Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday- Beach Reads

I’m not really big on “beach reads” For me a beach read is usually just whatever I’m currently reading (as long as it’s not super depressing because I don’t need to cry in public). So I’m just going to try to direct my list more towards lighthearted reads that go well with beautiful summer days.

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  1. Anything by Julia Quinn- Forget her story lines. Forget her strong, witty characters. What I love most about Quinn is how funny her books are. Like laugh-out-loud-and-make-strangers-stare-at-you funny. It’s fantastic.
  2. Beastly by Alex Flinn- This one isn’t the most lighthearted book but it’s a pretty fast read that you could probably finish in one sitting. And it’s my favorite so I always recommend it.
  3. The Bride Quartet series by Nora Roberts- This is one of her series’ that revolves a great deal around the friendships between her main characters. I just love how Nora can take romance novels and make them more about badass women being badasses together than about love.
  4. The Bay of Sighs by Nora Roberts- This is the second book in her Guardians Trilogy which comes out June 14. This series has a little bit of everything; magic, a treasure hunt, even a mermaid. To me it’s a perfect beach read.
  5. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson- I read this one years ago and would love to read it again. It’s a great coming of age, summer adventure story.
  6. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson- I didn’t even know this book existed until about an hour ago and I would absolutely love to see where the story goes next.
  7. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer- These aren’t lighthearted or beachy in any way. They’re just amazing books and I highly recommend them.
  8. The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh- This is another book I learned about very recently but immediately decided I want to read. It’s not often you find books based on A Thousand and One Nights.
  9. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss– I’m not really sure this fits into what people normally consider a beach read but I’ve recently had several people recommend it to me and I’d like to finally get around to reading it.

Sorry there’s only nine this week. I managed to delete my entire post after I’d already written most of it out so I lost a lot of my motivation the second time around. Anyway, these are some of the books I plan to read this summer or just think you should read. Thanks for reading and let me know what your top ten are in the comments.

-Antonia

 

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday- Books I Picked Up on A Whim

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s prompt is “Ten Books I Picked Up On A Whim (however you decide to interpret that (bought or read or something else) — I know most people read based on recommendation but we want to know those books you picked up without really hearing about or knowing much about!)”.

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This one was actually fairly simple for me because more often than not, I tend to pick up books randomly rather than on recommendation. Here’s my top ten:

  1. Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout- I’m weirdly obsessed with all things obsidian; don’t ask why, I have no idea how it started. So when I happened to see this title at Barnes and Noble I had to pick it up. Since the description sounded fun and unique I bought it and had Amanda and I almost immediately regretting the fact we didn’t have the rest of the series.
  2. The Selection by Kiera Cass- I saw this one several times before I finally got it from the library. I just couldn’t get over the pretty dresses.
  3. The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima- This is another one I’d seen at the library a couple times before I finally got around to getting it. I loved it so much I had to take emergency trips to two different libraries to get the rest of the series.
  4. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George- I saw the cover with the beautiful dress and all the snow and I was curious. Then found it was about a not so well-known folktale and I had to get it immediately.
  5. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith- I’d seen the title a few times and couldn’t help but be curious. When I finally got it from the library I loved it and proceeded to get the rest of her books.
  6. Enchanted by Alethea Kontis- This is another that I saw at the library and got mostly because I needed something to read. I was happy to find it was a crazy mashup of dozens of fairy tales.
  7. Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier This was another instance where I have no self control when it comes to pretty dresses. The time travel was just a nice perk.
  8. Graceling by Kristin Cashore- I was caught by the title, then the cover, then the description and now it’s one of my favorite books.
  9. The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory- This is actually one I’ve owned for years that I sort of just inherited from my brother’s collection. I’m not even entirely sure now why I decided to read it but it’s still my all time favorite series.
  10. It’s in His Kiss by Julia Quinn- I never really expected to like this book. It was something I grabbed from the library because I couldn’t find anything else I felt like reading that day. Now she’s one of my favorite authors and I’ve read every single one of her books.

So these are my top ten. Let me know your list or link to your own post in the comments. Thanks for reading.

-Antonia

The Obsession by Nora Roberts

Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.

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I don’t care how many times I’ve said it; Nora Roberts will always be one of my absolute favorite authors. She never fails to make me laugh. Or lose myself in her books to the point where someone has to scream to get my attention. Sit up in bed clutching the book because the suspense is killing me. Occasionally cry. Her newest romance/ mystery novel was no exception.

First I’ll start with the characters. Naomi was such an interesting, independent woman who’d overcome so much, especially when she was a child. Even as an adult she still had nightmares and difficulty trusting people, but she never let it control her life. She was so determined to get past the trauma and betrayal of discovering her father was a serial killer that she constantly pushed through her fear in order to have a normal life. I seriously admired her for that.

I loved Xander. He was a surprisingly complex character. At the beginning I didn’t like him that much but as I learned more and more about him my opinion changed completely. Partly (mostly) because he turned out to be a complete bookworm. He cared so much for the people around him and was such a steady presence that he made a perfect match for Naomi.

Normally, I don’t care that much about where a book is set. It never seems that important to me as long as I can picture what’s immediately around the characters. However I was pleasantly surprised to find this one was set on the coast of Washington. Since I plan to move there later this year, I found myself more interested in the setting than usual and it added a little something to my reading experience that I don’t usually have.

Once again Nora Roberts managed to blend romance and suspense perfectly to make a book I absolutely loved. If you like romance or mystery, you should definitely read this book. Especially if you’re like me and too much suspense will keep you up at night, this book fell very nicely in the middle.

Let me know what you think in the comments. As always, thanks for reading.

-Antonia

Reader’s Ravings – Being Interrupted

As someone who considers books a huge part of my life, I’ve come to learn that I have some pet peeves when I read. Today I’m going to rave about reading in public and things that happen when I read anywhere other than my house. When I’m reading a new book I have a tendency to get sucked in very quickly no matter what the book’s about or how good it is. Once I’ve started reading DON’T interrupt me. This is something that happens to me on a daily basis and I can’t stand it.

I work full time in retail. So every day I get a 45 minute lunch break. Every day I read while I’m on my lunch break. I used to be a smoker and when I would walk through my store to my car I would read the whole time in an attempt to make it obvious I was currently on break. Every day on my walk from the break room to my car customers would still stop me and say, “Oh, are you on break?” OBVIOUSLY I’M ON BREAK! I’M WALKING AROUND WITH A BOOK PRETTY MUCH TOUCHING MY NOSE! I DON’T WALK AROUND READING ALL DAY AT WORK! So I’d have to stop reading and take time to answer whatever question they had for me.

When I quit smoking I was excited to be able to sit in the break room and spend an uninterrupted 45 minutes with my book. I was very wrong in this assumption. Instead of customers interrupting the short time I got to spend with my book it turned into my fellow associates interrupting me. “What are you reading? Is it good? Have you read INSERT ANY BOOK HERE?” So, in an attempt to discourage my coworkers from asking me questions and stealing my precious book reading time I started to bring my headphones to work and listen to music while I read. The headphones are very easy to see, so you would think that people would assume I cannot hear them while I have them in.

Once again, I was wrong. Now what I deal with on a daily basis is my coworkers having complete conversations with me without me hearing any of it. Once they realize I can’t hear them/ I’m not listening to them, they make a point to get my attention and repeat everything they just said. So I have to stop reading and take out my headphones to have a conversation with them or else I will come off as rude or in a bad mood. Generally when they’re done with whatever they wanted to say to me they start with the usual questions. “What are you reading? Is it good?” OBVIOUSLY IT’S GOOD IF I’M READING IT! I’m someone that really hates being interrupted while I’m reading. You want to know if it’s a good book? Well so do I, so please shut up and let me freaking read it! When I’m interrupted I always end up having to go back a page and reread so I can make sure I didn’t miss anything while my coworkers babbled to me about nothing instead of leaving me in peace with my book. It’s even worse when it’s a book I’ve been dying to read, something that’s been recently released, I’d like to know for myself if it’s good so please kindly leave me alone with my book and I’ll let you know if it’s good when I’ve finished it.

Being interrupted while I’m reading is something that really bothers me. If it’s obvious that I’m reading why do people feel the need to badger me with questions about what I’m reading? I think my immediate irritation when interrupted comes from my childhood. My siblings are not readers of any sort. So when I wanted to read and they wanted to hangout they would take my book and hide it from me so I had no choice but to spend time with them. They don’t do this anymore thank god. I’d probably kill them now.

It doesn’t matter where I am when I read, if I’m in the public of any kind someone always has to come up to me and ask what I’m reading. It bothers me probably more than it should. I think that’s because I know whoever’s asking will probably never read the book that I’m reading. Am I alone in my irritation of being interrupted while I read? Am I totally irrational for getting upset when my reading is disturbed? Does anyone else get as annoyed as I do? I’d love to know the thoughts of others about being interrupted while they’re reading, so comment away readers!

Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday- Favorites From the Last Three Years

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week has a different prompt for you to make a top ten list about. This week is Top Ten Books You Would Classify As ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS from the past 3 years (you can extend it to 5 if you need to).
I expected this topic to be really difficult for me. When I saw it I immediately texted Amanda freaking out. But she didn’t panic with me; she simply pointed out that I reread alot of books. With this reassurance in mind, I sat down with my book lists from previous years, positive I could find ten favorites even if I had to use only rereads. Then a funny thing happened: I didn’t need any. Within ten minutes, I had ten books/series’ for my list with no need to use all the old favorites I’ve had for years. Which is how I’ve come to the conclusion that almost every book I read instantly becomes a new favorite. I’m still trying to decide if this has any downsides…
So here are my top ten all-time favorites from the last three years (in no particular order):

1. Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead- I love Sydney. I adore Adrian. This is a series I could read over and over again.

2. The Witness by Nora Roberts- My favorite Nora Roberts book. It has everything I love about her writing.

3. Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima- These are the types of books I wasn’t expecting to like but as soon as I started I couldn’t put them down. I even had to take emergency trips to the library to get the rest of the books. It’s one of the most well-written YA series I’ve ever read.

4. Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout- This is another one I got because I was bored but didn’t have much hope for it. It was an instant favorite for Amanda and I.

5. Maximum Ride series by James Patterson- Everything about these books is amazing. They’re quick, fun, emotional reads that I would recommend to everyone.

6. Crown of Vengeance by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory- I was waiting a couple years for this book to come out and it didn’t disappoint. Lackey and Mallory can do no wrong together.

7. Looking For Alaska by John Green- Amanda spent years trying to get me to read this book but I kept putting her off. When I finally read it, I was instantly in love.

8. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George- I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did. Everything about it was perfect.

9. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith- I’d expected this book to just be a silly YA romance but it wasn’t even close. Smith took a childish idea, like love at first sight, and made it sweet and reasonable. I loved it so much I immediately went to the library to get her other books (i.e. #10).

10. This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith- I found this book emotional, funny, and romantic. I’ll definitely be looking for more of Smith’s books.

Do you share any of these favorites? Let me know some of yours in the comments. Thanks for reading.
-Antonia

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday- Favorite Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week has a different prompt to which you make a top ten list. This week’s prompt is favorite heroines. Since my list of favorite heroines is infinitely long, I tried to choose the ones who had the biggest impact on me while reading. Here they are (in no particular order):

  1. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen- She will forever be my all-time favorite heroine. She’s witty, tough, loves her family unconditionally and isn’t afraid to admit she’s wrong. She was who I wanted to be when I grew up.
  2. Maximum Ride from the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson- She’s badass and caring and makes tons of mistakes. But she’s always trying her hardest to fix them. It’s so easy to relate to Max that she instantly became one of my favorite characters.
  3. Elizabeth/Abigail from The Witness by Nora Roberts- I connected with Abigail from the beginning. I loved watching her grow into a strong, compassionate woman.
  4. Vestakia from The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory- From birth, she had everything working against her but she refused to let it control her life. She’s genuinely kind and brave even when she’s absolutely terrified.
  5. Lyra Belacqua from His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman- She was one of the first characters to have a real affect on me. She’s stubborn and talks back and impulsive but she always does the right thing.
  6. Wanderer from The Host by Stephenie Meyer- I will never stop loving Wanda. She’s an alien possessing a human girl and she still manages to be the most honest and caring character in the book.
  7. Katsa from Graceling by Kristin Cashore- Another character I related to instantly. Her uncle, the king, has used and controlled her since she was a child but she had the courage to fight back, even when she believed her powers made her a monster.
  8. Sydney Sage from the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead- One of the bravest heroines I’ve ever had the pleasure to read about. She goes against everything she was taught to believe to save people who she was raised to think of as evil. She risks everything because she can see the best in people.
  9. Hyacinth Bridgerton from It’s In His Kiss by Julia Quinn- She’s one of the funniest characters I’ve read about. She’s sarcastic and smart and not afraid to speak her opinions during a time when women were expected to act a certain way. I wish I could be best friends with her.
  10. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling- I almost didn’t put her on this list simply because I knew so many others would. But when it came down to it, I couldn’t think of anyone else who met the standards she set. There’s a reason Hermione has shown up on so many lists this week. She’s smart, brave, funny, loving. She believes in herself and in her friends and even when she’s scared she’s always there for the people who need her. The great thing about Hermione is that she’s always true to herself and never lets anything change her.

Do any of your favorites coincide with mine? For the same or different reasons? I’d love to hear some of your own choices so leave them in the comments or link to your own post if you have one. Thanks for reading.
-Antonia

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Summary: Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the world between humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets-and human lives.
In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.
Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney an Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.
For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him…
Their worst fears now a chilling reality Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

Oh. My. God. I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK.
First of all, Adrian and Sydney are apart for most of the book and it pretty much just made me want to cry the entire time. (I settled for really weird, pathetic noises that Amanda got sick of fast.) The good thing about them being separated was that I was able to follow two completely separate storylines that kept the pace fairly steady even when nothing serious was happening.
But trust me, a LOT was happening. I started this book at around ten-thirty last night, and finished it around three this morning. There was no way for me to put it down; between the awesome characters, amazing writing, and the absolutely crazy plot, I was hooked.
As always, I adore Sydney and Adrian, both individually and as a couple. Though they both have somewhat extreme personalities, I’m able to relate to them while I read. I almost always love the characters in the books I read but in the Bloodlines series, I connect to them more than usual. I would absolutely love to have Sydney as my best friend and, much as I love her, I would totally date Adrian (you know, if I didn’t have a boyfriend…Love you, honey!). Mead gives such depth to her characters that it’s impossible not to care about them.
This book was much darker than the previous ones in the series mainly because Sydney’s in re-education, which is basically the Alchemists nice way of saying brainwash and torture. Even though Mead kept it from being terribly gruesome, some of the scenes with Sydney were harder to read emotionally.
It was the same way with Adrian. He might not have been tortured and starved but the love of his life was missing and he had no way to contact her. I’d loved watching the progress he’d made in previous books to overcome his addictions and the effects of Spirit so it was that much harder to watch him spiral back downward without Sydney to help hold him up.
The ending took so many twists and turns that I could barely keep up with what was happening and even when I thought everything would be okay, the last page threw another curveball and I no longer know what’s going to happen with the last book. All I know is that it really needs to come out RIGHT NOW. Next February is way too long to wait for The Ruby Circle.
I would love to hear your thoughts on my review or this book. Amanda hasn’t read it so I can’t talk to her about it yet. Did you see the end coming? Because I sure as hell didn’t.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine & Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Sorry I’ve been slacking on reviews. To make up for the past three months of barely reading (seriously, four books in April, ZERO in May, and three in June), I’ve spent the last two weeks reading constantly and not really stopping for anything. So in the next few days I’ll try to write a bunch in between books.
One thing I’ve noticed about the more than thirty books I borrowed from the library is that there’s quite a few that have very similar storylines. In order to consolidate the number of reviews I need to write, I’m going to do something a little different and group some of the books together and compare them instead.
For this first review I’m comparing two middle-grade books about princesses: The Two Princess of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine and Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

Two Princesses of Bamarre Summary: When plague strikes Bamarre, Princess Addie must fulfill an ancient prophecy.

Brave and adventurous, Princess Meryl dreams of fighting dragons and protecting the kingdom of Bamarre. Shy and fearful, Princess Addie is content to stay within the safety of the castle walls. The one thing that the sisters share is their unwavering love for each other.

The tables are turned, however, when the Gray Death leaves Meryl fatally ill. To save her sister, meek Princess Addie must find the courage to set out on a dangerous quest filled with dragons, unknown magic, and death itself. Time is running out, and the sisters’ lives—and the future of the kingdom of Bamarre—hang in the balance.

Princess Ben Summary: “My gown suited me as well as I could ever hope, though I could not but envy the young ladies who would attract the honest compliments of the night. My bodice did not plunge as dramatically as some, and no man–no man I would ever want to meet, surely–could fit his hands round my waist. What I lacked in beauty I would simply have to earn with charm…”
Benevolence is not your typical princess–and Princess Ben is certainly not your typical fairy tale.

With her parents lost to assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia. Starved and miserable, locked in the castle’s highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle’s pantries, setting her hair on fire… But Ben’s private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat to her kingdom. Can Ben save the country and herself from tyranny?

Plot:
I loved both plots equally. In Two Princesses, shy and timid Princess Addie has to go on a quest to save her sister. There’s magic, dragons, trolls, fairies, etc. I loved the way this was executed. Since it’s not a terribly long book, you might think too much information was crammed into it but Levine makes everything work together wonderfully. With the help of her Seven-League boots, Addie can move between different sections of the kingdom instantly and encounters tons of different creatures. Many of them, (trolls, specters, gryphons) are simply monsters but I was happily surprised to find the dragon was intelligent and had a complex personality. She was still evil, but the depth she gave to the story was fantastic. Though the story revolves around Addie, the secondary characters were well rounded and I felt like I knew them just as well as I knew Addie.

In Princess Ben, Benevolence must overcome unforeseen circumstances to save herself and her country. There’s magic, dragons, a somewhat evil queen, a war with neighboring country Drachensbett, etc. This was also executed fairly well and I enjoyed the little bits of history of Montagne that we were given. I also enjoyed the fact that the love interest started out as the enemy. I love when misunderstood characters are simply that: misunderstood. That probably stems from my long-standing love of Beauty and the Beast.

The Heroines:
I adored Princess Addie. At first I thought I wouldn’t because of how timid she was. Terrified of everything, she hardly ever left the castle and when she did, she stayed on castle grounds. I was expecting to be annoyed by her, but when her sister’s life is in danger, Addie pushes back her fears in order to save her. She doesn’t suddenly become fearless, but she doesn’t let her fears control her either and by the end of the story she comes to realize that some of her fears (not all of them) aren’t as scary as she thought they were. I loved watching Addie grow into herself and couldn’t help but admire her strength and resolve.

Princess Ben, quite frankly, annoyed the crap out of me for most of the book. I understand she’s young and I understand her parents didn’t raise her to act like a princess, but from what we learned of her parents I would have expected her to be a lot more mature than she was. She was petty and spiteful and made the same mistakes over and over again. No matter how many bad things happened, she never grew up or took responsibility until she became a prisoner of Drachensbett. After that, I liked her much better and she became someone I could relate to, even though she was still a little impulsive and stubborn.

Overall:
Two Princesses was a quick, fun read that I enjoyed immensely. Everything tied together to make an exciting, heartfelt story that I couldn’t put down.
I also loved the ending. It wasn’t what I was expecting and was a little bittersweet, but I was glad there wasn’t a random and improbable miracle to make everything end perfectly. Even though I love reading about magic and fairytales, I also believe magic should have limits and while I want every book to have a happily ever after, I don’t particularly like when they become completely unrealistic.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fairytales and strong, smart heroines.

Princess Ben didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The first half was slow and I didn’t like the protagonist at all. Murdock made up for it in the second half where the pace picked up and it became a story I couldn’t put down but I still can’t forget the fact I almost put it down in the beginning. I would recommend this one to anyone who likes fairytales, but if you’re the type of reader that needs a fast-paced book to hold your attention, this might not be the book for you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on either of these books and what you think of this joint review. Should I do another like this or stick to regular reviews?
-Antonia.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday- Cover Trends I Like/Dislike

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s prompt is top ten cover trends you like or dislike most. I’ve decided to do a mix of both.

 

Cover Trends I Like

1. Pretty Dresses-

When it comes to clothes and shoes, I am such a girly-girl. I love wearing dresses and wish I ever had occasions to wear the beautiful ballgowns and evening dresses I see so often on book covers.

ruby red bewitching alex

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Dark with a Splash of Color- 

I don’t know what it is about these covers that intrigues me, but I think the contrast between the dark or gray-scale and that pop of color is striking.

dark visions city of ahses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Dragons-

I’ve always been fascinated by dragons and seeing one on a book will make me instantly pick it up and read the description.

Eon sanctuary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. A Simple, Title-Only Cover-
It doesn’t have to be completely blank, but covers that only have a simple design around the title make me want to know what the book’s about since the cover doesn’t tell me anything.
eternity curetfios

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. One Object that Connects to the Book-
It’s easy for me to imagine what the characters look like and my vision of them doesn’t usually match how they look on the cover. I love when, instead of showing the main character(s), a cover has a design of an object that’s important to the books plot.
demon kingscarlet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Trends I Dislike

6. Partial Faces-

I really just don’t understand this trend at all. Whether its book covers, movie posters, selfies, etc. What’s the point in showing half a face?
deliriumvampire-diaries-the-return-nightfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Cartoons-
I don’t want to feel like I’m reading a children’s book when I’m not in the children’s section. (Note: I have nothing against Rainbow Rowell or these books. I’ve heard good things about them, I just couldn’t think of any other cartoon covers off the top of my head.)
eleanor & parkfangirl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Rainbow or Clashing Colors-
I find covers with tons of colors or with colors that don’t work well together (or even just one color that I don’t like) distracting.
little miss redperks of

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Busy Covers-
If there’s too much going on, I feel like the book is going to be chaotic. When I’m trying to scan shelves quickly, I don’t want to have to take five minutes to figure out what’s on the cover. Also, if the title font is hard to read. I know fancy fonts are pretty, but if I can’t read it easily it sort of defeats the purpose.
dreams of gods and monstersdash and lily

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: Books Read in 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s prompt is top ten books I’ve read so far this year. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been slacking on my reading this year (45 books total). I’ve also read a surprising number of books for the second time but didn’t want this list made up of just second-time reads. So I compromised: seven new reads and two second reads.

New Reads

1. Sun and Moon Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George- The writing style of this book is so different and unique. It’s based on a myth that I’d never heard of before and I loved the way everything worked together to give me a completely new reading experience.

2. Twelve Dancing Princesses series by Jessica Day George- Though these books followed more well-known fairytales, George still managed to make the plot unique and fun.

3. The Selection & The Elite by Kiera Cass- Though I haven’t been able to get The One yet, I found the first two books in this trilogy to be entertaining and light reads with just enough suspense and intrigue thrown in to keep me hooked.

4. Enchanted & Hero by Alethea Kontis- When I picked up these books I wasn’t expecting much out of them. I’m glad to say I was completely wrong. It combines tons of different fairytales and legends, most of which I wasn’t very familiar. I never knew what would happen next and I loved that.

5. Three Weeks With Lady X by Eloisa James- I’ve read and loved every one of her books. My favorite character in the Desperate Duchesses series was Villiers and I was so excited that James wrote this book about his son.

6. The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn- I’ve also read all of Quinn’s books. They’re always quick, laugh-out-loud funny and this book was no exception.

7. Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier- The final book in the Ruby Red trilogy. I honestly had no idea how this book would end. All of these books had fairly fast plots but the first two were also funny and not nearly as serious. While all the loose ends got tied up in this last book, the suspense was off the charts and I literally couldn’t put it down until I knew everything.

Second Reads

8. His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman- I read these when I was younger and finally decided to read them again. These books are funny, suspenseful, and heartbreaking. I will never not adore this trilogy.

9. The Witness by Nora Roberts- I read this book when it first came out and loved it. Elizabeth/Abigail is such a unique character but I could still relate to her in many ways. I think I can safely say this is my favorite Nora Roberts book of all time. (Fun Fact: This was the 200th book Roberts wrote.)

So what are your top ten books from this year?
-Antonia

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Goodreads Summary: Hoping to escape the troubles in her kingdom, Princess Poppy reluctantly agrees to take part in a royal exchange program, whereby young princes and princesses travel to each other’s countries in the name of better political alliances–and potential marriages. It’s got the makings of a fairy tale–until a hapless servant named Eleanor is tricked by a vengeful fairy godmother into competing with Poppy for the eligible prince. Ballgowns, cinders, and enchanted glass slippers fly in this romantic and action-packed happily-ever-after quest from an author with a flair for embroidering tales in her own delightful way.

Jessica Day George has done it again. Princess of the Midnight Ball sucked me in until I couldn’t put it down until I was done and now the same thing has happened with Princess of Glass.
I loved Princess Poppy from the start. She was a strong, quirky, funny character that I grew attached to immediately. I liked the fact that I already knew of Poppy from Princess of the Midnight Ball and was wicked excited to get to know her more in this book.
I also fell in love with Prince Christian immediately. He was a little awkward and shy. He never liked people fawning all over him because he’s a prince and was kind to everyone whether they had a title or not. I liked the fact he and Poppy became friends as soon as they met. He thought she was a little strange but in a good way. It was a nice way to start their relationship.
I loved the secondary characters as well. As I mentioned in my review of Princess of the Midnight Ball (which you can find here), George gives all her characters very distinct personalities. Because of this, I cared about everyone’s lives and what was happening to them instead of just Poppy and Christian.
George’s version of Cinderella was fantastic. It was nothing like any other version I’ve read and it kept me guessing the entire time.
Overall, I loved this book. It was funny, suspenseful and romantic. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fairytales and romance. It’s a quick but fun read.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Goodreads Summary: A tale of twelve princesses doomed to dance until dawn…
Galen is a young soldier returning from war; Rose is one of twelve princesses condemned to dance each night for the King Under Stone. Together Galen and Rose will search for a way to break the curse that forces the princesses to dance at the midnight balls. All they need is one invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with enchanted silver needles, and that most critical ingredient of all—true love—to conquer their foes in the dark halls below. But malevolent forces are working against them above ground as well, and as cruel as the King Under Stone has seemed, his wrath is mere irritation compared to the evil that awaits Galen and Rose in the brighter world above.

I finally managed to get my hands on Princess of the Midnight Ball and it lived up to all of my expectations. It was fast-paced, funny, romantic, and just suspenseful enough to be interesting. As I’ve mentioned many times in the past: I. Love. Fairytale adaptations. It might be just that they remind me of being a child but they always leave me in a fantastic mood afterwards.
This story was no different. I haven’t heard the story of the twelve dancing princesses as often as others and having a more unique fairytale to inhale has made me ridiculously happy.
First, I’ll start with the characters. I thought George did a wonderful job of giving all the characters very distinct personalities without making it seem too crowded. Often I’ve found that authors can focus too much on the main characters and the secondary characters end up being rather flat. She obviously delved deeper into the personalities of the few main characters but I liked that I wasn’t left wondering who all the secondary characters are.
I thought Rose made a wonderful cursed crown princess. She was constantly trying to protect all eleven of her younger sisters which is a particularly admirable trait to me (I was the youngest of five siblings, so I know exactly how annoying little sisters can be.) I also loved how she tried to protect Galen by trying to prevent him from helping them, knowing how dangerous it would be for him.
Which leads me to my favorite part of the book. Galen was wonderful. He was charming and sweet, sensitive and tough, serious and funny. He was such a well-balanced character that I really couldn’t help but love him from the first chapter.
I think Rose and Galen complement each other very well. It was great to see them finally work together at the end of the book.
I thought the concepts and storyline of this book were new and very interesting. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the books in this series will bring. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys young adult, fairytales or romance. As always, let me know what you’d think. I would love to hear your own feedback on this book.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Dream Trilogy by Nora Roberts

I just finished Nora Robert’s Dream Trilogy at Amanda’s prompting and I absolutely adored it. They had everything I enjoy in romance novels. To make things easier I’m doing my reviews for all three books in one post.
Daring to Dream
Goodreads Summary:
Margo, Kate and Laura were brought up like sisters amidst the peerless grandeur of Templeton House. But it was Margo whose dreams first took her far away . . .
Margo Sullivan had everything a young woman could ask for. But while growing up along the rocky cliffs of Monterey, she couldn’t help but dream of bigger things. The daughter of the Templeton’s stern Irish housekeeper, Margo had been treated like a member of the family. Deep down, she knew that money could not buy the thing she craved most — her mother’s acceptance.
Maybe things would be different if she could be sweet like Laura — or had Kate’s shrewd head for business. But all Margo knew how to do was be Margo, and that meant doing things her own way — no matter what the consequences . . .

While I loved this book, as I do of any Nora Roberts book, it was my least favorite of the trilogy. Entirely because Margo irritated the shit out of me. She acts like a spoiled brat half the time and though I understand it’s mostly just the persona she constantly puts on, her attitude bothered me. I just wanted to smack her. Josh entertained me from the start. I loved seeing his protective older brother side and his romantic side.
What I loved most about this book was Josh and Margo’s relationship. They grew up together and have always been really close even though each secretly had a thing for the other for years. Watching their relationship change and seeing them try to figure out the dynamics of it was seriously entertaining.

Holding the Dream
Goodreads Summary:
Surrounded by the sweeping cliffs and beauty of Big Sur, Kate Powell treasured her life at Templeton House…and the family who raised her like one of their own. Although Kate lacked Margo’s beauty and Laura’s elegance, she knew she had something they would never possess–a shrewd head for business. Driven by ambition, Kate measured her life’s success with each soaring promotion. But now faced with professional impropriety, Kate is forced to look deep within herself–only to find something missing in her life…and in her heart.
I liked Kate a lot. She’s very career oriented and is almost too meticulous in the way she plans things. Like Amanda, her complete disregard for her health bothered me. I’m not a nutrition/exercise nut, but I don’t understand how some people can pretend the way they eat (or don’t eat) won’t negatively affect their health. When she gets the state of her health slapped in her face (with some help from Byron), she does a complete reevaluation of her life. I loved watching Kate finally step back and look at herself. She grew into herself throughout this book and became someone I both admire and want to be friends with.
I adored Byron. He was the perfect Southern gentleman and I loved the way he took care of Kate when she needed someone to take care of her. They were perfect together and I loved watching the way they stubbornly avoided their feelings until Byron realized what he wanted and kept pushing at her to try to get her to see his way of things. This obviously made Kate push back harder but that only made it even funnier.

Finding the Dream
Goodreads Summary:
Laura Templeton found out the hard way that nothing in life is guaranteed. The daughter of a wealthy hotelier, she had always known comfort, privilege, and security. But by the age of thirty, her storybook marriage had been destroyed by her husband’s infidelity. Laura’s divorce left her both emotionally and financially devastated–but determined to rebuild her life without the Templeton fortune.
Laura had always defined herself as a wife, a daughter, or a mother. Now, she must finally discover Laura the woman…

Laura and Michaels story was, by far, my favorite. I wanted them to end up together from the first moment I saw them interact; in the prologue…of the first book. I loved Laura from the beginning. She’s sweet, romantic and generally sees the best in everyone. But she’s not weak and she’s not a push-over. She has a strong temper when it’s called for and I loved watching her let it go occasionally. She’s a fantastic mother who absolutely dotes on her two daughters. I hated seeing her hurt throughout the first two books because of her asshole ex-husband and seeing her grow more confident throughout this book was fantastic.
I’m pretty sure Michael is the new love of my life. He had so many different traits that clashed against each other but still managed to work. He was so unhappy because of his past and didn’t think nearly highly enough of himself. I just wanted to make everything better so he could be happy. I think I literally swooned watching him with Laura’s daughters, he was perfect with them.
Michael and Laura’s relationship fed into the hopeless romantic in me. They balance each other out perfectly.

Overall, I adored these books. My favorite part of all of them was Margo, Kate and Laura’s friendship. They love each other unconditionally and are there for each other no matter what. I would recommend these books to anyone who enjoys romance. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions.
-Antonia

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

Goodreads Summary: Blessed—or cursed—with an ability to understand animals, the Lass (as she’s known to her family) has always been an oddball. And when an isbjorn (polar bear) seeks her out, and promises that her family will become rich if only the Lass will accompany him to his castle, she doesn’t hesitate. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle, which is made of ice and inhabited by a silent staff of servents. Only a grueling journey on the backs of the four winds will reveal the truth: the bear is really a prince who’s been enchanted by a troll queen, and the Lass must come up with a way to free him before he’s forced to marry a troll princess.

I am so glad I discovered Jessica Day George and I can’t wait to read more of her books. I’d seen a review for Princess of the Midnight Ball a few months back but hadn’t gotten a chance to get it. When I was at Barnes and Noble the other day and saw her name, I knew I’d have to get at least one of her books. Unfortunately, they only had Princess of the Silver Woods (the third in the Twelve Dancing Princesses series) and Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. Though Sun and Moon wasn’t what I’d originally been looking for, it looked interesting enough so I decided to try it. I’m so happy I did. I read this book straight through and enjoyed every part of it.
First off, I loved the fact it was written the way an old legend would be told. I have a soft spot for legends and myths, so I immediately fell in love with the writing style.
The lass entertained me from the very beginning. She was quiet, but strong, brave and intelligent. She cares about people and animals in need even if she’d be better off ignoring them. She faces her fears instead of letting them control her. I admired the lass more with every page I read.
I also loved the bear though I wish I could’ve seen more of him. He remained pretty mysterious for the majority of the book and I would have enjoyed getting to know him better.
Rollo, the lass’s wolf pet, was hilarious. He acted and spoke exactly as I’d imagine a pet wolf really would. The other secondary characters didn’t play enough of a part for me to have grown terribly attached to but I loved seeing different types of creatures you don’t see often in other fantasy books.
Overall this book is a quick read but a very entertaining one. I would recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy, young adult, or old stories and myths. As always, I’d love to hear your opinions on the book itself or my review of it.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

How to Marry a Marquis – Julia Quinn

Summary:
When Elizabeth Hotchkiss stumbles upon a copy of How to Marry a Marquis om her employer’s library, she’s convinced someone is playing a cruel joke. With three younger siblings to support, she knows she has to marry for money, but who might have guessed how desperate she’s become? A guidebook to seduction might just be the thing she needs-and what harm could there be in taking a little peek?
James Sidwell, the Marquis of Riverdale, has been summoned to rescue his aunt from a blackmailer, a task that requires him to pose as the new estate manager, and his primary suspect is his aunt’s companion, Elizabeth. Intrigued by the alluring young woman with the curious little rule book, he gallantly offers to help her find a husband…by practicing her wiles on him. But when practice becomes all too perfect, James decides that there is only one rule worth following-that Elizabeth marry her marquis.

Review:
Lately I’ve been on a romance novel kick, ever since I read Nora Robert’s Dream Trilogy. My go to author when I’d like to continue this kick is Julia Quinn. I absolutely adore reading about these characters in a time so different from now. I just love being able to fall so deeply in love with these characters.
How to Marry a Marquis opens up introducing the Hotchkiss family dilemma. They’re running out of money. The oldest Hotchkiss, Elizabeth, has decided that to solve this problem, she needs to marry. I really respect Elizabeth for most of this book (there’s some parts that make me want to shake some sense into her). Her number one responsibility has always and will always be her two younger sister, Susan and Jane, and her younger brother, Lucas. I really admire Elizabeth’s character because despite all the bad she’s been handed, she’s still given herself and her siblings a pretty good life. Elizabeth has a job as the companion of the infamous (if you’ve read other Quinn novels) Lady Danbury. Elizabeth’s personality really comes out when she’s with Lady D. She’s funny, witty, and spunky. But she’s also humble, full of love, and more like Lady Danbury than she would like to admit. I absolutely adores the pages with their interactions.
Now, enter James Sidwell, the Marquis of Riverdale. Although, Elizabeth knows him as James Siddons, Lady D’s new estate manager. And so begins their crazy love affair. James and Elizabeth are slightly hilarious together. Don’t get me wrong, they’re perfect for each other, with all the adorable and cuteness and whatnot that’s needed. But the way they behave around one another, always trying to pretend there weren’t any emotions involved, and the irony of the whole situation! Elizabeth needed to marry someone wealthy, which is why she struggled so much with her feelings for “Mr. Siddons”. Little did she know he was in fact the Marquis of Riverdale. They were just hilarious together and I was completely in love with them as a couple.
I would like to mention Blake and Caroline Ravenscroft even though their part in this story is minor. Friends of James, the couple intervenes with James and Elizabeth’s situation. I adored the couple and I’d like to find their story and read it next. Caroline was such a genuine person and such a good friend to Elizabeth. Blake more or less just agreed with his wife. The pair was just so caring and added so much to the hilarity of this novel.
I really just loved everything about this book, which isn’t a surprise because Julia Quinn is the author. How to Marry a Marquis was hysterical and heartfelt. Another amazing love story by Quinn. Any and all readers should try at least one, or all of her books.

Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.