Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: June 5, 2012

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 fulfill 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.

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My Thoughts:

I really liked Shadow and Bone! I thought it was a great story, but I had one issue with it. I have thought about this book all day long and I am still not over the major twist in this novel. When it happened I literally was like “Nooooooooo!!!” and I kept thinking throughout the rest of the book that somehow, someway this was just one big joke. It wasn’t though. I’m so upset about it. I really thought this book was going one way and then BAM! It just completely changes directions.

Despite me being upset about that, this really was a good book. I was hooked on the story from page one. I absolutely loved the world Leigh Bardugo created and how she describes everything.

Alina starts off as a scrawny insecure girl. I got upset with her character a few times because she was so hard on herself. She was always comparing herself to the other Grisha’s and she didn’t think she was as good or as pretty as they were which wasn’t the case. As the story goes on she finally gains some confidence, starts training really hard, and turns into a pretty kick ass heroine.

One of my favorite characters was actually Genya, Alina’s only friend while she was at the Little Palace. Genya was awesome and I just loved her ability to change the way people looked. I wish she could fix me up all pretty! My absolute favorite character though was The Darkling. I just found him so fascinating. He was so dark and mysterious; I wanted to know everything there was to know about him. Plus, he was nine kinds of hot.

Overall, I thought was a great fantasy novel and I will definitely be buying Siege and Storm to see how this story continues.

My Rating:

4/5 Stars

Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection

Title: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass
Release Date: April 24, 2012

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

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My Thoughts:

When I heard someone describe this book as being similar to the television show, The Bachelor, I was sold. I had to read it. Plus, I’m a sucker for a pretty cover and this one is just absolutely breathtaking.

When I say I couldn’t put this book down. I’m serious. I think the only break I took while reading was to fix my children dinner and the entire time all I could think about was how much I wanted to go finish reading this story. It was so good! Whoever said this book was like The Bachelor was right, there was thirty-five girls competing for the prince’s heart. I loved the concept of this book, I have never read anything like it and I loved that.

The whole story focuses on a girl named America. She was from a lower caste, so she had a pretty tough upbringing. I thought she was a down to earth girl, and I can definitely see young girls relating to her. I liked her a whole lot, but I did get frustrated with her a few times because I didn’t like how hung up she was on Aspen, her first love, especially after he broke her heart. I’m team Maxon all the way. I loved the prince! If I had been in her shoes, I would have been all over him from the moment she met him that first night out in the garden.

I would definitely recommend reading this book. It was such a fun read! After finishing it, I immediately bought the second book because I could not wait to see what happens next.

My Rating:

5/5 Stars

{Review & Giveaway} Derailed by Alyssa Rose Ivy Blog Tour

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Derailed by Alyssa Rose Ivy
Genre: New Adult Contemporary – Release Date: 9/23/12
When you’re lost, sometimes the only place you can go is home.

Broken over the death of her fiancé, Molly leaves law school to return to her childhood home in North Carolina. Expecting to lay low until she can figure out what else to do with her life, she finds herself in the arms of her high school sweetheart, the boy who represents everything from the past she tried to leave behind.

Looking for an escape, she instead finds a way back to the girl she almost forgot existed and a future she never dreamed possible.


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~ Book Trailer ~


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My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed reading Derailed. I thought it was a wonderful love story. It was sweet and romantic, but it was also a bit of a tear jerker too, so be prepared!

I felt so bad for Molly. She experienced so many terrible things and she was just so lost, but a good thing though is that she had a lot of good friends to lean on when she moved back home. I adored Molly’s best friend, Kelly. She was awesome, I liked how she was always looking out for her. I also really liked Ben. I thought he was a great match for Molly, sparks were flying when these two were together! I didn’t like how possessive he was of Molly though, it has always annoyed me when a guy acts like that, but other than that I thought Ben was a great guy.

Overall, I thought this was a great story! It was the second book I have read by this author and it will definitely not be the last. Alyssa Rose Ivy is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors!

My Rating:
5/5 Stars
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About The Author:

Alyssa Rose Ivy is a Young Adult and New Adult author who loves to weave stories with romance and a southern setting. Although raised in the New York area, she fell in love with the South after moving to New Orleans for college. After years as a perpetual student, she turned back to her creative side and decided to write. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and two young children, and she can usually be found with a cup of coffee in her hand.
 

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~ Giveaway ~

(1) Print set of Derailed and Veer *Open Int.*
(5) Ebook copies of Derailed *Open Int.*
 

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WinterHaven Sleigh Tour Book Review: Snowed Over by Angie Stanton

 Today I’m so excited to join the WinterHaven Sleigh Tour hosted by WinterHaven Books. This week, we are posting our choice of a Winter Book Review. To see who else is on the sleigh, go to WinterHaven Sleigh Tour for a list of participating blogs.
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Snowed Over by Angie Stanton
Genre: New Adult Contemporary – Release Date: 10/12/12
 To college student, Katie Brandt, ‘Home for the Holidays’ sounds like hell. When her parents separated, their holiday traditions shattered like a dropped ornament. What could be worse than celebrating Christmas with her suddenly single mom and mom’s new boyfriend?

Alex Walker, an engaged 20-year-old, dreads going home for his own reasons. He has a daunting task ahead of him and wishes he could skip the holidays altogether. So when a friend of a friend needs a ride north, Alex finds that having beautiful Katie seated by his side proves to be just the distraction he needs.

A simple ride home for Christmas turns into a nightmare when light snow rages into a full-scale blizzard. Katie and Alex find themselves stranded, and a vacant cabin becomes a haven from the storm.
Under different circumstances, time alone with Alex would be the ultimate Christmas gift, but Katie knows Alex is engaged and she must hide her growing attraction.

However, Alex harbors a secret that just might change this holiday from the worst Christmas ever, to the best.

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My Thoughts:
This novella really got me in the mood for Christmas time. It’s one of those stories you want to read while snuggled up on the couch on a cold winter day.

Alex and Katie were both great characters. I thought Alex was really sweet and I loved how protective he was of Katie. He was constantly looking out for her. I thought Katie was cool and that she was easy to relate to. I’ll admit though I was a little jealous of her character. I would have loved to have traded places with her. Who wouldn’t want to be stuck in a cabin with a hot guy during a blizzard? I know I wouldn’t mind it! 🙂

I thought this was such a good story! There was a little bit of drama and the romance aspect was really sweet. I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun, cute read!

My Rating:
4/5 Stars
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~ Giveaway ~
 As part of the festivities, WinterHaven Books is hosting an international give-away that will include a copy of Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (Signed by Levithan and Cohn) and a copy of Let it Snow to four lucky winners. Good luck and happy holidays!
 

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{Review & Giveaway} The Dirt by Lori Culwell Blog Tour

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The Dirt by Lori Culwell
Genre: YA Contemporary/Chick Lit – Release Date: Nov. 2011
Lucy Whitley cannot wait to get out of Palm Desert. It’s not a place for a frizzy-haired science nerd, particularly when her fashion-obsessed older sister Sloane is the head of a clique of pretty girls who rule the school—and practically the whole town.Fortunately, life is about to change forever. Lucy’s dad is getting re-married, and then she can transfer to a boarding school in Connecticut, escaping all the mean girls and the endless whispers about the Whitley family scandal. Everything is going to be perfect—as long as the wedding goes smoothly.

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My Thoughts:

I love contemporary young adult novels, so I figured I would enjoy reading The Dirt and I was right. The Dirt was girly, it was fun, and it was just an all around good read. I’ll admit though at first I wasn’t sold on the story, but the more I read the more I liked it.

One thing I really liked about this story were that the characters were easy to relate to. My favorite character was Lucy, I thought she had a great personality and I liked that this story was told from her point of view. I could not stand Sloane’s character though, she was so snobby! I don’t like pretty girls who think they are better than everyone else.

Overall, I thought this was a very entertaining read. If you like girly books that are filled with drama and secrets, you should definitely check this one out!


My Rating:

4/5 Stars

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Places to find Lori:


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~ Giveaway ~

5 Paperback copies of The Dirt (US Only)
12 Ecopies of The Dirt (Open International)

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{Book Spotlight & Review} The Doorknob Society by MJ Fletcher

Starting today, November 26th, The Doorknob Society by MJ Fletcher will be FREE on Amazon thru November 28th! This is one of my absolute favorite series! If you haven’t read it yet, you should definitely check it out! 🙂
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About The Book:
The Doorknob Society by MJ Fletcher
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Steampunk/Paranormal – Release Date: 2/9/12
Chloe Masters’s world changed in a heartbeat – and all she did was touch a doorknob.

When she was young Chloe’s mother vanished. Wracked by feelings of abandonment and anger she lost herself traveling with her father’s magic act, where illusions were part of her everyday life. Yet everything changes when they are pursued by a mysterious man in black out to kill her father. Touching a doorknob activates abilities she never knew she had and she finds herself thrust into a world of ancient societies and secrets.

When her father disappears it is a race against time to find answers before she loses what is left of her family. Now Chloe must choose who to trust, the man who will do anything for her or the one she can’t stop thinking about.



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~ My Review ~
I absolutely loved The Doorknob Society! Once I started reading it I had hard time setting it down. It was fast-paced, action packed, and it also had a great storyline!

I thought the author created such a fascinating world in this book! I was intrigued by all the different societies and I really enjoyed learning about each of them.

One of my favorite things about this book was the wonderful cast of characters! Not only was Chloe awesome, but so were all of her friends. I loved Nightshade! He was by far my favorite character and I also really liked Edgar too! He made me laugh!

The only thing I didn’t like about this story was the relationship between Chloe and Slade, I just wasn’t feeling it. I thought Slade was a nice guy and I liked how he was always looking out for Chloe, but I just didn’t really care for them as a couple.

Overall, I thought this was a great read and I can’t wait to start the next book in this series!

~ My Rating ~
4.5/5 Stars 

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You can also check out my review for Book #2, The Impossible Engineers, here!

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~ Book Trailer ~

{Book Review, Author Interview, & Giveaway} Flappers, Flasks, and Foul Play by Ellen Mansoor Collier


Flappers, Flasks, and Foul Play by Ellen Mansoor Collier
Genre: New Adult “Jazz Age” Mystery – Release Date: July 1st, 2012

“Boardwalk Empire” meets “The Great Gatsby” in this soft-boiled historical mystery, inspired by actual events. Rival gangs fight over booze and bars during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston: the “Sin City of the Southwest.” Jazz Cross, a 21-year-old society reporter, feels caught between two clashing cultures: the seedy speakeasy underworld and the snooty social circles she covers in the Galveston Gazette.

During a night out with her best friend, Jazz witnesses a bar fight at the Oasis–a speakeasy secretly owned by her black-sheep half-brother, Sammy Cook. But when a big-shot banker with a hidden past collapses there and later dies, she suspects foul play. Was it an accident or a mob hit?

Soon handsome young Prohibition Agent James Burton raids the Oasis, threatening to shut it down if Sammy doesn’t talk. Suspicious, he pursues Jazz but, despite her mixed feelings, she refuses to rat on Sammy. As turf wars escalate between two real-life Galveston gangs, Sammy is accused of murder. Jazz must risk her life and career to find the killer, exposing the dark side of Galveston’s glittering society.

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~ Excerpt ~
Why in the world was Agent Burton here? Everyone stopped working to watch him make his grand entrance. People don’t usually parade around in a newsroom: They sort of shuffle or stumble or stomp—unless a story’s really hot, then they’ll run. I felt like running away too, but I stayed glued to my chair, pretending to work, my heart racing. What did he want from me?

Burton seemed to enjoy the attention as he headed my way. He was hard to ignore: Standing before me, all six feet-plus of golden skin and hair, he towered over my desk. Looking up, I noticed the curious eyes watching us in the too-quiet newsroom. The reporters stopped typing, fingers poised over keys, hoping for a scoop. My boss stared with unabashed interest.

“To what do I owe this disturbance?” I adjusted my cloche, acting nonchalant.

He grinned at me, then looked around the suddenly still office. “I need to ask you a few questions. Can we go somewhere private?”

“What do you want?” I put on a brave face so the newsboys wouldn’t see me sweat.

Burton scanned the hushed room. “You really want to discuss it here, out in public?”

He had a point. Did I want the whole staff listening in on my private conversation? He probably wanted to discuss Sammy, who was no one else’s business.

“Let’s go outside,” I agreed. Head down, I followed him past a leering Hank, feeling like a naughty kid going to the principal’s office.

Nathan entered the newsroom, a camera slung over his shoulder, stopping to stare at Burton. “Jazz, is everything jake?”

“Everything’s berries.” I smiled to pacify him but, I admit, I had the jitters.

“I remember him. Your boyfriend?” Burton seemed amused.

“He’s the staff photographer.” I ignored his crack. “And a good friend.”

Outside, I felt safe among the throng of people and automobiles passing by in a rush. The hustle and bustle of the streets and sidewalks seemed almost comforting. I looked around for Golliwog, our resident stray cat, but she must have been making her daily rounds for scraps.

“How was lunch?” In broad daylight, Burton didn’t seem quite as menacing or intimidating. Besides, a group of hard-boiled reporters peered out the newsroom, spying on us.

“Fine.” I covered my growling stomach. “What brings you here?”

“Sorry to barge in that way.” He smiled, tugging on his hat. “But I had to get your attention. You wouldn’t give me the time of day the other night.”

“Can you blame me? A raid isn’t exactly the best way to meet new people.”

“I think we got off on the wrong foot.” He stuck his hands in his pockets, jingling some change. “Perhaps we can talk over dinner, instead of standing out here on the sidewalk?”

“Dinner?” Was he serious? “Just like that?” I snapped my fingers. “You waltz in as if you owned the place—like you did at the Oasis—and expect me to dine out with you, a total stranger, because of your badge? You’ve got a lot of nerve, mister.”

“I wouldn’t be a Prohibition agent if I didn’t.” He looked smug. “How about tonight?”

“Tonight? I usually work late.” I admit, I was curious. What did he really want?

“Every night?” He raised his brows. “Don’t they let you off for good behavior?”

“For starters, I don’t even know you and what I do know, I don’t like at all.” I squinted in the sun. “And I don’t appreciate the way you bullied us at the Oasis. I thought people were innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.” I wasn’t usually so bold and blunt with strangers, especially lawmen. Maybe it was his youth, or maybe I’d finally found my moxie.

“You must mean Sammy. Fair enough.” He held up his hands. “If it makes you feel any better, my gun wasn’t loaded that night.”

“Small comfort now, after you scared everyone half to death.” So it was all an act?

Burton looked down at his boots, as if reconsidering his options. “I hoped you could get to know me over dinner, but how about a quick bite now? I haven’t eaten.”

“Why not?” I nodded, not wanting to let on that I was famished. Burton stopped at a sandwich vendor on the corner, and tried to pay for my lunch and Nehi, but I pulled out a quarter before he did. It wasn’t a date!

“Where can we talk, in private?” He motioned towards the newsroom. “Away from prying eyes and ears.”

      Anxious, I led him towards a city park and we sat on opposite ends of a bench, clutching my handbag like a barricade, keeping my distance. “So what’s the emergency? Why did you come by today, out of the blue? I hope I’m not under arrest!” I half-joked. 
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~ Author This or That Interview ~
 
1. Print Books or Ebooks? Both at different times—ebooks for traveling, print books for home.

2. Comedy or Drama? Comedy I think we live in such stressful times, we all need to laugh more.

3. Romance or Horror? Definitely romance, but I prefer romantic suspense and mysteries. I grew up reading the old Mary Stewart and Phyllis Whitney suspense novels from my Mom. I’m too wimpy to read or watch horror!
4. Summer or Winter? Winter since I live in hot and humid Texas, and our winters are like most of the country’s summers. Spring and Fall are my favorite seasons—I love to see the bluebonnets in Spring and watch the trees change in Fall! 
5. Ocean or Mountains? Ocean—I grew up going to Galveston. But I also love forests and wooded areas. I like mountains, but from a distance.

6. Cupcakes or Cookies? Chunky chocolate chip cookies (even better with pecans)

7. Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate? I love all chocolate but dark is my favorite.

8. Go Out or Stay In? I’m kinda hyper so I love to go out, but I need a good reason to fight traffic.

9. Texting or Calling? I still like to call people, but it depends on the news.

10. Morning Person or Night Owl? Definitely a night owl—late night is a great time to write. I’m cranky in the a.m. so stay away! lol
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~ About The Author ~


Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer whose articles and essays have been published in several national magazines including: FAMILY CIRCLE, MODERN BRIDE, GLAMOUR, BIOGRAPHY, COSMOPOLITAN, COUNTRY ACCENTS, PLAYGIRL, etc. Several of her short stories have appeared in WOMAN’S WORLD.

A flapper at heart, she’s the owner of DECODAME, specializing in Deco to retro vintage items (www.art-decodame.com). Formerly she’s worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising sales and public relations. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism. During college, she once worked as a cocktail waitress, a short-lived experience since she was clueless about cocktails. FLAPPERS, FLASKS AND FOUL PLAY is her first novel, and she’s currently working on the sequel.

“When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past until I began doing research, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s. Finally I had to stop researching and start writing, trying to imagine a flapper’s life in Galveston during Prohibition.”

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~ My Thoughts ~

 Flappers, Flasks, and Foul Play was such a fun read. Filled with murder and mystery, I had hard time setting this book down!

I adored all the different characters in this book. I thought Jazz was a great main character, she was really easy to relate to and she also had a wonderful personality. Another character I liked a whole lot was Nathan. I thought he was sweet and charming, and was just a really good friend to Jazz.

One of my favorite things about this book was the setting. I loved that it was set in the 1920’s in Galveston, Texas. I like reading about places that I have actually been to and I’ve visited Galveston before. Another thing I really liked about this book was how much detail the author put into everything. I could clearly picture everything she was describing in my mind. I also have to add that I loved the way everyone talked.

Overall, I thought this was a wonderful read and I will most certainly be reading this author’s next book.

My Rating:

5/5 Stars

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~ Giveaway ~

Enter to win an ecopy of Flappers, Flasks, and Foul Play!

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