Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Welcome to the Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not a Writer and Bookhounds! This hop runs from August 2oth - 27th and all blogs on the hop have a book related giveaway!

I'm giving away an ARC of Dark Eden by Chris Beckett!

*USA only
*Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter
*Happy Hopping!

The Last Time I Saw You by Eleanor Moran

When Olivia Berrington gets the call to tell her that her best friend from university has been killed in a car crash in New York, her life is turned upside down. Her relationship with Sally was an exhilarating roller coaster, until a shocking betrayal drove them apart. But if Sally had really turned her back, why is her little girl named Olivia?

As questions mount about the fatal accident, Olivia is forced to go back and unravel her untangled history. But as Sally's secrets start to spill out, Olivia's left asking herself if the past is best kept buried.

  I read the chapter summary on the back cover to get a brief idea about what this story would be about. After reading the summary I was really excited to start reading this book. After reading the first two chapters however I realized that I was a little confused about what was already happening in the story. I ended up having to reread the second chapter one more time in order to remember what I had just read. I already was a little bored with the story and I was ready to put the book down.  

      After reading the second section of the second chapter I really started getting into the characters and their backstory and I couldn’t wait to get to the next page. Although I was able to enjoy certain parts of the story I still found it to be a confusing and somewhat long story that could have been a little shorter than it was. I really liked the differences between “Sally” and “Olivia”; I was able to see why they had become friends in the first place. I think the author could have made the story a few pages shorter than she did.  

     I think Ms. Moran did a wonderful job getting the reader to feel the same emotions as her main characters did. One thing I didn’t like was how confusing the chapters were; where I thought another chapter would start it turned out to be a memory and “Sally” or “Olivia” would think what had happened at the moment. Most of the “memories” if not all of them were things that “Olivia” was remembering. I liked the idea of some of the chapters being dates, but then I would get to the page where it would say Chapter three and then be a little frustrated because I thought the previous section was the chapter.  

I didn’t really care for this book, but I think it will depend on the person as to if they will like this book or not; I personally did not like this story. I give the book a “C” and the author a “B.”

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Tiffany

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire

A fantasy set in Tsarist Russia.

Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead for years. One of her brothers has been conscripted into the Tsar’s army, the other taken as a servant in the house of the local landowner. Her mother is dying, slowly, in their tiny cabin. And there is no food. But then a train arrives in the village, a train carrying untold wealth, a cornucopia of food, and a noble family destined to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg — a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl of Elena’s age. When the two girls’ lives collide, an adventure is set in motion, an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and — in a starring role only Gregory Maguire could have conjured — Baba Yaga, witch of Russian folklore, in her ambulatory house perched on chicken legs.

The last Maguire book I read was the ending of the Wicked series, and I'll admit, I was a little disappointed.  The vulgarity that seemed to continue cropping up didn't match the Maguire I've come to know and love.  Egg and Spoon completely redeemed him.

Though considered a children's book, this is not your average flimsy picture book with sparse words. This is a 475 page book. Though most children with an imagination and love for reading will enjoy this,it's definitely just as much of an adult book.

Though Maguire is known best for his Wicked series, I truly think this is his best work yet. He has mastered the belief that when writing fantasy,there are no limits.  If you can imagine it, you can write it.  No rules and no boundaries.  This is the Maguire that I've come to love and respect.  His imagination builds a world similar to ours, but it's a world where magic and myth exist.  You'll meet famous characters and see childhood stories from a different perspective.

The characters are built with love and care and each one truly has a life of their own.  I was so immersed in this book that it was a one-sitting read.  There's just a hint of romance, but most of the book is a cruel misadventure.  Two girls have switched places and find themselves lost in their new worlds and not sure how to cope.  In a world where anyone would be lost and confused, these girls find themselves in an even more peculiar situation.  The worlds surrounding each character are vibrant and messy.  

This is a great fantasy adventure that you can either sit back and enjoy at face value, or expend a little thought into.  There are some valuable life lessons and morals contained inside, as well as a lot of fun.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Shawn

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Shade of Blood (A Shade of Vampire #2) by Bella Forrest

In A Shade Of Blood, Bella Forrest transports you deeper into a unique, enthralling and beautifully sensitive story. Prepare to be lost in its pages…

When Sofia Claremont was kidnapped to a sunless island, uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet, she believed she’d forever be a captive of its dark ruler, Derek Novak.

Now, after months of surviving an endless night, the morning sun may soon rise again for Sofia. Something has possessed Derek’s heart and he offers her a gift no human slave has ever been given in the history of his cursed island: escape. 

High school, prom and a chance to move on with her life now await her. 

But will she be able to forget the horrors that steal her sleep away at night? … and the feelings that haunt her for that tormented prince of darkness?

This is the second in the series from Bella Forrest.  I loved the first book, A Shade of Vampire, so I was really excited to read this one.  It's not your average vampire books and I think they are geared more toward the teen set, but I love them anyway.

In this installment, Derek lets Ben and Sophia go.  Shocking in itself as most human slaves never leave the island.  And for the majority of the book, Derek tries to forget Sophia and his dark tendencies begin to take over any remaining human ones.  Also, since he was asleep for over four hundred years, he figures now is as good a time as any to show everyone that his word is law.  He begins making everyone (the vampires) train for battle and begins punishing those who defy him.

Meanwhile, Sophie can't get Derek out of her mind, even though she and Ben decide to start a relationship.  They try not to talk about their time in The Shade, but it haunts both of them.  Ben finally shares what really happened when he was Claudia's human slave, and urges Sophia to join the Hunters with him.  He seeks revenge and knows that is probably the best way to get it.  

But then Sophia gets a visit from someone on the island and she has to make a choice.  Return to Derek, on an island where the sun never shines, or try to move on with her life, even though she can't get Derek out of her mind.

Suffice to say, A Shade of Blood ends with a cliffhanger and I just eagerly ordered the next in the series.  It's so addicting, and the twists and turns, along with the beautiful writing have enamored me with the series.  If you are looking for a new series to read with a twist of paranormal, a dash of romance, get this series. It's spectactular!

I purchased this book.  All opinions are my own.  Wendy

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

China Dolls by Lisa See

An exciting new novel set in the "Chop Suey Circuit" of San Francisco right before World War II, from the beloved bestselling author of Snowflower and the Secret Fan and Shanghai Girls.

In 1938, Ruby, Helen and Grace, three girls from very different backgrounds, find themselves competing at the same audition for showgirl roles at San Francisco's exclusive "Oriental" nightclub, the Forbidden City. Grace, an American-born Chinese girl has fled the Midwest and an abusive father. Helen is from a Chinese family who have deep roots in San Francisco's Chinatown. And, as both her friends know, Ruby is Japanese passing as Chinese. At times their differences are pronounced, but the girls grow to depend on one another in order to fulfill their individual dreams. Then, everything changes in a heartbeat with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Suddenly the government is sending innocent Japanese to internment camps under suspicion, and Ruby is one of them. But which of her friends betrayed her?

     One of the main reasons I wanted to read and review this book is because of the time period the story was set in.  One of the first things that I noticed about the way this book was written is how the “chapters” are set up. I especially liked how each “chapter” had a subtitle to each one (i.e. Ruby—The Real Chinese Girl) and I loved how the book was broken down into sections. 

       I loved how the three main female characters were able to talk to each other no matter if they were fighting or not. I noticed that although the women would sometimes fight they were still close to each other. There were some moments in the story where I would envy the close bonds that “Grace” “Ruby” and “Helen’ had with each other. I enjoyed reading this novel, but at the same time I felt like some of the chapters were rather longer than necessary and I dreaded trying to finish that chapter in 1 reading (sometimes I succeeded and other times I didn’t.) 

      I think most women would enjoy this novel and would love the bonds that hold theses three women together. I love how the author wrote this book the only thing I would like to see happen is that Ms. See made some of the chapters a little shorter than they are; other than that I think she wrote a wonderful book and I would love to read more books by her. I give this book a “B” and the Ms. See an “A.”

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Tiffany

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Wicked (Something Red #2) by Douglas Nicholas

The mesmerizing and highly anticipated sequel to Something Red transports readers to the harsh and enchanting world of thirteenth-century England, where a group of unlikely heroes battles an ancient evil.

In the critically acclaimed historical fantasy Something Red, the young warrior Hob, his mentor Jack, the mystical Irish queen Molly, and her powerful granddaughter Nemain travelled far and wide, battling shapeshifters, sorceresses, warrior monks, and otherworldly knights. Now, a new type of evil has come to reside in a castle by the chilly waters of the North Sea. Men disappear and are found as horribly wizened corpses. Warriors ride out and return under a terrible spell. Only Molly, with her healing powers, can save the people from a malevolent nobleman and his beautiful, wicked wife. As all are drawn into battle, the young Hob and his adopted family must vanquish the dark powers before they themselves are defeated.

An unforgettable blend of fantasy, mythology, and horror, The Wicked is just as chilling, beautifully written, and historically rich as Something Red, drawing readers into a world both magical and haunting—where nothing is ever as it seems.

The Wicked: A Novel is set in the 1300’s and follows four unlikely heroes.  Molly is an Irish Queen trying to get her realm back.  We don’t know how or why she lost it, but she is enlisting the help of English Knights to help her.  She and her small band of “musicians” do this by helping these Knights remove great evils from their lands.  Through good magic she is able to defeat this great evil. 

Unfortunately throughout this book I was confused as to what was going on.  There was supposed to be a big build up to the final battle against this evil.  But I found it anticlimactic.  By the time I had read about ¾ of the book I knew this battle wouldn’t be that great.  
Douglas Nicholas has tried to build tension and a great story, but unfortunately it falls flat.  I don’t know if it is the over-wordiness in describing places and situations, or the hard to understand authentic dialog of the locals; but I found that if this story was cut in half you would still end up with a flat story. I found it very predictable and repetitive to other stories I’ve read before.  Unfortunately a book that I thought I would love was just kind of boring.  Characters who could have been wonderful and ones we could care about are actually boring.   If you want to try this story, do.  Just know that I will not be reading the other two books in this series.  Just not my cup of tea. 

Douglas Nicholas is an award-winning poet whose work has appeared in numerous publications, among them *Atlanta Review, Southern Poetry Review, Sonora Review, Circumference, A Different Drummer*, and *Cumberland Review*, as well as the *South Coast Poetry Journal*, where he won a prize in that publication's Fifth Annual Poetry Contest. His other awards include second place in the 2002 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards from PCCC, International Merit Award in Atlanta Review's Poetry 2002 competition, finalist in the 1996 Emily Dickinson Award in Poetry competition, honorable mention in the 1992 Scottish International Open Poetry Competition, first prize in the journal *Lake Effect*'s Sixth Annual Poetry Contest, first prize in poetry in the 1990 Roberts Writing Awards, and finalist in the Roberts short fiction division. He was also recipient of an award in the 1990 International Poetry Contest sponsored by the Arvon Foundation in Lancashire, England, and a Cecil B. Hackney Literary Award for poetry from Birmingham﷓-Southern College in 1989. He is the author of SOMETHING RED, a fantasy novel set in the thirteenth century, as well as IRON ROSE, a collection of poems inspired by and set in New York City; THE OLD LANGUAGE, reflections on the company of animals; IN THE LONG-COLD FORGES OF THE EARTH, a wide-ranging collection of poems; and THE RESCUE ARTIST, poems about his wife and their long marriage. He lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife Theresa and Yorkshire terrier Tristan.  

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Stephanie

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Troublemaker Next Door (The McCauley Brothers #1) by Marie Harte

He can fix her sink, but can he wrench his way into her heart?

Flynn McCauley never thought he’d be so cliché as to fall for the girl next door. But when Maddie calls him over to help fix her faulty sink, he’s a goner. Too bad the fiercely independent interior designer wants nothing to do with him. Even worse, he’s forced to rely on the advice of his nosy brothers—and his five-year-old nephew!—to figure out how to make her give him a shot.

Whew, this is one sexy read! I thought it was going to be a sweet, tame romance novel. But tame it was not. This book has some seriously HOT sex scenes which include one fiery redhead and one majorly sexy plumber! But what I really loved is that the whole story is not purely sex, although there was a lot of it. 

The storyline does not lack substance just for the sake of getting it on, but instead has well written characters with friendships and family ties that not only flesh out this romance but set the stage for more novels based on those characters too. For instance the main character, aka the sexy plumber Flynn, has some very hot brothers that I can't wait to read about in the next books. Although I'm not sure if I will like them as much as Flynn. He is the kind of man who is sexy, nice, masculine, and great in bed. How can you top that! Not too mention how he not only accepts Maddie's flaws but loves her even more for them. * insert swoon here *

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  April

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Secrets of Tree Taylor by Dandi Daley Mackall

Thirteen-year-old Tree Taylor has two goals for the summer of '63:

1. Experience her first real kiss. A kiss delivered by a boy. A boy who is not related to her. A kiss worth writing about. 

2. Become a famous writer. (Or, at least, write an investigative article that will land her the freshman spot on the Blue and Gold staff.)

So when a gunshot is fired right across the street, Tree knows this is the big story she's been waiting for. But the more she goes digging, the more secrets she uncovers, and soon she begins to wonder: When is it important to expose the truth? And when is it right to keep a secret?

This book was a good read. This book also combined many different book genres. Mystery, friendship, love, action, and many more. For the first fourteen chapters I was entranced in the way this author, Ms. Dandi Mackall, perfectly captured the way children think and act during surprising events. She wrote with feeling and emotion. As I was reading I felt like I was an onlooker watching the story unfold from the sidelines. It was so beautiful and real.

This story is about a thirteen year old girl named Teresa (Tree) Taylor. One day she hears a gunshot fired down her block. As an aspiring journalist, she vows to get to the bottom of the story. The story then follows the adventures she takes as she finds more about the gunshot story, life, and herself.

   This story was very well-written and inspiring. I loved it. It showed me girl power and how we should use it to better ourselves and the world around us. On my "Amazingly Fabulous Book Scale" I will give this book a 9 for inspiring plot, good uses of girl power, a flowing storyline, and a well-rounded story.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Hannah