ARC Review | A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

4.5 cupcakes

“For a moment, I wished I had it in me to feel remorse for the dead thing. But this was the forest, and it was winter.”

Aside from the Wicked Lovely series, I haven’t had much luck with faery stories. However, because it’s Sarah J. Maas and I’m still not completely over all of the feels that Heir of Fire gave me, I just had to giveA Court of Thorns and Roses a try – and I’m very glad to say that I absolutely loved it.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is a retelling of both Beauty and the Beast (but not the Disney-fied version) and Tam Lin, a tale that I’m only vaguely familiar with because of The Decembersists’ Hazards of Love album and Tithe. My lack of familiarity with the source material did not dampen my reading experience, though; in fact, many of what I perceived to be twists and turns in the story would have been less unpredictable had I skimmed the Wikipedia article beforehand.

This is very much a character-driven story, and I absolutely loved how the slow pace allowed the relationships between Feyre and the fey to develop. Feyre’s character arc, in particular, is a thing of beauty: she goes from a prickly, reserved, cold young woman to someone who slowly lets down her guard. She’s had an incredibly difficult life, so seeing Feyre’s reactions to being treated kindly by the fae she was raised to fear and experiencing moments of joy was a large part of what really sold me on this story.

It’s not a Sarah J. Maas novel without at least one swoon-worthy boy, and in the case of A Court of Thorns and Roses, there are three: Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court; Lucien, his snarky courtier; and Rhysand, the dark and intriguing anti-hero / High Lord of the Night Court. While I’m 100% on board with the relationship progression (hate-to-love is kind of my favourite), I’m also surprisingly okay with the potential for a love triangle. I guess that goes to show just how wonderfully crafted these boys and their chemistry were.

Overall, A Court of Thorns and Roses was a very strong start to a new fantasy series. It’s dark, seductive, and magical, with all the sexy faery boys. As with the Throne of Glass series, I’m sure that the following books will be even better, so I can’t wait to see where Feyre’s story will go.

I received an ARC from Bloomsbury USA and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Virgin by Radhika Sanghani

Okay, I admit it…I didn’t do it.

Yet.

This is normal, right?  I mean, just because everyone I know has talked like they’ve already done it doesn’t mean that they’re telling the truth…right?

It’s not like I’m asking for that much. I don’t need the perfect guy. I don’t need candlelight or roses. Honestly, I don’t even need a real bed.

The guys I know complain that girls are always looking for Mr. Right—do I have to wear a sign that says I’m only looking for Mr. Right Now?

Sooooo…anyone out there want sex? Anyone? Hello? Just for fun?

I am not going to die a virgin. One way or another I am going to make this happen.

Hey, what have I got to lose? Besides the obvious.

3.5 cupcakes

Virgin is one of the first new adult novels I’ve read and, to be honest, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It’s informative, laugh out loud funny, and so, so realistic.

Society places a large amount of pressure on women to have sex but it also places an equal amount of pressure to not have sex; either way, it seems as though you can’t win by societal standards. Virgin certainly addresses this dichotomy: while Ellie is preoccupied with losing her virginity (and, honestly, who hasn’t been?), her friends are sexually active. This allows Virginto provide an open and honest discussion about sexuality, without slut-shaming or virgin-shaming.

Sanghani wasn’t afraid to gloss over the awkward details: from Brazilian waxes to vibrators, she describes everything that women worry about when it comes to sex. This made for some amusing-yet-informative moments, and I could definitely identify with a lot of Ellie’s anxieties and questions.

Female friendships were represented more than the romance, which was something I adored. Ellie’s relationships with her best friends were positive and healthy, without any secret hatred or jealousy.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Virgin. It was an excellent start to my foray into the world of new adult novels!

Book Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando

It’s time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl’s summer — and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they’ve never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.

3 cupcakes

“Live in the present. Take care of the relationships in front of you now. Most friendships have a natural life, and when they’ve lived that out, you’ll know.”

The summer before university/college is a very critical time in one’s life: not only are you preparing yourself for the next big adventure, but you’re saying goodbye to everything that you have grown accustomed to and comfortable with. Roomies shows that change is inevitable (both personally and in terms of relationships), and that the road to adulthood isn’t always the easiest to cope with.

Roomies is also a great demonstration of how communication through social media or various platforms that aren’t in person/face-to-face is often ineffective. Since there isn’t any intonation aside from what italics can provide, and displays of emotion via emojis can only go so far, misinterpretations and conflicts often arise.

Due to the dual POV, readers get to know both E.B. and Lauren. While I didn’t form any real connection with either of the girls, they certainly had distinct voices and underwent a tremendous amount of growth throughout the book. The secondary characters were just as well fleshed-out and important, and both girls’ love interests were completely charming.

Overall, Roomies was a light, quick read that realistically deals with the transitory period between high school and post-secondary life. I sincerely hope that more new adult novels jump on this subject: not only is it interesting, but it’s relevant.

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

From the author the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Rating: 5 cupcakes

Fangirl is one of those books that sounded so brilliant that I knew I had to read it immediately. You see, I’m a fangirl. Fictional characters and the actors who portray them have ruined my life on many occasions. Like Cath, I used to read and write fanfiction stories, and had many awkward moments in high school when my best friend and I were caught writing slash fics in the middle of French class (the fics weren’t actually in French, though; we weren’t quite that talented). My high school teachers held Harry Potter themed dinners where my classmates and I would dress up like the characters before attending the movie premieres, and I’d line up for hours whenever a new Harry Potter book was released. While I’m not very active in the fandom anymore, it was responsible for giving me the courage to actually put my writing out there for people to read, and it’s so neat to see that people actually “get” how wonderful these communities can be.

Anyways, this is what a New Adult book should look like. It perfectly describes how going to college involves a transition from the familiar to the unknown, and how it can be difficult to take in all at once. Not everything can be found on Google, as Cath explains, and there are so many potential sources of social anxiety – like what to do at the cafeteria once you’ve finally found it. There were so many things that reminded me of my first year: the dorm rooms that don’t seem large enough to house two people, the awkward silences before the first lecture, and the nicknames for people around campus (Cath and Regan have Wolf Girl and Venezuelan Lindsay Lohan, we have Cape Girl and Thor Girl).

Our protagonist, Cath, was quite easy to love and sympathize with. She’s an introvert who is uncomfortable in social situations, and who would much rather inhabit the world of Simon Snow. Writing is Cath’s preferred form of self-expression, and I loved how her fanfiction stories – which were interspersed between chapters of Fangirl – mirrored what was happening in her life at the present time. As the story unfolds, Cath becomes more independent, builds new relationships, and gets a better idea of who she is, and it’s beautiful to watch.

Fangirl also showcases Rowell’s ability to create the cutest, most swoonworthy romances ever. The relationship between Cath and Levi is slow to build, starting as friends who exchange witty banter and growing into something more. And Levi! That boy is someone I would love to date. He’s always smiling, genuinely charming, and would do anything to help someone out, whether it’s walking them home from the library at midnight or driving them to a bar to help their drunk sister. He and Cath are virtually polar opposites, yet their relationship dynamic works so well. It’s comfortable, comforting, and just so sweet.

While the romance was definitely important, familial relationships also play a pivotal role in Fangirl. Cath’s father is dealing with manic depression, her mother has been out of the picture for years, and her sister has left the world of Simon Snow in favour of bars and boys. These struggles are heartbreaking at times, but so realistic, and it’s so nice to see characters who are genuinely close with their families; after all, family is important.

Overall, Fangirl is one of the best books I’ve read this year. It’s character-driven, filled with adorable romance, and is incredibly easy to relate to. It’s safe to say that this has solidified Rainbow Rowell’s position on my “automatically-buy” list, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: One & Only by Viv Daniels

Today, I’m very excited to be taking part in the cover reveal for One & Only. It’s a new adult romance novel written by Viv Daniels, who is also known as the lovely Diana Peterfreund, author of Of Darkness Shows the Stars and Secret Society Girls. One & Only has an expected publication date of November 8th 2013, and its lovely cover was designed by Okay. Creations.

OaO-CoverOne night they can’t forget…

Tess McMann keeps her head down, working hard and avoiding her prominent father’s real family. The summer after she graduates high school, she meets distractingly cute Dylan Kingsley at a prestigious summer program. But though they fall in love that summer, Tess only spends a single night with Dylan before he heads to college in her hometown, while Tess escapes the secrets that have ruled her life.

One love they can’t ignore…

Two years later, a scholarship brings her home to Canton, and she and Dylan realize their story is only beginning. But how can they have a future when Tess has sworn never to be like her mother, and Dylan’s girlfriend, Hannah, is the sister who doesn’t know Tess exists?

…And only one chance to get things right.

About the Author

Viv Daniels writes love stories for the young and young at heart. Like many of her characters, she met her husband in college, and knows all the ins and outs of navigating that kind of relationship — from how to date when you’re both flat broke to how to fit two people in narrow dorm room bed. Her favorite new adult authors include Tammara Weber, J. Lynn, and Cora Carmack. Viv can usually be found on her Facebook page or Twitter feed, chatting with readers about her favorite New Adult fiction, or sharing pictures of cute boys. She lives outside of Washington D.C. with her family. Check out her website here.

But, wait, there’s also a giveaway!

To celebrate the cover reveal for One & Only, there’s a tour-wide giveaway, which includes signed copies of the Secret Society Girl series. Click the link below to enter!
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Book Blitz & Giveaway: Kinetic by S.K. Anthony

Today, I am participating in a book blitz for Kinetic by S.K. Anthony. Kinetic is a new adult urban fantasy novel, and was published in September 2013.

Synopsis:

Being strong is one thing. Being an unlimited source of power is quite another.

Genetically altered by the Organization, Annie Fox takes down criminals CIA-style with her luminary strength. With nothing to mend but her broken heart, she is relentlessly pursued by her boss Derek Lake. Just when Annie is about to give him a chance, her ex-husband unexpectedly comes out of hiding.

A wanted man, Nick Logan is a cold-hearted murderer who is considered enemy number one, and orders are clear: kill on contact. He is more powerful than ever and threatens the lives of those she holds most dear. His plan? Get his hands on Annie and use her Kinetic energy to destroy them all. When Annie finds herself with an opportunity to end him, she pauses, horrified by the scars covering the face she once loved. A split second that will cost her everything…

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Excerpt:

Coming to my feet, I ran into the vault and found myself at the bottom of what seemed like three floors. It was filled with storage units, all next to each other. It reminded me of prison cells, each of them with their own armored doors. I smelled more smoke coming from above, so I ran up the first set of stairs and let my nose guide me. I saw the figure trying to melt one of the armored doors, and I launched myself at him. He was ready for me, though, so I found myself thrown across the room like a ragdoll. I pretended to be injured as he approached me, and when he was close enough, I kicked his feet from under him and he fell, hitting his head on the concrete floor. I jumped on him and pinned his hands down just as he looked up at me.

And there he was, Nick Logan. My ex-husband.

I stared at the face I’d once loved, now with a patch covering his left eye and scars running all the way down his jaw. They were almost hidden under his days-old beard and wild, dark hair. His deep hazel eye looked at me, empty, daring me to speak first. I punched him.

About the Author:

SKS. K. Anthony is a writer, a reader and a make-stuff-up-er who lives in New York with her husband and toddler twins. She is a wine connoisseur, which just really means she knows she loves it, and a caffeine addict. When she isn’t busy with her family she finds herself being transported into the world of imagination. Well, either that or running away from spiders…she is convinced they are out to get her!
Connect with S.K.

 

Giveaway:

Thanks to Xpresso Book Tours, I’ve  been given the opportunity to give away one e-book copy of Kinetic. This contest is open internationally, and ends on October 6. Be sure to follow the directions on each entry, as they will be verified!

To enter, click here:
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Waiting On Wednesday (July 17)

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

This week’s release that I’m (not so) patiently awaiting is Speak Easy by Melanie Harlow, which has an expected publication date of July 22.

1Temptation is everywhere.

It’s July, 1923. By day twenty-year-old Tiny O’Mara works for her father’s smalltime bootlegging operation. By night she craves the roll-your-stockings-down lifestyle of a flapper, but with her mother gone, she’s usually stuck at home with two younger sisters—until her father is kidnapped by a mobster in Detroit’s exploding organized crime scene, and it’s Tiny who has to come up with the ten-thousand-dollar ransom.

In one week.

Enzo DiFiore’s screen-idol looks and dangerous charm leave her breathless, even though he’s the son of the mobster holding her father hostage. But when the forbidden spark between them refuses to burn out, she tries to use their powerful attraction to buy more time.

And then there’s Joey Lupo, the irritatingly handsome pest from her childhood who’s got the street smarts Tiny needs to smuggle enough booze to make a quick ten grand. But he’s got his own agenda where gang rivalries are concerned, and despite his promise to protect her, Tiny isn’t sure she can trust Joey—or stop her growing feelings for him.

To save her father’s life, she’ll have to choose between them. But deciding whom to trust isn’t easy in a world where everyone wants something—be it booze, money, power, or sex—and no one cares what it takes to get it.

It’s no secret that I love any book set in the Roaring Twenties. I’ve often said that I feel like I’d make a good flapper – after all, I already have short hair and would dress like one every day if I could afford to. Unfortunately I was born a good 70 years too late, so I’ll have to live vicariously through this book and others like it.

Which books are you waiting on?
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