Friday, December 2, 2016

Title: A Study in Scarlet Women
Author: Sherry Thomas
Narrator: Kate Reading
Series: The Lady Sherlock series, book #1
Length: 11 hrs 0 mins
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Source: ARC received from publisher via Goodreads giveaway, audiobook borrowed from library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas turns the story of the renowned Sherlock Holmes upside down…

With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.

When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her. But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.

I absolutely adored this gender-swapped Sherlock Holmes story featuring the odd duck Charlotte Holmes as the madame detective. I've read - and watched - a lot of Sherlock retellings over the years, but recently, they've just been outstanding. And they only keep getting better! From Cumberbatch's portrayal to Ellie Marney's EVERY series to William Ritter's Sherlock/Doctor Who mash-up...I just can't seem to get my fill.

But a retelling in which, gasp, the detective of the hour is female, albeit secretly so? Now that's unique. And in immediate need of my attention. Especially the way in which Charlotte is able to pull off the deception and the way in which familiar characters are introduced to the story. It's like coming home to find that someone has rearranged all your furniture. Familiar and yet not.

The streets of London are in the capable hands of Charlotte Holmes with Sherry Thomas at the helm, though. I was a bit confused at first, what with the flashbacks and, erm, the shocking events that led to Charlotte pretending to be Sherlock, but soon all became clear and the real mystery was afoot. And it was rather ingenious, the way it unraveled.

I've thoroughly enjoyed the bit of Sherry Thomas' writing that I've read so far, including her YA series and one of her historical fiction novels, and I cannot wait to continue her Lady Sherlock series. I liked the small taste of romantic tension we got in this first installment, especially considering that love is probably at the very BOTTOM of Charlotte's list of priorities, and I can't wait to read more of her adventures and romantic liaisons...especially the scandalous ones!


GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Sherry Thomas is one of the most acclaimed romance authors working today. Her books regularly receive starred reviews from trade publications and are frequently found on best-of-the-year lists. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award.

English is Sherry’s second language—she has come a long way from the days when she made her laborious way through Rosemary Roger’s Sweet Savage Love with an English-Chinese dictionary. She enjoys digging down to the emotional core of stories. And when she is not writing, she thinks about the zen and zaniness of her profession, plays computer games with her sons, and reads as many fabulous books as she can find.

Find Sherry:

Website | BlogTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Title: The Diabolic
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Narrator: Candace Thaxton
Series: stand-alone
Length: 12 hrs 30 mins
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Source: ARC & audiobook received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for. Nothing else.

For Nemesis, that person is Sidonia, heir to the galactic Senate. The two grew up side by side, and there’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the Imperial Court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced Senators’ children, and Nemesis must find within herself the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have—humanity. With the Empire beginning to fracture and rebellion looming, that could be the one thing that saves her and the Empire itself.

Before I even started The Diabolic, I knew I was going to love this book...I just wasn't aware how much I'd enjoy it. I had an ARC, but once I realized Candace Thaxton was narrating the audiobook, I decided I'd go that route. Candace also narrated one of my favorite books ever -- The Sea of Tranquility -- and does a great job of portraying Nastya, another girl who doesn't allow herself to feel. So I knew she'd do a fabulous job performing as Nemesis, a ruthless killing machine who only cares about one person: her master and charge. And, honestly, it was better than I could have imagined.

This was a book that I started listening to at work and continued listening to on my way home. Then I took my daughter to the park and cracked open my ARC while continuing to listen and followed along that way. And I continued listening while I was cooking and washing dishes. Then I went back to reading and listening after dinner. I just could not put this book down. I finished The Diabolic in one day and I regret nothing.

The Diabolic was damn near perfect. It had everything I was looking for: political intrigue, characters with violent tendencies, forbidden, it's set in SPACE. I don't think I picked up on that in the summary the first time I read it, but yes, political intrigue of galactic proportions. SO MUCH YES!

But probably my favorite aspect of this novel was that of a cold, calculating being having to come to terms with her humanity and actually allow herself to feel things. And it was glorious! She freaks out when she laughs by accident. She bonds with a mutant dog-thing and it's ridiculously adorable. And she allows herself to love, which is no small feat. I just adore characters who basically start out as robots and are a big ole pile of mush by the end of the story.

Even when they're being exceedingly violent. Especially then. Like, you read all the time about badass characters who do violent things but you never actually experience any of that once the story gets going. Not so for Nemesis, whose philosophy in life lies somewhere just shy of Kill or be killed. There is all manner of brutality between the pages of this book, and it was gory but also awesome.

Also, I SHIP IT. So hard. It's pretty much forbidden. Except she's pretending to be someone she's not, so it's kinda okay and accepted? But it starts out as a partnership in a revenge plot. Then they become sparring partners. And then friends. And, well, it just snowballs from there. It's only a little angsty, and mostly because Nemesis is SO freaked out by all these new feelings she's experiencing. And she's afraid. But they are such a good pair because they've both done unconscionable things, in the name of the greater good and those they love. And it just works.

So...yay for evil tendencies? At any rate, this book was amazing, plain and simple. And it's a stand-alone! Which makes it an even more perfect fit for me because I hate waiting for the next book. :P I highly recommend the audiobook version, but whichever route you go, I guarantee you won't be disappointed with The Diabolic.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

S.J. Kincaid was born in Alabama, grew up in California, and attended high school in New Hampshire, but it was while living beside a haunted graveyard in Scotland that she realized that she wanted to be a writer. Her debut, Insignia, came out in July of 2012. The second book in the series, Vortex was released in July of 2013. The final book in the trilogy, Catalyst, came out October 28, 2014. Her standalone novel The Diabolic will be released in fall 2016.

Find S.J.:

WebsiteTwitter | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr | Facebook

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Title: Seven Days of You
Author: Cecilia Vinesse
Series: stand-alone
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

I really wanted to like this book. I was looking forward to reading it so much that I read it a whole four months early. And yet, it just wasn't what I had been hoping for.

Seven Days of You read like my high school journal. Literally. And that makes sense when you think about the characters and the point at which they are in their lives. But it made me cringe...a lot. I think it was more the writing style that I was uncomfortable with than the characters' actions. It was a lot of awkward dialogue and emphatic statements.

The writing felt especially sparse when it came to depicting Tokyo. I've never been there but I wanted to feel like I had through the pages of this book...and I just didn't. Naming things left and right does not put you in a particular place, especially when the descriptions just aren't enough for you to visualize the setting. Tokyo felt like more of a backdrop when I wanted the city to act almost as another character.

Also disappointing was the fact that based on the summary, I was expecting an epic hate-to-love romance, a real whirlwind love affair since it occurs in the span of a week. What I got instead was a saccharine-sweet romance based on a ton of misunderstandings. It wasn't terrible because the love interest was nerdy and super adorable, but I had been expecting some type of bad boy who really had to work at gaining Sophia's affections.

I did really appreciate the emphasis on family and where you call home...and who or what makes up home. At this pivotal point in Sophia's life, she doesn't know where or to whom she belongs with, and I liked seeing that explored in her relationships, as well, with everyone kind of questioning where they go from here.

But I think my biggest beef with this story is the fact that the author forgot the epilogue. I'm all for open endings with a big dose of hopefulness, but after pretty much pining for each other for three solid years only to reunite for a week, I was expecting more from the ending.

All in all, this was a light, fluffy story about love and friendship and family in a foreign setting and it was cute. It just wasn't make-everyone-you-know-read-it cute. It was the sort of novel that I couldn't put down, even as my husband was asking why I was growling at the book, if that tells you anything. :)

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

I'm Cecilia Vinesse, and I wrote a book about saying good-bye to high school friends and staying out all night and the dizziness of falling in love and the deliciousness of ramen.

I was born in France but then moved to Japan. And then to the States. And then back to Japan. And then back to the States. When I was 18, I moved to New York where I was homesick for nearly seven years. After that, I got a job in a cold, snowy city in northern Japan and, from there, I headed to Scotland where I got my master's in creative writing and lived off tea, writer tears, and Hobnobs.

I still live in the U.K. and spend most of my time writing, reading, baking, and getting emotional over Tori Amos albums. Hobbies include pretending Buffy the Vampire Slayer is real, collecting a lipstick to match every Skittle flavor, and listening to a thousand podcasts a day.

A pup named Malfi and a Renaissancist named Rachel are my favorite things in the world. That, and books. I should probably mention the books again.

Find Cecilia:

WebsiteTwitter | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What I've Been Reading Lately {11.23.16}

Wednesday, November 23, 2016 with 4 comments

So, I haven't been posting much lately. Like, not at all this week, which is becoming a pretty normal thing. And when I have posted, it's been an obligatory promotional post for a book I received for review. Except for last week's review of This is Our Story, which I felt obligated to post simply because that book was so freaking good. But that's not to say I haven't been reading...because I have. A lot. So I'm going to try to catch you up on just what I've been reading lately with this post. More on why I've gone to this format here. I'm going to separate these into categories because that's just what works best for me.

Without further ado, here's what I've been reading lately...

F A N T A S Y  |  S C I - F I

FrostThree Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns, #1)The Midnight Star (The Young Elites, #3)Wax

Frost - Eh. I actually didn't finish this audiobook, but I made it to the 80% mark before DNFing, so I'm going to give it 2 stars for that. I was actually at the part where things were really starting to get interesting, but my commute was over and it was a Friday evening and I was just never able to make myself pick it back up to see how it ended. I think it was just a tad too out there for me, with human consciences in some robots and other robots trying to assimilate humans while still others wanted to BE like humans. Maybe the robotic aspect was why it was so hard for me to connect with any of the characters, even the human ones. 🌟🌟

Three Dark Crowns - More like 3.5 stars, but I'm rounding up because of the ending. However, there were numerous times where I considered DNFing this book because I was just so bored and possibly confused by just how many characters I was expected to remember, especially as perspectives changed. But a dear friend begged me to keep going, promising that it would all be worth it. And I'm loathe to admit it, but she was right. If only the first two-thirds of the book could have been more like the final third, I'd have had no problems making it through this novel. As it stands, I am now VERY intrigued by what's to come in the next book, but I'm also hoping that it keeps up the pace set in the last of this book, rather than returning to the plodding that made up most of the book. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Midnight Star - This finale was a good way. I love when a tyrant is made to stare in the face of their villainy. It's not my favorite series finale ever, but it was poignant and beautiful and as heart-breaking as you'd expect a final book to be in this series. And it's hopeful. Which is what I'm always striving for at the end of a story. I'm also glad I re-read the previous two books right before this released because even in the month or so since then, I've forgotten a lot. Marie Lu is very good at reminding you, though...and stomping all over your heart again in the process.

Wax - This book was weird but also very humorous. I never truly connected to the characters, though for magical realism, that's pretty much par for the course with me. But I still found the story highly entertaining. I mean, how can you go wrong with a sidekick made of wax, whose sneezes light candles, and who goes by the name Dud? 🌟🌟🌟🌟

R E - R E A D S

The Hating GameThe Architect of Song (Haunted Hearts Legacy, #1)Court of Fives (Court of Fives, #1)The Naturals (The Naturals, #1)Altered (Altered, #1)

The Hating Game - I know I just listened to this back in September, but I needed something extremely adorable to take my mind off this week, and I could think of no better book to do just that. And I stand by what I said upon my first reading: I don't think I've ever read a cuter book, one that had me grinning from start to adorable finish. Thanks, Sally Thorne. I really needed that. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Architect of Song - Re-read this one via audio because I just really needed another good, romantic, take-me-away-from-this-horrible-place read this week. And it was just as gorgeous and stunning and lovely as the first time I read it, except maybe even better because I knew how the mystery played out already and the narrator just added that extra something to the story. Seriously, still love this one so hard and can't wait until the next book. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Court of Fives - Have you ever re-read the previous book in a series in preparation for the sequel, but by the time you get to the end of your re-read, you've decided you don't much care to read the sequel anymore? That's what happened here. I still have the sequel out from the library but I think I'm gonna take a pass. What I liked about it on my initial read still holds true, but I just find I'm not really very interested in where the story goes now, even with that surprise ending. Plus, I haven't read the best things about the sequel, so I'm going to go with my gut on this one. 🌟🌟🌟

The Naturals - After reading This is Our Story last week, I was in the mood for another crime thriller. But I don't have a knack for finding good ones. So, I decided to re-read one of my favorites. I still need to read books three and four in this series, but the first one is the only one on audio. *cries* 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Altered - Sometimes, when you're in a cranky mood, you just need a book filled with hot dudes. Like, products of a super-secret government experiment hot. ;0) Also, this re-read really made me want to finally get to Nick's book. Not that I had no interest in it before, but it's definitely been rekindled. He reminds me so much of Ronan Lynch. Apparently, I love douchey, misunderstood boys. 🌟🌟🌟🌟


Something in Between

Something in Between - It's funny because all I've really found myself in the mood for lately is fluffy contemporaries, but I can't seem to find one to hold my interest. Even this book wasn't fluffy. It was much deeper and more insightful than I'd expected, though the characters were a little melodramatic for my taste. Also, it seemed too easy? Like, in real life, things would not have ended the way they did for the de los Santos family. It wasn't a bad story and I appreciated the light it shed on the topic of immigration, especially in these trying times. I just wish it had delved deeper. Sure, there are those who the system doesn't fail, but what about all those others for whom it does? 🌟🌟🌟


Bitter Spirits (Roaring Twenties, #1)The Winter King (Weathermages of Mystral, #1)Dashing Through the SnowThe Sum of All Kisses (Smythe-Smith Quartet, #3)

Bitter Spirits - Well, that was even more fun than I expected. I love stories set in the 20s, and I loved Jenn Bennett's YA debut, so I went into this audio with pretty high hopes. And I was NOT disappointed. This was like an amped up, sexier version of Libba Bray's The Diviners and I AM HERE FOR IT. And I am a HUGE fan of Bray's work, so you can imagine how excited I am to discover a new series in that vein. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Winter King - If not for the lovely people of Goodreads, I would have dismissed this book based on that cover alone. I was without an audiobook on Friday, and all week I'd been hovering over the BUY button for this title because I kept seeing it pop up in my feed. Once I finally pulled the trigger, I couldn't be stopped. This book captured my attention from beginning to end. From work to my commute and to housework all weekend, I was listening to this book every chance I got. Which was a lot since the audio was about 21 hours long. But the best part is that you get these amazing characters' story all in one go. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Dashing Through the Snow - Eh, for a story set at Christmas time, this didn't really give me any Christmas feels. It was cute and fluffy, and the banter was adorbs, but it wasn't what I was hoping for. I think the whole mistaken identity plot really took away from what this book could have been. As this is only the first story I've read by Debbie Macomber, I fully intend to give her a second chance, but this just wasn't the book I was looking for to get me in the holiday spirit. And this is coming from the girl who NEVER watches Hallmark movies but decided to turn one on on a whim this week because it's 80 degress outside and WHERE ARE ALL THE HOLIDAY FEELS? Will take holiday recs -- preferrably on audio -- in exchange for cookies. =) 🌟🌟

The Sum of All Kisses - I think that Julia Quinn is just not my favorite historical romance writer. Her books are cute and floofy but I never SWOON like I do with a Tessa Dare or Sarah MacLean novel. This actually reminded me a lot of the plot from the first Spindle Cove novel, just not as well done. Still entertaining, though. 🌟🌟🌟

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Find any new titles to check out? ;0)

So, what do you think about this new format of mine? It took a long time to get this post together, but it was a lot less time than trying to review each of those books individually, especially now that I've got the format down and can add to it with each new read/listen. It's actually made "reviewing" kind of fun again because I just jot down my immediate thoughts and move on.

Until next time! Happy reading!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Title: This is Our Story
Author: Ashley Elston
Series: stand-alone
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.

Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the District Attorney’s Office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.

Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As she and Stone investigate—the ageing prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot—she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own.

I've had this ARC for months, but I wanted to wait until I was in the perfect mood for it because if blogging has taught me anything, it's that I am SUCH a mood reader. And I also know from experience that forcing myself to read a book when I'm not in the right frame of mind for it can be detrimental to my mental state, as well as reflect poorly on the book itself. And with a book like this, that I've been anticipating for some time, I didn't want to take any chances. But with hunting season -- or I should say, rifle season -- having just started here in Texas, it finally felt like the right time.

I haven't been writing many full-length reviews lately, but honestly, this book couldn't be summed up in just a few short lines like my regular snippet reviews of late. It's near-perfection means that I just have to regale you with just how amazing this story is. And. It. Is. Amazing.

I like sleep a lot. Sure, when I was younger, I used to stay up till the wee hours of the morning to finish a book in one sitting, but those days are pretty much past me. Except when it comes to a book like this one. It's SO rare for me to forego sleep in the name of a good book, but for the past two nights, I have stayed up reading This is Our Story and I haven't regretted a single second of missed sleep. I don't know that I've read a book that kept me on the edge of my seat like this one in ages...maybe ever.

It's not often that a suspenseful book can actually keep me in suspense, but this novel managed it. There were aspects that I definitely figured out beforehand, but the mystery at the heart of the story -- who killed Grant Perkins -- remained hidden for me throughout the story. Sure, looking back now, I should have seen it, but the red herrings and misdirections were so twisty and cleverly-plotted that I never realized I was being misled. That is quite a talent considering I'm usually only 20% into a story before I've figured out everything. I was just so invested, so captivated by the drama unfolding, that I never saw it. And I'm glad for it because it made that ending so much more powerful.

And let's be real...I was also a bit totally distracted by the romance, which was ill-advised at worst and oh-so-sweet at best. Kate took a lot of chances. I think things would have gone very differently, had she not been involved with the case, but then where would the story be? It wouldn't be THEIR story, that's for sure.

A few other things I want to mention before I just start screaming at you to go get this book because you absolutely have to read it and love it and caress that beautiful cover:

- I LOVED the way this story is told, with alternating chapters from the killer's POV and Kate's perspective. I also loved the addition of interrogation transcripts and text messages between Kate and her prospective love interest. Mixed media to tell a complete story is quickly becoming my favorite format. It's so inclusive and really makes you feel a part of the story. Honestly, I was kind of waiting for the audiobook - which apparently isn't a thing yet - but I'm glad I read the book instead because of the format.

- My husband is an avid hunter, so I worried about how realistic this story would be, how true to real-life it would hold. But it's not really about the hunting experience, more the experience of losing a friend and having it pinned on his four closest friends and what that does to a community, especially a small one like the one depicted in this story. I will point out that I find it hard to believe that these kids were hunting for deer with GUNS on October 5th. I know that different regions have different rules and regulations, but I find that awful early, considering that's usually when archery season starts for deer here in Texas. I researched it a little, just to satisfy my own curiosity, but I'm still not 100% on it so I'm not gonna quote facts. Plus, I get that the kids were all dicking around and probably had no intention of actually shooting a deer that morning, plus they were on private property and the rules are often different in those circumstances, as well. So, probably not worth mentioning, lol. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

- The characters in this novel are just all so wonderfully complicated. Their friendships run deep and their loyalties run deeper still. It was kind of heart-breaking to watch it all crumble, but also immensely fascinating.

- This story DEFINITELY got that small town feel right, where everyone knows your business, sometimes even before you do. And I especially loved what the author did with the "good ole boy" gratifying.

This was my first experience reading an Ashley Elston novel, but I cannot sing its praises enough. If you love a thriller that will keep you guessing, that will keep you turning the pages and then turning them back to double-check things, YOU WANT THIS BOOK.


GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Ashley Elston lives is North Louisiana with her husband and three sons. She worked as a wedding and portrait photographer for ten years until she decided to pursue writing full time. Ashley is also a certified landscape horticulturist and loves digging in the dirt. Her debut novel, THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING, was published by Disney Hyperion in 2013 and the sequel, THE RULES FOR BREAKING, in 2014. Her latest novel, THIS IS OUR STORY, will be published on November 15, 2016.

Find Ashley:

WebsiteTwitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram

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