Monday, November 24, 2014

Sharing is Caring GIVEAWAY

Tis the season, and you know how it goes. The holidays start (earlier and earlier these days), and it is all about giving. Well, today it is time for me to give you to get! With the help of 19 other bloggers we bring to you, Book Nerds Unite, a Sharing is Caring giveaway.

It’s pretty easy to enter. Just click on the Rafflecopter link/widget and start following some great bloggers.  We are offering a first place prize of $150.00 Amazon or Barnes and Nobles gift card and a second place prize of $50.00 Amazon or Barnes and Nobles gift card. Whether or not you win the prize, you get to add some fabulous new blogs to your blog feeds. Good luck!

*Giveaway is US only. It runs from 11/24/14 to 12/11/14. Winners are selected at random. Please don’t mark a blog as followed if you haven’t in fact followed. All entries will be checked.
**Graphic by Rachel from Hello, Chelly

If the form doesn't show up, click, HERE

Friday, November 21, 2014

Early Review: Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

Princess of Thorns
by Stacey Jay
Read: November 16 - 19, 2014
Published: December 9, 2014 by Delacorte Press
Source: Netgalley (THANK YOU, Random House!)
Tags: YA fantasy, fairytales, ogres 

Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository  

Game of Thrones meets the Grimm's fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty's daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora's throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it's too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

My note: Please ignore the Game of Thrones reference in the title. I automatically disregard other literary comparisons, because I think they're confusing and not useful. 

Guess what, guys? I really liked this book a lot! Based on my feelings about the characters (well one) in the beginning of the story, and some early reviews I saw, I didn't expect to like Princess of Thorns as much as I did. A happy surprise, indeed! Also, don't believe everything you see. 

Princess Aurora is on a mission to rescue her brother Jor from the ogre queen who has captured him. It is not good that he's  been taken, since Aurora and her brother have been hiding for years from the evil Queen Ekeeta. She needs Aurora and Jor to fulfill a dark prophecy that will not benefit anyone but the ogres. This recent development is even more frustrating, because Aurora is the rightful heir to the throne. But instead of ruling, she and her brother have been hiding with the fairies for the past 10 years. Unfortunately, things go wrong almost immediately for Aurora once she sets out, as she's captured and drugged by slavers. 

This is the point where Prince Niklaas comes into the story He's on his own mission to find Aurora and convince her to marry him. He needs her to help defeat a curse that will all but destroy him when he turns 18. Aurora is dressed as a boy in armor when Niklaas encounters her, making him think she's really her brother Jor. Aurora has her reasons for not telling Niklaas the truth (partially due to her fairy gifts, or curses depending on how you look at them), and together they form an uneasy alliance. Their goal is to hire an army to help free the real Jor. Although Niklaas' version of their mission is slightly different, because he's not been clued into the fact the boy he's traveling with is really a girl.

Here's the thing. I despised Niklaas when I first met him. His views on women and constant boasting about his past conquests were off-putting to say the least. If I'd met him in real life, I wouldn't have gone anywhere near him. Thankfully, Aurora is equally turned off by his behavior. But this made his character growth so excellent to witness first hand. I was truly amazed by how my feelings changed about him from the first to the last pages. Plus it was so much fun watching Aurora challenge every one of his beliefs about girls, even when  Niklaas thought she was a boy and he didn't know it was happening. 

However, it's not only Niklaas who has some growing to do. Aurora also learns some tough lessons through this story. There was even a moment when I stated in my Goodreads updates, "Girl, I would punch you in the face if I could." I was so mad at her!! But all those strong emotions mean that I cared about this book and these characters. Truly, the strength of this book for me was in the characters and relationship between Aurora and Niklaas: how it developed and changed as they faced dangerous situations and had to learn to trust each other. Their constant banter was fun to read, but I really enjoyed the way they each grew up throughout the story. I also appreciated the way this book explores stereotypes and gender roles. I was challenged on both sides of that question, and in the end, really appreciated the moments that made me angry, because they also made me think.

On the other hand, I did think that the overall mythology was confusing, and I never fully grasped the ogre's mission. There were a lot of different magical elements put together in this story - in addition to ogres: a swan prince, fairy blessings, witches, even a brief Rapunzel reference. It was an interesting mashup of fantasy elements from various fairytales, though most of them were just side details (including the Sleeping Beaty connection). The basic plot of the story was also fairly simple. It is a quest of sorts, but it's straight forward if you break it down, and I wasn't surprised where it takes the characters in the end.

But even though I wasn't surprised where the characters end up, I wasn't expecting who they would be at the end, or how the specific events would play out. For that, Princess of Thorns has a strong and surprising ending that solidifies it along with Of Beast and Beauty as another great read from Stacey Jay. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone!    

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I can't wait to read these sequels!

TTT is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke & The Bookish

Top Ten* sequels I can't wait to read: 

*Because I just can't pick 10 this week, I'm going to list SEQUELS I'm anticipating in 5 categories* 

1) With covers:

A) Siren's Fury by Mary Weber - Storm Siren ended in a terrible cliffhanger. I must know what happens next! 

B) Golden Son by Pierce Brown - After the end of Red Rising, I'm eager to find out what crazy things Darrow does in the sequel.

C) Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine - I'm excited for more of Wen and Melik's story. No love triangles please! (Thoughts on Of Metal and Wishes)

D) The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead - I'm desperate for the conclusion of Adrian and Sydney's story. I LOVE them so. (Thoughts on Silver Shadows)

E) Every Move by Ellie Marney - Another of my MOST MOST anticipated. Every Breath & Every Move were surprising Aussie favorites this year. 

F) Lion Heart by A.C. GaughenLady Thief was one of my favorite sequels this year, but it ended on another terrible cliffy. Will Scarlet and Rob be okay? I must know!

G) The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson - This is probably the one I'm most nervous about. I reeeaallllyyyyy hope this doesn't have a love triangle. I might have to strike it from my list if so. (Thoughts on The Kiss of Deception)

H) Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman - I loved Prisoner of Night and Fog, but it was a tough time period to read about. I'm so worried for Gretchen and Daniel! 

(Images of the previous book in the series)

2) No covers: 

A) Burn by Paula Weston - I love The Rephaim series, and I'm incredibly excited/nervous for how everything will come together in the end. Gaby + Rafa = LOVE

B) Winter by Marissa Meyer - After Cress, so much is at stake for these characters. Scarlet and Wolf are my #1 concern, though!!

C) Trail of Tears by Josephine Angelini - I enjoyed Trial By Fire so much this year, and I really want to love the sequel just as much. PLEASE!

(Images of the previous book in the series)

3) No cover or title:

A) Raven Cycle #4 by Maggie Stiefvater - OBVIOUSLY. Oh, but GANSEY!! (Thoughts on Blue Lily, Lily Blue)

B) The Archived #3 by Victoria Schwab - I NEED MORE WES AND MAC!!! This book doesn't even have a publication year, but the author has promised it's coming. MORE PEOPLE PLEASE READ The Archived and The Unbound. PLEASE! 

C) The Elemental Trilogy# 3 by Sherry Thomas - The Perilous Sea is a fantastic example of a series that increases tension in book two, without adding a love triangle. WHAT??? It's possible, people! I must have the end of Titus and Iolanthe's story. 

4) I've read and cannot wait to own in hardback:

A) The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoksi - The sequel to The Winner's Curse destroyed me. But it was gorgeous too. I cannot wait to own my own copy. 

B) Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop - I am obsessed with this series. I cannot get enough of it. (This one is Adult - see thoughts on Murder of Crows)

5) I NEEED but may never exist:

A) Rites of Passage 2, Joy N. Hensley - Rites of Passage is one of my favorite books of the year, and I want a sequel so badly. But if there isn't one, I've invented my own end for the characters that makes me feel very happy. 

EEK! I went way overboard here. SORRY, guys! (But not really)
What sequels are you anticipating this week?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Early Review: Boys Don't Knit (in public) by T.S. Eaton

Boys Don't Knit
by T.S. Eaton
Read: October 19 - 21, 2014
Published: March 24, 2015 by Feiwel & Friends 
Source: Arc from Macmillan (THANK YOU!) 
Tags: Contemporary, YA, British humor, knitting boys

Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N 

Knitting is a man’s game.

After an incident regarding a crossing guard and a bottle of Martini & Rossi (and his bonehead friends), 17-year-old worrier Ben Fletcher must develop his sense of social alignment, take up a hobby, and do some community service to avoid any further probation.

He takes a knitting class (it was that or his father’s mechanic class) under the impression that it's taught by the hot teacher all the boys like. Turns out, it’s not. Perfect.

Regardless, he sticks with it and comes to find that he’s a natural knitter, maybe even great. It even helps ease his anxiety and worrying. The only challenge now is to keep it hidden from his friends, his crush, and his soccer-obsessed father. What a tangled web Ben has weaved . . . or knitted.

Boys Don't Knit was a complete delight! I loved being inside Ben's head. Ben doesn't always understand his messy family - or feel like he fits. He's not sure how he feels about his friends (they keep getting him into trouble), and he doesn't know how to talk to girls he likes. When Ben gets put on probation for a situation that involved poor judgement, liquor stealing, and hitting a crossing guard with a bicycle, all largely the fault of his idiotic friends, Ben ends up taking a knitting class. Of course, Ben doesn't want anyone to know about it even though he's a natural, and that leads to much hilarity and inner turmoil. 

Ben's a little awkward, quite clueless at times (though he can also be very perceptive), and he doesn't feel like he fits with his friends or at home. Ben doesn't like sports or cars or the other manly things his dad prefers, or his friends wild schemes, which always end in disaster. Ben likes organizing things and school and no drama. But it is through the seemingly unmanly activity of knitting that Ben realizes he might not be the loser he always thought he was. He has friends and support and maybe a girl who likes him too. Plus he finds he's also pretty good at helping others. 

Ben's inner voice was completely endearing, and I enjoyed seeing him gain confidence and begin to see his own worth. The story is told by Ben in a very conversational style, organized by date, instead of chapter (sort of like a diary. But don't worry: it's not epistolary, and the storytelling method works very well, adding to the overall experience). Reading Boy's Don't Knit was like cuddling up in a warm sweater while watching a British comedy. They perfect mix of hilarious and heartfelt. 

This book doesn't come out in the US until next March, but I found it to be incredibly entertaining. Definitely add it to your list!

Love Triangle Factor: None/Mild. Romance is not the focus of this book, and Ben is pretty clueless about the whole thing, so so there's some resulting drama, but it's always going in the same direction. 
Cliffhanger Scale: Low - This book has a sequel An English Boy in New York

Monday, November 10, 2014

Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

Burn for Me
by Ilona Andrews
Read: November 1-2, 2014
Published: October 28, 2014 by Avon
Source: Kindle Purchase
Tags: Adult Fantasy, Magic, 

Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N 

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews launches a brand new Hidden Legacy series, in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire…

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile case. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run or surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

I've finally read an Ilona Andrews book, and all I can think is: "What was I waiting for?!" This was so good! 

What I love - The whole world building drew me in from the start. I'm a sucker for stories that take our world and tweak it a bit, throwing in some real historical events to add context. It just makes the story seem more real to me for some reason. This book does all that, while creating an incredibly rich society. Nevada lives in an America that looks very much like our own, except that magic is real and families and people are ranked by how much they have. Nevada's family has some magical blood running thorough it, but nothing that gives them any status in society. Mad Rogan on the other hand is the very powerful head of a very powerful House (or magical family). 

Along with the world building, I couldn't get enough of these characters. Nevada runs a small family detective company that gets bullied into taking an impossible case by another powerful House. She's clearly in way over her head, but she will do anything to save her business. I fell so hard for this girl, and her fierce love of her family. At first, it seems like Nevada couldn't possibly survive in this high stakes death match against a egotistical Prime Fire user. But Nevada is clever, determined, and has a neat and effective little magic trick of her own. Despite other people's best efforts to out smart her or take her down, she just keeps living and surprising everyone she meets in this book, none more than Connor "Mad" Rogan. 

Mad Rogan has his own interest Nevada's case, and he decides getting to her is the best way to accomplish his goals. Rogan kidnaps Nevada and is shocked when things don't go exactly as he plans. Then they are both shocked when they somehow end up becoming uneasy allies. I was very wary - and unhappy with Rogan - at first, but the more I read, the more I understood him and fell in love with his and Nevada's dynamic. 

With the incredible difference in their magical abilities, social status and general moral code, Nevada and Mad Rogan don't seem to be a good match at all. But as the story progresses, it becomes clear that they're actually incredibly well suited. And despite the fact that I wanted them to hurry along their romance, I really enjoyed the way it is paced in this first installment, as well as the fact that Nevada is clear about her limits and what she is (and isn't) looking for. It's refreshing to see that in a heroine, especially one up against an alpha male like Mad Rogan, who is used to getting his way. I also didn't feel like she was being annoyingly stubborn for frustration's sake, which sometimes happens to heroines. I cannot wait to watch where that relationship goes in the future! 

The plot of this book is equally exciting, and well balanced against the strong world building and complex characters. It is filled with action, danger and lots of intrigue. Along the way, we also meet a great secondary cast of characters. I can't wait to discover more of this world, and find out where Nevada and Mad Rogan take us next. 

What I wish - I basically loved all of this book. But now I remember why I like to wait to read Urban Fantasy until multiple books are out. This just wasn't enough of these characters and this story for me! I'm dying for the next installment. Also, while I adore the text, I greatly dislike this book cover. I'm pretty sure Nevada would not be happy about her representation on it. I'm not sure Mad Rogan would appreciate it either. Though Adam would be pleased - well, if that were Adam on the cover, which it is not. So actually, maybe he'd not like it. Basically, I think the cover is a poor representation of the excellent story in these pages.

PS. I think the original cover was 100x better. I think the new one sends the wrong message, actually. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Low/Medium. Low danger. This part of the story wraps, but lots of indication of what is to come. I want MORE. If you want further info about the future of this series/relationship, visit the author's FAQ page (I wish more stated this explicitly). 
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