Top Ten Books We Recently Added to our TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten list is
"Top Ten Books We Recently Added to our TBR"

Nicole's Top Five

1. Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall - another Sandy Hall book? Yes, please!
2. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard - this one has unofficially been on my TBR much longer
3. Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young - Ash said this was my kind of book and I agree!
4. Need by Joelle Charbonneau - I loved her The Testing series! This new book is a change of pace but sounds interesting!
5. Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius - this cover is amazing but it sounds cute too!


Ashley's Top Five

1. Chase Me by Tessa Bailey - A fun new adult book... yes please! 
2. Never Never by Brianna R. Shrum - Peter Pan retelling sounds awesome. 
3. The Isle of the Lost by Melissa De La Cruz - The children of all the villains on an island sound so different and awesome!
4. Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swedson - I do like a good steampunk every now and then
5. This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee - I love the cover and a Frankenstein retelling sounds pretty cool 

What are your top ten?

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Source: Borrowed from Pam at [YA] Escape from Reality (Thanks Pam!)

Summary from Goodreads:
Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.


Review

Nothing tickles my bookish fancy more than a new fantasy book that hits all the right spots. I devoured this book and am dying for more which is why this better be a series although I can't seem to find mention of one. Especially after that ending...

An Ember in the Ashes is the story of Laia and Elias, whose journeys start separately but weave more and more closely together as the story continues until they become one in the end.

Laia's story is one of a scared girl masquerading as a rebel masquerading as a maid to a woman who is so cruel that she scares me even though she is fictional. The rebels are pushing her for information but she can barely manage to stay alive and in one piece. I admired her courage and the lengths that she would go to to save her brother. Her strength grew as time progressed and she deserved more credit than she gave herself. I was deeply invested in her well-being.

Elias' story is one of a kind boy masquerading as a killer masquerading as a wannabe-Emperor. Although it is less obvious, he has chains as real as Laia's and desperately wants to be free of them. But he is watched and if he slips-up it will mean his death or worse. So he must play the game and hope he finds salvation in the end. The game takes the form of trials that test his courage, cunning, strength and loyalty. If you know me at all, you know I LOVE trials. They were action-packed and intense and horrible and I ate it up.

This book is dark but I think darkness creates the best stories because every victory is made more meaningful. There was loss in this book, for sure, but there was also gain. I loved the plotting and the cryptic messages and the hidden allies, and the complex characters and the endless threats and the glimpses of good. It had everything.

The ending I mentioned was epic and unexpected and left me begging for more. There were twists that I am scared to see the consequences of but I am overwhelmed with excitement for the (expected) sequel anyway. If you even marginally like Fantasy, you need to read this book. Sabaa Tahir really makes a name for herself with this kick-ass debut! 

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Stacking the Shelves (117) - Mar 28th

Stacking the Shelves - hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews - features books that you bought, borrowed, rented from the library, received for review, etc.

What I'm Reading


What books are stacking your shelves? 


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Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins

Title: Miss Mayhem
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Series: Rebel Belle #2
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: April 7, 2015

Summary from Goodreads:
Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or connect her to David for life.


Review

Last year I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved Rebel Belle. I mean, I had SO MUCH FUN reading it and was completely smitten by the end. I got an absolute kick out of Harper, shipped her and David so hard, thought the whole Paladin-Oracle-Mage thing was exciting, and was blown away by the ending. Suffice it to say, I could barely contain my excitement over reading the sequel. But Miss Mayhem did not quite live up to my expectations. I am still enjoying the story but I was way less charmed this time around...

The shock-factor at the end of Rebel Belle didn't quite carry through to the beginning of Miss Mayhem but it was still a fast-paced, drama-filled sequel. Harper learns that she must complete three trials to prove herself as David's Paladin, which is the main focus of the story. That, and lots of romance troubles all around - Harper and David, Bee and Brandon, Ryan and Mary Beth, Bee and Ryan – it was enough to make my head spin and remind me of why I am glad HS is over. I definitely missed the back and forth between Harper and David now that that whole dynamic has changed but I missed Harper's peppiness even more so. Her personality was consistent but didn’t really shine through the pages like it did in Rebel Belle. I guess the tone of this book was more somber in general. The ending was also a little anticlimactic, if you ask me, and I still have a lot of questions about this world which haven’t been answered yet. Those are my only misgivings.

So although Miss Mayhem lacked the same charisma that Rebel Belle delivered and was a little too High School for me, I still found it to be an exciting read and am loving all of the personality in this series, which I can always expect from Rachel Hawkins. Miss Mayhem might not have packed all of the feels but I am still very much invested in this story and can’t wait for the third book.

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Do you like movie inspired book covers?

Welcome to Thoughts for Thursday! This feature is our outlet to talk with you about whatever we currently have on our minds. It might be bookish, it might not! Now for this week's thought:

Do you like the movie inspired book covers?

My idea for this topic came after I was talking to a friend about reading the book Gone Girl.  She went to Barnes and Noble to buy the book but could not find a single version that did not have Ben Affleck on it from the movie poster. She was quite bummed out and I would be too.  I totally get that since the movie was coming out that was the version they were pushing in store but it made me wonder if people truly prefer the updated movie inspired book covers.  


I feel like I am a purest for the most part when it comes to book covers.  I hands down would rather have the book on the right than the book on the left.  The older version of Gone Girl just seems more true to the book.  After chatting with my friend for some time, I was reminded of my Christmas shopping experience where my husband requested a copy of Ender's Game as one of his gifts.  Of course I was excited that he wanted a book for Christmas, so I went on my way to buy him a copy. His only caveat was that he wanted it without any movie characters on it and without any sticker or logo that said soon-to-be motion picture.  Which then led me to do a bit of searching and ending up with wrong cover versions until I could get an older copy that was still in good condition.  

Do you prefer a non-movie inspired movie cover? Does it not matter to you? Or do you want both version?  Does it depend on the movie? or the book? Or am I crazy :) ?




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Boys Don't Knit by T.S.Easton

Title:Boys Don't Knit
Author: T.S. Easton
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date:March 24th 2015

Summary from Goodreads:
Knitting is a man’s game.

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

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

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


Review

Boys Don't Knit is a fun book filled with dry humor, witty one-liners, and a boy who knits!  I love the fact that the story centers around Ben breaking gender stereotypes.  While Ben's initial motivation for taking up knitting is purely to be in a class with an attractive teacher it quickly shifts when he really embraces his passion.  The story takes place in England, so the culture and slang are a bit different but I love the change of scenery.

The story is narrated by Ben, so similar to the setting it is a nice change to read a book from a male POV. My main reason for 3 stars is that the plot slows down at parts and lacks a bit of oomph! Some of the knitting terms went over my head but I liked the way Ben could visualize his projects and just jump into the knitting zone. The friendships both new and old are great.  I love the dynamic Ben has with his guy buddies and the new friendships he built with his knitting club.  His family is so unique, Ben has a magician for a mother, crazy toddler for a sister, and soccer fanatic father.  Both the friends and family are unique and entertaining.  I really enjoyed some of the great lines:

'Why don't you pay?' he said, when I suggested this.
'I don't have any money.' I pointed out. 
'What about your allowance?' he said
'Dad, the last time you gave me allowance Britney Spears was happily married.'

Boys Don't Knit is an entertaining feel good story with an interesting rag tag group of characters taking on the challenges of the knitting world!

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Top Ten Books From Our Childhood That We Would Love To Revisit

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten list is
"Top Ten Books from Our Childhood That We Would Love to Revisit"

Nicole's Top Five

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - I need to do a re-read of this series!
2. The Giver by Lois Lowry - I forget pretty much everything except that I loved it.
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - I mean, now that she is writing a sequel....
4. 1984 by George Orwell - This is me cheating, I never actually finished this book.
5. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett - this book/movie holds a special place in my heart


Ashley's Top Five

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - It was fantastic when I read it but it was so long ago!
2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald  Seeing the movie made me want to read the book again 
3.  The BFG by Roald Dahl - Roald Dahl was one of my favorite authors growing up 
4.  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia #1) by C.S. Lewis - Another book I remember loving but forget the small details
5.  The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein  - I loved the art work and the writing in all his books

What are your top ten?

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Every Breath by Ellie Marney

Title: Every Breath
Author: Ellie Marney
Series: Every #1
Publisher: Tundra Books
Release Date: October 14, 2014

Summary from Goodreads:
When James Mycroft drags Rachel Watts off on a night mission to the Melbourne Zoo, the last thing she expects to find is the mutilated body of Homeless Dave, one of Mycroft's numerous eccentric friends. But Mycroft's passion for forensics leads him to realize that something about the scene isn't right--and he wants Watts to help him investigate the murder.

While Watts battles her attraction to bad-boy Mycroft, he's busy getting himself expelled and clashing with the police, becoming murder suspect number one. When Watts and Mycroft unknowingly reveal too much to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion's den--literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning to Rachel Watts again...
 


Review

I don't know why I didn't care for this book. Well, that's not true, I'm about to tell you why I did't care for it. Rather, I don't know why I didn't feel what everyone else felt for this book. Every Breath EXPLODED onto my radar not too long ago and all I've seen since are 4 and 5 stars from some very trusted people. I thought to myself, "I NEED this book!" and quickly got my hands on a copy and moved it to the top of my TBR. And yet here I am, having had a very different experience than seemingly everyone else.

I just didn't feel anything for these characters or this story. Nothing about Mycroft or Watts pulled me in. In fact, I found their personalities to be rather bland. Mycroft didn't hold a flame to Sherlock Holmes. He wasn't as eccentric or as amusing or as charming and so I failed to be impressed. And I already forgot about Watts because there really was nothing special about her IMO. I also did not feel whatever was supposed to be brewing between Mycroft and Watts. This OTP had none of the characteristics that I usually love and therefore, this is one ship, I do not care whether or not it sinks. Overall, I just felt bored and uninterested and I considered not finishing on a few different occasions but decided to power through because I hate not finishing books, especially books that everyone seems to love.

I also felt the writing and dialogue to be a little jarring. There is a lot of Australian lingo that I struggled with and so this didn't read seamlessly or naturally for me. I understand this is a personal-thing but it is a reason why I didn't love it. And just for the record, I've read books based in Australia and written by Australian authors and have never had this problem before.

While I am on a role, I will also say that I felt indifferent towards the mystery and there were quite a few things I found to be unbelievable - such as the idiocy of the murderer and the willingness of so many people to talk about things they probably shouldn't, whether because it was illegal, incriminating or what not.  I've definitely read better.

Now, don't get me wrong - this book wasn't bad or painful to read. I just don't understand all of the fuss. And because I had such high expectations, my disappointment was all the more disappointing and is why I am being so critical. I honestly don't know whether or not I will read Every Word. And I'm just going to leave it at that.

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Stacking the Shelves (116) - March 21st

Stacking the Shelves - hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews - features books that you bought, borrowed, rented from the library, received for review, etc.

Upcoming Reads



What books are stacking your shelves??


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The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

Title: The Cure for Dreaming
Author: Cat Winters
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: October 14, 2014

Summary from Goodreads:
Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.


Review

The Cure for Dreaming was not the book I had hoped it would be. Cat Winter’s debut, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, was full of atmosphere and history and emotion. It was honestly, nothing short of brilliant and I had hoped for the same from The Cure for Dreaming. But The Cure for Dreaming was nothing more than lackluster.

The promise was there – with an eerie but awesome premise - but this, unfortunately, was not capitalized on. I felt like the story only dabbled in the women’s suffrage movement, hypnosis, and Dracula folklore without really embodying any of it, and thus I didn’t feel responsive to any of it. It also wasn’t tied together very well, with tenuous connections at best, that I struggled to find believable. For instance, Olivia was hypnotized to “see the world the way it truly is” and afterwards, people whom she couldn’t trust appeared as vampires, likely because of her infatuation with Dracula?

Moreover, this book read a little young. It wasn’t that Olivia was overtly na├»ve or anything but the story read very innocently, simplistically and maybe even a little predictably. This, in conjunction with the underdeveloped backdrop, left me feeling a little uninspired at times.

I don’t mean to only point out what didn’t work for me, it is just always easier to do so. Most of my reservations had to do with the fact that this book didn't affect me in any way - which could also have something to do with my mood and timing. So feelings aside, I can appreciate the strong beginning, the fitting end and the overall unique tale. And I was very frustrated on behalf of Olivia at times. Her father was downright awful.

In summary, my expectations were definitely too high for this book. I expected more and was left disappointed. It kills me to write a less than glowing review for a Cat Winters book, but that is just how it is sometimes. I am still a fan of hers - In the Shadow of Blackbirds is one of my absolute favorites - and look forward to her next book. 

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Dead of Winter by Kresley Cole

Title: Dead of Winter
Author: Kresley Cole
Series: The Arcana Chronicles #3 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 6, 2015

Summary from Goodreads:
Can Evie convince her rival loves to work together? Their survival depends on it in this third book of #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole’s Arcana Chronicles, a nonstop action tale of rescue, redemption, and a revenge most wicked.

Heartbreaking decisions
Evie was almost seduced by the life of comfort that Death offered her—until Jack was threatened by two of the most horrific Arcana, The Lovers. She will do anything to save him, even escape Death’s uncanny prison, full of beautiful objects, material comforts…and stolen glances from a former love.

Uncertain victory
Despite leaving a part of her heart behind with Death, Evie sets out into a frozen and perilous post-apocalyptic wasteland to meet up with her allies and launch an attack on The Lovers and the vast army they command. Such formidable enemies require a battle plan, and the only way to kill them once and for all may mean Evie, Jack, and Death allying. Evie doesn’t know what will prove more impossible: surviving slavers, plague, Bagmen and other Arcana—or convincing Jack and Death to work together.

Two heroes returned
There’s a thin line between love and hate, and Evie just doesn’t know where she stands with either Jack or Death. Will this unlikely trio be able to defeat The Lovers without killing one another first?


Review

I can't help but feel like this series is failing to live up to its potential. The premise is SO GOOD and there are glimpses of such greatness throughout the story, but overall, it continues to be overshadowed by the romance, and a love triangle at that, which both saddens and frustrates me. I can't say that I don't continue to be entertained, but I want more from this story than I am getting.

Among the Major Arcana left in the game, The Lovers are the ones to stir up trouble in this sequel. The are hell bent on revenge against Evie for deeds done by her past incarnations and are not above using those she cares about to lure her to them. But even as Evie journeys to face them, her mind is elsewhere. Her heart is torn between two men, and she can't decide who she'd rather be with.

I was never much a fan of Jack's. In the first two books he rubbed me the wrong way and although he didn't give me cause to dislike him in this book, I still don't favor him. I prefer Death, or Aric if you will. I know he's done horrible things, and I am probably being a hypocrite by choosing him, but it is what it is. In my eyes, he's the lesser of two evils. And SOO swoony. I will continue to root for him, even past the point of reason.

I enjoyed the action that we were given, although I would have preferred more of it. And I enjoyed the pissing contest between Aric and Jack as they traveled with Evie to The Lovers lair. It was quite comical. But I could have done without all the indecision on Evie's part. And I wish we learned more about the Aracana and the game. I still have soo many questions. Too many, I fear, for everything to be answered in the last book. But we shall see...

Despite my misgivings, I did read this one easily and intently. The premise is so enticing that it's hard not to get excited about it, and I would recommend this series for that reason alone. But I can't ignore the story's faults and that is why I can't rate it higher. I really hope Kresley Cole pulls out all the stops in the last book. I know she can do it because I've seen it. Fingers crossed... 

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Top Ten Books on Our Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten list is
"Top Ten Books on Our Spring TBR"

Nicole's Top Five

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