Saturday, October 21, 2017

Stacking the Shelves (#252)


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!


So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, October 15th to Saturday, October 21st?


(all links to Goodreads are provided!)


In the mail:



Thank you so much, publishers and publicists! Including Harper Voyager, Tor, Random House/Get Underlined, Rachel Caine, Sarah, Simon Teen, and Danielle. You all are the best!


Duke of Sin topper

I love it! Thank you, Rachel


Mara Dyer/Noah Shaw poster, An Ember in the Ashes sampler, The Speaker bookmark

Thank you, Raisa! I especially love the poster. Great timing, too!


From NetGalley:

Bad Princess

Bad Princess by Julianna Keyes

YAY, new Julianna Keyes book! It sounds very different from her usual, and I'm excited. :D

Make Me Want

Make Me Want by Katee Robert

Thank you, Harlequin! I love Katee's books and can't wait to start this one.


From Edelweiss:

Disturbing His Peace (The Academy, #3)

Disturbing His Peace by Tessa Bailey

I love Tessa Bailey's books and I'm happy to have books two and three in this series. Now, to read them!


Reviews from this week:

  
(Click on the covers to go to my reviews!)


Favorite Instagram post from this week:



A busy week on my end (as usual, it seems)! The week flew by. Can you believe it's almost Halloween? I pulled out a ton of Christmas/holiday decorations on Friday night, to decorate my cubicle at work! I love this time of year. Decorating will be sometime in November, but I'm excited!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Review: Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills


Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.

The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn't supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn't know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they're both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia's ever seen. As Claudia's world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.

What I Liked:

YA contemporary really isn't my thing, but I've read all of Emma Mills' books and I've enjoyed them. I read First & Then and This Adventure Ends and both books were so wonderful. Foolish Hearts certainly does not disappoint. With Mills's trademark humor and relatable characters and situations, Foolish Hearts solidifies this author's place as a queen of YA contemporary

Claudia likes things the way they are, with her life at her prep school, her best friend in the local public school, her brother taking community college classes, her sister living in another state with her husband. Life seems to be just fine, and Claudia doesn't really care for change, so this works for her. But things start to fall out of place the day Claudia overhears Paige Breckner break up with Iris Huang. These two made up the school's power couple, so when Paige breaks up with Iris, Iris doesn't want anyone to know what went down. Iris isn't exactly nice, and most people are afraid of her. When Claudia and Iris are forced to be partners for a Lit assignment, Claudia realizes that Iris isn't all bad. They try out for the school play, where Claudia makes friends with Gideon, a goofy and charismatic boy at the neighboring all-boys prep school, a guy who everyone likes and likes everyone. Life is changing for Claudia, and she realizes that it isn't all bad.

I knew I was going to read this book without even reading the synopsis. I'm not a huge fan of YA contemporary but at this point, I trust Emma Mills. So when I finally read the synopsis (last night), and then started reading the book, I started to feel a little apprehensive. Did I want to read a book dealing with girl drama? Not really. With Iris being furious at Claudia for overhearing the breakup, I figured this book would be rife with girl drama. But thankfully, that wasn't the case!

The book starts with that (Paige and Iris's breakup), but that isn't the whole point of the book, or the big issue, or anything like that. Iris and Claudia slowly become friends, after they are forced to be partners for a Lit assignment. This is a hilarious slow-burn friendship, because Iris is so stiff and unapproachable, and she doesn't like anybody. Which is fair, because most people don't like her. But Mills is so good at character development - Iris isn't a one-dimensional mean girl. In fact, as the story goes on, I realized that Iris isn't a mean girl at all. She isn't great with emotions and hashing things out, but she is a person I could empathize with. As she and Claudia hang out more, they develop a solid friendship.

Claudia is somewhat of a go-with-the-flow type of person, but she also hates change. She has a great sense of humor laced with a lot of sarcasm, and I thought she was hilarious. She might seem a little bland at first, but it's hard not to adore her as you get to know her. I could relate to her a lot. I loved how she honest and straightforward she was.

There are many positive friendships in this book, besides Claudia and Iris's friendship. Claudia has always been best friends with Zoe, since preschool. Though they go to different schools, they have remained very close friends. They go through a lot in this book, some pretty big obstacles, but their friendship comes out strong in spite of everything. I also liked Claudia good relationship with her parents (who are not crazy YA parents or absent YA parents).

One of the things that I loved about this book was how family dynamics were such an important part of it. Claudia's parents are so cool and "normal" - they aren't crazy or absent or too lenient. Claudia and her brother Alex are close, especially being one year apart. Claudia's older sister Julia is eleven years older and living three hours away, but Claudia and her sister have a good relationship. Julia is pregnant and she isn't super excited about it. She's scared and unsure. I loved this; everyone acts like a newly pregnant woman is supposed to be excited and happy and whatnot - and it's a crime if you're not. I disagree. It should be socially "okay" for a woman to be scared or a little less enthusiastic. Julia doesn't think she can do the mom thing, and this is a legitimate thing to worry about. Being a mom is a huge step and totally new to a first-time mom. I love how this is something that is addressed in this book. Being a mother isn't a box to check off on a to-do list. 

Secondary characters who were wholly developed, wonderful, and a delight to read -- Gideon (the sweet, goofy, charismatic boy who is loved by everyone), Noah (Gideon's friend/brother since they were very young), Iris (of course), Zoe (of course), Del and Caris (working in costumes alongside Claudia, for the play. There are so many secondary characters in this book, and I love that so many were positive "good" characters. 

The romance was so so so so so so slow-burn, but in a realistic and very cute way. It reminded me of a crush I had, when I was slowly falling for him. Gideon is a charismatic guy that likes everyone, and everyone likes him. He is the kind of guy to pick up new interests all the time, and for that reason, Claudia doesn't want to like like him. But she does, and she can't stop it. Especially since it's clear that he likes likes her. They are the cutest! She is a sarcastic Shakespeare wiz, and he is an adorably goofy jokester. He's not a d-bag kind of charismatic boy, which made me like him even more. He is sweet and very considerate, and definitely a guy I would want to date (though they were so rare, especially in high school).

All of the parts of the story come together in the climax, which involved Paige and Iris, Gideon and Claudia, Julia and her pregnancy, Claudia and a conflict with Zoe... there is a lot going on by the end of the book, and a lot for Claudia to take in. This story isn't about her making it through senior year or getting ready to go to college - but it is about her growing into a more mature and well-rounded person. I liked this book a lot and I will be rereading it in the near future!

What I Did Not Like:

I feel like I always want more kissing, in Mills's books! It's always towards the end and only very briefly. Her books have such potential to be so physically swoony! I love the slow-burn non-swoony swoony tension though. But I wouldn't mind more!

Would I Recommend It:

I highly recommend any of Mills's books, not just this one. This one is a lovely and enjoyable story, a quick read that will make you smile. I wouldn't necessarily call it "fluffy" YA contemporary, because of the range of topics and emotions induced, but it's not a tough-issue YA contemporary novel. It's one that is delightful and sweet but also deals with real-life issues (like navigating friendships and anticipating motherhood - in Julia's case). You don't have to be a YA contemporary fan to fall in love with Mills's stories!

Rating:

4 stars. There is a reason Mills keeps me coming back - or maybe many reasons. Her novels have been wonderful so far. Foolish Hearts is yet another masterpiece that adds to Mills's stellar reputation as a pillar in YA contemporary. I will forever be looking for new books by her, no matter the genre!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Swoon Thursday (#247): Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills


- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting


This week, my swoon is from Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills!


He smiles a little, takes my hand in both of his and points my finger, brings it to his pursed lips. I feel the warmth from his mouth, the press of his lips on top of the bandage.

I never think about my hand being small. I never think of any part of my being small, really, but it looks small in Gideon's.

He lowers my hand but doesn't let go.

- ARC, page



This was a non-swoon swoony scene! The full scene is adorable. Read my review tomorrow! This author continues to impress me. I highly recommend First & Then and This Adventure Ends!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Promo and Giveaway: Mistress of All Evil by Serena Valentino

Hello everyone! Today I'm sharing a great promotion for Mistress of All Evil by Serena Valentino. You could win the four books in this series, and a color-changing mug! I received these four books (pictured below) and one of the color-changing mugs, thanks to Disney, and I can confirm that this is an awesome prize pack. Huge thanks to Disney for providing a prize for you all to win. See below!


About the Book:


Mistress of All Evil by Serena Valentino
Book Four of the Villains series
Publisher: Disney Press
Publication Date: October 3, 2017

Official Summary:

Why does Maleficent curse the innocent princess? What led to her becoming so filled with malice, anger, and hatred? Many tales have tried to explain her motives. Here is one account, pulled down from the many passed down through the ages. It is a tale of love and betrayal, of magic and reveries. It is a tale of the Mistress of All Evil.



Check out the series:

    
(Click on the covers for more information!)


About the Author:


Serena Valentino has been weaving tales that combine mythos and guile for the past decade. She has earned critical acclaim in both the comic and horror domains, where she is known for her unique style of storytelling, bringing her readers into exquisitely frightening worlds filled with terror, beauty, and extraordinary protagonists. The books in her best-selling Villains series are best enjoyed when read in the following order: Fairest of All, The Beast Within, Poor Unfortunate Soul, and Mistress of All Evil.



Follow Disney:



The Giveaway:

One (1) winner receives:
the complete set of Villains books
and a branded mug that changes colors when filled with hot water!

Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Disney-Hyperion.

Waiting on Wednesday (#251): Allied by Amy Tintera


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


This week, I'm featuring:


Allied by Amy Tintera
Book Three of the Ruined series
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 1, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the final book in the New York Times bestselling Ruined series, the romance of The Selection and the epic stakes of Red Queen come together in a story of revenge, adventure, and unexpected love.

Emelina Flores and her sister, Olivia, were determined to bring peace to the people of Ruina. But as the war for liberation raged on, what triumph and freedom meant to Em and Olivia slowly changed. As Olivia’s violence and thirst for vengeance became her only ambition, Em was left to pick up the pieces.

But it’s not only Em who is upset by Olivia’s increased violence. Other members of the Ruined army are beginning to see the cracks, and soon a small group of them defects from Olivia’s army and joins Em instead. The two sisters are soon pitted against each other in an epic battle for the kingdom and the future, and only one will win.




I looooove this series! I'm so excited for the final book. And this cover is absolutely stunning!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt


Welcome to the blog tour for Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt! This is the twelfth and final book of the Maiden Lane series, and it is tied with two others as my favorite of the series. I loved Raphael and Iris's story, and I hope you will too.

Read my reviews! There are many...



About the Book:


Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt
Book Twelve of the Maiden Lane series
Publisher: Forever Romance
Publication Date: October 17, 2017

Official Summary:

A LADY OF LIGHT
Refined, kind, and intelligent, Lady Iris Jordan finds herself the unlikely target of a diabolical kidnapping.  Her captors are the notoriously evil Lords of Chaos.  When one of the masked-and-nude!-Lords spirits her away to his carriage, she shoots him…only to find she may have been a trifle hasty.

A DUKE IN DEEPEST DARKNESS
Cynical, scarred, and brooding, Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, has made it his personal mission to infiltrate the Lords of Chaos and destroy them.  Rescuing Lady Jordan was never in his plans.  But now with the Lords out to kill them both, he has but one choice: marry the lady in order to keep her safe.

CAUGHT IN A WEB OF DANGER…AND DESIRE
Much to Raphael’s irritation, Iris insists on being the sort of duchess who involes herself in his life—and bed.  Soon he’s drawn to both to her quick wit and her fiery passion.  But when Iris discovers that Raphael’s past may be even more dangerous than the present, she falters.  Is their love strong enough to withstand not only the Lords of Chaos but also Raphael’s own demons?



About the Author:


Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing "mesmerizing." She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.



The Excerpt:

Desperately she flung herself at the opposite seat and tugged it up. Thrust her hand in.

A pistol.

She cocked it, desperately praying that it was loaded.

She turned and aimed it at the door to the carriage just as the door swung open.

The Wolf loomed in the doorway—still nude—a lantern in one hand. She saw the eyes behind the mask flick to the pistol she held between her bound hands. He turned his head and said something in an incomprehensible language to someone outside.

Iris felt her breath sawing in and out of her chest.

He climbed into the carriage and closed the door, completely ignoring her and the pistol pointed at him. The Wolf hung the lantern on a hook and sat on the seat across from her.

Finally he glanced at her. “Put that down.”

His voice was calm. Quiet.

With just a hint of menace.

She backed into the opposite corner, as far away from him as possible, holding the pistol up. Level with his chest. Her heart was pounding so hard it nearly deafened her. “No.”

The carriage jolted into motion, making her stumble before she caught herself.

“T-tell them to stop the carriage,” she said, stuttering with terror despite her resolve. “Let me go now.”

“So that they can rape you to death out there?” He tilted his head to indicate the Lords. “No.”

“At the next village, then.”

“I think not.”

He reached for her and she knew she had no choice.

She shot him.

The blast blew him into the seat and threw her hands up and back, the pistol narrowly missing her nose.

Iris scrambled to her feet. The bullet was gone, but she could still use the pistol as a bludgeon.

The Wolf was sprawled across the seat, blood streaming from a gaping hole in his right shoulder. His mask had been knocked askew on his face.

She reached forward and snatched it off.

And then gasped.

The face that was revealed had once been as beautiful as an angel’s but was now horribly mutilated. A livid red scar ran from just below his hairline on the right side of his face, bisecting the eyebrow, somehow missing the eye itself but gouging a furrow into the lean cheek and catching the edge of his upper lip, making it twist. The scar ended in a missing divot of flesh in the line of the man’s severe jaw. He had inky black hair and, though they were closed now, Iris knew he had emotionless crystal-gray eyes.

She knew because she recognized him.

He was Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, and when she’d danced with him—once—three months ago at a ball, she’d thought he’d looked like Hades.

God of the underworld.

God of the dead.

She had no reason to change her opinion now.

Then he gasped, those frozen crystal eyes opened, and he glared at her. “You idiot woman. I’m trying to save you.”


The Giveaway:

Win 1 of 10 print copies of Duke of Desire!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review: The Sea King by C.L. Wilson


The Sea King by C.L. Wilson
Book Two of the Weathermages of Mystral series
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Winter King comes a breathtaking new tale of love and adventure set in the mystical land of Mystral...

He wasn't supposed to choose her...

Seafaring prince Dilys Merimydion has been invited to court the three magical princesses of Summerlea. To eradicate the pirates threatening Calberna and to secure the power of the Sea Throne, Dilys vows to return home with a fierce warrior-queen as his bride. But politics has nothing to do with unexpected temptation.

She didn't dare wed him...

A weathermage like her sisters, Gabriella Coruscate's gentleness exemplifies the qualities of her season name, Summer. Yet her quiet poise conceals dangerous powers she cannot begin to wield. Better to live without excitement, she reasons, than risk her heart and lose control— until an irresistible Sealord jolts her awake with a thunderclap of raw desire.

Until evil threatens everything they hold dear...

When pirates kidnap Summer and her sisters, Dilys is in a desperate quest to save the woman he loves. Only by combining his command of the seas with the unleashed fury of Summer's formidable gifts can they defeat their brutal enemies and claim the most priceless victory of all: true love. 

What I Liked:

It is no secret that over three years ago, I fell in love with The Winter King and have been eagerly awaiting The Sea King ever since. Dilys Merimydion was one of my favorite secondary characters of The Winter King, even if he only appeared at the climax of the book. He played a very important role in the survival of Wynter and Khamsin, and that is how he ended up in Konumarr, courting the Seasons (sisters of Khamsin). Even though I still loved The Winter King more, The Sea King was well worth the wait. 

Princess Summer Coruscate has always been regarded as the timid Season of Summerlea, whose weathergifts are not so powerful. But the truth is, she has spent her entire lifetime suppressing her power, because it is too powerful. To protect everyone she loves, she makes sure that she always appears calm and serene... and significantly less powerful than her sisters. But this seems to change when Dilys Merimydion, notorious Sealord and Prince of Calberna, comes to Konumarr to court the seasons and hopefully take one back to Calberna as his bride. He is powerful, potently male, and enticing, and he doesn't seem to drawn to Autumn and Spring like he is to Summer. It is hard not to fall in love with him. Summer doesn't want to marry anyone, but she knows in her heart that Dilys is a good man. When disaster strikes and leaves everyone in an uproar, Dilys and Summer's growing bond will be tested as they fight for their lives, and for each other.

I knew I would love Dilys, given how much I adored him in The Winter King, but I don't think I was prepared for how much I would love him. He is wickedly charming and enticing, with alpha male qualities that are attractive and not overbearing. He is sweet and considerate, and like all Calbernans, he is solely interested in the happiness and satisfaction of his future mate. Calbernans treasure their women (Calberna is of a queendom, not a kingdom), and Dilys is no exception. He is a notorious captain, Sealord, hunter, victor, prince, leader, and he is appealing in so many ways. Dilys is confident yet humble, charming yet sweet, persistent yet considerate. He is easily a favorite romance hero of mine. He is imperfectly perfect, just the way I like it.

Summer is so different from Khamsin. She isn't outwardly temperamental and fierce. Rather, she likes to appear calm and timid and a little docile. She is gentle and sweet, but truly, the power that lies within her is untamed and wild. She is so afraid of losing control, so she tries to appear meek and unassuming. Summer doesn't embrace her power at first, and she definitely doesn't see her self-worth. But with Dilys chipping away at her defenses and treating her like a queen, she begins to accept her power, and accept him. Summer is so reluctant to get to know him, and then to marry him, but she has her reasons. It was wonderful to see her stand up and embrace who she was, and this was in no small part due to Dilys Merimydion.

The romance is very slow-burn. In The Winter King, the romance is elemental and powerful and full of chemistry. The romance between Dilys and Gabriella (Summer) is chemistry-filled and powerful too, but it takes some time before Dilys and Gabriella actually do anything (mostly because Gabriella tries to avoid Dilys at all costs - he awakens something in her that she is afraid of, but begins to accept and love). Dilys falls for Gabriella, and while Gabriella tries to deny her feelings, she falls for him too. It's such a slow-burn romance with a lot of suppressed lust (at least on Gabriella's part).

To me, The Winter King was steamier, but this book was very hot as well. There was probably less sexy times because of Gabriella's skittishness, but the scenes that were present were pretty hot. Their dynamic was on fire, with the clashes of intense power surrounding them. Both of them are extremely powerful and stubborn, so it makes for good chemistry.

Like the previous book, this one is a long one, for an adult romance novel. A lot happens in this book, besides Dilys trying to court the sisters, and then turning his efforts solely to Summer. I was so glad to see that the other two sisters were never interested in Dilys as more than a friend (though they definitely ogled him more than a friend might). I kept hoping that there would be no love triangle or cattiness between the sisters or anything like that. Spring and Autumn knew that Summer was avoiding Dilys purposefully, and they figured out pretty quickly that it wasn't because Summer didn't want him. I loved how supportive the sisters were of one another. I love that the whole courting-the-three-Seasons thing wasn't a big issue, and he stopped courting all three of them fairly early on.

At least half of the book is spent in Konumarr, with Dilys trying to woo Gabriella. The lady definitely doth protest too much - quite frankly, her numerous rejections of him made me sad. But it also made me smile because Dilys was so persistent and yet respectful of Gabriella's boundaries. That is how you woo a hesitant lady! Gabriella had her reasons, but Dilys wasn't giving up.

I love the world that Wilson has created. Full of magic, myths, legends, lore, bonds, fantastical creatures, attractive men, tough ladies... this book is a romance novel, but it is so much more. The fantasy world is so incredible and I feel like this book would appeal to readers that aren't romance readers, because of the rich world-building. 

The climax of this book doesn't even really have to do with the romance! Of course, the romance is central, but the climax of the book deals with a threat to Calbernans and the princesses of Summerlea. My heart broke in a million pieces when the climax came, because of what Gabriella and her sisters had to endure. I was so surprised to see such in a romance novel, because it was heartbreaking (especially with Gabriella's account). But Wilson handled that heartbreaking, infuriating part of the story very well. 

The book ends extremely well, in true happily ever after form. Dilys and Gabriella get a lovely ending that is more of a beginning than anything else. I love the decisions that Gabriella makes, involving Dilys. I know that sounds vague but I am so wonderfully happy with some of the political changes she made. The mark of a strong woman, in my opinion - she recognized her strength and the strength of her mate, and she put him on the same level (and not beneath her). You'll see what I mean. I have so much respect for Gabriella because she is quietly strong, intense in her gentleness, and a true queen that raises up her king. I loved this.

Also, fun fact - there are many Wynter/Khamsin appearances in this book! There are even scenes written exclusively from their POV (short ones at the ends of chapters, that sort of thing). They are the cutest! Khamsin is getting closer to her due date but that doesn't stop her and Wynter from being so adorable and throwing some serious heat. I love them!

I loved The Winter King and this book did not disappoint at all. I'm glad Wilson took her time with this book, because it was truly a masterpiece. 

What I Did Not Like:

I definitely thought Gabriella did a little too much protesting when it came to Dilys and his courtship of her. I understood her reasons for not wanting to get close to anyone, but I felt like this line of thought and plot went on for too long. 

I also wanted more sexy times! But this is related to what I just talked about, above.

Also, That Thing that broke my heart. It is well-written but so cruel/heartbreaking. (Well there are two things.)

Would I Recommend It:

Romance fans, don't miss this series. I have to especially recommend the first book (The Winter King), but the author definitely lived up to expectations with this book. It is very different and very good. Steamy and sweet slow-burn romance, amazing world-building, great storytelling - give The Sea King a shot. It takes a bit to get into the story, but it is a lovely story.

Rating:

4 stars. I put off reading this book because I was scared - it is my most anticipated adult romance read of 2017. But I had nothing to be afraid of. Wilson wrote a story as beautiful as the cover. I will be anxiously awaiting the publication of the next books! Especially since I want updates on Wynter and Khamsin's babies.


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!