Somebody to Love

Kristan Higgins

Publisher: HQN Books
Publication Date: Apr 24, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Netgalley

After her father loses the family fortune in an insider-trading scheme, single mom Parker Welles is faced with some hard decisions. First order of business: go to Gideon’s Cove, Maine, to sell the only thing she now owns—a decrepit house in need of some serious flipping. When her father’s wingman, James Cahill, asks to go with her, she’s not thrilled — …even if he is fairly gorgeous and knows his way around a toolbox.

Having to fend for herself financially for the first time in her life, Parker signs on as a florist’s assistant and starts to find out who she really is. Maybe James isn’t the glib lawyer she always thought he was. And maybe the house isn’t the only thing that needs a little TLC….

Goodreads Summary

Parker Welles, a rich and beautiful single mother has just been handed the worst news of her life. Her father has not only spent every penny of Parker’s and her son’s trust fund without her knowledge, all of his assets are being seized by the government and Parker’s cushy lifestyle is now over. While she was never lavish with her wealth, she did enjoy a few creature comforts such as living in the family home, which she must now vacate immediately. The only thing Parker has left is some property a distant relation left her up in Middle-of-Nowhere, Maine. While her son goes on vacation with his father over the summer, Parker intends to travel to the house, do a few quick repairs and put it on the market as soon as possible. With limited time and limited funds, for the first time in her life Parker must get her hands dirty.

Well, maybe not as alone as she originally thought. Her father’s now unemployed attorney (AKA Thing One), James Cahill, shows up unannounced to help her with the project. Parker and James have a barely civil relationship at best, but once she sees how much work the house needs she can’t help but feel grateful for his presence. James feels guilty for his inability to warn her of her impending changes in circumstance (those pesky attorney/client privileges), and he hopes that working with her on the house will earn him a little forgiveness. The couple soon finds that they may have been a bit hasty in their initial impressions, and that the facade they’ve each put on over the years isn’t really who they are.

I need to get one thing out of the way before I head on to the actual review. Does anyone else think it’s bizarre when the author’s name is way bigger than the title of the book? Or is it just me?

I’ve read a few other Kristan Higgins’ novels in the past, with varying success. I’ve always really enjoyed the romance and the characters, but struggled with the point-of-view. Her previous books are solely told from the heroine’s perspective, and I came away from the book feeling cheated. I desperately wanted some insight into the hero’s thoughts/mind/actions, but it was never provided. It felt too one-sided for me. After all, a romance takes two people right? An author needs to have some major talent in order to pull off a romance novel with one point-of-view. In my opinion, at least. However, the author branched out with this novel and it was told from both Parker’s and James’ perspective. Hallelujah! This huge change so much better than her writing style of the past. Kristan Higgins could always tell a wonderful and heartfelt romance, but now we have a fuller picture to enjoy.

Somebody to Love takes place in the same town that Catch of the Day is set in, so if you’ve read it the setting and characters will be familiar to you. It just so happens that Catch of the Day is one of her books I haven’t read, but this is very much Parker and James’ story and I never once felt like I was the only one late to the party. I loved the small town vibe of this book, and the unique people of the town. Parker and James imersed themselves in the community, and the quirky and weird personalities were exactly what they needed to distract, heal, forgive, and learn to forget the past.

I loved both Parker and James, and really believed in their story. I’ve always admired Kristan Higgin’s ability of making her characters deeper than what you would originally expect from a contemporary romance novel. It’s almost like she’s creating her characters from real life people. I enjoyed learning the little tidbits and treasures that made them who they were.

My Summary: Somebody to Love is definitely my favorite book I’ve read from this author. While most of that praise is due to the change in writing style, Kristan Higgin’s consistently delivers powerful characters and a love story that you will remember long after the last page. Want to know one of my favorite things about the book? It has an epilogue. Oh, how I love my epilogues. 😉

My Rating: A

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Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)

R.L. LaFevers

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Historical
Source: Publisher

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Goodreads Summary

Ismae was plucked right out of her wedding night (which wasn’t going well, as her hubs was a total dirtbag), and shuffled through R.L. LaFevers version of the Underground Railroad. Ismae is taken to a convent specifically set aside to train young girls to be Handmaidens of Death. Or in layman’s terms: assassins. Ismae spends the next few years training herself in all manner of weapons, poisons and the art of womanly wiles. Ismae is finally deemed worthy to be sent on her first mission, which she successfully completes. However, just after she offed her mark, she runs into Gabriel Duval who is a bit livid that she’s killed his informant. It’s this very first mission where Ismae starts to doubt the Abbey, the Abbess and how to decide who needs to be killed. Ismae is dismayed that she quite possibly killed a man who was trying to redeem himself.

Brittany is in political turmoil, and as the bastard brother of the Duchess, he is embroiled right in the middle of it. Ismae’s next mission requires her to pair up with Duval, where he thinks she is being sent to protect the Duchess and find out who wants her dead. Her real mission is so spy on Duval, as the Abbess and the Abbey’s benefactor Chancellor Crunard are convinced that Duval is a traitor. As Ismae adjusts to court life and intrigue, she soon realizes that there is more to being a Handmaiden of Death than blankly following orders, and that those marked for death can redeem themselves. She also realizes that Duval is simply a man who wants to protect his sister and the future of his country. Ismae and Duval begin to rely on and trust each other, and Ismae is suddenly faced with the prospect of having to choose between the man she loves and the ideals instilled in her by the Abbey, the institution that saved her life. When the political turmoil comes to a head, Ismae and Duval have only each other to turn to in order to save their beloved country from war.

I posted this on a WoW awhile ago, and I was ecstatic when I heard we received a copy from the publisher for review. I LOVED Grave Mercy. I thoroughly enjoyed the history and rich descriptions of the character’s surroundings and way of life. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a historical novel that was non-Regency, and I missed the genre. I jumped right into the world of Grave Mercy easily, and I had no problem with keeping the characters and their names straight. It also helped that there was a map of Britanny, plus a character glossery telling me who everyone was. Gotta love those helpful authors.

Ismae is such a wonderful character. I loved her progression and growth from a young girl beat down by life, to one who knows her strength and isn’t afraid to follow her heart. Duval was fiercely loyal, and the kind of man every woman dreams they could find in real life. I loved watching their relationship unfold. It was slow and meandering as they overcame inital distrust to finally realizing they make the perfect team. They both loved the young Duchess (she was 12, can you believe it?!), and only wanted her happiness and safety. I quickly figured out who the real enemy was, but it didn’t detract from the story at all. In fact, even though I knew the essentials of what would happen, I was still shocked and surprised at how two-faced the traitor really was.

My Summary: Grave Mercy is utterly beautiful and can’t be missed. Powerfully written characters, a fascinating storyline and a sweet and poignant love story all come together to make what I consider a masterpiece. This book is the first in a series, and from what I understand, the other two books are going to be about Ismae’s two friends from the convent, Sybella and Annith with Sybella’s book next. I hope we see more of Ismae and Duval in the following books, but I was satisfied enough with the ending that I’ll be okay if they don’t make an appearance.

My Rating: A+

Scorched Skies (Fire Spirits #2)

Samantha Young

Purchase: Amazon or B&N
Publication Date: Mar 16, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Purchased

FEAR THE HEAT…

The White King has crossed the line, sounded the horn, sent out the wolves.

When blood is shed and life is lost the reality of Ari’s position as both hunter and prey finally sets in. It seems her father will stop at nothing to force her will to his own and distracted by Charlie’s latest mistake and her seemingly misguided attraction to Jai, Ari never thought to fear anyone else but the Jinn King.

Blindsided and attacked, Ari learns a new wolf has joined the hunt. A dark sorcerer believes he knows a way to bleed the power of the Seal and wield it as his own, and he is even less patient than The White King.

The War for the Seal has only just begun… and it’s time for Ari to turn it on its head.

It’s time for Ari to stop acting like the hunted.

It’s time for Ari to become the hunter.

Goodreads Summary

Five Reasons Why You Should Read Scorched Skies:

1. Jai – You sexy, sexy man

Because life is all about hot guys, right? Right. Jai is definitely at the top of my favorites list of hunky heroes. He’s Jinn, powerful and all about protecting Ari. You can’t help but fall in love with his wounded side, which stems from a tragic childhood spent with his messed up family. In Smokeless Fire, Jai was a bit of a mystery and while I fell in lust with him there, it wasn’t until Scorched Skies that I truly understood how amazing Jai really is. When Ari’s enemies get a little bit too close for comfort and she needs to flee, Jai takes her to his family’s home in California to hide out for a while and regroup. We are able to get a glimpse into Jai’s past and his horrible family, and it’s awful and I cried and I wanted to take kid-Jai away and protect him from everyone who treated him so terribly. Only a truly strong person can overcome what he did and come out okay on the other side. Oh Jai, you sexy, sexy man.

2. The ballsy heroine

Ari spent a lot of time in Smokeless Fire waiting around for things to happen to her. Mostly because she’d been hit with a bomb shell and her whole life is turned upside down. Ari now has to learn how to use these powers she never knew she had, all while fighting those pesky bad guys who won’t leave her alone. Ari flipped the switch in this book, and instead of waiting for things to happen, she went out and MADE them happen. She didn’t let Jai and Charlie coddle her, and she worked her butt off to learn everything she could so that she could defend herself against whatever came her way. I loved her development in this book, and how she took everything that happened to her (the beginning broke my heart! SOB), and owned it. Ari used her loneliness and heartache to become a girl I’m proud of. A girl I can cheer for. A girl I would desperately want as my best friend if she were real.

3. Love triangle shenanigans

What a tough choice for Ari. There’s sexy Jai who sets her blood on fire by his mere presence, but wants nothing more than a client/guardian relationship. Or Charlie, the guy she’s loved for years, but who turned to drugs and sex instead of her when his brother died. Charlie, who went behind her back and chose to become a sorcerer even though he knew Ari would hate it. Each guy wants something else, whether it’s to maintain his professional reputation or to have revenge on the Jinn who killed his little brother. Ari wants someone to want her first, before anything or anyone else. All of this relationship turmoil helped Ari to focus on learning how to use her powers so that she could take care of herself.  She does make a choice, but my lips are sealed on who it is and how everything works out. Y’all have to do some work yourself. 😀

4. Gott love the Jinn, baby

One of the things I love most about this series is that it’s completely different from anything else out there. While I love books based on vampire or werewolf lore, sometimes I need a break. I love being able to escape into the world of the Jinn and all their genie glory. Seriously, every time Ari’s creepy father pops into the story I envision Mr. Clean. Or Yul Brynner in The King and I. The old version, not the one with Jodi Foster (which is called Anna and the King). Did I just age myself?

Anyway.

The magic and fantasy in this series is unique, and Samantha Young has an amazing ability of sucking me into the world of her characters. I can’t wait to read Borrowed Ember, which comes out May/June-ish. Speaking of which, have you seen the gorgeous cover for Borrowed Ember? The model she picked for Jai is freakin’ hot! If his gorgeous body face isn’t enough to make you read the series, I don’t know what is.

5. Because I said so

Ha. Just kiddin’ on that last one.

Maybe.

Pure (Covenant #2)

Jennifer L. Armentrout

Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Publisher

There is need. And then there is Fate…

Being destined to become some kind of supernatural electrical outlet isn’t exactly awesome–especially when Alexandria’s “other half” is everywhere she goes. Seth’s in her training room, outside her classes, and keeps showing up in her bedroom–so not cool. Their connection does have some benefits, like staving off her nightmares of the tragic showdown with her mother, but it has no effect on what Alex feels for the forbidden, pure-blooded Aiden. Or what he will do–and sacrifice–for her.

When daimons infiltrate the Covenants and attack students, the gods send furies–lesser gods determined to eradicate any threat to the Covenants and to the gods, and that includes the Apollyon… and Alex. And if that and hordes of aether-sucking monsters didn’t blow bad enough, a mysterious threat seems willing to do anything to neutralize Seth, even if that means forcing Alex into servitude… or killing her.

When the gods are involved, some decisions can never, ever be undone.

Goodreads Summary

Since there are over 90 blogs participating on this tour, I’ve decided to do y’all a favor and keep this review on the short side. Or try to, at any rate. 😉 I feel like I’ve been getting a bit too verbose in my posts lately, and I know y’all have other things to do then listen to me blabber on and on. We all know how much I stalk love anything Jennifer L. Armentrout, so anything I say in this review shouldn’t be too surprising.

The summer is over and Alex has settled back into the Covenant school routine after spending three years away. Alex is still required to continue her extra training sessions, except now Aidan and Seth are splitting teaching responsibilities. It seems that an Apollyon-in-training has more to learn than the average student, and what better person to help out with that then the Apollyon? Alex is still madly in love with Aidan – even though it’s forbidden – and he is doing his best to protect her and ignore her at the same time. It’s quite maddening, really. Seth is a continual source of annoyance to Alex, since he seems to be everywhere she is and their connection is getting stronger, which makes it more difficult to keep anything private. Alex and Aidan have a major episode (SOB!), and Alex finally comes to the realization that sometimes people don’t always get what they want.

On the non-romance side, the daimons are becoming a serious threat and have now figured out how to infiltrate the Covenants/schools and are attacking from within. This development is a major blow, and the pure’s seem to have a hard time facing reality. In my opinion, anyway. The class issues in this series are fascinating, and Pure does nothing but drive a deeper wedge between the pures and half-bloods. About halfway through the semester, Alex leaves the safety of the school to attend the council session to give her testimony about the events leading up to, and including, her mother’s death. It seems that not everyone is jazzed about the idea of having two Apollyon’s, and Alex is continually targeted and harassed throughout her stay.

Since Aidan is sort of out of the picture now, Seth really steps up to the plate and watches out for Alex. In Half-Blood I thought Seth was a real jerk, but we get to see a different side of him in this book. Now, this is 100% my opinion, but I’m not sure that what Seth feels for Alex is romantic love. It always felt a bit familial to me (yes, even after the 324th time of reading the book). I think Seth is too arrogant and pompous (in an endearing, completely lovable way of course) to really ever settle down. While I think Alex is the most important person to him, and he genuinely likes her, I never got the impression that it was because he was in love with her. It was more of a “hey, we’re the only two of our kind, so it’s me and you against the world” type of love. Granted, I haven’t read whatever scene JLA wrote from Seth’s POV in the digital copy of Pure, so I could be totally off base. Am I wrong? What do you think? If I am right, I do wonder how Alex the Apollyon could ever be with Aidan (which is what I’m rootin’ for, trust me). Alex and Seth have such a unique bond, and it seems like they come as a package. I’m so nervous about how it’s all going to work out! Seriously, I’m biting my nails over here.

My Summary:  Pure was deliciously amazing in every possible way. It was leaps and bounds away from the dreaded Second Novel Syndrome, and it did a great job of keeping the passion, mystery and excitement up going into the rest of the series. JLA pulled every emotion out of me in this book. I cried, I laughed, I swooned and I desperately wished for a real life Seth to drop in my life. JLA has perfected the art of creating characters that I care about, that I need to be happy and safe. I have no predictions for where the series is going (clearly), but I’ll happily go along with wherever JLA will take me.

My Rating: A+

Sacrificial Magic (Downside Ghosts #4)

Stacia Kane

Publisher: Del Rey (Random House)
Publication Date: Mar 27, 2012
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Netgalley

When Chess Putnam is ordered by an infamous crime boss—who also happens to be her drug dealer—to use her powers as a witch to solve a grisly murder involving dark magic, she knows she must rise to the challenge. Adding to the intensity: Chess’s boyfriend, Terrible, doesn’t trust her, and Lex, the son of a rival crime lord, is trying to reignite the sparks between him and Chess.

Plus there’s the little matter of Chess’s real job as a ghost hunter for the Church of Real Truth, investigating reports of a haunting at a school in the heart of Downside. Someone seems to be taking a crash course in summoning the dead—and if Chess doesn’t watch her back, she may soon be joining their ranks.

As Chess is drawn into a shadowy world of twisted secrets and dark violence, it soon becomes clear that she’s not going to emerge from its depths without making the ultimate sacrifice.

Goodreads Summary

I didn’t pick this seris up until the third book, City of Ghosts, was already out. I distinctly remember searching through my GR friend’s favorites lists, looking for something new to read. I was in the mood for something a little dark, a little gritty and almost everyone who recommended this series described the books using those exact words. It was meant to be. I originally thought the series was supposed to stop at three books, and I was thrilled when I found out that Stacia Kane would continue on with Chess’ story.

As as a Debunker for the Church, Chess has been assigned to some strange cases in her career. This is the first case, however, that she’s been given that now has the previous investigator on the run. But, whatever, Chess is a professional and is good at her job so she accepts the case. It isn’t until after she opens the file that she discovers the case is on the other side of town, in the heart of Slobag’s territory, the rival crime lord.

Meanwhile, Chess is summoned by her drug dealer, Bump (the Man in Charge over her part of town), to investigate an arson that took place in one of his supply buildings. This isn’t any ol’ arson though, since it covered up an even more sinister event – a ritual sacrifice. This kind of dark magic may not be her forte, but as Bump’s unofficial Churchwitch, she really has no choice but to say yes. Chess is getting hit from all sides as she pursues leads for both cases, and has frequent run ins with Lex which causes a bit of tension between her and Terrible. Not only because Lex is her former lover, but Bump has a snitch and Chess is very afraid Terrible might suspect her.

Chess isn’t your typical heroine. She’s a drug addict, and her level of self worth is non-existent. The only area where she has any confidence in her abilities is her work for the Church. She knows she’s a good witch, and she’s worked dang hard to be that way. While the majority of the book focuses on the mystery of her cases, it’s also about the growth of this one very flawed individual. Chess grew up in foster homes, and has never been loved before by anyone. She honestly feels like she doesn’t deserve it either. She and Terrible are trying to navigate this relationship, and she is consantly worried that the bottom will drop out, and Terrible will realize she is nothing and leave her. Being apart of a relationship for Chess isn’t easy, but I love her all the more for sticking it out and doing the best she can.

Chess’ character is one of the main attractions of the series for me. I never, in a million years, would have thought I’d come to care so much for a character like her. It’s a fascinating thing to be in her head. The self-loathing aside, the glimpse into what it must be like to be a drug addict is particularly interesting. She knows exactly how many pills she can take or lines she can snort before it becomes too much. I wonder where the author is going to take her addiction. Will Chess continue to use drugs as an escape, or will she continue to grow as a person and in her relationship with Terrible and kick the habit?

As a side note, I love how Terrible loves Chess despite the constant pill popping. I also love how Terrible wants her, not just her body or her witch talents. Mostly I just love Terrible. He’s so solid and strong and perfect for Chess.

My Summary: Stacia Kane doesn’t disappoint with Sacrificial Magic. I’m so happy to be back in the Downside world with Chess and Terrible. I love both of their characters, and I can’t help but hope for their happily ever after. Thankfully I have the next book already downloaded on my Kindle, so it won’t be such a long wait this time to find out what happens with them next!

My Rating: A+

JLA’s #1 Fangirl

While I would like to say I spent all week reading the books that I “have-to” for review, I can’t. I did the book blogger equivalent of skipping class and spent my week reading every book that Jennifer L. Armentrout has out. Having already read everything she’s written five times twice already, I decided to call it like it is and have named myself JLA’s #1 Fangirl. So, in true book blogger spirit, I’m going to do a post about it. 😉

Pure Banner
#1.
The PURE tour has kicked off and will be coming our way in a few weeks. There are two tour-long giveaways being hosted by a few bloggers, which you are allowed to enter multiple times if you comment on various tour spots. Trust me, you want to win this book. If you’re even the littlest bit excited about reading Pure, you need to head on over to the tour schedule for more details.

Speaking of PURE, did you know that both B&N and Amazon released the digital version early??!?! It’s on there to be purchased right now if you so desire. And the digital version has a scene (or scenes?) from Seth’s POV, which makes me really want to go buy it. It isn’t too stalkerish to have both the bound version AND the digital version, is it? I honestly don’t think I can continue living if I don’t read Seth’s version of things.

Yes, I may have just put my hand to my forehead in true Southern Belle fashion.
Don’t judge.

Shadows
2.
I finally broke down and bought Shadows this week. I don’t know why I was so hesitant to read it. It was, you know, awesome. It provided some background to the whole series, and it really explained a lot of Daemon’s jerky behavior in Obsidian. The rage and grief that Daemon felt after The Event (don’t want to spoil it for those that haven’t read it yet) was so heart breaking! I confess though, while I enjoyed Shadows I found myself reading it faster so that I could get to Obsidian. I’m obsessed with Daemon and Katy. I’m seriously wondering what is wrong with me that I’m more attracted to the jerky brother than the sweet one. So, if you’re at all into the Lux seris, Shadows is a must-read. It’s quick, and it’ll only take you a few hours but it will sort of tide you over until Onyx comes out. Maybe.

Onyx
3.

I have a bit of an Onyx announcement to make:

Daemon will be HERE, on the blog, May 20.

SQUEEEEEEE!!!

I’m so freakin’ excited for this book I can hardly stand it. I can’t get enough of Daemon’s sexy abs (thank heavens he has such an aversion to wearing shirts) and jerky attitude. And of course, the sweet moments where his wall comes down and he shows us how vulnerable he really is are the BEST. EVER. Swoon worthy, y’all.

Daemon has decided to try his hand at writing an advice column, and has opened a forum for you to submit your problems and questions. Go HERE to write him – check out the sidebar too, we’ll keep a way there for you to send in questions. I can’t wait to see what his answers are!

4.
Speaking of the Lux series, I was catching up on my JLA blog reading the other night, and she had posted an interview with the cover models of Obsidian and Onyx. I’ve never really thought the guy on the cover was as cute as I pictured Daemon to be in my head. And then I saw real life photos of the cover model, and HOLY COW is he good looking. I’m stealing these from JLA’s post, and I just had to share:

Onyx models 1

Onyx models 2

Holy hotness Batman. For some reason seeing him in real life makes him so much better looking on the covers. And his name is Pepe. PEPE. Can you believe it? That’s such a perfect hot guy name. The two are actually engaged, and the interview post over at JLA’s blog is pretty fun to read.

And on that note, I’m going to leave y’all with Pepe’s gorgeous self and conclude my fawning over all things Jennifer L. Armentrout. Are you excited to read JLA’s upcoming releases yet? My review for Pure will be up soon, and I’m anxiously awaiting for the release of Onyx. In fact, “anxiously awaiting” is really too mild to describe how I feel. When I come up with an appropriate description of the intense excitement and longing I have, I’ll let you know.

Have a great weekend y’all!