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Summer Reading 2018 List!

Royalty Free Image via Pixabay | Text added in Paint

A Possibility of Whales by Karen Rivers

Black Butler (Volumes 23-25)

Fruits Basket (Volume 17 to end)

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen, book 2)

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows, book 1)

Star In The Morning by Lynn Kurland (A Novel of the Nine Kingdoms, book 1) (2nd Read)

With Every Breath by Lynn Kurland (MacLeod, book 7) (2nd Read)

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (The Books of Bayern, book 1) (2nd Read)


These are all the books I would like to get through this summer. However, I’m not gonna push myself to finish this entire list because I know I most likely won’t have the time. I’ve changed this list so many times but this final version seems right for the summer. I’m excited and curious about the possibilities of the stories here. Whatever happens I’ll get through them all eventually.

What books are on your summer reading list this year?


As Always, Happy Reading!

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ARC Book Review: Bitten Under Fire by Heather Long

Thank you NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review.
Bitten Under Fire by Heather Long is set to be released May 28, 2018.

 

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Bravo Team WOLF, book 2
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via NetGalley):
Bianca Devlin’s work is her life. Now, she’s finally taking a vacation…and guerillas hit her resort to kidnap a diplomat’s son. She does the only thing that makes sense—intervene to save the child’s life. Being dragged into the jungle with a scared kid she’s determined to protect was definitely not how she saw this trip ending.

After she returns to Texas, the last person Bianca expected to see was Sergeant Carlos “Cage” Castillo, the member of Bravo Team WOLF that helped rescue her. Nevertheless, there he is, living across the street from the house she just bought. The coincidence is alarming, but she has to admit, his presence isn’t entirely unwanted.

But there’s something off about Cage—the way he can move without a sound or the weird way his eyes seem to almost glow at times. And how can Bianca manage her growing attraction, when everything she knows about him and his reason for being there, turns out to be a lie?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
A different kind of storytelling for a paranormal romance novel than I’m used to…but I liked it. A lot.

At first, I requested this title because of the inciting incident described in the summary and the rest of the description seemed to support such an unusual beginning well enough to garner further interest. But it was the characters that kept me reading, which Heather Long does a fantastic job creating to propel the story along.

Bianca is a humanitarian through and through. She’s thoughtful, tough, independent, driven and possesses a great sense of humor. Cage is a dedicated Marine who wants to prove his worth. He’s funny, takes responsibility for his actions, and incredibly caring. I really loved that both characters have dedicated their lives to helping and saving people. They are truly perfect for each other. Also, the dialogue between them is just so on-point and witty.

While Bianca and Cage are terrific characters and romantic leads, I adored their parents. The Devlin’s are also humanitarians who work as physicians for Doctors Beyond Borders. They’re so fun-loving and dedicated to their work and each other. Cage’s father is not a man to be trifled with. But he has this certain appeal and charm about him, an adorable softness when it comes to his pack and family.

It took some time for me to get used to such a character driven story. The majority of the book focuses on the development of Bianca and Cage’s relationship. I kept waiting for some third-party external force to disrupt things since the actual problem would take time to make itself known. It was unsurprising when that crux moment finally occurred but the romance kept me buoyant until then. There was a lengthy explanation about what wolves are, which for me I found boring because I’ve read so many shifter/wolf stories. But I’d say this would be a good starter book for anyone who hasn’t read or is not too familiar with this aspect of the paranormal in fiction and the possibilities to create distinguishable supernatural beings.

The ending was a bit cheesy. I think it could have been done differently – same idea but different material. Or perhaps the final scenes needed more space for more impact. But what happened did its job and there were feels aplenty. Too rushed but okay.

Bitten Under Fire is the first book I’ve read by Heather Long and I think the first military-esque fiction I’ve read – the latter another aspect I loved about this book. I’m not sure if I’ll go back and read book 1 because right now I’m not too interested in Jax and Kat’s story – although I did like their brief presence in this installment so maybe someday. But I would recommend this book regardless. Heather Long is a great writer and storyteller.


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Book Review: Immortal Ever After by Lynsay Sands

Image via Barnes & Noble

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Argeneau, book 18
Rating: 3 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):

A kiss doesn’t mean eternity . . .

Valerie Moyer doesn’t believe in vampires—until she is kidnapped by a fanged psychopath! After escaping her bloodthirsty captor, she’s through with creatures of the night. Until she finds herself under the protection of the darkly handsome Anders. Not only is she expected to accept that Anders is immortal, but also that she is the woman destined to be his life mate!

. . . Or does it?

Anders felt a connection to Valerie from the moment he cradled her bruised body in his arms. But before he claims her, he must destroy the vampire who almost stole her from him forever. His job would be easier if Valerie didn’t fight him every step of the way. Still, Anders loves a challenge, and the green-eyed beauty is worth fighting for!


Quick Note: This is the first book of this series that I’m reviewing and reading. There’s a lot of books in this series and can all be read as stand-alones from what I’ve gathered. So that’s what I’m doing.


My Review:
I liked this book. It’s fun and interesting, a different kind of vampire world than I’ve read before. In this series, these supernatural beings refer to themselves as immortals – not vampires. Their physiology has a fictional scientific explanation using Atlantes as its backdrop.

There’s too much explaining things that could have been shortened significantly – not just about what immortals are but how life mates work and who each character (there and not there) is. Too late to add, I know, but perhaps this series could benefit from including a cast of characters list at the end (or beginning) of the story instead of having characters constantly explain in-story connections each person has to each other and job functions. Something both new and familiar readers could use.

Valerie and Ander’s relationship was a 50/50 for me. They’re good characters, but some things didn’t add up.

On one hand, although they immediately desire each other on a physical level, they actually do fall in love with each other by getting to personally know each other. There’s evidence shown instead of inferred. Neither of them immediately accepts the other as life mates.

On the other hand, I have a hard time accepting Valerie’s initial reactions to Anders and unhesitating intimacy with him. I’m not an expert on trauma but it seems implausible that Valerie would feel so safe so soon with Anders after escaping a severely traumatizing situation. The whole story takes place in matter of days. I highly admire her strength and bravery for getting herself and the other women out of that mess and escaping with more sanity than most would. But the effects of the ordeal are very minuscule at first and then non-existent at all. I think Anders should’ve given her more space, but he never pressures into doing anything she doesn’t want to and always puts her first.

Valerie’s a smart girl. So I’m confused by the lack of important questions from her after her escape. I get she’s recovering and at most she remembers to ask about her dog, the wonderfully adorable Roxy. But she mostly excepts everything she’s being told despite it being so far different from human common protocols. For example, people under protection aren’t taken to a grocery store.

The dialogue exchanges between characters was very amusing as were the other secondary characters in the story – like Leigh. The conflict was good, but the level of suspense and tension could have been so much higher. One too many holes in logic that I couldn’t suspend my disbelief over prevented me from giving this book a higher rating.


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2018 Reading Challenge Complete!!!

as of 4/24/18

Earlier this week, I reached my goal of 50 books to read this year as a part of the Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge. I did not expect to finish so soon in the year as it took me far longer last year with a 30-book goal.

The past two months I’ve just been whisking through books one after another in short periods of time. Also, I read a lot of manga of which I devoured three to four volumes in a day at a time. There’s been just so many good reads that have held my attention regardless of the post-read ratings.

Below you’ll find all of the titles I’ve read for the challenge up until the goal reached. This includes book I haven’t official reviewed yet as well as 10 post-read thoughts and review excerpts.

Enjoy!


Manga

Black Butler by Yana Toboso, Translated by Tomo Kimura
(read during challenge: Volumes 1-18)
(Volume 1 Review)

Volume 1 Image via Goodreads

I am enjoying this manga immensely. I had planned to pace the reading of this out but it’s just too good that I kept checking out volume after volume from the library. There’s just so much…right with this manga and the art is absolutely gorgeous.

Volume 1 Review Excerpt: “I really like this manga. I love each character – the main characters are so charming, especially Sebastian and Ciel! I love all the humor throughout – I laughed a lot. And I was completely surprised at every turn.”

 

Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya, Translated by Alethea Nibley & Athena Nibley
(read during challenge: Volumes 1-16)
(Volumes 1-5 combined review)

 

ARCs/NetGalley

Baby, I’m Howling For You by Christine Warren (ARC)
Alphaville, book 1

Image via NetGalley

I can definitely get behind this series. Shifters – wolves in particular – are my favorite of the paranormal/supernatural sub-genre. This book was just too too good and I need to read book 2 asap!

Review Excerpt: “First off, I fell head over heels over the fact that Renny is a librarian and Mick is a graphic novelist. *insert book-nerdish swoon* That alone deserves all the stars in the world. But of course, that was the cherry atop the sundae for my love of these two characters.”

 

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (ARC)

Fade to Us by Julia Day (ARC)

Image via NetGalley

There’s so much to love and admire about this novel, specifically the sister-sister relationship that develops. Brooke and Natalie make this book: from the conflict with each other to the conflict they have with other people to the conflict they have with themselves.

Review Excerpt: “Great story. Wonderful characters. Pretty cover. Awesome that musical theater was involved. And loved the sister-sister relationship. Fade to Us deserves a standing ovation. Brava, Julia Day, brava!”

 

Henry Hodges Needs a Friend by Andy Andrews, Illustrated by Colleen Madden (NetGalley)

Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen (ARC)

Image via NetGalley

For laughs, cats, telling memes, and insightful art, I highly recommend reading this graphic novel. It’s so light and funny but unapologetically serious about the life of an introvert and arts.

Review Excerpt: “Fantastic. Hilarious. Just what a creative person (and everyone) needs to hear and see. Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen is an art and narrative to be experienced.”

 

Blood Veil by Megan Erickson (ARC review)

The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee by Deborah Abela (NetGalley review)

Image via Goodreads

I think this a novel to be added onto every TBR list if you like middle grade novels. Young readers will learn about perseverance, self-worth, failure, triumph, friendship, and a whole host of new vocabulary words. It’s a great story told really well.

Review Excerpt: “Truly…a stupendously sweet and spectacular story…It’s light, charming, wholesome, and educational”

 

Bitten Under Fire by Heather Long (ARC Review Coming Soon)
Startup Fiancé by Shilpa Mudiganti (NetGalley Review Coming Soon)

 

Novels

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Image via Goodreads

The YA narrative version of the song “This Is Me” in a nutshell. The struggles experienced and message that saturates this novel are truths that ring long past the story is over. I can’t help but reflect when I think about this novel: that in-your-face awareness of the flaws you perceived to be true and the flaws others see in you they believe to be true until you reach that moment when you realize you are human. This was just a really poignant YA novel and fantastic read.

Review Excerpt:Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven is written with grace and style, creating a daring and enriching story that reminds you that you are wanted.”

 

Slammed by Colleen Hoover
The Winter King by C. L. Wilson
Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
The Numair Chronicles, book 1

Image via Goodreads

The nostalgia is real! I am in love with the writing and how the story was told. The author has truly outdone herself this time. I just need to know what happens next now. 2019 (the expected publication year) is so far away.

Review Excerpt: “The story I’ve been waiting to read for years did not disappoint. Nostalgic, exhilarating, tumultuous, and bittersweet; I am left one very happy reader.”

Tortall: A Spy’s Guide by Tamora Pierce
(with Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, Megan Messinger)

Image via Goodreads

I never thought I’d enjoy what is essentially a compilation text book, but this was so captivating to read. I learned so much more about George’s work and the world of Tortall – too much to remember, but still! This was perfect to read after spending years reading all of Pierce’s other books.

Review Excerpt: “But I really enjoyed reading more about one of my favorite fantasy worlds. It was a pleasant and delightful reading experience – so compelling I could hardly put it down.”

 

Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Image via Goodreads

I went through a back and forth with this book before even picking it up. At first, I was looking forward to reading it, then I wasn’t sure if I still wanted to read it, then I was like I think I do want to read it, and then I was back on the I-want-to read-but-don’t-know-when-I’ll-get-to-read-it phase. It wasn’t until there came a stretch of days where I needed (ahahaha, I always “need” a book to read) a quick read and decided on this. I’m so happy I did because it was better than I thought it was going to be. The book just made my admiration for John Green soar higher. Turtles All The Way Down is an incredibly brilliant story I’d recommend to everyone.

Review Excerpt: “Aza is a fantastic character and individual…Her narrative is incredibly raw and, in my opinion, an accurate representation of what the inside of a truly anxious mind looks and feels like. “

 

Scorpion Mountain by John Flanagan
The Ghostfaces by John Flanagan
The Caldera by John Flanagan

 

2nd Reads

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
Beka Cooper, book 3

Image via Goodreads

This is how you craft an intricate, captivating plot with highly compelling characters smack-dab in the middle of a beautifully created fantasy world where the stakes are higher than ever. I love this series but this book in particular I just love so much.

Review Excerpt:Mastiff is one of those stories that stays with you long after the story is over. It’s one of my favorite books of all time. I loved it even more the second time around, though it didn’t make dealing with the conflict of the story any easier. Still, Mastiff is a book that will easily exceed all expectations.”

 

A Dance Through Time by Lynn Kurland


If you’ve taken up Goodreads’ challenge, how far along are you currently? What books are you hoping to get through before the year is out? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!

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New Books Added To My TBR List!

Royalty Free Image via Pixabay | Edited in Paint

Last week, I found a good amount of books to add to my TBR list that I’m looking forward to reading. There are others not included below but have been marked as Want to Read on Goodreads for now because I don’t know if I’m going to/will get to reading them.

This list is – as usual – a mix of genres: from middle grade to young adult contemporary, and urban fantasy to paranormal romance. I’m also happy that half these books are from authors I haven’t read from before.

 

Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi (reading soon)

A Possibility of Whales by Karen Rivers

The Way to Bea by Kat Yeh

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant

How We Roll by Natasha Friend

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson, book 1)

Under A Vampire Moon by Lynsay Sands (Argeneau, book 16)
Immortal Ever After by Lynsay Sands (Argeneau, book 18) (Currently Reading)
Vampire Most Wanted by Lynsay Sands (Argeneau, book 20)

The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross (The Queen’s Rising, book 1)

Blood and Sand by C. V. Wyk

Lord of the Fading Lands by C.L. Wilson (Tairen Soul, book 1) (1st official read)


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!


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More 2018 Anticipated Book Releases

Image via Goodreads

From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

May 22

Simon Pulse
Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary

Summary (via Goodreads):
Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

[My Thoughts?] I’m immediately intrigued by the book’s description and can relate to the main character who simple wants to share stores with everyone. I also liked that the main character is an aspiring, female filmmaker. However, there is this implication of a love-triangle – a small thing for me but I am still interested in reading this book.


Image via Goodreads

Your Lion Eyes by Christine Warren (Alphaville, book 2)

December 4

St. Martin’s Press
Paranormal Romance

Summary (via Goodreads):
Molly Buchanan is a lioness on the prowl. Unfortunately, since she’s been prowling through the same town for her entire life, she’s down to some pretty slim pickings in the dating department. But the minute she sets eyes on the new bachelor in town, her lioness starts to purr and plans to do some serious rubbing up against Grady Emerson. 

Newly arrived in Alpha, Washington, Grady just wants to settle in and do his job as the town’s newest deputy. But even this rogue-bear sheriff knew Molly Buchanan was trouble the minute he laid eyes on her. She might be smoking hot, sharp as a tack, and funny as hell, but she is also his friend’s younger sister, and there are some things a good man just doesn’t do-no matter how much his bear might want to devour her.

[My Thoughts?]loved the first book. Although the premise for this second installment is something I’ve seen before, I think it’ll still be another good story. Shifter stories are always fun to read. I just wish the publication date wasn’t so far away!


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Book Review: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls, book 3
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
then.
When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their loved moved from curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives.

now.
That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be killed in one final, spectacular hunt.

forever.
Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment–a moment of death or life, farewell or forever.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
Not the ended I expected – I’m certainly saddened by how things turned out – but it’s definitely the proper ending for this trilogy.

The story begins where Linger left off but in a state of limbo. No one knows what to do next or if they want to do anything about their current predicament and impending danger. This is a rather lengthy stretch of time during which the four principle characters struggle to sort out their feelings about their respective pasts and for each other. So that could have sped up a bit considering the implications of “farewell and forever.”

There is tremendous character growth and tons of suspenseful scenes once things start moving forward. I knew going into this final book that there would be a price to pay to solve the conflict, but I didn’t expect how heavy that price would be (whether the main characters “won” or “lost”).

I don’t think this third book was lacking in any way, but it was very slow to start. I’m sad to have finished such a good series.


My Reviews: Shiver (book 1) | Linger (book 2)