Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (4): The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

The Merchant's DaughterMelanie Dickerson
Expected publication on November 29, 2011

An unthinkable danger.  An unexpected choice.  Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly.  Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf's bailiff---a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past.  

Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff's vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf.  As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger.  Ranulf's future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.

As you might be able to guess, this is a new spin on the age-old tale of Beauty and the Beast.  But wait -- before you groan and say, "Oh not again,"  hear me out.

Has it been done before?  Yes.  

Do we know how the story will end?  Of course. 

Do we know how the characters will make it to their happily-ever-after? Not really.  It changes according to the storyteller.

Am I tired of reading retellings?  No way!

I am a hopeless romantic and fairy tales are some of the greatest stories out there.  There's no denying that there have been many re-tellings of famous fairy tales throughout the centuries and Beauty & the Beast has not escaped that at all.  Books, television series, movies, Broadway shows; this story has seen it all.  Like the sappy romantic I am, I love it all.  

Knowing that the Titanic sinks didn't stop you from going to see Kate & Leo's movie did it?  Heck no!  
Knowing that Beauty and her Beast live happily-ever-after won't stop me from reading this book.  I love seeing old stories through new eyes and I expect I will enjoy The Merchant's Daughter.

If you like fairy tale revamps, I suggest you check out Melanie's other work, The Healer's Apprentice (a new look on Sleeping Beauty), or the many works of the fabulous Robin McKinley.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tune in Tuesday (3): 90's Edition

Tune in Tuesdays is hosted by Ginger at GReads to help spread the love of music!  I hope you enjoy and perhaps it will take you back.

For this tune in Tuesdays 90s edition, I decided I wanted to take a look at the ladies of the decade.  Here are a few of my favorites.  Don't forget to head on over to see what everyone else posted to share :) GReadsbooks

Jewel - You Were Meant for Me

Sarah McLachlan - Possession

Luscious Jackson - Ladyfingers

Dido - Here With me

Hope you enjoyed  today's selection!  What are some of your 90's favorites?

Top 10 Tuesday (2): Books on my Fall TBR List

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This list could also very well be called "Marissa's Fan Girl List of SQUEE." *fans self thinking about cute boys*  Okay so here are some of the books I just need to read this fall when they come out!  

1.  The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa:  The Iron Fey series has me under its spell and I cannot wait to read this book through the eyes of Ash.  

2.  WVMP series by Jeri Smith-Ready:  I fell in love with Jeri's Shade series and felt I must read this series about vampire disc jockeys.  No sparkles here except for maybe Shane McAllister's smile.  (Check back on Sept. 1st for an exciting announcement).

3.  Vanish by Sophie Jordan:  Absolutely cannot wait to see what is next for Jacinda & Will.  Contemporary setting about dragons; Yes, please!!

4.  Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins:  All of my blogging buddies seem to have read this book and have just gushed over St. Clair.  I need to see for myself what the hype is about this guy.

5.  The Peach Keeper by Sarah Allen:  My good friend Malia recommended this to me and her suggestions never fall short.  I need to bump it up on my TBR list.

6.  River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren:  I am 90% finished with the first book in the series, Waterfall,  and cannot wait to get my hands on Cascade & Torrent.  Italian knights, romance, and battles set in Tuscany?  Not to mention time travel.  Why did I not know about this series sooner?!

7.  Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions anthology, edited by Melissa Marr & Kelly Armstrong:  I have it on good authority that our dear, amazing Logan Keeley from Jeri Smith-Ready's Shade series will have a s story in this highly anticipated anthology.  I am SO there! 

8.  Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs:  Tera's writing simply knocks me on my feet.  She skillfully writes stories that flawlessly combine contemporary characters and mythology.  She has me from the excerpt from her Oh. My. Gods. series.  I am eagerly awaiting this first book of her new trilogy based on Greek mythology.

9.  Immortal Beloved by Katie M. John:  This will be the second book in The Knight Trilogy and I've gotta say, I am just bouncing to get this on my Kindle and start reading away.  I just finished The Forest of Adventures (read my review here) and I think Blake is shaping up to be a major contender.  Gotta say, I have a "thing" for knights in armor. 

And saving the best for last....

10.  Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare:  Be still my beating heart.  I loved Clockwork Angel even more than than Cassie's The Mortal Instrument series.  Blasphemous?  I think not.  There is something about Will Herondale that makes ya go HHmmm.  VLCPhoto Productions will be doing the book trailer again and has been teasing us with stills from the CP shoot last week.  If you have a tumblr account, check some of them out:

What are you desperate to read this fall?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Review: The Forest of Adventures by Katie M. John

The Forest of Adventures (Knight Trilogy, #1)

Book 1 of the The Knight Trilogy
Katie M. John
Little Bird Publishing House
October 26, 2010
Kindle E-book edition

For seventeen year old Mina Singer, falling in love with an Arthurian Knight on a white horse was never part of the plan - especially being that she's an ordinary college girl living in the twenty first century.

As Mina finds herself catapulted into a land she believed only existed in the bedtime stories of her childhood, she soon discovers that Fairyland is not quite as innocent as she imagined.

The question is...who will come out alive? Haunting, beautiful and sexy, The Forest of Adventures, is a dark romantic quest into the land of true and forbidden love.

When we meet Mina she seems like a typical British, college-aged girl.  She attends college, hangs out with her friends, and lives at home with her mother.  Mina's future is already mapped out; she'll finish school and marry her loving and sweet boyfriend.  However, nothing ever goes as planned and destiny awaits her.

How many times have you thought that you had everything planned out, a set order of how your life will proceed and then in the flash of an instant, everything gets turned upside down?  This is exactly what happens to Mina.

Many stories begin with ordinary people that are unremarkable and seem very normal as they go about their everyday lives.  However, as the best fairy tales and stories progress we discover the ordinary protagonist is indeed destined for extraordinary adventures.  This is exactly what you will find when you read The Forest of Adventures.

You will also find a love triangle, of course, which will make your heart ache.  There are delicious knights in armor bound by chivalry, honor, and fighting the battle of good versus evil.  Romance, humor, honor, prophecies, magic, the impossible made possible, good vs. evil, knights on white horses, epic battles, castle towers...this story has it all!  What little girl doesn't dream of her prince charming coming along and sweeping her off her feet?!

This story will charge into your heart and leave you breathless and waiting for the next book in the series.  As with all Arthurian Legends have ever done, this one made my heart bleed and ache!  I cheered the heroes, laughed, boo'd the villains, and also wanted to comfort and console the characters when they needed it.

Katie painted a vivid picture of Arthurian knights and ladies with a new contemporary setting.  I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us in book two.

The story itself uses some British terminology but it didn't throw me for a big loop.  There were some grammatical things that made me shake my head but I'm not sure if it was editing errors or just a British vs. American grammar difference.  But don't let these things stop you from picking up this book.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Follow Friday (3)

Follow Friday is a weekly event hosted by Parajunkee & Alison of Alison Can Read.
If you'd like to join in on the hop and follow, head to either of the above pages and follow the directions.

This week's feature question is:

In books like the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series the paranormal creature in question "comes out of the closet" and makes itself known to the world.  Which mythical creature do you wish would come out of the closet, for real?

Well I had to give some thought to this one and I would have to say dragons and fire lizards but specifically those from the Pern novels by Anne McCaffrey.  Nothing would be greater than to be a Dragon Rider fighting thread and I would love the chance to belong to a fire lizard (sort of like cats own you).  The dragons and their small cousins in this world are not hostile and were created for beneficial reasons, therefore they would not pose a threat of violence.

The brilliant Rowena Morrill is responsible for this cover and many others for Anne's books.

What creature would you like to see in person?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Top 20 Literary Crushes: Part II

My mom always said I was boy crazy and I guess she was right!  Without further ado I present to you the second half of my top twenty literary crushes.  If you missed the first half, check out Part I.  As an aside, I don't have pictures of all of these guys, so you'll just have to take my word or read their awesome books!

In no particular order:

From a City of Bones Movie website
11.  Jace Wayland
       Cassandra Clare

The snarky, buff, blonde-haired, golden-eyed wonder that is Jace Wayland, I must admit was at the very tip top of my list for quite a long time.  Not only is Jace gorgeous, a BAMF and handy with a multitude of weapons (including his Shadowhunter steele), but I love his sense of humor.  “See? Look.  Jammies.”  There is no doubt the boy has lead a tortured life and needs some balance.  Jace is a tempest and can sometimes be reckless.  No doubt this fearless guy is swoon worthy.  My verdict is still out on Jamie Campbell Bower as the choice for Jace in the movie adaptation but he is growing on me.

12.  Will Herondale
        Cassandra Clare

Yes, another of Cassie Clare’s boys has made my top 20.  If Jace is tortured there is little to doubt that poor Will is broken and damaged.  Will is witty and can be very charming but he hides behind a fa├žade.  You can tell he is a caring and sensitive soul but he prefers to show the world something completely opposite to keep everyone at a distance.  I think that’s the part of what draws me to Will; the need to crack open his hard exterior shell and get to know him better.  If you have read Clockwork Angel and judging from the attic scene, you know Will can be extremely passionate, which I love.      

Brightly Woven13.  Wayland North, better known as just North
        Brightly Woven 
        Alexandra Bracken

North is the second magic-user on my list.  He is a wizard (reluctantly) but that is just his occupation.  A gentleman, brave, super intelligent, courageous, and sweet in his own way, North is easy to love. He is very affectionate and does these little things like pushing back Syd’s hair or entwining their hands together that is so sweet.  I think he is the biggest sweetheart of my list.  Truly. 

14.  Kent Ourvelet
        Sharon Shinn

Kent is the cousin to the crown prince of Auburn and as an Ouvrelet he is expected to carry himself with dignity and display a sense of honor and duty.  While he is in a position of power, he doesn’t let it go to his head.  He even taught a guard how to read because he promised to – so he is a man of his word.  Kent is down to earth and will go out of his way to be the voice of reason to the pigheaded and hot-tempered Prince Bryan.  He is a private type of guy and does not let his feelings show.  Kent also knows how to sweep you off your feet and glide you across the dance floor and he's sturdy and dependable.     

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour15.  Roger Sullivan
        Morgan Matson

Roger Sullivan is a darling.  He has awesome taste in music – just check out his road trip playlists.  Adorable in glasses (sucker for a guy in glasses, I am), great with trivia, smart, sweet, easy going…Roger is just adorable.  His relationship is so natural with Amy.  If you need a shoulder to cry on, a co-pilot or someone to drive across the country with, Roger makes the perfect companion.

16.  Denver Beck
        Jana Oliver

Known to most as Beck, this twenty-two year old demon trapper extraordinaire hails from Georgia and is a military veteran, having served in Afghanistan.  Beck is prickly, self-confident, tough, and knows how to take care of himself.  But don’t let his harsh outside fool you; Beck has a soft interior (he listens to Taylor Swift!) and a protective instinct when it comes to Riley.  He is in complete denial about his feelings for her but it is clear he does feel something for the girl.  Beck has seen a lot in his short lifetime and it’s understandable that he keeps to himself to avoid more hurt.  Can’t wait to see more of him and Riley next week! (Check out my Waiting on Wednesday post about Soul Thief).

17.  "Four"
         Veronica Roth

Four is the only dystopian guy on my list (sorry Peeta!).  Where to start with Four?  He is part of the Dauntless faction in a dysfunctional future Chicago.  Four is intelligent and tough and definitely good at fighting.  He could have had his choice of any job, but he chose to train new initiates of the faction.  Four is also computer-savy and works in a control room.  Buff, tough, nearly fearless, and highly intimidating; there is something dangerous about Four.  However, he fights for what he thinks is right and is a well-rounded character.  He pushes Tris to be the best she can be and doesn't treat her like a damsel in distress but is still supportive of her.  Something very sexy about all these qualities wrapped into one guy.  

18.  Nicholas Brisbane, "Brisbane"
       Deanna Raybourn

Brisbane is a private detective that could rival Sherlock Holmes.  Another man among men, he is not from a YA novel.  Brisbane is the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome.  He is dashing, charming, has an acute eye for detail, highly perceptive and just completely amusing.  He is fearless, versed in Shakespeare, a scholar, and jack of all trades.  There is nothing he can't do, ladies.  Brisbane will charm you off your feet and he looks amazing in his finery.  Deanna says the late Mark Frankel is how she envisions Brisbane but honestly... I prefer someone like Clive Owen perhaps...

19.  Gilbert Blythe
Gilbert rescues Anne from the bridge piling
       Anne of Green Gables series
       L.M. Montgomery

Gilbert Blythe was one of my very first literary crushes.  It also helped that he was played by the dashing Jonathan Crombie in the Sullivan Entertainment version.  Gilbert was the first example of how if a boy likes you, he will tease you just to get your attention.  He was always so devoted and besotted with Anne, even when she was to blind to see how much he cared for her.  Obviously Gilbert was brilliant; competing with Anne every step of the way academically, he went on to become a doctor!  Gilbert was truly selfless and always willing to do what was best for Anne (giving up his teaching post so she could be closer to home, studying with her, saving her from drowning in the lake) and was truly an example of "If you love something, let it go and if it's meant to be, they will come back to you."  Determined, loyal, many great qualities.    

20.  Alec Ysvorod
         Coronets & Steel
        Sherwood Smith

Alec is my second Sherwood character and it's well deserved.  He is another in line for a throne but in a contemporary society.  Alec is very similar in disposition to Vidanric.  He knows his duty to his country, is well-versed in politics, is willing to sacrifice his personal happiness to fulfill what is expected of him, is suave and charming, and is like a knight in shining armor (minus the armor).  Alec looks delectable in a tuxedo and knows all the right things to say to make your heart skip a beat.  If your idea of a romantic outing is a picnic and night out under the stars, Alec is THE man for you.

I hope you've enjoyed my top twenty crushes!  Be sure to share your's with me.  I would love to read about them and add to the list of swoon-worthy men. 


Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1)
Richelle Mead
August 23, 2011

The first book in Richelle Mead's brand-new teen fiction series - set in the same world as Vampire Academy.

When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive - this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone's out for blood. -

In Bloodlines, Sydney Sage is our main character.  For those of you that read the Vampire Academy series, you might remember her best for assisting Rose and her crew in the majority of Last Sacrifice.  I loved reading this book from Sydney’s PoV because it was great to see the Moroi/Strigoi/Dhampir world through a human’s eyes.  If you thought Sydney was smart and intelligent before, she really shines in her new role helping to protect Jill.  Brains and beauty!  Love her!

For those of us left wanting more of Adrian, heartbroken as we were at the end of Last Sacrifice for him, rest assured that he is back and in a big way.  Adrian’s character progression in Bloodlines did not surprise me but definitely endeared me more to him.  I was really happy with his personal development and can’t wait to see where this story arc takes him.

Poor Jill.  Thrust into a new role in her life as a Moroi royal, her entire world just got thrown even more topsy-turvy having to go into hiding.  Jill is still an awkward and gangly teenager and trying to find the balance between staying out of the spotlight and finding a niche for herself in her new school.  I definitely felt for her and wanted to give her a hug or ten. 

Eddie Castile, is still a kick-ass guardian as ever.  He can be my bodyguard any day!  His talents as a guardian are not wasted by being assigned to Jill at all.  Protective, concerned, loyal and understanding – you would hardly expect anything less from someone that was under the tutelage of the expert trainers at St Vladimir’s.  He will certainly have some challenges in this series; it will be interesting to see what happens next with him.

There were only two things about the book that frustrated me.  The first was the lack of kissing/romance.  If you’re looking for a lot of romance, you may not be happy -- although there are some things that I am SURE are headed our way in books to come in the series.  Certainly new characters take time to adjust to each other and figure things out so I’m not horribly disappointed with this aspect.  In fact, I’m kind of GLAD there wasn’t much of the omg-I-love-you- glomp-hug-attached-at-hip-StALk-mE romance.  So maybe this is a plus.  Romance for romance sake is sometimes too much.  I can see where there will be build up through the series and that’s okay for me.  Anticipation can be heady and rewarding.   

Second, I pretty much had the book’s mysteries mostly solved before the characters.  I don’t think this is because of any flaws in Richelle’s writing but more an after effect of that I read too much (is there such a thing?) so this was only a personal problem for me.  But I was still delighted in the end that I had been on the right track! 

Simply put:  The first book in this spin-off series simply delivers.  

It was everything I expected and more from a creation of Richelle’s.  There was action, mystery, favorite beloved characters, new characters, and as a bonus we saw more about the Alchemist world than we had previously.  I will tell you that seeing some friendly characters were enough to have me giggling with glee.   When I finished, I laughed heartily and loudly and almost ran around my apartment screaming the book was that EXCELLENT. 

The Golden Lily which is scheduled for release on May 1, 2012 will definitely prove to be a sought after sequel.  If you were addicted to Vampire Academy as a Strigoi is to Moroi blood, you will be addicted to the Bloodlines series.  What makes me ecstatic though is May isn’t THAT far away.

Fangirl note: If I had this book in something other than e-book for I would probably sleep with it but since it IS on my Kindle I will have to settle for sitting it on my nightstand.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (3): Where You Are by Tammara Webber

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Where You Are (Between the Lines, #2)Where You Are (sequel to Between the Lines)
Tammara Webber
Release approximately scheduled for October 2011

*Slight Spoiler Summary from Goodreads- If you plan on reading the first book, Beware!* Highlight to read.

Graham Douglas doesn’t do romantic relationships, but he was knocked for a loop when he met Emma Pierce on the set of his last film. As they grew closer, he did everything in his power to keep from falling for the girl being pursued by superstar Reid Alexander. Back home in New York, his life is once again under control, until Emma appears and shows him how not over her he is.

Emma Pierce is forsaking an up-and-coming Hollywood career to embark on a life she’s only dreamed of—the life of a regular girl. After spending months burying her feelings for the two night-and-day guys who vied for her heart while filming her last movie, a twist of fate puts her in a coffee shop in the middle of Manhattan with the one she still misses.

Brooke Cameron was a fresh-faced Texas girl when she arrived in LA. Now she’s a beach sitcom star turned conceited heiress on the big screen. Having just survived three months on location with her ex—Hollywood’s reigning Golden Boy—she’s older and wiser and has set her sights on close friend Graham. The only thing standing in her way is the girl he can’t forget.

Reid Alexander can sum up his life in one word: boring. Between film projects, there’s little going on outside of a few upcoming interviews and the premiere for the film he finished last fall. The next-to-last thing he expects is to get a second chance with Emma, the girl who rejected him. The last thing he expects is for his still-bitter-ex to be the one to offer it to him on a platter.

Author Recommendation: Mature Young Adults (language, drinking, sexual situations) -

What else can I say but that October cannot come fast enough for me so I can read this book!  Between the Lines surprised and enchanted me.  I am certain I can expect the same from Where You Are.  I fell in love with Emma & Graham's relationship.  Graham, in my opinion, was a good influence on Emma.  Cannot wait to see Emma develop even more and see where their relationship takes them.  I am also curious about the other relationships between the casts and am interested in knowing what happens in the lives of Reid and Brooke.  Now that the movie finished shooting and they have to go to the premier, I wonder what conflicts will arise now that we know all the history (good & bad) that went on Between the Lines.  (That was such a great title!)  Tammara just posted recently on her Facebook page  an update on where she is in the writing process.  Not sure if the book will make it out by October (Goodreads still has it listed for sometime that month) but I know it will be worth that wait so I'll just wait on pins and needles 'til then.

Review: Between the Lines by Tammara Webber

Between the Lines (Between the Lines, #1)Between the Lines by Tammara Webber
April 29, 2011
Amazon Kindle edition

When Hollywood It Boy, Reid Alexander, arrives on location to shoot his next movie, his goals are the same as always—film another blockbuster hit and enjoy his celebrity status to the fullest while doing so. His costar is a virtual unknown with whom he had blazing hot chemistry during her auditions. The universe is lining up nicely to grant whatever he wants, as usual, until he’s confronted with unexpected obstacles on location like a bitter ex-girlfriend and a rival for the first girl to spark his genuine interest in years.

Emma Pierce just got her big break after more than a decade of filming commercials for grape juice, department stores and tampons, and more recently, bit parts in made-for-TV movies. Nailing the lead role in a wide-release film sent her agent, father and stepmother into raptures, and should have done the same for her. The Problem? Emma is experiencing a building desire to be normal, and starring in a silly, modernized adaptation of one of her favorite novels—opposite the very hot Reid Alexander—isn’t going to advance that aspiration.

Graham Douglas doesn’t fear playing the part of a nerdy dimwit; when it comes to choosing film roles, if it pays, he’ll do it. Besides, his friend Brooke Cameron snatched up the role of the bitchy hot girl and could use his help as a buffer, because her ex is the star. Graham has no problem keeping a handle on the situation, until he finds himself attracted to Reid’s costar, Emma, the girl Reid is pursuing full-throttle with his standard arsenal of charm, good looks and arrogance.

Author recommendation: Mature teens+ (language/drinking/sexual situations)

When I picked up Between the Lines for my Kindle my reasoning was that it was only $2.99 and the premise sounded interesting.  Cute guy, nice girl & both in show business working on a movie together.  Add in some teen-aged friends and voila! quick easy read.  I was not expecting to fall in love with this book and the characters.  When I got to the last page all I wanted to do was read more about Emma & the cast (especially a certain male).

I really identified with Emma and her adventures in making the right decisions.  Of course I haven't ever been in the position of being close to movie-stardom and having to navigate life in the public eye but Emma is still a regular teenage girl trying to decide on how she wants to live her life.  I think we've all been at that stage or still are in that stage, struggling to find ourselves.  We have all been at that point where we were almost an adult but not quite a little girl (or boy) any more.  Should I go to college or pursue a career in something else?       I'm about to be thirty and I still don't know "what I want to be when I grow up."  So when Emma is deciding on continuing with acting or going to college, I can sympathize with her.  

When the light bulb is turned on over her head and Emma graduates from the self-centered thinking she has been doing and starts thinking about how relationships are more than one-sided and how to be a good friend, I also identified with that notion.  Maybe that's a sign of growing into adulthood.  It's so easy to get lost in our day to day little dramas.  It's more difficult to step out of our shoes and see that other people have issues they need to work through as well.  

Tammara really gives us a wide variety of characters and shows that people deal with their lives and hardships in different ways, and not always for the better.  I'm sure that anyone that reads this book will find a character to identify with.  She touches on a lot of different issues, some that can even be uncomfortable but are inevitably a part of life.  Tammara's approach is honest and purely brilliant.       

OH! And one more important thing that I thought was a primary point of this book without being preachy:  Life may throw you curve balls and you might make mistakes, but it is how you handle them that can ultimately show the world how you are as a person.  After all, that's what growing up is all about. 

I highly recommend Between the Lines if you are looking for a contemporary read.  Here's hoping you fall in love with it like I did.