Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Frost Moon by Anthony Francis (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"In an alternate Atlanta where magic is practiced openly, where witches sip coffee at local cafes, shapeshifters party at urban clubs, vampires rule the southern night like gangsters, and mysterious creatures command dark caverns beneath the city, Dakota Frost's talents are coveted by all. She's the best magical tattooist in the southeast, a Skindancer, able to bring her amazing tats to life. When a serial killer begins stalking Atlanta's tattooed elite, the police and the Feds seek Dakota's help. Can she find the killer on the dark fringe of the city's Edgeworld? Among its powerful outcasts and tortured loners, what kind of enemies and allies will she attract? Will they see her as an invader, as a seducer, as an unexpected champion ... or as delicious prey?"

My Thoughts:

Frost Moon was an interesting beginning to a dark and gritty urban fantasy series. Dakota lives in a world filled with magic and magical beings although it isn't acknowledged by all of society. She was one of the most unique characters that I have ever read about, and I really enjoyed her personality. I felt like we got a really good look at her character throughout the novel which helped me to connect to the story. The author wasn't afraid to take chances with the storyline which I really liked. I just never knew what to expect which kept me constantly on my toes as I was reading. My favorite thing about the book though was Dakota's ability to do magical tattoos. I loved the descriptions of the tattoos, the idea of how they could actually move, and everything else that went along with it. It was a unique concept and it really made the book more enjoyable for me. The book also had a variety of interesting characters that I hope to see in future books. My only complaint with this book was that at times it had so much going on that I would lose track of the mystery. Luckily enough though, the end of the book tied everything together very nicely which added to my enjoyment of the book that much more.

All in all, this was a very enjoyable beginning to this urban fantasy series. It was darker than I expected and very unique which added to my enjoyment of the novel. I'm looking forward to continuing on with this series....I'm sure that Dakota will manage to get herself in lots more trouble :) Recommended!

Bottom Line: An interesting beginning to an urban fantasy series with a main character that I can't wait to read more of!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley. My thanks!

Friday, January 27, 2012

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (thoughts)

Why, why, why did I wait so long to read this book??? My Cousin Rachel blew me out of the water in its' greatness and left me wondering why I hadn't read it sooner! It is the story of Phillip Ashley and how his entire world changes when Rachel comes into his life. Rachel is the widow of his beloved Uncle Ambrose who is recently deceased. Everything Phillip has ever known changes when his cousin Rachel arrives.....and his life will never be the same.

This is basically going to be a gush fest so be prepared. I adored this book. Just adored it! The atmosphere and underlying tension in this book was just amazing. It had me well and truly hooked as I was reading. My Cousin Rachel has this creepy feeling to it where you know something bad is going to happen and all you can do is wait for it. This feeling made the atmosphere of the book so creepy and intense. I just couldn't put the book down! (And I'll admit to peeking at the ending when I was almost finished because I couldn't take it any longer. I had to know. And it still didn't take away from my enjoyment of the novel.) Rachel and Phillip are on this destructive path together that neither of them realizes, and all the reader can do is wait for it to happen. Even then knowing that there couldn't possibly be a happy ending to the story, I was blown away by the ending. It left me thinking, and I had to go back and reread the first chapter again. And then the ending again. And I was still left wanting to discuss this one with someone. It was just that good!

I don't think I need to even summarize my feelings on this one. I LOVED it, plain and simple! I would reread it again without a second thought and want a copy of it for my own shelves. Just thinking about it now makes me want to read it again so what can I do but recommend it to all of you! Highly recommended!!!

Bottom Line: An amazing read.....nothing more to say other than that!

Disclosure: I checked this one out from my local library but you can bet I will be purchasing my own copy!

This book has me itching for a reread of Rebecca by du Maurier! I will definitely be doing that this year but I thought it would be fun to leave you a link to my original thoughts on Rebecca here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Library Loot - Awards Edition

Library Loot is hosted by Marg and Clare and asks us to share the latest books that we've found at the library.

I was super excited to see that the nominees for the Edgar Awards were announced the other day. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson made the young adult list which was one of my top ten reads last year. I decided that I wanted to try and read some of the nominees for this award. Which got me on an award search kick and the rest was history. I put a TON of books on hold at the library and am impatiently waiting for them all to come in. It's a mix of this years Edgar nominees, Orange Prize long/short lists from past years, and the Nebula award. Plus, I just read that the Printz award nominees will be announced this week so I'll probably be adding a few more holds :) Self control....I have none. Especially since I've been adding books for challenges as well. Anyways, here is what I've picked up from the library so far:

The best part about all of these books (besides the lovely covers) is that they have me so excited to read them. I love looking forward to reading so many great books! And these lists are giving me lots of good reading material to look forward to :) Do you like to follow award lists??? I must admit that I'm kind of hooked....

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Pleasure of Your Kiss by Teresa Medeiros (thoughts)

The Pleasure of Your Kiss is one of the most enjoyable romances that I have read in a long time. Ashton Burke, a famous adventurer/bachelor, is asked by his estranged brother to rescue his brother's fiancee from a harem where she is being held captive. Ashton agrees but when he arrives at the stronghold where she is being kept he comes to realize that it is his secret childhood love Clarinda Cardew that he has been sent to rescue. Of course, old feelings between Ashton and Clarinda bubble to the surface while they try to figure out a way to escape.

Whew! That may sound like the most convoluted summary ever but the author actually does quite well with it. I found myself instantly immersed in the story and I didn't want to put the book down. What I really liked about this book was how daring the author was with the storyline choices that she made. I never knew what was going to happen next or how there could ever possibly be a happy ending for the two main characters. I mean, Clarinda the main character, was being kept in a sultan's harem for crying out loud. It helped to keep me on my toes which I really enjoyed. The romance and chemistry between Ashton and Clarinda was super steamy....especially the scene where they were locked in a tower together for the night. The ending of the book went a little bit faster than I would have liked but it was a solid ending in my opinion. I was just left wanting more but it looks like there is going to be another book in the future featuring Ashton's brother. I'm going to be looking forward to getting my hands on that one when it comes out!

All in all, this was a really great romance read! This was my first time reading this author but I'm going to be reading more by her for sure. In fact, I think I'm off to look at her back list of books right now :) Highly recommended especially to fans of historical romance!

Bottom Line: A steamy romance that was completely unpredictable. I loved it!

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher for a blog tour. I'm behind as always so my thoughts on this one are a bit late :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Birthday Boy!

I get tears in my eyes just thinking about how big you are getting these days. I swear it was just yesterday that I was holding you and rocking you in my arms. I love you more than words can say, so Happy Birthday Pickle Baby!!!! Mommy loves you!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Sunday Salon - Book Group Reads

Good morning everyone! I cannot tell you the last time that I participated in the Sunday Salon....it has definitely been awhile. We got our first batch of snow on the ground and the kids couldn't be more excited. They HAD to go outside that night and check it out which resulted in lots of fun and rosy red cheeks :) I snapped up this picture while they were in the midst of their fun, and I couldn't help but laugh. My youngest had gone down the slide and couldn't get up. He was like the little kid on A Christmas Story. Ha! It was too funny and I just can't help but smile when I look at this picture :)

It's been a busy reading week for me as I've been able to finish up two books. The first one that I finished was My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier. OH MY GOODNESS!!! Why did I wait so long to read more by this author??? This book literally knocked my socks off with its' atmosphere...and all I can say is wow! I have yet to write up my thoughts on it but expect a gushing post. And I think that a reread of Rebecca is definitely in order now. I also was able to finish The Pleasure of Your Kiss by Teresa Medeiros. This was a really good romantic read that swept me away. I was left wanting more when I finished which is obviously a good thing :) Hopefully I will get my thoughts up on this one as well this week.

My experience with reading My Cousin Rachel left me wishing though that I had read this book with someone. That I had no one to discuss it with after I finished was kind of a bummer because it was SO good. And there was so much to talk about. This is a definite kind of book club type of read (at least I think that it would be a good one). So I started browsing the different online book groups that I am in (although I'm not a regular participant in any) for a group read that looked interesting. Because I want to discuss books with others after I read them especially books like that. I checked out a few books from the library that the book groups are reading but I'm mainly focusing on the Goodread's group Bookworm Bitches. They seem to be a really active group and there are always 4 different reads that I can choose from for each month. Which brings me to the book I've chosen to begin reading which is Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman. I don't think I read any nonfiction last year (awful!) so this is going to be a good change of pace for me. And I was thinking I should extend the offer...does anyone want to read this one with me???? Don't feel pressured if you have too many books on your plate already but if you are interested then just leave a comment or email me. It sounds like an interesting read just from the title alone.

Before this post gets any longer, I'll wish you all a good week....happy reading!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Under The Moon by Natalie J. Damschroder (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Quinn Caldwell is the epitome of a modern goddess. Her power source is the moon, her abilities restricted only by physical resources and lunar phase. She runs a consulting business and her father's bar, serves on the board of the ancient Society for Goddess Education and Defense, and yearns for Nick Jarrett, professional goddess protector and the soul mate she can never have.

But someone has developed the rare and difficult ability to drain a goddess of her powers, and Quinn is a target. With the world thinking Nick has gone rogue (whatever that means) and that Quinn is influenced by "family ties" she didn't know she had, keeping themselves safe while working to find the enemy proves harder each day."

My Thoughts:

Under the Moon is the beginning to a new paranormal romance series featuring goddesses and their protectors. Quinn is a goddess who derives her powers and abilities from the moon. It gives her great abilities during the full moon when her powers are the strongest and leaves her almost completely normal afterwards. I found this to be an interesting concept as it left Quinn very vulnerable at times. One of the things that was really unique about this book was the idea of goddesses and the fact that the goddesses got their powers from different things. Rain, oceans, and crystals were just some of the things that the different goddesses used to enhance their abilities. The book itself was very interesting as Quinn finds herself caught up in a mystery where her fellow goddesses are being drained of their powers. She soon comes to realize that the "leech" has something to do with her and the family that she knows little about. This made for an interesting storyline, and I found myself immersed in the mystery that was surrounding Quinn. Plus, there was a nice little chemistry going on between Nick and Quinn that really added to the book in my opinion. The only problem that I had was that I think I expected a little more focus on the romance. Instead, I found the book to be more plot oriented which worked out fine in the end once I adjusted my expectations. I also didn't entirely care for the triangle that was present between Sam, Quinn, and Nick. But I have a feeling that Sam may show up in later books which would be a good thing :)

All in all, I found this to be a good read with lots of potential! I'm looking forward to reading more in this series in the future. This was my first read on my Kindle Fire and it was a great experience (although I do think I will always prefer an actual book). Recommended to fans of paranormal romance!

Bottom Line: An interesting beginning to a new series....

Disclosure: I read this book on my Kindle courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Doomsday Vault by Steven Harper (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"In a clockwork Brittania, Alice's prospects are slim. At 21, her age and her unladylike interest in automatons have sealed her fate as an undesirable marriage prospect. But a devastating plague sends Alice off in a direction beyond the pale-towards a clandestine organization, mad inventors, life-altering secrets, and into the arms of an intrepid fiddle-playing airship pilot."

My Thoughts:

The Doomsday Vault is a book made of pure awesomeness!!! Filled with adventure, zombies, inventions, gadgets, intrigue, and yes...a little romance, this book has just about everything that a reader could ask for. Alice is only looking for a simple life. She wants to find a proper husband that will help lift her and her father out of debt and bring her back into high society. But trouble has a way of finding Alice and she finds herself caught up working with a secret society while also falling in love. This book was filled with adventure from the very beginning to the last page. The author wasn't afraid to take chances, and there many unexpected twists and turns throughout the story. I liked that the story was told from the viewpoints of both of the main characters Gavin and Alice. It allowed for the reader to see both of their different adventures and how their adventures wound together. I thought that the book was a fast paced read and I had a hard time putting it down. I loved how this book was different from the other steampunk novels that I have read...it was a fresh and original storyline. My favorite thing about this book was that the author takes the book in places that I never expected...it left me reeling at different points. The ending leaves it open for another book and I am looking forward to reading the 2nd book whenever it comes out.

All in all, a great beginning to this series and an author that I want to read more of. If your looking for a brand-new take on the steampunk genre...look no further. And if you haven't taken the plunge and tried this genre out yet, then I think that this would be a great beginning read. I was taken up with the world that the author created and I can't wait to revisit it in the future! Highly recommended!

Bottom Line: I adored this book...and a great way to begin 2012!

Disclosure: I was lucky enough to find this one at my local library but I'm definitely going to add a copy to my own shelves :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

On My Wishlist (Radar) #11

On My Wishlist is my way of sharing all of the books that I cannot wait to get my hands upon and read. These are a mixture of books that are about to be released along with some older titles that I really want to read as well. (All summaries are from Goodreads).

I swear that I am about to go book crazy this year! There are just SO MANY books coming out that I want to get my hands on. So expect a lot of these posts this year as I highlight the books that I can't wait to get my hands on. And I'll always include oldies that I've somehow missed but want to read in the near future :)

An Affair with Mr. Kennedy by Jillian Stone

"London, 1887. Part stoic gentleman, part fearless Yard man, Zeno “Zak” Kennedy is an enigma of the first order. For years, the memory of a deadly bombing at King’s Cross has haunted the brilliant Scotland Yard detective. His investigation has zeroed in on a ring of aristocratic rebels whose bloody campaign for Irish revolution is terrorizing the city. When he discovers one of the treacherous lords is acquainted with his free-spirited new tenant, Cassandra St. Cloud, his inquiry pulls him unexpectedly close to the heart of the conspiracy—and into the arms of a most intriguing lady. Cassie is no Victorian prude. An impressionist painter with very modern ideas about life and love, she is eager for a romantic escapade that is daring and discreet. She sets her sights on her dour but handsome landlord, but after she learns their meeting was not purely accidental, she hardly has a chance to forgive her lover before their passionate affair catapults them both into a perilous adventure."

This one comes out at the end of this month and I'm chomping at the bit to get my hands on it. Look at that cover!!! I'm blaming Jackie over at Literary Escapism for adding this one (and two others on my list) to my wishlist.

The Seduction of Phaeton Black by Jillian Stone

"In the gaslit streets of Victorian London, phantoms rule the night, demons dance till dawn, and one supernatural detective dares to be seduced by the greatest power of all. . ."

I cut the summary down because all I needed to do was read this first part and knew that I wanted to read this book. Same author as listed above.....and a new find for me! I love this cover as well and it hints at steampunk...so excited!

The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent

"In an alternate London where magical creatures are preserved in a museum, two teens find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, deception, and danger.

Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s
—and with the Unnaturals. As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world."

Love, love, love this cover! I told you that 2012 was going to be an awesome year of books, right?? It most definitely is!

Blood on the Bayou by Stacey Jay

"The second book in a new urban fantasy series featuring mosquito-sized fairies with poisonous bites that drive humans insane.

It's only been three w
eeks since Annabelle helped solve the murder of Grace Beauchamp, and in the process, she discovered a secret world of invisible, magic-working people who have decided she might have what it takes to join their ranks. "

Sequel to Dead on the Delta which was on my top ten list for last year. Need I say more???

The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly

"From an incredible new voice in psychological suspense, a novel about the secrets that remain after a final bohemian summer of excess turns deadly.

This taut psychological thriller begins when Karen and her nine-year- old daughter, Alice, pick up Rex from a ten-year stint in prison for murder. Flash back to the sultry summer in 1990s London when Karen, a straight-A student on the verge of college graduation, first meets the exotic, flamboyant Biba and joins her louche life in a crumbling mansion in Highgate. She begins a relationship with Biba's enigmatic and protective older brother, Rex, and falls into a blissful rhythm of sex, alcohol, and endless summer nights. Naïvely, Karen assumes her newfound happiness will last forever. But Biba and Rex have a complicated family history-one of abandonment, suicide, and crippling guilt-and Karen's summer of freedom is about to end in blood. "

I've had this one on my radar for awhile now but I saw a review at Coffee and a Book Chick and decided that I just couldn't wait any longer to read it. I put it on hold at the library and am eagerly waiting for it come in.

There you have it....some of the books that I am just waiting to get my hands on in the near future. Books, books, and more books! I'm going to drown in books one of these days :) What are you looking forward to reading this year??

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Goals and Challenges

2012 reading goals.....I have none. I'm sure there are many things that I would like to accomplish like reading more, reviewing more, etc. but when it came down to it I couldn't think of a single goal that I just HAD to accomplish. I really liked what Andi from Estella's Revenge said about blogging passionately and reading deliberately. I like the sound of that... I think that as long as I am enjoying what I'm reading and finding time to read then that will be what is important for me in 2012.

Personal goal wise, I would like to begin some other projects. Like ACTUALLY print pictures off of my camera. Take more photos. Make a blanket for each of my kids. Begin a scrapbook. Work on organizing my recipes (thanks to Trish for the great idea). Eat healthier. Work out on a regular basis. De-clutter my house. Read more with my kids. It's the little things but they are all important so I'm going to focus on them this year :)

Finally, as usual I'm going to go overboard and join in on some challenges. I'm hoping to focus on participating in group reads and book group reads this year because I really enjoyed the ones that I found last year. But reading for me is community and I couldn't resist joining in on some challenges as well. I'm going to cheat though and just list the names of the challenges that I plan on joining in on.
  • Merely Mystery Challenge- 12 books (one for each mystery genre)
  • 100+ Reading Challenge- I haven't really come close but still...
  • 2nd Reading Challenge
  • First in a Series Challenge
  • Death by Gaslight Reading Challenge
  • Horror & Urban Fantasy Challenge
  • Mystery & Suspense Challenge
  • Romance Reading Challenge
  • Witches and Witchcraft Reading Challenge
  • Chunkster Reading Challenge
  • New Author Challenge

And that's all I can think of for right now. I'm sure there will be more. And I do plan to continue participating in readathons since I had so much fun doing them last year. I'm sure that 2012 is going to be a jam packed year....so bring on the books!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Blood Bound by Rachel Vincent (thoughts)

Blood Bound is the beginning to a very interesting urban fantasy series. Liv Warren lives in a very dangerous world where the city is controlled by two different power houses and their leaders. Liv is a skilled blood tracker who tries to stay on the outside fringes of the city and live in the neutral zone. Unfortunately, her talents have brought her to the attention of both sides of the city, and a friend from childhood brings her in the midst of a heap of trouble. But the trouble really begins when her ex-lover Cam Cabellero shows up....

Blood Bound was everything that a good urban fantasy should be. Vincent has created a unique, dangerous world that swept me away within the story. Liv lives in a city that is basically ruled by two "mob like" bosses who both want her skills under their control. These bosses use "binders" (another type of skill that certain individuals have) to bind people with prized skills to them to help keep them under their control. This caused a constant tension throughout the story that had me reading this book as fast as I could. Liv had a skill talent that was stronger than most which had me curious as to how it will play out in future books. And in typical Vincent style, the author kept me off balance as there were many surprising twists and turns that I definitely didn't expect throughout the book. I liked the idea that there were different skills that people could have and I am looking forward to learning more about these skills in future books. The whole world and storyline was such a unique concept. I just loved it! The ending of the book blew me out of the water. It took me by complete surprise and left me wanting more.

All in all, this was a great addition to the urban fantasy genre and a great beginning to this series! This book was SO close to landing on my top 10 reads from last year.....and I can't wait to read the second book when it comes out. Highly recommended to fans of urban fantasy.

Bottom Line: A must read for urban fantasy fans!

Disclosure: I checked this one out at my local library!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Top 10 Reads of 2011

Whew! I'll admit to being a bit stunned that 2011 is already at an end. I feel like it has just flown by. I had a solid year of reading in 2011 and was able to finish 62 books. Almost the exact same number of books as last year which I found to be amusing. 2009 remains as my best year of reading ever (since I started keeping track anyways). It may not be a huge number of books that I finished this year, but I enjoyed most of what I read and I only set aside one book as a DNF. I did a top ten list last year for the first time and have really enjoyed looking back on my favorite reads of the year...so of course I'm going to do it again :) In no particular order, here are my favorites reads from 2011.

Feed by Mira Grant- This one was a no-brainer for me (pun intended..ha ha). I cried at the end of this book....cried. It is my ABSOLUTELY favorite zombie book ever and I enjoyed it so much that I've hesitated to read the second book. Because how can it possibly live up to Feed??

Cold Magic by Kate Elliott- Elliott swept me up in a world filled with mages and magic. And although it was a chunkster I took no notice and was caught up in its' many twists and turns. Another amazing beginning to a trilogy that I'm anxious to continue on with.

Graveminder by Melissa Marr- I've seen some mixed reviews for this one but I absolutely adored it. Marr created a unique world that kept me engrossed throughout and I'm eager for more. And Marr has gone on my auto buy list (along with the rest of these authors of course).

Affinity by Sarah Waters- I've heard bloggers sing Waters' praises for awhile now so I joined in on Andi's readalong this year. I'm now a huge fan as Affinity was filled with some of the things I love best including a creepy prison, a gothic feel, and atmosphere in spades. I've already added another book by Waters to my shelves :)

Dead on the Delta by Stacey Jay- I loved this book beyond words!!! Jay has created such a dark and gritty world and the main character fits right in. I opened up this book and instantly didn't want to put it down. I CANNOT wait for the 2nd book to come out in the new year.

C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton- This may be cheating a bit as in 2011 I came to realize that Sue Grafton's alphabet mystery series was fast becoming one of my favorites. I love Kinsey's character and find the books to be a breath of fresh air. Love. So far C is for Corpse is my favorite of the series but I would include them all in my top ten if I could :)

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson- Hands down this was one of the best thrillers that I read all year. I stayed up late into the night to finish it and trust me when I say that I was still thinking about it a week later. I'm looking forward to reading anything/everything the author writes in the future. LOL!

Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep- Spider's Bite is one of those books that languished on my shelf for way too long, and I absolutely loved every single page of it when I finally picked it up. It was such an amazing beginning to this urban fantasy series, and I can't wait to read more about Gin and her adventures!

Phoenix Rising (A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel) by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris- I have a huge love for the steampunk genre and this book was such a treat to read. Two great main characters on a whirlwind adventure....what's not to love??? The 2nd book is supposed to be out in 2012 and I can't wait!

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson- Hands down this was my favorite YA read of the year. Johnson created such a great character in Rory, and I loved the atmosphere that was created with the "Rippermania" that was present throughout the story. This was a first in a new series as well and I'll be waiting impatiently for the 2nd book to come out.

So here you have it...my top 10 reads of 2011. This was harder than I thought as there were a lot of other great books that I had to leave off my list. I'm planning on writing up a reading goals post for 2012 this week and to share which (if any) challenges I'm joining. I'm loving reading everyone's anticipated 2012 reads so I might do one of those as well :) I hope that everyone has a wonderful 2012 and here is to looking forward to what it may have in store. Possibilities... :)