Sunday, January 31, 2010

"It's Monday! What are you reading?" was created by one of my favorite bloggers, J. Kaye of J. Kaye's Book Blog. It is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week as well as books completed the previous week. Click on the image above to join in on the fun!

Last week I read:



My review of this book here.









This week I am reading:













Next week I plan to read:
something amazing! :)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Language: English
ISBN 10: 0425218422

ISBN 13: 978-0425218426
Cover Image from FantasticFiction
Source of my copy: bought with my own money
Synopsis (from GoodReads)

Brenna, a she-wolf Psy, was abducted by a serial killer-and returned a monster. The only person who can help her is Judd, a telekinetic and Council defector. But the passion burning between them could push them both over the edge of sanity.

Michelle's Review:
I'm going to keep this short and sweet because I'm so behind on reading and reviews. This book is the third in the Psy-changeling series by Nalini Singh and it features Brenna (who was the last victim of the serial killer in book one) and Judd, a renegade Psy and very powerful Tk (telekinetic). Judd being a cold, emotionless Psy and Brenna craving touch for comfort and healing, they're very different and both are very scarred, tortured characters but in the story they heal each other and their journey makes for a very lovely reading.

For some reason, it took me a long time to finish reading this book, not because the story dragged or anything bad like that but I've been in a bit of a reading funk lately. I might have to re-read this later on because I probably missed many parts of the side story involving the ever escalating animosity between the changelings and the Psy race. There was a lot that went on with the progressing political happenings that continue to intensify as the series continue. I think you can start the series with this book and not be totally confused but to fully understand and appreciate what is happening between the Psy and changeling races, you need to at least scan through the first book.

This book gives us a glimpse of the SnowDancer wolf pack, which I thought was a nice change from the DarkRiver perspective of the first two books in the series. I also like the fact that the couple pairing this time is a female changeling and a male Psy--guess who is doing the chasing this time around? There is a lot of good sexual tension build up between Brenna and Judd here, which is a fun read and all the more made me anticipate the inevitable "explosion" between the two towards the end of the book... and what an explosion it was, complete with broken furniture.

This book is another great addition to the addicting series by Ms. Singh, who I think is a superb writer and has built a great world for her very likable characters (or unlikable as the case maybe for the "bad" guys). I'm very curious to see the fate of certain characters that were introduced in this one (the mysterious Ghost) as well as others we are slowly getting to know (like Hawke and Kaleb). I give this one 4.5 out of 5 stars.


Here are the other books in the series in order: (click on the covers for blurbs)


**Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money. My review is based on my own experiences with the book and only share my honest, unbiased opinions. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing and reading this book--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**

Friday, January 29, 2010

Paperback: 249 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Language: English
ISBN 10: 0395071143
ISBN 13: 978-0395071144
Cover Image from Houghton Mifflin
Source of my copy: borrowed from school
Synopsis (from GoodReads)
A high-spirited teenage girl rebels against the narrow-minded ways of Puritan Connecticut and befriends a lonely old woman who is subsequently accused of being a witch. "Strong plot, fully realized characters, and convincing atmosphere distinguish this historical narrative."--Booklist.

Leslie's Review:
My English class has finally finished reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond and I figured I might as well write a review for it.

I don't read many classic books but this one was really good. I loved the plot, setting, and characters of the book (though Judith Wood sort of annoyed me). The plot was very exciting and made me feel for Kit. And the author did very well climbing up to the conflict while staying within the time period and the people's beliefs back then.

Which brings me to the setting of the book. I liked how it was set during the time America was controlled by Great Britain. It went with our learning about that time period in history in social studies when we were first began to read it. It made it more understandable and easier for me to imagine what was going on in the book.

Most of all, I loved the different characters in the book. I liked how the author modeled the characters to fit how they were accorded to live. But, overall, my favorite character of all was Mercy. She was so patient and caring, sometimes I wished I had her qualities. I was glad the author included Mercy. Mercy really evened things out with her sister's character Judith. She was my least favorite. I didn't like how self-confident and self-centered she was. She always thought the guy she liked also liked her and assumed he was just shy. But, overall, Judith was very entertaining in the book because she added drama.

Lastly, I really liked the love triangles of the book. I always like love triangles in books and looked forward to reading those parts. I especially liked the ending when everyone ended up with their perfect match. I give this book 4 stars out of 5.

**Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from school. My review is based on my own experiences with the book and only share my honest, unbiased opinions. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing and reading this book--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why I want to read it: Another to-be-released book whose blurb and excerpt just intrigues me and I want to read more!

Blurb:
THERON – Dark haired, duty bound and deceptively deadly. He’s the leader of the Argonauts, an elite group of guardians that defends the immortal realm from threats of the Underworld.

From the moment he walked into the club, Casey knew this guy was different. Men like that just didn’t exist in real life—silky shoulder-length hair, chest impossibly broad, and a predatory manner that just screamed dark and dangerous. He was looking for something. Her.

She was the one. She had the mark. Casey had to die so his kind could live, and it was Theron’s duty to bring her in. But even as a 200-year-old descendent of Hercules, he wasn’t strong enough to resist the pull in her fathomless eyes, to tear himself away from the heat of her body.

As war with the Underworld nears, someone will have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Marked will be released on April 27, 2010. You can read an excerpt of this book here.

*******

faithfulplaceWhy I want to read it: I've read both In the Woods (2007) and The Likeness (2008) and they were two of the best mystery books I've read in the past two years. I know Faithful Place is going to be just as awesome!

Blurb:

The course of Frank Mackey's life was set by one defining moment when he was nineteen. The moment his girlfriend, Rosie Daly, failed to turn up for their rendezvous in Faithful Place, failed to run away with him to London as they had planned. Frank never heard from her again. Twenty years on, Frank is still in Dublin, working as an undercover cop. He's cut all ties with his dysfunctional family. Until his sister calls to say that Rosie's suitcase has been found. Frank embarks on a journey into his past that demands he reevaluate everything he believes to be true.

Image & Blurb from FantasticFiction
Faithful Place will be released on July 13, 2010.

*******

blackhillsWhy I want to read it: I know this book has been out for a while but I'm waiting for the paperback (because I'm too cheap to buy the hardcover). I heard it reads like a classic NR novel and I love her older books the best.

Blurb:
Lil Chance fell in love with Cooper Sullivan pretty much the first time she saw him, an awkward teenager staying with his grandparents on their cattle ranch in Montana while his parents went through a messy divorce. They spent every summer together, treking in the Black Hills, tracking cougar and falling in love. Then Cooper broke her heart and moved back to New York City. Ten years later and Cooper has given up his job in the police force to run the ranch after his grandfather is injured in a fall. Lil has stayed true to her love of cougars and of the Black Hills and opened an animal sanctuary. She has been targeted by animal rights campaigners in the past but this time someone seems intent on murder. As hikers are killed, animals mutiliated and a family member goes missing, Lil knows that she has no choice but to turn to Cooper for help in her fight for survival ...

Image & Blurb from FantasticFiction.

The paperback print of Black Hills will be released on May 24, 2010.




"Books I Covet" is a new weekly or bi-weekly blog post series I am going to be doing here.
It will feature books I am very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is similar to the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine. However, some of the books may already be published and others may still be in pre-order. I will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. Click on the WoW image on the left to join in!
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Signet
Language: English
ISBN 10: 0451228790
ISBN 13: 978-0451228796
Cover Image from GoodReads
Source of my copy: won from Signet on a twitter giveaway
Synopsis (from GoodReads)
No real lady should take lessons from a scarlet woman...
The Duke of Rolthven's new wife, Brianna, is the perfect aristocratic bride. So what would society say if they saw her with a copy of Lady Rothburg's Advice--a courtesan's lessons for the boudoir? When his innocent wife suddenly becomes a vixen in the bedroom, the proper Duke is truly astounded by her seductive powers. Following a courtesan's advice might lead to trouble-but will it lead to Brianna's ultimate desire: winning her husband's love?


Michelle's Review:
The thing about this book is that the blurb lied. This book is not just about the story of the Duke of Rolthven and his new wife Brianna, but also about the romance between his rakish brother Robert and Rebecca, Brianna's BFF. There is no "secondary" romance because I felt that both of the stories were given the same amount of page space and were equally developed. And you know what? I didn't really mind because both stories were equally were told very well.

Brianna and Colton were already married for three months before the story began and have the typical society marriage: she's essentially his arm candy during social events and parties, his behavior and routine hasn't changed one bit since being married and once a week he visits her bed for his conjugal rights (they do it with the lights off and their clothes on). However, Brianna (who was in love with her husband) decided she wanted more from her marriage. She believes that eventually she will lose her husband to a mistress (as typical married lords were wont to do) and no way was she going without a fight. She gets her hands on a sort of self-help book on how to get/seduce a husband and keep him written by a ex-courtesan. She puts the book's advice to work, while also becoming more confident along the way, and stuffy Colton finally start to let loose a bit. On his end, while he's enjoying a more spirited bed partner, he was concerned where his wife was getting all her new skills in the bedroom because he sure as hell wasn't teaching them to her.

My favorite type of romantic plot is one where the hero and heroine are already married before the story even began and I liked Colton and Brianna's story. These two were certainly well-matched and I thought the bright, vivaciousness of Brianna balanced out the uptight, responsible Colton. Maybe if the second romance wasn't so fleshed out, we would've been able to get to know Brianna and Colton's characters a lot more and be able to really explore their thoughts and actions a lot better. Nevertheless, their story was a cute read anyway.

I equally enjoyed Robert and Rebecca's story and thought it was an even cuter read. Robert is Colton's youngest brother and he is a rake and the complete opposite of Colton. He has no intention of marrying and is quite happy to keep on with his rakish ways. That is, until he met Rebecca and suddenly he couldn't stop thinking about her. Rebecca has been in love with Robert since she met him during her first season--all her friends have married but she has rejected all marriage proposals because she wanted Robert and only he will do. I liked that Rebecca was the one who went after him and then there was that thing about their both loving music and then there's this line that made me laugh out loud:

"Robert hadn't followed Damien's advice and waltzed with Rebecca. Touching her, even in such a socially accepted manner, was a dangerous I idea. So he'd completely lost his mind and waltzed with her mother instead." (Page 257)

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it was a fun read. The fact that there wasn't really a secondary romance didn't really bother me because I enjoyed both couples' story. I have a few gripes like the author's constant use of the words "ingenue" and "politesse" annoyed me a little. To me these kinds of words should only be used once or twice, but that's just me. Also, I felt that this book is one of those "too modern" historicals (especially on the part of Brianna and the little snippets from the courtesan's book every chapter started with) where if you'd just change the setting, they'll fit right in in the 21st century but it didn't really bother me all that much and it didn't take my enjoyment away from the story. This is my first book by Ms. Wildes and it won't be my last and I hope she'll write Damien's story (brother to Colton and Robert) because I liked his character in this book and I'm interested in reading more about him.

I give this book 4.25 stars out of 5.


**Disclaimer: I won this book from Signet's twitter giveaway. My review is based on my own experiences with the book and only share my honest, unbiased opinions. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing and reading this book--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**

Monday, January 25, 2010

Blog Tour: Ecstasy Unveiled Giveaway (Closed)

Monday, January 25, 2010 with
**CLOSED**

On the spotlight today is Ecstasy Unveiled by Larissa Ione...



Michelle's Take: (this is NOT my review of this book--I'll post that on Feb. 5)

Ecstasy Unveiled is the fourth book in Larissa's addicting Demonica series--easily one of my favorite paranormal romance series of all time. I discovered first three books in the series earlier last year and quickly devoured them. I was so sad when I found I had to wait almost a year for the next book... but it's finally HERE!! When I saw that Hachette was doing a blog tour for EU, I jumped at the chance to be a part of it. I haven't read EU yet--I just found my review copy on my doorstep just now when I got home from work--but I am sooo excited!!! <-- See the three "o" in so, the word "excited" in italics and the three exclamation points? LOL, that's me trying to convey my excitement to you, lovely reader reading this now. I'll be posting my review on February 5 (which is my day on the tour) so please come back for that because that is also when I am going to post the winners for the Ecstasy Unveiled Giveaway!!

Yup, thanks to Hachette, I can giveaway 5 copies of this book:

A demon enslaved...
Lore is a Seminus half-breed demon who has been forced to act as his dark master's assassin. Now to earn his freedom and save his sister's life, he must complete one last kill. Powerful and ruthless, he'll stop at nothing to carry out this deadly mission.

An angel tempted...
Idess is an earthbound angel with a wild side, sworn to protect the human Lore is targeting. She's determined to thwart her wickedly handsome adversary by any means necessary-even if that means risking her vow of eternal chastity. But what begins as a simple seduction soon turns into a passion that leaves both angel and demon craving complete surrender.

Torn between duty and desire, Lore and Idess must join forces as they battle their attraction for each other. Because an enemy from the past is rising again-one hellbent on vengeance and unthinkable destruction.






Rules:

1. Only residents of the U.S. or Canada are eligible to win.
2. No P.O. Boxes.
3. Leave your email address in your comment entry--no email no entry.
3. This giveaway will end on February 4 and the winners will be selected using random.org. The winners will be announced on my review of this book posted on February 5.
4. I will be emailing the winners and they will have 72 hours to email me back with their shipping address. If any fail to do so, I will select a new winner. There will be NO EXCEPTIONS.

Extra Entries: (please put all entries in one comment)
+5 for Subscribing Via Email--sign up with your email on our right sidebar & you must be a verified subscriber.
+3 old/new follower
+2 advertising this giveaway (for sidebar or post leave the url; for twitter include @chelleyreads on your tweet)
+2 for following me on twitter or on goodreads

Disclaimers: VERY IMPORTANT! Please read before entering!
1. This giveaway is being sponsored by Hachette Book Group and NOT Michelle and Leslie's Book Picks. If you win, you'll receive your book directly from Hachette.
2. Michelle and Leslie's Book Picks is NO way for responsible for prizes that are not honored by the sponsor, dispersed in a timely manner, stolen, lost and/or damaged during transit.
3. Michelle & Leslie's Book Picks have the right to change or cancel this giveaway at any time without a prior notice.
4. Please make sure you understand the above disclaimers before entering and...

Good Luck!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"It's Monday! What are you reading?" was created by one of my favorite bloggers, J. Kaye of J. Kaye's Book Blog. It is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week as well as books completed the previous week.

Last week I read:



I've been remiss
and still need to write a
review for this one.







This week I am reading:













Next week I plan to read:
You (and I) will see ;)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Language: English
ISBN 10: 042521575X
ISBN 13: 9780425215753
Cover Image from FantasticFiction
Source of my copy: bought with my own money
Synopsis (from GoodReads)

Hailed as a major new talent in paranormal romance, Nalini Singh takes us deeper into the world of the Psy and the changelings in her latest extraordinary novel, where a gifted woman sees passion in her future-a passion that is absolutely forbidden by her kind...

Used to cold silence, Faith NightStar is suddenly being tormented by dark visions of blood and murder. A bad sign for anyone, but worse for Faith, an F-Psy with the highly sought after ability to predict the future. Then the visions show her something even more dangerous-aching need...exquisite pleasure. But so powerful is her sight, so fragile the state of her mind, that the very emotions she yearns to embrace could be the end of her. Changeling Vaughn D'Angelo can take either man or jaguar form, but it is his animal side that is overwhelmingly drawn to Faith. The jaguar's instinct is to claim this woman it finds so utterly fascinating and the man has no argument. But while Vaughn craves sensation and hungers to pleasure Faith in every way, desire is a danger that could snap the last threads of her sanity. And there are Psy who need Faith's sight for their own purposes. They must keep her silenced-and keep her from Vaughn...


Michelle's Review:
This book is the second in the Psy-changeling series by Nalini Singh. You can read my review of the first book Slave to Sensation here. My review for this book is long overdue but I purposely didn't do a review right after I finished it (as I usually do with other books) because I wanted a few days to gather my thoughts. Then, life happened and I started reading other books and I simply forgot to write the review. Only when I started reading the third book in the series did I finally realize my oversight. Anyway, here we go...

This book is about Vaughn, a member of the DarkRiver changeling pack, and Faith Nightstar, a Psy who can predict the future. Vaughn's deal is that he is not a jaguar who was adopted by the DarkRiver leopard pack after his parents abandoned him and his sister (who didn't survive) when he was young. He's just the type of romantic alpha hero I love: a scarred loner who doesn't want anyone to get close to him but when he finds his special heroine his "downfall" is all the more sweeter. Vaughn's special gal is Faith Nightstar and in the beginning of the book Faith finds out that her sister has been murdered. She was very disturbed by this news but as a Psy she's not supposed to feel any emotions. She decided to go to the DarkRiver pack to ask Sascha (a renegade Psy and the heroine of StS) questions about the strange emotions she's suddenly experiencing.

I found that I liked VoH better than StS. It was not as hot a read as StS but I felt Vaughn and Faith's chemistry more than I did Lucas and Sascha's and the writing in this book was also a lot more fluid. Maybe because Slave to Sensation was the first book in the series (more back story is needed to build the Psy-changeling world) and also Ms. Singh's debut book that it had that slight awkwardness? I like the fact that the Vaughn and Faith's relationship was more centralized in this book, but one of my complaints about this one is that, like in the previous book, we get to know the heroine a lot more than the hero. I would've liked to read more about Vaughn; for example, he was apparently a sculptor but that hardly explored and just it felt tacked on. Another thing that bothered me a bit was the fact that the plot and characters in this one is very similar to the first book--another changeling hero, a Psy heroine and a mysterious serial killer killer subplot--but I got passed it because the action did pick up as we delve deeper into the fascinating Psy world and the possible rebellion against the Silence protocol that may be in the works.

Yup, another silly looking cover, but what can you do? Just look beyond it and you'll get another well-written and very addicting sci-fi/paranormal/romance series by Ms. Singh. I suggest starting with StS though as I think the Psy-changeling series will be a better reading experience if read in order. I give this book 4.25 stars out of 5.

Here are the other books in the series in order: (click on the covers for blurbs)


**Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money. My review is based on my own experiences with the book and only share my honest, unbiased opinions. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing and reading this book--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**

Friday, January 22, 2010

Favorites Friday: Our Favorite YA series

Friday, January 22, 2010 with
YA Series We Both Read & Loved
harrypottersorcerer
Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (7 books)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

gemmadoyle



Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray (3 books)

A Great and Terrible Beauty

Rebel Angels

The Sweet Far Thing





Leslie's Favorite YA Series
vampirediaries

The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith
(3 books & counting)

The Awakening/Struggle


The Fury/Dark Reunion

The Return: Nightfall




Michelle's Favorite YA Series

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman

hisdarkmaterials


"Favorites Friday" is a new blog feature we will be doing on Fridays. It will list books that are particular favorites of ours. It could be books with particular plot lines (i.e., second chance at love, enemies to lovers, etc.), types of characters (vampires, werewolves) or genre. Hopefully this feature will introduce you to books that are already published or you'll rediscover an old favorite. If there is a meme similar to this, please let us know as we'd love to join.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Before I begin, I just want to say I'm sick. I'm very congested and my head is all fuzzy so I don't know if this post is going to make much sense but here we go...

Project 20 Books Update
If you read my post a week ago, you know that New Year's resolution/challenge is not to buy any books either until I've read 20 of the books sitting on my shelf or until April 1, 2010 and only then can I purchase a book with my own money. And let me tell you, it is hard! After I announced my plan to undertake this challenge, I'm constantly coming across books I want to buy and have on my shelf. However, I've been good so far as I've already read three books this year (17 more to go!) and I haven't bought any books in 2010. A book did arrive in the mail this week from Amazon but I bought it in December 2009. I finally got all my book orders from last year and now, all I have to do is read them.

Confessions of a Book Junkie is doing this challenge with me! Here is her first post and she's calling her challenge Down Came a Blackbird (it a bigger challenge than mine!) and her second post (check out her awesome mountain of books! I wish I own some of those titles...).

Other bloggers also said they want to join in on this challenge--if you made a blog post please leave me a link in the comments. I'd love to read your own personal "Project 20 Books" challenge and I'll edit this post and add your links as well.

An Announcement to the World
I've been keeping this secret dream close to my heart for a while (yes, I'm a bit secretive) but here it is: I want to work in publishing. I'm a teacher right now and the students are great and I'm quite happy but books have always been my first love and my passion. I want my career to be about books.

Okay, you're probably thinking, so what Michelle? I care because... Well, you probably won't care and that's okay.

However, I've been exchanging emails with an awesome individual who works in the industry for many years and who has been very, very nice enough to answer all my questions as well as give me sage advise on how I can take steps to make my dream into an actual career. One of the things she told me was to begin networking now by telling everyone I know of my plans to pursue a career in publishing and so I'm telling you, members of the book blogging community who is reading this now, in the hopes that maybe one of you knows someone who knows someone in the industry. I just want to get my name out there and if you can point me in the right direction in any way I'd be very grateful.

Have a happy reading week everyone! Don't forget to enter the giveaway going on now (it ends in less than two weeks--which also means I'll be 23 years old in less than two weeks!). Here are just some of the books you can win:

lucan musthavemoonlight rememberme seducesinner untamed



Go here and enter!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

hervampirehusbandWhy I want to read it: An marriage between a vampire and a werewolf--that sounds like one awesome read. And how hot is the cover?!

Blurb:

An arranged marriage between a werewolf and a vampire.
There will be blood.

She may resist his bite, but she can't resist his charms...

Werewolf princess Blu Masterson won't allow her seductive vampire husband to consummate their marriage with his bite, marking her forever. Alone in a secluded estate with her sworn enemy, Blu curses the marriage arranged to bring their rival nations together, especially since Creed Saint-Pierre calls out to her most feral desires.

When Blu uncovers her pack's secret plot to destroy the vampire nation—and Creed—she is forced to confront her growing feelings for her sexy undead husband. Will she choose the only life she's ever known or accept his vampire bite?



This book will be out on April 10, 2010. Read the first chapter on Michele Hauf's website.

*******

Starflower Why I want to read it: I've heard so many great reviews about The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker that I finally gave in and bought it (will read it soon and no, I did not break my Project 20 Books Challenge--I will explain later). The sequel sounds just as intriguing.

Blurb:

With radiant, snow white skin and hair, Percy Parker was a beacon for Fate. True love had found her, in the tempestuous form of Professor Alexi Rychman. But her mythic destiny was not complete. Accompanying the ghosts with which she alone could converse, new and terrifying omens loomed. A war was coming, a desperate ploy of a spectral host. Victorian London would be overrun. Yet, Percy kept faith. Within the mighty bastion of Athens Academy, alongside The Guard whose magic shielded mortals from the agents of the Underworld, she counted herself among friends. Wreathed in hallowed fire, they would stand together, no matter what dreams or nightmares—may come.


This book will be out on April 27, 2010. Go here to read an excerpt.



*******


"Books I Covet" is a new weekly or bi-weekly blog post series I am going to be doing here. It will feature books I am very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is similar to the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine. However, some of the books may already be published and others may still be in pre-order. I will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. Click on the WoW image on the left to join in!

All images on the post were taken from the author's website--click on the link to go there.

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0439023491
ISBN-13: 978-0439023498
Cover Image from Suzanne Collin's Website
Source of my copy: our local public library
Synopsis (from GoodReads)

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.


Michelle's Review:
For those who haven't read The Hunger Games should hold off reading this book, which is the second in the series, because I think you'll appreciate Catching Fire more if you knew what went on in the first book.

That being said, the "revenge" the synopsis was talking was in the form of the Quarter Quell, which the 75th anniversary of the Hunger Games. Katniss and Peeta are back in the arena as it called for all the past winners of the games to fight each other to the death. I felt that this book wasn't as fast-paced and it didn't grab me as much as The Hunger Games did but it wasn't any less gripping and the writing is still fantastic. I didn't cry this time around but I still stayed up way too late in the night reading it.

Katniss in this book is still the kick-butt heroine we all got to know and care about in the first book. All the characters in the previous book are back, including Peeta who I feel balances Katniss out and therefore her perfect match... Go Team Peeta!! Gale also has a bigger part in this book and unquestionably cements the third point in the Peeta, Katniss and Gale love triangle that is sometimes a frustrating read (I hate love triangles!). In this book, we get to know a lot more about certain characters' past, meet new ones that will definitely play a large part in the third book and learn more about the world the characters live in.

The book ended with a very intense yet vexing cliffhanger. It just leaves you hanging and my first thought was "NOO!!! I have to wait seven months book three!" I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

See my review of The Hunger Games (the first book of the series) here.


Leslie's Review:
This book begins where the last left off. Katniss and Peeta are back in District 12 and living should be living the easy life of the Hunger Games champions. However, because of their act of defiance in the games they had sparked a rebellion against the Capitol. President Snow, who rules over the whole of Panem, pays Katniss a personal visit. He knew that Katniss was faking her feelings for Peeta and holds her responsible for the growing rebellion. He threatened to kill her family and her best friend Gale if she fails to convince the people of the districts that they were really in love during their Victory Tour.

Catching Fire was as intense and exciting as Hunger Games. It was also a book full of surprises (I didn't expect Peeta and Katniss would be back in the games) and I absolutely love the unexpected twist and turns. I also liked the whole love triangle between Peeta, Katniss, and Gale as opposed to my sister. I think it adds more drama between the characters and it makes you wonder who Katniss will pick (but like my sister I hope she'll pick Peeta because he's perfect for her).

Hmmm... all in all I want to give this book five stars like I did Hunger Games but it doesn't feel right. Although this book was really good, there's something "missing" from it that was in the first book. I give it 4.9 stars out of 5.

See my review of The Hunger Games here.


**Disclaimer: We borrowed this book from my local library. Our review was based on OUR own experiences with the book and only share our honest, unbiased opinions. We NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing and reading this book--whether we liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**

Monday, January 18, 2010

This is the first blog tour that I am participating in, so I'm really excited but still trying to figure my way around it. I am supposed to do a feature and a review for this one, however for future blog tours that I'll be participating in, I will always have author's bio as well as links for more information on the author and the book.

On the spotlight today is A Black Tie Affair by Sherrill Bodine...



Sherill Bodine's Bio (taken from her website)
I won my first writing award in the seventh grade in a statewide essay contest about a television broadcast of Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates. Instead of Silver Skates, they sent real skates, which I enjoyed immensely. I’m only sorry I don’t still have them so they could hang in my office.

While moving 22 times across the country and rearing our children, I sold stories to Fate Magazine, Home Life Magazine and True Confessions. In 1988, I sold my first novel and a week later received a two-book contract from Fawcett. Sixteen novels later, I’ve seen The Other Amanda win the Wisconsin Romance Writers of America Write Touch Readers’ Award and Talk of the Town chosen by Cosmopolitan magazine as its “Red Hot Read” for February 2009.

Follow @SherillBodine on Twitter

Mass Market Paperback: 220 pages
Publisher: Forever
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446618594

ISBN-13: 978-0446618595
Cover Image from Hachette
Source of my copy: from Hachette in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis (from Hachette)

Fashion curator Athena Smith will do anything to get her hands on the Clayworth family's couture collection for her exhibit. So she's thrilled when she's called in to authenticate the gowns...until she falls ill while examining them and wakes up face-to-face with notorious Chicago bachelor Drew Clayworth.

Drew doesn't trust Athena one bit. He still believes she betrayed him years ago. So when his family's gowns go missing and Athena offers her help in exchange for the dresses, he reluctantly accepts. But they're both taken off guard by the barely restrained passion that's still between them...and the memories that are both bitter and sweet. As they work together to find the dresses, can they resist the sparks between them?


Michelle's Review:
This book was my first blog tour review book, so I was really excited to read it and added to the fact that it's a second-chance love story (meaning the hero and heroine already have a past--my favorite romantic plot line) I immediately read it when I received it.

I have my complaints about this book but it was an okay read. It's a very light romance involving Athena Smith, a museum curator with a flair for expensive vintage dresses, and Drew Clayworth, CEO and heir of John Clayworth and Company, an exclusive department store. The story was set in the glamorous world of Chicago, which is a welcome change from the usual glitzy world of New York where books like these are usually set.

The hero and heroine were best friends turned to something more when they were young but a betrayal in Athena's part separated them for fifteen years. They were brought together again when the vintage couture dresses (owned by Drew's family and Athena wanted to feature in the museum she works for) were stolen. However, the dresses give off a sort of poisonous "truth serum" that causes whoever comes near them hallucinations. Athena, when called to confirm the authenticity of the dresses, was the first "victim" and in the mad dash to get her to the hospital, the dresses were stolen. When Athena regained her head, she and Drew decided to work together to find the dresses and find the person who stole them. As they worked together in close proximity, feelings they thought were buried in the past start to surface and they must confront that old betrayal--as well as problems in the present like why Athena's father was fired after working for Clayworth for many years--if they ever want to have a future together.

I liked reading the romance between Athena and Drew--there was chemistry between them and I felt that they belonged together and I especially liked how they came together in the end. However, the "betrayal" felt kind of silly to me and does not warrant the fifteen years they spent apart because of it. Also, I felt that the story behind of why Athena and Drew broke up was more of a mystery than the missing dresses--they were all found by the way but who took them and why Athena's father was fired remained unsolved and I guess the that mystery would carry on to the next book in the series. This book was also laden with references to Greek mythology and I felt the Greek facts thrown in here and there were a little random and unnecessary. I don't find Greek mythology that interesting so I didn't really appreciate it in the story but others might.

Overall, this book is a light, fluffy romance and a quick weekend read. It has great leads in sweet, lovely Athena (who wasn't shallow at all!) and charming, sexy Drew and provides wonderful escape into the rich, glamorous lifestyle of the affluent Chicago society. I have my complaints about it but it was a fun read just the same and I give it 3 stars out of 5.

**Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My review was based on MY own experiences with the book and only share my honest, unbiased opinions. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries. Any items I receive "in kind" will never be sold. They will either be kept by me, donated to the Hawaii Public Library or given away on contests on this blog.**
This is my first time doing this meme, so here it goes...

"It's Monday! What are you reading?" was created by one of my favorite bloggers, J. Kaye of J. Kaye's Book Blog. It is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week as well as books completed the previous week. Click on the image above to join in this week!

Last week I read: (click on the images for my review of these books)













This week I am reading:
Lessons from a Scarlet Lady by Emma Wildes

Blurb (from Goodreads)
No real lady should take lessons from a scarlet woman...

The Duke of Rolthven's new wife, Brianna, is the perfect aristocratic bride. So what would society say if they saw her with a copy of Lady Rothburg's Advice--a courtesan's lessons for the boudoir? When his innocent wife suddenly becomes a vixen in the bedroom, the proper Duke is truly astounded by her seductive powers. Following a courtesan's advice might lead to trouble-but will it lead to Brianna's ultimate desire: winning her husband's love?


(A book I from from Signet Eclipse's Twitter Giveaway. YAY!)


Next week I plan to read:
I don't know. I'm more of a I-pick-what-I-feel-like-reading kind of gal, so I can't tell you what my plans are for next week. :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Harlequin
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373793677

ISBN-13: 978-0373793679
Cover Image from FantasticFiction
Source of my copy: won from a giveaway
Synopsis (from GoodReads)
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a very, very hot night…

"Holiday Inn Bed" by Jacquie D'Alessandro
When Eric and Jessica decide to spice up their Christmas engagement, they play out their favorite fantasy—Do Not Disturb. They'll be a little tied up for the weekend in their private hotel room…

"His for the Holidays" by Joanne Rock
Watch out—Heather Dillinger and Jared Murphy are back in the sack for some holiday sex! And this time they find that sweet revenge makes their reunion the hottest gift they never expected….

"Dear Santa…" by Kathleen O'Reilly
When a secret Santa invites Rebecca Neumann for a holiday getaway, she jumps at the chance. And when a sexy blast from her past appears, she's tempted to jump him, too…

Michelle's Review:

Blaze is one of my favorite Harlequin romance imprint because, let's face it, they're all about sex and in my opinion they usually have better stories that go with it than the Harlequin Presents (better titles too!). There are three short Christmas stories in this book linked together by Timberline Lodge where all three of the couples stayed and by the lodge's matchmaking owners Helen and Roland Krause.

The first story is written by Jacquie D'Alessandro and featured an already engaged couple, Eric and Jessica, trying to get away from the stress of planning a wedding and their warring families. Unfortunately, their families and stress followed them. It was a good quick, light read and the most explicit of the three in my opinion but nothing special. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

The second story is by Joanne Rock and it's about Heather and Jared and they shared a weekend together 5 years ago with Jared leaving without saying goodbye. Out of the blue, he contacts Heather around the Christmas season and invites her to Timberline Lodge. Heather went to get her revenge but Jared was looking to make amends and for something a bit more permanent between them. Another cute, light story but I felt the writing on this one is a tad bit better than the first story. I give it 3.25 out of 5 stars.

Kathleen O'Reilly wrote the final story and it's about Rebecca, a kindergarten teacher in a posh Manhattan school, with a taste for the finer things in life. She was looking for a rich Prince Charming with a Bentley to sweep her off her feet. When she receives a letter from Santa inviting her for a weekend at Timberline Lodge, she jumped at the chance after being fired from her job. There she bumped into an old classmate, Cory, who was stuck at the lodge because of a blizzard. This story, out of the three, was the keeper. I was prepared to hate it because Rebecca came across as shallow in the beginning and Cory was just plain broody. But as the story went on, you learn that there is more than meets the eye with these two characters. It made me tear up a little in the end--rarely does a romance story do that to me and for one that is less than a hundred pages to do me in is nothing short of shocking. This story really took me by surprise and it's very well-developed and deep for a short story. I give it 4.8 out of 5 stars.

Overall, a good Christmas anthology and, if anything, get it for Ms. O'Reilly's story--this book is staying on my shelf for that alone.


**Disclaimer: I won this book from Joanne Rock's December giveaway on her website. My review was based on MY own experiences with the book and only share my honest, unbiased opinions. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing and reading this book--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I've been telling everyone I didn't make any New Year resolutions but I did. I didn't want to say it out loud because I knew I wasn't going to succeed in keeping it--telling everyone I didn't make any resolutions was better making one and then failing to follow through. BUT I've been thinking and I think that telling you all my secret resolution will keep me from breaking it so here it is...

I, Michelle, will NOT buy any books until April 1, 2010.

Yes, that is a very, very hard resolution to keep. What was I thinking when I made it? A moment of insanity? I don't kn... oh wait, I do and here is a little peek of it:


This is a small corner of my bookshelf and see all those books? I haven't read 70% of them. I don't have room for new books! Besides that, I can't afford new books but I kept buying a whole lot of them anyway last year! When 2010 hit, I decided to stop buying books (at least for a while!) until I've read at least most of what I own right now... and that's when I made that secret resolution.

The problem is I am a bookaholic and I had a huge book buying binge in the last month. Unfortunately, since I have a full time job (that doesn't pay nearly enough to support my book addiction) I haven't been reading all that much. I buy faster than I read--on average I read at least 4 books a month (sad face). But when I see all those pretty, shiny books in the store or on the computer screen my fingers start itching and before I know it I've walked over to (or clicked) the checkout line.

Since making my 2010 resolution though, I've been good. I haven't bought any books in 2010 and the only way I've been getting new books were through giveaways. But I am very much weakening. I almost clicked on the checkout button on Book Depository last night but Leslie stopped me in time (she's the only one I told my secret to and she's been acting like the resolution police). Without her, I would've broken my resolution again as I do every single year...

**Deep Dreath** This year, it's going to be different! I am not going to weaken and I'm going to make this a challenge for me and for YOU too if you're a bookaholic like me and want to push yourself into reading most of the books you already have on your bookshelves (AKA your TBR pile hill) or have made a resolution similar to mine. Here are my (and your) options:

Give yourself a date of when you're allowed to buy books again--it must be at least 2 weeks or it won't be a challenge. (Mine is going to be April 1, 2010)

OR

You must give yourself a number of books you're going to read before you can buy another book. (Mine is going to be 20 books--hence the name Project 20 Books up on the title)

I must do one or the other or no new pretty, shiny books for me.

The only way I (and you) can get new books are through giveaway wins, publisher/author review books or gifts from friends--but I cannot use my own money to buy myself books. The only time I am allowed to buy a book using my money is if I am going to give it to someone else as a gift--that's it and no other exceptions!

Do you think I can do it? Are you going to join me with this challenge so I won't be so lonely? Do you think YOU can do it?

If I get a lot of readers joining me, I'm going to find out how to make one of those Mr. Linky thingies and host this challenge so we can all share our experiences :)