Friday, May 30, 2014

Format: ARC
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Pages: 352 pages
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: The Lost #1
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
When Lauren receives some bad news about her mother’s already deteriorating health, she needs to get away and clear her head; an aimless drive to nowhere sounds perfect. But after she gets caught up in a blinding dust storm, she pulls off the road and ends up in a small town called Lost. She is immediately wary of the town’s strange inhabitants: the eternal six year-old ballerina, wielding a knife; the perennial 1980s prom queen; the former CEO digging through the garbage for a lucky penny. Like everyone else there, Lauren quickly discovers once you arrive in Lost you can’t ever leave—not until you find what you have lost. Scared and anxious to get home, Lauren has to dig deep to find what she is missing or remain separated from her mother forever.

The Lost is Sarah Beth Durst's first adult novel and, like in her YA novels, she once again takes us on a unique adventure in a strange yet brilliantly crafted world. Seriously, you guys, Ms. Durst can do no wrong. Every book I've read by her (granted I haven't read everything she had written but I've read quite a few including Ice, Drink Slay Love and Enchanted Ivy) was superbly written and The Lost was no exception.

The premise of The Lost is simple enough: a woman, Lauren, received word that her mother's already deteriorating health had taken a turn for the worse. She needed to clear her mind so instead of turning on to the street she typically takes to go to work, she instead turned the opposite way and just kept driving. Soon, she found herself caught in a dust storm and wound up in a very strange town called Lost. Lauren quickly found out that Lost was unlike any other town. It was literally a place where all the lost things, including people, in the world go. The only way a person can leave the town was if they can figure out and find what they had lost. Lauren must dig deep inside herself to figure out what she had lost or she'll be stuck in Lost forever.

That was the basic premise that I got before I started reading the novel. I didn't quite know how the story was going to go or who the other characters were. I don't like going into a story blind but the writing was so good that I kept going and I'm so glad I did. 

Lauren was your every-girl. We've kind of been where she was in life. She had a job she's not quite happy with but it pays the bills and lived an unassuming life until her mother got sick and moved in with her. Lauren felt heavy with responsibility, sadness, worry and she couldn't really talk to anyone because she's drifted off from her friends. When she got stranded in Lost, she reacted how I would react if I were in her shoes: a mix of disbelief, fear, confusion, sadness, panic, hopelessness and needing to get out of there before she missed her mother completely. She was an easy character to like.

Two people took Lauren in after she unintentionally angered the townspeople. One is the beautiful and mysterious Peter who ran around with his long black trench coat, no shirt underneath. He had feather tattoos on his body, spoke in riddles and answered a question with a question. The other is Claire, a young girl who carried a stuffed toy in one hand and a knife in another. Both were very interesting characters.

The story was bleak, with Lauren stuck in this strange, rundown town filled with lost things and its unfriendly inhabitants. Is there even hope for Lauren to get out and get back to her sick mother before it's too late? Or is she stuck in Lost forever?  If she does find a way out, it will mean leaving the two people she had grown to care for, Peter and Claire.

The Lost was a dark, unusual read and in the wrong hands it would have been a frustrating and confusing one, but Sarah Beth Durst makes it so easy to follow with her lyrical writing and deft storytelling. It drew me in in a way I wasn't expecting and I cannot wait to read book two, which is called The Missing. However, I don't think it's a book for everyone. The pacing is slower and it is a retrospective, contemplative kind of read rather than an action-packed, race-through-the-pages type.

If you love Sarah Beth Durst's novels, you have to pick up The Lost. I guarantee you'll enjoy it. If you're new to Sarah's books, I suggest starting with her YA novels, particularly Ice (Leslie also suggest Vessel) to get a feel for her writing. If you're a YA reader, don't let the adult label deter you from picking up The Lost--it can be enjoyed by both a YA and adult audience.

Hi Sarah! Welcome back to our blog. Can you please describe Lauren Chase, the main character in The Lost?

Lauren feels empty. She's twenty-seven, and her life hasn't turned out the way she imagined. She's working a dead-end job, she's drifted apart from her friends, and her mother (who is her best friend) is sick. On the day that her mother is supposed to get the results of her latest medical tests, Lauren gets into her car to drive to work and instead of turning left at the light, drives straight. There's a part of her that feels that if she isn't there to hear the bad news, then the bad news can't happen. So she drives and drives until she runs out of gas in a town called Lost. Problem is, once you're in Lost, you can't leave. It's a town full of lost things and lost people, and no one can leave until they've found what they lost.

How is Lauren different from your other female characters? How did you get inside her head while writing her character?

A lot of my characters are kick-butt, take-no-prisoners heroes. Liyana from Vessel is determined, practical, and brave and intent on single-handedly saving her entire clan. Pearl from Drink, Slay, Love is evil and fabulous. Cassie from Ice would rather dive into the Arctic Ocean than admit defeat. But Lauren... She's not a hero. When we meet her, she's running from her life. And all she wants to do, after she realizes she's trapped, is get back to it.

Getting inside her head was an emotional experience. The POV for this book is very, very tight. It's told in first-person present tense. Every sentence is a breath. So I tried to breathe with Lauren as I wrote. I laughed with her when she laughed, and I cried with her when she cried.

The whole thing required a lot of chocolate.

You always write such unique settings in your YA novels and it's no different in THE LOST (your first adult novel). How do you flesh out the setting in your novels? Do you draw maps, collect pictures or is everything all in your head? Is your process different in every book you write?

I loved creating the town of Lost. In fact, it was the first thing I did, before I had a character or a plot or anything. I had this idea for a town of lost things, and so I began with a three-page, single-spaced list of everything that could possibly be lost: socks, shoes, keys, umbrellas, cell phones, dogs, children, dreams, memories, minds... And then I built the town from there.

With some books, the world grows out of the characters. But in this one, the characters definitely grew out of the world.

Lauren ended up in a place where all lost things go. What things might she find there that belonged to you?

I've lost a lot of earrings over the years. If I see Lauren wearing a gecko on one ear and a blue butterfly on the other, I'll know she's found my stuff.

What is your favorite scene or favorite quote in The Lost?

My personal favorite moment:

Glancing back, I see the mob has spilled back onto the street. They are watching me. So far, they aren't following, but that could change. "If you know a place to hide..."

The girl switches direction, pulling me into the alley between the barber shop and a decrepit triple-decker house. She still doesn't speak.

I don't know why I'm trusting her. "Are you helping me, or dragging me someplace private to cut me to pieces and feed me to your teddy bear? Just curious."

The girl looks at me with her wide eyes. "My name is Claire. And my teddy bear is not hungry today."

Thanks so much for interviewing me!


A huge thank you to Sarah for answering all of my questions. For more info about Sarah and her books, stop by her website and chat with her on Twitter.

And don't forget to add The Lost!

I really hope you guys pick up The Lost (or, if not the lost, then one of her other novels). Sarah is truly one of my all-time favorite authors. She just have a way with words that is so smooth like butter and so lyrical that her books are a treat to read.

Happy reading,

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Blog Tour: Adrianne Lee's Delectable Excerpt

Thursday, May 29, 2014 with
Hello everyone,
Today is the

I have an excerpt for you all. But first, if you're not familiar with Delectable, here's the synopsis.

Montana real estate agent Quint McCoy will tell you that the most important thing is location, location, location. It's a lesson he learns all too well when he goes incommunicado for a four-week fishing trip to Alaska. While he's away, his mother Molly turns his office into the pie shop she has always dreamed of, Big Sky Pie. But that's not the only surprise in store for him.

On her way out of town, Callee McCoy only wants to say a fond farewell to her beloved mother-in-law. But Molly soon persuades Callee to stay and lend a hand at the new shop, even if it means heating up the kitchen with her soon-to-be ex. As Callee and Quint rediscover their recipe for love, they realize that some couples are so sinfully good together that one delectable taste is never enough...

The excerpt.

She wiped her hands on the chef coat and then gripped the handles of the marble rolling pin. They felt like ice against her hands, while Quint’s breath felt like a summer breeze on the back of her neck. He said, “Okay, now start at the center and roll toward the edge, keeping the pressure even."

She started, then inexplicably froze. His hands came down on hers as he leaned over her, their bodies spooned. Her heart began to race. His cheek touched hers, his mouth near her ear, his voice husky. “Keep the pressure even. Like this. That’s right.”

He leaned into her and away from her with each extended roll, his body heat like a comforter she wanted to snuggle. She didn’t mean to nuzzle his head, but she did, and the next thing she knew...

“Oh, God, Callee,” Quint groaned, spinning her into his arms, his mouth finding hers, his body meeting hers. A fiery rain of irresistible sensations washed through her, burning away her resistance.

She kissed him with all the need she’d suppressed for months and months and tore at his chef ’s coat as he tore at hers, their lips locked in an ever-deepening reunion. His hands were in her hair, hers were in his. He tasted of red wine and Thai food and smelled even better. Her sweater vanished, followed by her bra, and his shirt, his belt, his jeans. He pulled her naked torso to his, eliciting a gasp of pure pleasure at the ached-for feel of his body. Her nipples were rock hard against his chest, his arousal against her thighs.

She didn’t remember kicking off her boots, or her jeans, or her panties. Every breath, every touch, raised her higher and higher toward the heavens, and she didn’t want it to ever stop.

Quint swept the parchment paper, pie crust, flour, and rolling pin from the island. The ensuing crash brought Callee to her senses with a bang. Dear God, what was she doing? She shoved against Quint’s shoulders, tore her lips from his and pushed him away, panting. “No. No. I don’t want this.”

“Could’ve fooled me.” His words came out in a breathless rasp.

Callee gathered her clothes, tugging them on, humiliation and embarrassment scorching her insides. She glanced at the mess on the floor. It was just like their marriage. It had started out as something wonderful and ended up thrown away. She left him standing there, naked, aroused, and making no attempt to cover himself. He looked perplexed and angry and sexier than any of her memories.
Delectable is the first book in the Big Sky Pie series, which is the name of the pie show owned by the hero of this book Quint's mom.

I have read Delectable but I am going to hold off posting my review until after the blog tour because it is quite rant-y. For now, read the synopsis and the excerpt and let me know what you think. I gotta say though, Delectable made me hungry for cherry pie--so hungry that I spent quite some time staring at pies in Whole Foods last weekend while I was reading it.

For more info about author Adrianne Lee and her novels, including the other books in the Big Sky Pie series, stop by her website and chat with her on Twitter.

Forever Romance/Hachette is having a special giveaway as part of this blog tour. Feel free to enter their giveaway in the Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy reading,

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hello fellow romantics,
We have a special guest today, author Roxanne St. Claire! She is no stranger to our blog--she have featured her Barefoot Bay books last year. Besides contemporary romance, she also writes fantastic romantic suspense including the Guardian Angelinos series which we have also featured here in the past.

Today, she will be talking about her new contemporary trilogy called the Barefoot Bay Brides. The books are about three women who run a destination wedding service but haven't found their own happily ever after. Yet.

The trilogy is the perfect summer read! Read our interview with the author to find out more about the books.


Can you tell us a little about the Barefoot Bay series for our readers who are new to the series, as well as tell us about the new Barefoot Bay Brides trilogy?
With a total of 8 stories set on this fictional island off the Gulf Coast of Florida, I’m starting to feel like Barefoot Bay is a very real place! There have certainly been a lot of kisses, beach walks, proposals, and sexy times on these white sands. The first four books in the series centered on four women friends who come together after a hurricane ravages the area to help one of them build a small resort hotel. Eventually, they each move to Barefoot Bay and take a role in running the resort, and each woman has a love story. Of course the resort attracts some intriguing guests, so I wrote a trilogy of long novellas (The Barefoot Bay Billionaires) about three wealthy men who come to the island and have their lives and hearts changed. And naturally, there will be destination weddings staged at the resort, so for the Barefoot Bay Brides, we have three wedding planners who’ve yet to find their happily ever afters. But that’s about to change with the next three novels.

What is your favorite thing about writing the Barefoot Bride Bay series (as opposed to the other Barefoot novels)?
The resort is up and running and active now, so there’s no more worrying about what stage of building we’re in or how successful the enterprise is going to be. Of course I love pulling in some of the previous books’ characters for cameo appearances and I love having the focus of the heroine’s lives centered around weddings.

Barefoot in White tells the story of Willow and Nick's journey to happily ever after. How is this couple different from the other couples in the Barefoot series? Did you have any challenges while you were writing about them that was unique from writing the other novels in the series?
There are always challenges! Willow is a former “big” girl who has lost 120 pounds since she last saw Nick, when they were in college. So, capturing the essence of a person who’s been through that kind of transformation -- but still has yet to tackle the “inner” transformation (that’s where Nick comes in) -- was definitely a hurdle for me. Also, the hero in the book is trying his hand at writing a novel and I’ve never tackled a “writer” character before. That was both fun and daunting. The heroine becomes his “muse” and critiques his work, so I was able to channel a lot of my own insecurities into those scenes, which made them more lively and fun, I hope.

For long time fans of the Barefoot series, who can we expect to make a cameo in the new trilogy? Are we also going to be meeting new characters?
Lacey and Tessa show up in Barefoot in White, and I’m sure all of the couples from previous books will get a page or two, as it fits the story. (I’m still writing the second book in the trilogy, so I’m not certain who it will be yet.) Of course we’ll meet new characters! That’s the fun part for me.

The new trilogy focus on a bridal company run by three women. Did you do wedding research? Any interesting facts that came up through your research?
I met with a wedding planner prior to writing the series and asked a lot of questions about the job, to capture the essence of what is entailed. One thing I learned is that every bride can be a pain in the butt, LOL! It’s a stressful day, with incredibly high expectations, and a lot of that stress falls on the planners. So I use that element a lot in the story, giving the three heroines lots of jokes about managing bridezillas. (And Mother of the Bridezillas.)

Can you give us a little taste of Barefoot in White via a short (and maybe steamy) excerpt?

“I could have lied,” Willow said. And maybe she should have, because Nick’s gutted expression made her remember how she felt when something she said, did, wanted, or wore didn’t stand up to her mother’s rigorous expectations. “But that book’s too good to lie.”

“You just said it sucked.”

“No, no.” She shook her head vehemently. “I did not. I said it could be even better. Would I be out here cooling myself off if that make-out scene didn’t...affect me?”

And by affect, she meant turn her entire lower half into a pool of liquid lust. His language was evocative and tantalizing, the imagery completely sexy without being corny.

“It affected you?” A spark of hope lit his eyes, but she didn’t get to enjoy it, because he snagged the bottom of his T-shirt and ripped it over his head. Speaking of evocative and tantalizing…

His abs were so defined, there were shadows in between the muscle cuts. His chest, damp with sweat, heaved with a deep breath, drawing her gaze to the blue ink near his left shoulder, the semicircle that represented the earth and single star high above it.

This wasn’t the first time she’d seen a fan with the Zenith album graphic tattooed on him, but it was definitely the first time she’d had the urge to...lick it.

He toed off his sneakers and tipped his head toward the water. “I’m hot.”

No kidding.

“I’m going in.”

“Suit yourself.”

“Actually…” He pulled at the waistband of his sweats. “Unsuit myself is more appropriate.”

Her jaw unhinged. “You’re going in naked?”

“You’ve seen it before.”

“Doesn’t mean I want to see it again.” Liar, liar. But, still, after reading that kiss, she wasn’t sure her libido could stand the pressure.

“I hate clothes.”

Just her luck. She leaned back on her palms, squinting up at him. “Sadly, our society requires them.”

He thumbed his sweats lower, revealing more skin and muscle. “If it offends you, look away. I’ll be in the pool in a second.”

“I don’t think the word is ‘offend.’”

She waited for his grin or quip, but his expression was still dark. He inched the sweats down, following that sweet strip of dark hair, sliding over those narrow hips, across the ripped muscles that led right to...

She really ought to close her eyes. Or turn her head. Or peel off her dress and join him.

“You’re killing me, Nick,” she admitted.

“Punishment for hating my book.”

“Oh, yeah, looking at you bare-ass naked is absolute torture.”

Finally, he smiled. “As bad as the book?”

“Would you stop? I didn’t hate it. I think it’s amazing and could be even more amazing.”

He didn’t answer, but in one smooth move, he dove into the deep end in a way that gave her a perfect view of his ass. Which, even upside-down, made her mouth go bone dry.

Thank you to Roxanne St. Claire for answering our questions and providing that funny/steamy excerpt. We can't wait to read more!

Just fyi, the Barefoot Bay Brides novels are available on Amazon, B&N, Google Play and your other favorite online e-book retailers. You can also check out the full synopsis and reader reviews of Barefoot in White on Goodreads.

Roxanne St. Claire Bio
Roxanne St. Claire is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty novels of suspense and romance, including three popular series (Barefoot Bay, The Bullet Catchers, and The Guardian Angelinos) and multiple stand alone books. In addition to being a six-time nominee and one-time winner of the RITA Award, Roxanne’s novels have won the National Reader’s Choice Award for best romantic suspense three times, as well as the Daphne du Maurier Award, the HOLT Medallion, the Maggie, Booksellers Best, Book Buyers Best, the Award of Excellence, and many others. Her books have been translated into dozens of languages and are routinely included as a Doubleday/Rhapsody Book Club Selection of the Month.

Roxanne lives in Florida with her family, and can be reached via her website, or on her Facebook Reader page, and on Twitter at

Happy reading,

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hello everyone,
It was a crazy week for us that ended in a celebration because Leslie graduated from high school!!
Yep, sometimes floaties are an alternative to leis to give after graduations. It's a Hawaii thing.
Yay!!!! Congratulations Les! She's one of the valedictorians and I'm soooo proud of her. In a few months she's leaving me and going off to college. But we have the summer to party... ahem... read it up.

Because of the craziness, there were only two posts this week.
My first Susan Mallery book and I liked it a lot.

It has many of my buzz words: sisters, mystery, delusions, cryptic diary entries... I'm pretty sure I'm going to like it.

Michelle: I just finished Julie James' It Happened One Wedding and I absolutely loved it. I'm sad that I'll have to wait another year for a new book by Julie (she only publishes one book per year). Her books are always such a treat to read. I am starting Sarah Beth Durst's The Lost (the first book in her new series for adults) later tonight.

Leslie: I'm currently reading Easy by Tammara Webber and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell on my phone.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (bought)
I have The Raven Boys but I haven't read it. Eventually, I will though so I thought I'd just get book 2.
Breakable by Tammara Webber (bought)
I loved Easy (I'm making Leslie read it) so I have to read Breakable.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell (won)
I haven't won anything in a while and then this appeared on my door because I won it. Yay!!

Giving In by Maya Banks (for review)
I got a finished copy of Giving In but I already reviewed it a few weeks back. Read my thoughts about it and an excerpt of Giving In here.
The Book of Storms by Ruth Hatfield (ARC for review)
A middle grade novel that sounds really, really good. Read the synopsis.

What new books did you guys get? I wanna see! Leave your STS* link so I can come gush over them.

Happy reading,
Michelle & Leslie

*Stacking the Shelves, or STS, is hosted by Tynga's Reviews

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I love the cover and the title of this novel. Those were the first two things that made me take notice of Of Scars and Stardust. Then, I read the description and it has many of my buzz words: sisters, mystery, delusions, cryptic diary entries...

After her little sister mysteriously vanishes, seventeen-year-old Claire Graham has a choice to make: stay snug in her little corner of Manhattan with her dropout boyfriend, or go back to Ohio to face the hometown tragedy she's been dying to leave behind.

But the memories of that night still haunt her in the city, and as hard as she tries to forget what her psychiatrist calls her "delusions," Claire can't seem to escape the wolf's eyes or the blood-speckled snow. Delusion or reality, Claire knows she has to hold true to the most important promise she's ever made: to keep Ella safe. She must return to her sleepy hometown in order to find Ella and keep her hallucinations at bay before they strike again. But time is quickly running out, and as Ella's trail grows fainter, the wolves are becoming startlingly real.

Now Claire must deal with her attraction to Grant, the soft-spoken boy from her past that may hold the secret to solving her sister's disappearance, while following the clues that Ella left for only her to find. Through a series of cryptic diary entries, Claire must unlock the keys to Ella's past—and her own—in order to stop another tragedy in the making, while realizing that not all things that are lost are meant to be found.

Of Scars and Stardust 
will be released on October 8, 2014. Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.

What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Leave us a comment with a link so we can check your WoW of the week too.

"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series we do here on Wednesdays. It will feature books we are very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is basically the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, but we just like the title "books we covet" better. We will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Format: Mass Market
Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 352 pages
Release Date: April 29, 2014
Source of my copy: Meryl Moss Media Relations
Series: Fool's Gold #13
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery invites you back to Fool's Gold, where a newcomer to town might finally meet the man she never knew she needed…
Angel Whittaker earned his scars the hard way, but the scars that can't be seen are the ones that haunt him the most. Since he moved to Fool's Gold, California, he's cobbled together a life for himself as a bodyguard trainer. If he's not exactly happy, at least his heart is safe.
Working with pro-football superstars taught tough-talking PR woman Taryn Crawford one thing—she can go toe to toe with any man. But then dark, dangerous former Special Ops Angel targets her for seduction…and challenges her to resist his tempting kisses.
Even in four-inch heels, Taryn never backs down. Unless, somehow, Angel can convince her that surrender might feel even better than victory.

When We Met was my first Susan Mallery novel and I don't know why I waited so long to pick up any of her books, especially her Fool's Gold series books. When I think of similar books, Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor series and Carly Phillips' Serendipity's Finest series comes to mind. 

I liked When We Met. It was a slice of life kind of read--no mystery to solve, no crazy antics of a dead relative trying to play matchmaker from beyond the grave, etc. Just life in a small-town and it follows two people who were not looking to fall in love (but do), and their day-to-day jobs and friends. It was nice and relaxing to read it.

I really enjoy small town romances and Fool's Gold was a great town to be in. It was great meeting the townspeople, like wily Mayor Marsha, the friendly women (who starred in their own novels in previous Fool's Gold books) who embraced Taryn and quickly took her into their fold, and the hardworking men (who didn't make as much of an impression as the women, at least in this novel).

The focus of the story were Angel (our hero, whose name threw me off a little in the beginning) and Taryn (our very stylish heroine). Angel was a former military sniper and a widower who lost his wife and teenaged son in a car accident a few years ago. Taryn was new in town, after she and her business partners moved their PR business to Fool's Gold. Angel and Taryn started dating, though neither of them had any plans for anything serious. Angel still felt guilt over his wife and son's accident and Taryn, because she was abused by her alcoholic father when she was young, didn't feel she had it in her to fall in love. 

Taryn and Angel were great, likable characters. I loved the scenes with Angel, Taryn and the FWM (Future Warriors of the Maa-zib--similar to Girl Scouts) girls. Angel wanted to volunteer in town and Mayor Marsha thought he'd be a great FWM Grove Keeper for the Acorns, which turned out to be a group of seven-year-old girls. Soon the big, scarred ex-Special Ops was learning to French braid with help from Taryn. The scenes with Angel, Taryn and the girls were so, so cute and brought a smile to my face.

I really liked how Taryn and Angel's relationship progressed. They were older (mid- to late thirties) and they were established in their careers and they had a calmness about them that I really liked. It wasn't all fire and drama and shenanigans that I'm used to with younger characters (new adult novels I'm looking at you) in other contemporary romances that I've been reading lately, but it doesn't lack for chemistry and heat. I was pleasantly surprised that the sex scenes were pretty steamy--I had it in my head that sex scenes in Susan Mallery's books are written in a way where much is left to the reader's imagination but it's actually more like a Nora Roberts or a Cathy Maxwell.

After reading When We Met, I am definitely going to be picking up more of the Fool's Gold books. I'm especially really excited for the follow-up books to this one because they will feature Taryn's ex-football player business partners--all three made an impression in this novel. When We Met was a sweet, light, romantic contemporary read that took me away from reality for a little while. Read When We Met if you need a romantic pick-me-up on a lazy weekend or bring it to the beach with you--it's a good summer read. 

This scene** was during one of Angel and Taryn's dates. Angel just found out what he got himself into when he signed up to volunteer to be a Grove Keeper and what the job entailed.
"You know that old saying 'no good deed goes unpunished'?"

She nodded.

"A couple of weeks ago I talked to Mayor Marsha about getting involved in town. I wanted a volunteer activity."

And the surprises kept on coming, Taryn thought.

Angel's expression turned sheepish. "It's how I was raised. Small town, people took care of each other. Once I knew I was staying here, I wanted to be helping people. She suggested the Future Warriors of the Maa-zib."

Taryn laughed. "Future what? Are you serious? Is this weapons training for teenaged boys?"

"I wish. I figured it was a program for young men." He hesitated for a second, making her think there was something he wasn't telling her, but then he continued. "There are stages. Acorns, Sprouts and so on up to Mighty Oaks. The adult is called a Grove Keeper."

Angel was a big, scary guy. He had scars and secrets and he was the last person she could imagine volunteering to work with children. The fact that he had done so made her even more interested in him.

"Good for you. So what's the problem? I can't imagine you being worried about a bunch of unruly boys."

Angel shifted on his seat. "They're not boys. They're girls. Little girls. My Acorns are seven-year-old girls. They ear beads for activities. The keeper handbook is pink. He began to speak faster and the tone of his voice tightened. "They're supposed to learn regular stuff like knots and map reading, but there are also beads for face painting and families and..." He paused, then shuddered. "The feminine cycle."

Taryn was relieved their drinks hadn't arrived yet, because if she'd been drinking, she knew she would have started to choke. As it was, laughter spilled our of her. "The feminine cycle?"

He glared at her. "It's not funny."

"Oh yeah. It is."

**The excerpt is from an Advance Reader's Copy edition of When We Met and may be subject to change in the final edition.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

New Books + Weekly Wrap-up

Sunday, May 18, 2014 with
Hello bookish friends,
It was a long, tiring week for me. My job is really stressing me out with all the things I need to do before summer vacation starts in two weeks. It was really hard to read and blog this week. I did put up a couple of posts from this week.

Just what the title says.

I LOVED the epic These Broken Stars so much and I can't wait for this one! And have you guys seen the cover? It's kinda amazing.

I also got some books. The first three are ones I purchased.

The One by Kiera Cass
[I now have all 3 books in the series and I have no excuse not to start the series.]
It Happened One Wedding by Julie James
[A Julie James novel is always such a treat. I wish she'd publish more than one novel a year.]
Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins
[Same with The Selection series, I now have all 3 books in Sweet Evil series. Hopefully, I can start the series soon.]

Blue Notes by Carrie Lofty (for review)
[I really like the look and sound of Blue Notes. I hope it delivers.]
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry (for review)
[An middle grade novel that just sounds so delightful that I had to check it out.]
A High, Hard Land by Tory Cates (unsolicited)

What new books did you guys get? I wanna see! Leave your STS* link so I can come gush over them.

Happy reading,

*Stacking the Shelves, or STS, is hosted by Tynga's Reviews

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I've coveted This Shattered World for a long time, since I read devoured These Broken Stars, the first book in the trilogy. But I waited to feature it until the cover was revealed and that time is now! The cover was released yesterday and it's freakin' fantastic.

Oh, and if you haven't read These Broken Stars (seriously, what are you waiting for?), no worries because This Shattered World is a companion instead of a direct sequel. But you're going to want to read These Broken Stars anyway because it's THAT GOOD.

The second installment in our epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

The stunning second novel in the Starbound trilogy is an unforgettable story of love and forgiveness in a world torn apart by war.

This Shattered World 
will be released on December 23, 2014. Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.

What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Leave us a comment with a link so we can check your WoW of the week too.

"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series we do here on Wednesdays. It will feature books we are very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is basically the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, but we just like the title "books we covet" better. We will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hello bookish friends,
Back in January I wrote that I'm making it my mission to start reading and finish book series this year, especially ones that I already have.

Yeah. The plan is not going that well.

Ever since I bought the entire Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi and binged read all the books (including the two novellas) in a month, I was on a book high. BUT instead of reading the series books I already have, I bought even more series.

In the past couple of months, I've acquired:

The only one I've read so far in that stack was Throne of Glass (and I liked quite a bit). 

Seriously, when am I going to find the time to read all of this? Plus, all of the review books? Are two questions I keep asking myself and in which I have not answers to except that it's a book nerd thing this need to collect all the series.

Besides buying books I have no time to read, I also have other distractions. 

I cannot stop listening to Ed Sheeran's new song "All of the Stars" from the TFIOS soundtrack. I have this song on repeat since it was released on YouTube three days ago.

Such a beautiful, gorgeous song.

Speaking of TFIOS, we have last than a month left until the movie is out in theaters!! Eeeepp!! Leslie and I are planning on catching it opening night. We are so ready to cry our hearts out--or I'm ready with my packs of Kleenex since Leslie hardly ever cries in movies (or books). Ha! Maybe TFIOS will crack her stone heart.

And, speaking of YA movie adaptations, have you guys heard the movie news about The Duff, one of my all-time favorite YA contemporary reads?

Author Kody Keplinger announced yesterday on her Tumblr that two actresses had been cast for The Duff the movie: actress Mae Whitman will play Bianca and Bella Thorne will play Madison, who was not a character in the book. That's a red flag right there. There's definitely going to be significant changes in the movie from the book. I'm crossing my fingers that, despite the changes, the heart and soul that made me love novel will remain the same. Just please don't make it another Ella Enchanted book to movie disaster. Please, please don't make it another Ella Enchanted book to movie disaster. PLEASE...

Okay, enough about the big screen. Let's talk about the small screen, namely my favorite new TV show

I decide to give Orphan Black a go after a bunch of YA authors I follow on Twitter kept tweeting about it and urging other authors to check it out. Since I started watching last week, Orphan Black has taken over my life! When I am not reading, I am watching OB. I'm sure you guys have heard of it? Because the Interwebs have been a-buzzing about this show and O.M.G. YOU GUYS!!! This show is amazing. Addicting. So, so, so, so GOOD!! If you haven't, read about it here.

If you're not already, you HAVE to watch this show. If it wasn't for my job, I would've binge watched all the episodes in one go. All of last week, as soon as I got home from work, I go straight to my Amazon Prime watchlist and watch another episode. Sadly, season 2 is not available on Prime and I'm on the last episode so... yeah. I have to figure something out.

Alrighty. I'm off to work. Have a great Tuesday, everybody and as always...

Happy reading,

Saturday, May 10, 2014

New Books + Weekly Wrap-up

Saturday, May 10, 2014 with
Hello everyone,
We are soooooo excited for the books we got this week! But first, here are our posts this week. We posted just two this week.

In which I review Ditched by Robin Mellom and Heist Society (book 1) + Uncommon Criminals (book 2) by Ally Carter

This one is a retelling of The Nutcracker!

Here are the books we got this week.

It's almost the end of the school year so I decided to treat myself to some books using my Scholastic Reading Club points (a teacher perk). These are the books I got.
Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson
Poison by Bridget Zinn
Origin by Jessica Khoury
The Selection by Kiera Cass
The Elite by Kiera Cass
[I debated whether to pick up Cass's series but with all the talks about The One this week, I just had to know.]
Slated by Teri Terry
Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey
The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski
[I love Rutkoski's The Winner's Curse so I just have to check out other books she wrote.]

I requested three books that I am dying to read from Berkley Penguin and they were so generous to send me early copies of them.
My Beautiful Enemy by Sherry Thomas
Hillbilly Rockstar by Lorelei James
Then Came You by Jill Shalvis

We also got two e-ARCs this week.
Take Me On by Katie McGarry
Fast Track by Julie Garwood

What new books did you guys get? I wanna see! Leave your STS* link so I can come gush over them.

Happy reading,
Michelle (& Leslie)

*Stacking the Shelves, or STS, is hosted by Tynga's Reviews

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Book I Covet: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 with
Winterspell is inspired by The Nutcracker! And it sounds epic. I needz this in my hands now.

The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince... but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor's ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother's murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted--by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they're to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets--and a need she can't define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won't leave Cane unscathed--if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

will be released on September 30, 2014. Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.

What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Leave us a comment with a link so we can check your WoW of the week too.

"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series we do here on Wednesdays. It will feature books we are very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is basically the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, but we just like the title "books we covet" better. We will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hello everyone,
Today I'll be speed reviewing three books I read recently, like, within the last month. Coincidentally, they're all published by Disney. Cool.

Publisher: Disney
Pages: 275 pages
Release Date: January 10, 2012
Source of my copy: bought
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
When high school student Justina ends up in a ditch in the middle of the night after prom, she stumbles to a nearby 7-Eleven where she tries to recall exactly how she got there.
Michelle's Thoughts:
I remember really wanting to get my hands on Ditched when it first came out back in 2012. I think I requested it for review from the publisher but I didn't get a copy. I kept the title at the back of my mind, though, because the plot sounded really fun and funny. And I wanted to know how Justina ended up in a 7-Eleven dateless, with prom dress stained and ruined.

When I saw it for cheap online, I bought it and read it one afternoon. Maybe I built it up in my head but Ditched left me feeling meh after I read the last page. The storyline was unrealistic, with dramatic turn of events. I liked it and enjoyed well enough but it didn't make me laugh as much as I thought it would.

I didn't really connect with any of the characters. I didn't really care if Justina's white knight, Ian, showed up by the end of the novel with a grand gesture. I did like the friendship she formed with the two ladies at 7-Eleven as she told them about her knight.

Ultimately, I wasn't disappointed but Ditched was just one of those one those mindless reads that didn't roused anything from me. It was just an okay read.

Publisher: Disney
Pages: 287 pages
Release Date: February 9, 2010
Source of my copy: bought
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
A group of teenagers uses their combined talents to re-steal several priceless paintings and save fifteen-year-old Kat Bishop's father, himself an international art thief, from a vengeful collector.
Michelle's Thoughts:
Heist Society was another one of those "just okay" read.

I have had Heist Society on my bookshelf for years until I finally picked it up a few weeks ago. I was really excited to read it. My expectations were high to say the least because I've read many glowing reviews about Carter's books. And a group of teens pull a heist to steal priceless works of art Ocean's Eleven-style?! What's not to love?

Well, I was underwhelmed. I took me a bit to get used to Carter's voice--I was expecting a quirky, snarky voice and instead I got a flat, semi-wordy voice. From the description, I was expecting a sassy heroine with a slightly sarcastic-y voice. I was expecting a group of eccentric, slightly weird but brilliant group of thieves. There was some eccentricity and weirdness and brilliance but it didn't come through enough. The characters felt flat with no real zest to them and what they were doing. And I didn't feel any true connection to any of the characters.

Also, if you prefer YA novels with considerable romance, look elsewhere. There was romantic tension between Kat and Hale, but that was all. Just tension. I don't think they even kissed.

However, I did enjoy Heist Society enough to go on with the series. There were some very interesting, exciting parts. I wanted to see if they'd pull the heist off and the twists and turns kept things going that I was able to look past the bland-ish characters.

Publisher: Disney
Pages: 298 pages
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Source of my copy: bought
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
Fifteen-year-old Kat Bishop and her fellow talented teenagers work together to find and steal the "Cleopatra Emerald" from an unscrupulous dealer and return it to its rightful owner, while a former love of her Uncle Eddie tries to get the gem for herself.
Michelle's Thoughts:
I liked Uncommon Criminals much more than Heist Society. I was able to connect more with the characters, Kat and Hale especially. The new heist/adventure in this novel was just as twisty and exciting as the one in Heist Society and I was dying to know how everything will work out.

My biggest complaint from Heist Society was that the characters came off flat. In Uncommon Criminals, they (most especially Kat) came off more lively and animated. Kat was speaking up, making mistakes, learning from her mistakes and wanting to make right.

My only big issue was that I wanted more sweet moments between Kat and Hale and for them to be together, together. Talk about slow burn... well, that's Kat and Hale. But as much as I want them to get together already and have a grand romance, I did enjoy their friendship and that Hale had Kat's back no matter what.

Uncommon Criminals restored my interest in this series. I'm not in a big hurry to pick up book 3, Perfect Scoundrels, but I am definitely going to be reading it.

Happy reading,

Sunday, May 4, 2014

New Books + Weekly Wrap-up

Sunday, May 4, 2014 with
Hello bookish friends,
It was a great week for us in terms of new books AND blogging. Here are our posts in the last two weeks.

Leslie hardly cries when reading but this one made her cry rivers. 

A warrior princess who disguises herself as a boy? I'm sold!

A YA novel set after the sun becomes a "red giant." 
Includes my thoughts and a GIVEAWAY <<enter now!!

Perfect for those who likes their romantic suspense heavy on the suspense and light on the romance. Includes my thoughts and an excerpt.

Southern gothic. 'Nuff said.

Book 2 in Maya's new Surrender trilogy. It comes out next week Tuesday (5/6). Read my thoughts about it and get a sneak peek.

These are the new books we got in the last two weeks.

Physical books
I bought Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Princess and now I have the entire Infernal Devices series. It's time to start reading them! I also bought The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson.

I'm part of the blog tour for the new Fifth Avenue series (in which each book is written by a different author!): Avenge Me by Maisey Yates, Scandalize Me by Caitlin Crews and Expose Me by Kate Hewitt.

Flirting with Forever by Molly Cannon (unsolicited ARC)
Inn at Last Chance by Hope Ramsay (unsolicited ARC)
Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre (ARC for review)

E-ARCs via Edelweiss and Netgalley

HarperTeen had new slew of books available on Edelweiss so I downloaded the ones (the first 11 books listed below) I am dying to read.
Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot
On the Edge by Allison Van Diepen
Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez
Stray by Elissa Sussman
Forbidden by Kimberley Griffths Little

Blackbird by Anna Carey
Wild by Alex Mallory
Divided by Elsie Chapman (via Netgalley's Read Now)

Whisper to Me by Christina Lee (via Netgalley's Read Now)
The Wedding Secret by Jeannie Moon (via Netgalley's Read Now)

What new books did you guys get? I wanna see! Leave your STS* link so I can come gush over them.

Happy reading,
Michelle (& Leslie)

*Stacking the Shelves, or STS, is hosted by Tynga's Reviews

Friday, May 2, 2014

Format: ARC
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 320 pages
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Surrender Trilogy #2
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Kylie sees the way Jensen looks at her. The dark promise in his eyes. That rough edge of dominance she knows he possesses. But dominance is the one thing that frightens her above all else. She and her brother barely survived a childhood steeped in violence and abuse. She could never give up total control and submit to a man. Especially a man like Jensen. Could she?
Jensen sees the shadows in Kylie’s eyes. Knows he has to tread very carefully or risk losing any chance he has with her. All he wants is the opportunity to show her that dominance doesn’t equal pain, bondage or discipline. That emotional surrender is the most powerful of all, and that to submit—fully to him—will fulfill the aching void in her heart in a way nothing else ever will.

I quite enjoyed the first book in Maya Banks' Surrender trilogy, Letting Go (you can read my review here). But I liked Giving In a whole LOT more.

I felt that Letting Go grew repetitive because Dash and Joss were having the same conversation and inner dialogue over and over so I was worried I'd find the same in Giving In. But not at all.

Because Kylie had an awful, traumatic childhood because she was sexually abused by her father so had deep-seated issues, especially when it came to relationships. Right from the moment she met Jensen, she knew to be wary of him. Jensen wanted Kylie but he saw a beautiful and smart but very vulnerable woman and he knew must tread carefully to have any chance with her.

If you read Letting Go, you may remember Kylie as a prickly, wary person (especially when it came to men) but she really blossomed in this book. It was great watching her grow, become strong and finally start living. Jensen was patient with her and so sweet. I really enjoyed the two of them together.

With Kylie's issues, they didn't immediately have sex (they didn't actually, you know, "went all the way" until about 3/4 of the novel) so it's not as spicy and steamy as Maya's other novels. However, the chemistry between the two main characters are still there. I actually loved the slow burn between Kylie and Jensen. I loved that the focus wasn't on the sex but on building trust between the two of them and Kylie's growth. Jensen too had abuse in his past and they were able to lean and support each other. I liked the whole running theme of "dominance does not always mean bondage and pain." I'm not a fan of BDSM in my reads anyway so Giving In was just my cup of tea.

I liked that the ending was not tied up in a neat little bow--it would've been unrealistic if it was because with Kylie and Jensen's issues do not disappear overnight. Instead, it was open-ended enough without sacrificing that happily ever after we as readers want in our romances.

This scene happened early on in the story.**

**The excerpt is from an ARC edition of Giving In and may be subject to change in the final edition.