Seriously. I love how nothing in this story makes any logical sense – but it all comes together so beautifully anyway. This is a seriously wonderful s...moreSeriously. I love how nothing in this story makes any logical sense – but it all comes together so beautifully anyway. This is a seriously wonderful story, in a very Calgon-take-me-away kind of way where trains make booty calls classy and all you want is for two strangers to fall in love.
Wow.Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz was such an awesome surprise, you guys. WHY HASN’T EVERYONE READ...moreWow.Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz was such an awesome surprise, you guys. WHY HASN’T EVERYONE READ THIS? Every single aspect of this novel blew me away: the writing and characterization are both master level. This will be on my Best of 2013 list in December. Guaranteed.
Before reading Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe I would have happily declared that there ARE no real secrets to the universe. I mean…either believe in Jesus or Stephen Hawking. Also, try not to get hit by a bus (but wear good underwear in case you do). There. Covered. Then I watched Dante and Ari develop over the course of the novel and by the time it was over, I was fully convinced that there are indeed secrets to the universe, and by gosh – these boys are in the process of discovering the answers. That is the power of excellent writing at work, my friends.
Aristotle and Dante meet when Dante offers to teach Ari how to swim. They quickly develop a friendship that leads them into a lot of questions involving culture, family and sexuality. You basically cover all the big questions relating to adolescence. Another bonus? Seeing them interact with their families was almost as awesome as seeing them together. Every single character introduced in Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is glorious.
At first glance, Dante is the more likable of the two characters. His individuality is showcased from the very beginning, and he has a much more open, affectionate and bold personality. Ari is not so good at expressing himself. He struggles a lot with trying to figure out who he is and who he wants to be – that is, in fact, the point of the story. Who are these characters and what are they trying to become?
I wanted to tell them that I’d never had a friend, not ever, not a real one. Until Dante. I wanted to tell them that I never knew that people like Dante existed in the world, people who looked at the stars, and knew the mysteries of water, and knew enough to know that birds belonged to the heavens and weren’t meant to be shot down from their graceful flights by mean and stupid boys. I wanted to tell them that he had changed my life and that I would never be the same, not ever. And that somehow it felt like it was Dante who had saved my life and not the other way around. I wanted to tell them that he was the first human being aside from my mother who had ever made me want to talk about the things that scared me. I wanted to tell them so many things and yet I didn’t have the words. So I just stupidly repeated myself. “Dante’s my friend.”
Once I really dug into the story, Ari started growing on me more and more. Just because he couldn’t successfully portray his emotions doesn’t mean he lacked them. I think he actually ended up being my favorite of the two boys (although let it be known that I am besotted with both of them). At one point in the story, he even does something extraordinary and heroic that had me gaping in awe.
Actually, one of my favorite parts of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is the ending when Ari owns up to his emotions and is finally confident enough in himself to express them. That actually stuck out to me as the real heroism of the story. Tears were involved.
Concepts ranging from destiny to cultural and sexual identity are all explored beautifully throughout the book and culminate in one of the most powerfully emotional endings..seriously you guys. ALL THE FEELS.
To Sum it Up:
-The writing and characterization both left me awestruck, you guys. Perfection piled on top of perfection.
-The struggles Ari and Dante face in regard to everything from cultural identity to sexual preference are flawlessly executed.
-I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS for this book. Pleasure and wonder and relief. Giggling and crying were both involved.(less)
After reading Samantha Young in the past, I've been looking forward to Down London Road for months. Well, I am here to tell you, several hours of cryi...moreAfter reading Samantha Young in the past, I've been looking forward to Down London Road for months. Well, I am here to tell you, several hours of crying, laughing and squealing like a lunatic later...it completely blew me away! This is definitely one of the best contemporary romances I have read in a long time.
Jo has a tough family life and hides behind some pretty strong walls so that no one can penetrate down to see how awful her life really is. She basically lives for her brother Cole. Until Cameron comes into the picture. First, he is just another hot toolbag that looks at her like she's dirt. Then he accidentally gets a peek into an episode of Real Life: Johanna Walker and things start changing. For the sexier. (Like combusting just from a kiss on the forehead sexier.)
You guys, my first reaction upon reading The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright by Tessa Dare was “whoa.” Actually, that was my reaction over a...moreYou guys, my first reaction upon reading The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright by Tessa Dare was “whoa.” Actually, that was my reaction over and over again while reading this novella. I loved Tessa Dare already, her Spindle Cove series is wonderful and she is one of the only historical romance authors I make a point to follow. But still: whoa.
Basically, everything about The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright is absolutely brilliant. The characters, the story, the writing. Oh man, THE WRITING. I want to quote the devil out of this book, you guys don’t even know. The number of passages I highlighted in this novella – considering there are only 100 pages – is crazy. Check out some of this awesome:
The devil must be very handsome, her nursemaid had once told her. Else no one would follow him into perdition.
Too true, too true. She saw it for herself now. The devil had a strong, squared jaw, a straight nose, and full lips with a dangerous, sensual quirk. Dark, wavy hair, as untamable as his spirit. Laughing eyes, green as a Cornish summer. Oh, yes. The devil was handsome indeed.
But it wasn’t just that.
The devil also looked weary. Fatigued by the world— and strangely vulnerable, this close. The devil put silver threads in his sin-black hair. Just a few, so a girl could only see them if she happened to draw imprudently near. He wore his cravat mussed, tempting feminine hands to put it straight.
Eliza’s nursemaid had it all wrong. The devil didn’t entice with perfection. He seduced with flaws.
His green, hungry gaze didn’t say, Follow me into perdition.
It said, Only you can save me from it.
It’s pretty funny that I picked this story up basically because it costs a buck and because I knew it wouldn’t take long to read. That’ll teach me, right? I ended up reading at turtle speed because I wanted to absorb every single word and every single feeling. Sigh. I sound like a 14 year old picking up her first romance novel and going all starry-eyed over it, right? I feel like it too!
What starts out as a chance, embarrassing meeting between a jaded rake and an immature young girl turns into several meetings over the course of years – each meeting revealing more and more about the characters and who they really are. You might think that stand-out incredible character development can’t really happen over the course of 100 pages, but you’d be wrong. Mr. Wright starts out as just another rake in just another romance novel, but let me tell you, that changes. HE BRINGS THE SWOONS.
To Sum it Up:
-Tessa Dare basically blew the top off my already high expectations of her writing abilities. Seriously. Even if you love her already, you have no idea!
-Some of the best character development I’ve come across in a long time packed neatly into novella form.
-THIS EBOOK ONLY COSTS ONE DOLLAR. YOU MUST BUY IT IMMEDIATELY. I’m not kidding. Right now. Gogogogo. (And, if you prefer, the paper copy is only $4!)(less)
I picked up The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay knowing nothing about it except for the insanely crazy high rating it had on Goodreads. Seriously,...moreI picked up The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay knowing nothing about it except for the insanely crazy high rating it had on Goodreads. Seriously, last I looked it was 4.72 with almost 3,000 ratings? That’s a first for me. YOU GUYS THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD THAT I WANT TO WRITE THE WHOLE REVIEW IN CAPSLOCK. I’m not kidding. I finished it less than 24 hours ago and I am aching to read it again. I want there to be a movie that I can watch 10 times in a row…or TV show…play…I’M NOT PICKY!
As far as the plot of The Sea of Tranquility goes, you really want to go into it fresh with only vague ideas of what will happen. This isn’t an action packed thriller or a snappy, quick-moving contemporary. The plot is slooooooooow (I mean that in a good way). It is all about character building and really digging in and getting to know Josh and Nastya, the two protagonists. They are packed full of issues – the book features violence and death and dealing with the effects – and not being able to deal with the effects. Bits and pieces of their story are given to you a little at a time, and knowing stuff beforehand would be a bummer on the reading experience. JUST SAY NO TO SPOILERS.
Things switch back and forth between Nastya and Josh’s POVs and I have never been so happy to have a dual narration in my life. I couldn’t get enough of either of them. Watching them meet, get to know each other, develop a relationship…I SWOON. The chills abounded. Also, I teared up so many times, you don’t even know. Basically all they had to do to make me emote was look at each other meaningfully.
Now, I’m going to give you a gift. Don’t worry, after lecturing you about spoilers, I’m not planning on giving you any. I just want you to read the prologue:
I hate my left hand. I hate to look at it. I hate it when it stutters and trembles and reminds me that my identity is gone. But I look at it anyway, because it also reminds me that I’m going to find the boy who took everything from me. I’m going to kill the boy who killed me, and when I kill him, I’m going to do it with my left hand.
Starting with a bang = understatement of the year. After reading that one paragraph, for me it was immediately BOOM – All in.
Also, I discovered on Twitter that the Makeshift Bookmark ladies, Jen and Carla, were both reading it as well. I always forget what it can add to the reading experience to have friends you can tweet your crazed and capslocked enthusiasm to. (Also, for the record, they freakin’ loved it as much as I did.)
Forget my favorite reads of 2012 list, The Sea of Tranquility is on my fave reads OF ALL TIME list. The amount of emotion Katja Millay manages to pack into this story is ridiculous – the end brought on The Epic Ugly Cry of 2012. The book doesn’t just have the best prologue ever, it has the best last line ever. Seriously – the journey you go on culminates in the most gut-wrenchingly wonderful ending. I can’t even stand it.
Read The Sea of Tranquility. Read it if you love young adult contemporary novels. Read it if you would rather walk naked across a field of razor sharp barbed wire with feet soaked in vinegar than read young adult contemporary novels. It doesn’t matter – you will love it.
To Sum it Up:
-I might be the slightest bit evangelistic about this novel. (You have two weeks to read it or we won’t be friends anymore.)
-I definitely recommend going into The Sea of Tranquility knowing next to nothing – it will make your reading experience a lot richer.
-SOBBING. LOTS OF SOBBING. Beautiful, gorgeous, heart-wrenching and wonderful.(less)
I picked up Grace Grows by Shelle Sumners not sure what to expect. I normally stick to contemporary romance and steer clear of books classified as “ch...moreI picked up Grace Grows by Shelle Sumners not sure what to expect. I normally stick to contemporary romance and steer clear of books classified as “chick lit.” After reading this synopsis, I decided to make an exception. AHH I AM SO GLAD I DID. I have some CAPSLOCK ENTHUSIASM for this read, y’all.
First of all: Grace Grows has an original soundtrack. Could things get any better? Tyler Wilkie, the male MC, is a musician. The songs he writes and sings in the book have actually been recorded. Plus, the lyrics don’t suck. I’m normally pretty blah about books with original lyrics/poems/etc. in them because I feel awkward about it when they aren’t very good or meaningful and don’t add much to the story. Luckily, these are fabulous.
where she’s just the world to me just a girl who knows I could be good I could be bad I could be what she’s never had And I can be wrong but you can be sure I could be anything for her
Maybe now that I’m an old lady (I turned 26 this year, y’all. TWENTY-SIX.), I just appreciate the chick lit genre more than I used to. Seeing a relationship develop over years and have consequences and difficulties was a breath of fresh air – Grace Barnum and Tyler Wilkie have an extremely complicated relationship that takes a lot of time and effort to finally succeed.
When Grace Grows begins, Grace is in another relationship. Tyler Wilkie is a recent transplant to the city – just another musician trying to make it. Even though she can barely tolerate how he disrupts her need for order – she can’t quite make herself stay away from him. Maybe it is the gorgeous angsty music he writes about her – or how hotttt he is. (Seriously, this dude IS hot.) As the years go by, their interactions change and evolve as they become friends, more than friends, awkward acquaintances…
Their hard times just made me want it that much more – for them to be together. Same goes for their faults – both Grace and Tyler make PLENTY of mistakes and bad decisions. Seeing them misstep made them feel all the more real.
Seriously you guys, I was so wrapped up in the Gralkie (Grace + Wilkie – yes, no?) soap opera. I laughed, I cried, I yelled. (Luckily, the yelling was only internal. Mostly.) I was SO INVESTED in this story that it might have been a little unhealthy.
I read Grace Grows as an egalley, but this is definitely a story I will be investing in so I can set a copy on my shelves to reread in the future. Multiple times. I haven’t had nearly enough time with these characters and their story.
To Sum it Up:
-YOU GUYS. If this is any indication of what I’ve been missing by not reading more chick lit, consider me a convert.
-Watching two people live their lives and make mistakes over the course of many years was a nice change from the straight up romance novels I usually stick to.
-I was completely invested in these characters – I read Grace Grows in one sitting, dying to see where they would end up and if they’d end up there together.(less)
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King has been on my radar for quite a long time. A good friend on Goodreads first recommended it to me years ago....moreThe Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King has been on my radar for quite a long time. A good friend on Goodreads first recommended it to me years ago. When it popped up on a post written by Angie, I knew it was time. What I didn’t know was that I’d spend the entire book kicking myself for not having introduced myself to Mary Russell years ago when I first had the chance.
You guys, this is definitely a case of reading the right book at the right time. With the right mood. And the right lunar alignment. And probably even the right socks. Every single thing about The Beekeeper’s Apprentice made me fall deeper under its spell (I even put off watching the new episode of Bones to finish a chapter. That is unheard of in the life of Allison, y’all. Bones waits on no man). It might just be in the running for my favorite book of the year.
Mary Russell has the somewhat dangerous habit of reading while walking. When she literally trips over what appears to be just an eccentric old man – she has no idea that she has just changed her entire life. That crazy old dude? Sherlock Holmes, you guys. IT IS SHERLOCK HOLMES. When she shocks him right off the bat by showing impressive intelligence, he takes her under his wing. He is pretty stoked to have a companion worthy of his time.
Their first meeting basically charmed the pants off me. They both have that kind of almost stupidly incredible intelligence that leaves them alienated from normal life. Able to converse easily from the get go, I could not love the interactions between these two more if I tried. Give me a minute here you guys, because I HAVE TO CAPSLOCK MY ENTHUSIASM OVER HOW AWESOME THESE CHARACTERS ARE! AHHHHHHHHH!
Holmes is constantly forgetting that Mary (or as he calls her, Russell) is a female (probably because she prefers to dress in man clothes) – and his bewilderment every single time he is reminded of it somehow is so charming. I want to pat him on his cute little 60 year old cheeks. Ahem. Anyway…
As the book progresses, things just keep getting better and better. Both characters keep developing – and they develop together. By the end of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, it is hard to imagine how they could have ever lived without each other. (I don’t mean that in a particularly romantic way – I mean that they are just so compatible in every single aspect of life.)
Even though the characters are what really make the book, the mysteries are very satisfying and interesting. Some things are wrapped up fairly quickly, but the big kahuna develops slowly and with masterful suspense. Leaving just enough clues to have readers following along on the edge of their seats, Laurie King leads Holmes and Russell on one heck of a merry chase. I love a good puzzle you guys, and that is definitely what you get with this one.
Basically, every single aspect of this book is phenomenal. You’d have to be crazy not to want to read it! I have never been so thrilled at the prospect of 11 more delicious books in a series to read. Am I going to start on the next book the instant I finish writing this review? You bet I am.
To Sum it Up:
-Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes together = dynamite. magic. ALL THE GOOD THINGS. -There are plenty of mysteries to keep them occupied – the biggest of which had me guessing until the end. -This is a 12 book series, so when you read this and fall as in love with the characters as I did, you have plenty to look forward to!(less)
You guys. I had DOUBTS about The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle. Amish people and vampires? *snort* Sounds like a half-baked plot for a cheesy porno. B...moreYou guys. I had DOUBTS about The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle. Amish people and vampires? *snort* Sounds like a half-baked plot for a cheesy porno. But…I wasn’t even that far into the story before hopping onto gchat to talk to April (who was also reading it). We were both like “Whoa! This doesn’t suck after all!” I know that sounds like faint praise, but it isn’t. Because guys? This book was good.
So, when The Hallowed Ones begins, we meet Katie. She is looking forward to her upcoming Rumspringa, a chance to experience the “English” life before deciding whether or not to commit to being Amish and marrying childhood pal Elijah. Before this has a chance to occur, some pretty bad stuff goes down in the real world. It doesn’t take long to also make a huge impact on Katie’s Amish community. When she disobeys her Elders to do what she thinks is right by saving an outsider? Hello hot mess. (And hello eventual sexytimes.)
Katie is such an awesome character, I could fangirl about her all day. Instead of the Amish thing being thrown into the novel just to give her something to rebel against, or as a tool to allow her to come off as brainwashed, it just gave her something to question as she tries to decide who she really wants to be. She wants to be respectful of the beliefs she was raised to respect, but she also has a personal code of honor she can’t quite make herself turn against.
If you’re worried about the book pushing religious propaganda or being too preachy – don’t be. There is no “CONVERT THEE TO AMISH, OR PERISH IN A HOLY FIRE!” talk. There is spiritual reflection and details about the Amish life – but it all fits in nicely with the story, and it never becomes too much. Pinkie swear.
As for the vampires? Whoa mama, y’all. Laura Bickle ain’t messin’ around. We are talking pee-your-pants-in-fear-straight-up-Stephen-King-style vampires. No sparkling or sexaholic prototypes need apply. So, if you’re hesitating to pick up The Hallowed Ones because you are sick and tired of the regular vampire novel? Don’t be.
Basically, The Hallowed Ones impressed the hell out of me (ha, pun intended). Flawlessly weaving Amish culture and the horror of old-school vampire lore together, Laura Bickle has written a book I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
To Sum It Up:
-If you’re worried that the whole Amish + vampires premise sounds too hokey, don’t be! It is very well crafted, and you will be impressed.
-The characterization is also a home run. Katie is such a fantastic MC!
-This book has vampires that are actually frightening. Imagine that, y’all. Just in time for Halloween.(less)
Why I waited almost five months after the release of I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga to finally pick it up and read it, I have no idea. I had been antici...moreWhy I waited almost five months after the release of I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga to finally pick it up and read it, I have no idea. I had been anticipating it for months before its release and knew it would be something I loved (seriously – who doesn’t enjoy a good serial killer?). All that waiting definitely paid off – this book managed to exceed all my high expectations!
Jasper Dent’s dad is an infamous serial killer. In Jazz’s mind, one of the scariest aspects of this situation is that he is afraid he might take after his dad just a little too closely. He observed – and even assisted – his father on way too many occasions to count, and maybe its just me, but it seems like those are the kind of experiences that can really stick with a person.
So, is Jazz just as crazy-scary-nuts as his dad, or is he a genuinely good person buried (deep) down there somewhere? As we follow his experiences trying to track down a new killer that has popped up in his hometown of Lobo’s Nod, we see that the answer to this question is a lot more complicated than it appears.
I love the plot of I Hunt Killers with a fairly gruesome intensity, y’all. As Jazz starts tracking the killer, he realizes – with more than a little alarm – that someone is copying the exploits of good ole dad. He becomes increasingly determined to insert himself into the investigation however possible, no matter what the local cops (shout out to G. William, you are awesome my friend!) have to say about it.
I Hunt Killers contains one hell of an awesome case of characters, you guys. Basically, Jasper Dent is incredible. He is so complex and his motivations vary from the macabre thrills he gets dealing with murder and his intense need to prove to himself (and to the town) that he isn’t his father. Also? He is hilarious. Seriously. Like being a maybe-almost-just-a-little serial killer isn’t enough? He has to be FUNNY too!?! I swoon.
Also, his friends are great. Howie, the loyal follower and unfortunate hemophiliac, also adds a lot of humor to the story. I WANT TO HUG THESE PEOPLE MORE THAN MY OWN FAMILY, SERIOUSLY. Jazz even has a girlfriend – Connie. She is basically awesome, and refuses to believe that Jazz would ever do the things his father did, and she basically helps him keep his crap together no matter what is going on.
If you guys enjoy a good Nature vs. Nurture debate, love humorous characters with a lot of mysterious depth and/or love a good murder mystery? Seriously, go forth and read I Hunt Killers at the earliest possible opportunity. Meanwhile, I will be eagerly awaiting the sequel (which will definitely not be languishing on my shelves unread for five months!).
To Sum it Up:
-Fantastic characterization and great murder mystery plotting makes I Hunt Killers one of the most interesting and in-depth books I picked up all year.
-Is he or isn’t he? Jasper Dent would make a fantastic serial killer you guys, and it might just be inevitable anyway…
-Severed fingers! Gruesome murder scenes! Unfortunate hemophiliac stories! So much WONDERFUL, DIVINE, OOZING BLOOD in this book, y’all! *cackles like a lunatic*(less)
Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara totally caught me off guard, you guys. I have seriously heard absolutely nothing about this book. Well, let me t...moreLovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara totally caught me off guard, you guys. I have seriously heard absolutely nothing about this book. Well, let me tell you: that is a MAJOR FAIL on the part of the blogosphere. This book was out of this world incredible. Run…don’t walk…RUN LIKE THE WIND to the nearest bookstore. This story is so worth it.
This will definitely be one of those reviews where I flail around like a lunatic, because YOU GUYS. I can’t even. The writing is so good that I was literally rereading paragraphs by the SECOND PAGE because I was so in awe of the words. Mesmerizing and eerie and descriptive and perfect. In fact, here is the first passage I bookmarked, barely three paragraphs in:
I came here because it’s pine-dark and the ocean is wild. The kind of quiet-noise you need when there’s too much going on in your head. Like the water and the woods are doing all the feeling, and I can hang out, quiet as a headstone, in a between place. A blank I can bear.
Basically, by the end of the first chapter of Lovely, Dark and Deep I was sending prayers up to the Book Gods, asking to just please please let me love the story and the characters even just half as much as the writing. Luckily, I did.
Wren was in a car crash that killed her boyfriend – and affected her in a couple of other ways that aren’t revealed until later. She has fallen apart and left her mom and college plans behind to live in Maine with her father, an artist. There she meets Cal, a fellow traveler on the road of my-life-sucks-and-not-even-endless-piles-of-nachos-and-cookie-dough-will-help-me-out-of-this-nightmare. The relationship formed is born more out of intensity and loneliness than any actual romance, but it works for them and I was definitely along for the ride.
Also, I can’t even begin to describe to you how in love with the title I am. Lovely, Dark and Deep are easily the three words that describe the story best. Everything about these characters is stark and uncomfortable and sad in this compulsively readable way. I couldn’t put the book down. The ending doesn’t bring closure or any certainty of the future – but it does leave you with hope that things are looking up for Wren and Cal, and I closed the book feeling 100% satisfied.
To Sum it Up:
-Before I even had a chance to meet the characters, I fell in love with the writing. Gorgeous and lyrical and descriptive and just…everything.
-Wren and Cal, the main characters, definitely pulled me in as well. They both have major issues and an inability to deal with them. I couldn’t wait for the moment to come when I would see them finally able to shake off some of what weighed them down.
-This isn’t a happy book, but it IS a fabulous one. READ IT. IMMEDIATELY.(less)
The Emperor’s Soul is Brandon Sanderson’s newest novella and I have to tell you guys – it blew me away. I loved it all: from the awesome characterizat...moreThe Emperor’s Soul is Brandon Sanderson’s newest novella and I have to tell you guys – it blew me away. I loved it all: from the awesome characterization to the brilliant setting to what Brandon Sanderson does best – world building. My little fantasy-loving heart is still fangirling several days after finishing.
Shai is an expert Forger – she can recreate pretty much anything by using magic to rewrite something’s history. From paintings to walls to…souls? When she gets caught stealing, she is sure it is an instant death sentence. Luckily for her…the emperor’s council needs her help. Emperor Ashravan’s soul is gone and they want Shai to create a copy before anyone notices that he is out of commission. Since Shai’s mama didn’t raise no fool, she doesn’t immediately laugh in their faces like “HAHAHAHA YEAH RIGHT, MORONS.” She just agrees to do it while immediately working on an escape plan for when she can’t actually manage to do it.
As Shai digs into Ashravan’s life to try and Forge his soul – she learns a lot about his true nature she wasn’t expecting and becomes more and more determined to succeed. She also has a choice – will she exploit the opportunity and create a way for herself to gain a measure of control over the emperor?
You guys – there is so much packed into the 175 pages of The Emperor’s Soul. How awesome does that plot sound? I love the political, moral and legal questions woven deftly into the story. I was wondering about the implications of an emperor with a counterfeit soul right along with Shai and the council members. She had so many decisions to make about what to include in his personality stamp – and what to leave out.
The concept of Forging is gold. Brandon Sanderson always comes up with the coolest magic systems. If I could read an entire series of books revolving around Shai and her abilities, you better believe I would be all over that. Also, there is a very cool author’s note at the end about where the idea came from that I, as a total nerd, found fascinating.
Also – the cover. YOU GUYS. I love it. It is so true to the story and to Shai. I loved having that as the picture of her in my head while reading.
Seriously, The Emperor’s Soul is absolutely brilliant. I would have devoured it gladly if it had been 800 pages long, but I can definitely appreciate how detailed and complete it felt contained at under 200 pages.
To Sum It Up:
-Every single thing about this book is exceptional – the characters, setting and world building all knocked my socks off.
-THE MAGIC SYSTEM IS BEYOND COOL. Seriously, the concept of Forging? Brandon Sanderson, you are the man.
-It asks all sorts of important political and moral questions without actually asking them. Lots of food for thought here, folks.(less)
Death in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander is the seventh installment of the Lady Emily series, which I’ve mentioned numerous times on the blog as...moreDeath in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander is the seventh installment of the Lady Emily series, which I’ve mentioned numerous times on the blog as a favorite of mine. I’ve been anticipating the release for months, but I was still absolutely floored by how seriously awesome it is. THIS SERIES, you guys. So good.
As evident by the title, the book is set in Venice. An old childhood nemesis of Emily’s calls upon her and husband Colin to help solve the murder of her father-in-law. What follows is a fabulously twisty path into a centuries-old feud between warring families, complete with its own star-crossed love story. (Yes, feel free to think Romeo & Juliet. Except better.)
The power, intrigue and romance of both 15th and 19th century Venice are woven into every page – and are the core of what makes Death in the Floating City the best book of the series. Seriously, there is no way to read this novel and not want to immediately check under the couch cushions for lost quarters in order to start a “Trip to Venice” change jar. I’ve actually been there, and I felt its presence just as much while reading this book as when I was standing in front of St. Mark’s Basilica.
The first flashback into the late 1400s is just pages into the novel. I must admit, despite my fierce faith in Tasha Alexander, that I groaned. Flashbacks aren’t usually my thing – I always feel impatient to get through them to get back to the “real” story. I figured that would be doubly true since I’m so attached to the main characters, Emily and Colin. NOPE. Consider me a convert, because they are fabulous. Full of angst and romance and desperation and tragedy and ALL THE GOOD THINGS that star-crossed love stories are supposed to have (including the ugly cry).
If you aren’t interested in starting the series from the beginning, Death in the Floating City can certainly be read as a stand-alone. I would love if you did start with the first book though, I will beg if necessary! Emily is so fierce – determined to be independent (in a learning ancient Greek and Latin, drinking port after dinner, storming city officials to demand the right to vote kind of way). Colin is possibly the most swoon-worthy male specimen committed to print. I’m more than a little in love with him. Why on Earth wouldn’t you want to spend an entire series getting to know these people? (WHAT DO YOU MEAN, THEY AREN’T REAL?)
To Sum It Up:
-The beautiful city of Venice obviously inspired Tasha Alexander tremendously, because the setting explodes off the pages and takes what was already a fabulous series to a whole new level.
-Feuding families! A doomed Renaissance love story! A lovely cast of side characters that vary from the scholarly to the scandalous to the unbelievably treacherous. An ending that literally made my jaw drop from shock. I CAN BARELY CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT OVER THE AWESOME THAT IS THIS BOOK.
-The plot and setting might both be beyond stellar, but Colin and Emily definitely still manage to shine. Two of the best characters I’ve come across, for sure.(less)
This is, I promise you, a review of Armed & Dangerous by Abigail Roux. But I have to preface my review with overall series fangirling first…
You gu...moreThis is, I promise you, a review of Armed & Dangerous by Abigail Roux. But I have to preface my review with overall series fangirling first…
You guys, I pride myself on not really having a reading “comfort zone.” I try to keep an open mind about everything…whatever it may be. I’ll read it. Then, awhile back, someone recommended a gay romance series to me and I was hesitant. Not really my thing – especially with explicit love scenes involved. (Not that I’m a sexytimes scene hater. Come on: have you met me?)
Then I read Cut & Run, the first book of this series. I haven’t looked back. I am a huge-stay-up-all-night-to-read-them-for-the-tenth-time-would-even-read-fanfiction level fangirl for these characters. Two FBI agents with enough baggage to fill an ocean liner originally get partnered up to catch a serial killer. Then sparks fly, cougars attack, and (literal) bombs go off. This series definitely brings the action and suspense along with the romance. I cannot recommend it highly enough – just start at the beginning, meet Ty and Zane. You’ll be converted. Promise.
So, as for the newest installment, Armed & Dangerous? Best. Yet. The first four books were co-authored and this was the first written solely by Abigail Roux. I really wasn’t worried, I was actually looking forward to seeing how things went with a more streamlined writing approach. Sometimes the POV changes in the first books were jarring – that is now 100% fixed.
Ty and Zane get tasked to bring in a federal informant. For the first time we are seeing them interact after they have both finally admitted that they’re in luuuuuuurve. The previous hesitations and awkwardness in their relationship? Gone. I spent the entire book in a constant state of sa-woon. Seriously, some of their dialogue had me puddled on the floor. Sigh. Anyway…
We get to see Ty’s brother Deuce again, which is great. I loved him previously, and I loved him this time around. He has some things going on in his life that might be creating some Grady family drama very shortly! (Sorry to be vague, but I’m assuming that most people reading this haven’t read the series yet, so I’m trying to be mostly spoiler free.)
We also see Ty’s best friend Nick, who I haven’t liked so much in the past. Abigail Roux did a good job at convincing me he isn’t a total douchenozzle though, so maybe I won’t grimace next time I see him! I was thrilled to finally know some of what he and Ty went through while in the Marines (even though it was horrible).
Y’all seriously need to forget being limited by a reading comfort zone and give this series a try! You’ll find out very quickly why Ty Grady and Zane Garrett hold a very high place on my list of all time favorite characters. Plus, the entire series is easily affordable in ebook form.
Armed & Dangerous is the best book yet in one heck of a brilliant series! (And Abigail, if you’re reading this – you rocked it writing solo!)(less)
You guys! Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson ended up being a huge surprise. I didn’t know what to expect when I had a chance to read a review copy – hi...moreYou guys! Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson ended up being a huge surprise. I didn’t know what to expect when I had a chance to read a review copy – historical romance written without sexytimes? Interesting.
So, as it turns out – Edenbrooke didn’t need the sexytimes to bring on some massive, spine-tingling sexual tension. Seriously.
Marianne Daventry ends up staying at the Edenbrooke estate, owned by family friends. She is at loose ends after losing her mother and is somewhat lost as to what her purpose should be. As the book chronicles Marianne getting to know herself at a gorgeous country estate – her musings are peppered with interactions with a man who began as a mysterious stranger with a bad first impression. By the end of the book he becomes much more.
So, I think it took me over forty minutes to read the last 15ish pages of the book. I kept reading the same paragraphs over and over again, relishing seeing the HEA but hardcore dreading seeing the story come to an end. The warm fuzzies abounded.
What more proof do you need that Julianne Donaldson is definitely an author worth reading? I can’t recommend the story, writing and characters more. I promise you won’t miss the lack of sexytimes. Promise.
I plan on pushing this on my mother soon, and I know I’ll definitely be reading it again in the future! Edenbrooke by Julianna Donaldson is totally a keeper, y’all.(less)
After seeing a few rave reviews of The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, I went into it with fairly high expectations. And let me tell you, THEY WERE MET. This...moreAfter seeing a few rave reviews of The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, I went into it with fairly high expectations. And let me tell you, THEY WERE MET. This book basically rocks and is by far one of the best fantasy novels I have read in a long time. If you’re a paranormal/fantasy mystery fan? This is an absolute must-read.
“The body you are wearing used to be mine.”
THAT is how to start a book, my friends. How awesome is that first line? Good lord.
Basically, Myfanwy Thomas wakes up in a park surrounded by a bunch of bodies wearing gloves. She has no idea who she is or what she is doing – good thing her former self left some clues behind, right? As she starts discovering more and more about herself (her old self/her former body’s occupant/whatever is the politically correct way to refer to someone in this situation?), The Rook just gets cooler and cooler. Like, mysterious secret society, lots an lots of paranormal/magical things that include her own extraordinary powers cooler.
You guys, all the paranormal elements in The Rook are so awesome that the mind boggles. Seriously. The mysterious paranormal governmental agency that Myfanwy discovers she now works for is The Chequy. Then she discovers that she doesn’t just work there, she is one of the bosses. Her job is to basically save the world on an hourly basis by organizing raids and making decisions about all the various paranormal hijinks going on.
Bummer that the former Myfanwy also dropped a bomb before leaving – that someone within the agency is the reason she died and the new Myfanwy has taken over. So, now she has to juggle a super stressful job while trying to decide who is out to get her. The drama abounds, y’all.
Also, one more thing on the magical front before I stop gushing: THERE IS A NARNIA REFERENCE! She sees something about a mysterious wardrobe in an old manor home in a report and I basically whooped with the awesome.
As for the characters? Yeah, they are pretty great too. Both the new Myfanwy and the old one are extremely well-developed. I loved seeing all the ways they are different – because boy were they! The old Myfanwy’s letters don’t take away from the plot surrounding the current Myfanwy AT ALL. As the mystery unravels, both parts continued to have me dying for more. Brilliant brilliant writing, Mr. Daniel O’Malley.
I’ll mostly let all the fantasy and paranormal aspects remain a surprise – because THEY ARE SO COOL. Like one consciousness that shares its brain amongst four bodies?!?
Basically the best news I’ve had all year so far is the fact that there will be another book (despite the fact that this one wraps things up well enough to where I wouldn’t have shaken my fists at the Heavens if it was a stand-alone).
To Sum it Up:
-I pretty much need my fingers AND toes to be able to count the buzz words (buzz phrases?) found in this book, you guys. Mysterious secret governmental agency! Very awesome and original fantasy elements! A character waking up in a new body with letters left from its old occupant!
-I have absolutely 0 complaints in regards to this book – the plot, characters and magical system are all out of this world brilliant.
-Let me just remind you again: ONE BRAIN IN FOUR BODIES! A REFERENCE TO NARNIA!(less)
Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould hasn’t gotten a lot of hype that I’ve seen. Let me tell you: it deserves more! The lyrical writing makes the atmosphere...moreCross My Heart by Sasha Gould hasn’t gotten a lot of hype that I’ve seen. Let me tell you: it deserves more! The lyrical writing makes the atmosphere so rich and engaging. The plot is full of masterful twists and turns, most of which I didn’t see coming. Cross My Heart is definitely a book I won’t be forgetting anytime soon!
Laura has spent the last few years in a convent. When she is suddenly sent for at home, she can’t wait to get there! She is thrilled at the chance to spend time with her sister, Beatrice. Unfortunately, she has been sent for because Beatrice drowned in the Venice canals. Now Laura is expected to take her place and marry nasty old dude. When she finds a way to get out of it – she takes it without fully weighing the cost. The secrets she is about to uncover make her wonder if it was worth it…
Y’all, the plot twists that Sasha Gould weaved into Cross My Heart are truly awesome. This novel kept me engaged from start to finish, I couldn’t get enough of Laura and the people in her life! Who was really on her side? Who wasn’t? All the questions I had kept the pages turning.
The setting was brilliant as well – Venice is so gorgeous and lush and exotic throughout the story. I love the life that Sasha Gould breathed into it.
And, to keep the praise coming: Laura was a great character as well. I thought she was developed well – her thoughts and actions stayed consistent to who she was. Considering how plot-driven this novel is, I was thrilled that the characterization didn’t suffer. Well, mostly…
Freaking insta-love. No matter how much I loved all the characters, not having enough relationship interaction and development is a big no-no. In fact, I’d say that this one thing is keeping Cross My Heart off my list of favorites. I was rooting for Laura to get her man, of course. But I was extremely let down by how quickly they fell for each other.
So, other than the one (albeit big) misstep, I fell for Cross My Heart. The writing was gorgeous and the plot wonderful. I definitely recommend this one to historical and mystery fans!(less)