Monday, August 31, 2015

Blog Tour Book Review: Irish Meadows

Irish Meadows (Courage to Dream #1)Author: Susan Anne Mason
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Bethany House
Series: Courage to Dream # 1

Irish immigrant James O’Leary has spent his life building Irish Meadows into a thriving horse farm and is not about to let hard economic times threaten its success. He intends for his daughters to marry prosperous men–ones who will secure the family’s rightful place in society, and at the same time, guarantee the future of Irish Meadows. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.

Brianna and Colleen O’Leary know their father expects them to marry well. Yet despite his wishes, Brianna, the quieter sister, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry–as long as her father’s choice meets her exacting standards. When stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from college and distant family member Rylan Montgomery stops in on his way to the seminary in Boston, the two men quickly complicate everyone’s plans. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to follow their hearts. And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?

“What's important is that God knows the motivation in your heart.”

“Sometimes love catches you off guard.”

“Love would triumph in the end. She's make sure of it.”

“At last, some of the burden seemed to lift from his shoulders. Now that he'd involved God in his decisions, as he should have all along, a certain clarity cleared the fog of guilt from his mind.”

This new series by Susan Anne Mason promises to offer excitement, inspiration, and some very riveting characters. I was pleased with the first book and was immediately sold because of the 1911 setting. I love early twentieth century books, and I love meeting the O’Leary family in this one. The story follows the lives of the O’Leary family, but predominantly focuses on the two older sisters, Brianna and Colleen. The story also shows a lot of interesting family dynamics, especially those between Mr. O’Leary and his daughters. Mr. O’Leary tries his best to do what is right for his family but sometimes that means neglecting the ones he loves most: his two daughters. Brianna has several goals and dreams set for herself but must push those aside in order to follow what her father feels is best for her. When James O’Leary shares his plan for his daughters to make prestigious marriages in order to save the farm, the girls have a different idea of what their future should look like in mind. Both girls must make a choice and make it fast: while they follow their father’s desires? Or will they choose to find love of their own accord?

Both Colleen and Brianna touch my heart in various ways. They are POWERFUL and beautiful characters with the power to win over any reader, no matter the age or gender. You will find yourself rooting for the happiness of both of the O’Leary sisters as you quickly turn the pages to find out what happens next. I liked the fact that both of their stories were combined in one narrative. So many times you will find books that tell the story of one sister, saving the other for a later installment. Here you get to see how both sisters feed off of each other and how their sisterly relationship tends to blossom and grow. I love the power of family that I felt while reading this book, even if I did not care so much for James O’Leary. This is a world that I could revisit over and over again.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Bethany House and Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review***

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Book Review: Most Likely To Succeed

Most Likely to SucceedAuthor: Jennifer Echols
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Series: Superlatives # 3

In this sexy conclusion to The Superlatives trilogy from Endless Summer author Jennifer Echols, Sawyer and Kaye might just be perfect for each other, if only they could admit it.

As vice president of Student Council, Kaye knows the importance of keeping order. Not only in school, but in her personal life. Which is why she and her boyfriend, Aidan, already have their lives mapped out: attend Columbia University together, pursue banking careers, and eventually get married. Everything Kaye has accomplished in high school, student government, cheerleading, stellar grades has been in preparation for that future.

To his entire class, Sawyer is an irreverent bad boy. His antics on the field as school mascot and his love of partying have earned him total slacker status. But while he and Kaye appear to be opposites on every level, and their friends keep conspiring to throw them together. Perhaps the seniors see the simmering attraction Kaye and Sawyer are unwilling to acknowledge to themselves.

As the year unfolds, Kaye begins to realize her ideal life is not what she thought. And Sawyer decides it’s finally time to let down the facade and show everyone who he really is. Is a relationship between them most likely to succeed, or will it be their favorite mistake?

"My mother had told me a million times that because I was a woman, I had to work twice as hard as a man for the same amount of respect. And I was black, so I had to work four times as hard. To get twice as much respect, I had to work eight times as hard, and that's what she expected of me."

“My crush on him was now official and hopeless. He was toying with me, like he toyed with everyone.”

“And now I was caught between Good, I’ve hurt him and Oh, no, I’ve hurt him.”

Jennifer Echols has been one of my favorite YA/Contemporary authors for quite some time now. I read the first book in this series and absolutely loved it! These are the type of books that you will just fly through in one day or less. Jennifer Echols has such a knack for being able to portray teenage characters; they are written so realistically and for this reason I think this series would be great for any young adolescent or young adult. Her teenage characters experience much of the same problems that teenagers face today. The characters in this series are actually written to be a group of friends in high school, so it is very easy to get on a personal level with them and feel as if they are your friends too. In this last book in the series, we get to meet Kaye, the extremely driven, hardworking friend who is involved in everything. Kaye’s opposite is Sawyer, the crazy, goofball who is enamored with her and dotes on her in every way possible. I loved him right from the very start!

Their characters could not be more different, but they go so well together. They teased each other relentlessly, but Sawyer made up for that by how beautiful he continually made Kaye feel. Kaye’s previous relationship left her feeling broken, and I think that is what made me fall for Sawyer even more. There is not one character that I have not enjoyed reading about in this series; they are realistic and the way they bond together is so endearing and really portrays friendship in such a positive light. I could not decide which of these books I liked better and I wish I could have read them back to back straight through. For those of you that have the opportunity, I highly suggest just sitting down and binge reading these; you won’t regret it!

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Book Review: The Uninvited

The UninvitedAuthor: Cat Winters
Publication Date: August 11, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow

From the award-winning author of In the Shadow of Blackbirdscomes a stunning new novel—a masterfully crafted story of love, loss, and second chances. Set during the fear and panic of the Great Influenza of 1918, The Uninvited is part gothic ghost-story, part psychological thriller, perfect for those who lovedThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield or The Vanishing by Wendy Webb.

Twenty-five year old Ivy Rowan rises from her bed after being struck by the flu, only to discover the world has been torn apart in just a few short days.

But Ivy’s life-long gift—or curse—remains. For she sees the uninvited ones—ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked, unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918 she sees the spirit of her grandmother, rocking in her mother’s chair. An hour later, she learns her younger brother and father have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death of Ivy’s older brother Billy in the Great War.

Horrified, she leaves home, to discover the flu has caused utter panic and the rules governing society have broken down. Ivy is drawn into this new world of jazz, passion, and freedom, where people live for the day, because they could be stricken by nightfall. But as her ‘uninvited guests’ begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once more, but Ivy has no inkling of the other-worldly revelations about to unfold.

“The world’s about to end. I can feel it in the marrow of my bones."

“We were music. We were jazz. We were alive.”

“The head makes war, but the heart makes peace. And, thankfully, the heart ends up ruling more than not.”

“I admit, I had seen a ghost or two.”

Yet another Cat Winters book that allowed me to escape the “real world” that I live in and transport myself to an eerie, supernatural version of 1918. We are quickly introduced to Ivy Rowan, as she rises from her sickbed after recovering from the flu epidemic of 1918. She wakes to some very startling news; her father and brother have just murdered a German man and she is immediately sickened by the news. Ivy decides to quickly leave her family after the incident, realizing that her father’s uncontrollable violence cannot be contained any longer. Ivy and the other Rowan women have a strange and unique gift; the ghost of a loved one shows up before their eyes to indicate that another death is sure to happen soon. When Ivy sees the ghost of her brother Billy, lost in World War I, she fears for the simple but lovely little life that she has built for herself and she cringes to think who might be ripped from her life.

Ivy Rowan has got to be one of the most fascinating characters that I have read this year. Her character was so enamoring and I could not stop thinking about her life, her romance, her eeriness, and her supernatural ability even when I had to stop reading and put the book away. Winters can build a world so creepy, mesmerizing, and enchanting that you will feel like you are standing there in it right alongside her characters. It was her ability to make the supernatural feel so real that drew me into this story so quickly. I will continue to follow her work and will always be sure to pick up her future novels as soon as they release. This would be an absolutely fabulous book to read for Halloween! I highly recommend it, and don’t forget that this is not the only book that Winters has released; there are so many more to choose from.

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

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Book Review: Falling Under

Falling Under (Ink & Chrome, #2)Author: Lauren Dane
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Forever
Series: Ink & Chrome # 2

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lauren Dane delivers the second book in her dark, gritty and romantic Ink & Chrome series

Duke Bradshaw, co-owner of the custom motorcycle shop Twisted Steel, is great with his hands and not afraid to get dirty . . . especially in his fantasies about his redheaded neighbor Carmella Rossi.

Carmella has been secretly lusting after her hot, tattooed neighbor for the last three years. His gravelly voice combined with the throaty purr of his custom bike never fails to send thrills down her spine. When Duke asks her to join him at the shop, she can't say no. Soon their days together spill over into nights that bring her pleasure beyond anything she imagined. But Carmella grew up with bikers, and knows how bad a bad boy can be. Can she put herself at risk for someone who has heart-breaker written all over him?

“You’re not my anything. You’re my everything.”

“He needed to seduce the trust out of his skittish redhead. Slowly and surely… there was something in her life – past or present – that had left some deep scars.”

“She was so beautiful. All her flaws and broken parts caught the light and made her a diamond.”

“What else in life could measure up to someone who accepted the darkest parts of you and wanted more?”

We all need a little guilty pleasure every once in a while – for me, lately, those guilty pleasure books have been from Lauren Dane’s new Ink & Chrome series. After finishing the second book in the series, I am so relieved to learn that the third one comes out in December because I am not certain I could wait much longer than that. I loved meeting Duke Bradshaw in the first book and I knew I would enjoy his character being further explored in his own story. Carmella Rossi, his female opposite, is all that I hoped she would be. She is a redhead with spirit and spunk to match. When Duke shows up on Carmella’s doorstep offering her a job, I just knew we were in for a wild ride with these two!

Duke and Carmella are both wonderful characters and I felt that they were developed the way any good character should be. I loved getting the insight into their past lives and being able to see how they act with each other in the motorcycle shop and outside of work when they lead their own lives. They are both very family-oriented and have soft sides to them. And of course, the Twisted Steel motorcycle shop was a fun place to be; there is always more than enough drama to go around and you are sure to hear some witty banter or just plain laugh out loud dialogue shared between characters. I love the tagline on the back of the book and I think it sums up the series pretty nicely so far: “The men of Twisted Steel are great with their hands. And they’re not afraid to get dirty.”

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

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Book Review: Reawakened

Reawakened (Reawakened, #1)Author: Colleen Houck
Publication Date: August 11, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Series: Reawakened # 1

When seventeen-year-old Lilliana Young enters the Metropolitan Museum of Art one morning during spring break, the last thing she expects to find is a live Egyptian prince with godlike powers, who has been reawakened after a thousand years of mummification.

And she really can't imagine being chosen to aid him in an epic quest that will lead them across the globe to find his brothers and complete a grand ceremony that will save mankind.

But fate has taken hold of Lily, and she, along with her sun prince, Amon, must travel to the Valley of the Kings, raise his brothers, and stop an evil, shape-shifting god named Seth from taking over the world.

From New York Times bestselling author Colleen Houck comes an epic adventure about two star-crossed teens who must battle mythical forces and ancient curses on a journey with more twists and turns than the Nile itself.

Eternity is a long time to exist without something to remember.”

“Amon murmured against my neck, "You taste like melted desert honey.” 

“The truth is, if I could bottle your water-lily scent and carry it with me as I wandered the desert, even if I was sick from the sun and dying from thirst, only to be saved by a desert sheikh who wished to barter for it, and even should the trading of it save my life, I would not part with it for all the jewels, silks, and precious riches of Egypt and all the lands surrounding it. So to say your scent is pleasant to me is an understatement most villainous.” 

“A desert lily need not turn jealous eyes toward the common violet.” 
I have always been interested in Ancient Egypt – this book gave me a wonderful view into their culture, their values, their society, etc. It was so much a part of this book that I had to talk about it in my review. Mythology was used all the way throughout this book and I love how Houck tied it in and actually gave me a history lesson while giving me these fun-loving characters and enjoyable adventure as well. Lilliana and Amon, our two main characters, one being an intelligent, loveable American and the other an Egyptian prince, make this story what it is! Lily and the sun prince must travel to Egypt in order to stop an evil shape-shifting god from destroying the world. Lily just wants an excuse to not be under the thumb of her control freak parents, so it does not take much persuasion from Amon for her to accompany him on this journey. I LOVED both of them from the very start!

I LOVED and ADORED Amon. He is kind and caring and bound to Lily because when he awakened, it was her energy that he fed off of; however, he does not misuse this power and completely respects Lily and might I add – falls in love with her from day one. Their chemistry is out of this world and their relationship is developed as all good ones should be. With the amazing characters and the world-building, you cannot go wrong if you decide to pick up this book! I must say that this would be a great way to end your summer, as it is quickly coming to a close. Amon was my favorite character of course, so I am going to leave you with this: he has two brothers that are just like him and I am hoping, praying, and dying to know if they are going to appear in other books in this series!!

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

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Blog Tour Review: Through Waters Deep

Through Waters Deep (Waves of Freedom, #1)Author: Sarah Sundin
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Fleming H. Revell Company
Series: Waves of Freedom # 1

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges--and dangers--await them.

A thrill tingled up her spine. Not only did she have an excursion to anticipate, but she had her very own mystery.

People complimented her clever mind, her kindness, and her quiet ways. If only men found such things enchanting.

She laughed and held on to his broad shoulder. She’d have to be careful not to fall for this man.
This book, and brand new series, were on my much anticipated list since the latter half of last year. Sarah Sundin writes some of the most vivid, believable characters that I have ever read and will forever be one of my favorite Christian authors. In this newest book, America is on the edge of entering WWII. I love reading WWII novels! Our two main characters are acquaintances from childhood, but meet again when their careers force them together. Jim Avery is a handsome naval officer and Mary Stirling is a beautiful, resourceful Boston Navy Yard secretary. Shortly after these two cross paths again, they are thrown into a mystery that needs solving and discover a romance burning bright! This book had a little bit of everything, but I must say that the mystery element was by far my favorite!

When it comes to novels set in the 1940’s, you can’t find many authors that do it better than Sarah Sundin. Now she has gone and added mystery and suspense to the list of her ever-widening writing abilities. Mary Stirling made a great heroine and amateur sleuth; I cannot brag enough about the character development that went into these main characters. This story had it all; the romance is front row worthy! Jim and Mary make a dashing pair; you will find yourself rooting for their love affair from the very start. They complement each other so well, and at a time when nothing seemed sure for America, these two bring out a light in each other. The rest of the series is sure to be just as delightful as this one! Sarah Sundin, you are still the best in the business!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Book Review: The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster

The Lemoncholy Life of Annie AsterAuthor: Scott Wilbanks
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Annabelle Aster doesn’t bow to convention—not even that of space and time—which makes the 1890s Kansas wheat field that has appeared in her modern-day San Francisco garden easy to accept. Even more peculiar is Elsbeth, the truculent schoolmarm who sends Annie letters through the mysterious brass mailbox perched on the picket fence that now divides their two worlds.

Annie and Elsbeth’s search for an explanation to the hiccup in the universe linking their homes leads to an unsettling discovery—and potential disaster for both of them. Together they must solve the mystery of what connects them before one of them is convicted of a murder that has yet to happen…and yet somehow already did.

In polite company, she was known as Annabelle Aster. Being a spirited woman, however, she wasn’t often found in such company, as she’d determined it to be, more often than not, insincere. And also being a sincere woman in every particular, Annie chose her company for the quality of its character, not its rank.

Elsbeth Grundy was a loner, and an odd one at that, but company was headed her way whether she liked it or not.

Finally, she smiled. “It means we have a rescue project.” 

Do you know those books that just grab you and pull you in from the very first paragraph and never let you go? Yes, well this is one of those precious gems. After reading the synopsis, I expected to enjoy the story, but I REALLY enjoyed the story. The story shares two women’s adventure as they live a century apart from one another, only connected by a letterbox and a magical door, oh, and the giant wheat field that separates their home – you will have to read the book to find the humor in that! Annie Aster lives in 1995 and is a bit eccentric, but a truly amazing character to follow. Annie is fascinated by her connection with Elsbeth, who is living in 1895, and quickly wants to get to the bottom of their correspondence. Annie soon learns that the door she had installed in her kitchen could be the cause of this convenient time-hop that is happening in her backyard. After doing her research, Annie finds herself dealing with a murder mystery, and a murder mystery that Elsbeth, still in 1895, might just be able to help her prevent!

Some authors just have a truly remarkable gift; they can make you fall in love with a story, its characters, and its magical tale just by describing something as small as a letter, wheat field, or Victorian wardrobe. Scott Wilbanks, you have that talent. So much detail is written with the pages of this little treasure. I did not want to finish this book for fear that I would miss it too much. Annie Aster was easily my favorite character and had so much thought behind her character development that it was quite apparent from just a few chapters in. I can tell that he spent time with these characters and their stories; they are unbelievable! I look forward to so much more from this author; this story is full of mystery, suspense, romance, magical realism, and twists and turns around every hidden corner!

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

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (22)

Waiting on Wednesdays is a weekly book meme that lets readers just like you guys know what to be expecting and waiting anxiously for. It is hosted by Jill over at Breaking The Spine. Want to participate? Grab the logo on her page, post your own WoW entry on your blog, and leave your link on her blog!

A Mad Zombie Party (White Rabbit Chronicles, #4)Author: Gena Showalter
Publication Date: September 29, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Series: White Rabbit Chronicles # 4

The battle rages on. 

Ali Bell and Cole Holland's crew of zombie slayers thought they'd won the war against Anima Industries, the evil company responsible for capturing and experimenting on zombies in an effort to discover the secret to immortality. In the last epic clash, the slayers lost many of their crew and closest friends. But Frosty, the ice man himself, has not recovered from one casualty in particular—the love of his life, Kat Parker. 

On the path to self-annihilation, Frosty receives a message from beyond—Kat's spirit returns, insisting he partner with rogue slayer Camilla Marks. Frosty will do anything for Kat. Except that. Camilla is the one who betrayed them all, leading to Kat's death. 

But when Anima rises from the grave to become a force the slayers may not have the strength to overcome, Frosty, Camilla and all the slayers will have to work together to survive. And one broken slayer will learn that sometimes, the line between hate and attraction is blurred…and the road to redemption isn't through revenge, but in letting go of the past and grabbing hold of the future.

Book Review: Eight Hundred Grapes

Eight Hundred GrapesAuthor: Laura Dave
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide…

Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets…

Synchronization. To operate in union. On a vineyard, synchronization meant watching and waiting until everything lined up. You didn’t step in too quickly. You also didn’t step out.

“So that’s what you’re trying to do?” my mother said. “Stop the people you love from doing what they’ll regret?” “Yes. Exactly.” She kissed the inside of my palm. “But which way is regret?”

“Thing is, whatever’s going on with Ben, it’s okay to walk away. It’s also okay to get over it. The two of you have built a great life together, that matters too, it matters as much as whatever is going on that has made you doubt him.”

“Someone needs to get married under that sailcloth tent, it is too beautiful to waste.”

MY. FAVORITE. BOOK. OF. SUMMER. I absolutely loved this book if the first few words didn’t give that away. It took me less than 24 hours to finish this book and I found myself trying to find any spare moment that I could to steal away and read for just a few minutes. It all starts with Georgia Ford running away in her wedding dress and readers are left to wonder why and what happened. We quickly learn Georgia’s story and what happened between her and her fiancé, Ben. Georgia runs home to Sonoma County to her the beloved vineyards where she spent her childhood hoping to find solace in the arms of her parents. However, when she arrives she realizes that she is not the only Ford sibling with issues; even her parents are keeping secrets from her. Georgia has a lot more issues to face than she thought and going home was just what she needed to start putting her life back together again.

I absolutely loved the mood that this book put me in. I loved learning about the vineyards and the wine making process. Laura Dave really did her research about the latter; I was so fascinated reading about all of it because I don’t know about you guys, but I love my wine! The Last Straw Vineyard felt just like home for me. I loved it when Georgia was with her twin brothers, Bobby and Finn. They had the best sibling bond and I loved the dialogue they shared the most. Georgia’s love life is complicated and not really predictable. There is one point in the book where you will probably pause and try to understand or figure what she will end up doing. This book would be a great beach read, or just like I did, a curl up on the couch read! I am looking forward to much more from Laura Dave!

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

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Release Day Review: The Lure of the Moonflower

The Lure of the Moonflower (Pink Carnation #12)Author: Lauren Willig
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: NAL
Series: Pink Carnation # 12

In the final Pink Carnation novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, Napoleon has occupied Lisbon, and Jane Wooliston, aka the Pink Carnation, teams up with a rogue agent to protect the escaped Queen of Portugal.
Portugal, December 1807. Jack Reid, the British agent known as the Moonflower (formerly the French agent known as the Moonflower), has been stationed in Portugal and is awaiting his new contact. He does not expect to be paired with a woman—especially not the legendary Pink Carnation.
All of Portugal believes that the royal family departed for Brazil just before the French troops marched into Lisbon. Only the English government knows that mad seventy-three-year-old Queen Maria was spirited away by a group of loyalists determined to rally a resistance. But as the French garrison scours the countryside, it’s only a matter of time before she’s found and taken.
It’s up to Jane to find her first and ensure her safety. But she has no knowledge of Portugal or the language. Though she is loath to admit it, she needs the Moonflower. Operating alone has taught her to respect her own limitations. But she knows better than to show weakness around the Moonflower—an agent with a reputation for brilliance, a tendency toward insubordination, and a history of going rogue.

Napoleon Bonaparte was said to break crockery at the mere mention of the name of the Pink Carnation.

But while a man might quibble at the orders to a fellow agent, especially if said fellow agent were both female and young, no one said no to the Pink Carnation.

It might sound like arrogance, but if they were to work together, she needed him to acknowledge her authority. She was a woman and a young one. In the early days that hadn’t seemed to matter; she had built her league herself, by trial and error, half by accident. It was a game, and she was the one who determined the rules.

I am so unbelievably sad to see this series end. Each of these books have been fun, fast, and highly enjoyable for me. The stories go back and forth between past and modern times and we were introduced to some phenomenal characters along the way. Since this is the twelfth book in the series, I do not want to give too much away in the review, so I will just highlight on things that I believe others will enjoy about this series just like I did.  I do not suggest starting in the middle of the series; however, I am sure it can be done. This book is the story of the Pink Carnation, Jane, herself. Hence, where the series got its name. In this story Jane teams up with another spy to protect the escaped Queen of Portugal. There is just so much you will miss if you do not start from book number one. I know that twelve books seems like a lot to catch up on, but when they are this good it is all worth it!

As I mentioned before, we get to go back and forth between time periods, shifting from the past to the present. This is not confusing and I do not want this to throw readers off; it should not at all. Eloise and Colin are the characters that we meet and get to know in present times. They stay the same throughout the series, even when other couples come and go. I think I will miss Eloise and Colin just as much as all the lovely ladies and dashing spies. The romance is very well done in this series. I am going to miss all the different couples, their relationships, quirky dialogue, crazy flirting, and heated sexual tension! Between the romance or the mystery, I could not say which I preferred more. Be sure to look into this series if anything I have said so far has interested you. Also, Lauren Willig has many other books outside of this series as well – she is just an all-around wonderful writer!

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

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Book Review: Rebel Mechanics

Rebel Mechanics (Rebel Mechanics, #1)Author: Shanna Swendson
Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR)
Series: Rebel Mechanics # 1

A sixteen-year-old governess becomes a spy in this alternative U.S. history where the British control with magic and the colonists rebel by inventing.

It’s 1888, and sixteen-year-old Verity Newton lands a job in New York as a governess to a wealthy leading family—but she quickly learns that the family has big secrets. Magisters have always ruled the colonies, but now an underground society of mechanics and engineers are developing non-magical sources of power via steam engines that they hope will help them gain freedom from British rule. The family Verity works for is magister—but it seems like the children's young guardian uncle is sympathetic to the rebel cause. As Verity falls for a charming rebel inventor and agrees to become a spy, she also becomes more and more enmeshed in the magister family’s life. She soon realizes she’s uniquely positioned to advance the cause—but to do so, she’ll have to reveal her own dangerous secret.

“Welcome aboard, Verity. And be prepared to make history.”

Even as a governess, I’d fell like a princess whenever I came down that staircase.

His ice-blue eyes flecked with gray and rimmed in dark blue were the same as those of the bandit from the train.

I told myself that I had nothing to fear as long as I exhibited no sign of having magical powers. I’d spent a lifetime keeping that secret, so it was second nature for me.

A historical fiction steampunk was just what I needed this week! I was so impressed with Shanna Swendson’s new YA series and I was so easily reminded of why I adore steampunk books. The world in which Rebel Mechanics was set was fun and invigorating, even though I could have used a bit more back story, but that’s just me. We get the pleasure of following Verity Newton as she is hired on by one of the richest families as their governess. Verity lives in a world separated by classes: the magisters and the non-magical folk. Verity soon gets mixed up in this world and loses her place. She turns into a rebel spy without even really realizing that she was doing so. This book goes by so fast and only took me a few hours to finish. I loved the difference in classes and how the rebel mechanics were trying to make a way for themselves in the world that was ruled by magic.

This book has a little bit of everything from romance, mystery, awesome characters, and of course, steampunk elements! I must say that my two favorite characters were Verity and Lord Henry, her employer. Lord Henry is quirky and fun and not like I expected he would be. I fell easily into the world of steampunk and I quickly became a sympathizer with the rebel mechanics and what they stood for. They had a worthy cause and it was easy to follow them, especially because Verity did. Verity was young and still naïve in many ways, but this story was an excellent start for her character; I cannot wait to see how she changes in the next books in the series.

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