Friday, December 19, 2014

Hello everyone,
Today is my post date for one of my most anticipated novels of late 2014, This Shattered World by by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. Yup, all these months since I read These Broken Stars around this time in 2013 I've been counting down the days and it's finally here!

Check out the cover and the synopsis.

The second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.


Unfortunately, with all the craziness around this time of the year I am not able to finish This Shattered World before my blog post date.


But, since I already read more than half the book and I'm just so in love with it (almost as much as I was with These Broken Stars--read my review here), I am going to list reasons why you should pick up the Starbound series.

1. This Shattered World is a companion to These Broken Stars. So, if you haven't read TBS, you can still read TSW no problem.

2. The world the authors created is just stunning. It's so beautifully imaginative and vast. The authors could do so much with the world they created. I know there's a war going on, but I want to live in Lee and Flynn's world and explore it all.

3. I was going to save this reason last, but heck. The romance, you guys. It's kinda Romeo and Juliet-feel to their romance--not the tragic kind but because they are from opposing sides of the same war. Like with Lilac and Tarver, there was initial attraction between Lee and Flynn, but the way their feelings developed was gradual. It all flowed so naturally--the author's really know their stuff when it comes to romance. And O.M.G., if you thought Lilac and Tarver's romance was epic, Lee and Flynn's love was just as beautiful, intense, complicated and epic.

4. I want to be Lee! She's fantastic. So kick-ass and sassy, tough and smart. Love her!

5. Flynn is bae. That is all.

6. This Shattered World is a page-turner. And I don't use those words lightly. I know, I know I'm not done reading it but if I don't go to sleep each night with the thought that I need to have a good night sleep to deal with 21 second-graders the next day, I'd totally stay up late into the night reading. As it is, I'm counting down the hours to later tonight because I can finally read the rest of the book straight through since tomorrow is Saturday.

7. This has nothing to do with the actual story, but you're going to want that gorgeous cover of This Shattered World right next to that other gorgeous cover of These Broken Stars on your bookshelf. Whoever's designing these covers know what they are doing. I hope they keep up with the theme.

8. Stop reading this post and go take advange of the special pre-order offer though the Books of Wonder:


If this is the first post you came across of this blog tour, there's more blog tour goodness going on. Stop by The Midnight Garden blog for all the links to the participating blogs.

There's a also an awesome giveaway you can enter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Alrighty, I hope I have convinced you somewhat to pick up This Shattered World--it's out next week Tuesday, December 23rd. I will eventually post my real review after I finish reading it so look out for that.

Happy reading,
Michelle

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

E-ARC: 352 pages
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: December 16, 2014
Source of my copy: Forever/Netgalley
Series: The Artist Trilogy #3
Synopsis
The third and final installment in Karina Halle's USA Today bestselling Artists Trilogy, now available in mass market paperback.

The Faster They Live, the Harder They Fall . . .

Raised by con artists, Ellie Watt has a lot of crazy childhood memories-but none crazier than being scarred with acid by the demented crime boss Travis Raines. Now Ellie is a full-grown woman who lives for revenge, and Travis is a full-blown drug lord who kills for pleasure. The sadistic bastard has kidnapped her good friend Gus as well as her mother, whom he's been holding as prized possessions in his heavily guarded lair. And Ellie has only one chance in hell of getting them out alive-using two dangerous men who love her to death . . .

One is Camden McQueen, a talented tattoo artist who's made a permanent mark on Ellie's heart. The other is Javier Bernal, her fiery ex-lover who's busted more than a few heads in his time. From the crime-ridden streets of Mexico City to the predatory jungles of Honduras, this unlikely trio forms an uneasy alliance in the deadliest game of all-a gun-blazing battle to the finish that will pit enemy against enemy and lover against lover. And Ellie must choose the right man to trust . . . or die.



I don't know quite how to rate Bold Tricks, you guys. I like it but I also had a big issue with it. I guess I'll just go with 

If you had not read the first two books in the Artist Trilogy, do not read this post. You need to read the books in the trilogy in order (Sins & Needles is book one and Shooting Scars is book two--click on the links to read my thoughts about each book) because they are a continuation of each other. If you have not read Bold Tricks, it's probably not a good idea to read this post. I'm going to be spoiling a major plot point.

The Artist Trilogy is the most unique romance I've read so far. None of the main characters, Ellie, Camden and Javier, are cut in a black-and-white/good guys vs. bad guys way. All of the have a dark side and all made questionable choice throughout the series, and there's a strong love triangle (yes, Ellie sleeps with both men--this is not usually my cup of tea but there it surprisingly works!). Basically, the series does not follow the typical romance novel rules and this fact made me kind of uncomfortable. But, at the same time it was refreshing, because it's almost like reading outside the box for me--this trilogy was a unique experience all its own. So, if you want to read a romance novel turned on its head, then check out The Artist Trilogy. 

Bold Tricks was a really good read--if you read the first two books in the series then this novel is a must-read for you. I liked it a lot. BUT I had a big issue with it: how the love triangle was resolved. I was spoiled (I was okay knowing this spoiler because I wanted to root for the guy who ends up with the girl--I didn't want to root for the other guy and be disappointed) and I knew that the end game was that Ellie was going to end up with Camden. That's why I kind of hardened myself against Javier even though he had some really fantastic moments and explosive chemistry with Ellie. By the end of Shooting Scars I couldn't wait to see how the love triangle would get resolve. I mean, I knew who Ellie would choose but not how Ellie came about her with her final decision.

I expected something a lot more than what I actually got in Bold Tricks. Ellie made her choice, but the way things happened... it lacked a build up that was in Shooting Scars where Ellie struggled with her feelings for Camden and Javier. It felt too easy when she made her choice. And then after she picked Camden, Javier got awful and mean quickly. It almost felt like the author is all, to the Team Javier fans, "See, Ellie made the right choice. Javier is not the guy for her." That part just left me leaving wanting. I wanted more fireworks and struggle there.

But, like I said, Bold Tricks is still a great read. It is well-written in Karina Halle's signature writing. There's plenty of action to keep you at the edge of your seat, all leading up to the final showdown. The revelations that we've been waiting for were also revealed. Despite my issue, I was still super into this novel. If you've read Sins & Needles and Shooting Scars there is no reason to not pick up Bold Tricks. If you have not picked up Sins & Needles yet, what are you waiting for?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hello everyone,
I am happy to announce that Kristen Ashley's newest novel Kaleidoscope comes out today, December 16.


Kaleidoscope is the sixth book in the Colorado Mountain series. I've only read one of Kristen Ashley's book (Own the Wind) and I don't usually pick up series books (even if the stories focus on a different couple every book), but Kaleidoscope has two of my favorite romance tropes combined.
When old friends become new lovers...anything can happen.

Sexy, gifted, and loyal, PI Jacob Decker is a tall, cool drink of perfection who had Emmanuelle Holmes at "hello." His relationship with Emme's best friend kept them apart for years, but things have changed. Now that a case has brought him to Gnaw Bone, Colorado, the road is wide open for Emme and Deck to explore something hotter and deeper than Emme dreamed possible. So why is she sabotaging the best thing that's ever happened to her?

It isn't easy to catch Deck off guard, but Emme does just that when she walks back into his life after nine long years. The curvy brunette had her charms back in the day, but now she's a bona fide knockout . . . and she wants to rekindle their friendship. Deck, however, wants more. Emme's always been the one; she excites Deck's body and mind like no other woman can. But a dark chapter from Emme's past overshadows their future together. Now only Deck can help her turn the page-if she'll let him . . .
Yep, it's a reunion and friends to lovers story and I'm a sucker for both.

Unfortunately, because of the holiday craziness, work craziness (it's the last week before my students leave for winter break and the last week of second quarter--grades ARGH!!) and just all around craziness right now I'm behind on my reading, reviewing and blogging. BUT, Kaleidoscope is next on my TBR and I'm so excited to pick it up. I really enjoyed the one book I've read by Kristen Ashley and I've been meaning to read more of her books AND it's a reunion friends to lovers. Can't wait!

Anywho, I'm part of the launch day celebration.

If you ladies (or gentlemen), are interested in winning a copy of Kaleidoscope and the rest of the Colorado Mountain series, here ya go...
a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you're interested in purchasing your copy, here are some online retailers** you can visit.


and don't forget to


About the author:
Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write. Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake. Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up. And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.



Happy reading,
Michelle


**We are not affiliated with any online retailers--clicking on the links will not earn us any referral fees.

Monday, December 15, 2014

E-ARC: 320 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: December 2, 2014
Source of my copy: InkSlingerPR
Series: Barnes Brothers #2
Synopsis
Tattoo artist Keelie Jessup can handle that someone else has claimed the man of her dreams. She’s just not pleased with her remaining options…

Keelie doesn’t believe in the “perfect man.” But the men who are worth the trouble are usually taken—like her business partner Zach Barnes. After a string of bad luck and the lost chance with Zach, Keelie decides that maybe flying solo—and living with suppressed desires—is the key to happiness.

As a photographer, Zane Barnes has an eye for the human form, and his eyes can’t get enough of Keelie’s curves. Unfortunately, Keelie is like most women—always fawning over his little brother, Zach. Zane is about ready to give up, but then a few stolen moments at his brother’s wedding have him thinking maybe there’s a chance there after all. Now he just has to prove that the perfect man does exist…for her.



I read the first book in the Barnes Brothers series (Zach and Abby's story) Wrecked last year and I quite enjoyed it so I didn't hesitate to pick up Razed, the second** book in the series. I'm giving Razed


Razed is Zane (a freelance photographer) and Keelie's (who co-owns a tattoo parlor with Zach) book. They were introduced in Wrecked, and even though Keelie had a huge crush on Zach, there was tension between her and Zane. That tension made me eager to read their story.

Zane liked Keelie for years and he asked her out every once in a while only to get rejected. Razed opened up at Zach and Abby's wedding, and of course, Zane and Keelie were there. They had a hot encounter and suddenly Keelie couldn't stop thinking about Zane. Sure, Keelie admired Zane's work and found him attractive, but she never took him seriously when he asked her out over the years and her focus was on a different Barnes brother, Zach. But since their encounter at the wedding, she realized that she and Zane had the chemistry she never had with Zach.

It took me a while to really get into Razed. One hundred pages in and I was still unsure about Zane and Keelie. Zane had liked Keelie from afar for the passed three years and it's great that he's finally making his moves on her. But I couldn't really get a handle on his character. He had this aloof air about him and he was definitely keeping something back. Keelie was very attracted to Zane, but she ran hot and cold. I dislike wishy washy characters so I couldn't really warm up to her character either.

Both Keelie and Zane were keeping secrets. And when the secrets began to come out, especially about Keelie's past, that's when I finally got more into the story and Zane and Keelie's characters.

I did find Zane's character refreshing. These days it seemed that every hero in romance is an Alpha. Zane was not. He was a quiet, sensible man. He cared for and was supportive of his brothers--he was the responsible, level-headed one. The way he pursued and courted Keelie--he knew when to pull back and he never tried to push her or control her and I really liked how sweet he was. 

Keelie's character did grow on me. She had kind of a prickly personality and didn't let anybody come close because of what happened to her. It was great watching her character change as she dealt with her horrible past and how her relationship with Zane let her open up. But leading up to that, I just got annoyed with her when she kept pushing Zane away even though he did nothing to deserve it.

Even though I had a hard time getting into the story for about a third of the book, Razed ended up being a good read in the end. I really like the dynamic between the Barnes brothers and the glimpses we got of the others left me intrigued. I will be keeping my eye on the third book in the series. I did like Wrecked a bit more than Razed but if you read Wrecked and liked it, then Razed is definitely worth picking up.


**You do not need to read Wrecked in order to enjoy Razed, but you'll enjoy Razed more if you do. Zach and Abby return as secondary characters and were mentioned quite a bit.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book I Covet: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 with
I haven't read a lot of novels inspired by A Thousand and One Nights so that's definitely a huge draw for me. And it's blurbed by Marie Lu so is one of my favorite authors. This book seems to have win all over it.

A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.


The Wrath and the Dawn will be released on May 12, 2015. Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.



What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Leave us a comment with a link so we can check your WoW of the week too.



 
"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series we do here on Wednesdays. It will feature books we are very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is basically the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, but we just like the title "books we covet" better. We will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Paperback: 672 pages
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Mistborn #1
Synopsis
Once, a hero rose to save the world. He failed.

For a thousand years since, the world has been a wasteland of ash and mist ruled by the immortal emperor known as the Lord Ruler. Every revolt has failed miserably.

Yet somehow, hope survives. Hope that dares to dream of ending the empire and defeating the Lord Ruler. A new kind of uprising is being planned—one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind and the determination of an unlikely heroine: a teenage street urchin named Vin.

Once, a hero rose to save the world and failed. This time, can a young heroine succeed?



If you've read other positive reviews of Mistborn, what I am going to say is probably no different. But for what it's worth this is coming from someone who is not a fantasy reader--I've read maybe two other epic fantasy this year. I enjoy and have enjoyed epic fantasy novels in the past but my genre of choice is contemporary and I am more likely to reach for contemporary more than anything else.

But I freakin' I love this book. I'm giving it
I knew early on I was going to like Mistborn.

It took me a little over two weeks to read Mistborn, which is unusual for me because I can typical read a book in 2-3 days. Mistborn is a chunker at 672 pages but I had ample reading time. I could've finished it in half the time it took me, but it's not the kind of novel you fly through and then forget about. Mistborn is the kind of book you have to take your time reading because there was so much (really good) stuff to savor and immerse yourself in.

I am not going to attempt to summarize the plot. Other reviewers and bloggers already have and they have done way a better job than I ever could. I went into Mistborn without really knowing much about the plot--I know the basic premise of course from reading the publisher's summary but that is it. I think the less you know, the better your reading experience will be. You just have to go in and experience the world of Mistborn yourself.

The writing was fantastic. This was my first book by Brandon Sanderson and, holy cow, can the man write! The writing was very engaging and readable, easy to absorb and follow. I have tried to read other epic fantasy novels years and years ago and I was very turned off by the writing and the unpronounceable names, but Sanderson is a master storyteller (also, no problems with weird names here!). He also weaved a complex, multi-layered plot but you are always there with him. There were so many twists and turns and unexpectedness. And, O.M.G., at the end of chapter 34 I was like this
I couldn't believed the author did that. He's not afraid to take risks with his characters and I am even more excited for what's in store for the rest of the series.

The main magic system called Allomancy Sanderson created was fascinating and unique. It is based on metals and alloys. There were eight basic metals and when a Misting (a person who can only burn one specific metal) or a Mistborn (a person who can burn all the metals) ingest them, they are able to have special powers or able to enhance their abilities. It was very well thought out and it was so interesting learning about it along with our main character Vin. Then, we got introduced to another magic called Feruchemy, which is similar to Allomancy but it had it's own rules. But all of the rules of the magic, the way it was presented, was all very easy to grasp--this does not always happen when it comes to magic systems in other fantasy novels I've read. So, bravo Mr. Sanderson for creating a complex, yet understandable magic systems.

As for characters, all of them (even the minor ones) were so fleshed out. They all served a purpose in moving the story forward. I loved the relationship among the crew members, the group of thieves who were plotting to overthrow the Lord Ruler. I really enjoyed the Ocean's Eleven thing they had going on where each of the member had an expertise and each person brings a unique ability to the team. It was wonderful watching Vin become so much more than what she started as, from a street urchin who hid in dark corners into owning her power and becoming a strong, intelligent woman who thought for herself. Kelsier, who was the leader of the thieving crew and the other main character besides Vin, was my favorite. He was one of the "good guys," wise and strong but he was also so flawed, he made mistakes and bad decisions, he was arrogant and self-important at times... he was one of the most interesting characters I've read about in a long time. He was just so fun to read about.  The dynamics, relationships and friendships that developed between Vin, Kelsier, the crew and the other characters were so well done.

The world building in Mistborn is one of the best I've ever read. It was so easy to visualize the world. Everything was fully realized and there was no lengthy info dumping. We learn about the world so seamlessly, bit at a time throughout the story--even when I was at the last chapter I was learning something about the world. A big part of the story was the politics. The Lord Ruler controls the entire land but beneath him were the noble houses, and they were the ones who control the skaa. Through Vin, who was sent to spy on the nobility, we get some court intrigue and the politics among the noble class.

Warning: I'm going to keep things vague but there will be some spoilers in the next paragraph.

I had no true problems with Mistborn, but I guess if I was being nitpicky I thought the whole "I'm in love with him" bit (yes, there was a bit of a romance) came prematurely. I was not convinced that Vin was in love or loved the guy (I'm not going to say who--just read the book!). I believed that they have a friendship, she cared for him, and she liked him a lot, yes, but not love. At least not right then. They only talked a few times, I don't think that's enough time for romantic love to grow. 

Another minor nitpicky thing was that character becoming the king in the end. That left me scratching my head? I thought that came out of nowhere. Sure, he had some progressive/liberal ideas when it came to the skaa that went against the grain and he read books about it, but king? Of course, the others in the crew will probably be there with him behind the scenes but he hadn't really proven himself enough, I think, to be named king. Did they have to name a king? If you've already read Mistborn, what did you think of that whole king thing?

End of spoilers.

Like I said it took me about two weeks to read Mistborn. I'd read a few chapters a day--it kind of became my afternoon treat after work, you know, something to look forward to at the end of the day. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about reading it. When I was reading it, I was consumed by the story and the world. I was actually sad that I was done because my journey with Vin, Kelsier, Sazed and the other characters I've grown to care about was over and I didn't have book two on hand. 

This was meant to be a short review but I have gone on and on. There are so many more gush-y things that I can say about this book. Mistborn was just an extremely readable, well-written novel with fantastic, interesting characters and a well-developed, fascinating world. I am so glad that the publisher is re-doing the covers for a more YA appeal. That means more readers will pick up this book and the rest of the series and experience a truly brilliant epic fantasy story. There really is something in this novel for everyone--action, adventure, mystery, magic, politics, romance, heist mission, friendships, world-building... I highly recommend you pick up Mistborn even if you're not a big fantasy reader like myself. If you are a fantasy reader then Mistborn is a must-read for you.