Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Review: Wild Embrace

WILD EMBRACE
Psy-Changeling 15.5
Nalini Singh
Paranormal Romance
400 pages
Berkley
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The “alpha author of paranormal romance”* presents a stunningly sensual collection of four all-new Psy-Changeling novellas, in which taboos are broken, boundaries are crossed, and instincts prove irresistible...

Echo of Silence
In a deep-sea station, Tazia Nerif has found her life’s work as an engineer, keeping things running smoothly. But she wants nothing more than to break down the barrier of silence between her and her telekinetic Psy station commander...

Dorian
A changeling who can never shift lives a life of quiet frustration—until he learns how to let his leopard come out and play...

Partners in Persuasion
Still raw from being burned by a dominant female, wolf changeling Felix will never again risk being a plaything. But for dominant leopard Dezi, he’s the most fascinating man she’s ever met. She just has to convince this gun-shy wolf that he can trust the dangerous cat who wants to take a slow, sexy bite out of him…

Flirtation of Fate
Seven years ago, Kenji broke Garnet’s heart. Now the wolf packmates have to investigate the shocking murder of one of their own. And the more Kenji sees of the woman Garnet has become, the deeper he begins to fall once more. But even his primal instincts are no match for the dark secret he carries...


MY THOUGHTS
Wild Embrace is an outstanding collection of four Psy-Changeling stories, perfect for those who have wanted to try this series but have been intimidated by the number of books, as well as a treat for longtime fans. These novellas highlight the romantic chemistry at which Ms. Singh so excels, three out of the four focusing on new couples (though some familiar names) and the emotional challenges they have to overcome in order to be together. 


Echo of Silence
A standout start to this collection, Echo of Silence brings us an incredibly tense relationship setup due both to the emotionless nature of the Psy as well as the fact that Stefan is Tazia's boss. Tazia's desire smacks solidly into the seemingly ice-cold wall that is Stefan time and again, and it's impossible not to turn the pages at unprecedented speed just to see how and when she'll finally break through. The happily ever after is a tiny bit rushed but to be expected in a novella-length romance, and certainly not something that detracts from the overall success of these two as a pair.

Dorian
Our time with Dorian is brief given his story in full has already been published in this series (#5), but it's pure fun to get to revisit him and see slices of life from when he was younger, while also sharing in the moments when he's finally able to shift after a lifetime of being trapped solely in human form.

Partners in Persuasion
Felix and Dezi's story is utterly delightful in that it's a slightly different romantic setup from what we typically get in this series, with Felix being submissive to Dezi's dominant. Normally it's the Changeling men who are all alpha in their own way (though their women are always strong and go toe to toe with them perfectly), but it's Dezi who has to be careful to watch that she doesn't inadvertently use her dominance to influence Felix in a way he wouldn't naturally choose for himself. Felix is in no way weak however, his submissive nature simply part of the biological and psychological makeup of wolves within a pack hierarchy, and he more than shows his mettle when necessary.

Flirtation of Fate
This is the longest of the novellas, giving us a murder mystery to solve as the romance unfolds. There's an extra layer of tension between Kenji and Garnet given their rocky romantic history, but those like myself who love a second chance romance will smile the whole way through as these two butt heads (in a delicious foreplay kind of way) at every turn.

Rating: 4.5/5

Find Nalini:

 
This book was sent to me by the publisher  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Reader Campaign + Giveaway

Happy Friday Everyone!

Today I'm part of a promotional campaign for The Reader, the first book in the Sea of Ink and Gold series by Traci Chee. In this world society as a whole is illiterate and there are no books to be had – GASP!–, so as part of the campaign I've been asked to list for you a few of the books that I just couldn't survive or imagine life without.

As I'm sure is the case for so many of you, that list is a long one, but I've managed to narrow it down to three. If you don't count the fact that some are series, which I don't. Series = one book using Jenny Logic.



I am a huge fan of antihero characters, and Jericho Barrons might just be the antihero to end all antiheroes (to me anyway). He's absolutely infuriating, a complete a-hole, and a sadist, but damn if he's not attractive as all get out too. I've never loved, hated, and then loved a character again as much as I did Barrons throughout this series, and even just mentioning his name brings a smile to my face. Though this series went off the rails a bit for me after Iced and Mac in general could be trying at times, the first five books will forever have a special place in my heart. A place that likes to be tortured by enigmatic bastards named Barrons ;-)



Like Twilight, this series tends to have a pretty polarizing effect - readers either love it or loathe it. This was one of the first series I read when I started really getting back into reading after a long, long break during which I only read class-required books, and it truly made me see how much fun reading could be. It's not going to find its way onto the classics shelf anytime soon, but it's a series that changed my life as it, along with Twilight, was the catalyst for me starting this blog.



I remember the exact moment Throne of Glass hit my radar: BEA 2013. I added it to my "if I have time" list knowing very little about the author or series, and when the Moms and I showed up to stand in line about an hour ahead of time – we thought we'd be first – we found ourselves a solid hundred plus people back. We actually ended up being the last three people who were allowed to get our books signed as Sarah's signing hour was up, and seeing that reaction had me absurdly excited to dive in as soon as I got home.

To say I was underwhelmed by this book would be putting it politely. I had expected magic. A captivating world. A heroine made of wit and badassery. What I found instead was a young woman who did a lot of talking about how epic an assassin she was, but did very little to back it up. It wasn't until Bloomsbury published all five prequels in a single installment (which I devoured) that I truly fell in love with this series, and it's been a source of joy and tears for me ever since.

So there you have it, the books that have made a huge impact on me in one way or another, and those select few that find themselves with spines nearly worn through from re-reading:)

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

THE READER

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

With overlapping stories of swashbuckling pirates and merciless assassins, The Reader is a brilliantly told adventure from an extraordinary new talent.


You can read the first two chapters HERE!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

TRACI CHEE


Traci Chee is an author of speculative fiction for teens. An all-around word geek, she loves book arts and art books, poetry and paper crafts, though she also dabbles at piano playing, egg painting, and hosting potluck game nights for family and friends. She studied literature and creative writing at UC Santa Cruz and earned a master of arts degree from San Francisco State University. Traci grew up in a small town with more cows than people, and now feels most at home in the mountains, scaling switchbacks and happening upon hidden highland lakes. She lives in California with her fast-fast dog. The Reader is her YA debut. 


• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

GIVEAWAY



In partnership with Penguin Random House, I have a fantastic giveaway to share with you today! One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Reader as well as a snazzy branded "I Am The Reader" tote bag. Win. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US addresses only, and all prizing is provided by Penguin Random House.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Review: Been Here All Along

BEEN HERE ALL ALONG
Sandy Hall
Contemporary Young Adult
224 pages
Swoon Reads
Available August 30th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Gideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee, and having his choice of colleges. They do NOT include falling head over heels for his best friend and next door neighbor, Kyle. It’s a distraction. It’s pointless, as Kyle is already dating the gorgeous and popular head cheerleader, Ruby. And Gideon doesn’t know what to do.

Kyle finally feels like he has a handle on life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, a best friend willing to debate the finer points of Lord of the Rings, and social acceptance as captain of the basketball team. Then, both Ruby and Gideon start acting really weird, just as his spot on the team is threatened, and Kyle can’t quite figure out what he did wrong…


MY THOUGHTS
Been Here All Along is a lightning-quick read, the adorkable-ness of both Gideon and Kyle making this story easy to fly through with a smile on our faces.


Gideon and Kyle have been neighbors and best friends since they were little, but as so many of us can relate, there's a moment between them where everything shifts, and suddenly this person they've known all their lives becomes something else entirely. Told in alternate point of views (as well as the point of views of Gideon's brother and Kyle's girlfriend), we get to see both Gideon and Kyle charmingly flail when their relationship heads into uncharted waters, though thankfully the one major misstep between them is righted easily toward the end with minimal angst.

Though Gideon and Kyle, with their love of Lord of the Rings and their penchant for writing notes in Elvish, couldn't be cuter, we stay largely on the surface of both the romance as well as larger issues like coming out and learning disabilities. Gideon has an epiphany relatively early on in which he realizes he's gay, and in the blink of an eye (and after a few lists to help him organize his thoughts) he's accepted it, blurted it out to his friends while drunk for the first time, and announced it to his family who are all so thrilled they throw him a coming out party of sorts. That's not to say there aren't a huge number of families who are unflinchingly supportive in such situations, but those looking for perhaps a more nuanced or layered story of sexual identity and coming out won't find it here.

Additionally, the viewpoints of Ezra (Gideon's brother) and Ruby (Kyle's girlfriend) seem largely unnecessary, with Ruby being unlikable for nearly the entire book until the last few chapters where she realizes she's been vindictive and tries to right all her wrongs. Those issues aside though, this is a story easily devoured in one sitting and is the perfect fluff read for those who love a good best friends to lovers romance.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find Sandy:


This book was sent to me by the publisher  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Scythe

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!


SCYTHE
Neal Shusterman
Young Adult/Dystopian
Releases November 22nd from Simon & Schuster

From Goodreads:

In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional reapers (“scythes”). Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythe’s apprentices, and—despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation—they must learn the art of killing and come to understand the necessity of what they do.

Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice. And when it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser, Citra and Rowan are pitted against one another in a fight for their lives.


First, I really, really don't want to live in this world. I would one hundred percent be randomly killed for population control purposes, I know it. Second, while pitting two young people against one another in an epic battle to the death is not a new plotline, it's one that never fails to grab my attention and hold it. I can't help but want to know what happens (sidenote: I'll definitely be reading the end first)! The synopsis doesn't give us very much information about either Citra or Rowan, so I have no idea if I'll be rooting for one over the other or both:)   

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cathy Reviews: Serenity's Plain Secrets

My mother in law, and lately my co-blogger, Cathy is back today with her latest review!


Karen Ann Hopkins
Mystery/Thriller
Available Now

THE STORY
Lamb to the Slaughter (Book 1)
From Goodreads:

Lamb to the Slaughter is a story about the intertwining lives of three unlikely people in an Indiana Amish Community and the devastating results when a rebellious teenage girl is found shot to death in a corn field during the harvest. Serenity Adams is the newly elected young sheriff in the country town of Blood Rock and besides dealing with the threatening behavior of her predecessor, she now has a dead Amish girl on her plate. At first glance, the case seems obvious. The poor girl was probably accidently shot during hunting season, but when the elders of the Amish community and even the girl’s parents react with uncaring subdued behavior, Serenity becomes suspicious. As she delves deeper into the secretive community that she grew up beside, she discovers a gruesome crime from the past that may very well be related to the Amish girl’s shooting. Serenity enlists the help of the handsome bad-boy building contractor, Daniel Bachman, who left the Amish when he was nineteen and has his own dark reasons to help the spunky sheriff solve the crime that the family and friends who shunned him are trying desperately to cover up. Serenity’s persistence leads her to a stunning discovery that not only threatens to destroy her blossoming romance with Daniel, but may even take her life in the end.

CATHY'S THOUGHTS
The Serenity's Plain Secrets series first came to my attention because Jenny designed all their beautiful covers. Jenny did an amazing job setting the scene for each book. You can look at the covers and know exactly where these mysteries occur and with just the right amount sinister eeriness to draw you in. So the series was on my shelf and were so pretty that I didn't want to crack the spines, but you know how I love a good mystery. So I very carefully began turning to the first page of book one and before I knew it, I had finished three! I thought I would give you a mini review of the first three books so that you, too, can add them to your shelves.
 

Lamb to the Slaughter is the first in the series. We meet newly appointed sheriff Serenity Adams. She has returned to her hometown and her new territory which includes the nearby Amish community. She is a strong female character, which I love in a mystery. What also adds to the mystery is just the general mystic of the Amish culture. In this book we follow the story from several points of view, including that of the murdered Amish girl, Naomi. This really adds depth to the story. Serenity is a very by-the-book person and truly has a difficult time with the secretiveness of the Amish men. So, in an effort to understand and infiltrate the Amish she needs help. Meet Daniel - he used to be Amish but has left. He also becomes the love interest. Poor Serenity has to face a lot of frustration in this book, but for us it just adds to the suspense.
 

Whispers from the Dead is book two. Serenity's reputation at solving crimes, especially in the Amish community, finds her invited to another community having problems with arson. Then a body is found in one of the burned out barns. The intrigue in this story is intermingled with past crimes that had taken place in the town. She runs into that town's sheriff and definitely meets with not only resistance but outright animosity. The secretive nature of all the men in this book elevates the mystery and suspense. Daniel helps again with solving this case and putting himself closer to Serenity.
 

Secrets in the Grave is book three and it brings Serenity and Daniel back to the community Daniel grew up in. A new healer moves to the Amish community and a young pregnant woman bleeds to death. Checking into his past, it's found that this is not the first woman to die, even his wife had died. Is he a healer or a killer?  Even though Daniel has been shunned, his help with the case brings him closer to the community and his family.
 

All three books were pages turners. I think that the Amish overtones of secrecy add to the mystery and suspense. I like a little romance that is equally frustrating thrown in for good measure. I am so glad that Jenny did these covers so that they were put on my radar.

Rating:
4/5

Find Karen:
 

Friday, August 19, 2016

The 5 Series Topping My Must-Read List

Happy Friday Everyone!

I've found that quite a bit recently I seem to be leaving comments along the lines of "I need to read this series!" on my favorite blogs, so I thought it would be fun to list for you the top 5 series that have had me leaving such a comment of late.



With the exception of Jessica Shirvington's Embrace series, YA angel novels have been largely misses for me. I can't pinpoint why exactly, they just don't seem to draw me in the same way other epic paranormal or fantasy titles do. I've heard nothing but outstanding things about this series though, particularly about one intriguingly sexy guy named Rafa. I must meet him.



This is probably the one series on this list that I've said I need to read most often, and dammit, this year I'm going to do it! I said it last year about The Others series by Anne Bishop, and with the help of Nick, I devoured it earlier in the year and loved every minute. I feel like this doesn't have quite as much romance as I might want, but I think Darrow and his journey will more than make up for it!



I've actually read this first book, and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, I didn't LOVE it the way I expected to given the hype, so I've delayed reading the rest of the series out of fear I'll be disappointed. And thus the black sheep of the Charley Davidson fandom. Boo. This might be a series that just gets better as it goes though (I'm looking at you Kate Daniels), so I'm thinking I need to give it another shot!



Ilona Andrews. The creators of Kate and Curran. WHAT AM I WAITING FOR? *runs off to Amazon*



Okay, so this isn't quite a series yet as there's only one book out, but the second is well in the works and due to release early next year, so it counts. I've been seeing this around a lot lately with all sorts of delicious talk about the chemistry between Cat and Griffin, and I know it's going to be a read that's right up my sexual tension alley.

Have a great weekend you guys!