Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown

 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that you are eagerly anticipating.

Today, I am waiting on:  
Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown!

From Goodreads:
Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a Girl Guide and messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, high-level mathematics, and complex puzzles and codes, hoping to make him proud.

When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche she’s torn—this could be the adventure she’s dreamed of, but how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband to the war? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes there’s no way she can refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity.

Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known to the members of LDB only as Velvet. Deep undercover within the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Samantha must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she finds herself forming a forbidden attraction to the enemy-a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Samantha discover the truth and find Velvet before it’s too late…for them both?

From author Teri Brown comes the thrilling story of one girl’s journey into a deadly world of spycraft and betrayal—with unforgettable consequences.
I LOVE THIS COVER!  Something about it is so chic -- but then I read the GR summary and I knew I had to read about this teenage spy!  Velvet Undercover is scheduled for release on October 20, 2015 and you can pre-order here!!

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday??

Monday, June 29, 2015

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the fab ladies at The Broke and the Bookish!

What are the best books you've read so far this year?  
I have to give a shout-out to Rachel @ Waves of Fiction for recommending The Others series by Anne Bishop to me on my Rec' Me Something Good post last week.  I've only read the first book so far (above) but I am hooked!!

Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Blurb from Goodreads:
Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

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

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.
My Review:
It really is my own fault for reading The Geography of You and Me when I really didn't like the only other book I've read by this author, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.  I've seen so many reviews raving about books by this author that I figured not liking one of her books was a total fluke and, so, I read this one.  And I feel like the two of these books are nearly identical?!  Both books are based upon longing, pining, and unrealistic expectations after the two characters spend less than 24 hours together.  

One thing I will state is that the writing is good in this book.  That wasn't my problem with the book.  My problem is that I felt NOTHING while reading this book -- I didn't care about the narrators -- they seemed whiny, immature and just totally out of touch with reality.  And, I was bored.  Really, really bored.  I base my reviews on the feeling I have when I finish a book and whether I keep thinking about the book when I finish.  When I finished this book?  I felt nothing but relief.  I am sure there are tons of readers out there that will disagree with me and for whom this book will be a favorite. I'm just not one of those.
If you were to draw a map of the two of them, of where they started out and where they would both end up, the lines would be shooting away from each other like magnets spun around on their poles.  And it occurred to Owen that there was something deeply flawed about this, that there should be circles or angles or turns, anything that might make it possible for the two lines to meet again.  Instead, they were both headed in the exact opposite directions.  The map was as good as a door swinging shut.  And the geography of the thing -- the geography of them -- was completely and hopelessly wrong.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Drowning Is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley

 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that you are eagerly anticipating.

Today, I am waiting on:  
Drowning Is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley!

From Goodreads:
"A literary knockout with the loudest of beating hearts." 
John Corey Whaley, Printz Award winner of Where Things Come Back

Olivia has spent her whole life struggling to escape her dead mother’s shadow. But when her father can’t even look at her because Olivia reminds him of her mother, and her grandmother mistakenly calls her “Lillian,”  shaking a reputation she didn’t ask for is next to impossible. Olivia is used to leaning on her best friend, Jamie; her handsome but hot-tempered boyfriend, Max; and their wild-child friend, Maggie, for the reality check that her small Louisiana town can’t provide. But when a terrible fight between Jamie and his father turns deadly, all Olivia can think to do is grab her friends and run. 

In a flash, Olivia, Jamie, Max, and Maggie become fugitives on the back roads of Louisiana. They’re headed to New Orleans, where they hope to find a solution to an unfixable problem. But with their faces displayed on all the news stations, their journey becomes a harrowing game of hide-and-seek from the police—and so-called allies, who just might be the real enemy.

Shalanda Stanley’s breathtaking debut novel explores the deep ties between legacy, loyalty, and love, even as it asks the question: How far would you go to save a friend?
I typically don't go for heart-wrenching, super emotional books but something about the potential thriller aspect of this one coupled with the New Orleans road-trip and I am sold!  Drowning is Inevitable is scheduled for release on September 8, 2015 and you can pre-order here!!

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday?? Also, pretty, pretty please check out my Rec' Me Something Good post from yesterday and recommend something to me!

Rec' Me Something Good! (1)

So last week one of my absolute favorite bloggers, Nereyda at Mostly YA Obsessed, posted her first Rec Me Something Good, in which she asked for recommendations for fun (i.e. no drama) NA reads.  The idea is simple but perfect -- you describe the type of book you're in the mood to read (based on genre, author, etc.) as well as books you've previously read and enjoyed (or not enjoyed) in that genre, etc. and let your readers recommend something they think you will like based on the category!  I have been in the mood for something specific so I am (with permission) stealing this idea from Nereyda so you can recommend something good to me today!

What I’m looking for:

I am in the mood to start a series in which the characters do not get together in the span of one book -- so, a true series not the new "series" that everyone seems to be writing that are truly just a string of books about every character under the sun from the first book (I'm looking at you Abbi Glines).  I'm thinking of my all time favorites -- The Love Me With Lies series by Tarryn Fisher and the Georgina Kincaid series by Richelle Mead.  It can be YA, NA or adult and any genre (truly) as long as it's a good story where HEA doesn't come easily (or maybe at all) and definitely not in the span of one book.  I've read (and semi enjoyed) the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning and the first four books in the Outlander series so it could definitely be in those veins although neither of those series were favorites of mine.  The Just One Day series by Gayle Forman and the Brenna Blixen series by Liz Reinhardt are also great examples of  YA/NA series that fits this description.

What I’m avoiding:

I prefer not to read love triangles unless they are really well executed and with purpose (think the opposite of The Dark Elements series by JLA) not just to string the series along in an artificial way.

Any Recs?

Help Me Out, I'm desperate!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Review: That Chesapeake Summer (Chesapeake Diaries #9) by Mariah Stewart

Blurb from Goodreads:
Jamie Valentine is the wildly successful author of self-help books advocating transparency in every relationship. But when her widowed mother passes away unexpectedly, Jamie discovers her own life has been based on a lie. Angry and deeply betrayed, she sets out to find the truth—which may be in a small town on the Chesapeake Bay. Cutting her most recent book tour short, Jamie books a room at the Inn at Sinclair’s Point, just outside St. Dennis.

The death of Daniel Sinclair’s father forced him to take over the family inn, and his wife’s death left him a single parent of two children, so there’s little room for anything else in his life. His lovely new guest is intriguing, though, and he’s curious about the secret she’s clearly hiding. But in the end, Jamie and Dan could discover the greatest truth of all: that the search for one thing just might lead to the find of a lifetime—if you keep your heart open. 
My Review:
I don't have any real complaints about this book -- it was just as it described,  a summer read set in St. Dennis, a fictional town in Maryland set on the Chesapeake Bay.  I liked Jamie (although she was a big emotional at times) and I really liked Dan -- they were good together, if not especially explosive.  This was a quick read but it was not very memorable -- I liked the setting and I want to visit the Inn (if only it were real) but I don't think this one is a book I will re-read or to which I will feel any lasting attachment.  One further note -- this is not a true series in that you don't have to read previous books to read this one.  I personally hadn't read any books prior in this series before reading this one and I was fine -- although this book did make me want to read the previous books about some of the characters in this one! 

I would recommend this to anyone that likes light beach reads; while I prefer Elin Hilderbrand and Nancy Thayer (love Nantucket), this book is in that same vein albeit set in Maryland.  That Chesapeake Summer comes out tomorrow, June 23, 2015, and you can purchase HERE!  
"Maybe this is going to sound strange to you, but when I saw you walk into the lobby that first day, I knew you were going to be someone special to me.  That you were going to matter to me.  I'm not saying love at first sight -- which I never believe in -- but it was like a light went on inside me.  I tried to pretend otherwise, but I knew.  I didn't want it to be true, but I knew."  

Friday, June 19, 2015

Review: After Hours by Claire Kennedy

Blurb from Goodreads:
Isa, Xavi, Peter, and Finn know that a job at the high-end Waterside Cafe isn't just about waiting tables. It's about the gossip, the hook-ups, the after-hours parties and, most of all, it's about Tips.

Tips--the high-stakes game based on dares. Whoever completes the most dares wins the collected money. A sum that could change a wasted summer into a Summer to Remember.

Isa is the new girl with an embarrassing secret, and as long as she stays on top of her game, she sees no reason why anyone could ever find out.

Xavi will do anything for the money...absolutely anything.

Peter, Xavi's stepbrother, has been in love with her for years, and he thinks the game is the perfect time to confess his feelings.

Finn is in the game just for the thrill. He has enough tips coming in to keep him happy...even if those tips come with some conditions.

From seduction to stealing to threats, the dares are a complete free-for-all, and only the best can win.

The sophisticated Waterside Cafe is anything but classy behind the scenes...and things are about to get dirty.
My Review:
After Hours was unfortunately not one of the better books I've read this year.  It was juvenile and puerile.  I'm not a prude but there is something very wrong about a 30+ year old man preying on teenagers for sexual favors as well as holding contests that not only involve illegal acts but disgusting sexual acts as well.  I was hoping this would be a lighthearted read like watching an 80s movie (there are aspects of Loverboy in this as well) but it was just dirty and sad.  Also, the misspellings, misuse of words and diction made this book very difficult to finish.

I can't say that I would recommend this to anyone but others may like it.  After Hours was just released last week, and you can purchase HERE.
"Thanks for coming in, Xavi," Rico says.  He kicks his shiny shoes up on his desk.  One of his soles has a flattened slab of pink gum attached to it.  Ew.
"Uh, you're welcome."
Rico puts his hands behind his head, like a bad business executive in a terrible movie.  I'm not sure if he's going to intimidating or powerful, because all he's getting from me is confused.  I get a hipster urge to Instagram the bottom of his shoe, but I suppress it.   

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Review: The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

Blurb from Goodreads:
An outrageously stylish, wickedly funny novel of fashion in the digital age, The Knockoff is the story of Imogen Tate, editor in chief of Glossy magazine, who finds her twentysomething former assistant Eve Morton plotting to knock Imogen off her pedestal, take over her job, and reduce the magazine, famous for its lavish 768-page September issue, into an app.

When Imogen returns to work at Glossy after six months away, she can barely recognize her own magazine. Eve, fresh out of Harvard Business School, has fired “the gray hairs,” put the managing editor in a supply closet, stopped using the landlines, and hired a bevy of manicured and questionably attired underlings who text and tweet their way through meetings. Imogen, darling of the fashion world, may have Alexander Wang and Diane von Furstenberg on speed dial, but she can’t tell Facebook from Foursquare and once got her iPhone stuck in Japanese for two days. Under Eve’s reign, Glossy is rapidly becoming a digital sweatshop—hackathons rage all night, girls who sleep get fired, and “fun” means mandatory, company-wide coordinated dances to BeyoncĂ©. Wildly out of her depth, Imogen faces a choice—pack up her Smythson notebooks and quit, or channel her inner geek and take on Eve to save both the magazine and her career. A glittering, uproarious, sharply drawn story filled with thinly veiled fashion personalities, The Knockoff is an insider’s look at the ever-changing world of fashion and a fabulous romp for our Internet-addicted age. 
My Review:
The Knockoff was a bit too formulaic for me to really get into it -- it's definitely a fast read and probably one that would be good for the beach.  However, I got a bit bored by the over-reaching millennial Eve that takes over the magazine in this book, turning it into an app and just acting completely ridiculous throughout the entire book.  Imogen, on the other hand, the Editor of the magazine, was a bit too perfect.  She was always nice, completely gorgeous, had a perfect family and basically all her dreams came true by the end of the book.  I love a HEA but this book made me think, why do I care?  

I would recommend this to anyone that liked The Devil Wears Prada, or anything by Candace Bushnell.  This book has the same insight into the fashion world and surviving in NYC.  The Knockoff was just released earlier this year, and you can purchase HERE!  
Imogen's heart sank.  Nothing she did was going to help.  Eve had the manners of a psychopath.  It was in these moments that Eve reminded Imogen of her old dog growing up, a Jack Russell who had been perfectly well behaved in their London flat, but revealed his true colors on a day trip out to Kent.  Nutkin forcefully escaped from an open car window, running straight toward a small lamb that had been caught in the barbed wire at the edge of a filed, its leg bent at a ninety-degree angle and bleeding.  Once Nutkin smelled blood there was no turning back.  He was an attack dog cloaked as a city dog.  The shepherd's boy got Nutkin with his shotgun shortly after the dog killed the sheep.  It was Nutkin's fate.  He was born like that.  Eve was born like this.   

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fixer (The Fixer #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that you are eagerly anticipating.

Today, I am waiting on:  
The Fixer (The Fixer #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes!

From Goodreads:
When sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick is sent to live with her older sister, Ivy, she has no idea that the infamous Ivy Kendrick is Washington D.C.'s #1 “fixer,” known for making politicians' scandals go away for a price. No sooner does Tess enroll at Hardwicke Academy than she unwittingly follows in her sister's footsteps and becomes D.C.'s premier high school fixer, solving problems for elite teens.

Secrets pile up as each sister lives a double life. . . . until their worlds come crashing together and Tess finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy with one of her classmates and a client of Ivy's. Suddenly, there is much more on the line than good grades, money, or politics, and the price for this fix might be more than Tess is willing to pay.

Perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Heist Society, readers will be clamoring for more in this exciting new series.
I've heard this book described as a YA version of Scandal so you know I want to read this one!  The Fixer is scheduled for release on July 7, 2015 and you can pre-order here!!

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday??

Cover Reveal: Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins

They exist in two different centuries, but their love defies time.
Cassandra is a headstrong teenager craving drama and adventure, so the last thing she wants is to spend her summer marooned with her mother and new stepfather in a snooty Massachusetts shore town. But when a dreamy stranger named Lawrence shows up on their private beach claiming it’s his own—and that the year is 1925—she is swept into a mystery a hundred years in the making.
As she searches for answers in the present, Cassandra discovers a truth that puts their growing love—and Lawrence’s life—in jeopardy. Desperate to save him, Cassandra must find a way to change history—or risk losing Lawrence forever.

Renee Collins grew up on a beach in Hawaii. Sadly, she never met anyone from the past on those shores, but she did go on to get a degree in History, which is almost the same.  Follow her on twitter: HERE

Monday, June 15, 2015

Review: The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

Blurb from Goodreads:
Evoking the same small town charm with the same great eye for character, the co-author of Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society finds her own voice in this debut novel about a young debutante working for the Federal Writer's Project whose arrival in Macedonia, West Virginia changes the course of history for a prominent family who has been sitting on a secret for decades. The Romeyn family is a fixture in the town, their identity tied to its knotty history. Layla enters their lives and lights a match to the family veneer and a truth comes to light that will change each of their lives forever.
My Review:
After Station Eleven, this is my favorite book I've read this year.  Set in the summer of 1938, I could feel the oppressive heat and rebel sympathies oozing out of the pages that I couldn't stop turning.  Even though Macedonia, West Virginia is a fictional place, you couldn't put that past me.  That is, I felt I was there and it was the summer of 1938 as I was reading -- the descriptions were so vivid and so engaging.  Willa Romeyn is a soothsaying narrator -- the omniscience of a child, a sneak, of all of us and I couldn't love her more.  When she ached, I ached.  

I was continually reminded of both The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and To Kill a Mockingbird while reading this book.  It is that classic!  The combination of the child narrator (predominately) and the Southern Gothic themes just spoke to me.  This is the first book I've read by Annie Barrows and her first solo venture in adult novels -- I hope she continues to write many, many more.  I HIGHLY, highly recommend this book.  The Truth According to Us was just released last week, and you can purchase HERE!
"You're right, Jottie, but what good is it?  Rightness is nothing.  You can't live on it.  You might as well eat ashes."  I glanced at Father, his bloodshot eyes and the stain on his pants.  I loved him so.  Once more, I tried to explain.  "This is all we can do; it's all we're allowed.  We can't go back.  The only thing time leaves for us to decide" -- I picked up Father's hand and held it tight-- "is whether or not we're going to hate each other."

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review: The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

Blurb from Goodreads:
Neil Gaiman meets Joe Hill in this astonishingly original, terrifying, and darkly funny contemporary fantasy. 

Carolyn's not so different from the other human beings around her. She's sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for. 

After all, she was a normal American herself, once. 

That was a long time ago, of course--before the time she calls "adoption day," when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father.

Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible. 

In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn't gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father's ancient Pelapi customs. They've studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power. 

Sometimes, they've wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God. 

Now, Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library--and with it, power over all of creation. 

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her. 

But Carolyn can win. She's sure of it. What she doesn't realize is that her victory may come at an unacceptable price--because in becoming a God, she's forgotten a great deal about being human.

My Review:
This one took me a long time to read -- almost an entire week (although I was reading another book at the same time).  It may be because I haven't read a book blending fantasy and sci-fi in quite awhile but I think part of it was just the need to absorb all the language in this book.  For at least half of the book, I really had no clue what was going on -- you receive snippets here and there of the past and how the world came to be but it was hard to understand an overarching purpose and motivation.  But I'm so glad I kept reading because the book tied together at the end in ways I never could have imagined!  Carolyn, the protagonist, was easy for me to like -- sure, she was confusing but I loved her study of languages and I wanted to keep reading to find out how she was going to progress.  One last thing:  I love this cover!!

I would recommend this to fans of Emily St. John Mandel's books and, especially, if you have liked books by Donna Tartt or Neil Gaiman.  There is also some humor in this book that reminded me a bit of Chuck Palahniuk.  This book definitely defies genres but the writing is that on which I base those recommendations.  The Library at Mount Char came out this week, and you can purchase HERE!
I must send you into exile, that you may be the coal of her heart.  No real thing can be so perfect as memory, and she will need a perfect thing if she is to survive.  She will warm herself on the memory of you when there is nothing else, and be sustained.
Imagination Designs