Thursday, July 31, 2014

Best of the Bunch ~ July 2014

Best of the Bunch is a monthly meme hosted by Always Lost in Stories on the last day of every month. The aim of this meme is to share the best book that we have read in that month and give it our Best of the Bunch award.

Books read in June:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling ~ 5 stars
The Fall by Bethany Griffin ~ 5 stars ~ My Review

Neverland by Anna Katmore ~ 3 stars ~ My Review
Odeful by Jennifer Recchio ~ 3 stars ~ My Review
Twisted Together by Pepper Winters ~ 4 stars ~ My Review

Lead by Kylie Scott ~ 4 stars ~ My Review
Off Guard by Marian Tee ~ 2 stars
Rising by Holly Kelly ~ 2 stars ~ My Review

The Fires of a Nightmare by Chelsea Lynn Charters ~ 2 stars ~ My Review
The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris ~ 5 stars ~ My Review
Swan Prince by Erin Lark ~ 4 stars ~ Review to come

Beauty's Beast by Amanda Ashley ~ 1 star ~ Review to come
She by Jessica Bell ~ 4 stars 
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo ~ 4 stars ~ My Review

The Witch of Duva by Leigh Bardugo ~ 4 stars 
The Tailor by Leigh Bardugo ~ 3 stars
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell ~ 3 stars ~ My Review

Four Houses by Victoria Scott ~ 5 stars ~ My Review
Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle ~ 2 stars ~ My Review
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke ~ 3 stars ~ Review to come

And the Best of the Bunch winner of July 2014 is...

The Fall by Bethany Griffin
Kindle Edition400 pages
Publication: October 7th 2014 by Greenwillow Books

Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

As a huge Poe fan I couldn't help but love this mysterious, ghostly and fantastic retelling of it. It's written in a very original format. It might not be for everyone but I thought it was amazing. And oh so creepy!

Honorable mentions go to:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
My favorite book so far. Yeah, I haven't read them all yet. I'm working on it!

Twisted Together by Pepper Winters
The last book in this brutal but incredible trilogy. I'll miss these characters so much! I need more Q!

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris
Ah, this book was sublime! And my second favorite this month.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
I was obsessed with this book when I was reading it. I LOVE this world!

Four Houses by Victoria Scott
This is only a short story but holy shiiiit, it was beautifully descriptive and eerie and gorgeous!

What was the best book you read this month?
Let me know!

Cover Reveal: Eternal Light by Nelly B. Jones

Today I'm sharing the pretty cover of Eternal Light with you all.
Take a look and don't forget to comment with your thoughts! =)

Title: Eternal Light
Author: Nelly B. Jones
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Expected release: 16 May 2016

My name is Arya. I've lived in Istyria my whole life. My world has been peaceful … until now.

When Darkness starts to take over the land of Istyria. Arya is send on a mission by the King and Queen to retrieve the one who holds the Power of Light within him. According to the Prophecy they need him if they want to defeat the Evil that threatens to pull Istyria into total darkness. Finding him is easy enough, but is she prepared to deal with the dangers that lurk around the corner? And what role does she play in all of this?

Lucian refuses to believe in magic, but when a girl suddenly appears in his room and talks of a magical land and a Prophecy, he gets sucked into an adventure he isn’t even sure he wants to be part of.

…Search for the One with the Eternal Light …

About the Author:

Nelly B. Jones is the author of the upcoming novels Eternal Light, the first book in the Tales of Istyria series, and (In)Visible. She was born and raised in Neerpelt, Belgium with the name Bieke. After her parent’s divorce Nelly moved around a lot and experienced heavy bullying during her school years, writing became her way to escape the world around her and loose herself into her own.

Her writing was heavily encouraged by her grandmother, who holds a very special place in Nelly’s heart and was her rock during tough times. She first began with writing poems but gradually made her way into short stories until the day came when she found the inspiration to start writing Eternal Light and made it the first book in a series. (In)Visible is a Young Adult Contemporary novel based on her own life. Nelly is a fanatic book lover and blogger on Istyria book blog.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: Bound by Flames by Jeaniene Frost

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Bound by Flames by Jeaniene Frost
Night Prince #3
January 27th 2015 by Avon

Play with fire, pay the price.

Leila’s years on the carnie circuit were certainly an education. What she didn’t learn: how to be a vampire, or how to be married to the most famous vampire of them all. Adjusting to both has Leila teetering on a knife edge between passion and peril, and now the real danger is about to begin…

Vlad must battle with a centuries-old enemy whose reach stretches across continents and whose strength equals his own. It isn’t like Vlad to feel fear, but he does…for Leila, because his enemy knows she is Vlad’s greatest weakness. As friend and foe alike align against him—and his overprotectiveness drives Leila away—Vlad’s love for his new bride could be the very thing that dooms them both…

I can't wait to get my hands on this book and on Vlad. I wasn't too thrilled with the previous book but... Vlad and this world - I can't resist! And please oh please let Cat and Bones make an appearance!

What's your WOW pick of the week?
Leave me links to your post so I can stop by!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

Title: Kissing Shakespeare
Author: Pamela Mingle
Publication: August 14th 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult ~ Historical Fiction ~ Romance
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo
Cover Rating: 3/5
Overall Rating: 2/5

A romantic time travel story that's ideal for fans of novels by Meg Cabot and Donna Jo Napoli--and, of course, Shakespeare.

Miranda has Shakespeare in her blood: she hopes one day to become a Shakespearean actor like her famous parents. At least, she does until her disastrous performance in her school's staging of The Taming of the Shrew. Humiliated, Miranda skips the opening-night party. All she wants to do is hide.

Fellow cast member, Stephen Langford, has other plans for Miranda. When he steps out of the backstage shadows and asks if she'd like to meet Shakespeare, Miranda thinks he's a total nutcase. But before she can object, Stephen whisks her back to 16th century England—the world Stephen's really from. He wants Miranda to use her acting talents and modern-day charms on the young Will Shakespeare. Without her help, Stephen claims, the world will lost its greatest playwright.

Miranda isn't convinced she's the girl for the job. Why would Shakespeare care about her? And just who is this infuriating time traveler, Stephen Langford? Reluctantly, she agrees to help, knowing that it's her only chance of getting back to the present and her "real" life. What Miranda doesn't bargain for is finding true love . . . with no acting required.

Originally I wasn't planning on writing a review for Kissing Shakespeare since I started this book two years ago and put it on hold until now but here I go.

So obviously I had some issues with this book. As some of you may now, I love historical fiction. I also love time travel... but in the end this book wasn't good enough for me to really like it. 

I really liked the concept of Kissing Shakespeare with the time travel and everything. I just wasn't a fan of the writing, the conversations between the characters and the ending. Especially the ending. 

Miranda, the main character... I had mixed feelings about her. It's not that I hated her. I just didn't like reading about her. She was an okay character but meh... 
At some level I liked Stephen. I felt for him and everything he went through with his former fiancee and the whole time travel thing but sometimes he was a little careless about Miranda's feelings and I didn't like it.

However, I did root for Miranda and Stephen to be together. They did have chemistry and that's why I hated that ending so much. It was an ending that's open for speculation. If it was any other books I would think a second was would come but obviously there isn't a sequel in the making as far as I know. I just wanted a happy ending for them. 

I guess I'll have to mention Shakespeare too. I actually don't have much to say about him. I'm pretty neutral on him. Didn't like him but didn't hate him either. As I said before it's a pretty good concept and we all know if Shakespeare would've strayed from his writing, things wouldn't be the same this day. 

I didn't care for the writing either. It's probably a personal preference thing but it wasn't good enough to keep me interested. I hate to say this but it's my opinion. I wanted a little more action and a more exciting plot.

Although a bit disappointed by the characters, writing and plot, Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mindle did have a good concept. I liked the time travel and historical part of the book but in the end it wasn't for me.

About the Author:

I live and write in Lakewood, Colorado, and if I peek around one corner of my balcony, I have a wonderful view of the front range of the Rocky Mountains.

I was a teacher and librarian, and somehow, with hard work and a little luck, I've found a third career as a writer. I love the sound of that! In the summer of 2012, Delacorte Press published my debut novel, KISSING SHAKESPEARE, a time-travel romance for teens. In the fall of 2013, my second novel will be published by William Morrow. It's a PRIDE AND PREJUDICE sequel about the socially awkward middle Bennet sister, Mary. If you're an Austen fan, I hope you'll watch for it.

I share something in common with you--I love to read! Besides YA, I love mysteries, historical fiction, mainstream and women's fiction, and fantasy. I'm always curious about what other people are reading, because whatever that is might become my new favorite book!

My husband and I have done several walking trips in England, Scotland, and France. That means going from one town to the next, on foot, sometimes fifteen miles a day! It was on one of these walks that I discovered Hoghton Tower, the setting of KISSING SHAKESPEARE.

Nothing has made me happier than hearing from readers.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publication: Published July 3rd 2014 by Macmillan Children's Books 
Genre: Young Adult ~ Contemporary 
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo
Cover Rating: 5/5
Overall Rating: 3/5

A love story about opening your heart by Rainbow Rowell, the New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park.

Special collector's edition with limited edition Emergency Dance Party print, coloured edges and ribbon marker.

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life.

Without Wren, Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She's got a surly room-mate 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.

Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible.

Don't get me wrong because I gave Fangirl (only) three stars. It was a good book. Great even. I just didn't love it as much as I would've liked. Honestly, I thought I would absolutely love it but realistic fiction is a bit tricky for me so three stars it is!

I hate to say this but I wasn't too fond of Cath as the main character. Which is really weird because she's a lot like me and I could relate to her pretty well. Maybe it was the fact that she was a lot like me that freaked me out a little too much. 

The other characters were okay, I guess. I just wasn't overly interested in them. If I had to pick a favorite, though, it would be Levi. I really liked him because he was a sweet, caring and really funny guy. Although I wasn't Cath's biggest fan, I did like their relationship. It was just so adorable. So Cath alone? Not so much. Cath and Levi together? Yes, please!

I really enjoyed Rainbow Rowell's writing. As some of you may know if writing is bad in a book then I'll end up hating it for sure, even if the story and characters are good. The writing in Fangirl was excellent. Nothing negative to remark on that, which was a huge relief because lately books have let me down in that area. 

In the end I wasn't interested enough in the story in general because I found myself being more intrigued by Cath's fanfiction about Simon Snow than everything else. Which leads us to the ending. It was too open for my taste and I had wanted to know so much more. 

Overall, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell was enjoyable but not the best book I've ever read. I had some issues with the story and main character as wel as with some of the secondary characters, though I'm sure other people like the book more. I just couldn't connect with it as it didn't blew me away like I wanted. It's still a pretty good book but just not interesting enough to wow me.

About the Author:

Rainbow Rowell writes books. Sometimes she writes about adults (Attachments and Landline).
Sometimes she writes about teenagers (Eleanor & Park and Fangirl).
But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they’re screwing up. And people who fall in love.
When she’s not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things.
She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo

Series: The Grisha #1
Publication: June 6th 2013 by Indigo
Genre: Young Adult ~ Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo
Cover Rating: 5/5
Overall Rating: 4/5

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka. Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom's magical elite - the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free? The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him. But what of Mal, Alina's childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can't she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.

Shadow and Bone turned out better than I had expected. Way better. It's been a while since I've been so addicted to a book and that I had this intense pull toward to keep reading.

I was really impressed by this whole world that Leigh Bardugo created. It's pretty complex with all the foreign names for different kind of things but eventually I caught on. Sort of... But yes I kinda loved this book. And I wished I had read it sooner. 

I liked Alina as the main character. She was pretty down to earth in my eyes and although she felt like she didn't belong the world before and after she found out she's part of the Grisha - once she got the hang of her powers, she was pretty great. 

I really liked her friendship with Mal also. They've known each other since they were kids and have always been there for each other so, yes, it has my approval. And I'm kind of rooting for them to be together. Mal is just such a sweet guy and obviously he's been through a lot, too.

The Darkling was something else. Part of me was pretty wary and maybe a tad scared of him but the other part of me loved him. I have issues, I know. He's definitely one of more complex characters and yeah, he kind of ripped my heart out. Actually, this book in general ripped my heart out. But damn it, I loved it all.

There were moments where I absolutely loved this book and then there were moments where I liked it less. It was almost a five star book but I just missed that little something extra. I can't quite put my finger on it what exactly it was, though. After the first 50% the story slowed down a little for me, to be honest. But aside from that it was all pretty great!

Complex world-building, excellent writing, great characters - Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo has it all. Aside from some little minor points, I loved it. And I can't wait to get my hands on the second book!

About the Author:

Leigh Bardugo is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm. She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently, makeup and special effects. These days, she’s lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.