[Giveaway] Just Couldn’t Put It Down July Giveaway Hop (US Shipping only)

Giveaways, Uncategorized 56 Comments 6th July, 2014

Welcome to another great giveaway at Romancing the Laser Pistol. We are proud to be giving away an amazing prizepack including a $10 Amazon Giftcard as well as copies of On The Fence and The Distance Between Us. These books are just two of many that we couldn’t put down. This giveaway is part of the  Just Couldn’t Put It Down July Giveaway Hop hosted by Stuck In Books. Good luck to everyone and happy reading.

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[ARC Review] Magnolia by Kristi Cook

Amy's Reviews, ARC Reviews, Reviews 1 Comment 6th July, 2014

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

[ARC Review] Magnolia by Kristi CookMagnolia by Kristi Cook
Published by Simon and Schuster on August 5, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
five-stars
In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.

Let me say first off there is just something about a boy from the south.  I don’t mean rednecks, I have nothing against rednecks.  I mean a well-mannered boy from the south that calls his mama, says yes ma’am, and most of all has one of those lilting southern accents.  Ladies, let me tell you that Ryder from Magnolia has all those qualities and more.  When I read Magnolia I spent the whole time wishing I had met a boy like that when I was seventeen.

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Magnolia is a story of two teens whose parents want them to be together.  Their families have always been friends.  Their mothers are best friends and they used to share a crib together.  It is for that very reason that they hate each other.  That is right, this not a story of star crossed lovers but a story of self-discovery and maybe finding out that their parent’s  wishes were right all along.

I loved this book!  I could not put this book down.  I started reading it one late night and had to stay up all night until I finished this book.  Thank goodness it was a Friday night so I did not have to work the next day.  The thing I loved most about this book was the chemistry between Ryder and Jemma.  I loved that Jemma hates Ryder for something that happened long ago but is unable to keep her eyes off him too.  I loved that even though they have problems when something serious happens, they are there for each other.  When they get stuck having to ride out a hurricane together is when I think my favorite scenes take place.  All I will say is it’s explosive.  Magnolia is not just a book about romance it also a book about finding out what makes you happy.  That is what I really like about this book because Jemma doesn’t want to follow her parent’s college plans.  She wants to go film school at NYU.  I loved that she is able to find herself in the end.  That even after the storm, literally and figuratively, Jemma is finally able to stop living for others and find her happy.

In the end, I cannot stress enough how much I loved Magnolia.  How sweet, funny, romantic, and at times a little sad this book is.  There were times I smiled, times I swooned, and times I wanted to shake some sense into Ryder and Jemma.  I think that is what I loved most about this book is that it is real contemporary romance about falling in love and growing up.  I give Magnolia five stars and I am shouting from the rooftops to anyone who will listen to go read this book!

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[Review] Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Fry's Reviews, Reviews 0 Comments 5th July, 2014

[Review] Stormdancer by Jay KristoffStormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on September 18th, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Steampunk, Young Adult
Pages: 313
Source: Purchase
Goodreads
five-stars
Amazon
A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

A HIDDEN GIFT
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

I made it to the end this time! The first time through I DNF’d before they even reached the Thunder Tiger. At the time there were too many characters and too much of an infodump for me to slog through to the meat of it. I was also trying to read it on a plane and it seems utterly impossible for me to start books on a plane. I just can’t focus and with the depth of attention needed to start this book, I failed.

This time, I made it through. I got over the -samas and the hais and the feeling that I was reading an anime put to text. Let me tell you, I’ve read the other reviews. That has been a major deal breaker on a lot of them. If you guys can get over that and not let it detract from the story, the end result is marvelous.

The world is blighted due to the prosperous but deadly lotus plant. It’s used to power their steampunk vehicles and lubricate every day life. It’s even a recreational drug. And though it’s slipped into every facet of society, it’s killing the land and the people. A guild of body suit wearing religious fanatics keeps the lotus production moving ever forward.

Yukiko and her father are sent to capture a griffin for the Shogun, whom I started referring to as ‘Asian Prince Joffery’. Failure to locate and capture a beast thought to be extinct would result in death either by the Shogun’s hand or by their own.

Yukiko has an otherworldly gift in which she can communicate with animals via mental link. When they do, miraculously, find the griffin and subsequently capture it, she tries to calm the beast with her gift. The beast ignores her until their airship crashes and she rescues him.

What follows is a tentative but deeply forming friendship. At one point, Burruu, as that’s what Yukiko named the griffon, declares himself part of Yukiko’s family. From that point onwards, they are inseparable even as they are caught up in a resistance to attempt to overthrow the current Shogun and take back the land from the blighting lotus.

I teared up at several points in the book. There are some deep cutting revelations and some poignant deaths. This doesn’t bode well for my emotional state through the rest of the series, as it only looks as though it will get more intense.

[ARC Review] The King’s Dogge by Nigel Green

ARC Reviews, Bry's Reviews, Reviews 0 Comments 4th July, 2014

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

[ARC Review] The King’s Dogge by Nigel GreenThe King's Dogge: The Story of Francis Lovell by Nigel Green
Published by Matador on November 18th, 2013
Genres: Historical, Historical Fiction
Pages: 297
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
three-stars
Just how far will one man go in the name of loyalty?

Set in an England beset by power wrangling and warfare at the end of the 15th century, The King’s Dogge (the first of a two book series) tells of Francis Lovell’s meteoric rise from humble squire to closest ally of King Richard III.

Having courageously fought at Barnet for the great noble the Earl of Warwick, Lovell is introduced to Richard of Gloucester. Impressed by Lovell’s military acumen, Gloucester assigns him the unenviable task of fighting the Scots in the West March. His initiative wins him a knighthood and turns him into Gloucester’s most prized asset. In time, Lovell comes to respect Gloucester and a close friendship blossoms, each aware of one another’s weaknesses but together able to advance one another’s careers – military and political respectively. Lovell’s future is further shaped by Gloucester’s scheming wife Anne Neville, whose ambition exceeds that of her husband.

But when their Machiavellian scheming leads to the cold-blooded murder of the princes in the tower, Lovell is forced to weigh his conscience against his sense of duty and ask himself what dark acts he is prepared to carry out in Gloucester’s name.

The King’s Dogge is a fictional account of the rule of King Richard III as seen from the perspective of his closest adviser, Francis Lovell. It weaves a story around true events and throws the actions of the king into a new perspective when viewed against the ambition of his wife, Anne Neville.

The phrase ‘history is written by the winners’ is heartily applicable to the Wars of the Roses, which is why the Tudor household remains nearly a household name, while figures like King Richard III or the ‘Kingmaker’ Earl of Warwick fall to relative obscurity beyond the realm of historians. As a result, there are many unexplored or unanswered questions on the ‘losing’ figures, leaving them open to interpretation. With The King’s Dogge, Nigel Green has stepped into the losing side to give a voice and a sense of humanity to these often overlooked or demonized figures, and successfully inspires his readers to consider the pressures and circumstances of intense conflict.

The King’s Dogge is the story of Francis Lovell and his rise through the ranks of military service. Francis begins his service to the crown as a soldier, who garners the attention of his superiors for cunning military tactics and insight. He is brought to directly serve the Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Gloucester (later to become King Richard III), and is tasked with managing problematic territorial regions, which he handles skillfully. Francis is an exceptionally loyal man to a fault, and bears his service even when forced to shoulder unnecessary blame, or relinquish credit to the Duke for his successful management. By the time Richard has been crowned King, Francis Lovell has become one of his most valued advisers, which places Francis in the most uncomfortable situations as Richard makes decisions that will change the face of England forever.

The biggest success of this book was its interesting perspective on historical figures that normally are portrayed as one dimensional. Green paints detailed and complex pictures of the inner workings of Richard III’s political dynamic and personality, the influence of his wife, Anne Neville, and the struggles of morality, power and influence that they faced. Green has also given character to Lovell to make him headstrong, loyal, intelligent, conflicted, and ultimately, shocking in his decisions. Comparatively, this book also had its failures in dragging scenes of ho-hum battle, less important military or political conversation, debate, and several characters that muddied the waters and drew focus.

Overall, an acceptable read that I would recommend for its perspective, but would have preferred a more brisk pace.

[Audiobook Review] The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

Amy's Reviews, Reviews 0 Comments 3rd July, 2014

I received this book for free from Audible, Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

[Audiobook Review] The Murder Complex by Lindsay CummingsThe Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
Series: The Murder Complex #1
Published by Greenwillow, HarperTeen on June 10, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 398
Source: Audible, Edelweiss
Goodreads
three-stars
Amazon
An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.

I actually got this book as an e-Arc, but I didn’t have time to read it so I bought the audio book right when it came it out. My first thought after finishing the audio book of The Murder Complex was I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. It was one of those books that was either very interesting or very slow. I don’t know if it was just me, but sometimes I found myself right on the edge of my seat and other times I found myself tuning out the book and running my grocery list through my head. I give The Murder Complex three stars and a shrug because it was an ok book.

 

 

 

 

The book is about a girl named Meadow whom all her life has been training to survive in a world where the Murder rate is at all-time high. Then she meets Zephyr a boy that is a programmed assassin only he doesn’t know it. This book is your typical action packed dystopian novel complete with government conspiracies. Does it add anything new to the genre? No.  But, let’s face it, it is hard to be a fresh voice in a genre that with the success of so many other books is very full right now. What does The Murder Complex offer? Entertainment. It was chocked full of action. I liked that Meadow doesn’t just talk about how she can kill with her bare hands. Meadow can kill with her bare hands. On the other hand the conspiracies were a little predictable and I saw them coming a mile away. It kind of reminded me of an anime I watched once that was about weapon runners. The anime was funny and but then I would roll my eyes when it got preaching about gun control. That is how The Murder Complex is: entertaining, full of action, but also full of eye rolling revelations.

 

In the end I didn’t feel like I wasted my time with this book but at the same time I am not going tell every person I meet on the street to read this book. The Murder Complex is also told in alternate points of Meadow and Zephyr so I liked the audio book had two different narrators to read those chapters. I thought that both Caitlin Davies and Josh Hurley do a good job reading for Meadow and Zephyr. I probably will check out the book because while I wasn’t surprised or shocked by the end.  I am curious enough to see where it goes.

 

[Review] An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire

Fry's Reviews, Reviews 1 Comment 2nd July, 2014

[Review] An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuireAn Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #3
Published by DAW on September 7th, 2010
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 354
Source: Purchase
Goodreads
four-stars
Amazon
Experience the thrill of the hunt in the third October Daye urban fantasy novel.

October "Toby" Daye is a changeling-half human and half fae-and the only one who has earned knighthood. Now she must take on a nightmarish new challenge. Someone is stealing the children of the fae as well as mortal children, and all signs point to Blind Michael. Toby has no choice but to track the villain down-even when there are only three magical roads by which to reach Blind Michael's realm, home of the Wild Hunt-and no road may be taken more than once. If Toby cannot escape with the children, she will fall prey to the Wild Hunt and Blind Michael's inescapable power.

This book took me almost a year to read. Not because it was bad– in fact, it’s probably my favorite October Daye book yet. And, yes, I’m fully aware that there are five more novels currently published. I will have to get to those eventually, because Seanan’s novels always completely mess with me.

No, the issue with this book was that it kept stressing me out. Toby is on a mission to find a bunch of missing children and has to confront one of the oldest and strongest of the fae. Every time I think she’d rescued everyone and everything is going to be hunky dory, she had to go back to Blind Michael’s lands. Every time this happened, I would stop reading for awhile because every time she would escape by the skin of her teeth. Yet, she kept going back because honor demanded it. And while I appreciate that in a character, you have to wonder a bit about her self preservation.

Anyway, I got through it. I’m a bit pensive about picking up another October book, but I’m also totally in love with the character and the fairy world painted. I will be revisiting this series soon.

[Top Ten Tuesday (4)] Favorite Classics

Memes 0 Comments 1st July, 2014

 

Hello Readers! We’re back with another Broke and The Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!
Each week we will post a new Top Ten list  that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It’s a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

 

This Weeks Theme is Top Ten Classics

PEP_8351-Edit-XLBry: What constitutes a classic these days? This topic lead to an interesting discussion with several people, for many books I would consider too modern for the title ‘classic’ are being hailed as such, but do books written thousands or hundreds of years ago count? The boyfriend suggested “Anything that is taught in English class” but I hated most of that shit. So, I turned to Goodreads and its ‘Classics’ genre, and picked my favourites out of what came about.

1. Everything Shakespeare ever wrote.

I am a DIE HARD Shakespeare lover. I’ve read them all, seen them all, nerded out to every movie or film adaptation, and I might as well just live in the white tents of Bard on the Beach every Vancouver summer. I’m desperately in love with Shakespeare. My favourite is Hamlet, and other high contenders are Much Ado About Nothing, King Lear, Titus Andronicus, and Twelfth Night.

2. The Prince by Machiavelli

It should come as a shock to no one that I, the Medici fan girl, would have to have Machiavelli on my list, especially when he was writing in dedication to Lorenzo the Magnificent Medici. Machiavelli’s shrewd evaluations of what it meant to rule, how to succeed in politics, and how to play with power truly shaped the Renaissance world, and is deserving of all due praise.

3. Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (and all subsequent Musketeer/D’artagnan tales) 

I freaking love me some Musketeers. I’ve always loved this fictionalized tale so closely enmeshed with the real world history of France, and it will always be a story I return to again and again. I don’t want children, but if I did have a son, I would very seriously name him D’artagnan.

4. The Divine Comedy (Paradiso, Purgatorio and Inferno) by Dante 

Dante’s imaginings of Purgatory, Heaven and Hell are still to this day staples of our modern perception. He was a fearless writer, leaving no stone unturned, and no detail left unexplored. Dante’s visceral writing stands as a stark insight into the concerns over the soul in the Renaissance

5. Everything by Edgar Allen Poe. 

Especially the Facts of the Case of M Valdemar, the Tell-Tale Heart, and the Fall of the House of Usher. I absolutely love Poe’s dark, dreary, tense and gothic work. Furthermore, even at his most gruseom, Poe was a wonderful commentator on society and identity, and isn’t often credited enough for his observations. He wrote like no one else ever has, or likely ever will!

6. The Cantebury Tales by Chaucer.

Considered to be one of the first works published in the English vernacular, and credited for popularizing such, The Cantebury tales are some of the best peepholes we have into the life of such varying lifestyles in 14th century England. Where else would such a collection of stories, ranging from peasants to knights, prioresses and bawdy housewives? Unsurprisingly, my favourites include the Prioress’s Tale and the Tale of the Wife of Bath.

7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams 

So this would be one of those books I’d consider too modern for ‘Classics’ but Goodreads says so, and there is never enough praise for Douglas Adams. I have a deep love for dry British humour, and having Douglas Adams be a part of my formative literary years is partially responsible for that. Its rare that I laugh out loud while reading, but this was accomplished more by Adams than anyone else! He was so ahead of his time, and will become one of those permanently relevant figures. He’s also responsible for an important life lesson: DON’T PANIC!

8. Ten Little Indians (or And Then There Were None) by Agatha Christie. 

I am a huge huge fan of locked room mysteries and whodunits! Agatha Christie certainly is one of the best for this genre, and ‘And Then There Were None’ was one of the first locked room books to fall into my hands. I attribute my inspiration from her writing into my future love of authors like Michael Slade.

9. A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

Or more accurately, A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick. Any list of classics would be entirely remiss without a satirical suggestion of eating children. Enough said!

10. The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins

Recommended to me in middle school as one of the best horror/thriller/mystery books ever written, the Woman in White was a huge hit with me. I love books that make me squirm, or want to bite my nails the way this did.

 

302722_10152199913595058_122942404_nFry: I don’t really read classics. So, I suppose my list is going to have to be a top ten on books I want to read at some point. You’re going to quickly discover a trend. As I’m not big into contemporary no matter the time period. The closest I’ll get to Austen is yet another rewatch of Austenland (c’mon, that movie is fantastic).

1. The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
2. Dune by Frank Herbert
3.  A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
5. Ringworld by Larry Niven
6. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
7. Hyperion by Dan Simmons
8. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
9. Xenogenesis by Octavia Butler
10. The Stand by Stephen King

 

Headshot  Carol:  The definition of a classic is different for everyone, especially as a genre. But for my personal picks, it comes down to a few things:

1. It must be a book that was written prior to 1940- anything later than that is too ‘contemporary’. Sorry. That’s how it goes. Classics have to have some definitive age.

2. It must be able to ‘age’ well. Classics can be read, any time, at any age, and anywhere, and still be as compelling today in the modern world as it was in the day it first was written. Some books, however good, don’t age well with the time, and can be very hard to get in to.

3. It has to be memorable. True Classics can’t be forgotten, whether you love them or hate them. They stick with you, either as an image, a theme, a thought, or something else. Because it is memorable, classics can define other works and lead to adaptations (radio, television, films) and thus they leave a permanent mark. So if it ain’t memorable, it ain’t on my list.

Let’s get started, bottom on up!

10. The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe  by Edgar Allen Poe.

Honestly, I couldn’t just choose one of Poe’s works, and for the most part, his writings are mostly either short stories or poems. But everything that Poe has put to paper is a classic, to me. I was terrified by his horror stories and his poem ‘The Raven’, I was enthralled by his morality tales, his poetry is haunting in imagery as it is in rhyme and meter. I cannot stress enough how important it is to read Poe, at least ONE of his poems or stories, in your lifetime. As for it’s enduring legacy, well, ‘The Raven’, as I said, is so well known that it’s been featured on ‘The Simpsons’, there are numerous film versions of ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’, and ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’. Hell, Poe himself was the subject of a ‘fictional-history/action/horror film’! How’s that for memorable?

9. The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

With a semi-supernatural, semi-scientific explanation of Jekyll’s formula, and the thrilling intrigue brought by his alter-ego, Hyde, this story of a man’s inner struggle brought out to flesh and blood is intense! It has been the subject of many retellings, plays, movies, and even a musical adaptation. The haunting story of Jekyll and Hyde is a story you can’t pass up, if you ever meet it in a dark library isle.

8. Twelth Night by William Shakespeare.

Technically not a novel, but it is one of my favorite of Shakespeare’s works. Why? Well, there’s comedy, there’s mistaken identity, there’s love, there are challenges of gender-rolls and convention, sword-fights! How can you be bored? There’s even music! One of my favorite adaptations of the story is a film starring Ben Kingsley, and he plays Feste, a clown and trickster who wanders about, knowing all the truth but never giving any of it at the right time, but still trying to be a guiding hand while being quite funny. Read the play, see it on stage, or find the movie! You’ll be glad, and I assure you you’ll find great humor in the Bard’s words.

7. The Hound of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

One of the best stories of the Sherlock Holmes collections, this story remains a staple of adaptations (I love the episode of  ‘BBC’s Sherlock’ based on this story) and is a must-read for mystery loving readers. Most of the story involves our dear Watson alone, in fact, without Holmes’ guidance! But when Holmes does join in, the game is most certainly afoot, and they do have to work together to uncover the truth behind the hound that plagues Sir Henry Baskerville.

6. Frankenstien by Mary Shelley.

One of the most feared monsters in modern fiction, but also a misunderstood Adam seeking acceptance from his maker, this story by Mary Shelley strikes a chord within us. It asks if we mere mortals should be playing with the mystery that is life, and if we are going too far in science and medicine. A woman ahead of her time, Shelley knew that there was always a dark path one could take. Inspired by a nightmare, she wrote one of the scariest, and also thought-provoking stories ever. This book has been made in to movies and stage-plays a plenty, with my favorite being the Brannagh feature starring Robert DeNiro (you read that right) as The Creature. I do, however, recommend finding a copy or showing of the stage production starring Johnny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch (alternatively) as Frankenstien and the Creature. Overall, though, I urge you to read the book. Much more shocking than any visual medium.

5. Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Up in the ‘classic monster’ hierarchy is the Count himself, Dracula. Stoker studied many reported ‘vampires’ in his day, among them the countess Elizabeth Bathory and the dreaded Vlad Dracul, who was said to drink the blood of his enemies after impaling them. Vlad was not actually a vampire, but that didn’t stop Stoker from taking his name and making him the archetype for the ‘gentleman predator’. He was suave and compelling, but ended up draining the blood of his victims in order to hide is true grotesque nature. Dracula has been seen stalking the stage and the silver-screen, and helped birth the modern vampire craze. But no sparkling idiots or wimpy fang-faced fonies can match the first Vampyre, Count Dracula. Before you look to either Legosi or Oldman for film versions of this character, look in the pages first.

4. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

Perhaps one of the best examples of a story that can be read straight up or looked through for very subtle subtext, Dorian Gray’s tale is one of tragedy. A beautiful young man caught up in an odd, mystic circumstance and taking advantage of seeming eternal youth. He engages in vices and hedonistic living, but to what end? The original versions (and restored editions that appear now) hint that Dorian was openly bi-sexual or gay (as Wilde himself was hiding his own sexuality at the time). One very difinitive movie from the black and white era of cinema exists that carries these over-tones, and was just as daring in its own time. But at the heart of this book is the story of a young man trying to hide his inner darkness behind a beautiful mask. Pick it up and read it, I beg you!

3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I read this book in middleschool, and have seen two film versions since then, but I still enjoy this story. I felt very akin to Jane, seeing myself as a plain girl, myself, and yearning for both something more but also seeking just to have a little expression and success. Jane is also a governess, which I connect with wanting to be a teacher in my own life. Jane went through strife and uncertainty, and yet when she had chances to take other opportunities or turn back, she still ended up finding something she never thought she would have. Please, don’t pass this book up.

2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

Another from the Bronte Sisters, I like this story because I’m both drawn to and completely shocked by Heathcliff, the roguish man who first loses his great love, Catherine Earnshaw, before exacting his revenge on all who had caused him heartache and strife. With romance, intense intrigue, and a little bit of a ghost story, this book is one of my favorites and one that I want everyone to read.

1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Skirting by my date requirements by just a few years is my absolute FAVORITE book! Yeah, I know, it’s kind of a cheat, but this book is indeed a classic! Not only because it is still read and still loved by people the world over today, and not only because it first appeared in 1937, but because of the heart of the book- A small, and somewhat frightened protagonist goes on an unexpected, and very long adventure that changes him inside and out, and also begins the works of a greater event down the line for his whole world. Had Bilbo never run out that door of his after some treasure-seeking dwarves, who knows what could have happened!

We all know there is a film series about this book, but even I must admit, there is FAR FAR too much added in to the movies! I suggest, if you want a visual medium, that you seek the animated Hobbit film by the Rankin-Bass animation company. It told the core-story, kept much of the book’s charm, and added a little influence of its own. But above all, I encourage everyone to read the book before you watch or see anything else.

Monthly Wrap Up (1)- June

Reviews, Wrap Ups 0 Comments 30th June, 2014

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Just in case you missed anything, here’s our wrap up for the month!

Reviews-

Wish You were Italian by Kristin Rae
The Palace by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
If I Were You by Lisa Renee Jones

Manga Mondays

Change 123
Midnight Secretary

Top 10 Tuesdays

Books We’ve Read So Far This Year
Books on My Summer TBR List
Book Cover Trends

Giveaways

We gave away copies of Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae and Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy.

Books Amy Has Read This Month

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
The Merciless by Danielle Vega
Ghouls Rush In by H.P. Mallory
Kiss Me Like This by Bella Andre
The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard

Books Fry Has Read This Month

Half Bad by Sally Green
The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Havoc by Ann Aguirre
City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
The Liberator by Victoria Scott
Countdown by Mira Grant
Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne
Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
If I Were You by Lisa Renee Jones

Books Bry Has Read This Month

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb
Black Chalk by Christopher Yates
The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey
Taint by S.L. Jennings

[Review] If I Were You by Lisa Renee Jones

Fry's Reviews, Reviews 1 Comment 30th June, 2014

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.
[Review] If I Were You by Lisa Renee JonesIf I Were You by Lisa Renee Jones
Series: Inside Out #1
Published by Lisa Renee Jones on September 13th, 2012
Genres: Erotica, Romance
Pages: 384
Source: Author
Goodreads
four-stars
Amazon
How it all started…

One day I was a high school teacher on summer break, leading a relatively uneventful but happy life. Or so I told myself. Later, I’d question that, as I would question pretty much everything I knew about me, my relationships, and my desires. It all began when my neighbor thrust a key to a storage unit at me. She’d bought it to make extra money after watching some storage auction show. Now she was on her way to the airport to elope with a man she barely knew, and she needed me to clear out the unit before the lease expired.

Soon, I was standing inside a small room that held the intimate details of another woman’s life, feeling uncomfortable, as if I was invading her privacy. Why had she let these items so neatly packed, possessions that she clearly cared about deeply, be lost at an auction? Driven to find out by some unnamed force, I began to dig, to discover this woman’s life, and yes, read her journals—-dark, erotic journals that I had no business reading. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I read on obsessively, living out fantasies through her words that I’d never dare experience on my own, compelled by the three men in her life, none of whom had names. I read onward until the last terrifying dark entry left me certain that something had happened to this woman. I had to find her and be sure she was okay.

Before long, I was taking her job for the summer at the art gallery, living her life, and she was nowhere to be found. I was becoming someone I didn’t know. I was becoming her.

The dark, passion it becomes…

Now, I am working at a prestigious gallery, where I have always dreamed of being, and I’ve been delivered to the doorstep of several men, allof which I envision as one I’ve read about in the journal. But there is one man that will call to me, that will awaken me in ways I never believed possible. That man is the ruggedly sexy artist, Chris Merit, who wants to paint me. He is rich and famous, and dark in ways I shouldn’t find intriguing, but I do. I so do. I don’t understand why his dark side appeals to me, but the attraction between us is rich with velvety promises of satisfaction. Chris is dark, and so are his desires, but I cannot turn away. He is damaged beneath his confident good looks and need for control, and in some way, I feel he needs me. I need him.

All I know for certain is that he knows me like I don’t even know me, and he says I know him. Still, I keep asking myself — do I know him? Did he know her, the journal writer, and where is she? And why doesn’t it seem to matter anymore? There is just him and me, and the burn for more.

Every so often I need to read something completely frivolous. Something akin to a chocolate cupcake or bag of potato chips, only for my mind. If I Were You fit that critera perfectly. Part mystery and part hot sex, it kept me interested from page one all the way to the cliffhanger.

Sarah McMillan is a high school English teacher, on summer break, who, because her friend decided to go all Storage Wars and then leave the country, is saddled with a storage unit to clean out and inventory. What she finds inside are saucy journals and the entirety of the journal penner’s expensive possessions. Curiosity gets the better of her, and she decides to try to find Rebecca, the storage units owner, in order to learn why Rebecca let the unit relapse, and perhaps return her items to her.

Her first stop is the art gallery where Rebecca presumably worked. Sarah actually has a degree in art! Surprise, surprise! So she can talk art with the best of them. This leads to accidentally meeting the artist she super fangirls over, Chris Merit, and surprisingly landing Rebecca’s vacant job without an actual interview or overview of her credentials.

This leads to her NOT looking for Rebecca anymore, in fact, she all but forgets about Rebecca outside of little reminders when entering Rebecca’s office and looking at Rebecca’s abandoned things. Instead, she’s boning Chris Merit, who is, by all means a confident, morose, stalker type. He does that thing where he warns her away but then breaks all his normal relationship rules with her. Very trope-tastic, but by that point, I was engrossed enough in the story to not care.

There appears to be the makings of a love triangle with Sarah’s boss Mark Compton, but it hasn’t gone past ordering her around and making overtly sexually charged comments. She also stares at him a lot, and Chris finds the need to assert his manly claim whenever Mark is around. Whether this means that there will be steamy Sarah/Mark scenes in the future, has yet to be determined.

By the time Sarah snaps out of her sexual haze and decides to go look for Rebecca again, the book ends. It just ends! With none of my questions answered! Argh. The potato chip analogy has gotten more intense, as I can’t just read the one. I’m going to have to pick up another and see if I can FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED TO REBECCA!

[Manga Monday] Midnight Secretary

Carol's Reviews, Reviews 1 Comment 30th June, 2014

[Manga Monday] Midnight SecretaryMidnight Secretary Genres: Erotica, Fantasy, Fiction, Manga, Paranormal, Romance
two-half-stars
Kaya Satozuka is a hard-working woman. A member of the clerical services, she is a fast typist and ensures that all her work is done neatly and quickly. When she is called in to work for Director Kyouhei Touma of the Touma Company, she assumes it will be a job like any other. However, she finds the man's habits to be irksome. Not only is he a terrible womanizer who lavishes his ladies with gifts, he is also arrogant and spoiled. It comes to a head when she discovers that Director Touma is actually a vampire! When a dire situation arises, she offers her own blood to him to keep him from fainting... and soon is pulled in to a world she had never known existed. Can she survive the hunger, and the lust, of the vampire, and still get her work done?

This week we walk on the dark-side, readers. Let’s look at Midnight Secretary.

Midnight Secretary is a josei manga (manga marketed to adult women) written and illustrated by Ohmi Tomu. It was released in Petit Comic from 2006 to May 2009. In America, Viz Media owns the rights and has been releasing the series since September, 2013.

Let’s look at the cover: We see the clear depiction of a stylish, if slightly tight-bound bespectacled woman, with a man’s face inside of a stylized cross. Behind the woman is a twightlight dusted city silhouette. Gothic letters and style hint at the nature of this series.

We begin with Kaya Satozuka. She is a trained clerical worker who is particularly gifted as a secretary. She is clean and tidy with her appearance and her work, gets her duties down in a timely and orderly manner, and doesn’t have any social life outside of the work-place. And while she is respectful to her co-workers and her employers, she can come across as introverted. Which she really is. One day her skills are noticed and she’s promoted to be the private secretary of the Touma Company’s Director, Kyouhei Touma. He is young, and while good at his job, Kaya is appalled at his horrendous womanizing. He has multiple women that he discards like tissues, after giving them multiple gifts. He even sneaks them in to his office for late-night trysts. One night, Kaya accidentally walks in on her boss and one of his ladies to see that he’s… drinking her blood.

Yes. Director Touma is a vampire. Kaya’s afraid at first, but after being told that his kind don’t kill humans and that their bites won’t change a human in to a vampire, he convinces her to stay (because finding a secretary as good as Kaya would be annoying and take a lot of time). So, Kaya agrees to keep quiet, and remains loyal. One evening, he needs her to accompany him as a PA, only to end in a situation where he desperately needs blood to keep him from growing sick. Kaya offers her own, and they discover that, unlike other women, Kaya’s blood can quench his thirst with just a very small amount. Eventually, Touma stops inviting women to his office (and bed) and seeks only Kaya’s blood for nourishment. Kaya, in turn, begins to develop feelings for her boss, but knows it would be inappropriate to date him. However, she learns that he is equally attracted and desirous of her, and the two begin an intense sexual relationship.

Yep, it’s really erotica at the core. Your typical steamy romance with a vampire flavor- and this lot came before Twilight and its horrendous clones hit the bookshelves. Kaya’s a lot more endearing of a character than Bella Swan, however, but only just. And the character progression of Kyouhei Touma from spoiled rotten play-boy to a caring, protective, and loving man is a saving grace. But the only draw for me in this series were the designs of the FASHION.

Tomu is clearly a giant fashion hound and whenever she can put her women in beautiful dresses, style their hair, and make them look alluring, she does it with relish. She also is absolutely wonderful at making her men look like they walked off the runway. Some women would like this story for the sex, but I’m completely in love with the fashion porn.

I give this series a 2.5. If you like romance novels, different takes on vampires, and extravagant fashion, then give this title a read-through. If you’re looking for more substance with your ‘evening meals’, then throw this one out and reach for something with more bite.