Monday, April 27, 2015

Review: Transformed by E. V. Fairfall

 Read from March 31st - April 3, 2015.  

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

Transformed is a very original novel set in modern times, though the heroine has been alive for centuries.  Thea, as Mother Nature, usually takes the form of a deer, and spends her time saving the lives of other animals that hunters try to kill.  She sacrifices herself for them, and then comes back to life in a different place so she can do it all again.  After waking up in the same place several times in a row, Thea begins to think there may be a reason she keeps ending up in the same forest, and begins a quest to figure it out.  

I really enjoyed the author's writing style, as well as the original story.  The characters were well-written, and I thought the plot twist was clever and believable.  Sometimes I have problems with epilogues, but I actually really liked this one.  My only issue with it is that it ended!  I would definitely be interested in reading a sequel (just based off the epilogue).  

It started out a little slow, and felt a bit rushed at the end, but those were minor flaws.  In short, I really enjoyed reading about Thea's journey.  

Rating (out of five stars):

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E. V. Fairfall's website

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-Thon, Update #2

Today is going by so quickly!  I just finished up Cress, and I loved it!  As I mentioned in my previous update, I wasn't really a fan of Cinder, and though I liked Scarlet a little more than Cinder, it wasn't destined to become a favorite.  But Cress made me understand why so many people really love this series. 

Time for the Mid-Event Survey!

1. What are you reading right now?  I'm about to continue reading Digging for Richard III: The Search for the Lost King by Mike Pitts.

2. How many books have you read so far?  Just one.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?  I think I'm going to read All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven after I finish Digging for Richard III.  I've wanted to read it for a while, so I'm pretty excited to get started!

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?  Not very many.  I stopped for breakfast and lunch, and then for a couple of breaks to check the Read-a-Thon website, as well as to post these updates.  I also talked to my mom for a few minutes.  I wouldn't really call them interruptions, though, as I chose to stop reading to do those things.  I think it's good to take a break every now and then, especially as my eyes get tired easily.  If I over-exert them by reading constantly for 24 hours, I won't make it much longer.  :)

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?  No surprises, really.  I just think it's amazing to know that so many people around the world are participating in this event. 

I think I'm going to get something to eat, and then back to reading!  Thanks to everyone who has commented on my blog today! 

Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-Thon, Update #1

Hi everyone!  I thought I'd post a quick update on my read-a-thon stats so far. 

I didn't get started until 9:15 as I wanted to sleep a little later this morning.  After getting up at 5:00 every weekday morning, I look forward to sleeping a little later on Saturday.  ;)  Plus, I was awake at 3:30 this morning due to a storm that woke me up, and I didn't fall asleep again until close to 5:00, so I needed to make up for those couple of hours. :) So, anyway, I started at 9:15 and took a break at 10:00 so I could get some breakfast, and then read until 12:00.  I decided to take about a 30-minute break to walk around and post this update, then it's back to reading.

I'm actually very excited about this read-a-thon, because this is probably the first time that I've planned on reading for the whole day.  In the past, something has always come up - usually family plans - and I always feel weird telling someone I can't go somewhere because I have to read all day.  While it isn't strange to me, it is strange to friends and family.  Unfortunately.  :P  I had a brief scare last night when a family friend said she was going to ask me to go thrift-store shopping with her today (Yay for cheap, new books!), but changed her mind due to the chance of severe weather for this afternoon.  I'm sure my thoughts were all over my face:  "No, I can't go shopping for new books tomorrow, I have to read!  Oh, you don't want to go tomorrow?  YAY!  We can totally make plans to go another day!"  From terror to relief in fifteen seconds flat.
My first book of the day is Cress by Marissa Meyer.  I actually started it yesterday, but I'm planning to finish it up today.  I remember not really being a fan of Cinder when I first read it, but I enjoyed Scarlet a little more and was excited to start Cress.  I haven't been disappointed so far.  I really like the character of Cress and her growing relationship with Thorne.  I can't wait to find out what happens, and I'm already looking forward to Winter!  I'm currently at 45%, so hopefully I will have made a lot of progress before my next update!

Good luck to everyone participating in the read-a-thon!  Feel free to leave a link to your read-a-thon posts, and I'll be sure to stop by and leave some encouragement!  :)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Eternal Sacrifice: Cover Reveal and Contest

If you're new to the Mortal Enchantment series, this is the BEST TIME to check it out! 

THE SHADOW PRINCE & MORTAL ENCHANTMENT are currently available for FREE on Amazon from April 24th through April 28th.  According to the author, this is the ONE AND ONLY TIME she will do this, so pick up your copies NOW!

And now, here is the cover of the last book in the series, ETERNAL SACRIFICE!
Drum roll, please...

As promised, here is the Gift Card CONTEST!

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: Loving Helen (A Hearthfire Romance) by Michele Paige Holmes

Read from April 20th - 22nd, 2015.

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

From Goodreads:  From Amazon Top 100 Regency Romance author, Michele Paige Holmes, comes LOVING HELEN, a regency romance from the Hearthfire Romance series. Revisit the characters from SAVING GRACE in this story of Grace’s shy, younger sister.

Eighteen-year-old Helen Thatcher grew up under the protection of her older siblings, Grace and Christopher. Living in their shadows and keeping to herself suited Helen just fine—until she met widower Samuel Preston. Watching Mr. Preston care for his young daughter and seeing his concern extend to her own family, Helen felt her reserve slipping away, as she learned first to trust him and then realized she had fallen in love with him. But instead of returning—or even noticing her affection—Mr. Preston developed his own tender, and unrequited feelings, for Grace.

In the midst of each silently nursing their broken hearts, Helen and Samuel are faced with a daunting task—reuniting Grace with her fiancĂ©, Nicholas Sutherland. Now it is Helen who must look out for her sister and sacrifice her own fragile heart, as she and Samuel pretend to be engaged. Helen finds the role surprisingly easy to play, allowing herself to imagine that Samuel’s loving remarks are sincere. As the time for their charade to end draws near, Helen must summon her courage and tell Samuel the truth of her feelings, or risk losing him forever.

Loving Helen is a charming companion novel to Saving Grace.  Set in the Regency era, it is basically the same story as Saving Grace, but told from Helen's perspective rather than Grace's.  I really enjoyed getting both sides of the story, and I thought it tied everything together nicely.  

I could relate to Helen and her aversion to being around people until she was more comfortable with them, as I deal with the same problem.  The author included a few wise words of advice - via her characters - and I definitely took them to heart.  

Loving Helen is such a sweet, clean romance, and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, which is supposed to be released this summer. While Loving Helen can be read as a standalone, I would suggest reading Saving Grace first.  If you enjoy clean Regency-era romances, I would highly recommend this series.  

Rating (out of five stars):

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: Once by Anna Carey

Read from March 13th - 18th, 2015.

(Source: Purchased.)

I struggled with rating Eve, and I'm having the same problem with Once.  It's not that they are bad books, which is why I gave them both three stars, but I just do not like most of the characters.  That makes it really hard to love a book.  I do enjoy the author's writing style - she does an excellent job of describing characters and places.  But while she provides a clear picture of most characters, it doesn't make me like them. 

I liked Caleb in the last book, but it was like he lost all common sense in this one.  Eve was about the same as in the first book - still incredibly naive and stupid, without any real growth.  Part of me wants to think she's brave, but the other part of me thinks it's just stupidity.  I can't go into much detail without giving away important plot twists, but one of her redeeming qualities is that she will risk her life to save the ones she loves.  But, again, I'm not sure if she's being brave or just hasn't given any thought to the danger.  

One thing that I do have to say about this series is that the plot twists come out of nowhere.  I can usually guess what's going to happen, and while some of it was predictable, I was very surprised a couple of times.  I always enjoy being shocked by plot twists while I'm reading, so that's definitely my favorite part about this series so far. 

I did enjoy reading Once more than Eve, so maybe I'll like Rise even more.  :)  

Rating (out of five stars):

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Anna Carey's website

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Review: The Thirteenth Tower by Sara C. Snider

Read April 8th - 13th, 2015.

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

The Thirteenth Tower is about Emelyn, an orphan who works as a servant in a small village.  A festival is starting the day the story begins, and Emelyn is looking forward to finishing her chores so she can attend.  While she's working, she hears music nearby and goes to investigate.  What she finds leads her on a long journey to discover herself and her past.  

It doesn't take long for the plot to move forward, and I was instantly drawn into the story.  It got a bit slow in the middle, as Emelyn and her companions were mostly just walking through the woods, occasionally running into something strange or dangerous.  It picked up again near the end, and the final confrontation was well-written and more exciting than the previous few chapters.  

Though I had an inkling of how things would ultimately turn out, I was still interested to find out exactly what would happen.  I felt a few things could have been fleshed out a little more, but hopefully this is going to be a series, so maybe those small things will be explored a little more in future books. 

There also wasn't much character development, which is a shame.  Emelyn, especially, had so much room to grow on the journey, and it was only at the very end that she showed any change at all.  

The Thirteenth Tower is a fairly clean (only one very small scene at the beginning), middle-grade fantasy, with creative world building and an interesting plot.  

Rating (out of five stars):

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Sara C. Snider's website

Monday, April 13, 2015

Review: Eve by Anna Carey

Read from March 6th - 12th, 2015.

(Source:  Purchased.)

I first read this book several years ago, and I always meant to finish the series, but I just never got around to it.  I recently found the next two books in the series on sale, so I decided to go ahead and read the whole trilogy.  I remembered the basic plot of the book, but not much more than that.  I originally gave it three stars, which means that I must have liked it at least a little, but after reading it for a second time, I'm tempted to drop my rating to two stars.  I suppose I've changed as a reader since I first read it, which is to be expected.  I'm older and my taste in books has changed, at least a little.  So maybe I shouldn't adjust my rating, even though my current rating system would give it a two.  I was closer to the target audience of YA when I first read it, so maybe I will leave it three stars.  This will take a little more consideration.  Anyway, on to the review.  

Eve is a dystopia, set in future America, sometime after a plague has wiped out most of the country.  It's pretty formulaic, and follows the standard dystopian rules.  After the plague, a politician steps up to take over and becomes the King.  He renames the country the New America, and builds a new city for the remaining citizens to repopulate and recover.  Children, however, are sent to Schools.  Most of the children are orphans, or their parents are "Strays" living in the wild who can't care for their children properly.  

Girls and boys attend different Schools.  As a matter of fact, Eve has never even seen a man, apart from a picture of the King.  They're taught that men can't be trusted.  The girls at Eve's School believe that once they finish their education, they will move to the secondary School to focus on their respective crafts and skills, and then they will move to the city to rejoin the rest of society.  

The night before graduation, Eve discovers that not all is as it seems, and she escapes into the wild to try to find Califia, where she is told she'll be safe.  She embarks on the dangerous journey with absolutely no supplies, but soon meets others who help her along the way.  

I think part of my problem with Eve is that she did such stupid things that literally made me close the book and shake my head.  However, I suppose I should take into consideration that Eve has been raised in isolation, she's been lied to by everyone in charge, and her education has been skewed.  She has absolutely no survival skills and is the epitome of naive.  So maybe I shouldn't be so hard on her.  

On a good note, the author's writing style is enjoyable, and the story is well-paced.  After careful consideration, I think I will keep my original three-star rating, and I'm going to finish up the series.  Here's to hoping the next two books are five-star worthy! 

Rating (out of five stars):

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Anna Carey's Website

Friday, April 3, 2015

House Divided by Jennifer Peel - Blog Tour, Excerpt, & Review

house dividedHouse Divided

There is a law irrevocably decreed in the state of Alabama that you must choose a team. You're either an Auburn fan or an Alabama Fan. There is no fence sitting or waffling. It’s one or the other. However, it doesn't mean that you can’t fall in love with someone from the opposing side. They even have a name for it ... House Divided.

Ellie Eaton and Brady Jackson were just such a couple, but unfortunately they were separated by more than just their loyalty to a university. Against the odds and against the rules, Ellie and Brady dove right into the forbidden current of friendship and then love. Their sweet, innocent romance was one for the storybooks, but old rules and family prejudices ultimately tore them apart, just as they were each ready to depart to their beloved universities, Ellie to Auburn and Brady to Alabama. But years later, when near tragedy strikes, they're brought together again and given a second chance at love, this time with help from some very unlikely sources.

House Divided is a sweet romance filled with southern charm, a dash of humor and, for good measure, a pinch of lies and intrigue.

Praise for the Book:

"House Divided was one of those books that made me want to ignore my children, my to-do list, my need for food, and pretty much anything else that would keep me from reading. Jennifer Peel has a real gift for depicting first love, heartbreak, and hope."

"A tender, soft, story that truly is a gem to read."

"Ms. Peel has created a story that stands as a tribute to true southern gentility, it's foibles and strengths. Truly a beautiful read that gives heart and meaning to true devotion. She truly knows how to weave a story that has beauty and true southern charm."


I was so thrilled that Brady was in my home that I didn’t notice he wasn’t acting like himself. I pulled him into our drawing room where the fireplace was lit and the twelve-foot high Christmas tree sparkled in the dimly illuminated room. Under the tree sat my wrapped present for Brady. I retrieved the present and sat in front of the fireplace on the floor. Brady sat next to me, and before I could say a word, he pulled me to him and kissed me like he never had before. It was like a man kissing a woman, not a boy kissing a girl. I could barely breathe when he was done. His breathing was ragged too.
"Well, Merry Christmas," I said. That was present enough for me.
He smiled that country boy smile I loved so much, but it was then I noticed it didn’t touch his eyes like his smile always had.
"What’s wrong, Brady?"
He pulled on my hair, like he always had. "Ellie …"
He took a deep breath and looked at me with his baby blues. "We can’t be together anymore," he quickly blurted out.
I just shook my head. Surely I had heard him wrong, but I knew I hadn’t.
I backed up, and he scooted closer. The tears welled up in my eyes and in his. "Please, Ellie, just listen to me." 
"Ok … Ella. I’m so sorry, but being with you is tearing my family apart, and with my daddy so sick … I … I have to … I have to do this for my family. Can you please understand that?"
I was speechless. I loved him. I had broken my aunt’s rules and heart for him. And he, he was the one who pursued me and who had to shout it to the world that we were together. How could he just end it like that? I didn’t understand. The tears began to flow. He tried to wipe them away, but I wouldn’t let him. I didn’t want him to touch me.
He stood up, but before he left, he looked down at me. "I love you, Miss Ellie."
How could he? I just stared up at him blankly

"Don’t worry, Ellie, you don’t have to say it back. I love us enough for the both of us."

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 My Review:

As someone who has lived in Alabama her entire life, I can confirm that the Alabama / Auburn rivalry is serious business.  While I don't know of anyone who takes it quite as seriously as the Jacksons and Eatons, it is basically a requirement that if you live in Alabama, you must choose between the two teams.  

House Divided is a sweet romance about Ellie and Brady, who were separated in high school due to the rivalry between their families, but are then reunited after Ellie's aunt is rushed to the hospital.  Ellie never stopped loving Brady, but she knew there was no way they could ever be together.  His family despised her, and her aunt, whom Ellie considers her mother, isn't happy with Brady's family, either.  Ellie doesn't understand why, but knows that one of her aunt's rules is that Eatons must never become involved with a Jackson. 

After her heart was broken by Brady (and his family), Ellie tries to move on, even moving to Atlanta after college.  When she gets the call about her aunt, she returns to Alabama, and all of the old feelings return.  She runs into Brady, and try as she might, she just can't stay away from him.  Brady is determined to reconcile and resume their relationship, but Ellie doesn't know if they will ever be able to overcome the prejudice and hatred between their families.  

This was one of those books that I didn't want to put down, simply because I wanted to know if things would truly work out for Ellie and Brady.  I was also really interested to learn why there was such dislike between the two families.  While their favorite football teams aren't really the reason for the animosity, I thought it was a clever way to mask the true reason, as the Alabama / Auburn rivalry is such a big deal amongst most Alabamians.  

House Divided was a quick, sweet, and clean romance.  I would recommend to fans of clean, contemporary romances, especially to those who are fans of Alabama or Auburn. 

About the Author:

Jennifer Peel HeadshotAuthor Jennifer Peel

I'm a Colorado native who currently calls Alabama home. I'm the mother of three amazing children who have grown up way too fast. I enjoy the mountains, vacations at the beach, date night with my husband, late night talks with my kiddos, touring model homes, and pink bubblegum ice cream.

I grew up on the Western Slope in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I learned to love the beauty of the outdoors, but not camping--unless staying overnight at the Marriott counts. I met my husband while living in Denver and then several years later we traded the beauty and majesty of the Colorado Rocky Mountains for the art and culture of Chicago, Illinois. My family and I enjoyed living near this world class city, despite the crazy cold winters, but new adventures awaited in Northern Alabama--just six hours away from Orange Beach, Alabama. These three magical places (the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Chicago, and Orange Beach) are the inspired locations used in several of my books.
Jennifer Peel

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