Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday (#269): Mirage by Somaiya Daud


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


This week, I'm featuring:


Mirage by Somaiya Daud
Book Three of the Mirage series
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: August 28, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection...because one wrong move could lead to her death.



Doesn't this sound amazing? Science fiction for the win! It's a new one to me and I am really looking forward to reading it, hopefully sooner rather than later. =)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday (3)


Happy Tuesday! Today I've decided to participate in Top Ten Tuesday, formerly hosted by Jamie at The Broke and the Bookish, now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

Today's topic is: 

Books I’ve Decided I’m No Longer Interested In Reading

Here are ten YA books I'm 99% sure I'll never read!

King's Cage (Red Queen, #3)Of Neptune (The Syrena Legacy, #3)Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)
The Archived (The Archived, #1)  The Ship Beyond Time (The Girl From Everywhere, #2)Daughter of the Siren Queen (Daughter of the Pirate King, #2)
The True Queen (The Impostor Queen, #3)So Close to You (So Close to You, #1)
Like a River Glorious (The Gold Seer Trilogy, #2)

Bonus! Here are a few more:

Witch's Pyre (Worldwalker, #3)Infinite Risk (Immortal Game, #3)
Sea Spell (Waterfire Saga, #4)Obsidian and Stars (Ivory and Bone, #2)


Don't you love how most of these are conclusion novels? I am terrible at finishing series. But usually what happens is I see reviews of the conclusion novel and I decide not to bother because 75% of the time, the conclusion to a YA series is really bad. So it's not all my fault!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Review: Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey


Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: April 17, 2018
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Shy aspiring artist Imogene Chively has just had a successful Season in London, complete with a suitor of her father's approval. Imogene is ambivalent about the young gentleman until he comes to visit her at the Chively estate with his younger brother in tow. When her interest is piqued, however, it is for the wrong brother. 

Charming Ben Steeple has a secret: despite being an architectural apprentice, he has no drawing aptitude. When Imogene offers to teach him, Ben is soon smitten by the young lady he considers his brother's intended. 

But hiding their true feelings becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of "accidents," it becomes apparent that someone means Ben harm. And as their affection for each other grows—despite their efforts to remain just friends—so does the danger. . .

What I Liked:

It's no secret that I love Cindy Anstey's books! YA historical romance - how delightful! I am a huge adult historical romance junkie, and these YA HR novels are giving me LIFE. Suitors and Sabotage is Anstey's third YA HR standalone (all three books are unrelated, completely standalone novels and not companion novels), and it's safe to say that her books are all fun and swoony to read. I'm very excited about this new one being printed in hardcover! Anstey deserves this and more!

This story starts with Imogene's suitor Ernest Steeple arriving a day earlier than expected, with his younger brother Benjamin Steeple. Imogene is expected to accept Ernest's offer whenever the young man proposes, as he is her only suitor. She and Ernest barely know each other, hence why Ernest has arrived to visit. As Imogene gets to know Ernest, she realizes that she can't see herself sharing a life with the man. Instead, she sees Ben, the architecture apprentice, the charming, teasing young man who puts everyone at ease and makes all the ladies laugh. But someone is trying to sabotage Ben, and for what reason, Imogene and Ben can't understand. It's only a matter of time before something truly dangerous occurs... not unlike falling in love!

I was actually a little nervous about this one because I figured there would be a love triangle of some sort. But there really wasn't! Ernest is doing his duty in trying to find a wife, and the more Imogene gets to know him, the more she realizes that she would grow to like him... as a friend. There was never any competition or real "love triangle", because not once did Imogene develop feelings for Ernest, and Ernest, well, he wanted a wife but I'm not certain he specifically wanted Imogene. 

This type of romance is always tricky, involving two brothers and a woman. But I thought Anstey navigated it perfectly. I like forbidden romance but hate it when it involves two brothers. But this romance seemed to work; Imogene was never "unfaithful" to her suitor, but her feelings for Ben grew nonetheless. And Ben never betrayed his brother, but his own feelings grew.

As is Anstey's style, the romance was sweet, adorable, swoony, and very subtle. There weren't passionate kisses or steamy chemistry, but there was plenty of rising interest and subtle tension. Ben and Imogene clicked, and they began a solid friendship, which turned into more.

Ben is an upstanding gentleman, and Imogene is a kind and shy lady. Their personalities worked well together, especially with Ben being so lively and fun, and Imogene being a quiet dreamer. Ben is studying to be an architect and Imogene wants to teach art - their passions are not always looked kindly upon, but they follow their dreams nonetheless.

The story was full of charm, subtle swoon, and a little bit of mounting drama! The drama being all of the "incidents" that keep occurring, of which Ben was in the middle. Someone is trying to sabotage Ben and he ends up getting hurt several times. But why?

Also worth noting is how Anstey's books are always subtly feminist and in a very positive but not-in-your-face way. I love that Imogene wants to follow her dreams of being an art teacher - and I love how Ben acts like this is the most normal thing in the world (remember the time period), and he can see his life with her and both of their careers. This was fantastic!

All in all, this novel was a delight to read. I had nothing to be worried about, and I thoroughly enjoyed this historical fiction romp. The ending is perfectly lovely and definitely a HEA, so no worries there either. I am continuously impressed by Anstey!

What I Did Not Like:

I so wanted a bit of a romance for a certain character (you can guess who), but I suppose I can create one in my head. Not a huge complaint, but it would have been nice!

Would I Recommend It:

I highly recommend this book and any of Anstey's novels, if you like historical fiction/historical romance. Adult HR fans will LOVE this YA HR novel. It isn't full of kisses and chemistry and passion BUT it is a fun and sweet romance novel set in the 1800s. These books are simply lovely to read, and I can't get enough!

Rating:

4 stars. I cannot wait to read Carols and Chaos, Anstey's next YA HR novel! I'm excited that it will be publishing in September - a shorter turnaround than usual. Swoon Reads, please keep publishing Anstey's books! And keep up the good work with these A+++ covers.


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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Review: Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by Kerrelyn Sparks


Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by Kerrelyn Sparks
Book Three of The Embraced series
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the brilliant imagination of Kerrelyn Sparks comes a bold new fantasy romance series in which passion and magic collide. Behold the Embraced…

Gwennore has a talent. An Elf able to track down the cause of an illness and heal it, she’s a valuable asset to her people. But when the kidnapping of a young girl thrusts Gwennore into the very heart of the realm of the dragons, she discovers not only a place of power and magic, but also a haunted land, plagued by an ancient curse that all but ensures extinction to the royal family. But when she meets the smoldering General Silas Dravenko, they strike a bargain—save the country from its cursed illness, and he will return the kidnapped girl. She’s been raised never to trust a dragon, but never did making a deal with the devil feel so good…

Silas has no way of curing the family he’s loyally served for years. But when a beautiful elf, long considered the enemy of the dragons, comes bursting into his world, Silas is awakened to passion and desire in a way he’s never felt before. But can he trust a sworn enemy to save the very existence he holds dear? And can their love survive those that threaten to tear them apart? 

What I Liked:

This is one of those cases in which I'm like, I enjoyed this book buuuuuuuut... I also didn't really care for it. It was an okay read and not terrible but definitely not a new favorite or anything like that. I'm sure others will find this a great addition to the series. But I had a hard time really caring about the female protagonist, Gwenmore, and that can kill enjoyment pretty quickly.

But I didn't totally dislike her. Gwenmore is one of the five adopted sisters raised in a convent on a lonely island, and she is the third to leave and face her destiny. One afternoon when she is playing with her little niece, she is captured by a dragon - only to be rescued by another dragon. The dragon takes her to the royal family of Norveshka, where she is taken in by Silas Dravenko, general of the royal army. When he realizes that she is a healer, he asks for her help in getting rid of a curse that has stricken his country for generations. Gwenmore never intended to stay in Norveshka, but how can she leave when she has fallen in love with the charming, smoldering general?

Overall I thought Gwenmore was an okay protagonist, though she really got on my nerves at times (see below). I liked that she began to trust in herself as the story went on - and she began to trust Silas (something she doesn't do easily). It was good to see her grow into her gift and herself. She is an innocent girl, with a great deal of power.

I loooooooooved Silas. He is flirtatious and roguish, with a very strong sense of honor and selflessness. He never hesitates to save Gwenmore or anyone else, and always puts everyone else first. He may seem confident and full of swagger, but deep inside, he is lonely. I loved his charming self, but I also loved his more vulnerable self. He is persistent but respectful of boundaries. Silas is a good guy, and for the life of me, I wanted to strangle Gwenmore for being so poor to him sometimes.

I love all things dragons, and there is a nice amount of dragons in this story. I was curious to see how the author would work them in, and I was very happy about how she did it. Like you expect it, but it's still nice to see how it is worked in. The kingdom of Norveshka has a long and heartbreaking history, very much centered around its dragons. All of which is revealed in this book!

I adore Silas's officers, the male secondary characters! Dimitri and Aleksi are hilarious - honestly, the brotherhood in this book is awesome. They have such a great camaraderie, something I always like to see among males in any type of novel. I hope all of them get their own happily ever after!

The conflict of this book centers mostly around getting rid of the curse that plagues Norveshka - something sinister has been at work for centuries. Gwenmore is an extraordinary healer (she has interesting elvish gifts!), and she is confident that she can find the source of the curse. But there is a familiar evil standing in the way. 

The other part of the story is the romance, which was sweet and frustrating. I'll talk about the "frustrating" part in the next section. But for the most part, it was a sweet and sometimes spicy romance. I think I wanted more from the romance, but I also appreciated the progression of the romance and the tension. Mostly sparked by Silas, which was part of my frustration.

Theoretically I liked this book, but I finished it feeling rather dissatisfied, like something was missing. Or maybe I just wasn't that into it, like I was the other books. This wasn't a bad book, and I'm sure others will love it.

What I Did Not Like:

I got so fed up with Gwenmore around halfway through the book. You know the phrase "the lady doth protest too much"? Yeah. Gwenmore was seriously annoying. She rejected Silas over and over, despite the fact that internally she was telling herself to go for it, and physically she really wanted to in addition to mentally/emotionally, but she kept shutting doors in his face (literally) or running away (literally). This was not cute. This was not part of a merry chase. This was absolutely annoying, and also heartbreaking to see (on Silas's end).

You know what would have redeemed this crap? Silas, walking away from Gwenmore (rather than being the persistent guy that he is). And Gwenmore having to chase after him. That would have made her realize that a good man wanted her and he had no bad intentions when it came to her - and she was in the wrong by turning him down (knowing that she wanted to be with him, physically and emotionally). Gwenmore is kind of an idiot? I really wanted the ending of the book to have Silas leaving her after she rejects him one more time, and Gwenmore realizing that she's a complete dumba** and runs to him.

Does this happen? No. Of course not. Because Silas keeps trying to win her over - which is cool of him, but seriously? I don't love this. It's romantic but also kind of icky - men shouldn't be putting in all of the effort. The woman should be too (in this case we're dealing with a male/female couple), and Gwenmore didn't do any of this. She didn't fight for the relationship, she put no effort into it. Instead, it was all "omg Gwenmore is hot, I want her so much, I want to kiss her, I'm not going to stop trying to get her to admit she wants me, even though she keeps rejecting me", and then Gwenmore keeps rejecting him, until finally her hormones take over her common sense. Seriously? This is stupid. Gwenmore needed to put in some actual effort into the chemistry, and eventually the relationship. The chase wasn't fun because Gwenmore was so annoying with her constant rejections. She saw each one hurt his feelings and THAT made her sad, but she never did anything about it.

Authors. Do better. Let the girl chase. Get rid of this notion that a man should be the one doing all of the chasing. I like it sometimes, it works with some books, but really, let's not keep this up all the time. (I'm referring to M/F couples specifically, as is the case with this book.)

Would I Recommend It:

I recommend the series in general - the first two books are excellent. This one was okay for me but not super great, but I suppose I'd still recommend it to those who have read the previous books in the series. If you've read none of the series, definitely do not start with this one. Start with book one and go in order, even though they are standalone companion novels. The series will make more sense that way, and also I personally think this third book is the weakest of the three. But in general, this fantasy romance series is really good. The romances are sweet and passionate, the men are sweet, charming alphas, and the women are strong, innocent women. I like these match-ups!

Rating:

3 stars. I wish I'd liked this one more, especially since we're dealing with a dragon (mmm, fiery), and an elf (magical!). I was frustrated with Gwenmore and the romance. But I adored so many of the other characters, and the story in general was pretty good. I'm definitely going to be reading book four (and book five). I hope we'll see cameos of Silas and Gwenmore, as we saw a lot of Leo and Luciana (and heard about Rupert and Brigitta) in this book!


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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Stacking the Shelves (#269)


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!


So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, February 10th to Saturday, February 17th?


(all links to Goodreads are provided!)


In the mail:



It's here! The B&N exclusive edition. I already read this novella and loved it!





From Edelweiss:



I just featured this as a Waiting on Wednesday choice, so I'm quite pleased to see it on Edelweiss!


Reviews from this week:

(Click on the cover to go to my reviews!)


Favorite Instagram post from this week:

A post shared by Alyssa (@theeaterofbooks) on


This week was painfully busy at work but I got through it! I'm excited for this three-day weekend. It's supposed to snow and I'm not really interested in that so I hope it's not much. On to the next week!

Friday, February 16, 2018

My Favorite Swoons from YA Books

Hey friends! Today is yet another day in which I didn't feel like writing/posting a review, so I'm doing another favorites post! You can check out my favorite YA foreign editions posts HERE, favorite YA books (alphabet style) HERE, and favorite YA books with one-word titles HERE

In the spirit of Valentine's Day (week), here are some of my favorite swoons from YA books!

Note: this isn't a definitive list, as usual! You can see all of my Swoon Thursday posts HERE.


She pressed her lips to his, softly at first. His hands circled her waist, and he parted his legs, pulling her closer to him. His fingers slipped beneath her shirt, tracing the bare skin of her back, and it didn't matter that she had something to tell him, because she'd forgotten how to talk.

She climbed into his lap, letting her knees rest on either side of him. Her lips left his for a moment, and he leaned forward to catch them again.

She'd kissed him before. She'd kissed him in this bed before, even. But this was different. This was her body on fire, her brain turned to mush. This was nothing but him and the heat of his breath on her mouth.




"What are you doing to me, you plague of a girl?" he whispered.

"If I'm a plague, then you should keep your distance, unless you plan on being destroyed." The weapons still in her grasp, she shoved against his chest.

"No." His hands dropped to her waist. "Destroy me."

The bow and arrow clattered to the ground as he brought his mouth to hers.

And there was no turning back.

She was drowning in sandalwood and sunlight. Time ceased to be more than a notion. Her lips were hers one moment. And then they were his. The taste of him on her tongue was like sun-warmed honey. Like cool water sliding down her parched throat. Like the promise of all her tomorrows in a single sigh. When she wound her fingers in his hair to draw her body against his, he stilled for a breath, and she knew, as he knew, that they were lost. Lost forever.


Lightning flashed outside, bright and hot. They moved at the same time, his mouth meeting hers, hungry and gentle and warm. His chiaan [energy] poured into her, faster than before, and it fused with her own, twining through Nalia. She tried to resist it, didn't want to be this close to Raif, to be distracted from what she knew she had to do -

Raif leaned against the table next to them and pulled her closer, his kiss deepening until she didn't know what was her and what was him. The kiss lasted forever, and no time at all. It was the first experience Nalia had of feeling safe, truly safe, and for a while it didn't matter that this might be the last beautiful moment of her short life.




She smelled the clean, male scent of him, felt the rougher texture of his skin against her cheek, and drew a shaking breath. That pulse she had so brutally suppressed hammered into every part of her body, her fingers bunching with sensation. She found herself turning her face to meet his careful progress, her lips finding the soft curve of his mouth. They both paused, breath mingling, and then she felt the warm pressure of his tongue against her own, the taste of him, salt and wine, merging with the clean smell of his skin. It was startling and tender... and then it changed. Something wild crashed through her, a wave of throbbing energy that drove her up against his body, her fingers winding hard into the short crop of his hair. She felt him sway back, his breath catching into a gasp. She opened her eyes and saw the shock in his face flare into something more primal. She wrested him back to her mouth, any tenderness subsumed by animal need. He wrapped his arms around her, drawing her hard onto his chest, both of them locked into the dizzying sensation of their mouths and tongues and bodies pressed against each other. She felt as if she wanted to crawl into his skin, taste him, touch him, fill herself with him.


"Don't talk." I press a kiss to her throat, feeling her pulse racing beneath my lips, its rhythm confirming that her blood is rushing as fast as mine."

"Niklaas wait, I -"

I slip my hand from her hair, trapping her jaw between my fingers as I fit my mouth to hers, cutting her off with a kiss. She moans, a panicked sound that surprises me as it vibrates across my skin, but when I part my mouth, she parts hers, too, her lips gliding over mine with a ragged sigh. She doesn't pull away, and after a moment I regain the courage to angle my head, then rushing out, warming the whisper of space between her mouth and mine.

A whisper is too much.



So I didn't say anything else as I closed the last of the distance between us.

He said he would have torn the desert apart looking for me. And I felt in that kiss his desperation as his mouth found mine.

It wasn't enough with Jin; it was never enough. His hands were in the mess of my torn palace clothes, trying to find me under the too-heavy stitching and the weight of the gaudy khalat. One hand tangled into my hair, pulling away the delicate gold circlet that still clung there. He freed it from my hair, casting it aside, pulling pieces of the palace away from me, trying to return me to him.

It was like being caught in a wildfire, desperate for breath, like if we stopped we would extinguish. Without thinking, I pulled my hands away from his chest. It took one quick movement for my torn khalat to join his shirt in the heap on the groun, until I was waring nothing but the thin linen chemise underneath.


"Tell me you're real."

"I'm real," I whisper. "I'm still here. I can ask you more questions, if you'd like."

"Later," he says.

Then Kiaran's lips are on mine. Hard. Desperate. Like he can't get enough of me; like I'm going to disappear. As if at any moment, he's going to wake up from this dream and I'll be gone.

Kiaran kisses me like he's about to lose me all over again.

He isn't gentle. There's no softness, no hesitancy, no delicate touches. And I don't want kind. I don't want gentle. My desire is just as fierce, just as demanding. I grasp the back of his shirt, digging in toughly with my fingernails. More. I want more. I need this. I need him. I pull back only briefly to yank off my shirt, the rest of my clothes, his. Then it's Kiaran's skin against mine and we're both burning, kissing, biting, clawing. It's a physical urgency, a devouring need, a benediction of yes, now, more.


Her breath was so short she could hardly speak. She had one hand on his chest, the rhythm of it fast and hard beneath her palm. He was so beautiful, and so unsure, and she had never been more so.

"Sophia...," he whispered.

She slipped her other arm around his bruised neck and put her lips on the pulse at the case of his throat.

He made a noise somewhere deep in his chest, and then he had his mouth on hers, hard, holding her head still as she was pressed back, rattling the shelves, and then back again until she hit the wall. All at once she was boiling, frantic, trying to kiss him more, hold him closer with fistfuls of his shirt, pinned by his body to the painted plaster. He seemed to have forgotten his worries about noise. It was a long time before his lips broke away and he put his forehead against hers, breath coming fast.


He pushed me inside, kicked the door shut, and flung me back against it, his mouth hot and fervent on mine. I locked my arms around his neck, drowning in sensation. He felt warm, solid, and tough. His weight crushed me, delicious and real. I'd imagined this moment. I'd dreamed about it, but my imagination was a poor substitute for the real thing. My blood seemed to melt, pouring through me in throbbing surges and leaving me light-headed.

He ran his hand up my arm, and I quivered.

At my response, his arms, which had been braced on either side of my shoulders, tightened around me.

I hung my fingers on the waistband of his jeans, trying to balance myself. My knees felt slippery, weak. Desire washed over me, each new wave quicker and sharper. When my fingertips brushed the smooth skin where his jeans rode his hips, he shivered and kissed me harder. 


Juliana laughed lightly and opened her mouth to argue but Spencer was no longer hesitant. He placed his bandaged hand behind her head and drew her close. With his other hand, he gently tilted her chin and then slowly trailer his fingertips down the side of her neck, until his neck until his hand came to rest on her shoulder. He pulled her closer still, even as their lips touched.

It was a tender kiss at first. Their lips barely met. But the warmth of their shared breath, the press of their bodies and the heat pulsing between them lengthened the kiss and deepened it. Juliana grabbed tightly at Spencer's lapel.

She heard a soft moan and a hum of pleasure but had no idea which one of them made which sound. It didn't matter. Her eyes were closed, and the only things that existed in the world were Spencer's tender strength and the sense of intoxication rushing through her body, warming her all over. 



I post a new swoon every Thursday! You can read all of them by clicking the button below. There are many more good ones - these are just ten of my favorite!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Swoon Thursday (#264): The Bastard's Bargain by Katee Robert


- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting


This week, my swoon is from The Bastard's Bargain by Katee Robert!


She inhaled and exhaled slowly, trying to calm her racing heart. "I'm fine."

"I know." He slipped one hand along her jaw to guide her face up, and then he kissed her as if he'd done it a thousand times before. This wasn't the claim of ownership their last had been. He brushed his lips across hers one, twice, a third time, and then traced the seam of her mouth with his tongue. Asking.

She gave herself over to the kiss, to him, parting her lips even as she tucked her arms into his jacket to wrap around his waist.

- eARC, page 83



I'm almost finished with this book and so far I'm loving it! This series is one of my favorite adult romance series - I highly recommend all of the books. =)