Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm - Review

Someday I want to live in a place where I never hear “You’re Dusty’s sister?” ever again.

Life is real enough for Dylan—especially as the ordinary younger sister of Dusty, former Miss Mississippi and the most perfect, popular girl in Tupelo. But when Dusty wins the hand of the handsome Scottish laird-to-be Ronan on the TRC television network’s crown jewel, Prince in Disguise, Dylan has to face a different kind of reality: reality TV.

As the camera crew whisks them off to Scotland to film the lead-up to the wedding, camera-shy Dylan is front and center as Dusty’s maid of honor. The producers are full of surprises—including old family secrets, long-lost relatives, and a hostile future mother-in-law who thinks Dusty and Dylan’s family isn’t good enough for her only son. At least there’s Jamie, an adorably bookish groomsman who might just be the perfect antidote to all Dylan’s stress . . . if she just can keep TRC from turning her into the next reality show sensation.

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GUYS. THIS BOOK IS SO CUTE. 

Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. 

Prince in Disguise is a hilarious romance between two really nerdy awkward people. It's also a story about trying to define yourself and the relationship between two sisters. It is so incredibly smart and funny and romantic and I was so in love that I finished it at the table during dessert at Christmas with my family (they all expect this of me, honestly, so it was fine). 

Dylan and Dusty are so different and I liked that they didn't really get along. Plenty of people I know love their sister in the way that Dylan loves Dusty - by being stubborn and annoyed and wanting to be anywhere but near them. And it's for the same reason - it's hard living in the shadow of your sibling, especially if that sibling 1) likes attention and 2) in on TV and 3) is marrying into European nobility. I really liked their relationship and the fact that they were at odds for almost the entire book. Dusty isn't often the villain, but she is an opposing force (and sometimes a very funny one) and I appreciated that. 

Dylan and Jamie are A-DOR-A-BLE. The dialogue was witty and fast and I LOVED the fact that Dylan questioned/was slightly weirded out by all of Jamie's references. It's surprising how often characters just understand the most obscure references, but here it seemed realistic and added to the awkwardness. The friendship developed naturally and reminded me of Stephanie Perkins and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. 

I knew exactly where the plot was going but I was 100% in the whole time. I couldn't wait to see what Dylan and Jamie would do next, how Dusty would deal with her overbearing future mother-in-law, and how everything would turn out in the end. I was fully invested in watching Dylan grow throughout the book, finding her confidence and learning how to assert herself to the world that often overlook her in light of her sister. The way that the romance, and Jamie, are along for the ride but do not drive it, was fantastic and refreshing and I loved it. 

Prince in Disguise is perfect for fans of royal romances, The Prince and Me, Fangirl, and Stephanie Perkins. Dylan's outlook on life is cynical and hilarious and her interactions and comments create a fun, romantic story where at the heart, a young woman is learning to define herself and her place in her family, as well as her future. 
Find out more about Stephanie and her books here: http://www.stephaniekatestrohm.com/index2.html

Stephanie Kate Strohm is the author of It's Not Me, It's You; The Taming of the Drew; Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink; Confederates Don't Wear Couture and the upcoming The Date to Save and Prince in Disguise (Fall 2017). She grew up on the Connecticut coast, where a steady diet of Little House on the Prairie turned her into a history nerd at an early age. After graduating with a joint major in theater and history from Middlebury College, she acted her way around the country, performing in more than 25 states.

Although she was born in New York, she currently lives in Chicago, and doesn't discriminate against any type of pizza. When she's not writing, she loves baking, walking her dog Lorelei, taking dance cardio classes too seriously, and playing board games with her husband.

Happy Reading!

Jasmine 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet - Release Day Review!

Release Date: January 2, 2018

The riveting conclusion to the Kingmaker Chronicles, available January 2018!

Who is Catalia Fisa?

With the help of pivotal figures from her past, Cat begins to understand the root of her exceptional magic, her fated union with Griffin Sinta, and Griffin's role in shaping her destiny.

Only Cat holds the key to unlocking her own power, and that means finally accepting herself, her past, and her future in order to protect her loved ones, confront her murderous mother, and taking a final, terrifying step--reuniting all three realms and taking her place as the Queen of Thalyria.

What doesn't kill her will only make her stronger...we hope.

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Oh my goodness guys. We're here. We made it. To the end of this series and the end of my reviews for them. It was a wild ride but I loved every minute of it. 

Heart of Fire throws you right back into the action, with betrayal and Greek gods and startling revelations about exactly who Cat is (I know, how many more secrets could there be? SURPRISE!). The stakes were raised in the last book, Breath of Fire, but now it's up to Cat, Griffin, and the rest of their friends and family to save the world, utilizing everything they've built thus far. 

The main conflict in this book, other than Cat's crazy, power-hungry mother, is her own doubts and fears of her potential. While this may sound like a common trope, I really enjoyed Cat's journey through this novel, and find the fear in nice balance with her usual recklessness and sarcasm. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just say that the relationships she's built over the last two books has changed her in the best ways, making her really think about the choices she's making and the consequences. The part she has to play is daunting, but the support she has from those around her is heartwarming, (sometimes) hilarious, and a great development in the series. 

Even with all of the super stressful events happening, this book is full of hilarious moments and characters. I absolutely loved Ares and the other gods and goddesses that come to the forefront. I liked how they slowly reveal the parts they played in Cat's life (and how they bicker like parents about her well-being). The way that Greek mythology is woven in this original and unique world is fantastic (I'm sure I've said that before). I'm always up for a fantasy romance that includes meddling gods, especially ones that have great, if not sometimes infuriating, personalities. 

The plot moved well, though I wished more was revealed about her mother the multiple times they meet rather than kind of pushed together at the end. I also have a feeling (desperately hope) that there may be more spin-off books in the future, as some characters' fates were left a little vague! 

All of the pieces begin to really come together in this conclusion - not only revelations about Cat's past, or her relationship with Griffin, or even her destiny, but also about what it really takes to save her country and how fate doesn't necessarily dictate what she can and can't do with her potential. But as always, it is Cat's character and those of her loved ones that really make this book great. I loved her sarcasm and wit and off-the-charts chemistry with Griffin from the very beginning, but Amanda has added even more to this amazing character, and I am so grateful for this fantastic world she's built. Bravo! 
** I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review **
Find out more about Amanda Bouchet and her books here: http://amandabouchet.com

Visit the website for the Kingmaker Chronicles here: https://kingmakerchronicles.com

Amanda Bouchet grew up in New England where she spent much of her time tromping around in the woods and making up grand adventures in her head. It was inevitable that one day she would start writing them down. Drawing on her Greek heritage for the setting and on her love of all things daring and romantic for the rest, her debut trilogy, The Kingmaker Chronicles, took form. She writes what she loves to read: epic exploits, steamy romance, and characters that make you laugh and cry.

Her first novel, A Promise of Fire, won several Romance Writers of America chapter contests, including the Orange Rose Contest and the paranormal category of the prestigious Golden Pen.

A French master's graduate and former English teacher, Amanda lives in Paris, France. She met her husband while studying abroad, and the family now includes two bilingual children who will soon be correcting her French.

You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter. For updates and exclusives, sign up for Amanda's newsletter (you can easily unsubscribe at any time).

Happy Reading!

Jasmine

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Throne by Samantha Whiskey - Review

Disclaimer: This is a scorching hot forbidden romance that involves one bad-boy Prince, an untouched Duchess, and the sparks that are hot enough to ruin them both.

You know what you can have when you’re a Prince?
Anything you want—anyone you want.
Except her.

Charlotte Carlisle is the only woman I’ve ever loved and never touched—because lusting after your brother’s future queen is frowned upon. It never mattered that their betrothal was a political move made by our parents, that they didn’t love each other—she was completely off limits to everything but my constant fantasies. And I’ve spent the last decade pushing her away, desperate to save my sanity.

Now that my brother abdicated the throne for his true love and left me holding the crown, the one woman I’ve always wanted is the same person enlisted to help me choose my future Queen.
Thirty-six gorgeous debutantes are vying for the position, but Charlotte’s it. The only woman I’ll accept, and the only woman who refuses the offer. Constantly.

I’ve got four weeks to marry to solidify my claim to the throne, or my country will descend into chaos. The anti-monarchists are waiting for me to slip, and with over a thousand years of Wyndham tradition running through my veins, I can’t afford to fail.

But to win Charlotte, I’ve got to give her the one thing she’s never had: A choice.

And her decision could burn us all.

---------------------------- Amazon, Goodreads ----------------------------

The Throne is a great follow up to The Crown

I loved Jameson and Xander's relationship in the first book but getting inside Jameson's head was a unique and great experience. He is such a different animal than his brother, but the way he takes on his new responsibilities and the desire he has to protect the ones he loves is commendable and heartwarming. 

While I enjoyed the tensions surrounding his need to find a wife, and liked that he was so set on trying to be happy and winning over the woman he loves, I thought that Charlotte's denial and blindness lasted slightly too long. For such an astute, headstrong woman, it seemed slightly unrealistic that she wouldn't see Jameson's plan from a mile away. That being said, their chemistry is off the charts, as is their banter, and I loved seeing where the next page was going to take them.

While the book ends on a sort of cliffhanger, the story arc between Charlotte and Jameson comes to a nice conclusion. I'm assuming there's a Book 3 and I can't wait!
** I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. **

Samantha Whiskey is a wife, mom, lover of her dogs and romance novels. No stranger to hockey, hot alpha males, and a high dose of awkwardness, she tucks herself away to write books her PTA will never know about.

To keep up to date with her latest sexy little reads, join her mailing list! 


Happy Reading!

Jasmine

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet - Review

SHE'S DESTINED TO DESTROY THE WORLD... 

"Cat" Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat's tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what's a girl to do when she knows it's her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.

BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT

Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world-for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin must embrace their fate together. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom...or not at all.





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Everything is picking up in Amanda Bouchet's fantastic world so get ready! I also have my former job to thank for this copy of the book.

So we return to Cat and Griffin as they try to figure out how they are going to save the world. I loved how much Cat has changed since the first book, how she's opened her heart to not only Griffin but his family and her new friends. With this growing family, however, comes fear and doubt about Cat's choices, for now she has something to lose. I loved seeing her development, seeing her realize that the reasons she fights (and has fought) isn't out of selfishness but rather her ability to love and care. She is such a strong, complex character (and that's not even counting her magical abilities) and it's great to watch her grow as she conquers these huge obstacles.

You get a larger sense of the world in Breath of Fire, traveling through Fisa and the Ice Plains and meeting more magical creatures, such as the centaur-like Ipotane. The Greek gods also come into play, revealing more about Cat's destiny but also adding great characters to the story. The action is ramping up and the political tensions are on the rise.

The intricacies of the world and magic system becomes more developed, as does Cat's relationship with Griffin. Their chemistry is still amazing, but even more than that they are learning more and more about each other and becoming amazing supporters of one another. They are both so intelligent and brave and the way they not only match each other but push each other makes for a great romance and relationship in an already great fantasy world.

While readers may get a sense that this book is set up for the finale, it is still a unique part of the series that stands firmly on its own. I liked the expansion of the world and Cat's character. You learn so much more about what is in store for Cat. Her relationship with Griffin, his family, and her team also develops so much in this book. Sequels can sometimes lag, but not this one  - it is filled with the same snark and romance and even more action and magic.

And the last book is out next month, so you don't have to wait too long to know what will happen!

Find out more about Amanda Bouchet and her books here: http://amandabouchet.com

Visit the website for the Kingmaker Chronicles here: https://kingmakerchronicles.com

Amanda Bouchet grew up in New England where she spent much of her time tromping around in the woods and making up grand adventures in her head. It was inevitable that one day she would start writing them down. Drawing on her Greek heritage for the setting and on her love of all things daring and romantic for the rest, her debut trilogy, The Kingmaker Chronicles, took form. She writes what she loves to read: epic exploits, steamy romance, and characters that make you laugh and cry.

Her first novel, A Promise of Fire, won several Romance Writers of America chapter contests, including the Orange Rose Contest and the paranormal category of the prestigious Golden Pen.

A French master's graduate and former English teacher, Amanda lives in Paris, France. She met her husband while studying abroad, and the family now includes two bilingual children who will soon be correcting her French.

You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter. For updates and exclusives, sign up for Amanda's newsletter (you can easily unsubscribe at any time).

Happy Reading!

Jasmine

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden - Review

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingalecontinues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.


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Hey guys! Long time no see. Today I have a review for The Girl in the Tower, the sequel to one of my favorite books I read in 2017, The Bear and the Nightingale (you can read my review here!). 

The Girl in the Tower starts shortly after The Bear and the Nightingale, though the focus is very much on Vasya as a young woman and what she wants out of life rather than the story behind her gifts of seeing spirits, which is a large part of the first book. Here we really get to see her take charge of her destiny after the traumatic events of her past.

One of the most interesting things about this book is how different Vasya is from the first, and how much she changes even in this story. She is more sure of her abilities and isn't afraid to use them to protect her siblings and those she loves (even when sometimes those people may not it). Vasya spends much of this book disguised as a boy and the freedom and confidence it gives her makes an interesting commentary about the social constructs of the time, especially since what makes Vasya rebel and run away in the first place is the idea of the convent or marriage. 

If I'm being honest, I personally liked the setting and environment in the first book a little better than in this book. The eeriness of the forest and the bitter cold and Vasya's home was a more unique setting than Moscow, at least for me. That being said, the vastly different setting makes for a really fresh story with so many new details. The cast expands with great secondary characters, all orbiting Vasya as she navigates the new world of court life and her place within it, as a woman, a sister, and a witch. I thought that sometimes the plot lagged a little but Vasya is a strong enough character to quickly pull me through. I was also put on an emotional rollercoaster with Vasya and Morozco *swoon*. In the end I really liked the way their relationship grew but I can not wait until the last book to see what's going to happen. 

The dangers being slightly more human in nature, though no less threatening. Seeing how Vasya takes them all head on, despite the doubts and limitations placed on her by society, is exciting and inspiring. I highly recommend this series if you liked The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo. The writing is dark and lyrical, the world more like a vibrant Russian fairy tale. Much like a Russian winter, Vasya's story is unpredictable and dangerous but also beautiful and magical. 
** I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks Random House/Ballantine! **
Find out more about Katherine and her book here: http://www.katherinearden.com

Born in Austin, Texas, Katherine Arden spent a year of high school in Rennes, France. Following her acceptance to Middlebury College in Vermont, she deferred enrollment for a year in order to live and study in Moscow. At Middlebury, she specialized in French and Russian literature. After receiving her BA, she moved to Maui, Hawaii, working every kind of odd job imaginable, from grant writing and making crêpes to guiding horse trips. Currently she lives in Vermont, but really, you never know.

Happy Reading!

Jasmine

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet - Review

Catalia "Cat" Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.






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Phew guys. This review has been a long time coming. I'm not sure what took me so long, other than the fact that it's hard to think of words when you love something so much? But anyway, here is me trying to explain why love this series so much and why you should go out and read it immediately. I'm posting the review for each of the three books each month until January 2, when the third and final book releases (so you have plenty of time to binge the other two). 

I managed to snag an advanced copy of this book at work right before Thanksgiving, and then proceeded to finish it during the ride to my grandma's house, after dinner, and the ride home. It follows Cat, a feisty, sarcastic, head-strong young woman who is hiding from her past. After meeting Griffin, the newly crowned leader of a neighboring land, everything changes. 

The magic system in the world is great. It plays off of Greek mythology and yet has a really refreshing and unique feel to it. While the gods meddle and still have a sway over people's actions and beliefs, other elemental powers come into play with the Magoi (those who can use magic) and the Hoi Polloi (those without). So already you have those tensions, not to mention the politics, and the rising tensions between what Cat is running from and what she ends up running toward. 

Griffin's kingdom and the land of Sinta is so vibrant and interesting. And then there's Griffin, who is just as stubborn and headstrong and amazing as Cat. I thought their banter and relationship was hilarious and touching and very genuine. Their dialogue and the growth in their relationship was a joy to read and while there are sparks and hints throughout, I loved the way they changed throughout the story. 

I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just say that fans of Throne of Glass will absolutely love this book. While the world is completely different and original, Cat is such a great female character with a hidden past and a destiny that isn't all her own. Along with Griffin, there is an amazing cast of characters that all have their backstories and personalities, helping create a well-developed, complex, vibrant world. Full of action, magic, and romance, Promise of Fire is a stellar debut and a fantastic start to the series. 

Find out more about Amanda Bouchet and her books here: http://amandabouchet.com

Visit the website for the Kingmaker Chronicles here: https://kingmakerchronicles.com

Amanda Bouchet grew up in New England where she spent much of her time tromping around in the woods and making up grand adventures in her head. It was inevitable that one day she would start writing them down. Drawing on her Greek heritage for the setting and on her love of all things daring and romantic for the rest, her debut trilogy, The Kingmaker Chronicles, took form. She writes what she loves to read: epic exploits, steamy romance, and characters that make you laugh and cry.

Her first novel, A Promise of Fire, won several Romance Writers of America chapter contests, including the Orange Rose Contest and the paranormal category of the prestigious Golden Pen.

A French master's graduate and former English teacher, Amanda lives in Paris, France. She met her husband while studying abroad, and the family now includes two bilingual children who will soon be correcting her French.

You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter. For updates and exclusives, sign up for Amanda's newsletter (you can easily unsubscribe at any time).

Happy Reading!

Jasmine


Monday, September 18, 2017

Royal Attraction by Tiffany Truitt - Release Day Review

Alexandra Ryans’s life has been anything but normal. Some might even call it a fairy tale. As the daughter of the former U.S. ambassador to England, she grew up within the palace walls, best friends with the three young princes. Adored by the press and the British people. What more could a girl want?

If only the press knew the real story behind her relationships with the Dudley boys. Then, they’d really sell some papers.

Oliver Dudley, youngest son and third in line for the throne, loves everything about his life. The fame. The parties. The women. The utter lack of expectations and responsibilities that come with being last in the line of succession. But while the world thinks he has everything he wants, there's one thing he was never able to call his own—the beautiful and spunky American Aly Ryans. But how can he convince her when she hates everything about his life? And what is he willing to give up to get her?


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Royal Attraction is the perfect book for someone who loves royal romances but is looking for something a little different. Alexandra's relationship with the Dudley brothers is a really different take on the traditional tropes, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Let's start with Alex. I loved her character, mostly because she is incredibly flawed. She is haunted by her past mistakes and feels inadequate not because of her looks or anything but because she has a learning disability and I really appreciated that part of her. I liked the solace and friendship she has with the male characters in this story, like if they were the boys next door - except they are princes. The voice is hilarious and fraught with doubts and I enjoyed getting a look inside her mind.

Then there's Ollie. Oh, how I love Ollie. I love him more because he is like the boy next door, her best friend, and a prince, all in one. The way that he is portrayed as the playboy but not in a super vulgar way is refreshing. I liked that he struggles with the pressure of being a prince and being the younger brother, and why he does the things he does. I liked that the fact that he is a prince is also not really the main point, but rather a part of his internal and external conflicts. It's more focused on young adults coming-of-age than anything, with the added pressure of royal obligations.

This story is all about relationships, romantic or otherwise, and I thought they were all incredibly well-developed and adorable and great. The flashbacks to when they were children, then teenagers, did a lot to build upon a familial relationship that you immediately believe once Alex reunites with the Dudley brothers. The way the characters grow in the flashbacks, and then the way they grow in the present, is fantastic, and I think adds a depth that is sometimes lacking in other royal romance stories. You are really invested in these character's pasts and growth and friendships and just want them all to be happy.

Royal Attraction was an incredibly refreshing, romantic, hilarious story, with well-developed and believable characters that I fell in love with.
** I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review **
Learn more about the author and her books here: https://www.facebook.com/authortiffanytruitt/

Tiffany Truitt lives with her Netflix and junk food in Virginia. She is a graduate from Longwood University with a Masters in Literature from Old Dominion University. Previously she has worked in the realm of Young Adult literature having written The Lost Souls Series, Because You Exist, and The Language of Silence.

Happy Reading!

Jasmine