Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Heather Demetrios is one of my favorite authors. Her debut novel Something Real was amazing. And her sophomore novel Exquisite Captive sounds unlike anything I've read before so I have high expectations and high hopes. I'll Meet You There sounds like my kind of read and I know it's going to be awesome.

If seventeen-year-old Skyler Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage-months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings them together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

Gritty, romantic, and ultimately hopeful, I'll Meet You There explores the complicated lives of an unforgettable cast of characters. This is the story of teens outside the picket fence. It doesn’t soften the edges of adolescence or the individual consequences of war; it’s life on the fringes—maddening, weirdly endearing…and completely screwed up.

I'll Meet You There will be released on February 3, 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, July 29, 2014

Hello everyone,
Today I'll be speed reviewing a new adult title, a steamy novella and a small-town romance.

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: 320 pages
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Source of my copy: eARC via publisher
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
What happens when a girl who always calls the shots meets a guy who's too wild for even her? A born flirt and good-time party girl, Emerson has never had a problem finding a willing guy. She's always chosen her hookups carefully, and she's never broken her three cardinal rules: Never let them see the real you. Never fall in love. Always leave them begging for more. Then Shaw comes along...
Michelle's Thoughts:
I didn't love Tease as much as I did Foreplay (the first book in the series--but you don't need to read it before picking up Tease) but it's still a very satisfying read. I loved Emerson. And Shaw is awesome too. And he's very sweet. I liked how he pursued Emerson. He didn't give up no matter how much she pushed him away. I liked how he took care of her, though he can be a tad too bossy for my taste.

I still recommend Tease, especially if you favor lighter type of NA that does not leave you emotionally exhausted by the end of the novel.

I'm so excited for Wild, book 3 in the series, which is going to be Georgia and Logan's book.

Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Pages: 184 pages
Release Date: May 13, 2013
Source of my copy: bought e-book
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
Homicide cop Troy Bennett had a reputation with the Chicago PD for being fearless and in control—until the night his daredevil partner is killed during a raid. From that moment on, he swears he’ll never again be responsible for the loss of a loved one. To escape his demons, Troy transfers to the NYPD, bringing him up close and personal with Ruby Elliott, a beautiful, street-savvy pool hustler.
Michelle's Thoughts:
Fantastic novella! Tessa Bailey is one my go-to contemporary romance authors for super steamy smexy times, strong heroines and dirty talkin' alpha heroes. Catch her books when they're just released and only 99 cents but I'm willing to pay more because her books are so, so good!

Take this quote for example from His Risk to Take:

I’m not capable of turning you down,” he said on a pained laugh, gaze devouring her breasts. “I’m going to take you to my bed and pleasure the fuck out of you. But the panties stay on. It’s nonnegotiable.”

Her entire system rebelled against his words. How could he touch her, kiss her like this, and refuse to take it all the way? It didn't make sense. Men didn't have that kind of willpower, did they? She certainly didn’t have that kind of willpower. “W-what? Is it too late to give a different answer about why I changed my mind?”

“Yes. But don’t worry, baby.” Before she could register his intention, he’d swung her up into his arms.

“Even with your panties on, it’ll still be the best sex of your life.

Publisher: Avon
Pages: 384 pages
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
Ever since a heated late-night kiss - that absolutely should not have happened - cowboy Josh Thalberg makes former Hollywood bad girl Whitney Winslow's pulse beat faster. But when she decides to use his gorgeous leatherwork in her new upscale lingerie shop, Leather & Lace, she's determined to keep their relationship strictly professional . . . even if she wants so much more.
Michelle's Thoughts:
I like small town romances and The Cowboy of Valentine Valley one was a cute read. However, this one was more like a slice of life kind of read. It started really slow and for most of the first half, there was no real plot just the characters living their life.

Josh and Whitney were very likable characters and their romance was a slow burn. Josh was a sweet guy but he was little too perfect for my taste. Whitney's character stuck out more because she had a lot more going on in terms of providing some needed drama to the story.

The plot does eventually pick up in the second half as complications arise for Josh and Whitney. It took me a bit to connect with Josh and Whitney. There were some really sweet moments between them as each learned an important life lesson from the other.

I wasn't as captivated by this small town romance novel as I was with other small town romances I've been reading (i.e., Shalvis' Lucky Harbor, Mallery's Fool's Gold, Higgins' Blue Heron) and I wasn't compelled to seek out other books in the series. But, ultimately, The Cowboy of Valentine Valley was a fun weekend read.

Happy reading,

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Format: eARC
Publisher: Samhain
Pages: 202 pages
Release Date: July 22, 2014
Source of my copy: Rock Star PR
Series: Heart of Fame # 7
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
It all starts with sex under a desk…
After yet another month without a lead singer, the band Synergy is on the verge of calling it quits. Which drives Jaxon Campbell, keyboardist and perpetual player, to do something dangerous—hit up a woman with contacts—and curves—in all the right places. Trouble is, the last time he saw her, he kind of broke her heart. And stole her cherished, autographed AC/DC album.
Natalie Thorton, Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, knows everyone who’s anyone in Australia’s music industry. She’s driven and utterly professional and doesn’t have room in her schedule for relationships.
When Jaxon strides into her office, all of Natalie’s suppressed sexual urges—the ones born in Jax’s arms—surge to the surface. He wants something from her? Well, she wants something from him. Orgasms. Lots of them.
How can Jax say no? He’s never forgotten her, and it’s not like they’re going to fall in love. But just who’s playing who? And whose heart is going to fall first?

Warning: Contains a sexual challenge involving sex in public places, sex in private places, sex in moving cars, sex against windows and sex in the company of an oblivious federal politician. So basically, we’re talking about getting laid. A lot.

The warning does not lie, you guys. There was a lot of spicy sex in this book and you're going to want a cold beverage when you read Getting Played. There was a lot of funny parts in this book and was a lively romp of a read.

Jaxon Campbell was a famous rock star and charming, womanizing playboy. He gets himself in scrapes but always managed to get himself out with a winning smile and by cracking jokes. His band Synergy was about to call it quits after unsuccessfully finding a lead singer when Jax volunteered to talk to the one person he thought could help the band: his ex-girlfriend Natalie Thornton, now the Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Though Jax broke Nat's heart and stole her prized autographed AC/DC album, she decided to help him. But in exchange for her help, Nat wanted mind-blowing sex with multiple orgasms like the kind he used to give her in return. Jax might have broken her heart but no one could satisfy her in bed like he did. To Nat it was a business deal, but Jax realized that the girl he let get away years ago might be the only one for him. Can Jaxon convince Nat to give him a second chance?

I really enjoyed Getting Played. Even thought it is the seventh in the series and I haven't read any of the other books (actually, this is my first by Lexxie Couper), I had no problems getting into this one. It was well-written and well-paced with some hilarious banter between Jax and Nat and silly hijinks. While there were a lot of steamy encounters, I didn't feel the story didn't suffered for it. Jax and Nat had great chemistry and both were very likable.

I really can't find anything to complain about Getting Played. I mean, it was not one of those "O.M.G. this is the best book I've read!" kind of book but it was a really fun, sexy read and I liked its effervescent tone. I might pick up a few of the previous books in the series or other books by Couper since I enjoyed this one so much. If you have a hankering for a fast, very spicy and lighthearted second-chance romance read, you'll enjoy this book. This is also a good book to read to get you out of a reading slump.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up + New Books

Saturday, July 26, 2014 with
Hello everyone,
Summer vacation is over and I officially go back to work this coming Monday--new grade level (2nd grade), new classroom and new students. Wish me luck!

In terms of books, we did pretty well last week. Leslie and I each posted a review and I finished a very excellent chick lit (Arranged by Catherine McKenzie) that is now sitting on my favorites shelf.

Review: Sekret by Lindsay Smith
Leslie really loved this one. It's set in Communist Russia and it's about a girl who has a psychic ability and was forced by the KGB to spy for them.

Book I Covet: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
Sequel to Seraphina! I need this book NAO.

Review: Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
Stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan's adventures in fatherhood.

Leslie: I'm still reading Haze (The Rephaim #2) by Paula Weston.

Michelle: Getting Played by Lexie Couper

Only two physical books this week.
A Sudden Light by Garth Stein (for review)
The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas (bought)

Then, we got several eARCs via Netgalley because I "attended" School Library Journal's annual Summer Teen event, which is a conference that was entirely online. 
The Name of the Blade by Zoe Marriott
Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire
Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi
Like No Other by Una LaMarche

I also bought a book that had been in my wish list for a long time it's about lawyers and childhood frenemies (two things I'm crazy about in romance novels). The e-book was only 99 cents so I picked it up.
Legal Briefs (Lawyers in Love #3) by N.M. Silber (bought)

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

Friday, July 25, 2014

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Pages: 288 pages
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Source of my copy: Blogging For Books
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
In Dad is Fat, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan, who’s best known for his legendary riffs on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees, and McDonald's, expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children—everything from cousins ("celebrities for little kids") to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four year olds (“there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”). Reminiscent of Bill Cosby’s Fatherhood, Dad is Fat is sharply observed, explosively funny, and a cry for help from a man who has realized he and his wife are outnumbered in their own home.

I don't watch a lot of stand-up comedy because to tell the truth I'm a bit slow when it comes to jokes. But I love watching Jim Gaffigan's standup comedies--I think I watched all of his stuff that is available on YouTube. He is one of the few comedians whose jokes I genuinely crack-up laughing because I'm able to relate to them. Hot Pockets? McDonalds? Yeah, I've been there.

I had high expectations for Dad Is Fat. I was going to be laughing and entertained all the way through. I enjoyed Dad Is Fat, there's no question about that but at the same time it wasn't the book I had in my head...

Dad Is Fat is about Jim Gaffigan's adventures, reflections and opinions about fatherhood told through essays (which were relatively short--at most four to five pages each). He goes from a loose chronological, starting when he was a single guy just looking on at his friends having babies to when he has five children of his own and taking them on the road on to his shows/family vacations.

With a title like Dad Is Fat, the book description being what it was, and the fact that when I quickly flipped through the book, almost all the pictures I saw were of kids, you'd think I'd realize that it was going to be all about fatherhood through the eyes of Jim Gaffigan. But I was expecting sort of a hodgepodge of topics, like his stand-up shows are. However, I enjoyed reading about his experiences even though I didn't laugh as much as I thought I was going to--though there were some lines I found myself chuckling. Some of my favorites were the parts about his opinions about several children's books after rereading them many, many times, the "art" children make in school and the different types of babysitters (the manny, the warm body, the college student, etc.). If you watch his shows, you'll recognize lines throughout the book from them. I thought he wrote in a way that was entertaining and the tone was fun and lighthearted but with a genuine-ness of a father who loves his children and wife very much.

Dad Is Fat can be appreciated by non-parents like myself, but I think readers with children will appreciate it all the more because they can all the more relate to his experiences and anecdotes about raising young children. Overall, it was a fun, entertaining read but not a stand-out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book I Covet: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 with
I love, love, LOVE, LOVE (so much love!) Seraphina. I needed Shadow Scale yesterday! You better believe I already pre-ordered it.

Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?

Shadow Scale will be released on March 10, 2015. 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, July 21, 2014

Format: ARC
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Pages: 345 pages
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
An empty mind is a safe mind. 
Yulia's father always taught her to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive the harsh realities of Soviet Russia. But when she's captured by the KGB and forced to work as a psychic spy with a mission to undermine the U.S. space program, she's thrust into a world of suspicion, deceit, and horrifying power. Yulia quickly realizes she can trust no one--not her KGB superiors or the other operatives vying for her attention--and must rely on her own wits and skills to survive in this world where no SEKRET can stay hidden for long.

As soon as I read the synopsis of Sekret, I immediately fell in love with the idea of a secret group of mind-bending teenagers living in and serving Soviet Russia during the Cold War. I couldn't wait to dive into all the history and fiction the novel promised, and so, I began reading Sekret with very high expectations. Fortunately, they were all well met.

I absolutely adored the characters of Sekret. I thought they were all very well-developed and very well portrayed. Each were their own person, all of them having their share of secrets and motivations for doing what they did, and those who were gifted with mind-controlling powers were especially fascinating and cool. Their interactions with each other and their missions for their Russian country thrilled and excited me to the very end of the story, so that, when I finally finished the novel, I was sad to have left them and their exciting world.

I particularly loved the heroine Yulia. Stubborn, resourceful, brave, and deeply loving, she is now one of my favorite YA heroines. I loved watching her grow stronger and braver with every passing, challenging moment in the novel, and even more interesting, that her unique power also grew and developed. I rooted for her all throughout the story as she desperately tried to protect her family, friends, and even herself from the many people who wanted to take advantage of her gift.

Debut author Lindsay Smith's passion for Russia and its culture truly shined in her novel Sekret. Going into the book, I didn't know much about the time period, let alone the Russian perspective of it, so I was really fascinated by all the historical references and the world-building in the novel. I thought Smith did a fantastic job mixing history and fiction through a plotline that was suspenseful and full of mystery. Her writing especially helped, for it flowed very nicely and smoothly.

Needless to say, Sekret was a refreshingly different read in more than one aspect: great, gifted characters; a mysterious and thrilling plotline; a fascinating and foreign setting; and a passionate, new voice. I highly recommend this book to anyone needing an exciting read and/or who enjoys learning about history as much as they enjoy reading, for I believe Sekret will not disappoint. I look forward to reading more from author Lindsay Smith.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up + New Books

Saturday, July 19, 2014 with
Hello everyone,
I didn't post nearly as much this week as last week because I was in the midst of the BookTubeAThon reading marathon. It's going well--I'm on my fifth book with two more days left! May be able to sneak in another book before it officially ends. However, Leslie came back to the blogging world (after a 4-month hiatus) with a review. Yay!

I vlogged! I shared what books I'm planning to read for the BookTubeAThon.

Review: Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule
An underrated debut. More people need to read this book.

Book I Covet: First There Was Forever by Juliana Romano
The description said this debut novel is perfect for Huntley Fitzpatrick fans.

Loved one, liked one and one was meh.

Leslie: Haze (The Rephaim #2) by Paula Weston

Michelle: Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

I didn't think we were going to get any books this week but my Amazon orders surprisingly got delivered sooner than I thought. And we got a review copy of a book we've both been highly anticipating.

Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis (ARC for review)
This is the one where the whole town mourned for the main character's death but she reappeared months later like nothing happened and she's strangely drawn to the mysterious circus in the woods.
Haven by Kristi Cook (bought)
Mirage by Kristi Cook (bought)
I quite enjoyed Kristi Cook's Magnolia (my review) so I thought I'd check out her other books.
Arranged by Catherine McKenzie (bought)
I was craving a straight-up chick lit and this one sounds really good and has high ratings.

And here are the covers of the books.

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

Friday, July 18, 2014

Hello everyone,
Today I'll be speed reviewing three books: two contemporary YA and one dystopian.

Publisher: Dial
Pages: 416 pages
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Source of my copy: ARC via publisher
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
Seventeen-year-old Gwen Castle is a working-class girl determined to escape her small island town, but when rich-kid Cass Somers, with whom she has a complicated romantic history, shows up, she's forced to reassess her feelings about her loving, complex family, her lifelong best friends, her wealthy employer, the place she lives, and the boy she can't admit she loves.
Michelle's Thoughts:
What I Thought Was True was hands-down the best YA novel I read this summer. The beginning was a little shaky and I got confused trying to figure what exactly happened to Gwen and Cass, and the whole Spence and Alex thing and what exactly went down, but, really, that was minor.

I loved Fitzpatrick's debut novel My Life Next Door and I eagerly waited for her sophomore novel. I knew it was going to be fantastic and I was right. But while My Life Next Door was all about the swoon factor of falling in love and first love, What I Thought Was True hit closer to home because I relate to Gwen and her family so much. Our working-class families are constantly trying to make ends meet; Gwen's mom and my mom are both housekeepers; her brother has a disability and so does mine, etc.

I think the way teenage sexuality was presented in this novel was refreshingly open and realistic.

And Cass. Oh, he was such a sweetheart. I loved him! I may even love him slightly more than Jace Garrett.

Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 337 pages
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Source of my copy: eARC via Netgalley/publisher
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
Sparks fly when sixteen-year-old Lucy Patterson and seventeen-year-old Owen Buckley meet on an elevator rendered useless by a New York City blackout. Soon after, the two teenagers leave the city, but as they travel farther away from each other geographically, they stay connected emotionally, in this story set over the course of one year.
Michelle's Thoughts:
The Geography of You and Me book didn't resonate with me as Jennifer E. Smith's other books did, but it was still really good. One night brought Lucy and Own together, and despite the months, the ocean and the many states and countries, new experiences, as well as other [romantic] relationships along the way they still found a way to get back to each other. This novel was so dreamy and romantic, well-written and very quotable. Take this gem for example:

Sometimes it seemed as if his whole life was an exercise in waiting; not waiting to leave, exactly, but simply waiting to go. He felt like one of those fish that had the capacity to grow in unimaginable ways if only the tank were big enough. But his tank had always been small, and as much as he loved his home- as much as he loved his family- he'd always felt himself bumping up against the edges of his own life.

That was exactly how I felt pre-college, but here, stated in such a brilliant way. There were so many other quotes too that perfectly described how I felt at the characters' age.

Then, why the 3.5 stars? Well, I just didn't connect with Lucy and Owen the way I wanted to. I didn't quite feel the chemistry between them... maybe because they spent too much time apart? The love story between Lucy and Oliver had this epic-ness to it (despite the months, being oceans and continents apart, tribulations, etc.) that didn't quite deliver. I wasn't as satisfied after I finished reading this novel the way I wanted to be after reading a good romantic story. It was missing... something.

Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 327 pages
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Source of my copy: bought
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
Sixteen-year-old America Singer is living in the caste-divided nation of Illéa, which formed after the war that destroyed the United States. America is chosen to compete in the Selection--a contest to see which girl can win the heart of Illéa's prince--but all she really wants is a chance for a future with her secret love, Aspen, who is a caste below her
Michelle's Thoughts:
I thought I could breeze through The Selection in one day. Nope. It took me three days to read this thing because I was just not compelled to pick it up after I put it down. Overall, this book was just okay.

America Singer (WTF kind of name is that?!) was an annoying brat and had me rolling my eyes throughout the book. The love triangle was ridiculous--Aspen walked all over America and Maxon was too nice and just took America's annoying antics. I didn't feel much chemistry between America and any of the two boys. The writing felt juvenile.

Do I want to read The Elite (book 2)? I don't know. I own it (as well as book three
The One) and I am challenging myself to finish an entire series this year so... maybe. I have to be in the mood for it, or I think I'm going to need to read some really positive reviews of The Elite to get excited and motivated to pick it up.

Have a great weekend and happy reading,

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I love Huntley Fitzpatrick's books and First There Was Forever is perfect for HF fans. Okay, I'll bite. But, seriously, it sounds like my kind of contemporary YA read.

Perfect for fans of Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door, Juliana Romano's expressive debut is an absorbing and bittersweet story about first love, first loss, and the friends that carry us through it all.

Lima and Hailey have always been best friends: Lima shy and sensitive, Hailey funny and free-spirited. But Hailey abandons Lima to party with the popular kids and pursue Nate, her disinterested crush. As their friendship falters, Lima and Nate begin spending more time together. And before Lima knows what she’s feeling, she and Nate do something irreversible. Something that would hurt Hailey....if she knew it happened.

Lima thinks she’s saving her friendship by lying, but she’s only buying time. As the secrets stack up, Lima is forced to make a choice: between her best friend forever, and the boy who wasn’t meant to be hers.

First There Was Forever will be released on April 14, 2015. 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, July 14, 2014

Format: Hardcover
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 336 pages
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
A young soprano enrolls in a remote music academy where nothing, not even her mysterious young vocal coach, is as it seems. Outside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix. But Sing da Navelli never put much faith in the rumors and myths surrounding the school; music flows in her blood, and she is there to sing for real. This prestigious academy will finally give her the chance to prove her worth—not as the daughter of world-renowned musicians—but as an artist and leading lady in her own right. Yet despite her best efforts, there seems to be something missing from her voice. Her doubts about her own talent are underscored by the fact that she is cast as the understudy in the school's production of her favorite opera, Angelique. Angelique was written at Dunhammond, and the legend says that the composer was inspired by forest surrounding the school, a place steeped in history, magic, and danger. But was it all a figment of his imagination, or are the fantastic figures in the opera more than imaginary? Sing must work with the mysterious Apprentice Nathan Daysmoor as her vocal coach, who is both her harshest critic and staunchest advocate. But Nathan has secrets of his own, secrets that are entwined with the myths and legends surrounding Dunhammond, and the great creature they say lives there. Lyrical, gothic, and magical, Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule will captivate and enchant readers.

I was so excited to begin reading Strange Sweet Song. With its gorgeous cover and interesting synopsis that, not only promised mystery and magic, but also music and danger, I was ready to be whisked away from my dull and stressful reality and delve into a world different from my own. Now, having finished the book, I'm happy to say that Strange Sweet Song more than delivered: its great writing, amazing characters, and fascinating plot made it just the escape I needed, and its now one of my favorite novels.

What really drew me to Strange Sweet Song was its setting in a private, highly-selective school for young, hugely-talented musicians. I've always loved music and singing and I really admire those who are passionate and talented in their artistic fields, so such a setting really appealed to my interests. So as I read Strange Sweet Song, I never felt bored by the plot and/or characters. In fact, I was very addicted to reading the novel, so much that I was able to finish it within a week, which is a huge accomplishment for a slow reader like me. The great writing style of the author Adi Rule was especially helpful, for it flowed so nicely that, as I read, I barely registered turning the pages. Also, despite my preference for first-person narration, the focused third-person in Strange Sweet Song was executed well enough for me not to be bothered by it too much.

I absolutely adored the characters in Strange Sweet Song--and brownie points for all of them for being such passionate and talented singers and musicians. I enjoyed meeting and befriending (more or less, depending on their motives) each and every one of the characters, most particularly Sing, her friends Marta, Jenny, and (to an extent, although I can't explain why without spoiling the novel) Zhin, and her love interest, who shall not be named for the sake of not spoiling the book. Sing's insecurity was so deep, I had a hard time trying to relate and sympathize with her sadness. However, this didn't hinder me from enjoying the novel and caring for Sing's character, and as Sing continued to question herself and those around her and grew and changed into someone stronger and braver, I fully supported her and rooted for her all throughout the book. I was glad to see that Sing had such great friends as she did, for they were all each charming, intelligent, and quirky in their own way. I really saw that Marta, Jenny, and Zhin each reflected a part of Sing's character that Sing herself struggled to understand and cope with, and her development through her association with them, as well as her love interest and the other minor characters, was very moving. As for the romance of the novel, I must say that I absolutely loved its very gradual development, and the moments between Sing and He-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named were so sweet.

In all, Strange Sweet Song was a fantastic read that I greatly enjoyed. Its appealing plot, characters, and writing made it the ideal read for me. I highly recommend this book to anyone who also loves music and/or mystery with a touch of magic, however, it can be a bit of a slow read for those who like their highly-suspenseful and action-packed stories. Otherwise, Strange Sweet Song is a great novel that lives up to the tone and feel set up in its synopsis.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Booktubing on YouTube + BookTubeAThon 2014

Sunday, July 13, 2014 with
Hello bookish friends,
Do any of you watch "booktube" (YouTube videos about books and reading)? Because I'm a HUGE booktube fan. I get my all book reviews and book recs from both written blogs, Goodreads, Amazon and through YouTube.

I used to make booktube videos too, but unfortunately I was never consistent because they take so much time to do. Mostly because I'm not an articulate speaker so it takes me several "takes" to get everything I want to say and the editing process is so long. I have to edit out all the long pauses, the umms..., the non-sensical stuff and the awkward talking when my Filipino accent kicks in (which happens when I'm flustered).

But it's BookTubeAThon time again. If you're not familiar, BookTubeaThon is a week-long reading marathon with seven challenges you must do with in the week to "win" (there are no real prizes except reading glory). For more info, go here to the official YouTube page.

Anyway, I'm participating again this year. Last year was a huge fail for me so I'm attempting it again. Here's my video with all of the books I plan to read and will also fulfill the challenges.

Happy reading,

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up + Super Awesome New Books

Saturday, July 12, 2014 with
Hello bookish friends,
If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, you might know that I went to the ALA Conference in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago. I got quite a bit of books while there but I shipped them all in the mail. I was going to wait until I receive all the boxes and do one massive book haul but it's taking waaay too long. I've acquired other awesome books so, yeah, I'll just post about these and do a separate post all about my ALA experience later on when all my books arrive.

After ALA, I've got my blogging mojo back so there were a lot of reviews and feature posts in the last two weeks. In case you missed any of them...

The Fifth Avenue series starts and we find out why three sexy men want revenge against a well-known women's advocate. 

Currently reading this one!

My favorite in the series.

Very fun read this one is.

Chelsea, my favorite character in the series, is in this one. She's one of the best, most damaged yet still so strong heroines I've read in romance in a while.

Larissa and Jack's story!

Giving star ratings drive me nuts.

Two words, you guys: mysterious circus.

This one has a lot of my "buzz" words: ex-SEAL, Black Ops, a second-chance romance, being on the run...

Fantastic NA read! Give it a go if you like lighter-toned NA.

Lorelie Brown's Riding the Wave Review + Author Interview
Beach, sand, a hot pro-surfer & a steamy romance... all of these can be found in this book.

Michelle: Nowhere But Here by Renée Carlino

Leslie: Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James. Recommended by Michelle :)

Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan (from Blogging For Books for review)
Due to a shipping error I ended up with an extra copy of Dad Is Fat
Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera (won)

These three romances are all for review and actually showed up before I left for Vegas. I already reviewed all three of them. Find the links to my review above.
Riding the Wave by Lorelie Brown
Until We Touch by Susan Mallery 
The Millionaire Affair by Jessica Lemmon

The next ten titles are eARCs from Netgalley or Edelweiss. Especially excited for the Shalvis and Higgins titles!!
Blurred (Connections #3.5) by Kim Karr
Frayed (Connections #4) by Kim Karr
Shatter (True Believers #4) by Erin McCarthy
Pieces of Olivia by Melissa West

It's In His Kiss (Lucky Harbor #10) by Jill Shalvis
He's So Fine (Lucky Harbor #11) by Jill Shalvis
In Your Dreams (Blue Heron #4) by Kristan Higgins
Jilted by Rachael Johns

Boomerang by Noelle August
I already read and reviewed this one.
Personal Target by Kay Thomas

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