Monday, November 30, 2015

Naughty or Nice Blog Tour: Andrea Lawrence

Oooh! Crafts! I love crafts and I want to welcome Andrea Lawrence to the blog! Welcome!

I know you’ve seen them. Whether you’ve eyed them at the local arts fair or a craft store, you’ve no doubt come across the recent deco-mesh-ribbon wreath trend. Beautiful and customizable to any trend or theme, they’re a perfect decoration for the holidays. At least until you look at the price tag. I’ve seen them on sale for more than a hundred dollars. No way. Today I’m going to tell you how to make your own. The process is deceptively simple and only limited by your own artistic eye.

At a minimum, you need:

  • 1 16″ or 18″ metal wire wreath frame (floral department)
  • 1 large roll of deco mesh ribbon (Christmas or floral department)
  • 1 small roll of deco ribbon mesh (Christmas or floral department)
  • 1 package of chenille wire stems (art & fabric craft department)
  • Scissors
  • Optional items include wire ribbon in a coordinating color and decorative ornaments (Christmas or floral department)
The craft stores will normally have the deco mesh, ribbon and decorative ornaments on sale with their Christmas crafts. You also have the option of purchasing wire frames that have chenille ties already attached in the Christmas department. They typically cost more, but come in colors like red, green and gold, which may blend better with your ribbon.

Here’s my craft supply stash from a recent wreath making binge. You can see it’s best to have it all together and ready to go. The process moves pretty quickly once you get started.

Step 1 – Cut the chenille stems in half, then twist them around the wreath like bread ties to secure them while leaving the ends free to twist around the mesh. Alternate between the inside ring and the outside ring of the wreath. I typically try to use three ties per section for a nice, full wreath.

Step 2 – Open the roll of large mesh. Gather the end in your hand and secure it to the inside ring of the wreath with any tie. Tuck the ends out of the way and make sure the tie is tight enough so the mesh doesn’t come loose.

Step 3 – Beginning with the end affixed to the wreath, make a generous loop of mesh (the size of the loop depends on the wreath) and pinch the end together so you can secure it to the nearby outside ring of the wreath with a chenille stem.

Step 4 – Gather a similar size loop of mesh and secure it to the inside ring of the wreath with another chenille stem.

Step 5 – Repeat this process, going all the way around the wreath in a back-and-forth pattern until you’re back where you started. Trim the excess ribbon and secure the ends with a chenille tie.

Step 6 – Open a small deco mesh roll and secure it to the wreath with a tie as you did with the large roll. Repeat the process using additional chenille stems, alternating the smaller ribbon with the larger ribbon, filling in the gaps.

Step 7 – If you opt to include additional ribbon, you can add it at this point. You can either run it back and forth as you did with the mesh to fill in gaps, cut notched pieces and attach them in small sections like the trailing ends of bows, attach curled sections of ribbon or deco mesh...whatever looks best to you. Play with it. The best part of this is that everything is attached with the chenille stems, so if you don’t like it, you can remove it and change it.

Step 8 – Now attach any decorative elements such as poinsettias, holly and so forth to the wreath, using the remaining chenille stems.

Step 9 – Once everything is attached the way you want it, turn the wreath over. Tuck away the ends of the chenille stems so they aren’t visible from the front and make sure everything is secure and tidy.

All done! Below is a collection of a few of the wreaths I’ve made. Once you’ve made one, the process gets much easier. I have a lot of fun putting together combinations of colors and decorations. You can see below that I’ve made wreaths for not only Christmas, but for fall, Halloween and even a baby shower. The options are limitless.

Good luck making your own ribbon wreath. If you get stuck or confused, check out any of the several videos on YouTube that show the step-by-step process.

Happy holidays!

Andrea Laurence loves Christmas. Her December release, A White Wedding Christmas, combines her love of the holidays with her love of weddings. It’s a winning combination available December 3 at all bookstores and online booksellers. I know you’ve seen them. Whether you’ve eyed them at the local arts fair or a craft store, you’ve no doubt come across the recent deco-mesh-ribbon wreath trend. Beautiful and customizable to any trend or theme, they’re a perfect decoration for the holidays. At least until you look at the price tag. I’ve seen them on sale for more than a hundred dollars. No way. Today I’m going to tell you how to make your own. The process is deceptively simple and only limited by your own artistic eye.
Find Andrea Laurence:

White Wedding Christmas
by Andrea Laurence
I do—two words wedding planner Natalie Sharpe will never utter. The cynic in her doesn't believe in love…but the woman in her believes in lust! When a last-minute Christmas wedding reunites her with the bride's hunky brother—Natalie's teenage crush and star of all her fantasies—Natalie wants a second chance for their first time… 
But Colin Russell isn't a teen anymore. He's all man. And his every touch has her thinking about the F word—forever. Working with him on the wedding is more temptation than she can take. Will one long, hot kiss lead this reluctant bride down her own wedding aisle?
Giveaway Info:  
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • 1 print copy of The Harder You Fall by Gena Showalter, White Wedding Christmas by Andrea Laurence, A Cowboy Under the Mistletoe by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Wrapped in Red by Nana Malone and Sherelle Green
  • 1 eBook copy of A Copper Ridge Christmas by Maisey Yates and Under the Spotlight by Kate Willoughby
  • 100,000 Harlequin MyRewards points
  • 2 Harlequin Classics limited edition notebooks
  • 1 Brenda Jackson Westmoreland limited edition notebook
Please enter via the Rafflecopter form.

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Tour Schedule:

Monday, Novemer 30th - Books and Things
Wednesday, December 2nd - Romancing Rakes For the Love of Romance
Friday, December 4th - Supernatural Snark

Monday, December 7th - Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, December 9th - Rather Be Reading Blog
Friday, December 11th - Obsessed by Books

Monday, December 14th - Rainy days and Pajamas
Wednesday, December 16th - That Artsy Reader Girl
Friday, December 18th - In the Hammock

Monday, December 21st - Whatever You Can Still Betray
Wednesday, December 23rd - Reading Reality
Friday, December 25th - Little Miss Drama Queen

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

On My Wishlist: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven King
by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #4
400 p.
Publisher: Scholastic Press
To Be Published: 4/26/16
The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from the irrepressible, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater. 
All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love's death. She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.
I've loved this series on audio and hope to continue it that way. I have to know how it ends!

For those celebrating... Happy Thanksgiving! Everyone else... happy weekend! There won't be more posts until Monday and I'll have a Naughty or Nice Blog Tour post.
See ya Mon!

And before you go I'd like to express my thanks to those that visit the blog as well as those I have come to know and call friend! So glad I got to "meet" many of you! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Lost Soul of Lord Badewyn by Mia Marlowe

Series: The Order of the MUSE #3
255 p.
Publisher: Entangled: Select Historical
Published: 11/23/15
Source: Publisher and NetGalley for review
He vowed to never fall in love... 
Meg Anthony was never raised a lady. Instead, she grew up amongst grifters who used her unique "finding" ability for their own selfish purposes. Recently, she's been taken under the wing of the Duke of Camden and the Order of M.U.S.E., learning not only the fine art of becoming a lady, but how to use her extraordinary talent to help others. 
But Meg's gift is a beacon to unsavory characters who would possess her. 
Charged with her protection, Lord Badewyn knows--too well--that his wild, Welsh castle is no safe haven for this lovely, all-too-desirable creature. Part human, part fallen angel, he is one of the Nephilim. He is a recluse sworn never to love. As the dangers to Meg grow more threatening, he cannot help but find himself tempted beyond all reason...and tested to see if he has both a heart and a soul.
My thoughts:

I didn't realize that this was the third book in a series, but knowing me, that doesn't stop me from diving into a book. I occasionally wondered if I had missed other books because the characters needed no introduction and were quite familiar with each others stories. Despite this, I was not lost and had no problems not reading the other two books. My problem now is that I want to read those other two books. :)

I was in the mood for a historical romantic fiction which made me curious about this one. When I realized it had a paranormal element to it, I was sold. I was also not disappointed in any of these themes. It was also not terribly original and you already knew the outcomes of what would happen. It didn't matter, it was a fun read. I liked the characters and although I found myself connecting less with Lord Badewyn (Samuel) I still rooted for him. I did connect with Meg and found her interesting once the "lady" facade was taken away from her. Before that I just couldn't get a handle on her character.

I give this book 4 stars. If you are looking for a fun PNR with a side of historical reference, then this book may be for you. I can't wait to go back and read the other two books I missed before this one.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Star Wars Psychology Editied by Travis Langley with Giveaway!

320 p.
Publisher: Sterling
Published: 10/27/15
Source: From publisher for review
This essay collection offers a fascinating psychological analysis of the compelling and complex universe of George Lucas's richly rendered Star Wars series. A group of expert contributors examines such topics as family ties, Jedi qualities, masculinity, girl power, and the values embodied in both the "dark" and "light" sides of this psychologically spellbinding world. This essay collection offers a fascinating psychological analysis of the compelling and complex universe of George Lucas's richly rendered Star Wars series. A group of expert contributors examines such topics as family ties, Jedi qualities, masculinity, girl power, and the values embodied in both the "dark" and "light" sides of this psychologically spellbinding world
My thoughts:

Okay, confession time. I'm a total nerd when it comes to Star Wars. It is a fun series you know I had to read this one. I often read the blog posts about various theories about plot points within this world and some of them are quite imaginative. Yea, I told you I was a nerd. ;)

This is really a both a psychology book that takes parts of Star Wars to explain theories, and plot points and characterization that is explained through psychology. So, if you like to understand a bit more about the human mind in a more entertaining way this book is for you.

While I enjoyed the interplay of Star Wars and psychological theories, I also found myself arguing various points with the authors. Yes, there are various authors but the way it was edited it flows like it had one author. As for the points argued, it was mostly based on what I understand of the psychological theories rather than the plot or characterization of the Star Wars universe.

So, I give this book 3 stars. I recommend it to those that want an entertaining way to learn psychology (this would make a fun and excellent HS or college course) and those total Star Wars nerds like me trying to fill in the gap until the newest movie comes out. :)

The publisher has allowed me to give away the book! Just fill out the rafflecopter form below. If this isn't quite your thing, I'm guessing you probably have a Star Wars nerd somewhere in the family that might like this... pressie! ;) The giveaway is open to US and CAN.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

On My Wishlist: Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Bright Blaze of Magic
by Jennifer Estep
Series: Black Blade #3
368 p.
To Be Published: 4/26/16
Publisher: Kensington
In the exciting conclusion to her richly imagined Black Blade series about a reluctant young bodyguard and thief, and her hometown, where magic, mobsters and monsters make for a dangerous mix, Jennifer Estep expertly combines the snark and fast-paced action that have made her a New York Times bestselling author. 
As a thief, I’m good at three things: hiding in the shadows, getting in and out unseen, and uncovering secrets. I put these skills to work for the Sinclair Family, one of the magical mobs that run the tourist town of Cloudburst Falls. 
Everyone knows Victor Draconi wants to take over all the other Families—and kill every last Sinclair. What they don’t know is that I’m on to him, and no way will I let the man who murdered my mom get away with hurting all the other people I care about. Especially when I’ve got places to break into, stuff to steal, and Devon Sinclair fighting right by my side…
*Whines* April 2016? Last book? Oh how you torture us! I can't wait and yet I don't want it to end.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Against a Brightening Sky by Jaime Lee Moyer

Series: Delia Martin #3
336 p.
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: 10/6/15
Source: From publisher for review
A ghost princess and a woman with nothing but a name to her fortune might change the course of history. 
By 1919 the Great War has ended, peace talks are under way in Paris, and the world has been forever changed. Delia Martin, apprentice practitioner of magical arts, and her husband, Police Captain Gabriel Ryan, face the greatest challenge of their lives when fragments from the war descend on San Francisco. 
As Delia prepares to meet friends at a St. Patrick's Day parade, the strange ghost of a European princess appears in her mirror. Her pleasant outing becomes a nightmare as the ghost reappears moments after a riot starts, warning her as a rooftop gunman begins shooting into the crowd. Delia rushes to get her friends to safety, and Gabe struggles to stop the killing—and to save himself. 
Delia and Gabe realize all the chaos and bloodshed had one purpose—to flush Alina from hiding, a young woman with no memory of anything but her name. 
As Delia works to discover how the princess ghost's secrets connect to this mysterious young woman, and Gabe tracks a ruthless killer around his city, they find all the answers hinge on two questions: Who is Alina...and why can't she remember? 
Against a Brightening Sky is the thrilling conclusion to Moyer's glittering historical fantasy series.

My thoughts:
This is a series that should be read in order for the characterization. You can skip the second book, but at least read the first book before diving into this one. I think you would be frustrated with not knowing as much about the characters as someone who has read in order.

This is said to be the last book, but when everything is over, it doesn't quite feel complete and that more could be explored in this world. There is so much life left to be explored for Delia and Gabe. I sincerely hope that this is not the last for this series. We also get a bit more of Dora, her best friend because the mystery also involves her past. It also involves the mystery of the Royal family during the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. It was an interesting inclusion to the mystery and it fit well with the paranormal abilities of Delia.

In the end we do get a full conclusion to a few of the introduced secondary characters stories. While that felt solid it also felt a bit too quickly wrapped up. In addition, I would have liked to know much more about the necromancer who was after the tsar and his whole family. Even though I felt these things were weaknesses, it also didn't take away from the larger mystery at hand for our characters.

I give this book 4 stars. While I enjoyed the mystery and our main characters we have followed from book one I also enjoyed the new introduction to some secondary characters. We don't get a definitive ending but that may be a good thing by holding the door open for future books. I recommend this series to those that enjoy historical, paranormal mysteries.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Audiobook Review with Crafts: Half a War by Joe Abercrombie

Narrator: John Keating
13 hrs. 20 min.
Publisher: Recorded Books, Inc
Published: 7/29/15
Source: LibraryThing's Early Reviewer Program and publisher for review
Words are weapons 
Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright. 
Only half a war is fought with swords 
The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king’s minister. He has made allies of old foes and stitched together an uneasy peace. But now the ruthless Grandmother Wexen has raised the greatest army since the elves made war on God, and put Bright Yilling at its head – a man who worships no god but Death. 
Sometimes one must fight evil with evil 
Some – like Thorn Bathu and the sword-bearer Raith – are born to fight, perhaps to die. Others – like Brand the smith and Koll the wood-carver – would rather stand in the light. But when Mother War spreads her iron wings, she may cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness.
My thoughts:

This was my first audio in this series. I read the books prior to this one. Now that I did this one on audio, I can say if John Keating does the others, try it on audio. I love his accent and how he brings the characters to life. I loved his brogue and how he changed them for the characters. It was easy to slip into this world with his narration. Also, while I'm on the subject. Do NOT skip books. Read (or listen) to them in order. It is fantasy and that genre is hard to skip around in a series.

This probably wasn't the strongest book in the series. That may be due to the fact it was more political than the others. Half a war is about the politics and strategy that goes on behind the war so it is no surprise that it was more heavily politic. However, if you are worried that it does not have action, no worries. It still is war and so there is action everywhere. The story also focuses on Skara and those around her and I found that I really liked her character. She was not strong but cunning even though she was only 17 and lost everyone and everything she knew in one night.

I think my biggest niggle is how the secondary characters were handled. While primary characters in other books become secondary in the next, we still remember our love for these characters. I didn't like that they were handled with carelessness and when we lose one of them, the other characters are affected but it still felt as if it was just a mention and not a major change. Perhaps the author gives the proper due to the impact is has on the game, but not how it impacts us as readers.

I give this audio 3 1/2 stars. I really think that the narrator really sold me the story in this book. There are some big changes to some beloved characters and I wanted it to have a bigger impact in the book as a whole. I was not fond of how the secondary characters were portrayed. I did love Skara and Raith's story even if it didn't quite go as expected. I highly recommend this on audio and might have to revisit it all on audio. I recommend it to those that enjoy fantasy with magic.
LibraryThing Early Reviewers

The Crafts!
I made this for a present and it is the Parisian Tote by RLR Creations pattern. I call it the Parisian Tote in Japan. Just going around the world. I tried to do some print matching here so there is a big front pocket behind the zippered pocket and two side pockets. I didn't quite get the sides to match but that was hard because how it is constructed. At least I got the sections fairly well matched. Still was fun and the fabric inside is gold.

Sticking with the travel motif:

I also finished this travel bag for a young cousin and I guess I kept with the theme. She just graduated and cranes are supposed to be good luck. I made sure it can go on a plane if she chooses. This pattern is the Vivian Traveler by Swoon Patterns. When I saw someone make a bag out of the fabric (from Kona Bay) I knew she would like it. There are two side pockets in case you can't see them. There is also a double zipper on the bag so she can unzip it on either side. The brown is a ultrasuede and is quite soft.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Blog Tour: Naughty or Nice with Linda Goodnight and Giveaway!

Welcome to my tour stop for the Harlequin Naughty or Nice Tour! We have a great post (that will make you hungry) from Linda Goodnight! Welcome Linda!

The Greatest Christmas Gift
by Linda Goodnight
About The Christmas Family:
Amazon | B&N
Contractor Brady Buchanon can’t wait to surprise single mom Abby Webster with his company’s Christmas home makeover prize. But once he does, the struggling waitress turns him down flat! Raised in foster care, Abby won’t accept charity. Yet when her dilapidated porch almost injures her daughter, Abby finally agrees to Brady’s offer. As the hardworking bachelor pushes to finish the house in time for Christmas, he starts falling for Abby and her little girl. With the holidays in sight, Brady wonders if Abby will not only accept her beautiful new home, but also his wish to make her his wife…

Candy Day, A Holiday Tradition from Linda Goodnight

Christmas candy. The words alone stir up a powerful nostalgia in most of us. Whether it’s hard ribbon candy in our stockings or sugarplums dancing in our dreams, candy is a big part of the Christmas holidays.

Years ago, a friend and I unintentionally started a tradition that I continue to this day with my daughters. A week or two before Christmas, we set aside one day to get together and make Christmas candy. In reality, the candy is a delicious by-product of a special day of fellowship and fun with people I love during an otherwise hectic season. The resulting goodies become gifts, party and church treats, and feed the masses at my house on Christmas Day. Some recipes are relatively easy. Others take two people and hours. All are so worth it!

For best results, choose a day of low humidity (except for bonbons, which can be made anytime). Recipes come and go, but at my house we always make these four: Bonbons, Peanut Brittle, Marshmallow Fudge and Aunt Bill’s Brown Candy. For the sake of space, I’ll share the relatively easy no-cook bonbons here and post the rest on my blog.!lindas-blog/c213k
Coconut Bonbons

No cooking required, so these are perfect for beginners. Bonbons need time to freeze before dipping in chocolate, so allow time in your schedule. Sometimes I make the balls the day before, freeze overnight and dip the next day.

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 cube (½ cup) butter or margarine

1 cup pecans, chopped very fine

2 lbs powdered (confectioners’) sugar

1 large pkg (14 oz) coconut flakes

1 pkg (12 oz) chocolate chips

Paraffin—optional, but helpful to make the chocolate set nicely. Available in the baking section.

Sprinkles or extra nuts for decoration, optional

  1. Mix condensed milk with softened margarine or butter.
  2. Gradually stir in sugar, coconut and pecans. Mixture will be very stiff. You may have to use clean hands.
  3. Form into small balls (dime or nickel size). Place single file on cookie sheets or foil, and freeze.
  4. Once frozen, melt chips in microwave or over a double boiler. If you have it, add a small piece of paraffin wax, approximately 2 inches by 3 inches, and melt with the chips. (I have used half this much with good results to avoid the waxy taste.)
  5. Using two forks, quickly dip frozen bonbons into the melted chocolate and return to cookie sheet. Don’t linger in the chocolate or the bonbon will fall apart. Dipping takes some time, so having helpers is great! Chill.
  6. If desired, roll in ground nuts or sprinkles and place into small cupcake liners before chilling.
I’m always looking for new recipes. Do you have a special candy you make for the holidays? I lost my perfect “foolproof” microwave divinity recipe and haven’t been able to find another like it. Anyone who has one that really works, please post!

Happy holidays,

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • 2 copies of each print title (one for yourself and one for a friend!): Christmas in Mustang Creek by Linda Lael Miller, The Christmas Family by Linda Goodnight, When Secrets Strike by Marta Perry, A Cold Creek Christmas Story by RaeAnne Thayne and Evergreen Springs by RaeAnne Thayne
  • An ebook copy of Act Like It by Lucy Parker
  • 2 Harlequin Classics limited edition notebooks
  • 100,000 Harlequin MyRewards points
  • 1 Brenda Jackson Westmorelands notebook
Please enter via the Rafflecopter form below:
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Monday, Novemer 9th – Book Gossip
Tuesday, November 10th – The Book Cellar
Wednesday, November 11th – Books and Things
Thursday, November 12th – Romancing Rakes For The Love of Romance
Friday, November 13th – The Reading Cow

Monday, November 16th – As the Pages Turn
Tuesday, November 17th – Peace Love Books
Wednesday, November 18th – Romancebookworms Reviews
Friday, November 20th – Blushing Reads

Monday, November 23rd – Rustys Reading
Wednesday, November 25th – Polished Bookworm
Friday, November 27th – Toot’s Book Reviews

Monday, November 9, 2015

Dark and Wild Night by Christina Lauren

Series: Wild Seasons #3
338 p.
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published: 9/15/15
Source: From publisher for review
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. 
But what didn't happen in Vegas seems to follow them everywhere.

Lola and Oliver like to congratulate themselves on having the good sense to not consummate their drunken Las Vegas wedding. If they’d doubled-down on that mistake, their Just Friends situation might not be half as great as it is now. 
... Or so goes the official line. 
In reality, Lola’s wanted Oliver since day one—and over time has only fallen harder for his sexy Aussie accent and easygoing ability to take her as she comes. More at home in her studio than in baring herself to people, Lola’s instinctive comfort around Oliver nearly seems too good to be true. So why ruin a good thing? 
Even as geek girls fawn over him, Oliver can’t get his mind off what he didn’t do with Lola when he had the chance. He knows what he wants with her now ... and it’s far outside the friend zone. When Lola’s graphic novel starts getting national acclaim—and is then fast-tracked for a major motion picture—Oliver steps up to be there for her whenever she needs him. After all, she’s not the kind of girl who likes all that attention, but maybe she’s the kind who’ll eventually like him. 
Sometimes seeing what’s right in front of us takes a great leap of faith. And sometimes a dark wild night in Vegas isn’t just the end of a day, but the beginning of a bright new life...
My thoughts:

I've heard so much about this author and have wanted to try her books. When this came in the mail for me to review I was excited. I was a bit worried that jumping into the series would confuse me but not worries, you can jump into this book without having read the others that preceded it.

Well, Lola is an artist of graphic novels and Oliver is a proprietor of comic books and the like. It made sense that they would have so much in common and it was no surprise that they would have crushes on each other. There is tension and there is frustration at the beginning for the reader because you can see both like each other but don't know how to proceed. Neither wants to ruin the friendship they have currently. Oh and yes, we get both POVs so we can see and not just guess how much Oliver likes, loves and respects Lola.

It is here where the book shines. I think Oliver's POV made the book for me. I loved Lola and how she was intelligent about what she was going through with her career but she lacked in emotional intelligence when it came to relationships. Oliver is aware and takes it slowly. What made me love him isn't how he took care when it came to Lola (although it did help) but when he respected and trusted her enough to save herself when she got herself in a bind. He wanted to save her but knew she could do it on her own and what that would mean to her. He was content to just be a sounding board and support. Oh yea, swoon worthy indeed!

I give this book 4 1/2 stars. It also has a LOT of sizzle for those that like it hot and steamy but also has a great relationship story with all the frustrations and victories that we enjoy in a romance. I highly recommend it and it is a great addition to the romantic genre.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst

384 p.
Publisher: Clarion Books
Published: 11/3/15
Source: From author for review
Sophie loves the hidden shop below her parents' bookstore, where dreams are secretly bought and sold. When the dream shop is robbed and her parents go missing, Sophie must unravel the truth to save them. Together with her best friend—a wisecracking and fanatically loyal monster named Monster—she must decide whom to trust with her family’s carefully guarded secrets. Who will help them, and who will betray them?

My thoughts:

This is listed as an MG book but I do think that younger kids would enjoy it. Either by reading to them or when they are ready for chapter books. Also, I only review books in the MG realm on occasion but since I loved this author's other works it convinced me to give it a go.

While there were some areas where I thought the plot could be tightened up a bit, and some of the sections could be shorter, I still found myself captivated by the storyline. The characters are great and you really like Sophie as the unlikely heroine. As much as I loved Sophie and the other humans (her mom and dad were a hoot) in the book who I really loved was Monster. Monster came out of a dream Sophie drank while snooping in her parents dream shop. She changed him and he is a nice monster (although don't tell him that) and he protects Sophie fiercely. He is the humor in he book and really the personality. I want a Monster! LOL I have no doubt that everyone who reads this book will feel exactly the same way.

I give this book 4 stars. I think it is a delightful book for young kids. There are some dark parts to it (nightmares coming to life) but I don't think it would be too scary for most kids. I suggest you read it first and fall for Monster before determining if it is appropriate for your child.

Book info:
Audiobook Link (Amazon/Audible)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Geomancer by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

Series: Vampire Empire: A Gareth and Adele Novel
321 p.
Publisher: Pyr
Published: 11/3/15
Source: From author for review
The uneasy stalemate between vampires and humans is over. Adele and Gareth are bringing order to a free Britain, but bloody murders in London raise the specter that Adele's geomancy is failing and the vampires might return. A new power could tilt the balance back to the vampire clans. A deranged human called the Witchfinder has surfaced on the Continent, serving new vampire lords. This geomancer has found a way to make vampires immune to geomancy and intends to give his masters the ability to kill humans on a massive scale. 
The apocalyptic event in Edinburgh weakened Adele's geomantic abilities. If the Witchfinder can use geomancy against humanity, she may not have the power to stop him. If she can't, there is nowhere beyond his reach and no one he cannot kill. 
From a Britain struggling to rebuild to the vampire capital of Paris, from the heart of the Equatorian Empire to a vampire monastery in far-away Tibet, old friends and past enemies return. Unexpected allies and terrible new villains arise. Adele and Gareth fight side-by-side as always, but they can never be the same if they hope to survive.
My thoughts:

I was so surprised when I got this one for review. I hadn't realized that the authors heard the cry for more books in this world and responded with The Geomancer. The first three books do feel complete and I will say this: do not skip those 3 books before you get into this book. It is a fantasy book and often it is hard to skip around in the fantasy genre. This one is no exception and you wouldn't want to miss the goodness in the first three books anyway.

The book continues shortly after the last book and while you knew everything was settled into a perfect situation for our couple, but I wasn't sure where the storyline would take them. You find out that there are still threats and a balance has still yet to surface for the vampires and humans. It is also more than that. It is also both Gareth and Adele's inner growth that still needs to be explored. While Adele does not need to grow into a good leader she still has much to learn about geomancy and her part in it. Gareth still needs to find himself and his place in the world. They both get help from unlikely alliances and that is what makes this book good. Everyone in the book seemed to learn something even if they are secondary characters. So the authors are not only thinking of the adventure but how the characters in the book grow, expand or devolve.

I give this book 4 stars. It is a great addition to the story and also an interesting direction the characters take in their personal lives. If you are looking for steampunk with vicious vampires, impossible relationships, and lots of adventure, this is your storyline. Pick up the series and enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

304 p.
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Published: 11/3/15
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Leonardo da Vinci’s footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down. 
Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix’s own family’s closet tear them apart?
My thoughts:

One thing that can get me to read contemporary fiction is art. This one has at least 2 artists in it so I knew I was good to go. Plus, Jen Bennett? I ADORED her Arcadia Bell series (adult) so picking this book up with those two things going for it was a no brainer.

I was not disappointed with this book. While there were things in it that made you want to check the Bex and Jack's IQ, there were also times when I thought... "well, they are more mature than I would have been!" Both have lots of love and compassion going for them so they make a great couple. I found the romance to be a bit fast but I wouldn't say it was insta-love. You really root for them in the end and yes, I will say this... you do get an HEA that feels solid.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars. If you enjoy contemporary with an arty slant, pick up this book! I would say that this is YA (both HS seniors) but it does deal with some adult issues. I would say this is for the older YA crowd as well as NA. I recommend it to those that enjoy a good contemporary romance.