Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: Boomerang

Boomerang
By Noelle August
Published: July 8, 2014

Welcome to Boomerang.com, the dating site for the millennial gen with its no-fuss, no-commitments matchups, and where work is steamier than any random hook-up

Mia Galliano is an aspiring filmmaker. Ethan Vance has just played his last game as a collegiate soccer star. They’re sharp, hungry for success, and they share a secret.

Last night, Ethan and Mia met at a bar, and, well . . . one thing led to another, which led to them waking up the next morning—together. Things turned awkward in a hurry when they found themselves sharing a post hookup taxi . . . to the same place: Boomerang headquarters.

What began as a powerful connection between them is treated to a cold shower courtesy of two major complications. First, Boomerang has a strict policy against co-worker dating. And second, they’re now competitors for only one job at the end of summer.

As their internships come to an end, will they manage to keep their eyes on the future and their hands off each other, or will the pull of attraction put them right back where they started?

My review:

Boomerang is marketed as a "New Adult" novel and I have tried other novels from the genre that I didn't like because they were so filled with drama. Boomerang is much lighter novel and I would say it is more similar to the romance novels of Jill Shalvis and Kristan Higgins but without the small town setting or strong secondary characters. The one thing that gives it that "New Adult" vibe is that Ethan and Mia are both in their early 20s and just starting out in their careers.

I enjoyed Boomerang because I liked the humor and I liked Ethan and Mia. They do have major chemistry. They also have issues to work through before then can move forward as a couple as well as dealing with the internship and the "no dating" policy. Ethan seems like a decent guy. He loves to teach kids how to play soccer and to encourage them. Mia comes from a weird but artistically talented family. She herself has a dream of making a documentary film about her grandmother, whom she is close to and who has dementia. These moments with family and with the soccer kids give the reader a chance to see that there is more to Ethan and Mia than the internship and their mutual attraction.

However I thought the internship scenes were kind of unbelievable. The CEO does not come across as a good businessman or anything other than the guy who sometimes puts obstacles in the path of the hero and heroine (no dating between coworkers, etc.) and he happens to look like Ryan Gosling. Then there is evil Candy who is portrayed as a cardboard villain until the end where she suddenly seems a little nicer. The secondary characters are not well developed at all but thankfully the novel makes up for it by making Ethan and Mia more likable.

I think that readers who like steamy contemporary romance and humor will find much to like in Boomerang so if the whole "New Adult" label makes you pause, ignore it and give Boomerang a try.


Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of Amazon Vine

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Top Ten Halloween Edition



Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. There is a new subject each week and this week's topic is "Top Ten Books to Get Into the Halloween Spirit"


Books to read for Halloween if you want something with more humor than horror:



Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen


This book has plenty of humor and snarkiness and I think fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer would really like it. I love the tagline: "He’s young. He’s hot. He’s also evil. He’s . . . the librarian."



Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins


Rachel Hawkins has a humorous and sarcastic writing style that works well in Hex Hall and School Spirits.



School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins


I really liked Hex Hall but I loved School Spirits even more. The main character is smart and brave and funny.



House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple


This reminded me of both Hex Hall and Daughter of Smoke and Bone. A young witch works on developing her powers while also trying to find a way to break a curse that killed her mom and other witches in her family. 


Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling


Halloween is a big deal in the Harry Potter books and who could forget Nearly Headless Nick's Death Day Party?


Soulless by Gail Carriger


Vampires, werewolves, mystery and a smart heroine with a dry British wit. What more could you ask for? This book is great with a cup of tea :)


Books to read for Halloween if you want something a little scary/suspenseful:



Made for You by Melissa Marr


Someone tries to kill the main character in a hit and run but she wakes up in the hospital with the ability to experience the moment of a person's death when she touches them. Also there is a serial killer targeting the teens at her school and it is someone she knows...


The Naturals series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes


Nothing remotely paranormal about these books but they feature teens trying to solve crimes committed by serial killers. Some really chilling scenes especially when you get inside the mind of a killer.



The Diviners by Libba Bray


There may be some humor in this book and a fantastic Jazz Age setting but this is not one I could read in the dark. The killer is truly evil...and there is a creepy but cool book trailer


Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer


Another historical book with a serial killer and hint of the paranormal. I also wouldn't read this one in the dark...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: Murder at the Brightwell

Murder at the Brightwell
By Ashley Weaver
Published: October 14, 2014

Amory Ames is a wealthy young woman who regrets her marriage to her notoriously charming playboy husband, Milo. Looking for a change, she accepts a request for help from her former fiancé, Gil Trent, not knowing that she’ll soon become embroiled in a murder investigation that will test not only her friendship with Gil, but will upset the status quo with her husband.

Amory accompanies Gil to the Brightwell Hotel in an attempt to circumvent the marriage of his sister, Emmeline, to Rupert Howe, a disreputable ladies’ man. Amory sees in the situation a grim reflection of her own floundering marriage. There is more than her happiness at stake, however, when Rupert is murdered and Gil is arrested for the crime. Amory is determined to prove his innocence and find the real killer, despite attempted dissuasion from the disapproving police inspector on the case. Matters are further complicated by Milo’s unexpected arrival, and the two form an uneasy alliance as Amory enlists his reluctant aid in clearing Gil’s name. As the stakes grow higher and the line between friend and foe becomes less clear, Amory must decide where her heart lies and catch the killer before she, too, becomes a victim. 

Murder at the Brightwell is a delicious mystery in which murder invades polite society and romance springs in unexpected places. Weaver has penned a debut in the tradition of Jacqueline Winspear.

My review:

Murder at the Brightwell appealed to me because of the setting (1930s) and the way it reminded me of a country house murder mystery (where one of the guests is a killer) only set in a hotel. I also liked the main character although sometimes she came across as naive. 

Amory is brave and cultured and a little devil-may-care. She is the kind of young woman who attracts male attention easily and indeed both her husband and Gil as well as other hotel guests are drawn to her charm and beauty. While Amory is intelligent she does jump to some wrong conclusions and take unnecessary risks. In that way she reminded me of the heroines of Deanna Raybourn's novels and her impetuousness just adds to the suspenseful feel of the story.

There is some romance as Amory deals with her old feelings and "what ifs" for Gil as well as her feelings about her husband and marriage. This worked well with the story since Gil is a suspect anyway and I thought Amory's interactions with Milo were fun and added a touch of humor. If the romance subplot was fairly obvious and predictable, the mystery was not.

I enjoy historical mysteries and I particularly enjoy mysteries when I can't figure out who the killer is. The murder was not easy for me to solve because we see everything through Amory's eyes and the author does a good job of making multiple suspects look very suspicious. I didn't know who the killer was till Amory did and that was kind of fun for a change.

Overall I really liked this historical mystery and I hope the author will write more. I would suggest this novel to fans of Deanna Raybourn's books, the Miss Fisher mysteries (I've watched the show but not read the Phryne Fisher novels), and Rhys Bowen.



Note: I received an ARC for review courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley





Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (144)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.


This week, I'm waiting on:

A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes
Release date: October 28, 2014

It's 1924 and there have been many changes at Downton Abbey since the family and their servants first welcomed us there twelve years ago. A generation of men has been tragically lost at the front; children are once again breathing new life into the great house; a chauffeur now sits at the Grantham dinner table; and skirt hems continue to rise.
Still, in the midst of all this upheaval, many things at Downton remain largely unchanged. Nanny still holds sway in the nursery, and there are still summer fetes to be organized, menus to be planned, and farms to be run.
This gorgeous book explores the seasonal events and celebrations of the great estate—including house parties, debutantes, the London Season, yearly trips to Scotland, the sporting season, and, of course, the cherished rituals of Christmas. Jessica Fellowes and the creative team behind Downton Abbey invite us to peer through the prism of the house as we learn more about the lives of our favorite characters, the actors who play them, and those who bring this exquisite world to real life.
A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey is packed full of exclusive new photographs, with a delicious array of traditional British recipes adapted for modern kitchens: kedgeree, orange marmalade, asparagus tarts, cream of watercress soup, Irish stew, lemon barley water, meringues with red berries, parmesan straws, Christmas pudding with brandy butter and more. From the moment when the servants light the fires against the chill of January, through the last family game of charades and the servants' Christmas ball, this magnificent book invites us to take part in twelve months in the life of Downton Abbey.
I think this sounds like an entertaining book and going by the description and past Downton Abbey books by the author it should have loads of beautiful pictures from the set. I suspect there will be some very minor spoilers for season 5 as well (mention of new characters, etc.). I am also intrigued by the recipes.

Downton Abbey: Rules for Household Staff
by Charles Carson, Butler at Downton Abbey (introduction)
Release date: November 25, 2014

The household staff of Downton Abbey carries out their duties with effortless dignity, finesse and pride. Yet how do they know how exactly to lay the table, when to leave the room to give Lord and Lady Grantham their privacy, how to care for Lady Mary's furs and which uniform to wear when? This recently recovered and fascinating staff handbook answers all of these questions and more.
Covering all the main positions of the Downton household—footman, lady's maid, housekeeper, groundsman and more—and with a general introduction for new members of staff from Carson the Butler, this book tells you everything you need to know about working below stairs in the grand estate of Downton Abbey.
I think this book sounds even more fascinating! I wish it was written by Mrs. Hughes though. She is one of my favorite characters from the show and I love her sense of humor.




Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: Evil Librarian

Evil Librarian
By Michelle Knudsen
Published: September 9, 2014

He’s young. He’s hot. He’s also evil. He’s . . . the librarian.

When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie,
falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact . . . a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body! From best-selling author Michelle Knudsen, here is the perfect novel for teens who like their horror served up with a bit of romance, plenty of humor, and some pretty hot guys (of both the good and evil variety).

My review:

I thought Evil Librarian was fun and entertaining. Cyn is a great protagonist. She is brave, snarky, and a loyal friend. Annie can be a frustrating character because she is so blinded to Mr. Gabriel's true nature but Cyn still wants to help her even when she is behaving like a brat. Cyn loves musical theater so while she is busy trying to save her best friend and the school, she is also trying to design the best set for the school's performance of Sweeney Todd (a favorite musical of demons according to the book). I like that Cyn had a fun and quirky personality. Cyn's love interest and eventual ally is Ryan, her longtime crush and the star of Sweeney Todd. I like their awkward friendship that slowly becomes something more. 

I liked the villain(s) of the story too. Mr. Gabriel is suitably evil though a bit cartoonish as a villain and the other demons are equally creepy or stupid in some cases which adds to the humor. I would say that this book is horror lite. It is more comedic with some suspense rather than truly spine chilling like The Diviners

I wanted to read this book because it featured a librarian as a villain and because I knew it was supposed to be a horror/comedy of the Buffy variety. Evil Librarian did not fail to deliver on that promise. However I do wish there was more depth to Mr. Gabriel's character (and I kind of wanted him to be more librarianish by talking about research databases and Dewey decimals but I'm probably the only one who felt that way...)

If you are looking for a good Halloween novel that also has a lighthearted tone, give Evil Librarian a try. This story reminded me of a cross between Rachel Hawkins's Hex Hall and the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent (though with less angst and romance). I was also reminded of the Disney Channel movie, Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior because of certain scenes at the school and the way a seemingly ordinary teenage girl has to take down an evil threat. I think fans of Rachel Hawkins and Buffy the Vampire Slayer would really like Evil Librarian. I do not know if there will be a sequel though the author leaves some room for one.


Note: I received an ARC for review courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (143)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week, I'm waiting on:


First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
Release date: January 20, 2015

From the New York Times bestselling author of GARDEN SPELLS comes a story of the Waverley family, in a novel as sparkling as the first dusting of frost on new-fallen leaves...
It's October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly.  As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree... and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.
Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies.  Though her handcrafted confections—rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds—are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.
Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby— a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.
Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?
When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before.  And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.
Lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen's enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins.
I really liked Garden Spells and I look forward to reading about the Waverly family again. I enjoy Sarah Addison Allen's descriptive writing style and Southern settings.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (194)



It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

I had a very productive afternoon of reading today and I finished two books and read another from beginning to end. Now I don't know what I'm in the mood to read next. I have a lot of ARCs to get caught up on still but I also have some library books I've been wanting to read. October is National Bullying Prevention Month and I have a copy of the biography Positive by Paige Rawls, who was bullied as a young teen when her classmates found out she is HIV-positive. I also have some sequels to books I really enjoyed last year.



Books reviewed:


The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion


Books read:


The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

I loved this book and I am sad that this series is finished. I am hoping however that Percy and his friends will somehow make an appearance in the Norse mythology series. Rick Riordan has hinted that the main character Magnus Chase is somehow related to Annabeth.



Boomerang by Noelle August

I liked this more than I thought I would. It reminded me a little of both chick lit and contemporary romance novels like those written by Jill Shalvis only with younger characters and no charming small town setting. I guess it is part of a trilogy but I'm not sure I'll read the rest of the books.


Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

While there are some obvious similarities and comparisons to Cinder, Stitching Snow is its own self-contained novel. I don't know if there is a sequel in the works but this can be a standalone book which I really appreciated. It is also not a faithful retelling of Snow White and more loosely based on the source material than Cinder was.


All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

This book took me by surprise. I only read it because of a positive review from Christina at Confessions of a Book Addict. I had tried one of Cora Carmack's other New Adult series and didn't like it but I read All Lined Up in one afternoon and I plan to pick up the sequel.