Monday, November 24, 2014

Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Back in September I posted a list of 7 YA titles that wereon my radar (and should be on yours). One of the titles was Amy Ewing’s debut novel The Jewel. I had been hearing a lot about The Jewel, mainly through Epic Reads, a website for anything and everything Young Adult Literature.

Here is the synopsis for The Jewel:
The Selection meets The Handmaid’s Tale in this darkly riveting debut filled with twists and turns, where all that glitters may not be gold.
The Jewel means wealth, the Jewel means beauty—but for Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Born and raised in the Marsh, Violet finds herself living in the Jewel as a servant at the estate of the Duchess of the Lake. Addressed only by her number—#197—Violet is quickly thrown into the royal way of life. But behind its opulent and glittering facade, the Jewel hides its cruel and brutal truth, filled with violence, manipulation, and death.
Violet must accept the ugly realities of her life . . . all while trying to stay alive. But before she can accept her fate, Violet meets a handsome boy who is also under the Duchess’s control, and a forbidden love erupts. But their illicit affair has consequences, which will cost them both more than they bargained for. And toeing the line between being calculating and rebellious, Violet must decide what, and who, she is willing to risk for her own freedom.
Quite intriguing right?
I was able to finish The Jewel in one sitting, which is highly unusual for me with YA books. Typically, I spend two or three days thumbing through a YA novel. Ewing’s writing style was easy to follow and flowed well. The plot had merit, even though it was slow in some situations, and I found myself immersed in Violet’s story.
I would give this story 3.5 stars out of 5. There are two main reasons. I do feel that the story could have been longer. I say this mainly because I felt it was anticlimactic until the very last page or so.  I know that Violet was in several intense situations, but I did not feel the intensity leap of the pages. A few more well constructed paragraphs describing the direness of this situation and Violet’s role really would have elevated the plot.
The second reason is because of the character of Ash…or more importantly, the relationship between Ash and Violet. At first, I suspected the character of Garnet to be the romantic interest. Garnet is the 19 year old son of Violet’s owner, the Duchess of the Lake. He is unpredictable, devastatingly handsome, and an all around bad boy. Perfect romantic interest right? I was surprised by the introduction of Ash, a companion who was purchased to teach the Duchess’ niece how to flirt and land a husband. I felt that Ash and Violet’s relationship was flat. For whatever reason, I could not get the idea of Violet and Garnet out of my head. I found myself annoyed with the scenes that Ash was featured in. If the novel had been drawn out more, I might have found myself more accepting of the pairing. That being said, I hope that Ewing will either dedicate more time to expand on this relationship or revisit the Violet/Garnet pairing that my heart seems to want. The last page of the book was slightly reassuring to me though. Fingers crossed - #violetandgarnet

Though I had a few small issues with the novel, Amy Ewing did a splendid job on her debut book. I think teens will devour this book and I encourage you to check it out. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid

Most days I can’t tell you where my ereader is. I usually only attempt to locate it when I’m heading to a doctor’s appointment or if I’m going on a trip. Since I don’t use it that often, I rarely purchase ebooks. I like to use my library’s downloadable collection or I have found that when I purchase an ebook from Amazon, it gets lost in the shuffle and has a good chance of never getting read.

I recently took a trip and found myself browsing through my ebooks. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but I ran across Neanderthal Seeks Human: A Smart Romance (Knitting in the City #1) by Penny Reid. I purchased this book from Amazon in July 2014. For the life of me I can’t remember how I came across the title but I do remember researching the book before I decided to purchase it. I found tons of reviews commenting on how funny this romance was. I decided to take a chance and purchase it. Then promptly forgot about it.

Here is a little about Neanderthal Seeks Human:

There are three things you need to know about Janie Morris: 1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and 3) She doesn't know how to knit.

After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can't help wondering what new torment fate has in store. To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan- aka Sir McHotpants- witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can't afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn- the focus of her slightly, albeit harmless, stalkerish tendencies- to make her an offer she can't refuse.

I instantly found myself loving Janie. Reid should have considered making her a Librarian, because she is one of us! She was witty and I loved that she randomly sprouted off trivial information. See? Perfect Librarian. Also, the character of Quinn aka Sir McHotpants was utterly dreamy. I was completely enthralled with this book all afternoon and I instantly wanted to purchase the rest of the series. I constantly laughed out loud and continued to think about the characters after I had finished the story.

If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend Neanderthal Seeks Human. You won’t be disappointed…I know I wasn’t!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Notable Nonfiction for November

Yesterday, I posted about 5 Young Adult titles that had been popping up on my radar. There are also two nonfiction titles that I have been patiently waiting for to be released. Though collection development for nonfiction is one of my duties, I don't always have the time to read what I order.

That being said, I plan on making the time for these titles. What other nonfiction titles are you looking forward to this month?

The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt by Kara Cooney

Hatshepsut, the daughter of a general who took Egypt's throne without status as a king’s son and a mother with ties to the previous dynasty, was born into a privileged position of the royal household. Married to her brother, she was expected to bear the sons who would legitimize the reign of her father’s family. Her failure to produce a male heir was ultimately the twist of fate that paved the way for her inconceivable rule as a cross-dressing king. At just twenty, Hatshepsut ascended to the rank of king in an elaborate coronation ceremony that set the tone for her spectacular twenty-two year reign as co-regent with Thutmose III, the infant king whose mother Hatshepsut out-maneuvered for a seat on the throne. Hatshepsut was a master strategist, cloaking her political power plays with the veil of piety and sexual expression. Just as women today face obstacles from a society that equates authority with masculinity, Hatshepsut had to shrewdly operate the levers of a patriarchal system to emerge as Egypt's second female pharaoh.

Hatshepsut had successfully negotiated a path from the royal nursery to the very pinnacle of authority, and her reign saw one of Ancient Egypt’s most prolific building periods. Scholars have long speculated as to why her images were destroyed within a few decades of her death, all but erasing evidence of her rule. Constructing a rich narrative history using the artifacts that remain, noted Egyptologist Kara Cooney offers a remarkable interpretation of how Hatshepsut rapidly but methodically consolidated power—and why she fell from public favor just as quickly. The Woman Who Would Be King traces the unconventional life of an almost-forgotten pharaoh and explores our complicated reactions to women in power.

Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation by Bill Nye

"Evolution is one of the most powerful and important ideas ever developed in the history of science. Every question it raises leads to new answers, new discoveries, and new smarter questions. The science of evolution is as expansive as nature itself. It is also the most meaningful creation story that humans have ever found."—Bill Nye

Sparked by a controversial debate in February 2014, Bill Nye has set off on an energetic campaign to spread awareness of evolution and the powerful way it shapes our lives. In Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, he explains why race does not really exist; evaluates the true promise and peril of genetically modified food; reveals how new species are born, in a dog kennel and in a London subway; takes a stroll through 4.5 billion years of time; and explores the new search for alien life, including aliens right here on Earth. With infectious enthusiasm, Bill Nye shows that evolution is much more than a rebuttal to creationism; it is an essential way to understand how nature works—and to change the world. It might also help you get a date on a Saturday night.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Watch out for these November YA titles!

Last month I posted about 7 YA titles that are on my radar (and should be on yours!). The post got a lot of feedback and I even picked up a few titles that y'all recommended. I decided to share some of the November YA reads that I'm looking forward to.

What titles are you looking forward to in November?

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare

A Collection of Ten Short Stories centered around Magnus Bane. Each short story is going to be published as an ebook followed by a Full Single Print Coming 2014

Ever wondered about the enigmatic, mysterious warlock Magnus Bane? The only character to appear in every Shadowhunter book, Magnus has a past even more shrouded in mystery than his present. I’ve teamed up with acclaimed YA writers Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan to create the Bane Chronicles, the back (and front) story of Magnus told in ten linked tales.

Look for short stories like Vampires, Scones and Edmund Herondale; The Rise and Fall of the Hotel Dumort; Saving Raphael Santiago and What To Buy The Shadowhunter Who Has Everything (And Who You’re Not Officially Dating Anyway). Each story will be available as an ebook on a monthly basis starting April 16 with the tale of What Happened In Peru. 

Each story will be released monthly online for the next ten months — and then for those who don’t read e-books, the full print collection will be available in bookstores and wherever else books are sold after the Chronicles have been finished

Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little

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

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

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

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

Girl Online by Zoe Sugg

Penny has a secret.

Under the alias GirlOnline, she blogs about school dramas, boys, her mad, whirlwind family - and the panic attacks she's suffered from lately. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets the gorgeous, guitar-strumming Noah. Suddenly Penny is falling in love - and capturing every moment of it on her blog.

But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny's cover - and her closest friendship – forever

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers (His Fair Assassin #3)

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has..

The Name of the Blade by Zoe Marriott

Ancient Japanese gods and monsters are unleashed on modern-day London in this first book of an epic trilogy from acclaimed fantasy writer Zoë Marriott.

When Mio sneaks the family's katana -- a priceless ancestral sword -- from her parents' attic, she just wants to spice up a costume. But the katana is much more than a dusty antique. Awakening the power within the sword unleashes a terrible, ancient evil onto the streets of unsuspecting London. But it also releases Shinobu, a fearless warrior boy, from the depths of time. He helps to protect Mio -- and steals her heart. With creatures straight out of Japanese myths stalking her and her friends, Mio realizes that if she cannot keep the sword safe and learn to control its legendary powers, she will lose not only her own life . . . but the love of a lifetime.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Spotlight: A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev

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Mili Rathod hasn’t seen her husband in twenty years—not since she was promised to him at the age of four. Yet marriage has allowed Mili a freedom rarely given to girls in her village. Her grandmother has even allowed her to leave India and study in America for eight months, all to make her the perfect modern wife. Which is exactly what Mili longs to be—if her husband would just come and claim her.

Bollywood’s favorite director, Samir Rathod, has come to Michigan to secure a divorce for his older brother. Persuading a naïve village girl to sign the papers should be easy for someone with Samir’s tabloid-famous charm. But Mili is neither a fool nor a gold-digger. Open-hearted yet complex, she’s trying to reconcile her independence with cherished traditions. And before he can stop himself, Samir is immersed in Mili’s life—cooking her dal and rotis, escorting her to her roommate’s elaborate Indian wedding, and wondering where his loyalties and happiness lie.

Heartfelt, witty, and thoroughly engaging, Sonali Dev’s debut is both a vivid exploration of modern India and a deeply honest story of love, in all its diversity.

I'm a big fan of anything Bollywood. I absolutely love the culture and I'm halfway in love with Shahrukh Khan, a mega Bollywood star. I jumped at the chance to help promote this book. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

Advance Praise for A Bollywood Affair:

“Sonali Dev is a fresh new voice in romance. A child bride who’s all grown up, a sexy Bollywood director, and deeply-felt emotions that will keep readers turning the pages. A Bollywood Affair has it all.” –Susan Elizabeth Phillips, New York Times Bestseller

“Deeply romantic and emotional, with characters I fell in love with, A Bollywood Affair is simply unputdownable. It’s sexy, it’s dramatic, but most of all, it’s a sweet, hot love story that made me sigh and smile and want to read it all over again as soon as I turned the last page.” -Nalini Singh, New York Times Bestseller

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Sonali Dev’s first literary work was a play about mistaken identities performed at her neighborhood Diwali extravaganza in Mumbai. She was eight years old. Despite this early success, Sonali spent the next few decades getting degrees in architecture and writing, migrating across the globe, and starting a family while writing for magazines and websites.

With the advent of her first gray hair her mad love for telling stories returned full force, and she now combines it with her insights into Indian culture to conjure up stories that make a mad tangle with her life as supermom, domestic goddess, and world traveler.

Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her very patient and often amused husband and two teens who demand both patience and humor, and the world’s most perfect dog.

Find Sonali Here: Website | Facebook Twitter | Goodreads

Spotlight: Destiny's Captive by Beverly Jenkins

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Destiny’s Captive
Destiny’s # 3
By: Beverly Jenkins
October 28th, 2014
Avon Romance

Displaying Cover.JPGIn national bestselling author Beverly Jenkins' Destiny series, the Yates men play hard and live hard. And when they find that special woman, they fall hard . . .

Noah Yates fully believes in the joys of a happy family and a good wife. But that's not the life for him. No, he would much rather sail the wild seas in search of adventure, not tied down. But then the unthinkable happens . . . he finds himself literally tied down. To a bed. By a woman.

And Pilar isn't just an ordinary woman. She's descended from pirates. And after giving him one of the worst nights of his life, she steals his ship! Now Noah is on the hunt, and he'll stop at nothing to find this extraordinary woman . . . and make her his.

Beverly Jenkins is the author of thirty historical and contemporary novels, including four previous books in her beloved Blessings series. She has been featured in many national publications, including the Wall Street Journal, People, the Dallas Morning News, and Vibe. She lives in Michigan.

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