Top Ten Tuesday: Words/Topics That Will Make Me Pick Up or Buy a Book

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week’s topic is: Top Ten Words/Topics That Will Make Me Pick Up or Buy a Book

There are so many tropes and settings that I ADORE! And they go to the top of my to-read list when I “discover” them.

The top ten are….

Boarding Schools – Vampire Academy, Bloodlines, Harry Potter, Mythos Academy… this list could go on forever. If it’s set in a boarding school – I’m there.

Europe – I would love to move to Europe. But since that’s not exactly possible I love to read books set there. The culture, history, food, fashion – there’s just something magical about this setting.

Australia – Whether the author is an Aussie or it’s set here, those are books I love to read. Thankfully there are a lot of great authors from here!

Epistolary Fiction – Books made up of letters, emails and diary entries are a guilty pleasure. I love them. They are the books that as soon as I buy I’ll read as soon as I can get my hands on them.

Cruise Ships – Ever since I read the Babysitter’s Club Super Special #1 back in the nineties, I have loved the idea of going on a cruise. I’ve never been on one but I love the romantic notion that cruises bring to mind.

Sale: – It’s true. This girl LOVES a bargain.

Box Set – I have a weakness for boxed sets. They just look so pretty and finished and if I see one I must have it. It’s why I’m trying to save up so I can get the gorgeous hard cover (I love hard covers too!) set of John Green books. So pretty…

Valkyries – Some people are mesmerized by vampires, others by werewolves. But for me? It’s Valkyries. There is just something about the Norse mythological creatures that I can’t get enough of.

Soul Mates – I love the idea of each person having a perfect match. The soul mateness overcomes everything else for me. Even my pet hates. At the moment I’m reading a book about a woman who meets a man who she falls completely and irrevocably in love with a man… despite already being in a long-term committed relationship (it’s called Into My Arms by Kylie Ladd just in case anyone’s interested. I’m really enjoying it). I can’t stand cheating in books I read but soul mates? That trumps everything.

Hybrid – I LOVE hybrid creatures. It’s like.. I don’t even know how to describe it. Something that shouldn’t exist but does and is somehow the best and worst of both worlds. Like half-vampire/half-werewolves. Or something equally as bizarre. LOVE LOVE LOVE them.

 

So there is my list for the week! Share with me your lists and comment. They are always appreciated. Hope everyone had as much fun creating their TTT’s as I did.

 

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Cover Reveal: Strangely Normal by Tess Oliver

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Title: Strangely Normal

Author: Tess Oliver

Book Description:

A unique summer job lands eighteen-year-old Eden Saxon into a lifestyle completely different than her own. She becomes a companion for nineteen-year-old Finley King, the daughter of a rock legend. Finley suffers from severe anxiety, and her father fears her being alone. Eden leaves her loving, but wildly dysfunctional, parents and dreary apartment and enters a world where no luxury is overlooked. She instantly adores Finley and her charming, quirky personality. The whole situation has only one flaw– Finley’s older brother, Jude. Jude King is cocky, arrogant and irritating. Unfortunately, he’s also completely irresistible.

Eden realizes she’s underestimated the depth of Finley’s problems, and suddenly her dream job turns out to be a lot more than she’d expected. Eden soon finds herself in over her head . . . and her heart.

About the Author:

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Tess Oliver is a teacher and writer who lives in California with her husband, kids, a small pack of pampered dogs, and the recent addition of three ridiculously cute pygmy goats. She loves horses, chocolate and Jane Austen books. She has a BS of Nutrition Science, and a MA in Curriculum and Instruction. She is also an author published by Barron’s Educational Publisher.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

Teaser:

He placed down his pencil and walked across the floor toward me. The crackling energy I’d felt between us the night before when he’d stood over my bed returned now and grew with hot intensity as the space between us disappeared. I was not the only one noticing the sudden charge in the atmosphere between us. He stopped directly in front of me, and even with loud music bouncing off the walls, I could hear the unnaturally fast rhythm of his breathing.

He hesitated a moment and then his hand came up slowly and brushed the hair off my face. His fingertips had only grazed my cheek, but I felt the sensation of his touch through my entire body. He looked back at me as if he’d smoothed his hands over every inch of my skin. The air between us heated and what had started out as a casual session between an artist and his subject had somehow erupted into something completely different.

I love the sound of this book. The cast of characters – from Eden to Finley (and the gorgeous Jude) – feel like they’d deliver a unique story!

Novella Review: Breathless by Brigid Kemmerer

I think I’m going to have to reconsider my former statement on not liking novellas. Because the novellas in the Elemental series (Elemental #0.5, Fearless #1.5 and now Breathless #2.5) are incredible!

Since this story was so short and sweet my review will be too.

Title: Breathless (Elementals #2.5)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Magic
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: 30 April 2013 
Pages: 65
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Too many secrets. Not enough time.

Nick Merrick is supposed to be the level-headed one. The peacemaker. Since it’s just him and his three hot-headed brothers against the world, that’s a survival tactic.

But now he’s got problems even his brothers can’t help him survive.

His so-called girlfriend, Quinn, is going quick as mercury from daring to crazy. Meanwhile, Quinn’s dancer friend Adam is throwing Nick off balance, forcing him to recognize a truth he’d rather shove back into the dark.

He can feel it—-the atmosphere is sizzling. Danger is on the way. But whatever happens next, Nick is starting to find out that sometimes nothing you do can keep the peace.

My Review:

Everytime I read a story from the Elementals series I find myself finding a new favourite character. After finishing Spark (Elementals #2) I was hooked on Gabriel but now it’s his twin, Nick, that I can’t get enough of.

A true testament to Brigid’s writing that a novella of only 65 pages could leave such a profound impression on me.

Nick – the responsible Merrick brother – has a decision to make. Does he stay close by to be there for his family or does he take the chance and break out on his own and go to a college far away when he can just be Nick – and not just known as Gabriel’s brother.

His sort-of girlfriend, Quinn, is making Nick even more uncomfortable with feelings of insecurity, uncertainty and a dash of guilt but he wants to be there for her. He is her sounding board and the perfect gentleman despite her (possibly deserved) reputation as being easy with her affection. And then there’s Adam – Quinn’s dancing partner who is there for Quinn no matter what… and if Nick let’s him would be there for him too.

There’s so much more that happens in this story but I really don’t want to divulge anything too spoilery. It’s just that good! Breathless left me breathless (pardon the pun). It’s short and sweet and has me craving the more of the somewhat forgotten Merrick brother!

Spirit (Elemental #3) comes out on May 28th.

Purchase the ebook from:

Amazon


Book Review: Natural Born Angel by Scott Speer

Title: Natural Born Angel (Immortal City #2) 
Author: Scott Speer
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary, Angels, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 23 April 2013
Pages: 360
Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Life turned upside down for Maddy Montgomery when she found out she was half-Angel and was catapulted into the scene of flashbulbs, paparazzi, and the fervent adulation that comes with being in the celebrity Angel world. She’s trying to juggle her ordinary life—high school, family, friends—with the intense demands of being in the public eye as heartthrob Angel Jackson Godspeed’s girlfriend.

And now Maddy must face the most difficult choice of her life. She’s been offered the chance to become a Guardian. This means entering into dangerous and high stakes training, with no guarantee that she can succeed. But more than that, it would mean leaving her mortal life behind—forever—and allying with the Angels at a time when their relationship with humans is heading for war. . . .

My Review:

After slaving away at her uncle’s diner and studying hard to get the marks required to get into college, Maddy Montgomery is faced with a choice. Her dream school or the chance to train at the top-secret Guardian school. Going from the anonymous high school student to being the world’s number one It-Girl in less than a year, Maddy also has to navigate her new-found popularity and balance her new professional life with her relationship with the oh-so dreamy, Jackson Godspeed. Life will never be the same and Maddy needs to work out what she wants and where her allegiance lie before the war between Angels and Humans decides for her…

Natural Born Angel has so much going on – it’s fantastic! We get to see some Guardian training, the rise of a new dangerous enemy and the fantastic Former Angel, Detective Sylvester, is around again trying to save the world (this time with some help from Mark and Jacks). I loved the way that this novel managed to be describing a fantastical concept (like Angels on Earth) and have it mirror modern-day life – prejudices, terrorism and elitism. This book reminded me of a film in terms of  how it is set up and in some ways I think this would make a better film than novel. There isn’t a lot of emotion evident and I think had I been watching actors they would have been able to bring the intensity that these characters in the novel couldn’t.

I had high hopes for this novel. I loved the concept of Immortal City and the dark underbelly of the Angelic world. This book is a breath of fresh air with regards to the action. There is no chance of getting stuck in a characters thoughts because this book is about what’s happening now – happening to Maddy, to Jacks and to the world in general. And whilst I liked the different style of storytelling I felt like it was a missed opportunity. We skip a year from where the first novel ended to a time when Maddy is well established in a relationship with Jacks. She’s almost come to terms with her new-found Angelic state and she’s handling the fame like a professional.

What disappointed me most about Natural Born Angel was the romance. I don’t need romance to enjoy a good book and this is one of those stories that I think was trying a bit too hard with the relationships. Maddy and Jacks have lost any sort of chemistry they shared in the first book and there’s a new element that made this book go from a suspenseful action fantasy novel to just another clichéd teen romance… but even then the romance was unbelievable and flat.

Overall – there are some great things about this book and some not-so great things too. IF you loved the first book I think you’ll enjoy where Speer takes Maddy and the others in this instalment. Will I be reading the next Immortal City novel? Absolutely! But I think I’ll go in with slightly lower expectations than I had for Natural Born Angel.

 

Thanks to Penguin Teen and netgalley for the digital review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Episodes 31-40 (plus extras)

It’s Friday again so that means that here on whYAnot it’s time for another watch and review for The Lizzie Bennet Diaries!

This week I’m discussion episodes 31 to 40 along with two Q&A videos and a few Lydia Bennet videos.

NOTE: The links below in the episode titles will take you to the video for the episode on the Lizzie Bennet Diaries website so you can watch and join the fun.

Caroline and Lizzie re-enact a Darcy conversation...

Caroline and Lizzie re-enact a Darcy conversation…

Lizzie is still at Netherfield and missing Charlotte but she has found a new friend in Bing’s sister, Caroline. Convertible Carpool shows the two new BFFs bonding over a mutual dislike of William Darcy.

Lydia – upon not being murdered by the lodger she rented the attic to – is back with another vlog of her own. Peer Pressure is yet another thing that Lydia uses to her own advantage. Not sure what Cousin Mary does for fun, Lydia introduces her three rules: Alcohol, pretend mean girls don’t exist and…. more alcohol!

Whilst Lizzie is waxing poetical over her blossoming friendship with Caroline, Turn About The Room has them recalling a Darcy interaction with with some disdain  Lizzie even speculates that his family crest may be “Vanity and Pride”.

Babysitting shows viewers just why the shouldn’t entrust their kids (or valuables) to Miss Lydia Bennet. And then it’s time for another Q&A with Lizzie for Episode QA3: Lizzie Answers Questions. This special video shows us a bit more of the Lizzie/Caroline dynamic as well as answering super important questions about Jane’s job, Kitty’s origins and just where in the world Lizzie would live given the option.

Sisterly Bonding!

Sisterly Bonding!

Nope! He Doesn’t Like Me – Lizzie is still somewhat fixated on William Darcy and his opinions of her. Jane stops by and the sisterly bonding between Lizzie and Jane is fantastic to watch! This has been possibly one of my favourite episodes for a Darcy/Lizzie roleplay – Lizzie playing herself and Jane as Mr Darcy uttering the line “Hate You? I would never dare hate you.” Awwww…

Hate you? I would never dare hate you.

Hate you? I would never dare hate you.

Kitty Bennet is shown off in the sixth instalment of Lydia’s video diaries. Cat videos on YouTube? Say it isn’t so!

After an entire month of being Bing’s guests at Netherfield, Lizzie is starting to feel like a fifth wheel in Lizzie Come Home. Unsure how Bing can be so nice and his sister so accommodating, the Darcy factor is making life in the mansion more unbearable by the day. Upon finding out the Bennet house has been approved by the building contractor a week ago Lizzie looks fit to murder someone…

Probably best to keep Lizzie away from sharp objects...

Probably best to keep Lizzie away from sharp objects…

Lydia is finally ready to be Going Home! But before she leaves her aunt and uncle’s house, she manages to find some common ground with her cousin, Mary. It seems that Mrs B might not be the only matchmaker in the family.

Home Sweet Home. Lizzie is back in her bedroom and nerve center of her video diaries! Reunited with Charlotte (and Lydia too), Lizzie is back to her normal self, imitating her mother and arguing with Jane about Darcy. After a month away summer is almost over and classes about to start up again – Charlotte suggests Lizzie talk to Mr. Ricky Collins about business prospects.

Best Friends Forever!

Best Friends Forever!

In this episode, Mr. Collins Returns. Mrs Bennet keeps inviting him over to dinner and it’s driving Lizzie insane. His name-dropping and the fact that he never seems to take a moment away from talking business is just a bit too much to Lizzie… not to mention he also has discovered her online diaries….

When her little sister and new nemisis invade her private sanctum – Lizzie storms out (Lydia vs. Mr. Collins). But that doesn’t mean no diary entry for today – on the contrary. This leads us to one of the funniest episodes to date. Lydia and Mr. Collins taking a page out of Lizzie’s book and roleplaying some very important interactions.

Ep 37 - Lydia vs. Mr Collins

Remember George Wickham from episode 18: 25 douchbags and a Gentleman? Well it seems like Miss Lizzie has a crush in Tale of Two Gents. Lydia is outraged at Lizzie, (“You even flirt lamely!”) but it seems the middle Bennet sister has got her text on with the swim coach and is gushing. With the help of Jane, Lizzie outlines the differences between Wickham and the not so dashing Mr Collins.

Wickham vs. Mr Collins

Wickham vs. Mr Collins

The Insistent Proposal has Lizzie regretting her eagerness to return to the Bennet household. It’s been two weeks since leaving Bing’s mansion and already Lizzie is missing the peace and quiet of her Mrs Bennet free days. It seems Lizzie’s mother is pushing the stalky annoying talkative Evil Santa” at Lizzie. There’s a proposal of sorts and Lizzie is out of words.

Mr Collins proposes....

Mr Collins proposes….

Never one to miss an opportunity to impersonate her mother, Lizzie shares the Proposal Fallout with all her viewers. It seems the two lovely Bennet ladies are at odds following Mr. Collins’ offer. But it’s not all bad news – Jane has something to celebrate! A one week carpool anniversary for her and Bing!

In the fourth Q&A video they finally address the issue of Mr Bing Lee vs. Bing Lee Electronics! And of course.. other super important issues as well.

I love watching these videos! I mean there’s a reason why I’m limiting myself to only ten episodes a week. I think I’d probably be able to watch the entire series in a day… but nothing else would get done!

I think it’s amazing that despite being well acquainted with the Austen novel, I still find myself being excited and anxious as to how things are going to play out for the characters. Lizzie and Darcy with the added complication of Wickham. And then there’s Mr Collins and all the controversy he brings. I’m excited for the evolution of Jane and Bing’s relationship and thrilled to see just who will pop in next in future episodes.

Let me know what you think about this series! Comments are always welcome and appreciated.

Book Review: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Title: This is What Happy Looks Like
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit
Publisher: Headline Fiction
Publication Date: April 2012
Pages: 416
Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis (goodreads):
When 17-year-old Graham Larkin sends an email to a friend about his pet pig, Wilbur, the last thing he expects is a response from the other side of the country, from one Ellie O’Neill. As their online friendship blossoms, they begin to reveal more about themselves but crucially leave out the truth about Ellie’s past and Graham’s career as a Hollywood heartthrob. And when a new location needs to be found for Graham’s next film, he jumps at the chance to visit Ellie’s hometown, Henley, Maine. But, now that they’re together, it’s impossible to keep their secrets for long and there’s a lot to overcome if love is to blossom…

My Review:

When an email from Graham Larkin to a pig walker gets mistakenly sent to sixteen year old Ellie O’Neill, an unlikely friendship blossoms between a teen heart-throb and a small town girl. But when their relationship goes from online to off-screen, things get complicated. The guy that every girl wants falls for a girl who wants nothing to do with the limelight or the paparazzi following that comes with it. Can the easy camaraderie Ellie and Graham once had stand up to the pressures that real life brings?

I have to admit I love the famous guy falling for the small town girl storyline. Mix it with elements of mistaken online identity in a “You’ve Got Mail” twist and you have one of my all time plot lines. I’ve watched movies based on this. I’ve read stories basted on this – I’ve even written my own novella like this. I’m delighted to say that This is What Happy Looks Like is such a worthy addition to the other works in this genre.

Ellie and Graham are flawlessly flawed. They are characters who both had to grow up fast due to their circumstances and as a result they both act much older than their years. Seeing them in this summer romance was delightful to see them behave like the teenagers they are. Both have their baggage but neither of them dwell on their situation. Graham wants something to like him for him and not the fame or privileges that go along with the “Graham Larkin Experience”. Ellie enjoys the quiet life and doesn’t appreciate the media circus that the film crew has brought to her peaceful Maine cottage.

I was a little disappointed with the supporting cast of characters – the friends were of the fair-weather variety and the authority figures were somewhat fleeting – but they didn’t detract from the romance between Graham and Ellie.

This is a very sweet story. Plot wise – there’s not too many surprises this is definitely one of those books you read for the journey and not the destination. It loses steam about two-thirds of the way in but manages to pick up the pace for a delightful ending.

Overall I’d recommend this book for anyone who likes a light contemporary story about a summer romance where no matter who you are, sometimes the simplest things in life are the ones that make you the happiest.

Favourite Quotes:

“Theirs was a partnership of details rather than facts. And the details were the best part.”

“He’d cast his e-mail out into the world in search of a trout and what he’d found instead was a salmon.”


Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Thought I’d Like More/Less

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week’s topic is: Top Ten Books I Thought I’d Like More/Less

As much as I try not too – expectations get the better of me. When I hear/see people RAVING about a book/series/author, I admit that the hype sometimes gets the best of me. And I realize it’s not the book’s fault – but I often can’t help but feel a little disappointed when a decent book didn’t blow me away like I was anticipating.

(Links will take you to my reviews. Clicking on the book cover will take you to the book’s page on goodreads)

Books I Though I’d Like More (and wound up a little disappointed):

Obsidian (Lux, #1)

Obsidian (Lux #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout – This isn’t a bad book. I did enjoy it but I wanted more. Daemon is great but it’d take someone even better than him for me not to resent him for blowing up my computer.

Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful, #1)

Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful #1) by Jamie Maguire – I love love. But I don’t love over the top jealousy and people who keep trying the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)

Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) by Tahereh Mafi – There’s a lot I liked about this book. And a lot that left me feeling wanting. This was one of the most talked about books of 2012. It seemed that people everywhere were praising this one. And whilst I thought it was clever I think I spent most of the time I was reading it waiting. Waiting for it to live up to my (possibly unrealistic) expectations.

Marked (House of Night, #1)

Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast – A friend told me this book was absolutely fantastic – the best Vampire Teen series around. I think I got my hopes up and just missed things I would have liked had it not been off the back of such high praise.

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. – This one I think was my own fault that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped. The trailer for the movie ruined the book and that in itself frustrated me. Also I listened to this one on audiobook and the fact that the narrator’s voice had an accent but his thoughts didn’t – it really took me out of the story.

On the other hand are books that I went in not expecting too much and being blown away. These are the best kinds of books! To quote one of my all time favourite movies… A Diamond in the Rough.

(and since I couldn’t find any appropriate gifs – here’s one from Aladdin just cause I love that movie!)

Books I Thought I’d Like Less (and ended up loving!):

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)

Anna and the French Kiss & Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins – There is the saying “Don’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover” but perhaps I should not judge a book on its title. These books have names similar to those I’d bring home for homework in primary school. But these books are far from simple. They’re beautiful stories about love, friendship, family problems and the complexities of growing up. These are two of my favourite teen contemporary romance novels and I’m so glad I picked them up because I very nearly didn’t..

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1)

Vampire Academy/Bloodlines by Richelle Mead – It probably wouldn’t be a TTT without a Richelle Mead series featuring somewhere on my list. These are both series that feature some kind if paranormal creature in a boarding school but they are both so much more than that. There’s depth and consequences and the gorgeous leading men don’t hurt things either. I had read Mead’s Georgina Kincaid series before starting VA but I didn’t expect for the series to have such a profound effect on my views regarding YA paranormal novels.

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer – A sci-fi futuristic cyborg version of Cinderella? This isn’t something I ever thought I’d read let alone like. But somehow Meyer wrote a novel that’s well thought out and the fairytale links are crafted in a way that feels so right for the story.

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – I thought I’d try to see if I could somehow beat the system. I’d heard so much about this book. The Best Book EVER! is a line that many of my friends and reviews had thrown around. Not having read any John Green and having nothing to compare his work to I though I’d go in expecting the worse. I’m a big enough person to admit I’m wrong because I ADORED this book. It’s beautiful and the characters are almost ridiculously perfect in their own way. I cried. So if you haven’t read this book and you’re intending to – try to ignore the hype. Make up your own mind. But this is a book that I recommend for everyone to read. Even if it’s just to be on the bandwagon and know what people are talking about when they’re talking about TFiOS and John Green.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1)Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone / Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor – These books are beautifully written. And the covers are gorgeous. And I have no idea why I didn’t think I’d like them but I very nearly passed on the opportunity to read them.

That’s my list for another week. I love reading other people’s TTT’s and blogs in general so please leave me a comment with a link so I can visit back. All comments are welcome and very much appreciated. Thanks!

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