Month: November 2014

Top Ten Books On My Winter To-Read List

Posted November 25, 2014 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 29 Comments

 

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at the other blog I write for, The Broke and the Bookish.

Thanksgiving is this week and then my Christmas break starts next week, so I an coming up on a prime period for reading a ton of books! Obviously I’m going to be reading a ton of Christmas books for next month’s Christmas event here on the blog, but there are some non-Christmas titles I’m dying to get to soon!

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My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Awesome YA Peeps
Maybe this Christmas by Sarah Morgan
Her Holiday Man by Shannon Stacey
Angels in the Snow by Sarah Morgan
Winterspell by Claire Legrand
A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Rebound by Noelle August
All He Wants for Christmas by Lisa Plumley
A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

What are you excited to curl up and read this winter?


Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier | Book Review

Posted November 24, 2014 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier | Book ReviewRebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Published by Avon on 1938
Genres: Classic Novel, Mystery, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 448
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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3 Stars

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again...

Working as a lady's companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers...

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

This classic romantic suspense tale is one I have heard of since I was a little girl. It’s one of the first books my mom bought me when I showed an interest in reading romances. It has been described to me as being “amazing” or “haunting” or “creepy” or “exciting”. Needless to say, my expectations were extremely high. I wanted to feel utterly captivated and submerged in this tale just like my mom was in high school. Of course, a classic novel is hard to review. Everything has been said over and over again. So I’m just going to take a few moments to write down my thoughts and experiences with this book, probably the most anticipated novel of my life.

My mom and I decided to buddy read this together during the month of October because we felt it would be fun to discuss it and then watch the Alfred Hitchcock movie on Halloween.

I have owned a paperback copy of Rebecca for a very long time, but the print is super tiny and close together, so I would start it and then my eyes would hurt and I’d quit it. When it came out on Kindle I was so excited because I could finally read comfortably. But WOW is this book long! It took me an hour to get through 5%, which means this book is LONG. The first chapter, which is about 4% of the book is full of descriptions of trees and flowers. It moves very slowly.

The writing is very pretty and feels super historic (obviously), and I really enjoyed the ominous feeling throughout the story. I had to continually remind myself that this is a classic, though. It’s old. It was not written this year or last year or ten years ago. I kept getting super annoyed with the second Mrs. de Winters because she was so frail and fragile and a complete pushover. And I kept getting annoyed with how petty some of the other characters were (Maxim’s relatives, for instance). But this is how life was. Men were domineering, women were submissive, and gossip and pettiness filled shallow conversations. Re-compartmentalizing Rebecca helped me make allowances, though, and I did enjoy seeing Mrs. de Winters find herself. She did eventually settle in to the role she was pretending to fill. And she owned it.

When I think romantic suspense, I think nail-biting, edge of your seat, can’t sleep at night suspense. I kept hoping for the story to get scary or tense. There were creepy moments, but I feel like a lot of good has been done with the genre since Rebecca was written. I can’t think of instances where I was more pleased with the suspense. And really, the same goes for the romance. I could hardly call it romance. It was more of a young girl infatuated with an older man who wanted to be infatuated with her too, but was too preoccupied to do it right. He acted more like a father than a lover, patting her on the head and patronizing her. But again, I think this was common back then. Life has changed, and I would never fault du Maurier for portraying contemporary times. And in all honesty, I did grow accustomed to their weird little relationship when I realized that this entire book was groundbreaking when it was written.

The ending left me very underwhelmed. I wanted more details, more explanations, more of a climax. I closed the book feeling unsettled and disappointed. My mom did not love Rebecca this time, like she did in high school. I think my main problem here is that the hype made this book seem like so much more than it ever could have been. We all know what hype can do to a book if your opinion of it is anything less than “I LOVED IT MORE THAN I LOVE YOU”. You’re left feeling more disappointed than you would have been otherwise. It’s even worse when the hype has been consistent for over 75 years. There was no way Rebecca was going to live up to my expectations. And when I think realistically and separate myself from my expectations, I find that I did enjoy the book. It’s the first adult classic I’ve ever read, and I have been wanting to read it for a very long time. I now know the story, and I know what everyone is talking about. I think literature has changed so much that new ideals have been formed. But what’s a world without change?

3 Stars

Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little | Book Review

Posted November 17, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 1 Comment

Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little | Book ReviewForbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little
Series: Forbidden #1
Published by HarperCollins on November 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 397
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
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3 Stars

In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.

Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.

With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.

Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.

As soon as I saw “Mesopotamian desert” I was sold. I have never read a book that takes place there, and I was super excited about it! Tribes and a shadowy boy and a forbidden romance were just icing on the cake! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Things started out a little slow for me, and I actually almost quit about a quarter of the way through. I’m really glad I hung in there, though, because I actually enjoyed this book more than I thought I would.

2. Forbidden love stories are pretty common in YA literature, considering the fact that young people usually have a lot pulling them away from romance altogether. It’s easy to read the same story over and over again, but the additions of tribal life, arranged marriages, and cultural divides made this one unique and interesting to read about.

3. Griffiths Little did a great job of writing about the desert. Deserts are not the most gloriously beautiful landscapes. There’s sand and dunes and the occasional camel. The author much to work with, but she brought life to the desert and painted a lovely picture in my mind.

4. The world is very intriguing and exciting to read about. I liked reading about the tribal customs, rituals, and culture. They have legends and a kind of religious connection with life. At the same time, the world is brutal and dark and dangerous. People murder to get ahead, they take freedoms away from others to show dominance, and they belittle the less fortunate. I would hate living in this time and in this place.

5. Jayden’s life is pretty much the worst! She’s being forced to marry a man she does not love, the man she does love is in danger of losing his life for loving her, she is never safe, nobody believes a lowly woman, and she holds her family’s lives in her hands. I felt horrible for her!

6. Kadesh, the shadowy boy, is mysterious and very interesting. We do not learn much about him, but I’m assuming we will as the series progresses. He seems very honorable and protective, though, not to mention respectful of women. His views of life are more modern than the men of Jayden’s tribe, so he was a breath of fresh air. I’m eager to see what happens between these two.

7. Horeb, Jayden’s betrothed, is your typical historical villain. He has no regard for what Jayden wants or how she feels, and he has a handle on her that is dangerous and hard to escape. Plus, women are pretty much useless to him. He’s evil, evil, evil. I don’t like him at all, and feel like he does not really stand out from other evil characters.

8. My main complaint is that this book was LONG. It started out slow for me, and it dragged in other places. I feel like it took a long time for things to happen, and if things weren’t happening then we were following the tribe’s migration through the desert. I would have really liked more action or fewer pages.

All in all, this book was ok for me. I’m intrigued enough to read book 2, but I’m not dying for it. I’d like to see how things turn out for Jayden and Kadesh, and I’m interested in reading more about this world. I hope book 2 contains more substance, though, and holds my attention more.

3 Stars

Heather Demetrios’s Exquisite Captive Blogger Caravan Giveaway Relay

Posted November 13, 2014 by Jana in Giveaway / 16 Comments

Welcome! You have reached the next giveaway relay stop along the Exquisite Captive Blogger Caravan! In case you were unaware of this giveaway relay, visit this page for more details. Basically, 24 different blogs are giving away 24 finished copies of Exquisite Captive (+ a signed bookplate) to 24 different winners across 24 week days from November 3rd through December 4th. Phew! What a mouthful. It’s my job to announce the winner of yesterday’s giveaway over at What Sarah Read. To find out if you won my giveaway head on over to A Glass of Wine tomorrow morning at 9 AM (Eastern) to see!

The winner of What Sarah Read’s giveaway is…

Ashley Jellison

Woo! Congratulations! Sarah will be contacting you shortly for your mailing address.


Ok, so getting down to the business at hand. Here’s everything you need to know about Exquisite Captive.

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Series: Dark Caravan Cycle #1
Published by: Balzer+Bray on October 7, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Mythology, Magic
Pages: 480
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Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.

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Atlantia by Ally Condie | Book Review

Posted November 6, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 3 Comments

Atlantia by Ally Condie | Book ReviewAtlantia by Ally Condie
Published by Dutton Juvenile on October 28, 2014
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher (ALA)
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4 Stars

Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.

I’ve been looking forward to a new novel from Ally Condie for quite some time, so I dove in to Atlantia as soon as I could! It took me a little while to fully immerse myself in the story, but I ended up really liking Atlantia. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I’ve always been a huge fan of books that take place underwater. Atlantia is a beautiful, self-sustaining, world under the sea that actually sounds a lot like Venice, believe it or not. They have canals and gondolas, and the city is colorful with lots of shops and places to visit. There’s a market in the depths of the city, plus an arena for after-curfew swimming competitions (I found the swimming arena rather random and out of place, though.). Basically, the city is unique and very fun to read about.

2. Rio is secretly a siren, who has had to hide her true voice from everyone in order to keep herself safe. Siren voices are very powerful, and can be used as weapons. Sirens are more rare now, which puts Rio in even more danger. When I heard siren, I immediately thought of mermaids. Sirens are human beings with special powers, though. I liked this unique twist!

3. Rio has always wanted to live Above, but when their mother dies she promises her sister, Bay, that she will choose to stay Below during the choosing ceremony (which is very similar to Divergent’s faction choosing ceremony). On the day of choosing, though, Bay announces she is going to the Above. Since only one child from each family can go Above, Rio is stuck and hurt. Alone forever. Rio starts planning her escape, and will stop at nothing to journey to the Above. This is where you see Rio’s stubborn, persistent, dare-devil personality. I really liked her!

4. Obviously, everyone is hiding something. There’s a lot of lying, and it’s hard to know who to trust. Rio’s aunt kind of takes her under her wing and mentors her, but this aunt is shady. Everyone is. And there’s a lot of secrets about Rio, her family, and the politics behind the separation of the Above and the Below. How did these people end up Below? Why is there no traveling between worlds? What’s the point of a city below water?

5. I loved the worldbuilding and Ally’s writing is descriptive and lovely.

6. I was so hoping for more romance between Rio and True.

7. Throughout the entire book I was expecting a sequel, so to find out it’s a standalone was kind of exciting. In a YA world full of trilogies and series, it’s nice to find a standalone. At the same time, though, Atlantia was wrapped up so quickly that I wish we were getting a sequel. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.

Overall, I really enjoyed Atlantia. I love underwater settings, and Ally’s writing and really enjoyable to read. I’m excited to see what she chooses to do next! I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a good dystopia. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like dystopias are becoming pretty formulaic and predictable. Atlantia is very unique, though, and breathes new life into dystopia.

4 Stars

Top Ten Books I Would Love to Re-Read

Posted November 3, 2014 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 6 Comments

 

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at the other blog I write for, The Broke and the Bookish.

I don’t normally re-read books, just because I always feel bad for doing that when I have SO many books I have not even read once yet! There are a few books I’ve run across throughout my life, though, that I would love to read and experience all over again.

 

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Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
On the Island by Tracey Gravis-Graves
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Starry Night by Debbi Macomber
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Snowed Over by Angie Stanton
Love, Lucy by April Lindner

So, which books did you love so much you want to read them again?