Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #9

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Once, only her own life hung in the balance...

Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she'd survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands—and protect her relationship with Valek.

Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek's job—and his life—are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret—or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is—while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers.

Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous... 

Publication date:  February 24, 2015

Click to pre-order on Amazon

Click to view on Goodreads

Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: Since You've Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne

Read on December 28, 2014.

(Source:  I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

This was an extremely quick read. I was able to read the entire book in just a few hours. It was very fast-paced, and there were few dull moments. That being said, it didn't seem like much actually happened.

Edie and her mother have been moving from place to place for the past five years. Every time Edie thinks they might be able to settle down, her abusive father finds them, and they have to run again. Her mother decides to move from Canada to London, thinking that would be enough for her father to lose their trail.

Starting a new school is tough enough, but add in the fact that Edie has an accent and doesn't really understand some of the phrases and customs, and it goes downhill quickly. She is bullied on her first day, and her homeroom teacher seems to already dislike her. To make matters worse, her mother never returns home after her first shift at her new job. Edie is sure her father has something to do with it, and is determined to find her before it's too late.

I struggled with rating this one. It definitely wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't amazing, either. The plot was promising, and while it was intriguing, I never felt like it lived up to its potential. It was well-written, however, and while the characters weren't flat, they could have been fleshed out just a little more. I think I would have enjoyed this more if it had been a little longer. It felt rushed at the end, and I think even a few more chapters would have helped the characters.

In conclusion, I feel this was a very promising book that just fell a little short. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Review: Real Santa by William Hazelgrove

 Read from December 9th to 11th, 2014.

(Source:  I received a copy of this book from eBooks for Review in exchange for an honest review.)

While the premise of the book sounded promising, the execution of it was less than stellar.  I wanted to read a nice Christmas book during the holidays, and this one seemed like it would be perfect.  It sounded like a sweet, feel-good novel about a man trying to keep his daughter's belief in Santa Claus alive.  And while that is what the book is about, it was just so far-fetched that none of it seemed plausible.  I feel like a Scrooge for rating this so low, especially after seeing all the wonderful reviews it has received on Goodreads, but sometimes a book just isn't a good fit for every reader.  

George Kronenfeldt loses his job two weeks before Christmas, and then finds out that his 9-year old daughter is doubting the existence of Santa Claus.  Since he now has a lot of free time, he decides that he'll do whatever he has to do to ensure that she doesn't stop believing.  This includes dressing up as Santa and actually climbing up on the roof with a sleigh and live reindeer on Christmas Eve.  While I can definitely appreciate wanting to do everything you can for your children, the length to which George takes it is just a little extreme.  It seemed very unrealistic that a man who has recently lost his job would spend every bit of his savings and take out a loan just to make his daughter believe in Santa.  $60,000 is quite a bit of money, especially when you're currently unemployed.  Surely there was a cheaper way to try to keep Megan's belief alive.  

Also, all of the characters seemed to be melodramatic, especially Megan's teacher, who absolutely hates Christmas and Santa Claus.  We've all had that teacher who was just a little too "mean", but I never had a teacher so determined to make kids stop believing in Santa.  While I understand that novels need a "villain", she was just a little too over-the-top for me.  

I know it sounds like I hated the book, but it wasn't all bad.  As I said, I do understand wanting to do whatever you can to make your children happy, so the point of the story isn't unrealistic.  There were also a few funny moments throughout the book, and the ending was a bit touching, if a little rushed.  

Rating (out of five stars):

Click to view on Amazon

William Hazelgrove's website

Review: Loving Lucianna by Joyce DiPastena

Read from November 18 to 23, 2014.

(Source:  I received a copy of this book from eBooks for Review in exchange for an honest review.)

Sir Balduin has fallen in love with Lucianna and has asked her to marry him, but Lucianna has a secret that threatens to keep her from happiness.   Will she be able to overcome her past and the threats of her brother in order to live happily with Sir Balduin? 

Loving Lucianna  is a very sweet romance that takes place in Venice and France during medieval times, and focuses on Sir Balduin and Lucianna as they find love during the "autumn of their years."  A unique trait of this novel is that it has characters of a more "mature" age, rather than the young heroes and heroines that most historical romance novels feature. 

I really enjoyed reading this, and found myself hoping that Lucianna would overcome the difficulties of her past, and let herself be loved by Sir Balduin.  There were times when I was frustrated with her, but I eventually understood why she was acting the way she was, and it made me more sympathetic to her plight.

This was a very clean read, and I would recommend it to readers who love sweet historical romances.

Rating (out of five stars):

Click to view on Amazon

Joyce DiPastena's website

Friday, December 26, 2014

More 2015 Challenges

After I published my 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge post, I found a couple of other challenges that I'd also like to try this year.  I've never participated in any book blog challenges before, so I'm not sure how successful I will be, but I'm going to give them a chance.  There were several challenges that sounded interesting, but I decided that three would be my limit for now.  In addition to the TBR Pile challenge, I'm also going to participate in the Outlander Series Challenge, and the Re-Read Challenge.  Both of these will be ideal for me because I've been wanting to finish the Outlander series for a while now, and I am itching to re-read some of my favorite books!

The 2015 Re-Read Challenge 

Click here to sign up for the Re-Read Challenge!

I'm going to start the Re-Read Challenge by re-reading one of my absolute favorite series - Harry Potter!  I had already planned to start that on January 1st, so it's perfect timing.  I'm not yet sure what other books I will re-read this year, but I do think I'll include The Lord of the Rings and Little Women.  I'm going to set my goal as 20 books. 

The 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

I hope each of you had a wonderful Christmas!  I got a little behind on my reviewing and posting during the holidays, but now that Christmas is over, I'm hoping to start posting more often.  I never meant to stop completely during the holidays, but I took a break during Thanksgiving week, and then got the flu the following week.  After that I was just so busy with holiday preparations and recovering from the flu that I didn't have the energy to review any books or write up any posts.  I did read a lot of books during that time, though, so I have plenty of books to review and share in 2015.  :)

To help kick-start my posts for the new year, I've decided to join the 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge!


How many books are you planning to read for this challenge?
1-10 A Firm Handshake
11-20 A Friendly Hug
21-30 First Kiss
31-40 Sweet Summer Fling
41-50 Could This Be Love?
50+ Married with Children
To be honest, I could probably complete the 50+ challenge, but I think I'll aim for the 11-20 level.  I have SO many books on my shelves that have been sitting there for years, and I really should go ahead and read them.  This challenge could be the perfect solution.  

It's hard to belive that 2014 is almost at an end, but I'm really looking forward to becoming a more active book blogger in 2015.  

Monday, December 22, 2014

Review: Shopaholic on Honeymoon by Sophie Kinsella

Read on December 21, 2014.

(Source:  Free from Amazon)

This is a cute little short story about an incident that took place during Luke and Becky's honeymoon. It's classic Shopaholic fare, focusing on Becky's love of shopping and her habit of getting into bizarre predicaments.

While it doesn't add anything new to the series, it's a quick read that fans of Sophie Kinsella will enjoy. 

 Rating (out of five stars): 

Click to view this book on Amazon

Sophie Kinsella's website

Monday, December 1, 2014

Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

 Read from November 03 to 07, 2014.

(Source:  A very special thank you to Caitlin at Royal Social Media for giving me a copy of the e-book!)

First of all, I just have to say that the cover is stunning. Also, the quote on the cover of the book is correct - this is definitely not your grandmother's Nutcracker tale.

Winterspell wasn't at all what I expected when I began reading it. Even though I've seen the ballet, I wasn't familiar enough with the story of the Nutcracker to really be able to catch all the bits that tied in to this retelling.

The book is dark and gritty, and filled with magic, peril, and hope. It is a time of danger and corruption, and Clara is at the center of it all. There's also more to her peculiar Godfather than meets the eye. On Christmas Eve, Clara's feeble sense of safety is shattered, and she is faced with a decision: follow her beloved statue, who has only recently come to life, or listen to her Godfather. Her choice leads her to a land that is even more perilous and corrupt than the one she left behind.

I had a really hard time rating and reviewing this book. I think it's harder to review a book when there's no strong feeling tied to it. I liked it, but I didn't love it. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great, either, and I've struggled to try to get my thoughts out. It started out pretty strong, but it slowly started to unravel as I read more of it. Some of the characters were a bit flat, and I had absolutely no attachment to most of them. A couple of the main characters were intriguing and fleshed out a little more, but I don't think we really got to know them as well as we could have, and that was a bit of a disappointment.

The author did a good job of never letting me feel comfortable while reading. The danger and uncertainty that Clara felt was palpable all the way through the book. Though some of the scenes with Anise seemed a bit odd and out of place, I understood what the author was trying to convey with them. I thought Anise was one of the more interesting characters, and would have liked to learn more about her.

*Possible spoiler*: However, the final battle scene between Clara and Anise seemed lacking, and was quickly finished. It was a little anti-climatic, and I felt as thought the outcome was only decided by accident. [/end spoiler]

Even though this wasn't my favorite book, I still thought it was very well-written. It has a little of everything: magic, romance, battle, conflict, faeries, with a bit of clockwork and steampunk mixed in.

Rating (out of five stars):  

Click to view this book on Amazon

Claire Legrand's website