Sunday, April 20, 2014

Showcase Sunday #30!!

Showcase Sunday is a weekly feature hosted by Vicky of Books, Biscuits, and Tea where all book lovers can share with others what bookish goodness we got this week, be it purchased (physical or eBook), won, gifted or for review!

This week I have a wee bit of everything, even if I'm still missing quite a few physical books in the mail, since for Easter the last post day was Wednesday!

Purchased (via The Book Depository)

Star cursed by Jessica Spotswood

Purchased (via Kindle app)

Frozen by Erin Bowman

Foretold by Rinda Elliott

House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

For Review (via Xpresso Book Tours)

I got an ARC of this one since I'll be part of the blog tour in June.

Threats of Sky And Sea by Jennifer Ellision

Not a bad haul all in all, now hopefully the rest of my physical copies will arrive without a hitch next week!

What all did you get this week?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday Pages: The Name of The Star by Maureen Johnson!!

As the final entry for this week's Saturday Pages I have the first book of a trilogy that I had been eyeing for a while and that I added to my 2014 Series Challenge before I knew that the final book for the trilogy had been pushed till next year! Still, I hope it'll count!

The Name of the StarThe Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Name of The Star has been in my list of books to read for a while, but after seeing a tweet from Maureen Johnson about a prequel novella, buying and reading (and loving) it, I decided I needed to start the series right away!

As always, I will try to keep my review as spoiler free as possible but I might make some references to the novella, so be warned about that.

I was so intrigued by the Jack the Ripper mention on the synopsis, and though the very beginning started with Rory arriving from the US to be taken to her private school, soon enough we start hearing about how the school is smack in the middle of Jack's old hunting grounds.

Rory was a character I simply adored, she was funny and quirky and didn't mind being different and when she might have been targeted, she didn't cower and she started making fun of herself by being over the top, which worked great for her. She was brave and a little reckless but not stupidly so.

I really liked her friendship with Jazza, and although I was never too sold on the romance bit with Jerome, it seems like they were good for each other if the connection never felt as nothing too special. Which I feel is good, since at high school time you don't necessarily have to find the love of your life right away.

The book does a great job at mixing every day school happenings and a normal life for a teenager that is still quite confused about some of the Englishness of London with the mysterious Jack The Ripper copycat that starts murdering people in the same places and dates that the old one did.

The tension and creepiness that the book manages to add, before and after the more paranormal element is revealed is great. Having read the novella before, I was wondering when we'll be introduced to said element and other characters, but even so the pacing never bored me.

I really liked some of the new characters introduced on the second half of the book, even if it took me a while to warm up to them, even to this different Stephen (since I already liked him a lot from the novella).

A very solid start for a series, well deserving of 4 stars!

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Saturday Pages: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers!!!

Hello everyone! I'm starting this week's Saturday Pages with a series that I'm adding to my 2014 Series Challenge because it's ending this year but that it wasn't part of my original list for the challenge. The first two books had been in my TBR list for quite a while, so this one is also part of my 2014 TBR Pile challenge!

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had heard quite some good things about this book, but after having Alyssa from The Eater of Books tell me how it was her favourite book of 2012 and continue to sing its praises, I decided to take a break from the ARC I was reading and take a peek at it. Big mistake! From the moment I read the tagline in the cover: "Why be a sheep, when you can be the worlf" I was well and truly hooked!

This is a wonderful fantasy with historical fiction touches book, with a world full of details, with its own mythology that reminded me a bit of Celtic mythology. The world building it's just stunning, full of layers of intrigue and politics and alliances and very much complex in the society created, even if based on the 15th century, it still feels wholly original!

One of the things that I truly adored about this book was how in a world so dismissive of women as any medieval society would be, here some women were trained and educated to protect themselves in a world ruled by men. They were trained and protected and given enough power to hold their own in a men's world.

Ismae is a survivor at heart, she survived attempts on her life before even being born and she survived scorn and hate after being born. When she's taken to the convent, she finds somewhere she can belong to and she can be appreciated, so she takes to the life of an assassin like a fish takes to swimming! Serving St Mortain as his Handmaiden requires a lot of training but Ismae seems to truly enjoy most of it, and she makes some great friends with some fellow novices, Sybella and Annith. I really liked Ismae, how she always tried to do what's right, how she ended up having to deal with learning who or what she should trust, her own judgement or the orders of those she owe obedience to.

I was wondering how much romance there would be in this book and sort of dreaded it, but I should have not worried. The romance was ideal, started from mistrust and confrontation, and little by little working together with a common objective, a certain trust is built and then it progresses to attraction and love. I loved how they become allies and comrades too!

The political intrigue was always very much part of the plot but was never boring, and I have to say I had my suspicions about the traitor but very much like Ismae, I wasn't too sure about motive.

I was very happy that the main plot point is resolved in this book and it is a story that can get closed on its own by the end of the book, but still I cannot wait to hopefully see more of both Ismae and Gavriel in the next books, and I very curious to see how the bigger plot of those will tie with the plot in this one!

An extremely satisfying and gripping read, very much deserving of 5 stars!

View all my reviews

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Reads: ARC Review of The Forever Watch by David Ramirez!

As the final entry on this week's Friday Reads I have another review book, one I got approved for on NetGalley, thanks a lot St Martin's Press for the approval!

As a review ARC it is part of both ARCApril and my 2014 Review Pile Reading Challenge!

The Forever WatchThe Forever Watch by David   Ramirez

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I requested The Forever Watch on NetGalley I felt like I really needed a change in pace and felt like some good classical science fiction was exactly what I needed.

And now that I've finished it, I'm completely torn about this book. On one side the world building is impressively detailed and layered, there's so much of the story that you can imagine at first, with some dystopian touches here and there and the plot has some curve balls that you really cannot expect. But on the other hand, everything seems to progress at such a slow pace... it's like following a path of tiny crumbs that keeps on meandering and going and going and never seems to end! You are walking through a gorgeous countryside and try to enjoy the journey but if it goes on for too long... you just want to get somewhere!

Our story takes place in the Noah, a generation ship on route to Canaan after the destruction of Earth. The society built on the Noah is a meritocracy and has a very advanced technology with brain implants that enhance abilities like telepathy and telekinesis and other physical feats. Hana has just undergone her mandatory Breeding, where females get pregnant and stay sedated during the entire pregnancy and never get to meet their children. We see her trying to get back to her normal self previous to this experience and going back to her normal routine. Through her eyes we discover the world of the Noah and while it is fascinating, we meander around technology and descriptions for quite a bit.

Then we meet Barrens, a friend of Hana after helping her on her worst night to date, and a police officer, with plenty of phyisical enhancements and modifications to help with his work. He also has some secret darkness in him that is at odds with the tight control that is everywhere in the Noah. Big brother is nothing compared to the control of the Nth Web and what can be done by the "thought police". Being Adjusted means having your memories deleted which results in a loss of who you are, and are left more than an unfeeling robot.

Despite all this, both Barrens and Hana start on a slippery slope of hacking and investigating anomalies that are being kept hidden. Here is the beginning of a very long thread that keeps us on our toes and that throws us quite a few unexpected surprises! There are so many secrets and lies weaved all over the Noah, and the choice of keeping them or getting them in the open can lead to the end of what's left of humankind.

Hana and Barrens relationship progresses with a very realistic pace, when we meet them they've already been friends a while, but after Hana's Breeding duty they become close friends and then even more than just that. Their investigating and hacking and illegal activities manage to bring them closer in their quest to find the truth. And they discover that the truth sometimes isn't something that humanity (or what's left of it) can deal with as a whole.

Full of nuance and detail, with great plot lines and food for thought this is a great science fiction read, but somehow it just kept on feeling slow and long for me. I'm giving it 3 stars. Maybe it just wasn't the right read for the right time for me, but if you like science fiction, give this one a try!

View all my reviews

Friday Reads: A Mad Wicked Folly by Shannon Biggs Waller!!!

As the first entry of this week's Friday Reads, I have the review of a book that is one of the gems of the year and that will be in my list of favourite books of the year for sure!

A Mad, Wicked FollyA Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've always been a big lover of historical fiction but I haven't been reading as much of it as of late. I've been more devoted to my other loves, science fiction & fantasy, as of late. But I'm never gonna say no to a good historical fiction novel!

The premise for A Mad Wicked Folly sounded fantastic, with a girl trying to find her place in a world that's not for women and during the period where women where fighting for their right to vote. And after I read Debby's review on her Snuggly Oranges blog, I knew I had to have it, so bought the hardcover. Then Gillian from Writer of Wrongs, Alyssa from The Eater of Books and Stephanie from Inspiring Insomnia all wrote glowing review for it, so I knew I had to move this "me" read to the top of the TBR list ASAP!

And boy, am I glad I cheated and read it before I had originally planned! This is a wonderful wonderful book that I will push into anyone's hands! Not only it has a fantastic setting that feels so genuine that you can't help but wonder the amount of research that must have gone into it, but the writing style and amazing and so visual that you have no trouble whatsoever walking right beside Vicky at every step.

Vicky or Miss Victoria Darling is the daughter of a business man of the upper class in Edwardian England, and as such she's attending a finishing school, getting her ready to be a proper lady, join the high society circles and find herself a husband. The fact that she's an artist and art is her life and her dream is of no consequence in the society of the time. The same one where the Suffragettes are fighting for women's right to vote and getting scorned and mistreated for doing so.

Vicky was a fantastic character, she had a constant fight during the book, always trying to find the way to keep her art, to not give up that part of herself, no matter what sacrifices she has to make. There are times that I felt like she needed a bit of shake, cause she seemed to feel like everything was justified as a means to an end of her goal, even when she was being too optimistic about her future and pesimistic about her talent. There's a lot of growth to her character and I loved how strong she really is and how she learns about that strenght.

The real historical events and facts are intertwined with Vicky's story is such a seamless way that we learn about the fight women had to put up to gain the right to vote, and we see through Vicky's fight for having a say in her life and to keep her passion, that the right to vote was just but the start of a long, still ongoing, fight for women to be treated as equals.

And I cannot NOT talk about Vicky's motivation, her love for art and how it comes alive through the pages. I have no talent for drawing whatsoever, but I love photography and could somewhat relate to her yearning to put a scene to paper. Her love for art simply pops out of the pages! After reading the book I really felt like going to a museum to roam around the wonderful paintings and made me want to learn more about the Pre-Raphaelites movement.

There's romance in this book and even though I'm not in the best emotional state myself, I found that I simply couldn't help but adore this romance! Vicky thinks she can find an ally in her assigned fiance Edmund, but at the same time she keeps on falling for Will, her muse. There's no love triangle here, it's quite clear where Vicky's affections really lay. I found myself tearing up and feeling all happy and content upon finishing the story.

A wonderful book that does deserve each and everyone of the 5 stars I'm giving it! Go READ IT NOW!

View all my reviews

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Introducing a new feature: Ink & Batter!

Hey guys! Welcome to the official introduction of what will be a regular (every other week, but I don't think I will manage to have it weekly) new feature in the blog!

Some of you might know of my love for baking and decorating cupcakes, and I've even made book inspired cupcakes before but it was not till Becca from Pivot Book Reviews saw them and completely started squealing and demanding I made more that I decided I needed to make it a regular feature on the blog!

I asked a few of my good blogger friends over Twitter for suggestions and Sam from Realm of Fiction sent me a huge list full of great ideas via e-mail! After pondering about all the suggestions and a few ideas of my own, I chose Ink & Batter (from Sam's list, thanks a lot for all the suggestions, Sam!).

Then it was just a question of getting a banner made (ain't it pretty) and I was all ready to debut the feature! This week I will be showing the first two proper examples of book inspired decorated cupcakes that I made, and hopefully for next Thursday or the one after I'll have some new book inspired cupcakes to show off!

The first inspired cupcakes were made for a contest on CJ Redwine's blog to win an ARC of Deception, and I was so inspired that I made Defiance inspired cupcakes and on a whim also made Incarnate & Asunder by Jodi Meadows inspired cupcakes!



Now I have a huge list of books that I'm super inspired to make decorated cupcakes about like Splintered & Unhinged by Anita G Howard, Deliverance by CJ Redwine, Infinite by Jodi Meadows, The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by M.G Buehrlen, The Ring & The Crown my Melissa de la Cruz, A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller, the Selection series by Kiera Cass ( I need to decorate cupcakes inspired by each of the dresses in the covers!)...

Do you guys have any suggestions? Let them in the comments, I'm always happy to add more books to my list!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday #38!!

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted at Breaking The Spine  that spotlights those can't-wait-to-get-my-hands-on-them books that we are eagerly awaiting!

What book am I totally dying to get my hands on to this week? Sixth Grave From The Edge by Darynda Jones!!

Goodreads Summary:

"Few things in life can come between a grim reaper and her coffee, but the sexy, sultry son of Satan is one of them. Now that Reyes Farrow has asked for her hand, Charley Davidson feels it's time to learn more about his past, but Reyes is reluctant to open up. When the official FBI file of his childhood abduction lands in her lap, Charley decides to go behind her mysterious beau’s back and conduct her own investigation. Because what could go wrong?
Unfortunately, another case has fallen into her lap—one with dangerous implications. Some very insistent men want Charley to hunt down a witness who is scheduled to testify against their boss, a major player in the local crime syndicate. If Charley doesn't come up with an address in 48 hours, the people closest to her will start to disappear.

Add to that a desperate man in search of the soul he lost in a card game, a dogged mother determined to find the ghost of her son, and a beautiful, young Deaf boy haunted by his new ability to see the departed as clearly as he sees the living, and Charley has her hands full. The fact that Reyes has caught on to her latest venture only adds fuel to the inferno that he is. Good thing for Charley she's used to multi-tasking and always up for a challenge…especially when that challenge comes in the form of Reyes Farrow."

Why am I eagerly awaiting Sixth Grave On The Edge? Well, these books have the most amazing chemistry between Charley and Reyes (the hot & sexy Son of Satan), make me laugh cause Charley has the most hilarious inner dialogue and with some brilliant secondary characters... I just cannot get enough of this series!!

What are you all (im)patiently awaiting this week?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cover Reveal With Xpresso Book Tours: Fruit of Misfortune by Nely Cab!!

Hello guys! Today I'm very happy to be part of the cover reveal for the second book in the Creatura series, organized by Xpresso Book Tours!

But before you get to see the amazing cover designed by Phatpuppy Art, I'm gonna share a bit more about the book!

Fruit of Misfortune by Nely Cab
(Creatura #2)
Publication date: May 1st 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

Isis and her boyfriend, David, are on the brink of a horrible transformation and they are eager to stop it. Together, they set out on a quest to Greece to find Isis’ biological father—the only person that may be able to help them. Their journey comes to an abrupt stop before it even begins when Isis falls ill, and Eros, David’s best friend, arrives in Athens, unannounced and curious…with a plan of his own.
The hunt for her father leads Isis on the turbulent path of deceit, death, and demons as she anticipates the dawning of the beast that stirs inside her.

Ready to see the beautiful cover now?

About the author:
Nely Cab has lived and resided in a small, quiet South Texas town most of her life. She worked in banking for several years, before she relocated to Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico in 2001, where she dedicated time to the study of culinary arts and the art of oil painting. After her return to the U.S., Nely resumed her employment in banking and later transitioned to the field of Social Work.

Today, Nely Cab writes from the comfort of her home, where she lives with her husband and son. Her life goal is to check-off Bucket List Item No. 95,623,351: To Conquer the World. While she aspires world domination, Nely can be found lost in other fantasy worlds in front of her computer, sipping coffee.