Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Shape of My Heart by Ann Aguirre

Series: 2B Trilogy #3
352 p.
Published: 11/25/14
Publisher: Harlequin
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
Some people wait decades to meet their soul mate. Courtney Kaufman suspects she met hers in high school only to lose him at seventeen. Since then, Courtney's social life has been a series of meaningless encounters, though she's made a few close friends along the way. Especially her roommate Max Cooper, who oozes damaged bad-boy vibes from every pore.

Max knows about feeling lost and trying to move beyond the pain he's been on his own since he was sixteen. Now it's time to find out if he can ever go home again, and Courtney's the only one he trusts to go with him. But the trip to Providence could change everything because the more time he spends with Courtney, the harder it is to reconcile what he wants and what he thinks he deserves.

It started out so simple. One misfit helping another. Now Max will do anything to show Courtney that for every heart that's ever been broken, there's another that can make it complete.
My thoughts:
This book follows Courtney and Max. We have known Max from the beginning and I always knew there was more to his story. We follow Courtney but I wished we could have followed Max. I wanted to be in his head more. However, as the story developed, I was happy to be in Courtney's head.

The romance to me feels a bit fast but they have known each other for a while. It wasn't completely insta-love but I felt that Max's feelings seemed to be at warp drive. It didn't quite settle with me how invested he was until the end. Still, this did not prevent me from becoming invested in the relationship.

I give this book 3 1/2 stars. I'm sad to see this trilogy end. I would have loved to delve into some of the other lives and a few of those that just came on the scene in this book. This has been one of the few New Adult genre series that I have throughly enjoyed. I recommend it to those that enjoy contemporary romance.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jennifer Estep Interview and Black Widow Giveaway!

I'm excited to have Jennifer Estep back at the blog again. She came by to answer some of my questions and to have a great giveaway of her newest book in the Elemental Assassin series!
BT: Hi Jennifer!
JE: Hi! Thanks for featuring me on your blog again. I appreciate it!

BT: I love your villains, can you tell me if you take anything from real life?

JE: Thanks! I appreciate that.

Since I’m writing urban fantasy, my villains tend to have magical powers and be really ruthless and determined to get what they want, no matter what they have to do or who they have to hurt to achieve their goals. So it’s not real life. 

But a hero is only as good as the bad guys that she goes up against, so I try to think of villains that would annoy and frustrate Gin and really push her to her limits, physically, emotionally, and magically. I always have a lot of fun coming up with villains who challenge Gin and then thinking about how she can turn the tables and get the best of them.

BT:  What is your favorite secondary character to write? Does he/she have a novella staring this character?

JE: Finnegan Lane, Gin’s foster brother, is the secondary character that is the most fun for me to write. He’s so shameless and greedy and says whatever is on his mind no matter how annoying or inappropriate it might be. I always enjoy writing his dialogue.

There are a couple of Finn-centric short stories on my website: http://www.jenniferestep.com/short-stories/short-stories/ 

I would like to write a Finn novella, as well as some for other characters, like Phillip Kincaid, but my writing schedule is already full for this year and on into 2015. Hopefully, I’ll have time to write something more about Finn and the other characters in the future. We’ll see what happens.

*yes please have a Finn novella! Phillip would be a great one too!*

What is your biggest wish for Gin?

JE: I want Gin to (eventually) have her happy ending and the peace and quiet that she longs for. I think she’s earned it, after all that I’ve put her through. 

That being said, peace and quiet wouldn’t be that interesting to read or write about, and there are lots of bad guys left for Gin to battle.

*Yes, I agree... don't end her story yet!*

You have elements (easter eggs if you will) from your other books. Give us a few so those that haven't noticed it will try to now find them.

JE: I have four series – Elemental Assassin; Mythos Academy; Bigtime; and Black Blade (coming in 2015). So in every book, I try to mention characters, places, creatures, etc. from the other books.
For example, in my Elemental Assassin series, Finn often wears Fiona Fine suits. Well, Fiona Fine is a fashion designer in my Bigtime superhero series. In my Mythos Academy series, I’ve had characters mention things like the Pork Pit and Ashland from my Elemental Assassin series. So there are just small, crossover references between all the books.

I always have a lot of fun coming up with the Easter eggs, and readers seem to enjoy the little shout-outs to my other books.

What other projects do you have coming up?

JE: Spider’s Trap, the 13th book in my Elemental Assassin series, will be out on July 28. I’m also writing book #14, which is tentatively scheduled to be out on Dec. 29.

I also have a new young adult series starting in 2015. It’s called the Black Blade series, and Cold Burn of Magic, the first book, will be out on April 28.

For more information about my books, people can visit my website at www.jenniferestep.com or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Happy reading, everyone! 

JENNIFER’S SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Jennifer_Estep  (@Jennifer_Estep)

JENNIFER’S BIO

Jennifer Estep is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. Black Widow, the 12th book in the series, will be released on Nov. 25. For more information about the series, visit Jennifer’s website at www.jenniferestep.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Black Widow
Series: Elemental Assassin #12
400 p.
Published: 11/25/14
Publisher: Pocket Books
There’s nothing worse than a cruel, cunning enemy with time to kill—and my murder to plan. 
With wicked Fire elemental Mab Monroe long gone, you’d think I could finally catch a break. But someone’s always trying to take me down, either as Gin Blanco or my assassin alter-ago. Now along comes the Spider’s new arch-nemesis, the mysteriously named M. M. Monroe, who is gleefully working overtime to trap me in a sticky web of deceit. 
The thing is, I’m not the only target. I can see through the tangled threads enough to know that every bit of bad luck my friends have been having lately is no accident—and that each unfortunate “coincidence” is just one more arrow drawing ever closer to hitting the real bulls-eye. Though new to Ashland, this M. M. Monroe is no stranger to irony, trying to get me, an assassin, framed for murder. Yet, as my enemy’s master plan is slowly revealed, I have a sinking feeling that it will take more than my powerful Ice and Stone magic to stop my whole life from going up in flames.
Giveaway!
The publisher is allowing me to giveaway the newest book in the Elemental Assassin series, Black Widow! 2 Winners! US only. Just fill out the rafflecopter form below to enter. Good luck!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Black Widow by Jennifer Estep

Series: Elemental Assassin #12
400 p.
Published: 11/25/14
Publisher: Pocket Books
Source: From publisher for review
There’s nothing worse than a cruel, cunning enemy with time to kill—and my murder to plan. 
With wicked Fire elemental Mab Monroe long gone, you’d think I could finally catch a break. But someone’s always trying to take me down, either as Gin Blanco or my assassin alter-ago. Now along comes the Spider’s new arch-nemesis, the mysteriously named M. M. Monroe, who is gleefully working overtime to trap me in a sticky web of deceit. 
The thing is, I’m not the only target. I can see through the tangled threads enough to know that every bit of bad luck my friends have been having lately is no accident—and that each unfortunate “coincidence” is just one more arrow drawing ever closer to hitting the real bulls-eye. Though new to Ashland, this M. M. Monroe is no stranger to irony, trying to get me, an assassin, framed for murder. Yet, as my enemy’s master plan is slowly revealed, I have a sinking feeling that it will take more than my powerful Ice and Stone magic to stop my whole life from going up in flames.
My thoughts:
Oh wow! I didn't think we would get the showdown we were waiting for so soon. I thought there might be a couple of books yet to go but I was so happy when we got it. I know that some of you aren't quite up to this book yet so I'll try to make it spoiler free.

Often in a series that runs this long and you get a big bad with impossible circumstances we often get regurgitated story lines. Not so here. The villain invents a new way to come at Gin and Gin responds in kind. It wasn't what I was expecting and I was pleasantly surprised. In this book brains won over brawn but brawn still helped in the end. :) Fans of Owen will love this addition and although the romance is scant, what is there packs a punch.

I give this book 5 stars. It is a series that is going strong at #12 and I can't wait for #13. I suggest that those that haven't started with this series start at the beginning. You have 12 books to devour in a row! I recommend it from the beginning to get the full feeling of all the characters. I also recommend it to those that enjoy UF.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Black Ice by Susan Krinard

Series: Midgard #2
384 p.
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: 8/12/14
Source: From publisher for review
New York Times bestselling author Susan Krinard continues the thrilling urban fantasy series that began with Mist in Black Ice. 
Centuries ago, all was lost in the Last Battle when the Norse gods and goddesses went to war. The elves, the giants, and the gods and goddesses themselves were all destroyed, leaving the Valkyrie known as Mist one of the only survivors.
Or so she thought. 
The trickster god Loki has reappeared in San Francisco, and he has big plans for modern-day Earth. With few allies and fewer resources—but the eyes of the gods and goddesses of an old world upon her—it’s up to Mist to stop him before history repeats itself.
My thoughts:
This is the second book in the Midgard series. It follows closely to what happened in the first book, Mist, and this should not be read out of order. If you are looking for action, then this is the series for you. While we had some hints of romance in the first book and it was continued in this book, I didn't feel connected to it. It just didn't quite have the same impact as it did in the first book. Mist's development continues in this story and I have enjoyed how much she has grown. I think this growth will continue as she becomes more comfortable with her power and how powerful she will become.

We also get introduced to a few secondary characters. I hope those get more developed as the series progresses. I can see a lot of potential with some of them. Right now they are all a bit underdeveloped but we just met them and we seemed to be in the midst of some battle when they came onto the scene. There are some animal characters that have personality and I look forward to learning more about them as well.

I give this book 3 stars. It is a good continuation to the big showdown you know is coming. I recommend it to those that enjoy UF with a lean toward fantasy as well as those that know their norse mythology.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Figures of Beauty by David MacFarlane

Standalone
384 p.
Publisher: Harper
Published: 10/7/14
Source: From publisher for review
Moving from Paris to Italy to North America, a sensuous, heartbreaking novel about art, beauty, star-crossed lovers, and the choices that define our lives, from the award winning author of Summer Gone 
A young man arrives in Paris in 1968, where a series of unlikely events lead him to a tiny village in Italy—and to the great love of his life. A marble merchant meets a couple on their honeymoon, introducing them to the sensual beauty of Carrara. An Italian woman travels to Canada on an odyssey to find the father she never knew. A terrible accident in a marble quarry changes the course of a young boy’s life and, ultimately, sets in motion each of these stories, which David Macfarlane masterfully chisels into a magnificent whole.

Oliver Hughson falls in love with wild, bohemian Anna over the course of one glorious summer in Italy. Bound by a sense of responsibility to his adoptive parents, he leaves her and returns home—an act he will regret for the rest of his life. Through luck or fate, Oliver had found the woman with whom he was meant to be. And now he must try to find his way back to her. 
Narrated by the daughter Oliver never knew he had, The Figures of Beauty is a love story of mythic proportions that reminds us of the powerful bond that can connect two people indelibly across oceans and time.
My thoughts:
The book is centered around sculpture, particularly marble sculpture. You travel through different time periods all which interconnect in some way through marble. The lush language puts you in Italy where most of the book takes place. In any time period, you can really travel with this author's words.

The story mostly follows Oliver, his doomed love story and his daughter. There are also references to artists, in particular Michelangelo as well as Anna (Oliver's lover and his daughter's mother) a present day non-figurative sculpture artist. The ventures back in time especially the ones in the 40s were intriguing but the time shifts just didn't come together for me. Yes, I did see a connection, but as an observer it didn't connect to me personally. It may be due to shifting constantly through time or that I never developed a connection to Oliver and his daughter. I think that if a book was made more about the past and it was constant, I think I would have enjoyed this book much more.

I give this book 2 1/2 stars. It is beautiful in the descriptions of the places, it has some interesting secondary characters, but I just didn't quite connect to much in this book. I would pick up a book by this author because of the beautiful writing, but this one didn't quite come together for me in the end.