Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Book Review: Holding Out for a Hero by Christine Bell, Ella Dane, Tamara Morgan, Nico Rosso, Adrien Luc-Sanders

Title: Holding Out for a Hero
Author: Christine Bell, Ella Dane, Tamara Morgan, Nico Rosso, Adrien Luc-Sanders
Release Date: 14 January 2013
Number of pages: 550 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Source: ebook provided by the publisher
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Read an excerpt
Buy links are below, linked to the novella's title when available separately online.

Grade: 4 stars

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads appetizer: Scarlett Fever by Christine Bell and Ella Dane

After five years in training, it’s finally time for Scarlett Fever and her fellow superheroes to leave the United Superhero Academy and test their powers out in the real world. There’s only one problem. She’s been assigned to partner with arrogant, by the book, and irritatingly hot, Blade of Justice.

Blade’s whole life has gone according to plan, and he’s more than ready to move on to the big time, protecting a metropolis of his own. But his perfectly ordered life is derailed when he’s teamed up with the fiery maverick, Scarlett Fever.

Sparks fly the moment they arrive in Plunketville, Oklahoma, as they each set out to force the other to request a transfer. They soon discover there’s more going on in this single stop-sign town than blowing up mailboxes and cow tipping. If Scarlett can get Blade to listen to his gut, and he can teach her to use her head, they just might have a fighting chance.

Ironheart by Nico Rosso

Vince might be hard as steel, but he’s not invincible. Not when iron touches him, especially in the hands of an evil minion. Not when Kara ran away after a whirlwind affair, just when he thought he might be falling in love. And definitely not when she returns, looking for his help.

The archvillain TechHead is coming for Kara and her superhero teammates, and he’s determined to use their combined power to create the ultimate weapon. But Kara can’t fight him alone. She needs Vince’s brutal skill, though being with him means she risks losing her beloved secret identity, leaving her nowhere else to hide.

When TechHead makes a play to capture Kara, Vince has more to lose than just his heart. But he will do anything for the woman he loves, even if it means putting his heart on the line again.

Playing With Fire by Tamara Morgan

Fiona Nelson has always been one hot ticket—even before she took the conversion serum that gave her superhu¬man abilities. Fiona’s powers come at a price: lack of human contact, or she won’t be the only thing burning. When she loses control of her emotions, her fire powers run rampant… and she’s hurt enough people already. Including herself.

But when the man behind her conversion returns to black¬mail her into helping him gain power, the only person she can turn to is Ian Jones, the man who broke her teenage heart. The man determined to expose the criminal known as Fireball, whose explosive escapades are just a little too close to Fiona’s M.O.
Ian is convinced Fiona’s dangerous, convinced she’s Fire¬ball, and convinced he’ll damn himself if he doesn’t resist a heat that’s always drawn him to Fiona like a moth to a flame—but Ian has his own secrets.

And he’ll learn far too soon what happens when you play with fire.

From the Ashes by Adrien-Luc Sanders

Sociopath. Killer. Deviant. Monster, devoid of morals, incapable of human emotion. The villain known as Spark has been called that and more, and as a super-powered aberrant has masterminded count¬less crimes to build his father’s inhuman empire.

Yet to professor Sean Archer, this fearsome creature is only Tobias Rutherford–antisocial graduate research¬er, quiet underachiever, and a fascinating puzzle Sean is determined to solve.

One kiss leads to an entanglement that challenges ev¬erything Tobias knows about himself, aberrants, and his own capacity to love. But when his father orders him to assassinate a senator, one misstep unravels a knot of political intrigue that places the fate of hu¬mans and aberrants alike in Tobias’s hands. As danger mounts and bodies pile deeper, will Tobias succumb to his dark nature and sacrifice Sean–or will he defy his father and rise from the ashes to become a hero in a world of villains?

My Thoughts: I read and reviewed two novellas in this anthology:


Scarlett Fever by Christine Bell and Ella Dane

It was by pure chance I read Scarlett Fever, namely that it was the very first story in the anthology and I started with it and I have to say in my opinion Holding Out for a Hero started out with a bang.

Scarlett Fever starts with the graduation exam at the Superhero Academy, where Scarlett Fever and Blade of Justice fight the graduation battle before being assigned to be each other’s partner for the next year. Their mission is in Plunketville, Oklahoma, and the small town provided a colourful location with several memorable secondary characters.

Scarlett and Blade are complete opposites: Scarlett is fiery, feisty, spontaneous while Blade is cool, level-headed and responsible, he is the ice to Scarlett’s fire, and the sparks crackle between these two. I loved their banter and their loaded silences as well, Blade was a hero the reader could have a serious crush on, while Scarlett was a likeable and very entertaining heroine with her huffing and puffing. The story was truly a superhero romance because Scarlett Fever was just as much about the explosive chemistry between Scarlett and Blade than the superhero mystery, and I absolutely enjoyed both!

She had to admit, it was easy to see Blade’s appeal. He exuded strength and confidence, and he kissed like the world was about to end.

Oh yeah, he definitely does… Can I just say yum?

Verdict: Some people on Goodreads called Scarlett Fever silly, but I don’t expect to take my cartoon superheroes seriously (really, how could you take a hero who is called Blade of Justice seriously? lol ). But what I expect is lots of action, tongue in cheek humour and tons of fun and Scarlett Fever delivered! If you are a fan of Jennifer Estep’s Bigtime series you’ll love Scarlett Fever as well, and I sincerely hope Christine Bell and Ella Dane will give us more stories in this universe, because it was a lot of fun, and I personally would LOVE to read many more similar superhero stories!

I give Scarlett Fever 4.5 fiery stars!


Playing with Fire by Tamara Morgan

I am a fan of Tamara Morgan’s stories, I enjoyed Love is a Battlefield and her latest release Confidence Tricks was phenomenal, so yeah I admit, that her story was the reason I was the most looking forward to reading this anthology, but sadly Playing with Fire made me sad.

Due to a natural disaster (something about an asteroid hitting Earth) a conversion serum was developed, many people excited to see what supernatural abilities it would develop for them took it without knowing anything about any potential side-effects and consequences, one of them being Fiona, who developed the power to generate heat and fire with her bare hands. Eight years have gone by and although she has come a long way handling this unique ability of hers, she still has a thin grasp on control whenever her temper flares. But with Fiona we don’t see any positive changes this superpower brought to her life only the bad: how for the past 8 years she had to relinquish all kind of human contact, relationship and had to resign herself to a life of loneliness and solitude.

The problem was that this story was depressing on all levels: Fiona had awful teenage years, she had a reputation of the “high school slut”, and it was not due to false rumours and gossips because she really did do the whole football team as Fiona tells us. And even after that not only the world but mostly Fiona objectified her body and traded sexual acts for any kind of human contact: attention, compassion, companionship. Fiona’s past not only made me sad for the young vulnerable girl she was and still is, the problem is that I don’t feel her opinion of herself, on the matter of sex and her self-esteem have changed.

Besides a superhero who still hasn’t risen above her sad past, the hero also made me sad. His best friend was a jerk and even at the last rescue didn’t manage to redeem himself to me. And I wouldn’t call the romance romance as it didn’t have much time or space to develop, since both the hero and heroine were stuck in very different places than the hero and now, at times stuck in high school and their guilt ever since, then trying to escape the threat looming.

Verdict: Although Playing with Fire had a mutant human heroine, somewhat her attitude doesn’t make me think of her as a superhero. I felt sorry and sad for her, and just wanted to hug Fiona and tell her it will be alright, but one of my problems is that I’m not sure at all it will be. The universe in the story seemed very dystopian to me, and I seriously can’t think of any friendly or trustworthy person there. Don’t write off Tamara Morgan based on this story, try one of her contemporary romance for something lighter and fluffier.

I give Playing with Fire 2 and 1/2 stars!

Buy it:




Review originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Book review: Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare

Title: Romancing the Duke
Author: Tessa Dare
Series: Book #1 in the Castles Ever After series
Release Date: January 28th 2014
Publisher: Avon
Number of pages: 384 pages
Source: ebook copy provided through Edelweiss for review

Grade: 4 stars

Novellus superbus!

Goodreads appetizer: In the first in Tessa Dare's captivating Castles Ever After series, a mysterious fortress is the setting for an unlikely love . . .


As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?

No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.

My Thoughts: Believe it or not, Romancing The Duke is the very first book I read by Tessa Dare...! I know, for me to have never read even a single title by this very well known author is a rarity I should long have done something about, but better late than never. Because as you can easily guess I pretty much loved everything about Romancing The Duke!

And what's not to love? The wicked sense of humor? The great and well developed characters? Or the sizzling hot chemistry and toe curling romance between the main couple? Oh yeah, Romancing The Duke delivers in every single of the above departments making this story a really enjoyable one!

I loved Izzy even from the very first lines of this book. I just knew that her sarcasm and how realistic she was towards even the more mundane of things would work just right for me. And I'm glad I wasn't disappointed in my first assessment of her character. Because Izzy is one of those characters that even in the direst circumstances doesn't lose her humor and optimism. She's such a force of life that you can't help but love her.
The same thing applies for Ransom. I really loved him as well, though for entirely different reasons and here I might add not nearly as much as I loved Izzy. Not that he wasn't a great character or as sexy as one could hope but still, Izzy is the character who stole my heart in Romancing The Duke :)

The plot is somewhat fresh, not your typical HR romance that has its fair share of ball scenes and interacting with the ton. And if not for the way too easy way things wrapped up at the end or how predictable that spin in the end was, this would be a solid 5 star review. As it is, Romancing The Duke is a novel I more than enjoyed and Tessa Dare an author whose work I really should have read long ago. But like I said, better late than never :P

Verdict: Romancing The Duke is one of the funniest and sexiest Historical Romance novels I read in a long time. It was fresh and I finished it in no time. Surely I had a few problems with it but they were minor and they didn't lessen my whole appreciation of the novel. I will definitely continue reading this series!

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Writing: 9/10
Ending: 7/10
Cover: 5/10 - Didn't really like that cover I'm afraid. It's pretty generic and the model didn't really remind me of Izzy.

Buy it:

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery





Monday, 27 January 2014

Book Review: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

Title: Uninvited
Author: Sophie Jordan
Series: Book #1 in the Uninvited series
Release Date: January 28th 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Number of pages:384 pages
Source: ebook copy provided via Edelweiss for review
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's WebsiteAmazon, Kindle, Book Depository (US), Book Depository (UK)

Grade: 2 stars

Novellus malus!

Goodreads appetizer: The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan's chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she's destined to become a murderer.

When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan's trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.

My Thoughts: Uninvited was unfortunately not the right book for me. After recently reading Foreplay, Sophie Jordan's latest title, I was pretty certain that I would fall in love with Uninvited. After all, the summary indicated a book right up my alley. But sadly, that wasn't the case with this story...

First of all I have to note that the second part of the book was way better than the first one. Should the story start at the point the second part began maybe I would feel a bit differently towards Uninvited, not that I didn't have a number of problems with the second part too, it's just that it was far more interesting and Davy a little less annoying.
Anyway, Uninvited didn't work for me almost from the beginning. Even if the main idea of the book was somewhat fresh and intriguing, the whole plot was too predictable and a little disturbing at times. I'll come back to the disturbing part in a bit. Davy and Sean gave off a Bella and Edward feeling the whole time. I can't pinpoint exact resemblances between these two couples but while reading Uninvited and the way the romance between Davy and Sean bloomed I kept thinking the whole time about Twilight. Maybe it was the way Sean was overprotective towards Davy. How he kept protecting her one minute and the next pushed her away because he was dangerous. The fact remains that Davy and Sean and their insta love was something I have read millions of times before. And sadly there was no distinctive quality in their romance to make them stand apart.

The idea of Uninvited is quite fresh like I said. The idea of a kill gene intrigued me but the execution of it, left me thoroughly disturbed. I mean Uninvited is set in the future, a future so advanced that we are able to detect people with killing tendencies, but Sophie Jordan's world could as well have been one set 50 years ago... Because I can explain no other way the complete disregard of the environmental factor in someone acting on any homicidal tendencies he might have in his DNA... In Sophie Jordan's world, scientists think that all it takes for someone to kill or be violent is to have that kill gene. Everything else is of no importance. I mean how can I believe that in the future any behavior is a sole result of genes and little else, while right now we positively know that for an individual to acquire some behaviors major role plays the environment, how someone learns to behave by imitating the behavior of people close to them and many other factors that have to do with the way someone lives and what he learns is right or wrong? While reading Uninvited I couldn't help but think of the way people regarded mental disorders some years ago. And no, believing that we can step back instead of moving forward is something I refuse to believe and find realistic. And that's the first thing I found disturbing about Uninvited.

The second thing was how Davy faced the threat of rape so many times after learning that she has the kill gene. I could go along if that happened once or twice. But it happened 4 or 5 and in quick succession... Not that it couldn't happen and I completely understood why the author did it. But that didn't make it any less disturbing... I get that Davy was a beautiful girl abandoned by the system that regarded her as a menace therefore didn't care what happened to her but after the second time she escaped someone's sexual advances, the whole thing felt not only disturbing but also unrealistic. I mean every male that encountered Davy wanted to bed her and Sean was there to save her. Not buying it...

And that wasn't the only thing I couldn't buy... The whole plot was full of unrealistic moments and holes. Some things were rushed and a prime example of that is the transition from the first part of the story to the second one. In the moment when the government is most afraid of the carriers of the kill gene, Davy is miraculously chosen for a different fate, among a few more select ones. And while the government painstakingly chose those few carriers, just because Davy suggests it, they bring in the team Sean as well... He's not special, but since Davy who is special recommends him that earns him a ticket. How more unrealistic could a situation be?

Verdict: Uninvited didn't work for me in any department I'm afraid... Even though I really enjoyed Sophie Jordan's writing style and despite some good moments, in overall I couldn't enjoy this book. It's not that it's a bad book, it's just not my cup of tea. The plot turned out to be one I couldn't really enjoy and if you combine that with the fact that I couldn't connect to any of the main characters you can easily understand why I quickly lost my interest in this story.

Plot: 5/10
Characters: 4/10
Writing: 7/10
Ending: 5/10
Cover: 8/10

Buy it:

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery





Sunday, 26 January 2014

Reading Habits

You know I love to learn random trivia about fellow friends, bloggers, readers, so I thought in case you are curious, here is a little bit about me:

(Saw this at the Book Vixen)

Chocolate chip cookies
Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack? Not usually since I mostly read on the commute to and from work, but if I do read at home I like to munch on cookies or other sweet treats :-)

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? Oh no! The blasphemy! I never write in books even with pencils, so that's another reason why I love my Kindle so much, since I can make annotations (comes in handy when I'm writing up reviews later) there without harming the book.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Bookmarks! Never dog-ear a book, same thing as writing in them: blasphemy! ;-) However, I tend to use everything I can get my hands on as bookmark: receipt, postcard or clothing tag.

Laying the book flat open? No, it will damage the spine. One of my superpowers is being able to read 1300+ page-long books (Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, I'm looking at you..) without breaking their spines.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both? 99% fiction. I sometimes read textbook/casebooks for work and some cookbooks as well.

Hard copy or audiobooks? Ebook. I haven't gotten the knack for audiobooks yet, I find I'm not captivated enough to listen, I need to see the words myself.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point? End of the chapter usually. Or if I can't read until then (=arrived at work, etc.) I have to leave off wherever I am at that moment.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? Before my Kindle I skipped, sometimes made lists and when I got a bunch I looked them up all at once. With my Kindle I can use the built-up dictionary whenever I'm curious. Love that feature!

What are you currently reading? The Duke's Match Girl by Lila DiPasqua

What is the last book you bought? A cookbook: The Sweet Book of Candy Making by Elizabeth Labau

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time? Depends, usually just one, but there were times when I had a book besides my bed, one near the couch and in my bag for travels.

Do you have a favourite time of day and/or place to read? Late morning when it's sunny in my big armchair near the windows in my veranda-like living room. Usually noone is at home at that time of the day. Well me either, since I'm usually at work, so I guess part of its charm is that it happens on days off.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books? Series! When I like something I want more of it :-)

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over? Erin Nicholas, Robin Bielman, Victoria James, Heather Snow, 

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?) Ugh, I have too many books for organization. At the beginning I had a system: by genres and series, but after that I just put books where I find room for them.


ETA: lol, I just noticed I took this survey back in 2010, so if you want to see my answers back then and if I changed in any ways check it out here.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Book Review: Assassin's Gambit by Amy Raby

Title: Assassin's Gambit
Author:Amy Raby
Series: Book #1 in the Hearts and Thrones series
Release Date: April 2nd 2013
Publisher: Signet
Number of pages: 400 pages
Source: Paperback copy purchased by reviewer
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's WebsiteAmazon, Kindle, Book Depository (US), Book Depository (UK), Read an excerpt 

Grade: 4 stars

Novellus superbus!

Goodreads appetizer: Vitala Salonius, champion of the warlike game of Caturanga, is as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s a trained assassin for the resistance, and her true play is for ultimate power. Using her charm and wit, she plans to seduce her way into the emperor’s bed and deal him one final, fatal blow, sparking a battle of succession that could change the face of the empire.

As the ruler of a country on the brink of war and the son of a deposed emperor, Lucien must constantly be wary of an attempt on his life. But he’s drawn to the stunning Caturanga player visiting the palace. Vitala may be able to distract him from his woes for a while—and fulfill other needs, as well.

Lucien’s quick mind and considerable skills awaken unexpected desires in Vitala, weakening her resolve to finish her mission. An assassin cannot fall for her prey, but Vitala’s gut is telling her to protect this sexy, sensitive man. Now she must decide where her heart and loyalties lie and navigate the dangerous war of politics before her gambit causes her to lose both Lucien and her heart for good.

My Thoughts: I have a thing for assassins! That's not a big secret! So naturally as soon as I read the blurb for Assassin's Gambit and quite a few stellar reviews about it, I just had to read it! And I'm so glad I did. Amy Raby delivers an interesting and really well written story that all fans of fantasy should read!

The world building is incredible! Amy Raby did a fantastic job not only creating a very interesting and detailed world but also presenting it. Everything in this story, every little detail is well researched and placed in just the right spot. The world the author envisioned is rich and full of colours, the journeys she describes vivid. And I have a soft spot for books that include a long journey in it, especially if it is well described. And Amy Raby did an incredible job both with her characters' descriptions and the different villages and places Vitala and Lucien met at their journey.

While reading Assassin's Gambit I felt like I was reading two books squeezed into one. There were so many things happening, there were so many things the reader should learn and understand about how the world worked and I loved it. I didn't feel bored even for a minute.Well, the fact that it wasn't so easy to see where the story would lead kind of made sure that I wouldn't feel bored. I mean there were moments where I was certain of where the story would go or what would happen next only to be proved wrong after a while. One thing is for sure, the story of Assassin's Gambit doesn't follow many cliches out there.So points here to the author for her creativity.

The characters are well developed, with enough background to make the reader care for them and understand them. And not just the main characters but the secondary ones as well. The one thing I didn't enjoy in this book as much as I hoped to was the romance between Vitala and Lucien. I didn't really feel the spark between them. But I'm not complaining here. I was more than compensated from the fast paced plot and the incredible writing style. That plus how well researched every strategic move Lucien did was. I'm not a big fan of strategy games nor have I any strategic knowledge whatsoever but still I couldn't help but appreciate the genius Lucien was. Well, actually the genius Amy Raby is for creating such a complex character as Lucien is!

Verdict: Assassin's Gambit is a debut novel no fantasy lover should miss. It's so well written that will satisfy even the most demanding reader out there! Totally recommending it!

Plot: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Writing: 10/10
Ending: 8/10
Cover: 7/10

Buy it:

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery



Wednesday, 22 January 2014

And the winners are...


Hey Everyone!

I know there is no excuse for being so late with announcing the previous winners on the blog (for the giveaways which ended in December), but work was busy, I got sick before the holidays and after that life didn't get any slower..., so thank you for your patience and understanding!

Anyway here are the winners! Congratulations to

the lucky winner of a copy of Stonecast by Anton Strout is

noraadrienne


the lucky winner of a copy of full set of the Barefoot Bay books is

lisoo


the lucky winner of a copy of Friends to Lovers by Christi Barth is

lkish77123


the lucky winner of a Passion's Sacred Dance bookmark is

SarahM


the lucky winner of a copy of Improper Arrangements by Juliana Ross is

phaxx027


the lucky winner of a copy of Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard by Vanessa Kelly is

Molly R. Moody


the lucky winner of a copy of Taken by the Duke by Jess Michaels is

Babel


the lucky winner of a copy of A Madaris Bride for Christmas by Brenda Jackson is

Ann S


the lucky winner of a copy of Candlelight Christmas by Susan Wiggs is

vampedchik


the lucky winner of a copy of Pastels & Jingle Bells by Christine S. Feldman is

LSUReader


Congratulations winners! I have sent you all a notification e-mail, please get back to me within 48 hours or I will have to draw new winners. Thank you.!
 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Guest post by Leigh LaValle + Giveaway

Today I am very happy to welcome back to the blog the lovely Leigh LaValle, author of The Runaway Countess and The Misbehaving Marquess, two fantastic historical romances I have both LOVED (as you can see in my reviews of the novel and the novella)! Leigh is celebrating the release of The Rogue Returns the third book in the series, so join us as she tells us a bit more about the heroine of the novel and how much fun it was to write her ;-)

Top Ten Signs my Heroine is Not an Outdoorsy Kinda Girl
by Leigh LaValle

Thanks for having me today, Stella! My newest book, THE ROGUE RETURNS, just released last week. It is a regency road adventure in the style of Romancing the Stone and features a silver-tongued rogue, a London-bred lady, a pair of thieves, a stray kitten, and a race through the peaks of England to find a hidden treasure.


I had a lot of fun writing the hero, Roane. He’s a ladies man, and loves to flirt and tease the heroine. He is much more comfortable on their horseback adventure than she is, and begins the book at an advantage.

Lady Helen Gladstone is London-bred thru and thru. At the start of the story, she is thrown into the wilds of England with nothing to rely upon but the hero and her own wits. She hasn’t even a change of clothes. Can she survive a trek through the peaks of England by horseback? You bet she can. But she’s not going to like it. Top ten signs Lady Helen is not ‘one with nature’:

1. She cannot sleep on the dirt because it is ‘dirty’.

2. She refuses to pack away her silk purse and keeps it tied to her wrist, even when she is riding on horseback.

3. She’d rather be cold than sleep in a blanket that smells like horse.

4. She finds a stray kitten and decides she must bring it along for the horseback adventure.

5. She’d rather fix her hem than fish for dinner.

6. She thinks hunting rifles are ‘vulgar’.

7. She is terrified of spiders.

8. She doesn’t like horses.

9. She hates the idea of freckles.

10. She cannot believe how much fun she is having, out in the woods. And she cannot possibly imagine how much her adventure is going to alter her world.

I am happy to say Lady Helen survives her trek through the mountains, even sleeping in a cave or two. And she finds her own happily-ever-after in the process.

I am curious- what kind of adventurer are you? Do you like to go camping? Or do you shudder at the thought of no indoor plumbing to be found for miles. Leave a comment and enter to win a copy of THE ROGUE RETURNS.


Leigh LaValle was born in a time when ladies shopped at the modiste and rogues sent heated looks across a crowded ballroom. Time slipped forward a few hundred years, and she currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. When she is not writing about said ladies and rogues, mommying, or reading, she is rarely seen cleaning. More often, she is found hiking or, when she is really lucky, in the white powder of the ski slopes. She is also a devoted yoga practitioner and instructor.

You can reach Leigh on her website, blog, Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.


THE ONLY THING LESS TRUSTWORTHY THAN A ROGUE...

Lady Helen Gladstone has siblings to protect and creditors at her door. There's only one way to stave off disaster—to find the fabled fortune that her deceased brother buried years ago. Her experience with her lying father and gambling brother has left her able to spot a scoundrel at ten paces. Unfortunately, the scoundrel she encounters is a lot closer than that...and he's planning to make off with her treasure.

…IS A LADY WITH NOTHING TO LOSE

After years of exile, Roane Grantham is eager to begin a new life without the law on his heels. First, he needs gold—his gold, buried one drunken night long ago. But he doesn't count on a petite, bold-as-brass blonde laying claim to his hoard.

Forming an uneasy alliance, Helen and Roane adventure through the high peaks of England, battling treasure hunters, violent storms, and dangerous terrain. But can they escape the growing passion that lays claim to their hearts?

GIVEAWAY RULES:

Leigh has generously offered an ebook copy of  The Rogue Returns to a lucky commenter!


To be entered just leave a comment and answer Leigh's question: What kind of adventurer are you? Do you like to go camping? Or do you shudder at the thought of no indoor plumbing to be found for miles.

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 1 February 2014!

Good luck!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Books Coming This Week

Hello everyone and welcome to yet another new releases post here at Ex Libris! How are you? How was your weekend so far? This week is yet another slow one on the book releases department. Not many books are scheduled for publication, but still there are among them a few I'm dying to get my hands on!

Let's see in detail:


Mistress by Magick (The Magick Trilogy, #3) by Laura Navarre
A Little Too Hot (A Little Too Far, #3) by Lisa Desrochers
Avalon (Avalon, #1) by Mindee Arnett
Believe (True Believers, #3) by Erin McCarthy
Betting on you (Danvers, #4.5) by Sydney Landon
Dirty Magic (The Prospero's War, #1) by Jaye Wells
Evertrue (Everneath, #3) by Brodi Ashton
Loving Cara (Love Under the Big Sky, #1) by Kristen Proby


Runaway Groom (Watkins Pond, #1) by Virginia Nelson
Savor (Billionaire Bachelors Club, #3) by Monica Murphy
Steal the Moon (Thieves, #3) by Lexi Blake
The Rule of Three by Eric Walters
The Witch is Back (Life's a Witch, #3) by Brittany Geragotelis
Untouched (Silver Creek, #2) by Maisey Yates
Worn Me Down (Playing with Fire, #3) by Tara Sivec
Fragile Spirits (Souls, #2) by Mary Lindsey

From the moment I read about Jaye Wells's new series, I knew I had to read Dirty Magic! I just love this author's work, while Evertrue by Brodi Ashton is a title I will most definitely read!

What about you? Any pre-orders this week?

Just let me know in your comments :)

Friday, 17 January 2014

Book Review: Savor by Kate Evangelista + Giveaway

Title: Savor
Author:Kate Evangelista
Series: Book #1 in the Vicious Feast series
Release Date:December 1st 2013
Publisher:Crescent Moon Press
Number of pages:324 pages
Source: ebook copy provided by publisher for review
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's WebsiteAmazon, Kindle, Book Depository (US), Book Depository (UK), Read an excerpt

Grade: 4 stars

Novellus superbus!


Goodreads appetizer: Mature and explicit content. Not recommended for readers below 18-years-old. Yup, you've got to be that old to read my story. Consider yourself warned.

I’m Dakota Collins, a tough talking, eye patch wearing, workaholic photography student. Why am I important? Well, maybe because I get to spend an entire month with Vicious, only the sickest indie rock band out there.



You see, I needed a subject for my Spring Showcase introspective in order to graduate. During a chance encounter at a club I’d been sent to cover for the Daily Gossip, our ironically named college paper, the features writer I usually teamed up with introduced me to the band—by accident, I might add. It involved a run in with a scary, bald bodyguard. Anyway, long story short, I signed a contract to take pictures of Vicious.

I should have known their handsome yet way too serious for his own good bassist, Luka Visraya, wouldn't be able to keep his hands to himself. He’s gorgeous and all, but the way he smiles spelled trouble with a capital L. I’m in for a long month with him around.

Crazy shit happens and then some. So, if you want the skinny on Vicious and the events revolving around my stay at Lunar Manor, read my story.

Again, refer to the warning above.

My Thoughts: As soon as I heard that Kate Evangelista was writing a NA novel I just knew I had to read it! It's not just that I was dying to read something new and fresh in this genre that seems to recycle the same topics again and again, it was also the fact that Kate Evangelista managed to grab my attention even from her very first novel so reading her new story was a must for me!

And yes, Kate just blew me away once more with Savor! I have to admit that I didn't even read the blurb before accepting to review Savor. I just knew that since Kate was writing it, I had to read it. So imagine my surprise when I realised that this story was set in the same universe as Taste!!! But you can as well forget everything you knew about our beloved set of characters from Taste. In Savor everything and everyone has changed and matured. Well, it's only natural since it's taking place around 4 years after the events from Taste. But fear not, even if you haven't read Taste, you won't have a single problem adjusting with the story. And it might be even better reading Savor with no prior knowledge because in that way you will be able to appreciate the mystery and the element of surprise of the story that much more.

Where can I possibly start with listing all the things I liked about Savor. Well, my favorite part must be Kate's writing style! Her ability to describe vivid images and the emotions she can communicate to her readers is just incredible! Needless to say, I devoured Savor is one sitting. I just couldn't help myself. Even if for the better part of the story nothing crucial really happens, still I wasn't able to put this book down.

My next favorite thing about Savor is Dakota and the fact that she's a photographer. The way Evangelista build her character and described her love for photography just made me fall in love with an art I have no talent in or knowledge whatsoever.Dakota's passion for what she does is truly inspiring!

As far as the plot is concerned, like I said, nothing really crucial happens for the better part of the story. To be exact, until the final chapters where everything changes. And here I must note that I'm still not sure how I feel about that spin in the end. Granted it makes you want to read the next book right away but still, the whole story took a very abrupt turn I'm not sure whether I don't like or I'm just fine with it.

That spin in the end along with a couple more reasons is why even though I really loved Savor I can't rate it higher. Let me explain. Apart from the ending, I found myself feeling a little bit awkward towards Luca, the main hero of the story. His tantrums just threw me off along with the easy way everyone went along with them and especially Dakota. I get it, Luka is important, he's the hero and something bad happened to him but still, that doesn't explain why he's entitled to act like a spoiled brat while everyone shuts it and play along.

So, my feelings towards Luca where in a constant fight: I adored him in one chapter while in the next one I would like to slap some sense into him.

And Luca's behavior leads me to the next thing I had a problem with Savor and that is the chemistry between Dakota and Luca. There were moments it felt natural and explosive (the video shoot is probably one of the most intense scenes I've ever read!) while at other times it felt forced or rushed. Lucas's advances towards Dakota where a bit creepy at times...

Verdict: Kate Evangelista is one of those authors who you should really keep an eye on! Her writing style and passion for telling stories are just two of her many qualities as an author. Savor is an incredible story, one you'll have a hard time putting down and you'll love every minute of it. Granted, I had a few problems with the book but they weren't enough to make my love it any less!

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 7/10
Writing: 9/10
Ending: 7/10
Cover: 8/10

Buy it:

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery




GIVEAWAY RULES:

Thanks to Paranormal Cravings who is hosting this Blog Tour you have the chance to win one of 5 e-copies of Taste by Kate Evangelista.

All you have to do to enter is fill the Rafflecopter form below:

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Giveaway is open to all and ends on 7 February 2014!

Good Luck!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Book Review: Sweet Deal by Kelly Jamieson

Title: Sweet Deal
Author: Kelly Jamieson
Release Date: June 12th 2012
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Number of pages: 253 pages
Source: ebook copy purchased by reviewer
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's WebsiteAmazon, Kindle, Book Depository (US), Book Depository (UK), Read an excerpt 

Grade: 3 stars

Novellus bonus!

Goodreads appetizer:

The relationship is pretend. The chemistry…isn’t.


After her last job ended with a broken heart and a humiliating exit from the company, Shelby Leighton’s project management career is back on track with a new job and a high-profile project. The problem: her new boss is a little too friendly, and the staff is talking. Can you say, “déjà vu?” The solution: casually mention a fictional new boyfriend.

New problem: she’s expected to bring her new man to the upcoming corporate picnic. 

Jake Magill doesn’t do relationships. It’s casual or nothing, but the hot blonde he’s been eyeing at the coffee shop sure is something. Especially when she confesses her problem, and he finds himself offering to act as her date. 

Sounds simple. Stroll around the party with Shelby’s sexy curves clinging to his arm? He’s all over it. Until he meets her boss—the man who once stole and married the one woman Jake thought he loved. 

Now Jake’s the one with a reason to pretend. If only to save his own pride…and Shelby from the predatory gaze of the man who could ruin her, and any chance of finding out if their fake connection is the real thing. 


Product Warnings: Contains one desperate lady in need, and a pretend boyfriend who shows impressive dedication to nailing all—and then some—elements of his role. Oh my!

My Thoughts: Sweet Deal is another lukewarm romance novel in a long string of lukewarm romances I keep picking up lately I'm afraid. I don't know how I do it, but I just keep picking romantic titles that sound exactly like my kind of thing only for them to end up being kind of like my thing.

Sweet Deal is the second novel I read by Kelly Jamieson (the first one being Hot Ride) and again my thoughts on it are more or less the same: interesting story, full of potential, but the result is a book that could easily have been so much better. Because the potential is all there. The writing style is pretty good and fast paced. The characters are well developed and with a background (something that I really missed in Hot Ride) and the sex scenes are pretty hot. But still, I missed something. I found myself unable to fully connect with the main characters and their problems even if they were decently developed. More than once I thought that Shelby was overreacting (not on the sexual harassment matter mind you) while Jake was just too good to be true. I mean who on earth volunteers to help someone they don't even know the way Jake did for Shelby? I mean one minute they are introduced and the next he volunteers to help her out of a difficult situation. And not only that but he starts caring for her way too easily for a man who just doesn't do relationships. Like I said, too good to be true.

Did I enjoy reading Sweet Deal? Sure. I had a good time while reading it despite the number of times I rolled my eyes at things but in the end of day, Sweet Deal is hardly a story I will remember for long. It's been a week since I read it and I already have a hard time remembering details to compose my review. So even if I did enjoy it in overall, sadly it's one of those books that I will forget as soon as I reach its last page. And it's sad because there was the potential for a mind blowing book if for nothing else but the romantic scenes Kelly Jamieson writes. But no matter how good they were, they didn't manage to make me really care for the characters and their happily ever after. Or move past the fact that the story was as cliche as one could get in a romantic story. I mean it was so predictable that I knew what was coming chapters before.

Verdict: Sweet Deal was a sweet romantic story that one will really enjoy reading but won't remember for long. It's similar to a whole other romantic stories out there so if you're searching for a mind-blowing story just search elsewhere. If you just want to have a good time with a book, then Sweet Deal is just the book for you! You will enjoy yourselves while reading it, that's for sure :)

Plot: 6/10
Characters: 6/10
Writing: 8/10
Ending: 6/10
Cover: 8/10

Buy it:

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery




Order of the series:

Book #1 - Hot Ride
Book #2 - Sweet Deal

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Book Review: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Title: Dark Triumph
Author: Robin LaFevers
Series: Book #2 in the His Fair Assassin series
Release Date: April 2nd 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Number of pages: 385 pages
Source: Paperback copy purchased by reviewer
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's WebsiteAmazon, Kindle, Book Depository (US), Book Depository (UK), Read an excerpt 

Grade: 4.5 stars

Novellus superbus!

Goodreads appetizer: When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge - but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.

But her assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father's rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother's love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for...

My Thoughts: Grave Mercy was one of my favorite books last year, so I just couldn't wait to get my hands on Dark Triumph, the second book in His Fair Assassin series. Grave Mercy was an unexpected surprise of a book last year so my expectations from the second book in the series were a little bit high one might say. And even though Dark Triumph is just ass good as Grave Mercy was in most things that matter, there were some things that made me appreciate it a little bit less than I did the first book.

Let's take things from the beginning. Dark Triumph takes place exactly were Grave Mercy ends, only from Lady Sybella's point of view. I liked how the main story switched narrator and how the plot continued on, only from a whole different perspective. I know some readers were a little bit apprehensive towards Sybella and wanted for the story to continue on with Ismae as the main heroine, but I was a very big fan of the switching of protagonists. For one, I thought that Ismae's story was so perfect as it was and there was no need to mess with something so great and risk making it a little bit tiring. Also, I kind of like reading a story told through different narrators. That way I get to know more details and see how things differentiate from one character to the next. So, the reason I thought that Dark Triumph is inferior to Grave Mercy has nothing to do with the fact that Ismae isn't the main heroine.

Also, Dark Triumph is as well written as the first book was. The world Robin LaFevers created is simply incredible. All the political intrigue, the way the author blends history with fiction is fascinating. Needless to say I found myself researching many of the characters and some historical facts quite a few times while I was reading this book. And it's not often that an author can make me care so much about the world she created that I feel the need to know as much as possible about it. So yes, for me, Robin LaFevers is one amazing author! And Dark Triumph is one of the best written fantasy books out there.

Sybella was a character completely different than Ismae. While the reader could just effortlessly love Ismae, Sybella was a little bit more difficult. Her past and all the gruesome details that surround it made her see the world in a cynical way. And a cynical and suicidal character is always more difficult to love and understand. Especially given the fact that all the details about Sybella's past that explained the way she viewed some things were revealed close to the end of the story.

But I loved Sybella in a deeper way than I ever loved Ismae. I wanted her to find peace. I hoped that she would find absolution. I understood why she was so cynical and I admired her for her courage even when she thought of killing herself. Sybella was my favorite part of Dark Triumph without a doubt.

Beast on the other hand was a character I really loved from the first book, so no big surprises here. Only I think that I enjoyed him more as a secondary character than as a main one. Don't get me wrong, he's still a great character, only I think that the author gave him too little space in this novel to remind us how great and even funny a character he is.

All in all, one might safely say that Dark Triumph is one incredible novel. Great writing style, well developed and complex characters, intricate world building, everything here screams awesome! But there's just one area where I think that this novel failed and that is the romance. Surely, Dark Triumph is primarily a fantasy novel and the romantic part isn't crucial. But still, Sybella and Beast's relationship cover a major part of the story so I really needed for it to be better written. As it was, the reader couldn't feel any connection between them. And I couldn't feel that connection because there wasn't any. Even if this story is close to 400 pages long and both Sybella and Beast are together for the better part of the story, still their relationship comes out of nowhere. Even if I knew that they would be the couple of this story and tried to find any signs of their growing affection, there were none. We are just notified from one moment to the next that Sybella loves Beast but must fight that attraction. If Sybella herself didn't make that statement the reader would never have guessed that those two care for each other.

And I know, the romance isn't the focus of this exquisite series, but still I missed the incredible romance of the first book. And if you remember that wasn't the focus there either (and I think that the romance there was even subtler) but it was so well done that it added to the whole story, something that didn't happen in Dark Triumph I'm afraid.

Verdict: Dark Triumph may not be as great a book as Grave Mercy was, but it's still an amazing book. Robin LaFevers in an incredible writer and I'm expecting many great things from her in the future. Can I have the next book in the series, like, right now?

Plot: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Writing: 9/10
Ending: 9/10
Cover: 10/10

Buy it:

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery




Order of the series:

Book #1 - Grave Mercy
Book #2 - Dark Triumph

Let It Snow Books Winners Announcement


Hi Everyone!

The event ended last week and sorry for not having put up the winners' post yet, we are working on it, but with so many entries (yay!) and that many giveaways (double yay!) and real life being extra busy right now it takes us some additional time to put everything in order.

So please bear with us a for a few more days and thank you for your patience!

Stella and Anna

Monday, 13 January 2014

Brazen Release Day Giveaway!

New York Times bestselling author Katee Robert kicks off her new Out of Uniform series with IN BED WITH MR. WRONG, a hilarious enemies-to-lovers story you don’t want to miss. Air Force Pararescuer Ryan Flannery avoids his hometown at all costs, so he’s not thrilled when he’s set up on a blind date—until he meets mousy librarian Brianne Nave. Her sweet curves and kissable lips are a siren’s call, but her smart mouth? Not so much. How can two people have so little chemistry outside the bedroom when they fit together so perfectly in it? When Ryan and Bri are stranded in a cabin by their friends, they’ll be forced to find out…if they don’t kill each other first.

AmazonB&N - Kobo -  iTunes


“Don’t think for a second you’re getting a good-night kiss.”

“A kiss from you?” He stepped forward into her finger, forcing her to open her hand against his chest or take a step back. She refused to budge. He leaned down, crowding her. “I’d rather kiss a snake.”

“Then it’s too bad it’s winter, because they’re in short supply.” She pushed at his chest again, nearly snarling when he didn’t move. “You should just burn something else down. That might draw a few to the heat.”

“Or maybe I’ll just set fire to your goddamn granny panties. That’s sure to create a big enough blaze.”

Her jaw dropped open and she swallowed hard. “As if you could.”

“Watch me.”

He grabbed her hips and yanked her against him. Bri gasped. There was so much heat in his blue eyes, it was a wonder every single article of clothing she wore didn’t go up in smoke. “You—”

But then she saw it. The challenge hidden behind the heat. He didn’t think she could handle this. Handle him.

His mouth curled into a smirk, and his hands tightened on her hips. The feel of his fingers digging into her flesh through the thin fabric of her skirt made her want to throw all caution to the wind. He thought he’d won, did he?

“Screw it.” She grabbed the lapels of his shirt and went up on her tiptoes to smash her lips against his. He froze, then stumbled backward and slammed into the wall of her screened porch, taking her with him. A wave of victory went through her. For all his talk, he hadn’t expected her to make a move. She moved one hand to the back of his neck and tipped his head down so she could set her teeth into his bottom lip.

Just like that, he came alive in her arms and pulled her tighter against him. His tongue delved into her mouth, stroking hers with no hesitation, igniting her passion until she couldn’t fight back a moan. How could one giant brute taste so decadent? She slid her tongue along his, not sure if she was searching for an answer or simply enjoying the way her very nerves seemed to spark and dance at every place they touched.

Would her whole body do that if they were naked?

Whoa. Where had that thought come from? She was proving him wrong, not jumping into bed with the man. She tried to pull away. “I think—”

“Stop talking.”

Keep reading: Amazon - B&N - Kobo -  iTunes

Gina L. Maxwell comes out swinging with the latest installment of her New York Times bestselling Fighting for Love series, FIGHTING FOR IRISH. When he learns a friend’s sister has forty-eight hours to make good on an ex’s debt to a crime boss, former MMA fighter Aiden "Irish" O'Brien heads to Louisiana to offer himself up as collateral. But to satisfy the debt, he has to do the one thing he swore he’d never do again: fight. With more than just money on the line, can Irish reclaim the man he once was for the woman he can't live without?


Aiden dropped his hands to her hips and stepped closer. “Will you stay tonight?” he asked softly.

“I’ll stay.”

One night. He could do that, couldn’t he? Then he could get this need for her out of his system and focus on winning the tournament to free her from any danger. His job would be done, his debt paid to Jax, and he could move back home to continue his daily penance and meaningless existence.

But right now he wanted to feel alive again, if only for a night in the arms of the woman who’d had his balls on lockdown for months. She was the reason no one else even appealed to him anymore. He needed her, just this once. But he wouldn’t do it without an understanding between them.

“Kat, can I be honest with you?” Aiden was aware of the fine line he was walking. Now he just had to do it without sounding crude or disrespectful, which would be a challenge. He was no smooth-talking Romeo.

Meeting her expectant gaze, he took a deep breath and prepared himself for the possibility of getting slapped. “I wanna be with you tonight.”

“As in, with me with me?”

“Yeah,” he said, amusement lifting a corner of his mouth. “With you with you. It’s been a really long time since I wanted someone as much I want you.”

“Really?” she asked breathlessly.

“You sound surprised.”

She offered a weak shrug and suddenly found interest in the floorboards. “You seem like you’d be more into exciting, exotic looking women. Like one of those sexy, new-age pin-up girls with the flawless skin and beautiful tattoos.”

He almost laughed until he realized she was serious. She had no idea what she did to him. Grabbing one of her hands still resting on his shoulder, he slowly dragged it over his chest and down his stomach until they finally reached his stiff erection straining against the restrictive boxer briefs under his shorts.

Aiden groaned as he molded her hand over his cock. The feel of her gripping him nearly redefined the word “premature.” She drew in a quick breath and raised her eyes to his. Her cheeks filling with a pretty shade of pink did crazy things to his insides. The more her innocence showed through the more he wanted her.

He couldn’t make sense of it. She was right. Typically he went for the larger-than-life women who treated every day like it was their own personal thrill ride. Kat was something else entirely. Worldly beyond her years, yet somehow more innocent than she should be.

“This is how into you I am, sweetheart. Believe me when I tell you I couldn’t fake this kind of interest,” he assured her. “I want you, Kat. Wicked bad. But I don’t have anything more to offer you than one night. That’s me being honest. So if you wanna give me the red light now I’ll understand, but you gotta let me know while I still have use of some of my brain.”

“Green.”

Keep reading: Amazon - B&N - Kobo -  iTunes

The dynamic duo took the NYT and USA TODAY lists by storm the last time they released together, so we can't wait to see what shenanigans they have in store for 2014!


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