchemists' involvement in Sydney's and the Moroi's lives. That story has stretched across three books, and is now really starting to heat up. It's very nicely paced - we're not given too much information at a time so as to feel overwhelmed. And, we're given just enough to hold our interest. The same characters we're building a relationship with stay with us, while new characters drift in and out of the story. 

I think The Indigo Spell was the best in the Bloodlines series yet.

February 21, 2013

BEA Newb Notes: What to Pack?

I'm headed to BEA 2013!

I've got my registration confirmation and my hotel room. So, now what?? This will be my first time there, and I always approach new experiences the same way - research, research and more research. And, the more research I do about this amazing event, the more overwhelmed I feel. So, I plan to break down my schizo thoughts in an attempt to:

A.  Get organized
B.  Gather comments from seasoned BEA professionals

So, today, I want to talk about what to pack for a day on the floor.

What To Pack to Survive the Bibliophile-Infested Waters

1. My Kindle 3G - I hear that I will be spending a lot - I mean, A LOT - of time in line at BEA. And, while I do plan to make the most of my time in line and chat it up with other bloggers and book fans, I know I will also have a lot of downtime. I plan to load up my Kindle with books before I leave so that, perhaps I can get some reading done while in line. And, if I find I really want a book, like NOW, I can always download it with my 3G connection.

2. Snacks - In keeping with the theory that I'll spend a lot of time in line, I doubt that, should I need to get in a line at 11 a.m. for an author I'd give my right arm to see, and I'm still in line at 1 p.m., I will want to give up my spot to go spend $10 on a bag of chips and a soda. So, I plan to bring in a bunch of filling snacks like LUNA bars or Cliff Bars and trailmix. Hopefully that will stave off the hungries until the show winds down and I can go somewhere to spend $20 on two pieces of pizza.

3. Filtered Water Bottle - Staying hydrated is very important - speeding from galley drop to galley drop is bound to make a girl thirsty. I'm going to bring along my filtered water bottle so that I can refill it in the bathrooms if I need to.

4. Notepad and Pen - I intend to meet tons of amazing bloggers and publishers at BEA. I know most will have business cards to pass along to me (and I plan to have some of my own to pass on), but in case I want additional information or if someone has run out of cards, I can still collect information from people I meet so that I can follow up with them later.

5. Side-load Plastic Envelopes - Ever the consummate marketer, swag holds a big fascination for me. I intend to collect a lot of it. And, I don't want cool bookmarks getting lost in my bag and crumpled by the books that I will also have in there. So, I will put all my swag in an envelope like this so it can stay all nice and pretty. Pretty swag is good swag.

6.  Cute Ballet Flats - I know I don't technically "work" in the book industry. But I want to represent this blog well, so I want to dress nicely. But, I'd be completely insane to try and spend all day in a pair of heels. So, I need to find some cute ballet flats that I'll be able to walk around in for an entire day without killing my feet. Insoles are an option, but many times those make your shoes not fit quite right. Comfort and cuteness are key.

7. Big, Honkin' Backpack - I've seen on BEA's Web site that roller carts/bags are prohibited. I also know that in previous years, some people have defied that rule and gotten away with it. I have never been a rule breaker (drives my husband nuts sometimes - he says I need to take more risks *rolls eyes*), and I don't intend to start now. But, that leaves me with a dilemma. What do I use to tote around all the books I plan to pick up? The best answer I can come up with is a very big padded backpack. Perhaps like the kind you use for oversized laptops. It won't exactly be the prettiest accessory to go with my cute ballet flats and nice clothes, but hey - a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do when books are involved. Right?

Okay. So, it's your turn. If you've been to BEA, please tell me if I'm missing anything important. Heck - even if you've never been there either, what do you think of my list? My anal-retentive self needs validation that I'm on the right track here.

And, don't forget to check back in next week for another BEA Newb Notes post. I have a lot of thoughts rolling around in his head of mine!

February 20, 2013

REVIEW: If I Should Die (Revenants #3)

If I Should Die (Revenants #3), by Amy Plum
To Be Published May 7, 2013
Publisher:  Harper Teen
Format:  Paperback ARC - provided by Harper Teen
Genre:  Paranormal Romance, YA

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads) I will not lose another person I love. I will not let history repeat itself.

Vincent waited lifetimes to find me, but in an instant our future together was shattered. He was betrayed by someone we both called a friend, and I lost him. Now our enemy is determined to rule over France’s immortals, and willing to wage a war to get what they want.

It shouldn’t be possible, none of it should be, but this is my reality. I know Vincent is somewhere out there, I know he’s not completely gone, and I will do anything to save him.

After what we’ve already fought to achieve, a life without Vincent is unimaginable. He once swore to avoid dying—to go against his nature and forsake sacrificing himself for others—so that we could be together. How can I not risk everything to bring my love back to me?

What a heart-stopping, action-packed, swoon-worthy end to this amazing series. If I Should Die starts mere minutes after the conclusion of Until I Die. (I have to thank the amazing Amy Plum for this. I hate when we lose so much time between books!) If I had had time, I would've re-read Die For Me and Until I Die before starting this book. But, when the ARC for If I Should Die appeared on my doorstep, I started in on it immediately. And, thankfully, Plum's storytelling helped me remember the small bits I had forgotten, which weren't many. So, never fear if you don't have the time for a re-read either. Unlike with some books, I didn't find that I needed it to fall right into the story.

Vincent and Kate's future together were left in limbo when Vincent was, for all intents and purposes, killed. Like, for good. The beginning of If I Should Die was very emotional as we see Kate and the rest of the Paris Revenants trying to come to grips with this fact. Vincent is still with them after a fashion, and those scenes between he and Kate were so heartbreaking. 

But, it is through this situation that we see how Kate has grown since the beginning of Die For Me. Then, her grief nearly paralyzed her, keeping her from living her life to its fullest. Now, in If I Should Die, Kate's grief fuels a fire in her that demands answers and retribution, to some extent. She is spurred to action and doesn't accept what everyone else says is inevitable. 

And, Vincent? Well, he's always been amazing. Hell, even without a body, this guy is one of the most romantic ones ever. His love, protection and dominance over situations has been constant. 

We had a chance to see some of the supporting characters shine in If I Should Die. Ambrose, Aurthur, Jules, Georgia, Gerhard - even Mamie and Papy - added so much depth to this story. So many times, all the life is given to the main two characters and the supporting cast are so cardboard. Flat. If I Should Die is not just the story of Kate and Vincent. It's all these people and how they work together to fix a problem. Well, several problems, really. But they all have so much life. Which is awesome, because I have come to love all these characters so much.  

All of the problems and questions that we had at the end of Until I Die are resolved in one way or another. And, they are resolved in epic, ass kicking fashion. New relationships form. Old ones are stripped apart. I am telling you - it does not disappoint.

While you're waiting for If I Should Die to come out, check out my reviews for Die For Me and Until I Die. Trust me when I tell you to add this book to your TBR pile. Pre-order it. You won't be sorry. 

February 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This is one meme I can get on board with - I LOVE lists! I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Top Ten Favorite Characters in YA/Adult Urban Fantasy

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is to talk about our favorite characters in whatever genre of our choosing. As you can see from my blog, I read books in several different genres, so I've chosen my two favorite!

Young Adult

1. Daemon Black, Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout - Daemon is awful amazing. He's mean and abrasive and cranky protective and brave and sweet. And, he's hot HOT. When he meets Katy, his whole world changes. He finds that there are some things - some people - worth dying for.

2. Alex Andros, Covenant Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout -  Through four books and two novellas, I've been following Alex's story, and she keeps getting more and more awesome. She started out more than a little self-centered and childish, but certain events and relationships caused her to grow up really fast. Now, not only is she a total badass in a fight, but she's a pretty amazing girl all around.

3. Peregrine, Through the Never Sky Series by Veronica Rossi - Perry allowed himself to accept that not everything about someone he was sworn to hate is bad. In doing that, he found love and the possibility for a future. But, first he has to learn how to be a leader and be the savior of all his people. No pressure, right? But, Perry is up for the challenge. He knows he can have it all if he works for it.

4. Han Alister, Seven Realms Series by Cinda Williams Chima -  Han did the near impossible - he improved his station and got the girl of his dreams. A princess, no less. It wasn't always an easy road, but Han never once gave up. He pushed on when everyone told him to give up. Luckily, he's pretty stubborn too.

5. Rose Hathaway, Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead - Rose takes dedication to a new level. Her commitment to keeping her BFF safe leads her to ditch her boarding school for two years. Then, when they're forced to come back, she does all she can to keep her safe and have a life herself too. It's not easy, especially when you're in love with your older (and super hot) fight instructor. But, in the end, Rose's desire to have it all allows her to really have it all.

Adult Urban Fantasy

1. Ethan Sullivan, Chicagoland Vampires Series by Chloe Neill - How can you NOT love this flawed, wonderful man? He cares for the vampires in his charge like a father would. He loves Merit fiercely and wonderfully. Best - yes, BEST - of all, he makes mistakes. Lots of them. It makes him very real. And all that much more desirable.

2. Mercy Thompson, Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs - Mercy has had a hard life. She's the last of her kind. She doesn't have the best relationship with her family. And, she's been alone for a long time. Yet, she made a good life for herself, made friends, and found love. She perseveres. And, you know, she can turn into a coyote at will. Which is pretty damn cool.

3. The Brothers, The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by J. R. Ward - Choosing just one brother would be like picking my favorite kid or eating just one M&M. So, I'm picking all of them as a collective group. Wrath, Rhage, Tohrment, Zsadist, Phury, Butch, John Matthew, Quhinn and Blaylock (and before all you die-hard fans call foul on those last three, I know they're not technically Brothers, but they should be and hopefully will be soon!) fight and love so passionately, it's made these books one of my favorite series ever.

4. Gabriel Keene, Chicagoland Vampires Series by Chloe Neill - I know Gabriel is only a side character in the Chicagoland Vampires series, but he certainly has made an impression on me. He is fiercely loyal, the best friend to have. He's also a family man who loves his wife and baby son. How could you not love a shifter like that?

5. Jamie Fraser, Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon - Jamie Fraser had me at "Ay, Lass." He saved Claire from an evil man and then never left her side. He stayed true to her for more than 20 years even when they weren't always together. Now, that is devotion.

February 18, 2013

REVIEW: Apollyon (Covenant #4)

Apollyon (Covenant #4), by Jennifer L. Armentrout
To Be Published April 9, 2013
Publisher:  Spencer Hill Press
Format:  Paperback ARC - Around The World ARC Tours
Genre:  Paranormal Romance, YA, Greek Mythology

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Fate isn’t something to mess with… and now, neither is Alex.

Alex has always feared two things: losing herself in the Awakening and being placed on the Elixir. But love has always been stronger than Fate, and Aiden St. Delphi is willing to make war on the gods—and Alex herself—to bring her back.

The gods have killed thousands and could destroy entire cities in their quest to stop Seth from taking Alex’s power and becoming the all-powerful God Killer. But breaking Alex’s connection to Seth isn’t the only problem. There are a few pesky little loopholes in the whole “an Apollyon can’t be killed” theory, and the only person who might know how to stop the destruction has been dead for centuries.

Finding their way past the barriers that guard the Underworld, searching for one soul among countless millions, and then somehow returning will be hard enough. Alex might be able to keep Seth from becoming the God Killer… or she might become the God Killer herself.

Jennifer L. Armentrout's Covenant series has come a long way since the novella, Daimon (Covenant #0.5) was released in May of 2011. Daimon and Half-Blood (Covenant #1) were the only books in the Covenant series that didn't get 5 stars from me. And, the only reason they didn't is because they seemed so much like other series I've read. 

But, since then, the series has gotten further and further away from what I know and closer and closer to something truly completely unique. Armentrout is slowly starting to pull the loose ends together of this incredible story she's weaving, and when I look back on where the story started, it kind of amazes me. 

I look back at the character that Alex was in the beginning - abrasive, detached, childish at times. In Apollyon, Alex really has to reach deep down and find her bedazzled big girl panties and put them on. She had the best excuse of any character I've ever read about to just curl in a ball and forget about the rest of the world forever. To let her guilt and sorrow consume her. But, she doesn't. And THAT is why I love this character more than any other. 

Alex mettle is tested and proven in Apollyon. She faces some serious stuff and doesn't back down. Oh no. In fact, she takes on the biggest, baddest stuff that is thrown at her - war, death, and even an extra mopey boyfriend. I really love to see how Alex has matured over the books. I think she is at her best in Apollyon.

And, Aiden. Well, this review wouldn't be complete without talking about him.I've loved Aiden since the beginning. It's was apparent from the minute he met Alex in Daimon (Covenant #0.5) that he loved her. But, he was always very good at playing the chivalrous guy who sacrificed his own desires and feelings in order to do what he thought was the right thing. 

The awesome thing about Aiden is that he knows how to adapt to the current situation. And when the world is going to hell in a hand basket, I love that he's man enough to stand up for what he wants. Lord knows he deserves it. In Deity (Covenant #3) he finally admitted his feelings for Alex right before he lost her. In Apollyon, I think Aiden has gotten to the place where he says to hell with the rest of the world. If I can get her back, I'm never letting her go again. I LOVE (like, L-O-V-E) the new Aiden. He's romantic and attentive and protective. And, he cusses! That is awesome! 

But, this love - this BIG LOVE - between he and Alex is why I read books. It gave me the "sighs." I can't even tell you how many times I was afflicted with the sighs in Apollyon. 

The action is great in Apollyon. The bad guy is and isn't whom I expected. Meaning, I figured out who the nasty god was in Deity, but not who he was when he was wearing his "person suit." The displays of Alex's power were fun (like, how amazed she still is with herself and what she can do) and impressive. The meeting of the different new gods was really cool too (Hermes, Hades, Persephone, Ares, etc.). And, one of my favorite parts about this series is, even though a character dies, that doesn't necessarily mean that he or she will never be seen again.

Bottom line - Apollyon is the real deal. It's the most romantic book I've ever read. The wicked ass-kicking scenes are gripping and exciting. It's emotional - whoo boy is it emotional. If you haven't started the Covenant series yet, please, please do yourself a favor and read Daimon (Covenant #0.5) today. The arc is amazing - I promise you. And, we are now only one book away from what is sure to be an incredible ending.  

February 15, 2013

REVIEW: Gabriel's Inferno (Gabriel's Inferno #1)

Gabriel's Inferno (Gabriel's Inferno #1), by Sylvain Reynard
Published April 4, 2011
Publisher:  Omnific Publishing
Format:  Paperback - own
Genre:  Adult Contemporary Romance

Rating:  3 STARS

(From Goodreads) Enigmatic and sexy, Professor Gabriel Emerson is a well respected Dante specialist by day, but by night he devotes himself to an uninhibited life of pleasure. He uses his notorious good looks and sophisticated charm to gratify his every whim, but is secretly tortured by his dark past and consumed by the profound belief that he is beyond all hope of redemption. When the sweet and innocent Julia Mitchell enrolls as his graduate student, his attraction and mysterious connection to her not only jeopardizes his career, but sends him on a journey in which his past and his present collide. An intriguing and sinful exploration of seduction, forbidden love and redemption, "Gabriel's Inferno" is a captivating and wildly passionate tale of one man's escape from his own personal hell as he tries to earn the impossible...forgiveness and love.

I had to sit and stew on this one for a bit. Truthfully, as soon as I read the last page, I was prepared to give Gabriel's Inferno 4 or even 4.5 stars. But, then, as I digested the details and the characters, I found it lacking in many ways. 

First off, it felt like Gabriel and Julia were caricatures of who they were supposed to be - especially Julia. For entire 500+ page book, Julia is scared of her own shadow. She's meek and weak and a bit of a doormat. She's everything I don't like in a female lead. I gave her allowances because she apparently had this big bad thing happen in her past, which involved a guy, so this obviously played a hand in her current state of mind. I've got to tell you - when we finally find out what this big, bad event was, it was a bit unbelievable. And, extremely anticlimactic.

Then there's Gabriel. He started out being an uber-ahole. I mean, he was HORRIBLE. Then, with a few words from Julia, he changes. And, I mean, he does a 180. On a dime. It is explained why, and, it all goes back to a chance encounter seven years earlier when he was drunk and high. Seriously. Those few hours that one night apparently changed his life so dramatically that all logic and reason went on a nice vacay. 

Gabriel was incredibly patient with Julia. Almost annoyingly so. He was doting and attentive and sweet. He would ask her about her past and she just couldn't talk about it because it was too emotionally compromising. And he would pet her hair and snuggle up with her and tell her it was okay. See, my biggest problem with this is that there are no guys out there like this. How is it that the books I read about vampires and werewolves seem more real than Gabriel? No one - guy or girl - is  like Gabriel. Once he decides his whole world is Julia, he never once acts like a jerkface. Sorry, but everyone acts like a jerk every now and then. Not Gabriel.

What's more, is that for some reason, when I found out that the author was a male, it made it even more frustrating. Is that really how he thinks guys are? Really? I know that shouldn't have any bearing on how I look at this book, but for some reason, it does. 

While I was reading the book, I was definitely captivated by Gabriel's and Julia's story. I couldn't wait to discover their secrets and see them finally come together - in every sense of the word. Despite Gabriel's constant placating, a lot of the time, he seemed really sweet and romantic. It was for these reasons that this book received the three stars that it got. I never thought I'd find myself wishing for a guy to NOT be so romantic. But, I guess there's a first for everything.

February 14, 2013

REVIEW: Across the Universe (Across the Universe #1)

Across the Universe (Across the Universe #1), by Beth Revis
Published January 11, 2011
Publisher:  Razorbill
Format:  Audiobook - borrowed from library
Genre:  YA dystopian/sci-fi

Rating:  4 STARS

(From Goodreads) A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

Across the Universe was one of the more thought-provoking books I've read in a long time. It sparked several conversations around my family's dinner table. What would we do if given the choice that Amy was given - stay among what is comfortable and familiar, but be without your parents? Or, embark on an adventure to an unknown world where the only people you know are your parents? 

Do we agree with the stated "three main causes of discord?" 

I thought Amy was really amazing. I can't even begin to imagine all she went through, and she allowed herself a few opportunities to completely fall apart. But, for the most part, she was strong and resilient and really persistent. Revis made her so real - she was a great character. 

Elder and Eldest were a bit more cardboard, but I think they were supposed to be. I gathered that Elder was drawn to Amy by her extreme physical differences and her aversion to authority. But did he like her so much to want to kiss her so soon? Did he really love her that early? And, was it all enough for him to shun everything he had been raised to accept as reality? It was a little hard to believe. 

But, what a compelling and unique story! Especially for someone who was raised on Star Trek. I've always been a fan of the starship shows, but this was the first book about them that I've ever read. Not only was it a fun story about a crazy trip through the universe, it talked about a lot of issues that were socially and politically charged. Racism, socialism, fascism - it's all addressed in some futuristic, spacey way.

Across the Universe definitely gave me food for thought. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series to see where Revis takes Amy and Elder and the crew of the Godspeed next. Will they ever reach Centauri Earth? Will the ship be thrown into chaos? I can't wait to find out.

February 13, 2013

REVIEW: Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2)

Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2), by Tahereh Mafi
Published February 5, 2013
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Format:  Hardback - own
Genre:  YA dystopian

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads)tick





it's almost

time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life.

I have never read a book as captivating as Unravel Me. Mafi's writing is beautiful, poetic, heartbreaking, amazing - she's my new auto-buy author.

I cried so much while reading Unravel Me. While it was an amazing book, Unravel Me had a pall cast upon it from the very beginning. Juliette is questioning her place at Omega Point, her relationship with Adam, her own abilities - she isn't sure of anything. And, her despair is palpable. It's almost something tangible that you can pluck off the pages. And, it made me feel so, so sad. 

Shatter Me was also kind of a sad book. But, the difference between the two was the presence of hope. In Shatter Me, Juliette finds Adam and falls in love with him. He is her hope for a future she never thought she would have. He is a source of joy for her for the first time ever. And, in Unravel Me, Adam's light is diminished. There's stress and pressure and complications. And WARNER. 

Warner is different in this book too. Honestly, he's the most honest character in this book. He says what he wants and he is brutally truthful. He was the antithesis of Juliette. She's keeping secrets, wallowing in self-loathing and insecure. I loved it when Kenji gave her a proverbial bitch slap up alongside her head. 

Unravel Me makes you wonder whether one structured society is better than another. When one falls, there will always be another one poised to take its place. Is it better? Worse? Intentions might be good, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Is Omega Point any better than the Reestablishment? Is Castle better than Anderson? It's hard to say yet. But, questions have been raised in my mind - questions that I know will be answered in the final book. 

There is a love triangle in Unravel Me, but unlike in many YA books, it didn't bother me. In fact, it almost seemed necessary. It was a means to an end, the end being to get Juliette to a place where she can stand on her own two feet. I will endure the silly love triangle if it helps create the bad ass female character that I need in my stories. Ultimately, though, I'm still rooting for Adam. He and Juliette have a shared history that she and Warner will never have. There HAS to be a way around their seemingly impossible problem. I can't wait to see what Mafi has in store for them. 

Unravel Me is a delicious mix of pain and pleasure. Books that make you FEEL are what the experience is all about. Warner's frustration, Juliette's hopelessness, Adam's anger - I felt it all, and the piecing together of words to elicit that reaction is a wonder.    

February 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This is one meme I can get on board with - I LOVE lists! I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Top Ten Favorite Romances

1. Ethan and Merit, Chicagoland Vampire series - First Ethan and Merit were enemies, then colleagues, then friends, and finally, FINALLY, lovers.

2. Dimitri and Rose, Vampire Academy series - Rose never gave up on Dimitri, even when things looked impossible for them.

3. Ash and Meghan, Iron Fey series - Ash gave up everything for Meghan, then risked what he had left to keep her.

4. Jamie and Claire, Outlander series - Wars, cultural differences, and even hundreds of years couldn't keep Jamie and Claire apart.

5. Daemon and Katy, Lux series - After Daemon saved her life, Katy realized she couldn't live without him.

6. Christian and Ana, Fifty Shades of Grey series - Ana's love helped Christian overcome his demons.  

7. Vincent and Kate, Revenants series - Even death can't keep Vincent and Kate apart.

8. Zsadist and Bella, Black Dagger Brotherhood series - Bella loved Zsadist when he was completely unlovable.

9. Aiden and Alex, Covenant series - Everyone said they couldn't be together, which made Alex even more determined to have Aiden in her life.

10. Adam and Mercy, Mercy Thompson series - Adam's tenderness and patience won Mercy's respect, loyalty and her love. 

February 11, 2013

NEW FEATURE: New Adult Mondays

You all have heard me singing the praises of the New Adult genre for a few months now. And I'm not the only one. I've been seeing NA books reviewed all over the blogosphere. Their bad boys and big problems and epic loves make them engrossing tales that are so easy to lose yourself in. What's not to love about that?

Some of the coolest chicks in blogging - Danny, Pushy and Heather from Bewitched Bookworms - started a new feature a few months ago to pay homage to the awesomeness that is the NA genre. And, now that feature is coming here. Starting two weeks from today, Krista's Dust Jacket will host New Adult Mondays every other Monday.

A big thanks goes out to the Bewitched Bookworms for giving me permission to jump on their super cool bandwagon. Check out their post today to find out what New Adult Mondays are all about. And, stay tuned here for regular NA reviews on New Adult Mondays!

February 9, 2013


Tour Schedule

Talisman of El (Talisman of El #1), by Alecia Stone
Published May 20, 2012
Publisher:  Centrinian Publishing
Format:  Kindle e-book - own
Genre:  Urban Fantasy

Rating:  3.5 STARS


One Planet.

Two Worlds.

Population: Human ... 7 billion.
Others ... unknown.

When 14-year-old Char­lie Blake wakes up sweat­ing and gasp­ing for air in the mid­dle of the night, he knows it is hap­pen­ing again. This time he wit­nesses a bru­tal mur­der. He's afraid to tell any­one. No one would believe him ... because it was a dream. Just like the one he had four years ago - the day before his dad died.

Char­lie doesn't know why this is hap­pen­ing. He would give any­thing to have an ordi­nary life. The prob­lem: he doesn't belong in the world he knows as home.

He belongs with the others.

Talisman of El certainly was a feast for the eyes. You like Greek mythology? You got it! Angels and demons more your speed? They're there! Magic? Fights? Puppy love? Yes, yes, yes!

Talisman of El reminded me a little of the Gregor the Overlander series. A kid finds his way underground and discovers a whole other world with a different race of people. Talisman of El is like that on steroids.

Charlie is a kid who has been dealt a rotten hand. I felt so bad for him in the beginning, but then he sucked it up and tried to do something about it. I prefer main characters who don't lay down and die (proverbially, that is). Charlie knows something in his life is wrong and incomplete, and then people are put into his path who can help him do something about it. I like that he took that and ran with it even though the trip was a little unbelievable.

The supporting characters were pretty well developed, although I'm still not quite sure what Rich added to the story. He seemed to be there just for the food.Where did he come from? Why did he stick around? What did he add to the story? None of that was ever explained.

My biggest problem with Talisman of El is that the worldbuilding was very complex. TOO complex. There are Rulers and Elders and Lightbearers and a bunch of other people with different titles. They all have different abilities and non-abilities. Some could go here but not there. Group A could date Group B but not Group C. It was all very confusing - I couldn't keep them all straight. And, it seemed significant to the story in some way, which made me frustrated, because I just didn't get it.  

There are elements of mythology, religion, and fantasy. I wish the author had just picked one and gone with it. Instead, there was a little of everything, but not enough of any one thing.

Even so, after a slow start, Talisman of El picked up and kept moving at a lightning pace. There was lots of action, mysteries to be solved, a new world to discover. There were a lot of great moments and an endearing ending. I did feel satisfied at the end and am looking forward to the next book in the series. Arcadia's secrets have only started to be revealed, and I look forward to find out more of them, as well as a further understanding of the people who live there.

Book Trailer


Author Alecia Stone - Interview

1. Dreams play a big part in Talisman of El. Did the concept for the book come to you in this way? If not, how did the ideas for the plot and characters come to you?

I’ve always been fascinated by dreams, but no, the concept for Talisman Of El didn’t come to me in this way. The character of Charlie Blake yields a lot of special abilities – having the ability to see things before they happen in the form of dreams being one of those abilities. Charlie was actually influenced by someone I know who has a unique ability – not quite to the extent of Charlie’s – to see things before they happen. The story started with the main character and just developed from there. The characters drive the story through their actions and interactions.

2. Do the words come easily most of the time? How do you unblock your writer’s block?

Thankfully, I haven’t experienced writer’s block just yet. Fingers crossed, things remain that way. For the most part, the words do come easily to me, which I’m thankful for.

3. Talisman of El features characters with special abilities. Do you wish you had a special ability? If so, which super power would you want?

Oh, yes, I do wish I had a special ability. I would want the ability to manifest my thought into reality.

4. Do you have any plans for a new series after Talisman of El trilogy is finished?

I currently don’t have any plans for a new series, but who knows, when I finish the trilogy, something could pop into my head. For now, I think I’ll just focus on finishing this trilogy.

5. If you could have dinner with any author, who would it be, and what would you like to talk about?

I would like to have dinner with George Orwell. I loved 1984, and what we would talk about is the mysterious Room 101.

'You asked me once,' said O'Brien, 'what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.'

I wonder what Orwell would say is the worst thing in the world.

“Fast Ten” questions!

1. Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla.

2. Favorite color? Navy Blue.

3. Look up, and tell me what the first thing is you see. Darkness. It’s night right now.

4. Do you love roller coasters? Nope. Not a fan of theme park rides – or rather my stomach isn’t a fan.

5. Summer or winter? Summer.

6. Favorite book? Pride and Prejudice & Peter Pan (I’m indecisive okay).

7. How many pets do you have? None.

8. Country or city? Country.

9. What was your first job? Customer Service Rep in a courier company.

10. Have you visited another country? I’ve been to about three different countries.

Alecia Stone is the author of Talisman Of El (Centrinian, 2012), the first book in the Talisman Of El trilogy. She graduated with a BA in Film & TV and has worked in television for a short period of time before branching out into storytelling. Alecia loves anything and everything paranormal. Her fascination with all things supernatural sparked her obsession with books, particularly young adult fantasy fiction, which she has never grown out of. She was inspired to become an author after reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen at the age of fourteen.

In 2008, Alecia started working on Talisman Of El, a contemporary young adult fantasy fiction inspired by people who disappeared mysteriously, including, but not limited to, Amelia Earhart and Percy Harrison Fawcett, who went on an expedition in search of an ancient lost city. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys going to the movies, listening to music, and travelling.

Talisman Of El is her first novel. At present, Alecia lives in England, United Kingdom with her family.

Blog Tour Giveaway
3 Print copies of Talisman of El
Open Internationally
Ends 2/18/13

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February 8, 2013

GIVEAWAY HOP: Romance Is In The Air

What can I say? Romance does it for me. No matter what I'm reading - urban fantasy, YA, paranormal - if there isn't at least a teensy bit of romance in the story, it feels lacking to me. So, I fully embrace this particular giveaway hop, sponsored by I Am A Reader Not A Writer and Rachael Anderson.

Lately, I've especially been taken with the New Adult genre. They are so angsty, so emotional - so ROMANTIC. So, for this hop, I'm offering up the first NA book I ever read. For those who are new to this genre, this is a good one to start with. It's not nearly as raw as some. It's more YA with a little kick. I give you, Slammed, by Colleen Hoover.

If the Book Depo ships to you, I'll send you a copy of this wonderfully touching, romantic book. It's about poetry, for crying out loud. It's PERFECT for Valentine's Day. Good luck!

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