Rule (Marked Men #1) by Jay Crownover

Title: Rule
Author: Jay Crownover
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: May 7th 2013

Summary from Goodreads:
Opposites in every way . . . except the one that matters

Shaw Landon loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him. Rule is everything a straight--A pre-med student like Shaw shouldn’t want--and the only person she’s never tried to please. She isn’t afraid of his scary piercings and tattoos or his wild attitude. Though she knows that Rule is wrong for her, her heart just won’t listen.

To a rebel like Rule Archer, Shaw Landon is a stuck-up, perfect princess-and his dead twin brother’s girl. She lives by other people’s rules; he makes his own. He doesn’t have time for a good girl like Shaw-even if she’s the only one who can see the person he truly is.

But a short skirt, too many birthday cocktails, and spilled secrets lead to a night neither can forget. Now, Shaw and Rule have to figure out how a girl like her and a guy like him are supposed to be together without destroying their love . . . or each other.


Rule is my first Jay Crownover book, I am now a fan! Rule was the perfect new adult palette cleanser I was looking for. It was funny, steamy, and emotional yet still an easy read. I was easily transported right into Rule and Shaw’s world.

Rule is a bad boy; he sleeps around a lot, is full of tattoos and has some personal struggles. Shaw on the other hand, is his opposite. The good girl wanting the bad boy worked for me. Even though it was clear at times what was coming, the writing was just fantastic and had be overlooking any predictable plot points. Nothing felt forced, the drama fit wonderfully with each character and the overall story line. My only wish was that the ending was a bit longer, it felt a tad rushed.

Rule was a well done dual narrated audiobook. The steamy scenes perfectly complimented the emotional roller coaster Shaw and Rule were facing. Rule was my first but definitely not my last Crownover book; looking forward to the next one!


The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Winner's Kiss
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux
Release Date: March 29th 2016

Summary from Goodreads:
War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it, with the East as his ally and the empire as his enemy. He’s finally managed to dismiss the memory of Kestrel, even if he can’t quite forget her. Kestrel turned into someone he could no longer recognize: someone who cared more for the empire than for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she cared for him. At least, that’s what he thinks.

But far north lies a work camp where Kestrel is a prisoner. Can she manage to escape before she loses herself? As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover unexpected roles in battle, terrible secrets, and a fragile hope. The world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and Kestrel and Arin are caught between. In a game like this, can anybody really win?


The Winner’s Kiss was one of my most anticipated reads of 2016 and it did not disappoint. The Winner’s Kiss picks up right where the Winner’s Crime ends, in the mist of war. This book is a very action and war heavy, especially compared to book one.

While I did enjoy all the war strategy and war scenes there were times where I did wish for a bit more romance. Kestrel is a fighter, she conquers her fears and is very clever and smart. Her strengths shine in this last book, she is faced with terrible circumstances and must overcome them. Arin is one of my favorite male leads. His love for Kestrel is a driving force that pushes the plot forward. As far as pacing goes, The Winner’s Kiss is a steady fast-paced plot. The story never lulled and the stakes remained high all the way up to the very last pages.

The only thing that I was not the biggest fan of was something pertaining to Kestrel (trying to avoid spoilers). Because of this thing, certain events did not transpire the way I was hoping. I will say it was unexpected and ultimately kept me on my toe; so it was not a deal breaker but it was a bit of a bummer at first. The Winner’s Kiss was an action heavy war driven romantic end to this wonderful trilogy. I highly recommend the entire series, it is one of my favorites! 

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Title: Rebel of the Sands
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Source: ALA MW

Summary from Goodreads:
She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.


Rebel of the Sands was my kind of book. One of the first things we learn about our main girl Amani is that she is an incredibly skilled sharpshooter and a total smart-mouth. So I immediately loved her. But within the first few pages we also learn that she is smart, calculating, defiant, capable, proud, careful, self-reliant, strong and possessive of so many other impressive traits. How could I not root for this chick?

Then we are introduced to a world of magic and war and rebellion and so much more. I enjoyed exploring the ins and outs of it as Amani escaped her small town and travelled across the dessert. For those who love gender- bending, Amani pretends to be a boy for much of the book (and shows the boys how it is done.) She had quite a few eye-opening experiences though and a lot of growing up to do. This world was not the forgiving sort. Tension was high among the locals and the foreign solders. People with magic were being enslaved or murdered. And a rebellion was stirring up even more trouble. There were plots within plots and tons of surprises. In essence, there was no shortage of things to keep the plot moving and my eyes glued to the pages.

Now throw in a dashing love interest and a chemistry that is off the charts. I loved our mysterious male lead and how Amani and Jin balanced each other out. They challenged one another constantly but also had an effortless way with each other. Their back and forth was refreshing and I couldn’t get enough of these two.

So basically, I devoured this book. It was a wonderful introduction to a new and exciting world with quite the charismatic set of characters. I was impressed by the writing and truly think that this series is full of potential. I cannot wait for the sequel! I am sure that other Fantasy fans will eat it up but I would urge others to try this book as well. It’s got a lot to offer.


Stacking The Shelves (163) - Feb 20th

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


Stacking the Shelves (162) - Feb 13th

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? 


The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen by Katherine Howe

Title: The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen
Author: Katherine Howe
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 15th 2015

Summary from Goodreads:
It’s summertime in New York City, and aspiring filmmaker Wes Auckerman has just arrived to start his summer term at NYU. While shooting a séance at a psychic’s in the East Village, he meets a mysterious, intoxicatingly beautiful girl named Annie.

As they start spending time together, Wes finds himself falling for her, drawn to her rose-petal lips and her entrancing glow. There’s just something about her that he can’t put his finger on, something faraway and otherworldly that compels him to fall even deeper. Annie’s from the city, and yet she seems just as out of place as Wes feels. Lost in the chaos of the busy city streets, she’s been searching for something—a missing ring. And now Annie is running out of time and needs Wes’s help. As they search together, Annie and Wes uncover secrets lurking around every corner, secrets that will reveal the truth of Annie’s dark past.


The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen was unlike most books I have read lately. It is told through two point-of-views, Wes and Annie; it is not exactly alternating but instead the story is split into parts based on the POVs. The reader is introduced to Annie early on when Wes sees her for the first time at a psychic visit.

The pacing slows at times but the eerie storyline still kept my attention. The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen is a slow moving, slow building haunting story. Katherine Howe weaved a unique character driven ghost story all without explicitly coming out and saying it.

Parts of the romance are not my favorite, it took some interesting turns which in the end comes together but at times I felt like Wes was all over the place with his feelings. Aside from the romance, I really enjoyed the development and personal growth seen in Wes, as well as the underlying mystery throughout. The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen reminded me of a favorite of mine, Anna Dressed in Blood just without the horror/creepier supernatural aspects. I enjoyed this subtle but mysterious ghost story!

A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

Title: A Gathering of Shadows
Author: V. E. Schwab
Series: A Darker Shade of Magic #2
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Source: ARC received from Publisher in exchange for an honest review (thank you Tor!!)

Summary from Goodreads:
Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.


For those of you familiar with Victoria Schwab’s work, I can promise you that A Gathering of Shadows will not disappoint. This book, this series, is just as charming and impressive as her others, if not more so. And for those of you not familiar with Victoria Schwab’s work, A Darker Shade of Magic is a great place to start. I am completely smitten with these books. The characters, the world, the plot, the writing – they are all perfection.

A Gathering of Shadows picks up shortly after where A Darker Shade of Magic leaves off. And for those of you who’ve already read A Darker Shade of Magic (I am assuming that most of you who are reading this review have), you know that a lot of shit went down. Therefore, our characters are all going through some kind of adjustment period, which is a large focus of this book. Lila becomes an even more prominent character in AGOS and you won’t hear any complaints from me. I freaking love this girl. She’s made a name for herself aboard a ship and through her adventures we meet a whole crew of new characters – the most noteworthy being Alucard Emery who Victoria Schwab once described as the “witty, mysterious, eyebrow-pierced captain of the Night Spire”. I LOVED the dynamic between Lila and Alucard – they were constantly challenging one another as they tried to discover each other’s secrets. It was like a playful power-struggle. And let me tell you, Alucard was FULL of surprises. THERE IS A NEW SHIP AND I SHIP IT SO HARD OMG.

Meanwhile, on the Kel and Rhy front, things are TENSE. The events that transpired at the end of ADSOM changed both of them in pretty significant ways and they are doing their best to find a new norm. Kel is especially struggling in this book. But fortunately for them all, they have the Element Games as a distraction. It is no secret that I love games, and magic games even more so, so I welcomed this addition to the story. A few of our own even compete in the tournament and I loved rooting for each of them.

Although AGOS largely takes place in Red London there are some snippets of what’s happening in the other Londons. White London is going through quite a transformative period but I won’t say any more than that. Just know that every chapter involving White London made my heart race.

AGOS did not move the plot forward as significantly as ADSOM did but it was one hell of a book regardless. I loved reading every second of this book and already wait with bated breath for the sequel. Especially after that ending. It was a tough one to swallow folks and frankly, I am scared for what Victoria Schwab has in store for us. But I definitely know it will bring the feels.

Read this one folks. You won’t regret it!

Stacking the Shelves (161) - February 6th

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??


January 2016 Recap

Nicole Read

Ashley Read

January Favorites

Nicole's Pick

Ashley's Pick

January Reviews

Other January Posts

        What's New With Nicole

        Is it really February already? Honestly, I am not sure where January went. It was much calmer than December but it still flew by. Probably because my month was consumed by the Tone It Up Challenge. If you haven't heard of it, it's this 8 week Fitness/Nutrition Challenge which means that for the past 4 weeks I have been exercising nonstop, grocery shopping nonstop, meal prepping nonstop and dreaming about pizza and cinnamon buns nonstop haha. But aside from that, Ashley, Lindsey, Ellie and I did go to Boston for ALA MW which was awesome. I saw the musical Once which was AMAZING (but sad). Philly was hit by a Snowpocalypse so I pretty much just lazed around for a whole weekend. I joined a Bocce Ball league because why not. And I also attended my first Aerial Yoga class and Barre class for the first time! So definitely a good start to the new year!

        What's New With Ashley

        January was a nice relaxing month for the most part.  I was able to get a lot of reading in between being snowed in for almost a week and airport time to/from ALAMW.  It was fantastic, I got to explore Boston with Ellie and Lindsey plus I got to meet my OTSPSecret Sister in person!  I was on the fence but have decided to sign up for the next round and cannot wait to get to know my new sisters! Aside from reading this month I have decided to re-watch Gilmore Girls and have been really enjoying it :) The end of my winter quarter is coming up so I am getting slammed with some work but have a fun trip to Iceland to look forward to in February.  

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