Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Laydown Lowdown

Are you psyched for the big football game on Sunday or will you be blissfully oblivious with your nose in a book like me?

Either way, you may enjoy "Blitzing Emily: A Love and Football Novel" by Julie Brannagh.  Other new releases in Romance today include "Motorcycle Man," by Jaime Rush,"Romancing the Duke: Castles Ever After," by Tessa Dare, "Nothing Sweeter," by Laura Drake, "Shoreline Drive," by Lily Everett, "The Bride Says No," by Cathy Maxwell, "Tangled Hearts," by Heather McCollum, "At River's Edge," by Mariah Stewart, and "Deeper," by Robin York.

Make a pass over to Mystery for "Ripper," by Isabele Allende, "Ice Run," by Steve Hamilton, "Moriarty Returns a Letter: A Bake Street Mystery," by Michael Robertson, "The Pawnbroker," by Aimee Thurlo, and "Urban Renewal," by Andrew Vachss.

Dash by Science Fiction/Fantasy for "Red Rising," by Pierce Brown,  "A Darkling Sea," by James Cambias, "Hangwire," by Adam Christopher, "Up From the Grave," by Jeanine Frost, "Crimson Veil," by Yasmine Galenorn, and "Lockdown: Star Wars," by Joe Schreiber.

In Young Adult, fans will finally discover if Perri and Aria are able to save their civilizations and go "Into the Still Blue," the finale to Veronica Rossi's "Under the Never Sky" trilogy.  Other new releases in the genre today include "Forever," by Karen Ann Hopkins, "Beware of Boys," by Kelli London, "Infinite," by Jodi Meadows, "The Unbound," by Victoria Schwab, and "Heartbeat," by Elizabeth Scott.

Will any of these reads make your "to-read" list?  Share with us!  Remember to support your local bookstore whenever possible.  Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

December Book Club: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

 Morgan lives in Internment - a part of the earth that was exiled to the sky. Everyone has a place and a responsibility and lives in peace with each other. Until a girl Morgan's age is found murdered on the train tracks. As the authorities try to find the killer, Morgan's life slowly begins to unravel and she worries that she will be drawn to the edge of Internment like her older brother who was blinded as a result of his curiosity. When the girl's betrothed is named as the murderer, Morgan finds herself unable to believe that Judas could really have done it. She clings to her best friend Pen and her own betrothed, Basil, and tries to make sense of the swirling mysteries building around her. Can she find the truth or will she lose everything she cares about?

Want to own it?
Barnes & Noble
Find an Indie bookstore near you!
We don't support a specific store or company, but do ask that you shop at your local brick and mortar. If they don't have the book in stock they can usually get it in a few days! Keep them in business!

What we thought:
Rebecca T. - I liked the way that it wasn't a real dystopian society. As the story progresses we get more of the negative things that are going on, but overall this is a pleasant place to live. Overall, people are happy with their lives, their jobs, and their families. This was a welcome break from some of the darker dystopians that have been so popular (not that I don't love the darker ones too). I appreciated the lack of a love triangle as well. I also really liked the inclusion of religion as an aspect of society. Too often in books (especially YA) there is absolutely no mention of religion. Looking at earth's history, it is highly unlikely that religion would disappear from society, so I always appreciate it when an author weaves it in well as DeStefano does here. I was not as happy about the ending as it felt more like a chapter break than the end of the book, but I am very curious to see what will transpire in the second book.

Jenn N. - I enjoyed DeStefano's previous work with the Chemical Garden trilogy, but I loved Perfect Ruin!! I thought it was clever how this dystopian trilogy went against the cookie cutter oppressive society that dominates the genre and went against type with a seeming idyllic community. Of course, as the novel progresses, cracks start to develop in Internment's perfect reputation, and you're pulled into Morgan's investigation into the mysterious society. I also loved Morgan's relationship with Basil. For once we have a heroine who at this time seems to have no romantic conflict. She seems more than content with Basil, and I hope that doesn't change in subsequent installments. Although this is the first book in a trilogy I found that the book ended rather abruptly, but it certainly served as a great cliffhanger because I'll be reading the second installment as soon as it's available. I also have to add a side comment that Lauren DeStefano is the owner of the world's cutest cats. Check her out on Instagram and see what I mean.

For January we are reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, so check back to see what we thought!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hard Glamour by Maggie Marr


Today, we're proud to be one of the stops on the "Glamour Series" blog tour as hosted by AToMR tours.  "Hard Glamour," is the first book in the sexy "New Adult," series.

"A promise to keep….

Honoring her mother’s last wish, Lane Channing vows to follow her dreams. She takes the ‘big risk’ and leaves her small Kansas town behind and heads to LA, the city of dreams. She’s got a stellar job lined up, an old jeep, and 20 bucks to last her to her first paycheck. Her hopes shatter when she arrives to find her job’s been given to someone else. Now she’s broke and will soon be living on the streets if she doesn’t do something fast. Welcome to cutthroat – Lane is most certainly not in Kansas anymore.

On the cusp of success…

Dillon MacAvoy has one goal–to become a star–whatever it takes. Even if it
means honing his bad-boy can’t-be-tamed-and-forever-single image. Besides the image isn’t far from the truth. Dillon cares only about his younger brother and his career. He’s on the brink of superstardom if he can just decide on the next right script. But for that, he needs a script reader he can trust.

In a strange twist of fate…

Lane Channing is Dillon’s last chance. If Lane lasts the summer without becoming MacAvoy’s latest conquest, she’s guaranteed a job in entertainment. No problem, as long as she can ignore the heat that pulses through her every time Dillon is in the room. After all, love and commitment with a sweet, hometown girl would only ruin the Dillon MacAvoy brand.

- summary provided by AToMR tours.

This is a quick, entertaining and very hot read.  If it was summer time, I'd say it would make the perfect beach read. 

I loved the initial premise.  When I was in high school, I had similar goals to Lane's.  I always dreamed of going to LA and working as a television producer.  Lane took the leap that I was too broke and chicken to make. So, it was fun to live the LA dream vicariously through her.   Lane is a very strong and intelligent character.  However her initial naivete about what exactly an internship entails and doesn't entail seemed improbable to me but perhaps her age excuses that. 

While Dillon had his charms and a back story that explained his flaws, I found that his issues didn't always justify his actions.  I also had a hard time understanding how the success of his career seemed to rest solely on his wild bachelor image.  Despite this, I found Dillon to be a likeable leading man in this tale.

I was also really intrigued by the subplots and secondary characters such as Amanda, Lane's LA friend and Dillon's brother Choo. The second, forthcoming novel in the "Glamour," series, "Broken Glamour," features Amanda.  I suspect and hope subsequent novels in the series will focus on additional characters mentioned in "Hard Glamour," as I'd love to re-visit them and learn more about them.

As "Hard Glamour," contains explicit sexual scenes, I'd recommended it for New Adult and adult Romance fans only.  For additional reviews of "Hard Glamour" by Maggie Marr, please visit the rest of the stops on the tour and for more information on Maggie Marr and her books please visit her blog. 

Please note that I received no financial compensation for this review.  I received an advanced reader's copy of the novel from the tour hosts in exchange for a fair and honest review.
If you're a resident of the USA or Canada, you can enter to win a copy of "Hard Glamour," by Maggie Marr from our tour hosts!!

a Rafflecopter


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Laydown Lowdown

Another Tuesday with yet another snow storm heading our way.  If you haven't caught on by now, I loathe winter.  Fortunately I can pretend to hibernate like a bear and get lost in a great book such as one of this week's new releases.

There are plenty of new Mysteries available today including, "That Old Black Magic," by Mary Jane Clark, "Now You May Weep," by Deborah Crombie, "Gold Web," by Vicki Delany, "NYPD Puzzle," by Parnell Hall, "Bad Wolf," by Nele Neuhaus and "Hunting Shadows," by Charles Todd.

Over in Romance, you can find out "When the Rogue Returns," by Sabrina Jeffries or relax with "Dark Bites: A Short Story Collection," by Sherilyn Kenyon, "This Man Confessed," by Jodi Ellen Malpas, "Loving Cara," by Kristen Proby, and "Echoes of Mercy," by Kim Vogel Sawyer.

"Day Watch: Book Two" by Sergei Lukyanenko and "Pandemic" by Scott Sigler is available in Science Fiction/Fantasy today.

Finally head on over to Young Adult for "The Witch is Back" by Brittany Gergagotelis, "Fake ID," by Lamar Giles, "The Scar Boys," by Len Vlahos, and "The Rule of Three," by Eric Walters.

Will any of these books make your "to-read" list?  Share with us and remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.  Happy Reading.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

10 Things I Love About Kiersten White's The Chaos of Stars

  1. The cover - Seriously though. How fantastic is that cover? And having read the book it is very fitting to the story as well.
  2. Isadora - Kiersten White has this way of crafting really interesting main characters. Her female leads are never boring, they always have clearly defined personalities and interests and unique voices. And Isadora is no exception. She is strong, but flawed. She has a temper, but isn't mean. I loved her penchant for interior design as well. It was a great aspect to her character that also played a significant role in the plot.
  3. Ry - He's just as unique as Isadora with just enough mystery to make him interesting without him falling into brooding, bad-boy territory.
  4. The relationship. I really liked that Ry and Isadora's relationship moved through different stages. They aren't just suddenly attracted to each other - there's a lot more to the story, and their friendship develops as they spend time together. Even when Isadora isn't happy about him being around.
  5. The mythology - So many people have recently spent time playing with various mythologies. I really liked the background that is woven in with the Egyptian gods without that being too overpowering so it was still mainly Isadora's story.
  6. Isadora's family history - I really liked the little snapshot sections of Egyptian mythology at the beginning of the chapters. Not only did it give enough of the mythology to help establish the background for people not really familiar with it, but having it in Isadora's voice made it perfect.
  7. I know this is a little detail, but I loved the way the chapters were numbered.
  8. Tyler - She is the perfect foil for Isadora. She stands out, but doesn't overshadow the story or Isadora.
  9. Food - I really liked how Ry is obsessed with all these little eateries and how he wants to share that experience with Isadora. I was hungry through a lot of this book. And Isadora's obsession with all food unhealthy was hilarious.
  10. Family - I liked the development of Isadora's understanding of family and her relationships with the various people (and gods) in her family. It was poignant without being too hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-moral-ish.
So go check out The Chaos of Stars and, if you haven't read Mind Games yet, you should because Perfect Lies comes out next month!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Laydown Lowdown

Happy Tuesday Everyone!  There are plenty of new books this week sure to take your mind of the winter blahs.

We all loved the first one and now, "Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," by Ransom Riggs is available in Young Adult plus "Going Rogue," the 2nd "Also Known As" novel by Robin Benway.

Over in Science Fiction/Fantasy you'll find a novel with probably one of the longest titles ever,"A Highly Unlikely Scenario or Neetsa Pizza Employee's Guide To Saving the World," by Rachel Cantor.  "He Drank and Saw the Spider," by Alex Bledsoe, "Star Road," by Matthew Costello are also available along with the paperback release of "The Magic Engineer," by L.E. Modesitt Jr. 

Run through Romance for "Watchers in the Night," by Jenna Black and "The Edge of Always," by J.A. Redmerski.

"The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches," the 6th installment in Alan Bradley's "Flavia deLuce" series, Apple Tree Yard," by Louise Doughty, "Scents of the Shadow Bible," by Ian Rankin, and "Shovel Ready," by Adam Sternberg are all available in Mystery/Thriller today.

Will any of these books make your "to-read" pile?  Share with us!  Remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Scent of Pine by Lara Vapnyar

"Though Lena is only thirty-eight, she finds herself in the grip of a midlife crisis. She feels out of place in her adoptive country, her career has stalled, and her marriage has tumbled into a spiral of apathy and distrust;it seems impossible she will ever find happiness again. But then she meets Ben, a failed artist turned reluctant academic, who is just as lost as she is. They strike up a precarious friendship and soon surprise themselves by embarking on an impulsive weekend adventure.

On the drive to Ben's remote cabin in Maine, Lena begins to open up, for the first time in her life, about the tumultuous summer she spent as a counselor in a Soviet children's camp twenty years earlier, when she was just discovering romance and her own sexuality. At a time when Russia itself was in turmoil, the once-placid world of the camp was growing equally unsettled, with unexplained disappearances and mysterious goings-on among the staff; Lena and her best friend are haunted by what they witnessed, or failed to witness, and by the fallout from those youthful relationships. It was a time of intense emotions, confusion, and passions, and ultimately very little turned out to be exactly as it seemed.

As Lena reveals to Ben secrets she has long kept hidden, the lovers begin to discover together not only the striking truths buried in her past, but also more immediate lessons about the urgency of this short, stolen time they have together..." goodreads.com 

Despite the fact that this book takes place over just a few days, the pacing was very slow but its slow pacing fit the novel.  Lena and Ben's stories came out naturally over time as they began to feel more comfortable with one another.  I found Lena to be the more sympathetic of the two. It's clear from the novel's onset that her husband emotionally abuses her and has quashed her self esteem. It's no surprise that she became interested in the first man to value her in some time. Ben is initially charming but as the novel progresses, I found his issues and relationship struggles hard to empathise with or rationalize.  However the relationship Lena has with her husband and Ben isn't the only complex and intriguing relationship here. As Lena tells Ben stories of her childhood friend Inka. You'll wonder if Inka was the dear  Lena claimed her to be. 

If you're looking for a fluffy novel about a second chance at love, this novel isn't for you.  But if you're looking for a thoughtful novel that examines some of the harsh realities in contemporary relationships then this novel is for you.  The novel's conclusion is open ended and will leave you unsettled and wondering what Ben and Lena's next move will be but I found it refreshing that everything wasn't resolved and tied up with a pretty bow.

Please note that I received an advanced copy of "The Scent of Pine" by Lara Vapnyar via NetGalley from Simon & Schuster in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Laydown Lowdown

My weather app is telling me that it feels like negative seven degrees outside.  Yikes!  What a great day to hibernate like a bear with one of this week's new reads.

First up in Romance, you'll find new releases by best-selling authors such as "After the Storm," by Maya Banks, "Hope Flames," by Jaci Burton,"Montana Bride," by Joan Johnston, "Dark Wolf," by Christine Feehan, and "River Road," by Jayne Ann Krentz.

Other new releases in Romance include "Gilded Hearts," by Christine d'Abo, "Forsaken," by Jacquelyn Frank, "Come to Me Quietly," by A.L. Jackson, "Always You," by Erin Kaye," and "Before Jamaica Lane," by Samantha Young. 

Moving over to Mystery, you'll find "Eggs in a Casket," by Laura Childs, "Corpse Flower," by Gloria Ferris"Fear Nothing," by Lisa Gardner, "Home of the Braised," by Julie Hyzy," "The Good Girl's Guide to Murder," by Susan McBride, and "The House on the Cliff," by Charlotte Williams.  Plus, Dick Wolf, the creator of the "Law & Order," franchises, releases his second novel, "The Execution," and "Standup Guy," by Stuart Woods marks the 28th entry in the "Stone Barrington" series.

Skate over to Science Fiction/Fantasy for "Work Done for Hire," by Joe Halderman, " "River of Dreams," by Lynn Kurland, "On Such a Full Sea," by Chang-rae Lee, "Rex Regis," by L.E. Modesitt Jr., and "Dreams of the Golden Age," by Carrie Vaughn. 

Don't forget to check out Young Adult for "Alliance," by Mark Frost, "A Breath of Frost," by Alyxandra Harvey, "The Impossible Knife of Memory," by Laurie Halse Anderson, "Unhinged," by A.G. Howard, "Enders," by Lissa Price, "Erased," by Jennifer Rush, "Zom-B Gladiator," by Darren Shan, "Darkest Fear:  Birthright #1," by Cate Tiernan, and "Love Reborn," the conclusion to the "Dead Beautiful" trilogy by Yvonne Woon. 

Will any of these books make your "to-read" list?  Share with us!! Happy Reading and remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Reading Reflections & Resolutions

It's a new year a time for reflections on the past year and resolutions for the new year.  For us at BWOBNY our resolutions are reading goal based.  I polled everyone to see if they met last year's goal, what their goal's were for 2014, and their favorite book of 2013.

Rebecca T: "My goal for 2013 was 175 books and I just hit 187...I read a lot of graphic novels and manga this year, which helped, but I had a really wide variety of genres. Favorite book of the year is SO HARD, but I think I'm going to have to go with Marissa Meyer's Cinder. It was all around wonderful. It had a little bit of everything that I love in a book.  And I think my goal for 2014 is going to be 200. I'm hoping I'll have a little more free reading time what with finishing school. And I'm still gobbling up graphic novels and want to go exploring further into the manga world."

Once again, Naomi blew everyone's reading goals our of the water as she says, 
"I reached my goal numerous times. I had a ridiculously extraordinary year of reading books. I blame it on manga and graphic novels, but I read 284 books. It is almost impossible to pick a favorite because I read so many kinds, so I will cheat and say my favorite was the last one I read, because I just finished it and it is still bubbling all over me and it makes me happy. It is The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker and it is about poetry and language and love and I felt like I explored a bit of life I had forgotten and overlooked. And I have to say I almost picked the Amelia books by Jimmy Gownley because they made me cry and laugh and I almost never actually cry when reading books but they were so emotionally real and powerful and punched down deep in the gut. Next year I'm hoping to read 250 books, although I doubt I can reach such a number two years in a row. I'd be happy with 198 books. But I also want to try reading more articles, so I might just read closer to a hundred. We shall see. But I'm excited. I'm learning to explore more genres and age groups and types of books and it's very exciting, this opening up."

Rachel "I definitely did not reach my goal, but I'm glad I at least got to start my harry potter re-read and polish off all the Kate DiCamillo's. I'm currently reading Doctor Sleep by Stephen King and it is outstanding. This has been a pretty sad reading year for me, but I'm definitely going to pick up the pace for 2014. I can't let Russ [boyfriend] beat me again- he does almost a book a week!"

Stacey:  "I wanted to have 52 new reads in for the year. I'm currently at 47 new reads, with sixteen rereads. Including the Hunger Games, and Harry Potter series. Next year I'll aim for something more doable."

As for me, I aimed to read 100 books but fell short with just 59 books read in 2013.  My favorite book that I read in 2013 would have to be "The Mistresses," by Tiffany Reisz, it was simply incredible.   This year, I'm going to try reaching a more manageable goal of 78 books.  

What are or were your reading goals?  What was your favorite book that you read in the previous year?  Please share with us! 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

First Things First: The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

Happy New Year and welcome to our new feature "First Things First."  Each month I'll be reviewing the first book or few books in a long-standing series. First up, "The Surgeon," book one in Tess Gerritsen's "Rizzoli & Isles" series.  The books are also the basis of TNT's popular drama or the same name.

"In Boston, there's a killer on the loose. A killer who targets lone women, who breaks into their apartments and performs terrifying ritualistic acts of torture on them before finishing them off. His surgical skills lead police to suspect he is a physician - a physician who, instead of saving lives, takes them.

But as homicide detective Thomas Moore and his partner Jane Rizzoli begin their investigation, they make a startling discovery. Closely linked to these killings is Catherine Cordell, a beautiful medic with a mysterious past. Two years ago she was subjected to a horrifying rape and attempted murder but she shot her attacker dead. Now she is being targeted by the new killer who seems to know all about her past, her work, and where she lives.

The man she believes she killed seems to be stalking her once again, and this time he knows exactly where to find her..." goodreads.com

It's important to note that while this book is considered a "Rizzoli & Isles," novel medical examiner Maura Isles does not appear in "The Surgeon," at all.  She makes her first appearance in the second novel in the series "The Apprentice."

This book was different than anything I had ever read before. I normally choose a light cozy mystery.  However, I am so glad I decided to broaden my reading horizons with a darker novel such as "The Surgeon." 

The novel is told from varying points of view including the killer's, the killer's main target Catherine, Jane's partner Thomas, and of course Jane Rizzoli herself.  This provides a unique and detailed look at all angles of the crime and the criminal investigation process.  

The descriptions of the crime scene and the killer's point of view are graphic and disturbing but not in a gratuitous manner. It just added fuel page turning fire that this creeper must be arrested and arrested fast.

While the book was written in 2005 and some of the technology used in criminal investigation may be outdated, it was really interesting and fascinating to read the descriptions of what goes on in a criminal investigation and how the technology works.

Jane's determination to be seen as a great cop rather than a just a great female cop makes her seem not assertive and confident but abrasive at times.  However, it's something her character acknowledges and struggles with.  I had to laugh though at the one passage describing her feelings toward babies because her description of the awkwardness she felt around them was so like my own feelings that I laughed out loud.  I suspect her character and personality grows in subsequent installments as she already shows signs of becoming warmer in "The Apprentice."  

Jane's relentless pursuit of the killer will keep you up all night, not just in fear, but because you simply can't put this book down.  The cliche is definitely true here.  I carried this one around in purse so I could continue reading it whenever I had a free moment.

If you haven't already read "The Surgeon," by Tess Gerritsen, I highly recommend that you do.  I also recommend the second novel in the series, "The Apprentice."  I haven't read the seven subsequent novels in the series yet but I'm looking forward to them.  If you've read them, I'd love to read your non-spoilery comments!  Please share.