#Review: The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

page_1About The Glittering Court:

Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

REVIEW:

The Glittering Court is unlike any of Richelle Mead’s other works. So, do not expect another Vampire Academy or Bloodlines when you read this.

Adelaide is a strong heroine, which is evidenced by the great amount of fight within her. She fights for her friends, she fights for love, and most importantly, she fights for herself. She’s witty, opinionated, and caring—the perfect counterpart to Cedric, the Glittering Court owner’s son, who is also witty, opinionated, and caring (and definitely swoon-worthy). Adelaide and Cedric’s connection is felt from the very beginning, and as a reader, you root for them.

While the romantic aspect of this story was satisfying, it was really the female friendship between Adelaide, Tamsin, and Mira that I enjoyed the most. The three girls are complete opposites, but they mesh so well. Tamsin is feisty and ambitious while also being sentimental. Mira is quiet, strong, and wise, but I suspect she is also a dreamer. The endless support and love they all have for one another is admirable.

But ultimately, this was only an “okay” read for me. It took too long for me to experience the feelings/thoughts described above. The pacing was a little too slow for me at times to the point where I was SO BORED and I wanted to move on to another book, but I stuck with it because that’s just how I read. The book is not quite the fantasy one expects it to be either, as the setting was a mix between old Elizabethan and new frontier culture. But I imagine the next two books will be able to establish themselves more quickly as the majority of the world building has already been done in The Glittering Court.

Adelaide’s storyline is resolved by the end of this book, so there is no worrying about an agonizing cliffhanger. Despite my low rating, my interest grew in the end. So I do intend to read the next two books, which I expect will follow Tamsin and Mira—both of whom are still an intriguing mystery.

Overall, if you like books with historical settings, sweet romance, and strong female characters, then I think you may want to go grabby-hands and pick up this book for yourself! But if you need a read that grabs you from the start and never lets go, then this may not be the read for you.

#ARC #Review: The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone

27161846Both a Loose Ends List and a cruise ship like the Wish Well are unique ideas. I cannot say that I would want to ever participate in either activity, but I enjoyed reading about them well enough. I honestly probably would have been just like Maddie in terms of her reaction to the Wish Well. I can be quirky and weird about death in much the same way that Maddie was (meaning death give me the heebie-jeebies).

So ultimately, I found the main character of the story, Maddie, relatable and likable. In fact, her whole family was likable despite the fact that many of them have issues. Each character had very limited page time, but I still felt like they were developed and like I knew them. I knew who they were down to the core. So, Ms. Firestone did a fantastic job in terms of character development (and growth!).

Gram was an endearing kook that always had me laughing–at least until I was crying. It probably wasn’t a good idea for me to read a book that focuses on the death of a grandparent just one week after I lost one of my own grandparents. I was bawling. Ms. Firestone really captured the mentality of the dying and the grieving. The pumpkin metaphor, while gross (haha), is accurate.

The one thing that set this story back for me is the lack of chemistry between Maddie and Enzo. Sure, I could see that they had a connection of some type, but it wasn’t as strong as it could have been/needed to be. I understand that it’s a YA read and there is not going to be a great amount of sizzle, but despite the declarations and the physical connection, Maddie and Enzo’s relationship felt more platonic than romantic to me. I was still rooting for them, but I did become somewhat bored with them.

The Loose Ends List definitely has a family-centric storyline, and that was really its greatest strength.

#ARC #Review: Too Hot to Handle by Tessa Bailey

 From New York Times Bestselling author Tessa Bailey comes the first novel in her hot, new Romancing the Clarksons Series.

When rescue looks like a whole lot of trouble . . .

The road trip was definitely a bad idea. Having already flambéed her culinary career beyond recognition, Rita Clarkson is now stranded in God-Knows-Where, New Mexico, with a busted-ass car and her three temperamental siblings, who she hasn’t seen in years. When rescue shows up—six-feet-plus of hot, charming sex on a motorcycle—Rita’s pretty certain she’s gone from the frying pan right into the fire . . .

Jasper Ellis has a bad boy reputation in this town, and he loathes it. The moment he sees Rita, though, Jasper knows he’s about to be sorely tempted. There’s something real between them. Something raw. And Jasper has only a few days to show Rita that he isn’t just for tonight—he’s forever.

 

Review:

OW OW! Too Hot to Handle was an incredibly HOT read. Jasper and Rita are literally too hot to handle. He’s all southern charm and burly muscles, and she’s all city sass and graceful movements. They’re opposites in many ways, but they do have something in common, which is that they both feel broken inside. So, while their relationship is off the charts sexy, it’s also very sweet. As individuals, they each believe that their flaws are “unfixable.” But when they look at each other, they don’t even saw flaws. All they see is a beautiful and brave human being.

My favorite scene between Jasper and Rite (besides that epic ending, which almost had me crying) is probably the naked cooking scene. I know, it sounds incredibly dangerous! I’d be afraid of splashing hot liquid on my precious knockers (LOL), but in all fairness, the nakedness came after the majority of the cooking was done. Which mean the precious two and one cooking scene was followed by HOT, HOT, HOT sex. Tessa Bailey knows how to write great sex with lots of dirty talk!

Now,  I loved Jasper and Rita, but I loved Rita and her siblings even more. Their relationship is just so complex, and while I love books with big happy families, it was nice to encounter a different type of dynamic. Clearly, they love each other, but they’re not the best at outwardly expressing their emotions (something I can identify with). Each sibling is already so well developed, and I don’t even know that much about them! I’m dying to get into Aaron’s, Peggy’s, and Belmont’s heads. The bonfire truth telling scene may be my favorite scene of all time. At the moment, I can’t think of anything I’ve read that I can compare it to. It is just a really special scene for some really special characters.

The reason I gave this book four stars (as opposed to five stars) on Goodreads and Amazon is because there was some repetitiveness and the stereotypes were played into a little too much at times. But I could look past that, and overall, I really, really liked the book!

I love that Miriam’s (their mom) journal is leading them on journey, and I cannot wait to continue this journey with the Clarksons! Definitely grab yourself a copy of Too Hot to Handle!

 

Excerpt:

He dipped down until they were nose to nose, saw the rush of thought going on behind her eyes. It was pretty damn breathtaking up close. “Mind cluing me in as to what’s going on in there?”

“If—if—we need to stay overnight—”

“You will.”

“—then I might see you at the bar.” She wedged a hand between them and separated their bodies. “I’d rather see someone’s worst than their best. Saves time.”

Jasper heard the tow truck pulling into the garage parking lot and cursed. Not even remotely confident that his first attempt at polite conversation with an available woman had been successful, Jasper walked her backward until they were hidden behind a rusted pay phone. She’d broken away from his touch, so he was careful to respect that. He dropped his mouth to an inch above hers and said, low, “I didn’t get near enough time with you, Rita. If you don’t show up tonight, don’t be surprised if I come looking.” He laid his palms against the warm building, above her head, watched her gaze dip to his stomach. His lap. “And if I have to come looking, I’ll be twice as determined to get that kiss.”

Her head came up. “W-what kiss?”

Jasper lowered his mouth until their lips brushed. He listened to her breath accelerate, watched her wet her lips. “The one I want to give you right now.” He allowed himself to linger another few seconds, then, with the effort of ten oxen, Jasper stepped back. “Tonight, beautiful.”

On his way to his bike, Jasper tipped his hat at Rita’s gaping siblings.

Tessa Bailey - headshot

About Tessa Bailey:Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days.

Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.

She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eight years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.

 

#ARC #Review: Wicked Heart by Leisa Rayven

24889218Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: May 17, 2016

Series: Starcrossed #3

Pages: 304

About Wicked Heart:The one guy she can’t have is the one she can’t forget.Liam Quinn is one of the biggest movie stars in the world…and the only man Elissa Holt has ever truly loved.After being out of her life for six years, he and his gorgeous fiancé are set to star in the new Broadway show Elissa is stage managing. The only trouble is, when late night rehearsals bring Elissa and Liam together, the line between what is and what could have been gets blurred. Now one moment of weakness is about to create a scandal that will echo around the world.

Elissa knows that falling for Liam again would be a tragedy in the making, but as any good romantic knows, love doesn’t always follow the script.

 

Review:

Wicked Heart was wickedly awesome (sorry, had to). So awesome that I want to go back and read the first two books in the series, which goes to say that I had no trouble following book three even though I haven’t read books one and two. I know, I suck for not having already read them. What in the world is my problem?!! But it’s a huge accomplishment to get me to want to read the first two books when I’m not normally a fan of multiple books per couple–especially when there isn’t even a HFN ending (at least that’s my understanding of the first two books). My heart can’t take the never-ending angst.

Anyways, ENOUGH with the rambling!

Wicked Heart follows the romance between Elissa and Liam–two individuals with such a strong and beautiful connection that you cannot help but feel their heartbreak in the depths of your soul. (Wow, I’m a bit poetic–and delirious–when I’m reviewing books at 10:00pm at night. Who knew?) They are a true love match. So, the fact that they are out of each other’s lives for six years is crazy. And totally some bonehead’s fault!!! And even though they are back in each other’s lives after six years, they still have many circumstances keeping them apart. GRRRRRRRRR. How dare you try to keep Elissa and Liam apart! They’re so hot and steamy together.

Obviously, I love Elissa and Liam as a couple, but I’d also like to point out that they are great characters on their own. Elissa Holt is a top-notch stage manager–she is amazing at her job, always the professional, and always moving forward. I appreciated her focus on her career as much as I appreciated the career itself. I’m slightly obsessed with Broadway so I liked seeing both the front and back end of things. Liam is intense, sexy, and sweet. He is performing in the production that Elissa is stage managing, so things are a little tense and strained between them–especially after their ugly break up six years ago–but he never stops trying to mend their friendship.

I was really nervous that this book was going to make me mad and that I would inevitably break my Nook because I threw it at a wall. But lucky for me and my wallet, I never got THAT angry (anxious and suspicious maybe, but not really angry). Most characters were extremely likable. Angel, who at first glance appears to be the girl that ruins everything, may have actually been my favorite character. She’s so sweet, and I want to be best friends with her like yesterday.

Overall, Wicked Heart is a passionate and addictive read. You won’t be able to put it down until you get to the bottom of Broadway’s mystery! What’s the truth behind Liam and Elissa’s devastating break up?

I received an eARC from the publisher via Netgalley. (did not affect my review)

Starcrossed Book One: BAD ROMEO

Starcrossed Book Two: BROKEN JULIET

#Blitz #ARC #Review: Wasted Words by Staci Hart

 

Title: Wasted Words

Author: Staci Hart

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Release Date: May 19, 2016

About Wasted Words:

Some universal truths refuse to be ignored.

Peanut butter and jelly are a match made in heaven. Spaghetti and meatballs are best friends forever. And guys like Tyler Knight don’t go for girls like Cam Emerson.

She knew from the second she met him that he didn’t belong on her bookshelf, the six-foot-six ex-tight end with a face so all-American, it could have sold apple pie. So she shelved him next to the supermodels and rock stars and took her place on her own shelf — the one with the flannel-clad, pasty-faced comic book nerds. Most of her boyfriends have existed between the pages of books, but rather than worrying over her own lacking love life, she puts all her energy into playing Cupid, using her job at the book bar, Wasted Words, as her stomping ground.

Tyler Knight always looks on the bright side. His career-ending injury turned into a job as a sports agent. A horrible breakup led him to Cam, his quirky, smart roommate who is far more beautiful than she realizes. She’s made it perfectly clear she’s not interested in him — not like that at least — but if she ever changes her mind, he won’t hesitate. Because he doesn’t see the lines she’s drawn between them, as much as she insists that they’re there. Deep down he knows that despite their differences, they’re a match well made.

*A romantic comedy inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma*

 

REVIEW:

Wasted Words spoke to my soul! I mean, here we have Cam and Tyler–the coolest of the cool. Tyler, an uber sexy nice guy who used to play football. Cam, a smart, sassy, and bookish girl. Opposites attract, yada yada yada. Sounds perfect already, right? JUST WAIT.

Cam works at the most awesome establishment, Wasted Words, which is part-bar, part-bookstore. Sounds like the social bibliophile’s dream, no? I sure wish a place like Wasted Words existed near me. I’d be perfectly willing to spend my $$$ on books and booze. Anybody else with me? Anyways, Wasted Words was a great setting for the story. Cam and her fellow employees really felt like a nice, close-knit family–even when they were fighting with one another.

Which, Cam’s belief in her “all-knowing” matchmaking skills was a source for tension between characters. One of my favorite parts of the story was when Cam went off on Bailey and Martin. Once you read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about, but I liked the fact that we got to see her angry. Sure, it made me cringe, and I wanted to shake her and be like STOP TALKING NOW or you’ll regret it. But I can definitely identify with the whole “I was angry in the moment, but I immediately regret everything that just happened. I’m an a**hole and I’m embarrassed for everyone.” thing that went down. I can also identify with not wanting to be wrong. Like ever. haha. Finally admitting your wrong shows huge growth. So, Cam definitely had character growth.

Anyways, I’ve already established that Cam and Tyler are cool, nice, and sexy people. But just to say a little more on the matter…I totally adored them together. I loved that Cam was trying so hard to find Tyler his “it” book (the book that gets you hooked on reading), and I loved that his “it” book ended up being the same as Cam’s “it” book, which was a totally nerdtastic book by the way! The fact that they were best friends turned lovers was sweet. It means they really knew each other down to the core. They saw each other not as the famous ex-football player and not as the girl nobody could ever really love, but as beautiful, worthy human beings. And that totally cheeseball grand-gesture at the end? Totally hit me right in my cheeseball loving heart!

I’m sure my whole review is annoyingly vague and gibberish, but I have so many feelings for this book that I’m bursting at the seams with them. Therefore, you get my word vomit (as opposed to a gracefully worded and well thought out review). Sorry…

Overall, I loved Wasted Words, and I think you, my fellow romance enthusiasts (and comic book/sci fi nerds), should give it a chance!

 

AUTHOR BIO

Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life: a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can’t forget that. She’s also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She’s been a wife, even though she’s certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She’s also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she’s been drinking whiskey. Her favorite word starts with f and ends with k.

From roots in Houston, to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north, in Denver. They are new enough that snow is still magical. When she’s not writing, she’s sleeping, cleaning, or designing graphics.

 

#ARC #Review #Giveaway: The Darkest Lie by Pintip Dunn

 

ABOUT THE DARKEST LIE

“The mother I knew would never do those things.

But maybe I never knew her after all.”

Clothes, jokes, coded messages…Cecilia Brooks and her mom shared everything. At least, CeCe thought they did. Six months ago, her mom killed herself after accusations of having sex with a student, and CeCe’s been the subject of whispers and taunts ever since. Now, at the start of her high school senior year, between dealing with her grieving, distracted father, and the social nightmare that has become her life, CeCe just wants to fly under the radar. Instead, she’s volunteering at the school’s crisis hotline—the same place her mother worked.

As she counsels troubled strangers, CeCe’s lingering suspicions about her mom’s death surface. With the help of Sam, a new student and newspaper intern, she starts to piece together fragmented clues that point to a twisted secret at the heart of her community. Soon, finding the truth isn’t just a matter of restoring her mother’s reputation, it’s about saving lives—including CeCe’s own…

Review:

I was thinking that there was no way that Pintip Dunn could top her previous release, Forget Tomorrow, but I’m definitely eating my words now. To put it simply, I was blown away by The Darkest Lie. It was UH-MAZE-BALLS. But be warned, The Darkest Lie is NOT my typical romance read–as in the romance exists, but it’s not the focus of the story, which is as it should be.

The Darkest Lie deals with some heavy stuff–serious and dangerous accusations, an alleged suicide, extreme bullying, mental illness, and emotional disconnect between characters–but Pintip Dunn writes about all of this in such a way that you are going to keep begging for more instead of shying away while whimpering, “no more, it’s too sad!” I mean, of course it’s sad, but the story and its characters are so special that you have to keep going because you are dying to know find out what happened to them in the past and what will happen to them in the future.

I really don’t want to comment on the plot too much because I don’t want to spoil anything. The Darkest Lie is an emotional journey you need to experience for yourself. The figurative battle between darkness and light is well written. You’re not getting anything else from me!

Except for a few comments on the story’s main peeps…

Cece is a very strong character. She’s brave for a number of reasons, least of which is her determination to piece together the pieces of her mother’s puzzle. As a reader, I found myself mirroring her emotions–especially when she was struggling between love and hate. She has two love interests–WAIT LET ME FINISH!–but it’s not the love triangle you’re thinking. Trust me, I HATE love triangles (WITH A FREAKING PASSION), but this one didn’t bother me. Just know that the boy Cece gives her heart to is totally worthy–he’s nerdastic. And Cece’s father–his faith in his marriage and love was extremely admirable. Seriously, all of the characters are just great–even the “villains.”

I honestly cannot say enough about The Darkest Lie. JUST GET YO’SHELVES A COPY TODAY!

You won’t regret it. (I hope)

ABOUT PINTIP DUNN:

Pintip Dunn graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL. She also published an article in the YALE LAW JOURNAL, entitled, “How Judges Overrule: Speech Act Theory and the Doctrine of Stare Decisis,”

Pintip is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. She is a 2012 RWA Golden Heart® finalist and a 2014 double-finalist. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Washington Romance Writers, YARWA, and The Golden Network.

She lives with her husband and children in Maryland. You can learn more about Pintip and her books at www.pintipdunn.com.

#ARC #Review: Silent Hearts by Melissa West

29339661Publisher: Kensington, Lyrical Shine

Release Date: May 10, 2016

Series: Hamilton Stables #3

Pages: 174

The Hamilton brothers have horse racing in their blood, and their sprawling Kentucky farm is the family’s pride and joy. But they’ve got plenty of passion to spare…

Nick Hamilton has always known he’d take the reins of the family business when his father died, but that doesn’t make it any easier when the time comes. Especially with his two siblings tempted by a shrewd offer from a huge corporation to buy Hamilton Industries. Needing advice, Nick turns to his sensible childhood friend, Becca Stark—and finds her suddenly grown-up beauty ignites brand-new confusion, and crystal clear desire…

Becca has loved Nick for as far back as she can remember, but she decided long ago that telling him would be a mistake. Stubborn, strong Nick doesn’t see her as anything but the tomboy she used to be—or does he? As she helps him untangle his feelings about the ranch’s future, the familiar bond between them heats into an explosive attraction—and the kind of love that just might take the lead…

Review:

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Silent Hearts was my first introduction to the Hamilton brothers, and they certainly appear to be a lively lot. All hail the Hamilton brothers! It’s worth it to note that I had no trouble following along with the story even though I missed out on the first two books. Silent Hearts definitely reads as a standalone, but it also spiked my curiosity. I really want to go back and read the first two books because I want to see how Trip and Alex came to be so happy and in love.

I think it would have also helped to see the dynamic between the brothers in the first two books. I’m curious if it was as strained as it was in Silent Hearts, or if they were chummy chums. Not that we didn’t get to see the brothers happy and together in Silent Hearts, it just took a bit of time for us to get there because Nick had his head up his butt for a good portion of the book. I mean, I get it. He lost his grandfather, his parents, and his fiancé. That would be rough on anyone. But I couldn’t help but be annoyed by Nick’s waffling. One moment, it would appear that he was ready to reconcile with his brothers, but the next moment, something small would set him off and he’d go back to being a close-minded jerk to his brothers. He also played with Becca’s emotions too much, which caused me to “like” the book as opposed to “loving” it.

Becca and Nick have been best friends for more than twenty years, and they have both loved each other for as long as they can remember–only, neither of them ever admitted their feelings to the other one. They let the fear of rejection and the fear of ruining their friendship stop them from truly being happy. Admittedly, Becca and Nick are really cute together. The fact that they have known each other since they were eight-years-old or so was totally endearing. They understand each other down to the core. Put simply, they’re perfect together. Which is why Nick’s assery was generally disappointing at times. Becca is just so sweet, smart, and sassy. Luckily, Nick learns to let go of the grief and with a little prodding, pulls off the grandest of grand gestures.

I hope the Littleton brothers will get their own stories! They were just so charming, and Zac and his little girl made my not-really-ready-to-have-a-baby ovaries squee. Overall, Silent Hearts was a pleasant enough read, but I probably would not re-read it. However, I’m definitely going back to read Trip and Alex’s (his story excites me most) stories!

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