Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Review: The Week Before The Wedding

The Week Before the WeddingAuthor: Beth Kendrick
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: NAL Trade

Beth Kendrick sweeps you off your feet with a captivating tale of how even the best-laid plans can falter at the altar.

After enduring a chaotic childhood, Emily McKellips yearns for a drama-free life, complete with a white picket fence. Her dreams are about to come true: She has a stellar career, a gorgeous house, and a fiancé any woman would die for. But as friends and family arrive in picturesque Valentine, Vermont, for her wedding, an uninvited guest shows up.

Ryan is Emily’s first husband from a disastrous starter marriage. They wed on a whim, only to discover that combustible chemistry couldn’t ensure a happily ever after. But Ryan is no longer the headstrong boy she left behind. He’s now a successful film producer who just happens to be scouting a resort in Valentine with his adorable retriever in tow.

As the bridesmaids revolt and the mothers of the bride and groom do battle, Emily is surprised to discover new sides of both her ex and her fiancé. She thought she had life and love all figured out, but the next seven days might change her mind—and her heart.

“Summer? Where are you? Yes, I know the bridesmaids’ tea isn’t for four more hours, but I need you right now…Screw the speed limit. And no bathroom breaks, either…I’ll tell you what’s up. We’ve got a code-red, man-down, what’s-the-number-for-nine-one-one-ex-husband emergency happening in Valentine, Vermont.”

“You’re the one who always said fortune favors the bold.”

The world’s most perfect man had one hand on the steering wheel and the other on Emily’s thigh.

“I like to know things no one else does.”

From the perspective of someone who is getting married within the coming year, this book was outrageously funny, sweet, and completely unputdownable! I have always reading stories about weddings, and especially by authors who can write them so well. Weddings are a beautiful time in a couple’s life and are nothing short of chaotic, fast-paced, and very stressful. But when it is all said and done I think every mostly every bride felt special and loved on her big day. Emily McKellips is about to walk down the aisle for the second time, but this time she is older and wiser. With only a week before the wedding she and her fiancé, Grant, head up to Valentine, Vermont to prepare for the wedding when Emily runs into the last person on Earth she wants to see in the days before her wedding…her ex-husband!

The relationship between Emily and her ex-husband, Ryan was something that I was curious about from the very start. She had his name tattooed on her left ring finger, and she would often have flashbacks from their time in college together. I instantly liked Ryan even though he was snarky and very sarcastic. I knew that Emily, deep down, still had feelings for him as well, and Kendrick does a nice job of changing Emily’s character whenever she is around Ryan just enough to let readers know just what Emily REALLY feels. They are two characters that you might not necessarily pick to be together, but after you read about them you will see what attracted them to one another in the first place.

The whole idea of a wedding sends chills up my spine. My favorite movie as a little girl was The Wedding Planner. I used to dream of being a wedding planner myself, so you can imagine the nostalgia that washed over me when I received this book. The wedding details are sweet and charming and I loved the setting. Valentine, Vermont. Well I mean who wouldn’t want to get married there? And of course with all weddings there comes a bit of family feuding, and I loved when Emily’s mother, Georgia, and Grant’s mother, Bev, were in the same room together arguing over wedding details. This book was crazy, cute, and super easy to read! And guess what? You’re invited to the wedding!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at NAL Trade in exchange for my honest review***

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Review: Once Upon A Tower

Once Upon a Tower (Fairy Tales, #5)Author: Eloisa James
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Avon
Series: Happily Ever After…AKA Fairy Tales # 5

Once upon a time…

A duke fell in love

Gowan Stoughton of Craigievar, Duke of Kinross, values order and self-control above all else. So when he meets a lady as serene as she is beautiful, he promptly asks for her hand in marriage.

With a lady

Edie—whose passionate temperament is the opposite of serene—had such a high fever at her own debut ball that she didn’t notice anyone, not even the notoriously elusive Duke of Kinross. When her father accepts his offer… she panics.

And when their marriage night isn’t all it could be, she pretends.

In a tower.

But Edie’s inability to hide her feelings makes pretending impossible, and when their marriage implodes, she retreats to a tower—locking Gowan out.

Now Gowan faces his greatest challenge. Neither commands nor reason work with his spirited young bride. How can he convince her to give him the keys to the tower…

When she already has the keys to his heart?

Time wasted itself, in his opinion. All too soon, and out of the blue, you toppled over and died, and all of your moments were gone.

The only problem was that the room was filled with English ladies, and he had determined that it would be a bad idea to marry one of those.

Perhaps Shakespeare was useful for something after all.

I, like many others, am a huge fan of Eloisa James, and whenever she releases a new book I am one of the first ones on the scene. She gives a new feeling to romance and really knows how to bring a story to life. This is the fifth addition to this series and although I wish it followed the fairy tale of Rapunzel a little more precisely, I was still pleased with the story and the characters involved. Gowan and Edith are quite possibly the best couple I have read and followed this year. Eloisa once again does a fabulous job of painting a fairy tale in the manner that it should be!

Gowan was such a charmer! I knew that I was going to love him when I started reading the letters between him and Edith. He had such a remarkable sense of humor that you would never expect from someone so established and influential within society. He was an amazing male character, and as you know they are usually not my favorite. Gowan is such the perfect match for Edie, who is a little pushy at times and quite the typical woman in my opinion.

Edith was also a success in my book. I loved her drive and how determined she was. I thought the fact that she was a brilliant magician was a small detail but really played into her character quite nicely. I was able to see where all of her quirky traits and small fetishes come from. I also liked the relationship between Edie and her stepmother, Layla. It was nice to experience some of the girl talk and the long conversations they endured about love and marriage.

If you haven’t already, you should definitely give this series a try!!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Avon in exchange for my honest review***

Book Review: A Hundred Summers

A Hundred SummersAuthor: Beatriz Williams
Publication Date: May 30, 2013
Publisher: Putnam Adult

Memorial Day, 1938: New York socialite Lily Dane has just returned with her family to the idyllic oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island, expecting another placid summer season among the familiar traditions and friendships that sustained her after heartbreak.

That is, until Greenwalds decide to take up residence in Seaview.

Nick and Budgie Greenwald are an unwelcome specter from Lily’s past: her former best friend and her former fiancé, now recently married—an event that set off a wildfire of gossip among the elite of Seaview, who have summered together for generations. Budgie’s arrival to restore her family’s old house puts her once more in the center of the community’s social scene, and she insinuates herself back into Lily's friendship with an overpowering talent for seduction...and an alluring acquaintance from their college days, Yankees pitcher Graham Pendleton. But the ties that bind Lily to Nick are too strong and intricate to ignore, and the two are drawn back into long-buried dreams, despite their uneasy secrets and many emotional obligations.

Under the scorching summer sun, the unexpected truth of Budgie and Nick’s marriage bubbles to the surface, and as a cataclysmic hurricane barrels unseen up the Atlantic and into New England, Lily and Nick must confront an emotional cyclone of their own, which will change their worlds forever

“Just give me sunshine and a sandy beach, and I’m happy as a clam.”

After our meal, we’d pass through the rest of the veranda, greeting acquaintances, and when we reached her table I’d be composed, settled into the routine of shaking hands and expressing admiration for new hairstyles and new dresses, of lamenting the loss of elderly members and during the past year, of celebrating the arrival of new grandchildren: the same conversation, the same pattern, evening after evening and summer after summer. I knew my lines by heart. A minute, perhaps two, and we’d be gone.

But for once, Budgie is wrong. In the morning, just before seven, I am awakened by a determined knock at my door. Behind it, a groggy-faced fresher in a plaid robe and round tortoiseshell eyeglasses tells me there’s a fellow on crutches waiting downstairs for me, who wants his jacket back.

And I wanted to be kissed again. I wanted to remember what it felt like when a man held me in his arms, and lowered his head to mine, and told me what I meant to him. I wanted to feel his warm hands and his warm lips on my skin. I wanted to lie next to him, and listen to the sound of his breathing, and know he was mine.

This was the perfect summer read. Set along the beautiful coast line of Seaview, Rhode Island, this book was full of secrets, parties, drama, and the beautiful summer sun. The story focuses around the life of Lily Dane and parallels between 1931 and 1938, and tells the story of her and her ex-best friend Budgie Byrne, Nick Greenwald, and Graham Pendleton and the summer they all met and where their lives took them afterwards. Nick and Graham were both football stars, and Lily and Budgie were just two hopeless college girls that fell in love too fast and too easy.

I absolutely loved the fact that they story alternates between 1931 and 1938. I want to say that this is Lily’s story, but that wouldn’t be totally fair because it is partly the other’s story as well. They all share a part in it at least. The story really picks up pace when you begin reading what is going on in the present day for Lily, 1938, when Budgie comes back to Seaview married to Lily’s ex, Nick Greenwald. Lily didn’t turn out how I expected she would. She was single and practically raising her younger sister, Kiki. She seemed solemn and lonely, but this changes once the secrets start to unleash. The best part of this book is that while you, as the reader, are learning about Lily in the present you also get to see how she and Nick first met and how their relationship developed. It was sweet and endearing!

I love how this story unfolded, and I love the fact that I was made to keep guessing in the beginning. I knew things were going to get juicy, but I never imagined just how juicy. This story is dramatic, sexy, and a little scandalous, and I believe this is the perfect combination. My favorite character was Lily’s little sister, Kiki, whom Lily was practically raising herself. Kiki was a fun-loving child who really was more mature for her age. She usually broke the ice in sticky situations. For example, after Lily sees Nick for the first time in years, Lily jumps in with the cutest, sweetest remark that only a small child could make. She is the perfect addition to this story!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Putnam Adult in exchange for my honest review***

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Book Review: True Sisters

True SistersAuthor: Sandra Dallas
Publication Date: May 21, 2013 (Paperback)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

In a novel based on true events, New York Times bestselling author Sandra Dallas delivers the story of four women---seeking the promise of salvation and prosperity in a new land---who come together on a harrowing journey.

In 1856, Mormon converts, encouraged by Brigham Young himself, and outfitted with two-wheeled handcarts, set out on foot from Iowa City to Salt Lake City, the promised land. The Martin Handcart Company, a zealous group of emigrants headed for Zion, is the last to leave on this 1,300-mile journey. Earlier companies arrive successfully in Salt Lake City, but for the Martin Company the trip proves disastrous. True Sisters tells the story of four women whose lives will become inextricably linked as they endure unimaginable hardships, each one testing the boundaries of her faith and learning the true meaning of survival and friendship along the way: Nannie, who is traveling with her sister and brother-in-law after being abandoned on her wedding day; Louisa, who’s married to an overbearing church leader who she believes speaks for God; Jessie, who’s traveling with her brothers, each one of them dreaming of the farm they will have in Zion; and Anne, who hasn’t converted to Mormonism but who has no choice but to follow her husband since he has sold everything to make the trek to Utah.

Sandra Dallas has once again written a moving portrait of women surviving the unimaginable through the ties of female friendship.

The sisters pared down to their wardrobes, so that each had just three dresses, two for the journey and the third to wear for the handcart entrance into Great Salt Lake City, where they expected to be met by a brass band.

The three of them knew about polygamy, had known about it before they agreed to go to Utah Territory. In 1853, not long after they joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they learned that Joseph Smith had revealed to his people that the Lord had told Mormon men to take second and third wives.

“Is it any more preposterous than God giving Moses stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them?”

Later, when John pressed her, as he had repeatedly since they boarded the ship, to consider joining the church, Anne repeated the woman’s words: “If God wants me to become a Mormon, He, not you, will tell me.”

This story follows a group of Mormon converts coming to America, more directly to Salt Lake City, from various places in Europe. This story is based on the true events inspired by Brigham Young and the Promised Land that he foresaw for his people. The Martin Handcart Company, which all four of our women belong to, is the last to leave on this trek across the United States to Salt Lake City. This story follows four women who are all walking the same trail to Salt Lake City, but who all hold different desires, dreams, and family dynamics. We follow Nannie, Anne, Louisa, and Jessie as they suffer through life’s disappointments and learn what they each really stand for.

I think this would and is a difficult topic to cover and write. Sandra Dallas, always a favorite read for me, does an exquisite job writing about something that was such a monumental event in the history of our nation. Many Latter Day Saints crossed oceans and vast flat lands, hills, and mountains to reach the Promised Land, and talking about religion in any type of writing can be a sticky situation and especially an event as big as this one. I can honestly say that I truly felt that she captured the struggles and the hardships that each of these women and the people on this trail faced as they trekked West. I genuinely felt compassion and sympathy for each young woman as she went through her own trials and tribulations.

I did have my favorite characters though and two women really stood out to me. I admired the way they were written and the things they believed in. Firstly there was Anne, whose husband is a firm believer and recent convert, but who cannot accept that Anne has not accepted the faith yet. Anne is a confident woman who stands firm in her beliefs even if her husband and everyone around her does not approve. Even as she loses her eldest daughter and is pregnant with another, she still stands firm in the fact that she is her own person and only God will change her mind. And secondly there was Jessie who was traveling out West with her two older brothers. Jessie is stubborn and is used to doing a man’s work alongside her two brothers. She is not delicate like most women and has no use for many of the men who try to boss around their wives and treat them as less than equal. Both of these women were written as true inspirations!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest review***

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Book Review: Killer In Crinolines

Killer in CrinolinesAuthor: Duffy Brown
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Berkley
Series: Consignment Shop Mystery # 2

It’s August in Savannah, Georgia—hardly the season for a traditional Southern wedding with hoopskirts and crinolines. One could die from the heat—or from a cake knife in the back...

Reagan Summerside should be devoting all her energy to her consignment shop the Prissy Fox. But when her dear friend Chantilly Parker is arrested for murder, Reagan vows to clear her name. The victim is Simon Ambrose, who’s found lying in his own wedding cake with a knife in his back.

Chantilly has motive (Simon broke her heart to marry wealthy Waynetta Waverly) and opportunity (crashing the wedding in her UPS delivery truck). And she has cake on her face, and the stolen bridesmaid dress the killer wore is in her truck. But Chantilly would never wear crinoline to kill a man!

With the help of her flamboyant auntie, KiKi, and vexing but attractive attorney Walker Boone, Reagan is determined to save her friend—before she’s forced to turn in her brown uniform for an orange jumpsuit…

Doreen pushed open the door to the room and flopped back on the bedspread spread-eagle, staring at the ceiling. “The wedding’s off,” she said in a flat voice. “I suppose you could say the groom got creamed. I should have been a librarian like Mamma wanted.” Doreen closed her eyes, draped a black bow tie across her forehead in defeat, and was instantly asleep.

“Reagan, honey, I know where this is headed, and it’s good place to be going. You’re working yourself up to getting involved with finding who did in Simon and not listening to one blessed word I say. You haven’t touched your martini, meaning you’re thinking and fretting, and that’s going to lead straight to trouble.”

“I know for a fact that Doreen-the-wedding-planner considered murdering Simon a time or two, she told me herself. She got all the blame when things didn’t go right. The man was single-handedly ruining her reputation.”

“Oh dear Lord!” I starting for Doreen but then stopped in my tracks because Simon was there, too. He was face down in the five-tiered wedding cake with a silver cake knife sticking out of his back.

Reagan Summerside is still running her consignment shop, The Prissy Fox, and desperately hopes to keep the store and her head above water. On a hot summer’s day in August, Reagan is needed at a local wedding because the groom, Simon Ambrose, has misplaced his bow tie and it’s almost time for his big show! When Reagan arrives at the wedding she finds that her friend and Simon’s ex, Chantilly Parker is at the wedding in her UPS truck and she is sneaking a piece of the wedding cake. After running around with the wedding planner and trying to get this wedding in order, Reagan finds Simon, but not necessarily in a probable situation. Well…he’s lying in the wedding cake…with a knife in his back.

Duffy Brown really knows how to capture the South and all her Southern traditions and dialect has me feeling right at home. She paints a cast of completely hilarious and sometimes unlikely characters. Reagan’s gang is sure to make anyone laugh and you cannot get through one of Duffy’s books without bursting into laughter at least one time. I get the small town feeling when I read one of Duffy’s mysteries even though we are in Savannah. All the characters act like one big family and I especially enjoyed Reagan’s relationship with Chantilly, her best friend. I really enjoyed her character because right from the beginning I knew that since Simon Ambrose had left Chantilly for a richer woman, she would be the prime suspect. Chantilly is hysterical, dramatic, and emotional in her current circumstance, but she is everything you would expect a best friend to be!

This is the second book in the series, and while I think it’s best to read the first book in this series, I don’t think it is absolutely necessary. Duffy is a talented writer and includes all the important details right from the start. If you love Southern settings or a cast of crazy characters, then this will definitely be a book/series for you to try! Get caught up in a mystery of gigantic proportions!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Berkley in exchange for my honest review***

Book Review: Once Upon A Prince

Once Upon a PrinceAuthor: Rachel Hauck
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Zondervan
Series: Royal Wedding Series # 1

Once Upon a Prince, the first novel in the Royal Wedding series by bestselling author Rachel Hauck, treats you to a modern-day fairy tale.

Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a princess---just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn’t going according to plan. When her high-school-sweetheart-turned-Marine-officer breaks up instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life.

The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simon’s Island is the queen of his heart. A prince has duties, and his family’s tense political situation has chosen his bride for him. When Prince Nathaniel comes to Susanna’s aid under the fabled Lover’s Oak, he is blindsided by love.

Their lives are worlds apart. He’s a royal prince. She’s a ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel’s coronation.

What did he say? The storm gusts moving over the Atlantic must have garbled his words. “I can’t marry you”?

She’d never been into romance, fairy tales, knights in shining armor, or handsome princes riding up to save the day. Just a happily ever after with her strong hometown marine. Now what was the plan for the rest of her life?

Then Susanna passed by or brushed against him and fired up his longings and dreams.

He was starting to know how it felt to be in love, though he’d never felt quite like this before. He’d experienced fluttering emotions, runaway thoughts, and numbed ambitions for anyone or anything but the girl of his eye, but this sense of peace and purpose, of clarity, of freedom to be himself, of selfless devotion was new to him. And he loved it.

I was instantly reminded of The Princess Diaries when I started this book. I immediately fell in love with Susanna and Nathaniel. Susanna Truitt has lived and loved her hometown of St. Simon’s Island ever since she was a little girl. And for most of her life she has been there waiting for her soldier, Adam, to come home and propose to her. When we readers meet Susanna, Adams kindly tells her that he “found the right ring but not the right girl.” Susanna, is of course devastated, and begins rethinking some of her major life decisions. When Susanna has decided to give up on love altogether, Nathaniel waltzes into her life and onto St. Simon’s Island. Susanna begins to, unknowingly and unintentionally, develop feelings for him, so I am sure you can only imagine her disbelief when she finds out he is a crown prince!

This story was absolutely wonderful! I could read it over and over again. This story has the makings that are as charming as The Princess Diaries! I fell in love with the story and in love with Susanna and Nathaniel most of all. I got to go along with Susanna as she embarked in a real life fairy tale. Susanna was an amazing heroine and I enjoyed following her around St. Simon’s Island. Susanna was the perfect character to become a princess/queen. She was sweet, smart, and put the feelings of other before her own. She handled one of the worst breakups known to man, really it was awful, with more confidence than any woman I know!

Nathaniel was the epitome of a perfect gentleman, and my favorite part of this book was when Susanna gets to travel to the kingdom of Brighton to visit Nathaniel, his palace, and his family. At first Susanna does not fit in well with the family and I loved watching her adjust to Nathaniel’s sophisticated lifestyle amongst the royals. I don’t want to give away too much when it comes to the second half of the book, but this is the when all the magic happens! Susanna and Nathaniel come to a few realizations, and by the time I hit the second half of the book I flew through it even faster than the first half!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Zondervan in exchange for my honest review***

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Book Review: Thorn Abbey

Thorn AbbeyAuthor: Nancy Ohlin
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Nothing is as it seems in this darkly romantic tale of infatuation and possession, inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.

Becca was the perfect girlfriend: smart, gorgeous, and loved by everyone at New England’s premier boarding school, Thorn Abbey. But Becca’s dead. And her boyfriend, Max, can’t get over his loss.

Then Tess transfers to Thorn Abbey. She’s shy, insecure, and ordinary—everything that Becca wasn’t. And despite her roommate’s warnings, she falls for brooding Max.

Now Max finally has a reason to move on. Except it won’t be easy. Because Becca may be gone, but she’s not quite ready to let him go…

With all my love, Becca. Even her handwriting is beautiful. And bold. The ink is a deep, velvety pink, the color of late-summer roses. Trembling, I told the big, swirly B of her name…and recoil, stifling a scream. The page is burning hot.

But these woods, this path, and the beach beyond bear little resemblance to Cape Cod. Everything about this place is cold and uninviting. Of course, it’s probably the early hour of the day and my foul mood. Or the fact that a girl I didn’t even know, a girl who’s been on my mind way too much since yesterday, drowned in these waters.

Silence or more silence. I can feel Devon’s gaze boring into me in the darkness. There’s probably a simple explanation for all of this: She is talking in her sleep, or drunk, or on drugs, or nuts. Or all of the above. Or maybe I’m having one of those weird dreams that feel completely real. Whatever it is, I wish it would stop.

Life at Thorn Abbey is definitely more complicated than life at Avery Park High.

I am reading a lot of negative reviews on this book, but I thought this book was worth the four stars that it received from me. I must be honest in saying that when I started reading this book I did not know it was a retelling of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, and further more I have never read this book in the first place. I believe that may be why I enjoyed the book because I had not other story to compare it to. I will admit that the book started somewhat slow, but as soon as Tess gets to this boarding school called Thorn Abbey, everything starts to pick up pace drastically! Tess immediately finds friends and develops a crush on the school heartthrob, Max, and quickly learns of his past and his girlfriend, Becca, who was recently killed in a sailboat accident. Horrible events happen right? Tess sees no reason why Max cannot get over Becca in order to give her a chance. Despite the warning of her new friends and roommate, Devon, Tess continues to pursue Max and learns a thing or two about this…Becca.

I must admit that to me this book was creepy and had me on edge. I did not expect for most of what happened in this book to happen. Again and please do keep in mind, I have not read the classic Rebecca, so I am not even sure what that book is even really about. This book was full of action and crazy, spooky scenes. I imagined every scenario and person, or should I say spirit, that Tess came in contact with. By the time the book was over and the final scene had occurred I felt my blood go cold. I am not sure about others but I find Ohlin to be a fantastic author, who can write passages that slowly lead you into mind-blowing scenes.

I really enjoy books that take place in affluent boarding schools. This book did not disappoint in this category. I did not think that too much time was spent on describing the setting, and in fact I would have liked to hear more about Thorn Abbey. I especially loved the details about the owners of the school, and I enjoyed the few scenes where Tess and Max visit their graves. There were several spooky details and scenes that took place just like this one. A lot of those scenes revolve around Devon, Tess’s roommate, whom I never really liked from the start and by the time I reached the end of the novel I understood why. This is the type of book that reveals secrets little by little, and if you are a fan of this type of novel at all then I suggest you give this book a try!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Simon Pulse in exchange for my honest review***

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Book Review: Chantress

Chantress (Chantress, #1)Author: Amy Butler Greenfield
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Series: Chantress # 1

Lucy’s Chantress magic will make her the most powerful—and most hunted—girl in England.

“Sing, and the darkness will find you.” This warning has haunted fifteen-year-old Lucy ever since she was eight and shipwrecked on a lonely island. Lucy’s guardian, Norrie, has lots of rules, but the most important is that Lucy must never sing. Not ever. Now it is 1667, Lucy is fifteen, and on All Hallows’ Eve, Lucy hears a tantalizing melody on the wind. She can’t help but sing—and she is swept into darkness.

When she awakes in England, Lucy hears powerful men discussing Chantresses—women who can sing magic into the world. They are hunting her, but she escapes and finds sanctuary with the Invisible College, an organization plotting to overthrow the nefarious Lord Protector. The only person powerful enough to bring about his downfall is a Chantress. And Lucy is the last one in England.

Lucy struggles to master the song-spells and harness her power, but the Lord Protector is moving quickly. And her feelings for Nat, an Invisible College apprentice and scientist who deeply distrusts her magic, only add to her confusion...

Time is running out, and the fate of England hangs in the balance in this entrancing novel that is atmospheric and lyrical, dangerous and romantic.

Sing and the darkness will find you.

“It wasn’t me you heard,” I said. “It’s something else. A sort of singing sound in the wind. I don’t know what it is.”

But already the wind was rising. It swirled through the room, midnight black, and caught us both in its grasp. As the candle went out, the song rose to a shriek, and everything around us vanished.

The thief…where was he? In this blackness he could be standing five feet away, and I would not know it.

I expected to really love this book and while I didn’t hate it, it wasn’t one of my favorites either. Chantress just took so long to actually get to the “good stuff.” Some pages could have been cut off for sure, and while I enjoyed the world building and the added information about Chantress magic it could have been cut way down. Lucy is our main character and the story focuses, not primarily but mostly, on her magical abilities. I was very intrigued in the opening pages, and I even felt an eerie chill go up my spine when Greenfield described how Lucy was stranded and the idea that singing would call some type of dark magic upon them. I liked Lucy’s voice and her magical abilities were amazing and completely different from anything I have ever read before.

As I have already mentioned, the world building was phenomenal and the attention to detail was exquisite. I felt like the story had so many layers and I was impressed by this. I once had an English teacher to tell me that any good story should resemble an onion; peeling more and more away layer by layer. I can definitely say that Chantress is an onion; there is so much to unfold unfortunately it wasn’t all action-packed and fast-paced. Most of the book deals with Lucy’s training and while I understand that this is necessary for the upcoming books in the series, it got old and got old fast.

The fact that I am obsessed with any magical themed books won out with me here. Even though I hated the slow pace, I absolutely adored the premise behind Lucy’s story. Greenfield does have quite the imagination. Lucy was my favorite character, and really none of the rest of them stood out to me too much. Lucy was written so that she could grow as her training and knowledge of the magical world surrounding her progressed, and this was what kept me hooked the most!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Margaret K. McElderry Books in exchange for my honest review***

Book Review: Smarty Bones

Smarty Bones: A Sarah Booth Delaney MysteryAuthor: Carolyn Haines
Publication Date: May 21, 2013
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Series: Sarah Booth Delaney # 13

Professor Olive Twist has come to Zinnia, Mississippi to study a mysterious grave wherein lies the Lady in Red, a perfectly preserved and stunningly beautiful but unnamed and unclaimed body. Olive claims she can not only identify the corpse, she can also prove the woman’s scandalous role in the nation’s history. Olive takes it a step too far, though, when she starts connecting elite Zinnia families with the same scandal.

Dander up, Zinnia’s society ladies know only one way to handle Olive: they call on the private investigative services of Sarah Booth Delaney. But Olive’s real agenda is clear as Mississippi mud, and when Sarah Booth discovers a present-day dead body, she knows there’s more than just family pride and Southern heritage at stake. If she can’t find the murderer and fast, it might just be Sarah Booth's life on the line next.

Carolyn Haines pulls out all the stops in Smarty Bones, the next charming, sassy, Southern-fried Sarah Booth Delaney mystery.

One of the worst – and the best – things about Southerners is their total devotion to the reverence of the past.

Color me flabbergasted. I opened and closed my mouth like a guppy, unable to form words. Her accusations and leaps of logic were so astounding, no sane person would give them credence. She’d take a local mystery and embroidered it into a tablecloth for a banquet of crazy lies.

“Olive Twist. Like the Dickens character, only female.” She caught on fast.

“Really skinny. Like a number two pencil. And glamorous with a peculiar sense of fashion. And mean as a pit viper. She enjoys upsetting people. She disrupted the meeting of the Daughters of the Supreme Confederacy. That’s how I got on to her. France Malone came by Dahlia House and asked me to speak to her, for all the good it did.”

Sarah Booth Delaney is at it again! There is another mystery to solve and this southern gal is already on the case. A Professor Olive Twist has come to Zinnia, Mississippi and plans to stir up trouble for the locals. Sarah Booth and her close friends will have none of it, however, and they immediately become suspicious of this long-legged, big-footed know-it-all! Then when her personal assistant whom she bosses around like an orphan child turns up dead, Olive Twist becomes the prime suspect. However, swearing that she is innocent, Professor Twist hires Sarah to prove just that. With a mixture of other crazy happenings in Zinnia, Mississippi, Sarah Booth has a hard time only focusing on her case, but as well she gets the job done and gets her man…or woman!

I am absolutely in love with the Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries for many, many reasons. Firstly, I love the culture and the background that Haines gives Sarah Booth and her small town friends. The Southern dialect and traditions often come through in Haines’ writing. She uses some of the most catchy phrases and expressions, and they are often uttered by our favorite heroine. She has quite the catchy tongue, and I found myself laughing at her more times than not. I can almost hear her Southern twang pouring out over the pages, and a lot of what she says I have often heard by many Southerners around me.

I was very intrigued by the storyline within this mystery, and Haines explains in the historical note that some of this mystery is based on actual fact. The mystery revolves around the unearthing of a completely intact woman in a coffin called “The Lady in Red.” The woman that was accidentally dug up while a new site was being excavated was submerged in a beautiful air tight coffin full of alcohol. Some of these events were based on fact and actually did happen. I loved how Professor Olive Twist fit into this story and her character, while being rather rude and obnoxious, fit in perfectly with this mystery. She plans to prove that “The Lady in Red” is related to two of the most influential families in Zinnia and that she was guilty in planning to assassinate Lincoln, as in Abraham! Not of the facts in this story actually happened, but Haines explains all that before you begin reading.

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Minotaur Books in exchange for my honest review***

Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Review: Towering

ToweringAuthor: Alex Flinn
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen

At first, I merely saw his face, his hands on the window ledge. Then, his whole body as he swung himself through the window. Only I could not see what he swung on. Until, one day, I told my dream self to look down. And it was then that I saw. He had climbed on a rope. I knew without asking that the rope had been one of my own tying.

Rachel is trapped in a tower, held hostage by a woman she’s always called Mama. Her golden hair is growing rapidly, and to pass the time, she watches the snow fall and sings songs from her childhood, hoping someone, anyone, will hear her.

Wyatt needs time to reflect or, better yet, forget about what happened to his best friend, Tyler. That’s why he’s been shipped off to the Adirondacks in the dead of winter to live with the oldest lady in town. Either that, or no one he knows ever wants to see him again.

Dani disappeared seventeen years ago without a trace, but she left behind a journal that’s never been read, not even by her overbearing mother…until now.

A #1 New York Times bestselling author, Alex Flinn knows her fairy tales, and Towering is her most mind-bending interpretation yet. Dark and mysterious, this reimagining of Rapunzel will have readers on the edge of their seats wondering where Alex will take them next
“The trees did a skeleton dance in the December wind.”

“I laughed, but I liked the idea of it, that I might be special somehow and just not realize it, that the best part of my life wasn’t already over.”

“Some people were big on them, but I knew that secrets could kill like handguns and knives.”

A modern fairytale retelling based on the classic tale of Rapunzel, only with twisted and modern flair, and I read it all in one sitting! This story put a dark twist on the fairytale that many people know and love. I have never read a fairytale retelling that I didn’t like and this one will sit forever at the top of my favorites list. There is an amazing mystery behind this retelling and we are introduced to the girl who lives in the tower by a boy named Wyatt. Wyatt has just lost his best friend and the girl he has secretly harbored feelings for for quite some time, and his mother has sent him off on a sort of healing holiday to stay with the mother of her childhood best friend. Once Wyatt arrives in tremendously cold and terrifying mountains, he learns of strange disappearances that have occurred over the vast and chilly mountains for years and years. He quickly learns that one of those disappearances was his mother’s best friend, Danielle, when she was only a teenager. Wyatt goes on a quest to discover what really happened to Dani, and instead he finds a beautiful girl in an old abandoned tower!

The mystery of Dani’s disappearance kept me reading this book until I finished it. I just could not put the book down until I learned what happened to Dani all those years ago. I usually don’t care for male perspectives, but Wyatt was an amazing guide! I loved his voice and the way he slowly began to open up to readers and let them in on his haunting past. Wyatt was a truly interesting character and his story blew my mind away. He really introduces readers to the scenery that surrounds him and the way he realizes and perceives things around him sent chills up my spine. He was so involved in Dani’s life and he is the voice that causes readers to become so caught up in this rollercoaster ride of a story.

The girl in the tower. The topic that everyone wants to hear about I know, but unfortunately this is not something that I can talk about without including too many spoilers. It is best to find the girl just like Wyatt does, unexpected and bewildered. She is beautiful and her story is just like Dani’s, it grabs you by the hand and won’t let you stop reading until you have all the answers. I feel completely confident in giving this story five cupcakes! This is a story that many readers will find irresistible to put down.

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Harper Teen in exchange for my honest review***

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Vacation, all I ever wanted! Vacation, have to get away! Vacation, wish it would never end :) Bloggers, avid readers, publishers, and authors this post is just to let you all know that for the next week or so I will be gone on vacation! I will be in the Grand Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico so my blog will be out of commission until I return after Memorial Day! Thank you all for your support over the past year, and do not fret I return in one short week and a few days!

Book Review: School Spirits

School Spirits (School Spirits, #1)Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Series: School Spirits # 1

Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?

Rachel Hawkins' delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as the New York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance!

Killing vampires is actually a lot easier that you’d think.

A shiver went through, and I was pretty sure it had nothing to do with any ghost.

She sounded so excited, and it was all I could do not to wince. Humans getting involved with all the supernatural was bad enough, but exorcisms were way more than a bunch of teenagers could handle.

“Forever condemned to high school,” Dex said with a little shudder. “That would make me homicidal, too.”

I must admit before going on with this review that I have not read the Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins. However, the first book in this new series, School Spirits, makes me want to go back and read the first series from which this book is a spin off. Rachel weaves a very supernatural world in this book bringing in the cousin of heroine, Sophie, from the Hex Hall series. The heroine in this new series is introduced as Isolde “Izzy” Brannick and her back story follows her introduction. She and her mother are the last two Brannick women, and they are very powerful when it comes to destroying Prodigium, supernatural beings that get out of control. Learning to conquer small missions on her own is Izzy’s latest task and her mother and she are whisked off to a small town called Ideal, pun intended. Here Izzy is given the task of getting rid of the local ghost, but finds that this might not be the only problem as far as the town hauntings are concerned.

Rachel Hawkins writes in a very easy, carefree manner. It is almost like the descriptions and the supernatural happenings just come easy to her. Her writing style is easy to follow and I was finished with this book before I knew it. The chapters were relatively short and most all of them left off with a minuscule cliffhanger. There were so many instance of humor embedded within the pages. I especially loved Izzy’s friend Dex who often had something clever and witty to say. Izzy makes some remarkable friends whilst she is attending Mary Evans High School, and I happy to say that I loved every one of them! They are all colorful and somewhat odd even, but that is what makes them spectacular.

Lastly, I loved the supernatural element in this book! I loved that we were dealing with about three mysteries at one time: Izzy’s missing sister, Finley, whether or not Dex was really Prodigium, and the ghost of Mary Evans who was trying to kill off members of the high school one by one. The story was fast-paced and drew readers straight to the point. I am looking forward to the next book in this series, and it was no surprise that I was left with questions concerning the characters and what will happen next. My biggest concern is with Torin, the man in the mirror, I think something is up with his character and I am dying to know what!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Disney-Hyperion in exchange for my honest review***