Sunday, July 28, 2013

Review ~ Ink (ARC) by Amanda Sun

Ink (Paper Gods #1)
by Amanda Sun
YA Paranormal
Published: June 25th 2013
Goodreads Link


On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn't know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can't seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there's gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school's kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn't prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there's no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan-now she may not make it out of the country alive.

My Review:
**4 Stars**
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for an honest review. 

So, I honestly wasn't sure if I was actually going to read this book, never mind requesting it from NetGalley. But after seeing some of the reactions to Ink I decided to give it a try. And I am very glad I did. I really enjoyed the originality of the story. 

There were a couple points where I couldn't understand what was being said... but in the paperback version that is out, there is a glossary in the back. I am glad the author included this in the book, but it also kind of takes away from the experience.

Katie's character was awesome. She is going through so much in her life and struggling to keep up in a society she doesn't understand with a language she is trying to grasp. She is pretty stupid though - following Tomo around after being warned off. But then, it wouldn't have made a great story if she had left him alone.

I think the only thing that bothered me about Tomo was his breakup with Mya. He obviously still liked her, but he very quickly forgot about her when Katie comes along. I look forward to reading the next book and seeing what happens with both Katie and Tomo.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Review ~ A Tale of Two Centuries (ARC) by Rachel Harris

A Tale of Two Centuries (My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #2)
by Rachel Harris
YA Paranormal Romance (time-travel)
Expected Publication: August 6th 2013
Goodreads Link


Alessandra D'Angeli is in need of an adventure. Tired of her sixteenth-century life in Italy and homesick for her time-traveling cousin, Cat, who visited her for a magical week and dazzled her with tales of the future, Alessandra is lost. Until the stars hear her plea.

One mystical spell later, Alessandra appears on Cat's Beverly Hills doorstep five hundred years in the future. Surrounded by confusing gadgets, scary transportation, and scandalous clothing, Less is hesitant to live the life of a twenty-first century teen... until she meets the infuriating-and infuriatingly handsome-surfer Austin Michaels. Austin challenges everything she believes in...and introduces her to a world filled with possibility.

With the clock ticking, Less knows she must live every moment of her modern life while she can. But how will she return to the drab life of her past when the future is what holds everything she's come to love?

My Review:
**4 Stars**
I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review.

Yahoo! A book about Alessandra. I loved her in MSSSC and am so glad that Rachel Harris wrote the next book about her traveling to Cat's time. Although, when reading the plot I was a little discouraged for Less, because how could she want to return to her time after living in the 21st Century, even for a little bit. She could become a famous actress if only she could stay.

Um, ok Austin is totally awesome!!! I'm sorry to say... I really liked him a lot more than I liked Lorenzo. Lorenzo was classy, and hot for his time. But there was just something about Austin. The way he interacted with Less, trying to help her open up and truly become herself was just so... so... aaahhh.

Ok, so very much excited for the next book. Wishing that there will be a novella (hint to author) about "the letter." (You will know what I mean when you finish the book).

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review ~ The Collector by Victoria Scott

The Collector (Dante Walker #1)
by Victoria Scott
YA Paranormal
Published: April 2nd 2013
Goodreads Link


Dante Walker is flippin' awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence has made him one of Hell's best - a soul collector. His job is simple, weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.

Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante's an equal opportunity collector and doesn't want it any other way. But he'll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment: Collect Charlie Cooper's soul within 10 days.

Dante doesn't know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that's a permanent ticket out of Hell. But after Dante meets the quirky, Nerd Alert chick he's come to collect - he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector, and uncover emotions long ago buried.

My Review: 
**4 Stars**

I didn't realized until I read The Collector how rare it is for a book to actually be in first person, especially from a guy's perspective. The whole book read almost like Dante's diary (ok, he is too cool for a diary - a journal then).

I really liked the story, and I like how Charlie was an ordinary looking girl, but with a big heart. It makes her all the more special. Normally a hot guy like Dante wouldn't look twice at her, but he has to for his job - which is his benefit. He gets to know the real Charlie and falls for her.

There is so much I would love to write, but I would be giving away a lot - so I won't. I cannot wait for  The Liberator to be released. I know it is going to be exciting.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review ~ Arise by Tara Hudson

Arise (Hereafter #2)
by Tara Hudson
YA Paranormal 
Published: June 5th 2012
Goodreads Link


New Orleans
Saint Louis
Number One Cemetery
A night there can change a life . . . or a death.

Increasingly worried that dark spirits will carry out their threats and hurt the people she cares for most, Amelia is ready to try anything to protect them. And for his own very different reasons, Joshua has come to this cemetery at midnight to join her in a powerful ritual.

Both know that once Amelia steps inside the Voodoo circle and the beautiful girl from the Conjure Cafe begins the ceremony, everything will change.

Tara Hudson's enthralling sequel to "Hereafter" escalates the danger and excitement, bringing a new dimension to her already mesmerizing story of a haunted love.

My Review: 
**2.5 Stars**

I was really disappointed with Arise. I have really liked Amelia's story in the first book and had hoped that it would continue just as well and as exciting. It just felt like it was almost a repeat of the first book, just in a different setting and with Amelia knowing who/what she is.

Also, it was kind of annoying how Joshua and Jillian could communicate with Amelia. They would look like crazy people walking down the street having conversations with themselves. At least get a blue-tooth and put it in your ear.

So, even though I didn't really enjoy Arise, I will be reading the next book because I loved Gabriella. I want to find out what happens to her.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Review ~ Endurance by Ann Aguirre

Endurance (Razorland #1.5)
by Ann Aguirre
YA Dystopian
Published: July 20th 2012
Goodreads Link


When rebellion destroys the underground world in which Thimble and Stone have grown up, they take Stone's son and try to escape the chaos. Along the way, they must evade the Freaks, beings who feed on human flesh. Leaving behind the roles of Builder and Breeder which they were assigned at birth, they wander the underground tunnels, looking for safety yet afraid to go "topside" where legend has it that the light and water will burn their skin from their bones.

Their journey takes them upward to an unimagined world of tinned food, comfortable furniture, and books. Away from their regimented society for the first time, and still facing imminent danger, Thimble and Stone acknowledge the forbidden attraction which both have denied for years.

My Review: 
**3.5 Stars**

I thought I was going to like seeing more about Thimble, but I was actually more excited when reading the parts about Stone. You really got a feel for how "fatherly" he is and how protective of Thimble he is.

Without giving anything away (I hope), I am so happy with the ending. It is really interesting seeing what happens to the Enclave after Deuce leaves. Things seem to pretty much fall apart.

This novella was much better than the other one (#0.5), and I am looking forward to the next one (maybe?).

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Review ~ Foundation by Ann Aguirre

Foundation (Razorland #0.5)
by Ann Aguirre
YA Dystopian
Published: October 23rd 2012


In Ann Aguirre's award-winning novel, Enclave, humans have taken refuge in colonies below ground. Here is the story of what drove them there, told through the eyes of a teen who would later have vast influence over the fate of many, and who gave his heart to the one person who needed him most.

My Review: 
**2.5 Stars**

Ok, so I had no idea that this was written from a boy's perspective until the end. I hate when I can't tell. It would have made it easier if that was made clear in the beginning. It would also make the, what I thought guy-girl relationship, obviously guy-guy while it was still in the making.

I did like seeing the start of the Enclave. I really enjoyed that we got to see what drove everyone underground and more specifically how only certain people were able to move underground.

On a whole, it was ok. If you have liked the rest of the series, than you should read it, but it wasn't a fantastic read.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review ~ Belladonna by Fiona Paul

Belladonna (Secrets of the Eternal Rose #2)
by Fiona Paul
YA Historical Romance
Published: July 16th 2013
Goodreads Link


In Renaissance Italy, love, lust, intrigue and secret societies converge to stunning results!

In the second in the stunning Secrets of the Eternal Rose series, Cassandra Caravello is trying to forget Falco, the wild artist who ran off with her heart, as she grows closer to her strong, steady fiance, Luca. But Luca seems to have his own secrets. When he's arrested by soldiers in the middle of the night, Cass's life is once again thrown into chaos. She must save Luca, and that means finding the Book of the Eternal Rose - the only evidence that will prove he's innocent.

So begins her journey to Florence, a city haunted by whispers of vampirism, secret soirees and clandestine meetings of the Order of the Eternal Rose. And home to Falco, who is working for the Order's eerily stunning leader, the Belladonna herself.

Can Cass trust her heart to lead her to the truth this time?
Nothing is as it seems in this seductive thriller, where the truth may be the deadliest poison of all.

My Review:
**4.5 Stars**
I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review as part of a blog tour. 

Belladonna is just as good, maybe even better, than Venom. I love how the mystery continues, and we get to see another part of Italy. I really wish we could have seen a little more of Luca before he gets arrested (not giving anything away, this is part of the blurb).

Of course, Cass has to run into Falco. The book wouldn't be complete if he didn't show up. I can officially say that I am on team Luca. I did not like Falco in this book, and hope he doesn't get Cass in the end.

Belladonna herself is sooo creepily beautiful! I love all the imagery the author used when describing both Bella and her estate. Again, Fiona Paul has created a picture perfect setting that you can see perfectly.

I will tell you this, I actually had to put the book down towards the end because I couldn't see through my tears. I was crying so hard, it was horrible. But, I am ok now and anxiously awaiting Starling to be released.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review ~ A Dawn Most Wicked by Susan Dennard

A Dawn Most Wicked (Something Strange and Deadly #0.5)
by Susan Dennard
YA Steampunk
Published: June 4th 2013
Goodreads Link


Daniel Sheridan is an engineer's apprentice on a haunted Mississippi steamer known as the Sadie Queen. His best friend-the apprentice pilot, Cassidy Cochran-also happens to be the girl he's pining for... and the captain's daughter. But when it looks like the Sadie Queen might get taken off the river, Daniel and Cassidy have to do whatever they can to stop the ghosts that plague the ship.

Fortunately, there happens to be a Creole gentleman on board by the name of Joseph Boyer--and he just might be able to help them...

My Review:
**4 Stars**

Yes! A story about Daniel and how he met and joined up with Joseph. It also tells a very sad tale of a first love. A Dawn Most Wicked is a perfect "prequel" to Something Strange and Deadly. I put quotation around prequel because you should really read Something Strange and Deadly first.

I love the fact that these are the same characters we met and loved in the first book. They haven't changed, but instead we see a different side, and a deeper glimpse into who they are. It leaves me so excited for A Darkness Strange and Lovely's release! I am so glad I pre-ordered this novella.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review ~ The Too-Clever Fox by Leigh Bardugo

The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha #2.5)
by Leigh Bardugo
YA Fantasy (Fable)
Published: June 4th 2013
Goodreads Link


In Ravka, just because you avoid one trap, it doesn't mean you'll escape the next. This story is a companion folk tale to Leigh Bardugo's upcoming novel, Siege and Storm, the second book in the Grisha Trilogy.

My Review:
**4 Stars**

A very fable-like tale with a talking fox and a hunter. Because I read it after reading Siege and Storm, I pictured Sturmhond as the fox, but I had to keep reminding myself that it is just a fox. Well, a very clever fox.

I really enjoyed this story and you don't have to be a fan of the Grisha series to enjoy it too. If you like fables... you'll probably like this fantastically woven tale. As with all fables, there is a moral to the story... which I can't tell you, or I would give away the ending.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Belladonna Blog Tour ~ Annotated Excerpt

Hi everyone. I am so excited to host a stop on the Belladonna Blog Tour.  Belladonna is the second book in a series by the wonderful Fiona Paul. 

Belladonna (Secrets of the Eternal Rose #2)
by Fiona Paul
YA Historical Mystery
Expected Publication: July 16th 2013
Goodreads Link


Cassandra Caravello is trying to forget Falco, the wild artist who ran off with her heart, as she grows closer to her strong, steady fiance, Luca. But Luca seems to have his own secrets. When he's arrested by soldiers in the middle of the night, Cass's life is once again thrown into chaos. She must save Luca, and that means finding the Book of the Eternal Rose -- the only evidence that will prove he is innocent.

So begins her journey to Florence, a city haunted by whispers of corruption, secret soirees, and clandestine meetings of the Order of the Eternal Rose. And home to Falco, who's working for the Order's eerily stunning leader, the Belladonna herself.

Can Cass trust her heart to lead her to the truth this time?

Nothing is as it seems in this seductive thriller, where the truth may be the deadliest poison of all.

About the Author: 

Fiona Paul is a writer and registered nurse from St. Louis, MO.

(I prefer the short and sweet bio since there's a lot of other stuff to read in these posts that's more relevant than my love of coffee or desire to shark dive, even though, clearly, both of these things mean I'm awesome. :D)

Follow Fiona:
By Blog , on Twitter , and on Facebook

Annotated Excerpt:

    They left the field behind, passing through a series of rolling green hills. A sharp breeze tickled her skin as Cass leaned slightly out the window. She could just barely make out a jagged skyline in the distance. Florence. After a grueling week of travel, they were finally there.
    By the time the carriages reached the outskirts of the city, the storm had blown past and night was beginning to fall. Again, Cass peeked out through the curtains.

    Her first thought of Florence was that it was heavy and deserted. Large, hulking palazzos made of red and tan brick lined both sides of the cobblestoned streets. Elaborately painted chimeras loomed from the rooftops like hideous protectors. Most of the houses looked abandoned, their shutters pulled tight against the gathering dusk. The streets were empty; there were no merchants returning home from a long day at the market, no peasant boys prowling for women and wine.

    Cass inhaled deeply. The air was different, sharp and crisp, with only the faintest tinge of stale water from the Arno River that cut through the city. She had grown used to the sweet moldy smell of Venice, to the low-hanging fog that blanketed everything. The air of Florence was a welcome change, clear and fresh.


    Hooves thundered just outside her window. Cass peeked out, surprised to see not only a carriage passing by, but also seven or eight men mounted on horseback - servants, from the looks of their simple attire - riding alongside it. Silver bells hung from each horse's bridle, jangling loudly as the group rode by. The handful of peasants still gathered around the statue in the piazza turned to watch the procession before returning to their conversation.

    A boy wearing a leather doublet and a hat pulled low over his face appeared at the far side of the piazza. Cass watched him stumble across the cobblestones, a canteen dangling from one hand and a roll of parchment from the other. He could have been anyone - a student, a messenger - but Cass saw the parchment and could think only of artists, and of Falco. Midway across the piazza, the boy weaved dangerously and nearly bumped into one of the peasants.

    Another carriage rolled by, horses whinnying sharply as whips cracked down on their hindquarters. Four men on horseback followed behind the carriage. One hollered a greeting to the peasants as he rode past.

    Cass sat on the windowsill and gathered her skirts around her. She might not get much rest here, but at least Florence was more interesting than being isolated out on San Domenico Island. And the signora was right. The streets might be bare, but the piazza seemed to be full of traffic at all hours of the day. Someone out there would be able to help her in her quest. Cass was certain of it.


Doesn't it just leave you wanting more?

Fiona's thoughts: 

It is really hard to set a book in a place you've never been. Even with Google Earth, even with a Renaissance expert willing to review your draft and give you tips, there's just no substitute for seeing, smelling, listening, feeling, and tasting your setting. I had traveled to Venice a couple of years prior to writing Venom, but I've never been to Florence. To anyone who thinks publishers send authors to places like Florence for research... yeah they don't do that. Maybe if you're John Green. Maybe not even then.

So what's a girl to do? Well sure, the interwebs are a good place to start. You can at least find out about landmarks and get the geographic lay of the land. After that, I went to the library and pored over a bunch of guidebooks. I made a Xerox copy of a map of the city limits of Florence and plotted out all of the locations. Palazzo Alioni, Palazzo Zanotta, Palazzo della Notte, even Villa Briani - I put all of these places onto a grid so that way when Cass was traveling around I could make sure the directions would match up and I could also incorporate things like the Arno River, the Duomo, etc. in a realistic manner. That may seem like pointless extra work but it's really easy to make your character spin around in circles, or continue going west, and then magically arrive back at the place she left from. It's also really tempting to smash all of a city's cool landmarks into two blocks so you can write about all the neat churches and fountains without any of the boring travel parts.

The best way I found to write a place you've never been is to find someone who has been there and interview them in detail. While writing Belladonna, I was lucky to find a coworker who had recently traveled all over Italy. She told me about her personal experiences in Florence and showed me tons of pictures, which really breathed life into the city for me. Thanks Debbie H J.

Picture Time: 

Since I wanted to include some pictures to give you all a better idea of some of the things in Belladonna, I will not be posting my review today. You can come back and see it tomorrow! And believe me, it is a good one. : )

Please note that I do not own the copyright for any of these photos. These photos are being used for this blog tour and can be found on the Venom facebook page. 

Palazzo Ducale (home of the Doge of Venice)
The beautiful Rialto Bridge
And last but not least (since I had to look them up, because I had no idea what they were)...
OMG! Can you imagine trying to walk in these things? I would break my ankle.

The Tour:

Please be sure to check out the rest of the tour. There is a special deleted Venom epilogue on the Paper Lantern Lit's blog, more excerpts, and a giveaway at the end of the tour.

July 8th ~ Paper Lantern Lit
July 9th ~ Bookalicious
July 10th ~ Readers Live a Thousand Lives
July 11th ~ Lili's Reflections
July 12th ~ Hey... that's me! : )
July 13th ~ Fiction Freak
July 14th ~ Forever 17 Books
July 15th ~ Fiona Paul Books (Wrap-up and Giveaway!)

Monday, July 1, 2013

~*June Review Recap*~

~*June Review Recap*~ 

Ok, so actually a few of these weren't read in June, but I was finally able to complete the review in June... so, there were a lot this month.

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
    ~ 2.5 Star Review (Link)
    ~ 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge (book 10 of 21) 

'Til the World Ends by Julie Kagawa & Ann Aguire
   ~ 3.5 Star Review (Link)
   ~ Dystopia Reading Challenge (book 11 of 24)

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
    ~ 4.5 Star Review (Link)
    ~ 2013 Sequel Challenge (book 11 of 15)
    ~ 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge (book 11 of 21)

Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear
    ~ 4.5 Star Review (Link)
    ~ 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge (book 12 of 21)

The Program by Suzanne Young
    ~ 1 Star Review (Link)
    ~ Dystopia Reading Challenge (book 12 of 24)
    ~ 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge (book 13 of 21)

Crewel by Gennifer Albin
    ~ 3.5 Star Review (Link)
    ~ Dystopia Reading Challenge (book 13 of 24)
    ~ 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge (book 14 of 21) 

Outpost by Ann Aguirre
    ~ 3.5 Star Review (Link)
    ~ Dystopia Reading Challenge (book 14 of 24)
    ~ 2013 Sequel Challenge (book 12 of 15)

Of Triton by Anna Banks
    ~ 4.5 Star Review (Link)
    ~ 2013 Sequel Challenge (book 13 of 15)
    ~ 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge (book 15 of 21)

Firelight by Sophie Jordan
    ~ 2.5 Star Review (Link)
    ~ Paranormal Reading Challenge (Dragons)
    ~ 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge (book 16 of 21)

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
    ~ 3.5 Star Review (Link)
    ~ 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge (book 17 of 21)

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
    ~ 3.5 Star Review (Link)
    ~ Dystopia Reading Challenge (book 15 of 24)

Legacy Lost by Anna Banks (Novella)
    ~ 3.5 Star Review (Link)
    ~ 2013 Personal Novella Challenge (book 1 of 15)

The Stranger by Anna Banks (Novella)
    ~ 4.5 Star Review (Link)
    ~ 2013 Personal Novella Challenge (book 2 of 15)

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
    ~ 4.5 Star Review (Link)
    ~ 2013 Sequel Challenge (book 14 of 15) 
    ~ 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge (book 18 of 21)

The Tailor by Leigh Bardugo (Novella)
    ~ 4.5 Star Review (Link)
    ~ Personal Novella Challenge (book 3 of 15)

The Witch of Duva by Leigh Bardugo (Novella)
    ~ 4 Star Review (Link)
    ~ Personal Novella Challenge (book 4 of 15)

Taste the Heat by Rachel Harris
    ~ 4 Star Review (Link)
    ~ Does not meet any challenges