Saturday, August 31, 2013

Last Bookshelf Additions for August

Saturday, August 31, 2013 with
Hello book haulin' friends,
It's STS/Sunday Post** time! We cannot believe it's already September. This year is just flying by so fast! August was fruitful for us book-wise. Here are the books we got during the last week of August.

E-books:
Got these via Netgalley. Much thanks to Bloomsbury and LBYR.
Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller (review)
[[Super excited for Where the Stars Still Shine! Been hearing great things about it from my to-go bloggers.]]
Dead Girls Don't Lie by Jennifer Shaw Wolf (review)
The 100 by Kass Morgan (review)
[[This one is going to be a TV show on the CW (here's the preview). Hmm... Not sure yet if I'll be watching.]] 
Pretenders by Lisi Harrison (review)

Got Rose and Broken via Netgalley. Much thanks to Sourcebooks.
Rose by Holly Webb (review)
[[We have a guest post by Holly up tomorrow. Come back and check it out, okay?]]
Broken by CJ Lyons (review)
[[Next week Tuesday we are giving away a copy of Broken. Also, the e-book is only $4.99 right now if you pre-order it.]]
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd (bought)
[[This was on sale of $1.99. I couldn't resist.]]
Stay With Me by Elyssa Patrick (won)

Physical Books:
ARCs that I won.
Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block (won via MacMillan)
Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub (won via Randombuzzers)
[[If you're in the US and you like free books, you gotta join Randombuzzers! They give away a ton of books every week.]]
More than This by Patrick Ness (won via SLJ's SummerTeen online event)

The Five Deaths of Roxanne Love by Erin Quinn (unsolicited)
Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney (ARC for review)

Venom Quad swag from Tera Lynn Childs
[[We are part of the Venom Squad street team. We'll be passing the bookmarks and stickers to our public library to spread the word about Sweet Legacy, the final book in the Medusa Girls trilogy.]]


Did you guys add any new books to your bookshelves? Leave your STS link so we can go admire your new books. 

Happy reading,
Michelle (& Leslie)


**Stacking the Shelves, or STS, is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Hello bookish friends,
There are A LOT of books out there and I'm always curious how a person picks what books they read, which got me thinking how I pick the books I read. I primarily read fiction, and within that vast class of literature I gravitate towards young adult, romance novels and these days new adult, with the occasional middle grade or adult fiction.

But even within these genres of fiction there are a lot of choices. So, how does a book pique my interest when I'm browsing Amazon or at a bookstore? What makes me buy a particular book and not another? How do I pick the next book I read or buy?

Well... these:

1. Romance
I'm a big ol' romantic so, first and foremost, any book I read has to have a romance. If I know it'll end "happily ever after" then all the better. That's why I love reading romance novels--no matter how bumpy the road gets for the main characters I'm guaranteed an HEA.

However, the romance element does NOT have to be the main focus or a huge part of the story but there's got to be at least some kind of romantic tension in there somewhere (this is especially true in YA).

The exception to this "rule" are middle grade novels.

2. I have "buzz" words or phrases I look for.
Here are some that comes to mind: boarding school, secrets, clues, deadly game, sisters, road trip or going on a journey, epic, New York, set in a European country, a cute next door neighbor, best friend's older brother, marriage of convenience, friends to lovers, set in the South, time travel, space, curse (in relation to magic), Russia, hunt, feuding families, kingdoms, among others...

3. Favorite authors or tried and true authors (I've read and enjoyed 3 or more books by these authors and I can rely on them to deliver). 
I auto-buy Julie James, Jill Shalvis, Nalini Singh and Kristan Higgins. I don't really auto-buy any YA authors but I know I can rely on Melina Marchetta, Sarah Beth Durst, Gayle Forman, Miranda Kenneally and Kody Keplinger to write books I'm 85% sure I'll enjoy.

4. I'm a sucker for pretty covers.
I like 'em with pretty dresses, fancy fonts, quirky and/or romantic.
5. Books that are getting plenty of great reviews from bloggers.
I have to see for myself!

Case in point: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover. I kept seeing seeing it around and MANY bloggers were raving about it. I read it, I didn't love it but I liked it and glad I gave it a chance.

6. Book recommendations from bloggers or reviewers I trust, or ones who share similar tastes in books as me.
Sometimes I run across a book that I don't think I'll enjoy but if I read a trusted blogger's review and they give it high praise, then I'll take a chance and get it.

7. Cheap e-books.
It's hard to resist .99 cents, especially if combined with reasons #1-6.


These are my main reasons for picking up a particular book and it's usually a combination of two or more reasons.

What about you guys? How do YOU pick the next book you read or buy?

Have a great 3-day weekend everyone! May your long weekend be filled with excellent books. :)

Happy reading,
Michelle

P.S. If you're curious, here's a post where I list my book turn offs.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Jennifer E. Smith's books are always so cute and sweet and it sounds like The Geography of You and Me is no exception. I like to read Jennifer's books between heavy, emotion-filled reads and they always make me smile.

Also, the covers of her books (at least the ones published by Poppy) are always so spot on. I really love this cover.
Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.
The Geography of You and Me will be released on April 15, 2014. 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. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Woo-hoo!! New Blog Design!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 with
Labels:
Hello everyone,
If you got a chance to stop by our blog yesterday you might've noticed that something was different... Our blog has a new look! And we love it! It's simple, bright and clean and it's very us.


But our new design wouldn't have been possible without the help, patience and generosity of time of fellow book blogger Stephanie from Hopeless Romantics (<-- check out and follow her blog!). Like us, she co-blogs with her sister. **YAY for sisters blogging together!** She worked with us tirelessly to get the design just the way we wanted and free of charge. Yes, free. More info about Stephanie's blog designs here.

Don't forget to tell us what you think of our blog's new look.

Happy reading,
Michelle & Leslie

P.S. Sarah Beth Durst's novel Conjured comes out next week Tuesday! We will be posting our Q+A with Sarah this Thursday with a giveaway for a signed copy of Conjured so please come back to visit us then.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Forever
Pages: 426 pages
Release Date: November 15, 2012
Series: The Edge of Never #1
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Twenty-year-old Camryn Bennett had always been one to think out-of-the-box, who knew she wanted something more in life than following the same repetitive patterns and growing old with the same repetitive life story. And she thought that her life was going in the right direction until everything fell apart.
Determined not to dwell on the negative and push forward, Camryn is set to move in with her best friend and plans to start a new job. But after an unexpected night at the hottest club in downtown North Carolina, she makes the ultimate decision to leave the only life she’s ever known, far behind.
With a purse, a cell phone and a small bag with a few necessities, Camryn, with absolutely no direction or purpose boards a Greyhound bus alone and sets out to find herself. What she finds is a guy named Andrew Parrish, someone not so very different from her and who harbors his own dark secrets. But Camryn swore never to let down her walls again. And she vowed never to fall in love.
But with Andrew, Camryn finds herself doing a lot of things she never thought she’d do. He shows her what it’s really like to live out-of-the-box and to give in to her deepest, darkest desires. On their sporadic road-trip he becomes the center of her exciting and daring new life, pulling love and lust and emotion out of her in ways she never imagined possible. But will Andrew’s dark secret push them inseparably together, or tear them completely apart?



I admit to not expecting much when I picked up The Edge of Never. I've seen it around when it was a self-published novel but I didn't really give it much thought (and it was mostly because I'm a self-published snob--nope, I'm not proud of it but it is what it is). But I usually pick up originally self-published novels after they are picked up by a major publisher, so when I was contacted by Forever about reviewing The Edge of Never I immediately said yes.

Well, I'm glad I did because I absolutely loved this book! Actually, I'm kicking myself for not reading it as soon as I got it in the mail. It is so good--like, read until dawn good.

For some reason, I didn't catch this when I read the description of the novel but The Edge of Never is the ultimate road-trip romance! Twenty-year-old Camryn (or Cam) has had a rough few years--her parents divorced, her mom became distant, her brother was in jail and her boyfriend Ian (the only person who shared her dreams of living an extraordinary, adventure-filled life) died in a car accident. She didn't quite know what to do with her life after Ian's passing and Cam felt unfulfilled and stuck and not happy. But what finally pushed Cam to the edge was when her best friend Natalie's long-time boyfriend hits on her and Natalie accused Camryn of being a liar after she confronted Natalie. She boarded a Greyhound bus, picking a random destination, and left without telling anyone where she was going. On the bus she met sexy, confident and charming Andrew Parrish, who was on his way to see his very sick, dying father. Andrew has his own heartbreaking story but on the surface one cannot tell that Andrew has all of these awful things going on in his life because his father had taught him to be strong and never let anyone see him cry or show any weak emotions.

The Edge of Never switched off between Cam and Andrew's first-person perspective. It was great getting both of their points of views. I felt I got to know both intimately, which made me really care and root for both of them. I sympathized with Cam right from the beginning, with all the tragedies in her life and having that feeling of unfulfilled dreams and potential. I could relate. But Andrew ended up stealing every single scene. He was perfect but not in a way that his character was flawless or without fault because he had his flaws. He was just a perfect mix of charm, cockiness, humor, sweetness and protectiveness. I really fell in love with his character and bemoaned the fact that he only exists between the pages.

I loved reading about Cam and Andrew's love story. Right from the beginning there was crazy chemistry between them but for most of the book their feelings for each other simply simmered. There was insta-attraction but no insta-love. Cam and Andrew truly became best friends first. I loved that anticipation, the gradual build-up for when they finally act on their attraction. When they finally did, it was HOT!! Redmerski really created a great couple in Cam and Andrew--they really complemented and completed each other.

I loved reading about Cam and Andrew's journey across the mid-west. There was a lot music referenced throughout, from classic rock to country-folk music, and I listened to some of the songs mentioned while reading the novel. It really added an extra flavor to the reading experience by following along to Cam and Andrew's road trip soundtrack. Reading this novel makes me want to go on a road trip myself!

I do have one issue with this novel, though. The plot and the story was flowing along well until this whole performing a song in a bar bit with Cam came along towards the end. It read like a whole new plot line that was tacked on as an afterthought. It added nothing to the main plot line to move it along. Maybe it was added as a precursory to book two? I don't know but it was awkwardly done. However, I can forgive this minor issue because the rest of the novel was fantastic.

This novel was long at over 400 pages but you're going to be flipping those pages very quickly because it's so addicting. If you like new adult or you are thinking of picking a new adult novel, I definitely recommend The Edge of Never, especially if you're looking for something that will not drain you with too much drama. The Edge of Never wasn't that too heavy of a read. There was drama (of course!) but there was a lot of humor and light moments to balance everything out--I found myself smiling a lot when I was reading. I am looking forward to book two.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

More Bookshelf Additions for August

Sunday, August 25, 2013 with
Hi everyone,
We got new books. Yep, it's StS** time.

Physical books:
Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler (review)
Confessions of a Hater by Caprice Crane (ARC, won)
Projection by Risa Green (ARC, unsolicited)
The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand (ARC, won)
I moved back to student housing for school this weekend and imagine my surprise when I found these waiting for me. My reaction was what?! I wasn't expecting these. But so awesome though. YAY for surprise ARCs and steamy ones at that! 
Burn (Breathless #3) by Maya Banks
Turn and Burn by Lorelei James
Drawn Together by Lauren Dane

The Dominant (Submissive Trilogy #2) by Tara Sue Me
The Training (Submissive Trilogy #3) by Tara Sue Me
[[I'm not sure about Submissive Trilogy books though. I haven't read book #1 and books with a strong focus on Dom/sub/BDSM are not my cup of tea. Hmmm...]]
E-books:
E-books or review:
Scorched by Mari Mancusi
If You Leave by Courtney Cole
So, thanks to The Edge of Never (Redmerski) I got into a bit of a new adult kick so I bought the e-book/audiobook combo of Hopeless since it was only $6 together and If You Stay (since I was able to download an e-ARC of If You Leave it's only right that I read book 1 first, right?). Oh, and Canary was only 99 cents so I couldn't resist.
Bought e-books:
Canary by Rachele Alpine
Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
If You Stay by Courtney Cole
I won a t-shirt from Bookish. Too cool!
Did you guys add any new books to your bookshelves? Let us know, okay?

Happy reading,
Michelle (& Leslie)


**Stacking the Shelves, or STS, is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Format: ARC
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 368 pages
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Source of my copy: publisher via JKSCommunications
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
"You have to kill him." 
Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.
Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.
Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.
All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.


There are no major spoilers in this review.

Guys? Oh my gosh. All Our Yesterdays was an AMAZING read. I haven't been this excited for a time travel book in a while. It's one of the best books I've read this year and one of the all-time best time travel books I've read ever. Yep, it's that good.

Okay, I'm going not going to try to summarize the plot because I think the description above does a very good job at that without revealing too much--my saying more will spoil too much of the story and you kind of need to figure out what's going on yourself to get the full experience of this book. With All Our Yesterdays, I think the less you know about the plot beforehand the better it is. Trust me, you will have that "a-ha!" moment once you get into it and your reading experience will be all the more better.

Debut author Cristin Terrill has penned an ambitious and complex novel in All Our Yesterdays and the result was a truly phenomenal read. It was so intricately plotted but executed so very skillfully. The story was told in a dual perspective between Em (from the future) and Marina (who lived four years in the past to Em). I loved all the characters but especially Em and Marina, both of whom had distinctive voices. Oh, and Finn, of course. I couldn't get enough of Finn.

Marina was your typical young teenaged girl--she's self-conscious and a bit selfish but you know she has a good head on her shoulders. Her family was well-off but her parents were hardly home so she's lonely. Growing up, she spent a lot of time next door with the Shaws (they're the equivalent of the Kennedys) and especially with her best friend, James Shaw, a wealthy, introverted science prodigy. Marina has been in love with James since they were children. Marina was strong and smart but untested, that is, until James's entire world crumbled after his older brother was assassinated. Her whole world changed then and I loved how loyal and steadfast she was to James. I loved Marina's character growth and how she came on her own throughout the book.

Em was sort of the opposite of Marina. She has been through a lot of hardships. The world she lived in has turned for the worst and ruled by totalitarian government. Before she was captured and imprisoned and tortured, she was already on the run from the Doctor for more than a year, trying to stay one step ahead with Finn and others who wanted to stop the government's control. She was forced to grow up fast and she has become hardened and willing to sacrifice herself for the greater good. She knew what she had to do to save the world but it meant sacrificing more than herself and destroying someone she loved. I loved reading about her inner struggles.

And Finn! I loved him to bits in both of his forms! He was the best kind of YA love interest. He brought humor to any situation but he had depth and had his own story and struggles. I loved him and Em together. He was sort of Em's rock, in that she was very intense but he was there to provide a steady hand, balance her, help her and keep her smiling even when things get though. At the same time he didn't stand in Em's way and he lets her be her own person and find her own strength. And I really, really like that--there should be more YA love interests like Finn. My favorite parts of the books are Finn and Em's quiet moments together. Oh my gosh, all the FEELS, you guys.

Basically, all the main characters and secondary ones were well-written and fleshed out and interesting. The plot was very twisty and unpredictable and there was never a dull moment. After the first few chapters things happen very quickly and you don't really know what will happen next. The final showdown was intense and was just woah... After I read it, I knew it all made sense but I needed time to kind of sort it out in my head. All Our Yesterdays was one of those books where I wish I was buddy reading it with someone so that we can discuss the all things that happened.

All Our Yesterdays stayed with me days after I finished reading it. It was one of those books. I wished it was longer just so I could stay in the world longer and spend more time with the characters so I was happy to learn that there's going to be a book two--though I'm really curious what it will be about since Marina, James, Em and Finn's story was wrapped up nicely in the end of All Our Yesterdays. Maybe a companion novel? Well, I'm happy and excited just the same because I'd love to spend more time in the world Ms. Terrill created. 

I urge everyone to pick All Our Yesterdays when it comes out next week Thursday. You won't regret it, it truly is awesome.

Friday, August 23, 2013

All Our Yesterdays Webisodes

Friday, August 23, 2013 with
Happy Friday everyone!
Tomorrow I will be posting my review of one of my favorite reads of 2013--you might have already heard of it since there's a lot of buzz surrounding it's release. I'm talking about All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill!
"You have to kill him."

Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.
And let me tell you guys that all the buzz is well-deserved. All Our Yesterdays will blow your socks off. It certainly did mine!

So, to get ready for the release on September 3rd, Cristin Terrill released some fun extra: a web series called "Past is Prologue," a prequel of sorts of the novel. Webisodes #1-3 are already out--check them out below. So far we've meet Em, Finn and the Doctor. I'm excited to see #4.

Web series #1: We meet Em

Web series #2: We meet Finn <3 <3

Web series #3: We meet the Doctor

I'm not sure when #4 will be released, but if you follow Cristin on Twitter or Facebook she'll let you know. You can also visit her website for more info about All Our Yesterdays.

To read all my thoughts about All Our Yesterdays and why I think Finn is the best, stop by tomorrow to read my review.

Have a great weekend everyone and happy reading,
Michelle


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hello bookish friends,
Add This To Your TBR Now is going to be a new feature on our blog, in which we will talk about a book (or books) that are newly released--different from our WoW/"Book I Covet" picks where the books are not yet released.

Sometimes we hear about books after they are already out in stores that we are very, very excited about. We want to give them a mention on our blog too. The posts will be in the form of "if you like... then you'll love..."

Let me know what you all think.

***
Sea Change Description:
The unhappy child of two powerful parents who despise each other, young Lilly turns to the ocean to find solace, which she finds in the form of the eloquent and intelligent sea monster Octavius, a kraken. In Octavius’s many arms, Lilly learns of friendship, loyalty, and family. When Octavius, forbidden by Lilly to harm humans, is captured by seafaring traders and sold to a circus, Lilly becomes his only hope for salvation. Desperate to find him, she strikes a bargain with a witch that carries a shocking price.

Her journey to win Octavius’s freedom is difficult. The circus master wants a Coat of Illusions; the Coat tailor wants her undead husband back from a witch; the witch wants her skin back from two bandits; the bandits just want some company, but they might kill her first. Lilly's quest tests her resolve, tries her patience, and leaves her transformed in every way.

A powerfully written debut from a young fantasy author, Sea Change is an exhilarating tale of adventure, resilience, and selflessness in the name of friendship.
Read an excerpt HERE.

About the author:
I spent the first thirteen years of my life on a slow-motion tour of the United States, following my father’s work in the telecommunication business, with a brief side trip to Jamaica. Settling down at last in Upstate New York when my parents purchased an inn, I spent a difficult year attempting to adapt to the small local school and the company of my agemates. Ultimately, my family made the decision to educate me at home. Some of my time came to revolve around the business, which grew to include a bookstore and restaurant; some of my attention went to the school textbooks from which I learned. Mostly, I read and wrote.

Fantasy, science fiction, myth, folklore—I favored the unreal in reading and told the same sort of stories as soon as I could articulate those ideas in words. This became an important tool when I developed several chronic health problems in my adolescence. Rather than using the world of fantasy to escape from these, I normalized them by creating disabled characters within the familiar landscapes of the fantastic. One o’ clock in the morning with an unruly mind and aching joints was best faced with characters whose hallucinations and missing limbs were oversized projections of my own difficulties.

I flew out of Upstate to California for college with one suitcase of clothes and ten boxes of books. I am now living with family while attending the University of San Diego, where I am pursuing an English degree, a Classics minor, and all excuses to write fiction.
Add this book:
Sea Change on Goodreads

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Book I Covet: The Edge of Always by J.A. Redmerski

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 with
I was going to choose another book today but I'm in the middle of The Edge of Never right now and it is SO. DARN. GOOD.

And already I'm very much impatiently waiting for the sequel The Edge of Always.
He was taking the long road. She was taking the road to nowhere. It just so happened that they led to the same place…

When everything falls apart, love remains . . .

THE EDGE OF ALWAYS

Camryn Bennett has never been happier. Five months after meeting on a Greyhound bus, she and her soul mate Andrew Parrish are engaged—and a wedding isn’t the only special event in their future. Nervous but excited, Camryn can’t wait to begin the rest of her life with Andrew – a man she knows in her heart will love her always. They have so much to look forward to—until tragedy blindsides them.

Andrew doesn’t understand how this could happen to them. He’s trying to move on, and thought Camryn was doing the same. But when Andrew discovers Camryn is secretly harboring a mountain of pain and attempting to numb it in damaging ways, there is nothing he won’t do to bring her back to life. Determined to prove that their love can survive anything, Andrew decides to take Camryn on a new journey filled with hope and passion. If only he can convince her to come along for the ride…
The Edge of Always will be released on November 5, 2013 (e-book) and January 14, 2014 (paperback). Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.

What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Leave 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. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Format: ARC
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Pages: 384 pages
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Lord and Lady Spy #2**
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Winslow, an elite spy in Regency England, has managed to keep his identity secret from everyone, including his beloved wife Elinor. But his success with these covert affairs has taken a toll on their marriage, leaving Elinor to entertain the idea of a secret liaison with a rakish spy. She believes that she will finally have the danger and excitement that her marriage has never afforded her?until things get too dangerous, and she ends up being kidnapped. In this Regency romance, no one is who they seem, not even her own husband.


True Spies is the follow-up novel to Shana Galen's Lord and Lady Spy--a sort of Mr. and Mrs. Smith retelling set in the Regency era featuring a married hero and heroine who were both spies. They both try to hide their identies from each other until the agency they both worked for forced them to work together on a mission. Lord and Lady Spy was such a great read that I thoroughly enjoy so I couldn't wait to read the next book in the series, True Spies.

I don't know if you're familiar with the old Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis movie called True Lies but True Spies is a loose retelling of that movie. The hero, Winn, belonged in the same spy agency that Adrian and Sophia (the hero and heroine of Lord and Lady Spy) worked for. No one in his family knew of Winn's spying but his being gone all the time on covert missions have taken a toll on his marriage.

His wife Elinor was tired of being ignored and taken for granted by Winn, and with their daughters all but grown up, she was also bored. Elinor wanted some excitement in her life and was contemplating an affair with a rakish spy. When Winn realized what Elinor was up to he puts a stop to it only reveal his secret identity and pulled her into a dangerous mission he was in the middle of investigating.

True Spies had many things I love in a romance novel, like a rediscovery of romance between a married hero and heroine, secret identities, spying, intrigue and action scenes. This novel was fairly fast-paced and had a number of action scenes, which was great because that kept me flipping the pages. However, I didn't particularly connect with the main characters and they sometimes got in my nerves. Elinor, despite being a novice on her first intrigue, was supposed to be a natural at being a spy but I wasn't convinced. She was too silly and only seemed to play at being a spy. There were several times she was all I'm through with this spying business only to change her mind again. As for Winn, he was supposed to be a seasoned spy but I didn't really buy that in his character. There were instances when Winn and Elinor acted very immaturely, more like teenagers rather than adults in their thirties with two grown children.

But I did like the spark between Winn and Elinor. I really love reading second-chance romances with an already married hero and heroine so it was great seeing them understand each other better and grow to trust, love and forgive and rediscover each other again amidst all the danger and intrigue.

I also liked that Elinor wasn't the typical model-with-a-perfect-body kind of heroine. She has had two children and it was nice to see that her body showed that. In my favorite scene, Elinor was self-conscious of letting Winn see her sagging skin and stretch marks and he assured her that he loved her body more now than when she was younger, saying "Nothing about you is ugly. In particular, the badges you wear from carrying my children are not ugly. I find you beautiful."*** That scene really made me go "awwww." The two major intimate scenes (while heated) were fairly mild.

Adrian and Sophia from Lord and Lady Spy both make an appearance in this novel. They were pulled from their semi-retirement to assist Winn and Blue in their mission and played significant secondary roles in True Spies. It was great getting an update on them and seeing what they've been up to.

While I didn't enjoy True Spies as much as I did Lord and Lady Spy because the hero and heroine got on my nerves a bit, I found it a good overall. Shana Galen really does a great job in mixing romance, intrigued and fast-paced action into this series so they're entertaining to read. If that's the kind of romances you like to read then you should check this series out.


**True Spies can be read as a stand-alone novel.
***Quoted from the advance reader's copy and may be subjected to change in the final edition.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Format: ARC
Publisher: Forever
Pages: 448 pages
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Chaos #1
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Too hot to handle...
Tabitha Allen grew up in the thick of Chaos--the Chaos Motorcycle Club, that is. Her father is Chaos' leader, and the club has always had her back. But one rider was different from the start. When Tabby was running wild, Shy Cage was there. When tragedy tore her life apart, he helped her piece it back together. And now, Tabby's thinking about much more than friendship...
Tabby is everything Shy's ever wanted, but everything he thinks he can't have. She's beautiful, smart, and as his friend's daughter, untouchable. Shy never expected more than friendship, so when Tabby indicates she wants more--much more--he feels like the luckiest man alive. But even lucky men can crash and burn...



Parker "Shy" Cage kept Tabitha "Tabby" Allen at arm's length despite his attraction to her because 1) she's younger than him 2) she's the daughter of the leader of the Chaos Motorcycle Club--a club Shy was a member of and 3) he thought she was too good for him. Tabby has had a crush on Shy for years but at nineteen years old she was walking on the wrong path of parties, alcohol and drugs. One night Shy taught Tabby a harsh lesson that left her shaken and she tried to stay out of his way for the next few years to focus on college and growing up. Then, a terrible tragedy brought Shy and Tabby together again. As Shy helped Tabby heal, they form a close friendship. The more they spend time together, the simmering attraction that was always between them heats up, despite knowing their growing relationship will not be easily accepted at the club.

Own the Wind had a different flavor from the typical contemporary romances I read. It's grittier and darker and at times harsh but, surprisingly, I really enjoyed it. The author's writing and voice were very readable and I flew through Own the Wind very quickly.

Right from the beginning, I had to get used to Shy Cage's character. I wasn't sure I was going to like him at all. I cringed and raged at how he treated motorcycle groupies and the few times he referred to the women as "bitches." He was rough, crass and alpha to the core. Throughout the book I vacillated between wanting to slap and knee him and going "awww" when his sweet side comes out with Tabby and nodding along because the way he dealt with problems may not be the most PC his intentions were good. He came through for me in the end, though, and I decided he was an okay guy.

Tabby herself was very likable right from the start. Shy had a strong personality but because we get Tabby's perspective in first-person (Shy's was in third-person) her character was able to shine through better. She had a chatty voice where at times she talked right to the reader and I felt I got to know her and get "close" to her character more fully because of it.    

I really like that first half of the novel was Shy and Tabby's road to declaring their first "I love yous" and the other half was about them building their relationship beyond the honeymoon period. I liked seeing them work through normal couple stuff and the not-so-normal stuff that came with a guy who belonged in a motorcycle club. And, of course, they clashed--Shy was very alpha and had a different outlook in life but Tabby was no simpering miss and can give it back. But at the end of the day, while Tabby and Shy were good individually, they were better together and brought out the best in each other despite their bumpy road to happily ever after.

Own the Wind was a very unique read for me and it was quite unlike any romance novels I've read in a while. It was refreshing, actually. This novel was my first by Kristen Ashley and after reading it I'm very curious about her other novels--she has a different but very readable writing style. I'm certainly looking forward to the next Chaos novel. If you're looking for a different kind of romance novel, I suggest you give Own the Wind a try.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

More Bookshelf Additions for August

Saturday, August 17, 2013 with
Hello bookish friends,
It's Stacking the Shelves** (aka book haul) time! Here are the books Leslie and I (but mostly me) got this week.

Physical books:
Leslie and I won a bunch of books from Randombuzzers in the last couple of months and they came all at once!
Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross
[[Guys, the cover of Belle Epoque is so gorgeous in real life! We really wish the picture can give it justice. But alas...]] 
Of Beast and Beast by Stacey Jay (ARC)
Starters by Lissa Price 
This one was a happy surprise! I'm a HUGE Nalini Singh fan so pre-ordered it a while back so I didn't bother requesting an early review copy. But an ARC showed up anyway. YAY!!
Archangel's Legion (Guild Hunter #6) by Nalini Singh (ARC)
Michelle ordered these from Better World Books last month and they finally came.
Inside Out by Lauren Dane
[[I already read Inside Out and I liked it overall. The hero was very, very swoon-worthy.]] 
Never Enough by Lauren Dane

We added these e-books to our Kindle:
E-books for review:
Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst
Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards
Finding It by Cora Carmack
A Little Too Far by Lisa Desrochers
E-books for review:
Always on My Mind by Jill Shalvis
The Redemption of Callie & Kayden by Jessica Sorensen
Purchased e-books:
Gone Country (Rough Riders #14) by Lorelei James
Redneck Romeo (Rough Riders #15) by Lorelei James
Won:
Burn (Breathless #3) by Maya Banks
[[I won this e-book on Twitter from Maya Banks. YAY!!]]
Lots of spicy, steamy romance on this book haul which reflects the type of reads I've been in the mood for lately. Did you guys get anything good? Let us know, okay?

 Happy reading,
Michelle (& Leslie)


**Stacking the Shelves, or STS, is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Book I Covet: Wicked Little Secrets by Kara Taylor

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 with
I read Prep School Confidential last week and I just fell in love with Anne. I cannot wait to see what secrets she'll uncover and what lies she'll have to untangle next in Wicked Little Secrets.

**If you guys are interested, read my review of Prep School Confidential and check out our Q+A with Kara Taylor.**
Anne Dowling becomes entangled in a web of secrets involving a missing student and a conspiracy at Wheatley Prep in this fast-paced, juicy follow-up to Prep School Confidential

Anne Dowling—a fresh, original, and funny new YA heroine whose knowing, irreverent voice will remind readers of Pretty Little Liars and Private—is back for her second semester at Wheatley Prep. Although things have settled (somewhat) since her roommate Isabella’s death, Anne's still kind of obsessed with the disappearance of Wheatley student Matthew Weaver thirty years ago, since she found a picture of him and his crewmates with the words “they killed him” scrawled on the back among Isabella’s things.

When Anne learns that her boyfriend Brent’s dad is one of the now-powerful Wheatley alumni who rowed crew with Matthew, and that the crew team continues to induct new members with a creepy-sounding ritual called “The Drop,” she knows further investigation could put her relationship with Brent in danger. Determined to discover the truth, she reaches out to Anthony, Isabella’s townie brother, who helps her delve deeper into the secrets in Wheatley’s past. Secrets someone would kill to keep hidden. As the school’s Spring Formal—and its notorious afterparty—approaches, Anne sees the perfect opportunity to do some off-campus digging into the lives of Wheatley’s VIPs in this thrilling, unputdownable read—but if she’s not careful, she’ll be the next student who never comes back.
Wicked Little Secrets will be released on March 4, 2014. Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.

What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Leave 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. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Series: Serendipity's Finest #2**
Source of my ARC copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
In the picturesque town of Serendipity, New York, three siblings have grown up in the shadow of their proud and respected police chief father. But what do love, fate, and fortune have in store for the next generation of Serendipity's finest?
Assistant D.A. Erin Marsden is Serendipity's quintessential good girl. The daughter of the former police chief, she's never made a misstep, content with her quiet, predictable life...or so she thinks. Until Cole Sanders shows up with heated interest in his eyes and shadows in his past.
After seven years of deep undercover work in New York, Cole returns to town to help his aging father and find his moral compass again. Not to get involved with wholesome Erin Marsden. Even as a rebellious teen, he knew a girl like Erin was off limits. But neither can resist their off-the-charts chemistry, and a one-night stand brings complications neither expected.
Then a case puts Erin in a killer's crosshairs, and Erin succumbs to Cole's take-charge attitude. As a bodyguard, he's the best. As a lover, he's even better. But there's more than Erin's safety at stake. And Cole must forgive the sins of his past and prove to himself--and to Erin--that he's capable of the love and the forever she so desperately needs.


Perfect Fling revolved around Erin Marsden, the quintessential town good girl, and Cole Sanders, the town bad boy and lone wolf. Cole wrecked so much havoc during his younger rebellious years in  Serendipity (a small town in upstate New York) that no one in town could look at him normally and it didn't help that no one knew what he had been up to since leaving. But, after many years away, Cole came back to Serendipity to recuperate after an especially heinous undercover assignment and to visit his estranged father.

One night, after too many drinks at a wedding reception, Erin decided to shed her good girl reputation for the night and engaged in a one-night stand with Cole... which resulted in a pregnancy. An unexpected pregnancy wasn't the only problem Erin had to deal with--someone was also trying to hurt, maybe even kill, her. Cole insisted that he be her bodyguard while they try to figure out and catch who was after Erin. But the more time Erin and Cole spend time together, the more he realized that maybe he wants and needs Erin permanently in his life.

Perfect Fling is the first book I've read by Carly Phillips in many, many years and I wish I was able to enjoy it more than I did. After mulling on it a few days after I finished reading Perfect Fling, I realized that there's really nothing wrong with the story or the characters but I was just wasn't in the right frame of mind when I was reading it.

Having just finished reading Julie Jame's Love Irresistibly, I eagerly picked up Perfect Fling (especially after learning that the heroine, Erin, was an assistant district attorney and the hero Cole was an undercover cop) more or less expecting getting the same type of read. I don't know what I was thinking because while Julie James and Carly Phillips both write contemporary romance, they have different styles. So, yeah, my wrong expectations for Perfect Fling affected my overall enjoyment of it.

That being said, I found Erin to be nice and sweet but she can care of herself. She stood by Cole when he needed her the most and I especially liked how she sort of smoothed the way for Cole and his dad to work things out without being overbearing and leaving the two of them to work out their relationship. Unlike Erin, Cole did not have it easy growing up so he had more issues to work through. But despite his commitment issues and practically breaking in hives at the word "marriage," he couldn't help acting possessive and jealous when another male got close to Erin. Usually, I think it cute when a hero acts all jealous like that but Cole made it very clear to Erin that as soon as the guy trying to hurt her was caught, he was leaving town so he had no reason to act irrationally. You see this behavior a lot in romance heroes but I found myself irritated with Cole at some points.

I don't know... maybe it was my misguided expectations, but for me Perfect Fling read like a stock romance. It was readable (obviously I was able to finish the novel no problem) and there were some sweet moments, and I liked Erin and even Cole well enough but I didn't particularly connect with them either. I think in the right frame of mind I might have enjoyed Perfect Fling a lot more.


**Perfect Fling is book 2 of Carly Phillips' Serendipity's Finest series but it can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone novel.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Cover Reveal: FAR GONE by Laura Griffin

Monday, August 12, 2013 with
Hello everyone,
I do not participate in cover reveals very often but I thought I would make an exception for one of my favorite romantic suspense authors, Laura Griffin.
Laura Griffin
Laura is the author of the fantastic, RITA-Award-winning Tracer series that I can't get enough of. In April next year her first standalone novel, Far Gone, will be published by Gallery Books.

To save her only brother, Andrea Finch must face down a criminal mastermind, the FBI, and her own demons in this thrilling novel from the author of the bestselling Tracers series.Police detective Andrea Finch is a rising star in her department until a split-second decision derails her career. Disgraced and disillusioned, she’s on leave from her job when she gets an urgent call from her younger brother. She’d prefer to ignore his latest plea for cash, but this time instinct tells her something is very wrong. Andrea’s search for answers takes her to a dusty Texas border town where danger lurks in plain sight and nothing is quite what it seems.

FBI agent Jon North is working undercover in west Texas investigating an unsolved murder that may be linked to a broader plot. But when the evidence points to Andrea’s brother, Jon finds that persuading the stubborn cop to help will be harder than cracking his toughest case.

Andrea must find a way to do what’s right while protecting her only sibling. As the clock ticks down on a deadly plot, Andrea and Jon race to confront a heartless killer who will stop at nothing to deliver a final, terrifying message.
I am very excited to read Far Gone! I love Laura's Tracer series because she does such a great job balancing the suspense and the steamy romance and her books are always so well-written and well-researched. It sounds like we can expect the same in Far Gone.

Happy reading,
Michelle

P.S. If you're interested, read my review of Unforgiving (Tracers #3), Snapped (Tracers #4) and Twisted (Tracers #5).
Pages: 304
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Series: Prep School Confidential #1
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
In this breathtaking debut that reads like Gossip Girl crossed with Twin Peaks, a Queen Bee at a blue-blooded New England prep school stumbles into a murder mystery.
Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne couldn't care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school.
When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.



When Anne Dowling was kicked out of her prep school in New York's Upper East Side after she accidentally burned down part of the auditorium, her parents were quick to ship her to Wheatley School (a boarding school outside of Boston) despite her protests. Determined to get back to New York as soon as possible, Anne planned on keeping to herself and staying out of trouble. Making friends with headband-wearing girls and preppy boys at her new school was the last thing she wanted to do but the popular kids were intent on making her their new Queen Bee much to the annoyance of Alexis, the resident mean girl. And, she found herself getting close to her new roommate Isabella, a townie who was at Wheatley on a full scholarship.

Then, Isabella was found dead in the woods behind the school. With Wheatley School adamant in keeping its precious reputation pristine for its benefactors and no one in the student body wanted to talk and the police seeming to look in all the wrong places, Anne was determined to uncover the truth about her roommate's murder. But as Anne dug deeper she found that the faculty of Wheatley School has a lot to hide and Isabella might not be as innocent as she seemed. Good thing Anne has her cute classmate Brent and bad boy Anthony, Isabella's twin brother, to help her out.

Prep School Confidential was a solid debut. I thought it was well-written and there was never a dull moment, especially after Isabella's murder. The mystery was really well-done--it was very twisty with a lot of potential suspects because it seemed a lot of people have some motivation of killing Isabella. The mystery involved a lot secrets that needed to be uncovered, a web of lies that needed to be untangled, secret tunnels, lock picking and a lot of sneaking and snooping. I enjoyed trying to piece together the clues with Anne.

Anne herself was such a darling of a character. I really liked her. Trouble kind of follows her around and she's a bit of a screw up but she was smart, charming, tenacious and doesn't really let anything stop her from finding out who killed Isabella.

It was said in the description that this novel "reads" like Gossip Girl. Not so much--do not let that description dissuade you from picking up Prep School Confidential. I dislike the Gossip Girl books because of all the annoying rich brats and over the top mean girl behaviors, plus all the annoying brand name dropping. Yeah, there's hardly any of that in Prep School Confidential. Only Alexis, the Queen Bee wannabe mean girl, and her friends displayed some cattiness towards Anne but there was nothing over the top about their behavior. The other popular students were nice and friendly enough--they did seem to want to elevate Anne as their new Queen Bee though and I didn't quite understand their motivation behind that.

My biggest issue with Prep School Confidential was the love triangle. I'm not a fan of love triangles in general but the type in this novel was the most frustrating kind. Anne vacillated between preppy good boy Brent and motorcycle riding bad boy Anthony throughout the novel and couldn't settle on one over the other. Both guys had their faults but were equally dreamy for different reasons so I understand Anne's indecisiveness but it was still very frustrating! Urgh! Love triangles are so frustrating! There was no clear "winner" by the end of this book but I really hope the love triangle and Anne's whole I-can't-make-a-decision-because-they're-both-so-cute isn't dragged out through the entire series.

Overall, Prep School Confidential was a very entertaining read. I flew through the pages and stayed way past my bedtime because I couldn't stop reading. I loved working through the very tangled mystery along with Anne and, with the exception of her wishy-washy-ness when it came to the boys, I loved Anne's character. I highly recommend this book to fans of Nancy Drew mysteries, the Liar Society series (Roecker), Deadly Cool series (Halliday) and to those who like reading YA mysteries in general. I am really looking forward to reading book two, Wicked Little Secrets.

_________

***Read my interview with Prep School Confidential author Kara Taylor here, in which she shares about her inspiration for Wheatley School, who she'd personally choose between Brent and Anthony and hints of what's to come in book 2.***
Hello everyone,
We are so excited to have author debut Kara Taylor here on our blog today! I just finished her book Prep School Confidential and enjoyed it a whole lot.

If you like mysteries set in prep schools with a charming heroine sleuth Prep School Confidential is made for you:
In this breathtaking debut that reads like Gossip Girl crossed with Twin Peaks, a Queen Bee at a blue-blooded New England prep school stumbles into a murder mystery.

Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne couldn't care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school.

When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.
Without further ado, here's the interview...

Hi Kara! Welcome to our blog! Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Anne Dowling is the queen bee of her NYC prep school. How alike are you to Anne when you were in high school?
Anne and I could not be more different! She was a Queen Bee, and I was a wallflower. I was that slightly nerdy girl who wasn’t unpopular, but no one really knew my name. Now, I’m a little more outspoken like Anne is!

What was your inspiration for Wheatley School? Did you do a lot of research to get that authentic prep school feel in your novel or was it based on personal experience?
I went to public school, so I had to talk to people who went to prep schools for research. But, a lot of the boarding school elements were based on personal experience from my first year of college. A lot of what goes on in Anne’s dorm building was inspired by real events or people. I won’t say what, exactly, since not all of it is positive! (Example, the passive-aggressive sticky notes from Alexis…)

Anthony or Brent? Are you more drawn to prickly bad boys or nice guys in literature?
I can’t choose between Anthony and Brent! Although if I absolutely had to, in real life, I’d go with Brent. I’m not sure Anne would make the same decision, but I’m more drawn to nice guys that have a layer of deviousness to their personalities. Brent isn’t a typical “good” guy…he’s a typical teenage boy, and does stupid things that contradict his good boy outer layer.

Can you tell us a little bit more of what's to come in book 2? Will the books in the series build on each other or will they work more as companion novels?
Book 2 picks up a month or so after book 1 leaves off. The mystery of Isabella’s death is completely solved, and Anne is faced with a new, and decades-old, mystery. But all of the characters will be returning, and there will be loose ends that span across the books in the series, so I wouldn’t say they could necessarily stand alone.

This or That lightning round--you must choose one or the other and you cannot explain your answer:
E-books or physical books? Physical books!
Early bird or night owl? Early bird
Brownies or cupcakes? Cupcakes
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Baby chicks or ducklings? Ducklings
Veronica Mars or Nancy Drew? Nancy Drew!!

A big thanks to Kara for answering our questions. For more info about Kara, visit her website and her Tumblr. Kara is also on Twitter (her dad anecdotes are the best!).

If any of you guys read Prep School Confidential already, I'd love to chat with you about it. If you haven't, I recommend it--especially if you're a Nancy Drew fan or the more recent Liar Society series by Lisa and Laura Roecker.

Happy reading,
Michelle

P.S. You can read my review of Prep School Confidential here.