Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I Only Got 10 Likes in the First 5 Minutes...Do You Think I Should Take It Down?

"Sometimes your mistakes turn out to be your biggest blessings--
so you can't live your life second-guessing every choice you make."
--Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, The Status of All Things


Genre: Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Pages: 304
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2015
Source: eARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review
Previous Books in Series: Standalone
Goodreads Description

What would you do if you could literally rewrite your fate—on Facebook? This heartwarming and hilarious new novel from the authors of Your Perfect Life follows a woman who discovers she can change her life through online status updates.

Kate is a thirty-five-year-old woman who is obsessed with social media. So when her fiancé, Max, breaks things off at their rehearsal dinner—to be with Kate’s close friend and coworker, no less—she goes straight to Facebook to share it with the world. But something’s changed. Suddenly, Kate’s real life starts to mirror whatever she writes in her Facebook status. With all the power at her fingertips, and heartbroken and confused over why Max left her, Kate goes back in time to rewrite their history.

Kate's two best friends, Jules and Liam, are the only ones who know the truth. In order to convince them she’s really time traveled, Kate offers to use her Facebook status to help improve their lives. But her attempts to help them don’t go exactly as planned, and every effort to get Max back seems to only backfire, causing Kate to wonder if it’s really possible to change her fate.

In The Status of All Things, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke combine the humor and heart of Sarah Pekkanen and Jennifer Weiner while exploring the pitfalls of posting your entire life on the Internet. They raise the questions: What if you could create your picture-perfect life? Would you be happy? Would you still be you? For anyone who’s ever attempted—or failed—to be their perfect self online, this is a story of wisdom and wit that will leave you with new appreciation for the true status of your life.
Have you ever wished you could go back in time to make new choices to stop something bad from happening? Uh...duh. If you say no, you're lying. The Status of All Things explores this question and more, including, can you change your fate? Kate's fiancé tells her the night of their rehearsal dinner that he can't marry her. *enter all the devastation and heartbreak here* She is shocked. She has no idea what went wrong and add to that, she is obsessed with Facebook and posting statuses and pictures and a big concern of hers is, how is this going to look? Because of and through her excessive Facebook posting, she discovers that any status she posts on Facebook...comes true. She then time travels to one month prior to try and fix her relationship and end up married.

The Idea

I loved this idea. In a culture obsessed with social media, this book's frank assessment of the importance we place on it is refreshing. Not only that, it validated a belief I've had for a long time in that the people who post the most that make their live out to appear perfect are anything but. I loved the discussion of Facebook and online appearances and the ramifications of everything involved with it. I personally cannot stand Facebook and cannot stand how often people post stuff and how much lack of privacy they give themselves so this book was a total breath of fresh air.

The Writing


The writing of Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke is effortless. It is exactly what I look for Adult Contemporary in that it is easy to read, thoughtful, poignant, and completely relevant to today. I breezed through this book because the pacing is fantastic, I had to see what would happen to Kate next and what she would try and alter. And it surprised me. There are things that happen and resolutions that occur that I never expected to happen, in a good way! I won't spoil too much but there is a character and confrontation I didn't think would happen and I am SO happy it did. I was so angry at this character's underhandedness in their actions and the breaking of girl code that I wanted to rage. However, Kate does my Sicilian rage justice. And while I'm being vague and it takes two to tango, I love how this scenario was written. I had a few issues with how little another character took accountability but overall, the rage was unleashed where it needed to be.

The Journey


Kate is not perfect. She is not a particularly enjoyable character to read about at times because of her choices and lack of awareness to the obvious situation at hand BUT I also adored her. She has flaws, we all do, she makes mistakes, again who doesn't? but she learns. It's not an easy road she travels on her journey and there's a lot to her self-discovery but she gets there. And we all know life is about the journey, not the destination. And her journey is a fabulous one. Kate represents SO many women and I know my younger self can definitely relate to her. She continues to fight for Max, believing that marrying him and manipulating the past/present will make her life right. I mean, clearly we all know that if you have to fight for a man to stay with you, he's not good enough for you. Kate has not grasped that yet and the trials she faces on the way are what makes the book. She learns so much not only about herself, but her friends as well. The cast of characters, how did I not mention them before, include Kate's two BFFs, Liam and Jules. They are fantastic! Their dynamic is wonderful, full of love and banter and honesty. I so totally appreciate friendships where honesty, however brutal it may be, is a major component. Kate begins to look outside herself and see her friend's relationships and lives in a different way. It is just great.

Fate and Destiny


I am a big believer in fate and destiny as well as free will but I also think that no matter our decisions, we all end up where we are supposed to be. Kate struggles with this concept as she tries to change situations for her benefit when really she ends up being more of a catalyst to the things she was trying to prevent. Love this. She contemplates fate and if no matter what she does, the end result will still be the same. And I believe in this. I believe in fate. And destiny. And a greater plan than ourselves. I love that this idea was explored in such a beautiful way and that while some life lessons are painful and situations we go through hurt, they help us become stronger and lead us to the path we need to be on. I like to believe no matter our mistakes, or misfortunes, or lack of judgment, we all end up exactly where we need to be even if it's nowhere we ever thought we would go. 

Reserved Seating
If you love honest friendships, frank assessment of pop culture, and a journey to self-discovery...this book's for you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Take Care of Yourself For Me

"All these years, through all she's suffered,
she's been loved.
Isn't that the most important thing, in the end?
To know that you're loved?"
--Iona Grey, Letters to the Lost


Genre: Adult Historical Fiction & Contemporary
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Pages: 384
Publication Date: May 26th, 2015
Source: eARC provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Previous Books in Series: Standalone
Goodreads Description

A beautifully written and evocative novel—the story of an impossible, unstoppable love affair set in London during World War II and the present day

An accomplished novel from a talented writer, Letters to the Lost is the kind of love story that will sweep you away from the very first page. Iona Grey's prose is warm, evocative, and immediately engaging; her characters become so real you can't bear to let them go.

Late on a frozen February evening, a young woman is running through the streets of London. Having fled from her abusive boyfriend and with nowhere to go, Jess stumbles onto a forgotten lane where a small, clearly unlived in old house offers her best chance of shelter for the night. The next morning, a mysterious letter arrives and when she can’t help but open it, she finds herself drawn inexorably into the story of two lovers from another time.

In London 1942, Stella meets Dan, a US airman, quite by accident, but there is no denying the impossible, unstoppable love that draws them together. Dan is a B-17 pilot flying his bomber into Europe from a British airbase; his odds of survival at one in five. The odds are stacked against the pair; the one thing they hold onto is the letters they write to each other. Fate is unkind and they are separated by decades and continents. In the present, Jess becomes determined to find out what happened to them. Her hope—inspired by a love so powerful it spans a lifetime—will lead her to find a startling redemption in her own life in a powerfully moving novel perfect for fans of Sarah Jio and Kate Morton.
The Story
Guys, I was browsing on NetGalley--which I NEVER do--and found this under St. Martin's page and I knew I wanted to request it. Seriously, if y'all know me you know I am pretty stingy when it comes to requesting and I have to really want to read it to request it so I was a little nervous going in just in case I didn't like it. No worries there! It was a little slow to start, and the pacing overall is pretty slow, but I loved it. I fell in love with this book like you fall asleep...slowly and then all at once--Thanks, John Green. But for real, that's how it was. It took a few chapters for me to feel the beat and then I was all in. The 2011 story and the flashbacks to the 1943 story sucked me in like mad. We are first introduced to Jess who is running away, from what we do not know, and she finds an abandoned house to hide out in. The next day a letter arrives from an American man telling an old love that he has spend his life loving her and wishes he would have fought harder for her...and so it begins...

We get Jess' present day story of trying to survive, get her life right, as well as find out who the woman of the letter is. We also get a journey to the past--see what I did there?--to discover what the actual story is that inspired this letter. The present day story is pretty light in the first 50% and then it really digs in whereas the first part of the book focuses a bit more time on 1944. How these two stories come together and the story that unfolds in 1944 is perfect in pacing. I felt like London 1944 enfolded me in its blanket of words and as awful of a time this was, I feel oddly comforted while reading. It was like coming home after a long time away and I realized my own love affair with this city during this time period. I will not reveal spoilers but this story is beautiful in its innocence yet passionate nature. The impossibility of the situation, the unknown of tomorrow or even the next hour, and the longing that is felt for loved ones in harm's way. It is all just so...tragically beautiful, and I loved every second.

The 2011 story is a slow burn. We have two very complex characters who are so different yet so similar. Again, no spoilers, but the circumstances that bring these two together at several different times is just fantastic. You can't fight fate or destiny but you also sometimes have to fight to get there. I found myself rooting for Jess and Will in so many ways and they were so endearing to my heart. I just wanted them to be okay. The focus overall might have been moreso on 1944 but I didn't love Will and Jess any less.

The Letters
I am a sucker for letters in books. Especially love letters. There is something so innocent and sexy and romantic and deep about love letters. I love when they are in books and so much emotion can be felt in a short letter compared to 10 pages of writing, in my opinion. So much is conveyed in so little and it just clutches at my heart. I love, love, loved reading Dan's letters to Stella and I just cannot tell you how much this added to the story and made the entire story possible.

The Writing
As I said above, the writing felt like it was wrapping me in a blanket. I was enthralled by the story and absolutely never wanted to put it down. The pacing is slow but in a deliciously slow revealing way. I loved how this story was written. I felt like we really got a feel for the setting, the emotions, the characters, their motivations, the longing, all of it. It was fantastic and if you're a fan of historical fiction, you will fall in love with this story.

The Love
While I, myself, completely fell in love with the characters and their story, I could objectively see that there is small lack in the build-up of the feelings. I don't want to go so far as to say insta-love because it is SO not that but I could have done with a little more interaction with each other before feelings were discussed. On the same note, when you know you know and in their situations it is completely understandable so Imma let it slide and it didn't bother me but I could see where a few people might have small issues with it.

Backstage Pass
If you love historical fiction, love letters, and wartime love stories...this book is for you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How to Have Hair Like a Heroine

Hey guys! So after talking to a few ladies on Twitter about curling hair with a straightener and the difficulties of it--and it is difficult until you get used to it--I offered to film another video of my technique. I had previously sent one to Hannah who didn't believe I could do this to my hair in under 3 minutes--I can. So by popular demand and request, here is how I curl my hair with a straightener. Enjoy! (Also, thanks to Hannah for the post title *muah*)


Ok so I hope that makes sense! Like I said, I'm always on Twitter for questions or anything! It took me a while to get my groove! Here are some other hair products I use and live by or mentioned in the video!

Conair Infiniti Pro 1.75" Flat Iron--I mispoke in my video, it's 1.75" not 1.5", my bad. I've tried a lot of straighteners but this one is my favorite! I love the wider iron but I've also used 1" iron by this brand and also really like it. I prefer the wider iron because the curls/waves are looser than with the 1".

Living Proof The Perfect Hair Day--Looooove this stuff! It adds a little bit of texture but it always moisturizes. I apply this to my wet hair after every wash 

TRESemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray--I use this before applying any heat styling tool on my hair to protect it. It doesn't leave a film on my hair like I've noticed with other products.

Living Proof Instant Texture Mist--When I am feeling lazy and DON'T want to curl my hair, I use this and it still gives me textured, wavy beach hair. I love this. It legit works. You can use it on wet, damp, or dry hair, tousle it and it gives you waves without crunchiness. Love love love this. 

Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Dry Shampoo--I live and die by dry shampoos on days I don't wash my hair. I have tried multiple brands and lo and behold the BEST one I've found is the probably the cheapest on the market. This suave brand not only works but it DOES NOT discolor hair or go flaky or make it gray at the roots--where I usually spray. The only thing I have noticed is if you use too much or spray too liberally, my hair gets a little thick at the roots so less is more for this approach. It also acts as a great voluminzing spray without it getting sticky or feel like hairspray. Win, win.

Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Helpful? Let me know, I'm dying to hear what you think! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Faking It

"I'm fragile.
The fragility of a hopeless romantic trapped in a reality in which there is no happily ever after."
--Sherry Thomas, The One in My Heart

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: 260
Publication Date: April 21st
Source: eARC provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Previous Books in Series: Standalone
Prevoius Books By This Author: The Burning Sky & The Perilous Sea
Goodreads Description

When Evangeline Canterbury meets the gorgeous, intriguing doctor next door, all she wants from him is a bit of distraction, to help her get over a few rough days.


Her one-night stand, however, has other plans: He needs an accomplished and presentable girlfriend to bring before his parents—and for six months of her time, he is willing and prepared to spend an obscene amount of money.


Nothing but trouble can come of such an arrangement. But can Eva stop herself? Or will she fall headlong in love with a man who will leave her when their contract expires with a smile, a check, and hardly a backward glance?
When I saw on NetGalley that Sherry Thomas has a NEW romance that was also CONTEMPORARY I auto-requested. I was so excited to start this and with a few minor issues I really enjoyed it. Let’s break it down.

The Setting
We start off in Cos Cob outside of the city where meet Evangeline who is walking in the rain who is helped out by Bennett. The two have a passionate one-night stand that leaves Evangeline thinking about that night, and the man, for quite a long time after. This happens in summer, right before Evangeline is about to start teaching, she gets through the next few months unscathed and it isn’t until after Christmas that she has a chance run-in with Bennett…cue the music. Bennett is estranged from his family for reasons unknown, but not for long, and wants to fake date Evangeline in order to run in the same social circle as his parents without coming right out and saying he wants a reconciliation. I both liked and disliked this. I don’t really like the fake dating when you know the two idiots obviously want more BUT I’ll get to that. This situation brings us to the upper echelons of Manhattan society and I loved reading about the parties and the dresses and that life in general. Very adult Gossip Girl…xoxo

Evangeline

While I have issues I’ll discuss below, overall I really liked Evangeline. She was smart, independent, closed-off, yet also yearning for affection that she never knew she wanted. She was extremely loving to her stepmother and I adored that. She’s intelligent as all hell and doesn’t really give a shit what anybody thinks about her love of science or chosen profession. She does her and she makes no apologies.

The Arc

loved how this relationship played out. They went on a mini-trip, he met her friends, they had dates, they talked about his past and previous affairs *eyebrow raise*. I really liked getting to know them through their interactions. The part with her friends was hilarious, Bennett is courteous and thoughtful to Evangeline’s stepmom, and Evangeline is sensitive to his plight and does all she can to help him reconcile with his parents. The pacing of the story was hands down fantastic.
The Trope
Honestly, if anybody but Sherry Thomas wrote this book I would not have requested it based on the synopsis. 1. Bennett is a surgeon and I basically throw up crossed fingers when I read that the hero is a doctor. Rather would I eat nails than read about a doctor or personally date one, so I’m biased, whatever, I’m owning up to it. 2. I do not like the fake dating as the backdrop to our relationship. They both clearly want more. Of course, they never communicate those needs, and it just is a runaround of ridiculous second-guessing and suppressing actual feelings. I know people love this, I’m just not one of them. I also don’t get this because they had already met and CLEARLY had some chemistry so why couldn’t Bennett just cut the shit. ‘Hey, I need an in with my parents, you’d be perfect, but I also would like to genuinely get to know you so can we date?’ I don’t know this dynamic just doesn’t make sense to me. Was this one done well? YES. Did it change my mind on the trope in general and make me love it? No. Did it change my opinion on the book? Not really…no.

The Emotional Canvas
*MILD SPOILERS*
While I like Evangeline overall, she make little sense to me towards the end. She spends most of the book developing feelings for Bennett, telling herself not to because it’s fake, but also wishing she could really fall for him because she wants it to be real…but then when real feelings come to light, she runs the other way saying she never wanted this…whaaaaa??? Then right after we are privy to much more of her emotional psyche and why she ran from it and I COMPLETELY understood and empathized with her. I would have acted very similar but what bothered me is that we didn’t get to see this side of her before so her rejection of his feeling came out of nowhere to me. I would have really enjoyed her character arc more had we been privy to her hesitation before it came to a head. I would have loved to see her hesitation throughout and really understand where she’s coming from because how this was done was confusing.
General Admission
If you love the fake relationship game, snarky banter, and the Upper East Side…this book’s for you.

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Court of Thorns and Roses Blog Tour// Masquerade Ball


Welcome to final day of the blog tour for A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas!!! Eep! Y'all I was blown away by this book, in case you don't already know this. If you can't tell, I have an affinity for Beauty and the Beast and re-tellings are my favorites and Sarah did this tale as old as time such justice and in a totally unique and creative way. You can check out my review and my RSVP Early To posts with the links!

If you've been following the tour, this week we are having a masquerade ball!! I have been deemed with the horrible, awful, terrible, very bad task of...dream casting the men of ACOTAR...I know, it' just awful, isn't it? However will I recover from the pain and suffering I have endured because of this blog post. This is the burden I must bear...Without further ado, let's bring on the boys. ..

Tamlin
Tamlin is my favorite. Big, strong, blond, warrior, beautiful and there is NO ONE I would rather cast as Tamlin than Chris Hemsworth. No joke, I even tweeted Sarah while reading months ago that I just picture Chris Hemsworth the time so it's ironic this was what I was asked to do later on. Love him!!

1 / 2 / 3 

Lucien
Lucien is of the Autumn Court. Vicious, beautiful, red hair, intense. I won't lie, it didn't take me long to decide on Sam Heughan as Lucien. I know he is a personal favorite of hers as well as another redhead he plays. 
1 / 2 / 3

Rhysand
Oh, Rhysand. You were a bit harder to place. Dark, gorgeous, dangerous, making saints want to be sinners. I have to give a shoutout to the amazing Hannah, for her suggestion of Ian Somerhalder because as she so eloquently put it..."He looks like he should be somebody's whore." Well said, Hannah...well said. 

1 / 2 / 3 
What do we think?! Think these guys make the grade? I think they're pretty smokin' and I would go Under the Mountain for Tamlin, as well. Especially when you add in the awkward and endearing personality...it's done. If these men don't make you want to read this book...then there really is no hope for you.
And don't forget to enter the Giveaway! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Idiot-Pathetic Princess and the Pea

"Once upon a time..."
--Tiffany Schmidt, Hold Me Like a Breath
   
Genre: YA Contemporary, Crime
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 400
Publication Date: May 19th, 2015
Source: ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review
Previous Books in Series: First book in series
Goodreads Description

Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can't protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family's line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks
The Writing...ish
Not gonna lie, I was excited to start this book. Anything dealing with a crime family I'll most likely want to read, add in the medical aspect of illegal organ trafficking and I was in! The beginning of this book read so easily. Fluid, engaging, it had my attention pretty quickly as well as my emotions. I empathized with Penelope's illness and her lack of freedom. I really loved her relationship with her brother and the butterflies she got around longtime friends and BFF of her brother, Garrett. However, after about 100 pages in my feelings started to wane...
The Writing
After a major plot point, the story goes to hell. Penelope is in a situation where she has to leave the confines of her sheltered life behind and forges ahead alone in NYC. There were some very confusing actions of Penelope that made zero sense to me. The major one being she makes contact with two different people by choice yet the one person she wants to talk to she doesn't make an effort to contact. It didn't make any sense. And towards the end of the book there were incongruities in the plot and what people said vs what they've been told. It was all very odd.

The Insta-Love
I'm okay with insta-attraction. It doesn't bother me. I'm a goddamn romantic and believe in love (lust) at first sight. But this was just really...immature. It was superficial and didn't feel organic to the story. It felt lazy. This was the part of the book I really checked out. Sorry not sorry. The whole relationship thereafter I just couldn't buy into and was quite frankly, waiting for somebody else to come back into the picture. And when that person does Penelope makes some boneheads assumptions about him that I just didn't jive with.

The Plot
While I enjoyed the idea of illegal organ trafficking and it was talked about a lot, the same thing was being said over...and over...and over again. I would have liked more depth about this issue and the discussion of the good vs bad. There was some of it but I felt like it was a filler rather than a plot point. What could have been a really intesting story and topic felt underused and not explored to it's full capability.
Standing in Line Outside
If you like unfounded insta-love, plot holes, and a quick read...this book's for you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Adventures in the Great Wide Somewhere// Cuzco and Ollantaytambo, Peru

 

If Lima was one of the two low points of my trip (you'll meet the other one soon), then Cuzco was the highlight. Cuzco was visually everything I expected to find in Peru and more. Colorful, cobblestoned, colonial-esque. I fell in love almost immediately upon landing. Apologies in advance because I threw this feature together and have recently paid more attention to WHERE I'm staying and eating however I did not do that in South America, my bad.

We stayed at a nice hotel (that's all I got, if it's gross I'll tell you and try to remember the name) about a 5-10 minute walk from the city center. I love walking around cities. Exploring hole in the wall streets and alleys and Cuzco is full of them. Markets are hidden in alleys you'd walk right past otherwise and there is always something new to see. I stayed in Cuzco for one day before and after the Inca Trail/Machu Piccu. The elevation takes a little getting used to so if you find yourself out of breath after climbing a flight of stairs, it's all normal.

 
While in Cuzco I re-discovered my love of bargaining and doing it in another language is twice as fun. I got the price down on some headbands simply for being able to say $10 with a smile. The old ladies laughed at me and gave me the price I wanted. Winning. However, the prices of food are not negotiable. We did eat in a restaurant right in the center of the city but it wasn't too overpriced. Don't be surpised to find guinea pig and alpaca on the menu...no, I'm serious, Peruvians eat guinea pigs. A friend tried it and liked it...I'm not that wordly when it comes to food so pasta primavera was what was on my menu. I did however try an alpaca burger...very chewy...would not recommend. Also awkward when I encountered alpaca the next day...oh...hiiiiii.

Cuzco thrives in its beauty of its surroundings. This is a perfect pre and post stop of the Inca Trail. Like I said before, perfect to start to accomodate yourself to the elevation and post because they have really inexpensive massages to help your aching muscles after hiking for 4 days and the Inca magic wears off.

 

Complementing Cuzco is a trip up the mountains overlooking the city for a beautiful picture spot. From there we traveled to my first experience with Inca ruins. Again, the elevation is killer so wear sunscreen (even if you think you don't need it...you do. I don't burn hardly ever and I burned here. Brutal.) and take the 15 minutes to climb to the top of a pseudo-mountain overlooking the valley to test your endurance with the elevation. If you're doing the Inca Trail, you're gonna need it.

 

You're also gonna need a stop in what I like to call the Inca Trail base camp. Ollantaytambo is a popular spot to stay the day before you start your hike. It has Inca ruins to climb to, again, push your endurance at high elevations and markets to get whatever you may have forgotten before going radio silent on the trail for 4 days. I loved this village. Picturesque, ancient, I could feel Peru come alive in this small town. The food is of all different variety. Traditional Peruvian restaurants, American pizza, pasta, etc. you can find almost anything. I went with pasta to carb load, it was delicious. There is also a legit Kwik-E-Mart for those of you who watch the Simpsons. And not only is Ollantaytambo a pretty place to stop, there is also a beautifully tragic story about what took place there hundreds of years ago with the Incas...

There is a story about a daughter of an Incan king who fell in love with one of his soliders. The solider asked for her hand in marriage and when the king refused, they ran away together to Ollantaytambo. The king and his army followed them and when the king still refused to let them marry, a battle broke out and the soldier and his daughter were captured. The punishment? Both the solider and his daughter were executed in what are now the ruins of Ollantaytambo...isn't that tragic?! There is a book in there somewhere so one of you authors needs to write it. So Shakespearean. *Le sigh*

 

Must See
Markets
Massages
City Center
Cuzco Overlook
Ollantaytambo Ruins

Skip
Guinea pigs and alpaca cuisine

Travel Class
Economy

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Alteration of a New Generation

"I don't know if I'm brave enough for this--
Then I shall be brave enough for both of us."
--Laura Andersen, The Virgin's Daughter


Genre: Adult Historical Fiction, Alternate History
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 352
Publication Date: May 19th, 2015
Source: eARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review
Previous Books in Accompanying Series: The Boleyn King & The Boleyn Deceit & The Boleyn Reckoning
Goodreads Description

What if Elizabeth the First, the celebrated Virgin Queen, had a daughter? For those who just can’t get enough of the scandalous Tudors, the author of the wildly popular Boleyn King series offers an enthralling new saga of the royal family, set in Elizabethan England. Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir.

Andersen explores the thrilling possibility of a Tudor heir, the daughter of Elizabeth I, in her new trilogy, a captivating continuation of the alternate history of the Tudors launched in the award-winning Boleyn King trilogy. With her originality and imagination, Andersen breathes fresh life into this ever-fascinating epoch. Peppered with realistic period-details and genuine historical figures to add dimension and texture to her captivating story, Andersen brings the seduction and glamour of the Tudor court to life in this spellbinding new novel.



If you’ve been here before, you might know my intense, deep love for The Boleyn King series. Like…deep, deep, soul kind of love. I did an entire week of Book Pushin’ on it--you can find my links here and Laura interview here and Lit in Lyrics here and fashion here. Not only is the premise of that series brilliant, if Anne Boleyn had a son what would an alternate history of it be? I mean, c’mon! How amazing is that! Y’all know Anne Boleyn is my homegirl so if the premise didn’t get to me, the characters definitely did. BUT this is not a posthumous review of The Boleyn King…which I could easily do. THIS review is about the continuation/spin-off of the series where Elizabeth is not the virgin queen, she has a daughter with her husband the King of Spain. Hello, epic, nice to see you again.

SPOILERS FROM THE BOLEYN KING TRILOGY—READ AT YOUR OWN RISK

I won't lie, I was nervous before starting because I loved TBK characters SO FREAKING MUCH and I was all, what if I don’t connect as much? What will I do?! Never fear, Laura is here. Andersen’s characterization writing is amazing. I head tilted when I realized from TBK, there are really only 2 characters I ride and die for…and after this first book there are at least 7 characters (not including the ones from the previous books) that I am fully invested in. THAT IS A LOT! The writing is so complex and intricate and because she’s rewriting history, you have no idea what is going to happen, what plots come to pass, who to trust, it’s just crazy! I found myself so anxious while reading-nothing new there with these books-because I wanted so badly to have certain things work out but you knew the implosion of circumstances was about to happen and there was nothing you could do to stop it.


I’ll say this right off the bat because the first 3 pages took me 10 minutes to get through. Why? Because we get a look into the lives of our beloved characters, Minuette and Dominic and Renaud, immediately. I swooned and felt so happy I actually clutched my chest and gasped and re-read the pages over and over. So much happiness. I can’t even tell you. Okay, moving on.

The plot is…intricate, to say the least. Spies are everywhere, plots are thick, assassination attempts are everywhere, and at the center of it all is love. Love is a common thread among these characters whether they know it or not. The Courtenay family (eep!!) has many a members who are deep into the thick of politics and do their best to keep a poker face. Lucette, the eldest daughter of Minuette and Dominic, is the most major character who has been assigned to spy on a family of close friends to determine if a plot is in the midst. There, she encounters two French brothers….oh, sorry, I zoned out and daydreamed about French men, my bad, I’m back…le sigh…one of whom she believes is in on the plot and the other who she begrudgingly starts to have feelings for. And the thing of it is, you just don’t know who to trust. Thus comes anxious and hurried reading trying to get to the bottom of it. And that’s all I’ll say about that. In regards to Lucette—love love loved her. She is so smart and clever and sassy. She says what’s on her mind and doesn’t let her sex dictate her place. Her mind can hold its own with the best of them and I loved that she wanted to be desired for her mind as well as her looks. Her task is not an easy one and she handled it with both feeling and objectivity and did what she had to do to succeed.

In addition to the central plot with Lucette, we meet Anabel—Elizabeth’s daughter and future Queen of England. Anabel will be seeing her father, King of Spain, soon and marriage discussions are going to happen. She is unsure of what she wants and knows too well that her feelings will not come into play at all. This broke my heart. This poor young girl hardly even knows her own feelings about anything because she has been trained not to feel emotional about anything, only logical analysis. I want to feel for Anabel a little more but girlfriend doesn’t even know what she wants so I’m hoping to see her let loose a little in further books. Anabel is BFFs with Kit and Pippa, twins of Minuette and Dom. LOVED Pippa, I really cannot wait to see more of her and I’m crossing my fingers she gets a love story in there somewhere. The eldest brother Stephen is an understated but powerful characters. He is charged with guarding Mary, Queen of Scots and yeah…amazing things happen with that. He is so cool.

What else, what else? OH! DUH! THE SWOON! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t swoon or get a stupid grin on my face whenever Dom was in a scene. Like…I just found myself smiling like an idiot because so much love for him it isn’t even funny. And we get to see him be a father!? Hello, sliver fox, have we met? Renaud was pretty sexy too in an older man way…rawr. I loved seeing the characters I've come to know and love in an entirely different role. It was just freaking awesome. I'll take any chance I can get for more time with Minuette and Dom. BUT the young buck on the scene for me is Julien. Le freaking sigh. There is a scene at the end that brough on double swoon and I didn’t think my heart could take it. Julien is such a complicated man and so pure of heart in a way he doesn’t even realize. His guilt and agony of regret tore at my heart. His character arc was my favorite because he goes through so much. I cannot wait to see more of him as well.

Ok, I know that was a big explosion of spaz and feels but it’s hard to put into words how intricate and complex this book was. So much is going on, so much shit goes down, and so much swoon happens. I loved this book and I cannot wait to see where the story goes from here!



Backstage Pass
If you love the Tudors, alternate history, intricate plots, and swoon…this book’s for you.


Friday, May 8, 2015

You Say Savage, I Say Husband Material

"'Let me know, Iain.'
'Let you know what?'
'If you're going to keep her or not.'
'And if I'm not?'
'Then I am.'"
--Julie Garwood, The Secret



Genre: Adult Historical Romance
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 384
Publication Date: May 1992
Source: Borrowed from library
Previous Books in Series: First in duo of companion novels
Goodreads Description

Judith Hampton was as beautiful as she was proud and loyal. Her dear Scottish friend from childhood was about to give birth, and Judith had promised to be at her side. But there was another, private reason for the journey from her bleak English home to the Highlands: to meet the father she had never known, the Laird Maclean. Nothing prepared her, however, for the sight of the Scottish barbarian who was to escort her into his land...Iain Maitland, Laird of his clan, a man more powerfully compelling than any she had ever encountered.

In a spirited clash of wills and customs, Judith reveled in the melting bliss of Iain's searching kisses, his passionate caresses. Perplexed by her sprightly defiance, bemused by her tender nature, Iain felt his soul growing into the light and warmth of her love. Surely nothing would wrench her from the affection and trust of Iain and his clan...not even the truth about her father, a devastating secret that could shatter the boldest alliance, and the most glorious of loves!
This is my first historical romance book...ever. I know...I KNOW! The shock is there. Nobody is more surprised than me that I somehow missed this genre of reading. I skipped this stop on the reading train and went from contemporary straight to erotica. Smh. ANYWAYS! After reading Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer, the setting is a romance novel convention, I wanted to read ALL the romance novels. So I asked my amazing friend Alexa for a few recs...she returned with a massive list that I am more than excited to get through.

First on her list was her very first romance novel, The Secret by Julie Garwood. Y'all!! I am SO hapy I started with this but so totally fucked when every book after this doesn't live up to this one. It is SO incredibly swoony. We have an English lady who is BFFs with a Scottish woman, they met when they were too young to know they were supposed to hate each other. Frances Catherine is about to have birth and was promised by Judith, the Englishwoman, she would be there when she gave birth. Thus, Iain and three other Scotsmen travel to England to escort Judith back. This is an adventure in itself because we meet Iain *sigh* and he has a pretty immediate attraction to Judith and vice versa.

Their relationship from here on out is STEEPED with sexual tension! Holy shit. I thought I might actually faint at one point. The banter is witty and feiry and passionate. These two do not want to like each other but they do. I have a weakness for protective and possessive men and Iaian is both those things. I love when in the beginning of a relationship he just takes it upon himself to situation himself all up in her business. Doesn't let her ride with anyone else, opens his big mouth when somebody else tries to take notice of her. I love that. Love love LOVE that. It's so fricking adorable when the male is so distarught about his feelings and doesn't know how to process.

The dynamic between Iain and Judith is built on trust, listening, and understanding (for the most part). I mean, it doens't come right away but the trust is there. She knows she is safe with him and he knows he will do anything to protect her. I loved watching them talk out their emotions or struggles and I ADORED how he was to in tuned with her emotions. When he knew she was upset, he knew exactly how to calm her down or just wait until she processed evertyhing. Judith is a strong female character but also emotional in the best way possible.

Besides the romance, the BEST part of the book for me was her friendship with Fraces Catherine. Oh, my gosh. These two were just too much and the men knew it. Their banter and how they spoke to one another reminded me of me and my best friend (Hi Betty!). They joke with each other and tell the other the honest truth about what's going on. They let them know when they're being ridiculous and listen to the other. Their friendship was absolutely beautiful and it was one of my favorite, honestly THE favorite, part of the book for me.

The conflict of the book was pertinent but not too heavy. I really enjoyed this. I liked watching the relationship build rather than so much focus on outside influences and the secret Judith was keeping. How this played out and the truth behind her secret and fears as pretty awesome. I really enjoyed how it all turned out in the end and even I was shocked by some revelations.

This was my first soiree into the historical romance genre and it will not be my last, I'm already foaming at the mouth to get my hands on Ransom, the companion novel. and I am starting it immediately!

Backstage Pass
If you love the Scottish Highlands, fiery heroines, protective heros, and a swoony romance...this one's for you.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ice, Ice, Baby

"One day, kid, you'll be willing to mortage your fucking soul for somebody."
--Karen Marie Moning, Iced


Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Delacourte Press
Pages: 495
Publication Date: October 20th, 2012
Source: Borrowed from library
Previous Books in SeriesDarkfever & Bloodfever & Faefever & Dreamfever & Shadowfever
Goodreads Description

The year is 1 AWC—After the Wall Crash. The Fae are free and hunting us. It’s a war zone out there, and no two days are alike. I’m Dani O’Malley, the chaos-filled streets of Dublin are my home, and there’s no place I’d rather be.

Dani “Mega” O’Malley plays by her own set of rules—and in a world overrun by Dark Fae, her biggest rule is: Do what it takes to survive. Possessing rare talents and the all-powerful Sword of Light, Dani is more than equipped for the task. In fact, she’s one of the rare humans who can defend themselves against the Unseelie. But now, amid the pandemonium, her greatest gifts have turned into serious liabilities.

Dani’s ex–best friend, MacKayla Lane, wants her dead, the terrifying Unseelie princes have put a price on her head, and Inspector Jayne, the head of the police force, is after her sword and will stop at nothing to get it. What’s more, people are being mysteriously frozen to death all over the city, encased on the spot in sub-zero, icy tableaux.

When Dublin’s most seductive nightclub gets blanketed in hoarfrost, Dani finds herself at the mercy of Ryodan, the club’s ruthless, immortal owner. He needs her quick wit and exceptional skill to figure out what’s freezing Fae and humans dead in their tracks—and Ryodan will do anything to ensure her compliance.

Dodging bullets, fangs, and fists, Dani must strike treacherous bargains and make desperate alliances to save her beloved Dublin—before everything and everyone in it gets iced.
The Characters
While I was more than apprehensive to start a whole book stuck in Dani's head, it wasn't as bad as I thought. She's annoying with her ego at times and ridiculous speech at times, but yeah, she's 14 so I let most of it slide. I know she has 'superpowers' and I loved this aspect and could definitely feel her frustration with people looking at her like she's a naive and clueless child. She could more than handle her own and she needed to be given more credit. I can't even talk about Ryodan because the sexual tension he was throwing off was making me think he incarnated and was throwing of death-by-sex Fae vibes. Hotachacha. And Christian? Can't decide if he's creepy as fuck or totally charming...I'm gonna go with both leaning towards charming. But OMG Dancer?!??!? Baller status and coming out of left field. I.Loved. This. Guy. He was so self-possessed and smart and held his own in front of fucking Ryodan AND Christian. Wonderful addition to the crew. Hope to see more of him.

The Emotions
I found myself familiarly comfortable back in the Fever world and loved being with these characters again, even if Mac and Barrons were beyond on the periphery. I'm excited to see where these characters end up because I really felt a connection to all of them. Dani, Ryodan, Dancer, Christian. But not Jo. I hate that pathetic skank. Sorry, neither here nor there.

The Plot
This is a Belle and a Beast. I was invested in the story but mostly because of the characters however I found the plot dragged a bit and took too long to get to the point. I loved the character profession of the plot but the conflict felt meh to me.

The Length
I thought this was a little long and a littler verbose for my liking. I don't know if it was my mood but it took me a little while to really get into it. I was falling out of the story. Dani's POV wasn't as annoying as I anticipated but her uber ego was trying at times. It was just obnoxious. And while I can empathize she is just a 14 year old kid, it was still annoying.

The Tension
The oh so obvious sexual tension between Dani and Ryodan...and Christian...and Dancer gave me blue balls. Can Dani just disappear into the mirrors for 5 years mirror time and 1 month our time so she can come back, uh, LEGAL and able to PARTICIPATE in all the ACTIVITIES with Ryodan...or Christian...or Dancer? That is all.
Reserved Seating
If you love the Fever series...this one's for you but don't expect it to live up to the rest of the series.