Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The End of an Era

It is with mixed feelings that I write this post.

I have decided to stop posting to this blog.  I've come to a point in my life where blogging about books just doesn't fit anymore.  Years ago, when I started blogging, my life centered around reading.  I loved it and I STILL DO, but back then it was the true joy in my life (minus my husband, of course) and now there are just so many other things that I'm focused on.

I never ever wanted this blog to feel like a job and at some point in the last year, that is about how I started to view it.  I think that I desperately tried to hold on to it, partially because friends and fellow book enthusiasts seemed to enjoy the blog so much, partially because I liked some of the perks, and partially because it had become a part of my core identity.

As I embark on new adventures in my life, though, in my career and in my personal life, I'm finding I just don't have the time or drive to keep up.  I'd rather do what I've done with my reading habits, choose fewer "titles" and enjoy each more.

So, this will be my last post, though I'm not going to take down the blog completely, just in case a year from now, or two if I change my mind I can come back.

Thank you so much for reading and sharing my enthusiasm for all things bookish over the years. If you still want to keep in touch, come find me on twitter @JM_IReadtoRelax.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I'm Judging Again!

Hello All!
Once again things have gotten a little quiet here.
I swear I haven't disappeared and I'm actually reading just as busily as usual.  Surprisingly, at the moment, I'm working my way through a stack of adult romance novels - and I'm loving it!

See, right now I'm helping to judge for the Maggie Award for Excellence given out by the Georgia Romance Writers, a division of the Romance Writers of America. The Maggie Award for Excellence has been given out by Georgia Romance Writers for over three decades and I'm honored to be assisting them in the judging process.

I'm having such a great time reading, too, because I got sent eight romance novels from the Paranormal and Historical genre categories and the two I've finished so far have both been well done. I liked one so much, I immediately went online to see what else the author had written in the series. I think I'm going to be reading my way through the rest of hers. *grins*

Since these books are being judged, though, I don't feel comfortable sharing any more info about them until after the contest is over... so.... no reviews for now! You all will just have to know that I'm sighing happily somewhere with a good book, even if no evidence shows online. *wink*

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sophomore Year Is Greek To Me

Sophomore Year is Greek to Me 
by Meredith Zeitlin

High school sophomore Zona Lowell has lived in New York City her whole life, and plans to follow in the footsteps of her renowned-journalist father. But when he announces they’re moving to Athens for six months so he can work on an important new story, she's devastated— he must have an ulterior motive. See, when Zona's mother married an American, her huge Greek family cut off contact. But Zona never knew her mom, and now she’s supposed to uproot her entire life and meet possibly hostile relatives on their turf? Thanks... but no thanks. (Description from

This was a fun book to read. Perfect to get in the mood for Summer fact, I may check out Zeitlin's other book , Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters while I'm on vacation this summer in San Francisco. Her writing seems like it makes for the perfect kind of book to take on a plane. 

I loved that in this book Zona felt like an authentic teen - the kind that I was - driven to succeed in school, happy with her few close friends, and comfortable in her own skin...until suddenly she wasn't at all. I can absolutely remember going through similar self-identity crises! Though I never had that exact scenario, having to meet an entirely heretofore unknown portion of family, I can remember for one reason or another having to learn on the fly to make new friends, and never really being comfortable doing it.  

In fact, one of the things I liked most about this novel, was though it was a quick read and one that I would loosely term a "light beach read," in fact, it wasn't really that light at all.  Zona deals with some pretty heavy family issues.  She has to navigate not only a new country, essentially alone, but a new school - one where she doesn't know anyone! She learns to make new friends and hang on to the old ones.  She learns that sometimes the right decision in life is the uncomfortable one. 

This book made me laugh and it made me tear up.  It ran the gamut of emotions in the perfect way that a summertime book can.  I definitely would recommend this one to someone looking for a little bit of romance, a little bit of fun, some great scenery, but with a real focus on personal and family growth. 

Full Disclosure: eARC received through Netgalley

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mini Reviews: The Lunar Chronicles Edition (with a Gold Star!)

I FINALLY got the chance to catch up with the Lunar Chronicles series, which is one of my favorites! I love how Meyer manages to combine the soul of the original fairy tales with some fantastic new science fiction elements creating a whole new world that manages at once to also feel familiar.

by Marissa Meyer
Lunar Chronicles, book 3

Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has... (Description from

I loved how this particular addition to the series managed to add yet another set of characters and their own back stories to the mix, but still managed to feel completely cohesive. That's tough to do!  Each portion of the story, no matter how far it seemed to stretch from Cinder's central, pivotal story line, still felt vital and I was kept right on the edge of my seat. Well done. 

Full disclosure: Book Purchased for my own Personal Library 

Fairest: Levanna's Story 
by Marissa Meyer
Lunar Chronicles, book 3.5
Prequel to Cinder

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.
(Description from

I was completely and utterly enthralled with this book. I LOVE to think about how the villains of stories came to be the people they are when we see them interact with our heroes and heroines. Levanna's story was utterly compelling - learning her history and actually feeling sorry for her - having to remind myself about the things she goes on to do...Just wow. I actually want to give this novella a shiny Gold Star!

Full disclosure: Audio book received from AudioFile for Review/Book Purchased for my own Personal Library 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Blog Tour - Shadow Scale (Gold Star Review)

I am beyond excited to be part of Rachel Hartman's blog tour for Shadow Scale today! I LOVED Seraphina and could not wait for the sequel... as soon as I got my review copy I dove right in. 

Shadow Scale 
by Rachel Hartman 
sequel to Seraphina

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

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

As I said above, I've been waiting three long years for this sequel! When the book finally arrived on my doorstep, I'm pretty sure there was some epic squealing and jumping...  As I started reading I kept struggling with myself. I had a huge urge to plow straight through and devour it, but then I could not help but slow down and savor Hartman's writing.  

Not only is this another fantastic example of a fantasy that I just could not wait to see unfold, but Hartman truly does have a gift for description.  Her characters, places, and general world-building sucked me in once again.  Though this is a hefty tome (coming in at almost 600 pages), I never felt as if it was too much.  Each scene felt right and necessary.  I love the amount of information that she was able to continue to add to Seraphina's world - the history of the kingdoms, Seraphina's past interactions with the other ityasaari (half-dragons) and then her ability to merge the backstories of several characters into one larger, more important storyline.  Absolutely compelling. 

Those of you waiting with bated breath as I was, you won't be disappointed.  Seraphina's tale is one of war, love, friendship, betrayal, danger, compromise, and compassion.  Though I'm sorry to see it end, it was well done and I enjoyed it all the way through. Another gold star to Rachel Hartman! 

Full disclosure: Review copy received from Publisher for Blog Tour

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Read From My Personal Library - March Update

So, I promised you all that I'd keep you updated on my self-imposed "Read from my Personal Library" challenge.

This is what the challenge stated: My realistic goal is going to be to read 3 personally owned books for every 1 that I read from the Library, etc.  

And here's how I did for the rest of March:
I read 9 books total.  

Four of those books were from borrowed through the Library where I work - 1 fun fiction read, 2 personal non-fiction reads, and 1 fiction book for work (for the book club I lead).

One book was sent to me for a Blog Tour review.  

Four of those books came from my own Personal Library!! Not quite the 3:1 ratio that I'd been aiming for, BUT a 1:1 ratio is a decent start...I'm going to aim for better in April.  

So, what did I read from my Personal Library?
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Cress (Lunar Chronicles 3)

Fairest (Lunar Chronicles Prequel)

The Final Act (Immortal Circus 3)
Anyone else read from their own bookshelves (physical or virtual) this month?

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
by Holly Black

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown's gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
(Description from

This one's been sitting on my shelves for more than a year and a half now...and I'd been stoked to read it when I got it at BEA! I love Holly Black's writing and I knew if I was going to read any more vampire fiction (I've been sort of anti-vampire in the last couple of years...) that she would be the author to trust for quality and a twist on the traditional genre. 

In fact, I started this book by listening to the audio and from the moment that Tana woke up in a bathtub at a Daylight Party gone wrong, I was hooked.  The characters are fascinating.  Each one either trying to hide or embrace the darkest parts of themselves and still not really knowing exactly how dark life (or in this case, the afterlife) can get.  Black manages to keep readers on the edge of their seat, constantly drawing Tana to a place that could mean safety, only to pull the rug out from under her again and again.  

I was awed at how strong a character she was...often I wonder how I would react in the scenes I read. I know that if the events that occurred in Tana's life were to happen to me, I would have instantly been vampire food, but she manages through wit and grim determination to triumph again and again.  She truly is the "Coldest Girl in Coldtown."  I would LOVE to read a follow up to this book to see exactly where the next part of her adventure takes her... to see how she manages to defy what seems to be the only options before her, time and again.  

Is there a book two? Does anyone know?  

Full disclosure: Book from my Personal Library (ARC received at BEA 2013)/Audiobook borrowed from the Library

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Blog Tour - The Traveling Tea Shop: Part Two

I'm very excited to be part of Belinda Jones' The Traveling Tea Shop Blog Tour! This book is a fun, romantic...and snack-inducing read.  In fact, I found it such a sweet read that I've actually already talked about it yesterday and I'm going to talk about it again today! 

The Traveling Tea Shop
by Belinda Jones
Love Travel series, book eleven

Love isn't always a piece of cake...

Laurie Davis has always followed her passion. After escaping family drama to start a new life in New York City, she’s up for whatever challenges life brings. So when an opportunity arises for her to use her travel industry expertise and serve as an assistant and tour guide for her idol, Pamela Lambert-Leigh, star of television’s Tea-Time with Pamela, she jumps at the chance.

But Laurie’s exciting adventure ends up entailing a lot more than scouting locations for the cake queen’s new cookbook when Pamela’s sassy mother and sulky, rebellious daughter tag along for the trip. As they cruise around bakeries in New England trading local delights like Red Velvet Cake and Whoopie Pies for British specialties such as Victoria Sponge and Bakewell Tarts, more secrets than recipes are revealed.

Now, in between rediscovering romance, learning to forgive family, and finding the best dessert on the East Coast, Laurie, Pamela, and the gang might find there’s nothing a nice cup of tea, a sweet treat, and a little bit of friendship can’t heal… (Description from

I truly enjoy books that are FUN to read.  That's why the name of my blog has always been "I Read to Relax." Though I appreciate books that make me think and tackle heavy issues, I generally reach for something light or romantic or escapist first.  

This book had such great, fun elements to it.  Delicious descriptions of food (see yesterday's post), fun adventures in picturesque places, people coming together, and hints of romance.  Aside from drooling my way through the read, I found myself touched by the characters' stories, urging them to find their ways back to each other.  To find peace and embrace the joy that their road trip through New England could bring.  I was very pleased with the way that Jones was able to convey a lightness to the story even at small moments when things were going sour. 

 I think I'll be looking for more of Belinda Jones' books this summer. They seem like great beach reads! 

Author website:

Full Disclosure: Review Copy received from Publisher through Netgalley

Friday, March 20, 2015

Blog Tour - The Traveling Tea Shop

I'm very excited to be part of Belinda Jones' The Traveling Tea Shop Blog Tour! This book is a fun, romantic...and snack-inducing read.  In fact, I found it so delicious to read that I'm actually going to talk about this book on the blog both today and tomorrow! 

The Traveling Tea Shop
by Belinda Jones
Love Travel series, book eleven

Love isn't always a piece of cake...

Laurie Davis has always followed her passion. After escaping family drama to start a new life in New York City, she’s up for whatever challenges life brings. So when an opportunity arises for her to use her travel industry expertise and serve as an assistant and tour guide for her idol, Pamela Lambert-Leigh, star of television’s Tea-Time with Pamela, she jumps at the chance.

But Laurie’s exciting adventure ends up entailing a lot more than scouting locations for the cake queen’s new cookbook when Pamela’s sassy mother and sulky, rebellious daughter tag along for the trip. As they cruise around bakeries in New England trading local delights like Red Velvet Cake and Whoopie Pies for British specialties such as Victoria Sponge and Bakewell Tarts, more secrets than recipes are revealed.

Now, in between rediscovering romance, learning to forgive family, and finding the best dessert on the East Coast, Laurie, Pamela, and the gang might find there’s nothing a nice cup of tea, a sweet treat, and a little bit of friendship can’t heal… (Description from

So, why do I want to talk about this book two days in a row?  Well...let's just say that not only is this book a great story, but it also meets my own personal favorite criteria for chick lit and cozy mysteries.  It involves lots of amazing descriptions of FOOD!! *drools* So, today I'm going to give you a little taste of the deliciousness of this book and then tomorrow I'll discuss the regular story line in more detail. 

Red Velvet Cake at the Waldorf Astoria 
Where to start?  Have you ever had a book make your mouth literally start to water? I have. This book did it to me.  When a book is about people traveling throughout New England to discover the best tea time treats available, I knew to expect a little of this, but Jones does an amazing job describing the cakes and goodies.  Red Velvet Cake happens to be my all-time favorite treat and let's just say that when they stopped at the Waldorf Astoria to make it from scratch, well, my mouth watered so bad we're lucky there isn't really an online cake delivery service... MMMMMMM.... 

I found it so very interesting to read not only the descriptions of how to many of these delicious treats are made, but also to learn about some things that were first made here in New England, but that I'd had no idea originated so close to where I live! Truly fascinating. I love learning that type of thing when I read.  I found myself make mental notes to stop by some of the places she mentions the next time I'm gallivanting about New England to try the ultimate examples of lots of my favorite sweets. 

My advice, when you read this book, read it with a full belly. Otherwise, you may end up finding yourself scrounging through the cupboards for something sweet to munch on... 

Stay tuned tomorrow for more about the Laurie's non-food adventures along the Traveling Tea Shop's tour of New England! 

Author website:

Full Disclosure: Review Copy received from Publisher through Netgalley

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Jennifer, Gwyneth and Me: The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time

Jennifer, Gwyneth and Me: The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time
by Rachel Bertsche

What woman hasn't seen pictures of Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, or Beyonce and wished she had their clothes, their abs, their seemingly flawless lives? For Rachel Bertsche, these celebrities are the epitome of perfection--self-assured and effortlessly cool. Yet lately, between juggling her career, her marriage, and her dream of becoming a mother, Bertsche feels anything but put together. 

In "
Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me," Bertsche embarks on a quest to emulate her Hollywood role models--while sticking to a budget--to see if they really hold the keys to happiness. While trying to unlock the stars' secrets, from Sarah Jessica Parker's wardrobe to Julia Roberts's sense of calm to--maybe one day--Jessica Alba's chic pregnancy, Bertsche learns valuable lessons. A toned body doesn't come easy or cheap, avoiding social media can do wonders for your peace of mind, and confidence is the key accessory for pulling off any outfit. But can she immerse herself in the A-list lifestyle and still stay true to herself? And will her pursuit of perfection really lead to happiness?  (Description from

This was such a great read.  Bertsche has an approachable tone that made reading easy whether she was lightening the moment with something slightly ridiculous or having a serious moment, reflecting on her marriage and pregnancy goal. In fact, that was what I loved best about this book.  It had a somewhat ridiculous premise, but was done in such a realistic way that I couldn't help but be inspired to undertake a similar quest (on a much smaller scale, of course!). There's no way that the average person has enough time to accomplish all of the things that Rachel tried to add to her life - 2+ hours of exercise a day, cooking gourmet meals from scratch, upping work output significantly - and she's open about the fact that she was able to try these things because she works from home, but even then her lifestyle wasn't conducive to these in depth focuses the way a celebrity lifestyle is or needs to be... 

Each month she made one huge change and sometimes it was something she could maintain and sometimes it was something that had to be strongly modified, BUT the intent was there and that was what I truly admired! As I said, from hearing how Rachel got her fitness regime kickstarted in the style of Jennifer Aniston, I decided to start trying to work out 6 days a week, as well, though not for 2 hours a day! So far, I've been doing pretty well. I already cook a lot at home, so I don't need to start from scratch there (and as Rachel notes - you have to *be* Gwyneth to be *able to afford* to eat like Gwynteth) but I do like the idea of broadening my recipe horizons. I've been trying to find a new seafood or vegetarian dish once a week.  

Really what this book left me with at its conclusion, was the idea to start really thinking about what qualities I admire in the people (or celebrities) around me and to see how I can emulate those qualities in my everyday life. Not too shabby a goal!  

Full Disclosure: Borrowed from my Local Library

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


by Ally Condie

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.
(Description from

It's been a long time since I've read a YA fantasy stand-alone. I think the last one was Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races and like that book, I was pleasantly delighted when I finished the book to feel glad that it was complete in and of itself.  Not to say in either case that I would not read a companion book or something set in the same world, on the contrary, I'd love to revisit both settings very much! I just mean that with so many trilogies and series out there today, sometimes it's exhausting to keep up. I loved that Atlantia wrapped up in a satisfying way.  

I also very much enjoyed the worldbuilding of this novel.  Atlantis has always fascinated me, but this was a new and exciting spin on it.  Condie did a great job of letting me see Atlantia in my head and I was drawn easily deeper and deeper into Rio's world, wanting to know exactly how things had developed into what they now were.  I loved the description of their city under the ocean and the few ways in and out of it.  I loved that it truly felt like a city that could exist, slums, blackmarkets, and all. 

I enjoyed the characters, too. Though they all occupied very specific roles in Condie's story, they were nuanced, as well.  Each character had a persona that was then balanced by the secret parts of their characters that only came to light as Rio became embroiled in the struggle to free herself and then save her city.  

As I said, though I'm glad there is not a direct sequel to this book, I most definitely would read another by Condie set in this same world!  

Full Disclosure: Chapter sampler received at 2014 BEA/Book borrowed from my Library

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The "Read from My PERSONAL Library" Challenge

So, I'm a lifetime, avid reader - a blogger, a professional reviewer, and of course, a Librarian.  This means that my life is FILLED with books.  They are everywhere. At home, at work, in the mail, lent out to friends, on my ereader...they are everywhere. I get books all the time. More than I can ever keep up with - in fact, I have a problem with NOT getting new books. I truly am one of those people who's afraid of running out of things to read!

Part of one shelf on ONE of my bookcases.
See the double stacking?
I'm pretty sure at least one or two of you know exactly what I'm talking about. I know I'm not alone in this. *grins*

BUT...I've decided I need to get things a little more under control.  How, you ask? I'm issuing myself a READ FROM MY PERSONAL LIBRARY challenge. I'm setting out to start reading all those books that I've bought, either in traditional paper format or as ebooks, and never gotten around to reading! Really. I want to make a dent in MY OWN Library before seeking out new books.

An old photo, but one that shows two of my
bookcases in the back...they still look like this,
if not even fuller!
Now, this is not to say that I can resist every new book that's coming out. I'm going to be realistic about this. Sometimes the shiny-new just ends up winning out. There's also those sequels that I just cannot wait for...and the books that I'm already on blog tours for...and the ones I have to read for the Book Clubs I lead at work...and the ones I professionally review.  SO.  What I'm actually proposing is that I am going to read AS MANY of my own books as I can in the near future. My realistic goal is going to be to read 3 personally owned books for every 1 that I read from the Library, etc.  

How am I going to keep track?  Well, in a couple of ways. First, I track all of my reading on Shelfari, so that means I'll be able to see the ratio of personal books to borrowed/gifted. Second, when I post blog reviews I always mention where I got the book from (full disclosure on the bottom of the review) so YOU all will be able to see whether or not I'm maintaining my challenge ratio or not.  Third, I plan to check in every once in a while here on the blog with a post updating you all officially on my progress.

How am I going to start this challenge?  Well, this is it...
I currently have out from the Library:
3 fun reading books (Ever After High: A Wonderlandiful World, Landry Park, and Wild Things)
3 non-fiction books*
1 book for work (our next book club read Bella Fortuna) from the Library.
*Note - for the purposes of this challenge, I decided that I'm going skip counting non-fiction books as they are either for work or  are lifestyle books that I tend to just skim through. I don't read them the same way as I do fiction.*

From those, that means that I will be reading at least 9 of my own personal books along the way!

My "display" book case with nicely arranged
series and knick-knacks. I look much less like a
book hoarder here! 
Then, I have 4 books on hold at the Library that I'm dying to read (Winner's Crime, The Heir, The Orphan Queen, and Wicked Charms) so when I get each of those, I'll make sure to read 3 of my own.

I also have 3 blog tour posts coming up for The Traveling Tea Shop, Shadow Scale, and Sophomore Year is Greek to Me. So, again for each of these titles, I'm aiming to read 3 personally owned books.

I'm not promising I can read them all in exactly that order (1 Borrowed, then 3 Owned, then 1 Borrowed, then 3 Owned, etc.), but I'm going to strive to loosely maintain that ratio over the next few months. I'd like to make a really nice dent in my Library by this summer! In fact, as I read things, I'm also going to be trying to free up some space on my shelves so that they look more like the ONE really nicely maintained "display" shelf that I keep out where guests can see it.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


by AG Howard
Splintered, book three

*Spoiler Alert - This IS the final book in the trilogy!*

After surviving a disastrous battle at prom, Alyssa has embraced her madness and gained perspective. She's determined to rescue her two worlds and the people and netherlings she loves. Even if it means challenging Queen Red to a final battle of wills and wiles . . . and even if the only way to Wonderland, now that the rabbit hole is closed, is through the looking-glass world--a parallel dimension filled with mutated and violent netherling outcasts. In the final installment of the wildly popular Splintered trilogy, Alyssa and her dad journey into the heart of magic and mayhem in search of her mom and to set right all that's gone wrong. Together with Jeb and Morpheus, they must salvage Wonderland from the decay and destruction that has ensnared it. But if they succeed and come out alive, can everyone truly have their happily ever after? (Description taken from

As this is the final book, I'll be somewhat cryptic in my review to try to keep from spoiling things for you who may not have read this yet... This was one of those books where I was SO excited to read it that I almost couldn't pick it up at all. I don't know if you ever experience that as a reader (I know my friend Jen from Yabooknerd shares this with me), that feeling where you just can't bear for a series to end and you're terrified that the book won't live up to your expectations and so you just keep putting it off and putting it off and suddenly you realize you've owned the book for YEARS and still haven't finished the series... (I'm eyeballing my copy of the last Vampire Academy series book as I write this)

Well, that's how it was for me with this book, until I finally put my proverbial foot down and forced myself to crack open the first chapter...and immediately got swept away into Howard's fabulously dark and twisted world once again. I love how deliciously twisted both Howard's settings and characters are in this series.  She takes  the familiar pieces from my childhood and manages to give them such an unexpected and creative twist, that though the idea behind the series is a classic, it really does take on a completely wonderful life of its own.  I never find myself actively comparing these books to Carroll's as I'm reading, only after the fact as I'm describing them to others. They exist in and of themselves. 

There had been some controversy, I guess, about the ending to this series. In today's readersphere, where everyone pits one romantic lead against another in the never-ending line of love triangles, there were readers who had pinned there hopes one way or another and inevitably some readers found their hopes an interesting way.  In fact, as a reader who loves both a romantic and a realistic ending, resigned to the fact that often one cannot find them together, EVER, I was happy with this ending. In fact, it's what I wish would happen more often in the books that I read.  

Then, just after I finished reading, I was even more excited to find out that Howard will be releasing a novella set in this world, a collection of three short stories! I don't have to give up this Wonderland just yet. Oh Frabjous Day!

Full disclosure: Book Purchased for my Personal Library

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Brand-New Books I'm Dying To Read

Among the many books that are released every week, there are always a few that stand out to me above the rest for one reason or another. I wanted to share with you a few of the ones that have peaked my interest...the ones that I'm simply dying to read.  

This week, both books I'm going to feature are by authors that I read without question every time they release a new book.  These are two authors on my auto-purchase list. If you've never read anything by either of these two, I strongly suggest you give them a chance! 

by Tera Lynn Childs 
Darkly Fae, book two 

Young, beautiful, and royal, Princess Arianne of the Deachair should be the most envied fae in all the realms. But tragedy stole a carefree life from her. Thrust into the role of ruler as a girl, she has spent the last decade struggling to keep her people safe at any cost. With her magic weakened by a devastating curse, strength, will and intelligence are her only powers left to wield. When the full force of the Moraine army marches on her palace, ready for war, she must act quickly to save her clan from total destruction.

As captain of the royal guard, Tearloch Donne considers the protection of the Moraine and their royal family his foremost duty. A duty he failed when a traitor within the palace ranks nearly assassinated the high prince. Now he will do whatever it takes to hunt the villain down and make him pay for his betrayal. But when he volunteers the enemy princess on a quest for answers, he finds himself weighing his duty to his clan against his growing feelings for her and a secret memory they share.

With the fate of two dying clans depending on their success, a proud princess with dangerous secrets and a loyal warrior bent on revenge must embark on a journey that could save them all… or destroy them both.

If you've never read Tera Lynn Childs before, a great place to start would be with Oh.My.Gods a wonderful fantasy based in Greek mythology and one of my favorite summertime re-reads. 

Death Marked
by Leah Cypess
Sequel to Death Sworn

A young sorceress’s entire life has been shaped to destroy the empire controlling her world. But if everything she knows is a lie, will she even want to fulfill her destiny?

At seventeen, Ileni lost her magical power and was exiled to the hidden caves of the assassins. She never thought she would survive long. But she discovered she was always meant to end up, powerless, in the caves as part of an elder sorcerer’s plan to destroy the evil Empire they’d battled so long. Except that Ileni is not an assassin, and she doesn’t want to be a weapon. And, after everything, she’s not even sure she knows the truth. Now, at the very heart of the Empire—its academy for sorcerers—the truth is what she seeks. What she finds challenges every belief she holds dear—and it threatens her fledgling romance with the young master of assassins.

Obviously, this is not the place to start when reading Leah Cypess.  I highly recommend her first book, one that blew me out of the water (the twist is fabulous!), another fantasy about a mysterious assassin, Mistwood. 

Has anything come out in the last week or so that you're dying to read?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

...And, I'm Back!!

Hello All. 

It's been a great couple of months off. I think I definitely needed them. It gave me time to recharge, relax, and concentrate on stuff that was going on with work and other aspects of my personal life. 

BUT... about two weeks ago, I found myself composing reviews in my head. A great sign I was ready to start blogging again. So, while I think I may not post as frequently as I have in years past and there may be more posts about other random aspects of my life, I'm happy to say that I am back in action. 

To start with I thought I'd just ease in by letting you know what I've been reading since the New Year. Since I started Roller Derby, my reading time has decreased significantly, so this list is definitely not as impressive as it would have been even a year ago, but that's A-Okay with me.  I'm healthier than I was a year ago, which is definitely a good thing! 

Books I've Read So Far in 2015:
Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me by Rachel Bertsche
Ensnared by A.G. Howard
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Burned by Karen Marie Moning
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet
A Touch of Midnight by Lara Adrian
The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole
I Don't Know What You Know Me From by Judy Greer
Atlantia by Ally Condie
The Divine Cactus Tea Cantina by R.V. Mare
Code Zero by Jonathan Maberry
The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin

11 books and 2 novellas. Definitely a slower pace than in past years, but I think I'm enjoying each book individually a little more... I've been trying to choose books based more on personal desire to read than the necessity (other than the ones I read for the book clubs I run at work).  

What have YOU been reading while I was away from the blog??