Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Blog Tour: Breathless by Beverly Jenkins {Inside the Book + Giveaway}

Release date: January 31, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Avon Books
Pages: pages
Buy the book: Avon | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
As manager of one of the finest hotels in Arizona Territory, Portia Carmichael has respect and stability-qualities sorely missing from her harsh childhood. She refuses to jeopardize that by hitching herself to the wrong man. Suitors are plentiful, but none of them has ever looked quite as tempting as the family friend who just rode into town…and none have looked at her with such intensity and heat.

Duchess. That’s the nickname Kent Randolph gave Portia when she was a young girl. Now she’s a stunning, intelligent woman-and Kent has learned his share of hard lessons. After drifting through the West, he’s learned the value of a place to settle down, and in Portia’s arms he’s found that and more. But convincing her to trust him with her heart, not just her passion, will be the greatest challenge he’s known-and one he intends to win…

About the author:

BEVERLY JENKINS has received numerous awards, including five Waldenbooks/Borders Group Best Sellers Awards, two Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times Magazine, and a Golden Pen Award from the Black Writer’s Guild. Ms Jenkins was named one of the Top Fifty Favorite African-American writers of the 20th Century by AABLC, the nation’s largest on-line African-American book club. She was recently nominated for the NAACP Image Award in Literature. To read more about Beverly, please visit her website at www.beverlyjenkins.net.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Review: The Book Jumper by Mechthild Gläser

Release date: January 3, 2017
Author info: Website | Facebook
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Amy Lennox doesn't know quite what to expect when she and her mother pick up and leave Germany for Scotland, heading to her mother's childhood home of Lennox House on the island of Stormsay.

Amy's grandmother, Lady Mairead, insists that Amy must read while she resides at Lennox House—but not in the usual way. It turns out that Amy is a book jumper, able to leap into a story and interact with the world inside. As thrilling as Amy's new power is, it also brings danger—someone is stealing from the books she visits, and that person may be after her life. Teaming up with fellow book jumper Will, Amy vows to get to the bottom of the thefts—at whatever the cost.
Well, poo. I was really excited to read this one, because... I mean, could anyone reading this review not adore the idea of being able to jump into books? Of course the synopsis reminded me of Inkheart, but there have been a few different books recently about people going into books and characters coming out of them, so I figured something being published now would have its own unique spin on the idea. And there are definitely some unique things about The Book Jumper, but those couldn't save it for me.

I generally refuse to DNF books. Instead, I skim from whatever point I've lost interest. I think I was around a third of the way through this when I could barely motivate myself to read anymore. So, I skimmed. I'm glad I finished the story, because there were a couple of interesting surprises in store--who the bad guy is, much of the ending in general--but I'm also glad I didn't fully read all of that, either.

I have a few problems with The Book Jumper. First, I think it reads too young. Largely, if the romance had been removed, it would've been a perfectly decent middle grade novel. Amy is impetuous and immature, and she'd be a more likable protagonist if she were a few years younger. She only considers the repercussions of her actions once things start to go very wrong, and I couldn't help but wonder what kind of book lover would go tramping through their favorite stories without any regard toward how their actions would affect the books.

Second, some of the specifics of book jumping felt cheesy? I think, again, they'd not feel quite this way if this were a MG novel. The idea of the margins were interesting, and I kind of liked the visuals of the book's characters chilling off to the side of the story--but this almost cheapens the magic of books to me.

Third, the romance actually feels out of place anyway. I never felt any real chemistry between Amy and Will, and, as I said, you could get rid of it and the book would be stronger for it. It only works to give a little bit more emotional heft--which I didn't feel was all that strong to begin with.

Honestly, upon finishing The Book Jumper, I only felt ambivalence. There are a couple of good points, and I think there's some charm to the world and setup, but I couldn't heartily recommend much of anyone read it. It stinks, because that cover is fabulous. (And, to me, the best part of the book.)

About the author:

Mechthild Gläser is an award-winning author in her native Germany. The Book Jumper is her first book to be translated into English.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Review: Four Weddings and a Sixpence by Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Boyle, Laura Lee Guhrke, & Stefanie Sloan

Release date: December 27, 2016
Publisher: Avon
Pages: 416
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Beloved authors Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Boyle, Laura Lee Guhrke, and Stefanie Sloane deliver the stories of four friends from Madame Rochambeaux’s Gentle School for Girls who find an old sixpence in their bedchamber and decide that it will be the lucky coin for each of their weddings… 

“Something Old”
Julia Quinn’s prologue introduces her heroine Beatrice Heywood and the premise for Four Weddings and a Sixpence.

“Something New”
In Stefanie Sloane’s unforgettable story, an ever-vigilant guardian decrees that Anne Brabourne must marry by her twenty-first birthday. But love finds her in the most unexpected of ways.

“Something Borrowed”
Elizabeth Boyle tells the tale of Cordelia Padley, who has invented a betrothed to keep her family from pestering her to wed. Now she’ll need to borrow one to convince them she’s found her true love.

“Something Blue”
In Laura Lee Guhrke’s story, unlucky Lady Elinor Daventry has her sixpence stolen from her and must convince the rake who pilfered the coin to return it in time for her own wedding.

“... and a Sixpence in Her Shoe”
Julia Quinn finishes with the story of Beatrice Heywood, who never believed that the sixpence was anything but a tarnished old coin—until it led all of her friends to true love. But her faith in the coin is tested when it keeps sending her to the wrong man!
I loooove me some Julia Quinn! So, when I saw the concept for Four Weddings and a Sixpence, I was really excited. Anything with Julia Quinn's name on it is something I'm going to want to read. But I also loved the idea of trying out a few authors I'd never read without the commitment, AND I loved the friendship aspect. As is the nature of collections, I have a couple of stories I liked more than others, however--but I'm pleased to say I have a couple of new authors I'll check out with confidence!

"Something Old": This is a quick little intro to our characters and the basic setup. No one really stood out too heavily, but I think that was the point. There's plenty of time to get to know the characters in their particular stories. Yet, it was cute enough.

"Something New": Neither idea that a girl has to marry by a certain age or that the man helping her falls in love with her is new for historical romance, but Stefanie Sloane's story is, of course, still cute. This makes for some really fun banter--and I love banter.

"Something Borrowed": Elizabeth Boyle's story is, I think, my favorite of the group (and truly, it's hard for me to like something more than Julia Quinn!). I always love childhood friends falling in love and I'm always a fan of house parties in my historical romances, but I especially liked how everything comes about in this. I like a character who is dedicated to their family and willing to make sacrifices, and that's Kipp, but I adore a character who chases what they want most--and that's also Kipp!

"Something Blue": Laura Lee Guhrke's story is my least favorite of the group. While the concept is interesting--former flames have a falling out because he was investigating her father's alleged wrongdoing, essentially--there were parts of the ending that rubbed me the wrong way. I didn't want it to be the way it was, and it soured the happy ending for me.

"...And a Sixpence in Her Shoe": Everything I've ever read from Julia Quinn has been pitch-perfect delightful--and this story is no exception. While the other stories have a little more angst, there's something especially charming about such a straightforward happy ending. I think it works perfectly as the ending to the collection, and leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy.

I believe this is the first time I've read a collection like this, but it certainly won't be the last! I can't get enough Julia Quinn, so of course I loved her story, but I'm excited to have found a couple of new authors I can confidently pick up a book from and expect to enjoy.

Monday, January 2, 2017

December Recap

Hi! So I'm trying something new this month. For a long time I've posted Stacking the Shelves weekly, but I've found that those posts don't necessarily work for me any more. Part of my hopes for 2017 is that I'm going to get fewer books to keep--whether that be books I've bought or been given for review. I have so many books to read already, so I'm hoping to whittle down those piles, as well as actually keep up with the review books I do get.

And so, because I won't normally have new books to show off, I figure STS wasn't the way to go. I'm also finding it more of a chore to put together, so I'm hoping a once monthly recap will better suit me now! I'll be covering what books I got, what I posted, what books I read, my tentative TBR for the coming month, and anything else I might like to share.

What Books Did I Get?

For review:

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

This works out so well, because I was mourning not having an ARC and I'm going to her signing in New Orleans in February--and then this showed up! Hoorah!

From trades:

Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier
Zodiac by Romina Russell
Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

Such great trades with Alyssa, CJ, and Liz! I've actually never had a truly bad trade on the hashtag, if you'd believe it (also, KNOCK ON WOOD), and always managed to get exactly the things I'm looking for--eventually. It may help that most of the stuff I actually collect isn't the stuff everyone else wants... :)

What Did I Read?

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (Started end of November, but I finished in December!)
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
The Rose Society by Marie Lu
Four Weddings and a Sixpence by Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Boyle, Laura Lee Guhrke, & Stefanie Sloane
Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt

Currently reading: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

What Did I Post?

Truthfully, not a lot. I'm working on it!

I've put together a January TBR, but we'll see how well I do with it. Like I said, I'm trying to catch up on some of the older stuff I've had for a while, as well as keep up with my review books--so hopefully what I'm doing will help. I don't expect to get to all of the books, but I'm determined to pick by books from this.

Most of January is review books, because apparently I have more than I anticipated--but as the year goes on that'll get better. I'm also trying to limit myself on romance books, so I only have three I'm allowed to read--and if I finish all of those, I can't read any more! There are a couple on here I am pumped about and I think choosing my first book of 2017 is going to be hard!

What Am I Doing?

December started off rough because I had a couple of big assignments to finish off my semester, but I got those done and then classes were over! That was quite the relief--and I'm excited to have finished my first semester of grad school with A's in both classes!

Then, of course, was Christmas, and with work being a little bonkers crazy, it's been quite a time. Problem is, with work, that now that the holidays are over, they want us to do a changeover (It was all due the day after Christmas! EEK!), a huge list of returns downloaded (I'm the kid's lead, and between kids and teen, I probably had 4000 books due out?) that I have to pull before inventory--which is mid-February, along with doing all of my projects and shelving. It's a lot, so we'll see how I cope with work, school, and blogging.

Otherwise, life is good! We're going to Disney World over Mardi Gras break, and I'm, of course, thrilled. I've got every day all planned and perfect, and I seriously can't wait.

However, part of why I'm trying not to get more books (buy them, in particular) is money. I live with my parents for free, but I also pay for school out of pocket. I have a scholarship that covers the out-of-state portion of my tuition, but that still doesn't make grad school cheap. With that and taking a trip to Disney, I've realized just how tight my money is going to be. Cutting out buying books, as well as anything else unnecessary, like new clothes and stuff, and going out to dinner, is the necessary step. I'd rather have an education and a vacation than more things I don't need. 

Whew! This had been kind of fun! I like not having any rules to follow on this, so I can imagine keeping this for a while. What do y'all think? Maybe I'll make myself a graphic for next month and make it official! :) Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

My Favorite YA Reads of 2016

The year is up! Can y'all believe it? 2017 is here! And while I wanted to get this up earlier, the last week of the year was kinda crazy, so I didn't get around to it. But, I can start this year off right!

This list is YA exclusively, so there are certainly some historical romances I might've added, but I wanted to focus.

So, in no particular order, here are my favorite YA books I read in 2016:

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson
Rebel Magisters by Shanna Swendson
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

I also wanted to include Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, but I couldn't find my copy to include in the picture!

I'm not in the least surprised that 80% of my list is essentially fantasy. Certainly if I broke down my reading into genres, overwhelmingly what I read the most of was fantasy and historical romance. What does surprise me is how well spread across publishers my favorites are! I've got Bloomsbury, Scholastic, Random House, Hachette, Penguin, and Macmillan all represented--as well as Shanna Swendson's self-published sequel. Sometimes I feel like I read too heavily from certain publishers, but I suppose I don't love books heavily in any one direction.

So now I want to know: what were your favorite books of 2016? If you have a post of some kind, link me to it! I'd love to see!