Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Review: Too Wild to Tame by Tessa Bailey

Too Wild to Tame by Tessa Bailey
Book Two of the Romancing the Clarksons series
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sometimes you just can't resist playing with fire . . . 

By day, Aaron Clarkson suits up, shakes hands, and acts the perfect gentleman. But at night, behind bedroom doors, the tie comes off and the real Aaron comes out to play. Mixing business with pleasure got him fired, so Aaron knows that if he wants to work for the country's most powerful senator, he'll have to keep his eye on the prize. That's easier said than done when he meets the senator's daughter, who's wild, gorgeous, and 100 percent trouble.

Grace Pendleton is the black sheep of her conservative family. Yet while Aaron's presence reminds her of a past she'd rather forget, something in his eyes keeps drawing her in. Maybe it's the way his voice turns her molten. Or maybe it's because deep down inside, the ultra-smooth, polished Aaron Clarkson might be more than even Grace can handle . . . 

What I Liked:

I feel like the latest Tessa Bailey books have put me in a difficult position, in terms of how I should rate them. On the one hand, there are major things I've disliked about each book. On the other hand, there are other major things that have, in a way, made up for those "bad" major things. So I end up with the three-star rating. I hate certain things about the book, I like other things, and I find myself meeting in the middle to rate and review. Most of her books that I've read have received between three and four stars, which is positive. But I haven't experienced a real "wow" factor book (like my all-time favorite Bailey book, Officer Off Limits).

Aaron Clarkson is headed to Iowa with his little sister Peggy and older brother Belmont. They're road-tripping to the East Coast as per their mother's dying wishes, but Aaron is stopping in Iowa to try and restart his political career. He'll do so by trying to get a job with a senator running for president. Little does he know that the president's eccentric daughter is going to take him by storm.

This book felt like it was entirely Aaron's, which I was okay with. I liked Aaron; he's a player, a one-night-stand guy, a no-feelings, no-conscious smooth-talking politician. But there is so much emotional and mental weight behind those eyes. He thinks everyone thinks he's a manipulator, like most politicians. He thinks his brother hates him. Honestly Aaron doesn't have a high opinion of himself, even if he seems a little arrogant. This book was about how he began to change his view of himself, and how he healed his relationship with his brother (and family in general). And, of course, how he fell in love with Grace and practically regrew emotions.

Grace is... bizarre. Eccentric is the closest word I can come up with to describe her. She's so wild, and needs so much space. Her family doesn't allow her to come to her father's speeches and meetings and debates and such, because she's liable to do something crazy or embarrassing or illegal. I'm sorry, but Grace is a little crazy. To be honest, I didn't love her. But I will say that she is probably one of Bailey's most unique heroines, and she was a well-written character.

I'm feeling kind of meh about the plot, and I already mentioned that I didn't love Grace. I liked Aaron, his emotional journey, and the small scenes we get to see him interact with his family. While I thought the romance happened a little too quickly, I liked how steamy the (few) sex scenes were.

Overall, this wasn't a bad companion sequel. I like the road-tripping, the bonding, the cute pet. This isn't one of Bailey's best novels (in my opinion), but it wasn't terrible either.

What I Did Not Like:

I didn't like Grace very much. Now, I didn't hate her either. I just didn't connect with her, and it makes sense, because we are polar opposite. I'm not wild and carefree and totally eccentric like she is. Let me tell you, guys -- this girl is so weird. And weird is not bad! I had a hard time connecting with her weird.

Also, I just couldn't get passed her committing an illegal crime, and then Aaron having the blame forced on him, and Grace not doing much about this! Um, hello, she did something HUGE and illegal? Regardless of the Robin-Hood-like intentions (which, ehhh, not really), she did something really, really bad. And illegal. Did I mention illegal? It's no wonder her family tries to cage her. 

I was furious when Aaron wasn't totally furious at having that crime foisted on him (unintentional on Grace's part, but still). How was he not even a little angry, and didn't resent her even a little? Heck, he felt guilty that she fessed up and told her father the truth. AARON felt guilty?! About that?! I'm telling you, these people are so dumb sometimes. So totally dumb. And this is only after a few hours (aggregate) of interaction between Aaron and Grace. It's like, one-fourth in (really close to the beginning). 

I did mention that I wasn't really feeling the plot. It was pretty boring, especially for a romance novel. I just felt like there wasn't much to it! What was the point? Rebuilding a camp? In the grand scheme of things, it felt very unrelated and insignificant. It related to Grace's past, but I didn't really connect it with the overall plot of the series. It just didn't fit well, in my opinion.

One thing I will say about Grace is that I like how she is very direct in her weirdness, and doesn't play games. She doesn't try to make Aaron jealous by exaggerating talking with other men, or anything like that. But still, it seemed like Aaron was totally lovesick after knowing her for two minutes, and he was pushing and pulling, and she was constantly sad about not getting her way.

That probably covers everything! You see what I mean? Positives here, negatives there...

Would I Recommend It:

Honestly I wouldn't even recommend this book. The first book, Too Hot to Handle, was not bad. It features another self-deprecating hero, but the heroine isn't totally batsh*t crazy, and the story seemed to flow better somehow. This book... meh, no. It wasn't satisfying or particularly enjoyable/lovable.


3 stars. I'm disappointed that I'm not rating this one higher, but I didn't love the book. I might actually skip the next one, because I can already see that I might not like Peggy. Or her old man. 

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Waiting on Wednesday (#192): The Great Pursuit by Wendy Higgins

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm featuring:

The Great Pursuit by Wendy Higgins
Book Two of the Eurona duology
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: March 7, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Lochlanach has traded the great beast for something far more terrible, a Lashed enemy veiled in beauty, deception, and a vengeance passed down through generations: Rozaria Rocato. And she’s offering the hunter Paxton Seabolt power and acceptance he could never receive in his homeland. Pax must decide how far he’s willing to go under her tutelage, knowing she is the opponent of Princess Aerity Lochson.

In a land where traditionalists dread change, the Lochlan throne must contend with mysterious foes and traitors, while attempting to keep revolt at bay. As dire circumstances strike the royal family, matters of the castle are left in Aerity’s hands. It's time to put aside her fears and grasp the reign, taking actions that have the potential to save or destroy her people.

One hunt has ended, but the pursuit for love and justice continue. In this sequel to The Great Hunt from New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins, political intrigue and romance intensify in another thrilling fantasy. Princess Aerity embraces a quest for identity and passion before making the ultimate sacrifice for her kingdom.

Good grief, this cover looks so fake and stock-image-y. Come on, Harper! Nevertheless, I'm excited for the STORY! I hope Higgins delivers a satisfying ending, after breaking readers' hearts with The Great Hunt

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sweet Talk with the Sweet Sixteens: August 30th

Welcome to Week Thirty-Five of Sweet Talk with the Sweet Sixteens! To see more details about Sweet Talk as well as previous posts, see the introduction post. Thanks to Charlene (Bookish Whimsy), for designing the banner and button for Sweet Talk.

Today, I'm featuring the authors and books publishing during the week of August 30th!

The Questions:

1. Describe your debut novel in sixteen words.
2. Pitch your book! For fans of _____, _____ meets _____, etc.
3. What are you working on now – is it related to your debut novel?

The Author:

Kathleen Glasgow, Author of Girl in Pieces

1. Girl in Pieces is the story of a girl learning to live in the world.

2. Girl in Pieces is for fans of All the Bright Place and Thirteen Reasons Why.

3. I'm working on a book about grief, skateboards, the desert, and emojis.

Follow Kathleen Glasgow: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

The Book:

(Click on the cover to go to Goodreads!)

Other Sweet Sixteens Books Publishing This Week:

(Click on the cover to go to Goodreads!)

The Giveaway:

- Finished copy of Enter Title Here
- The Last Cherry Blossom bookmarks
- Signed hardcover copy of The Rat Prince
- Signed hardcover copy of Unscripted Joss Byrd
- Girl in Pieces swag

Release Day Blitz and Giveaway: An Indecent Proposal by Katee Robert

Welcome to the yet another promo for An Indecent Proposal by Katee Robert! I adore this book - and series - so you'll have to forgive all of my posts about this book. :D In this post, you can enter to win a copy of the book!

About the Book:

An Indecent Proposal by Katee Robert
Book Three of the O'Malleys series
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: August 30, 2016

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

Greed. Ambition. Violence. Those are the "values" Olivia Rashidi learned from her Russian mob family-and the values she must leave behind for the sake of her daughter. When she meets Cillian O'Malley, she recognizes the red flag of his family name . . . yet she still can't stop herself from seeing the smoldering, tortured man. To save her family, Olivia sets out to discover Cillian's own secrets, but the real revelation is how fast-and how hard-she's falling for him.

Plagued by a violent past, Cillian is more vulnerable than anyone realizes. Anyone except Olivia, whose beauty, compassion, and pride have him at "hello," even if she's more inclined to say good-bye to an O'Malley. While his proposal of sex with no strings seems simple, what he feels for her isn't, especially after he learns that she belongs to a rival crime family. Cillian knows that there is no escape from the life, but Olivia may be worth trying-and dying-for.

(Click on the image above to check out the series!)

About the Author:

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. She found romance novels at age twelve and it changed her life. When not writing sexy contemporary and speculative fiction romance novels, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her wee ones, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

Follow Forever Romance online:

The Excerpt:

Need another drink?” The words were clear despite the general ruckus of the bar, the voice like whiskey on the rocks. If Cillian O’Malley put a little imagination into it, he could almost taste her tone. It was the closest he’d come to having an actual drink in ten months.


He looked up, straight into night-dark eyes that made him think reckless thoughts about leaning across this bar and kissing the hell out of this woman. It was something the old Cillian would have done, and if the look on her face was any indication, he would have gotten the shit kicked out of him for the effort. He smiled despite the dark mood that had brought him wandering into Jameson’s to begin with. “Hey, gorgeous.”

The guarded look on her face was the same as the first time they’d met, like she expected him to whip out a gun and start shooting or threaten her or some shit like that.  Since he knew for a fact he’d ever so much as raised his voice at her in the two times they’d interacted previously, it stung a little that that was her knee-jerk reaction to him.

And it made him want to show her how wrong she was.

“You know, I’d pay good money to know what I did to piss you off so much.”

Olivia’s expression iced over in a way that would send a smarter man running. It just made Cillian more intrigued.  He’d been caught up in his family’s dramas for so long, it was refreshing to having an unconnected interaction—even if it was with someone who hated him. Hell, it was almost better this way.

It just added to the tangled mess inside him caused by sitting in this bar. Jameson’s and he had a complicated history that he’d never be able to escape. It was the last place his family had felt whole. He’d been here with his brothers, Aiden and Teague and Devlin, on the final night when they’d been celebrating Teague’s impending marriage. Devlin had been shot in a drive-by on the way home, and the O’Malley family had lost the closest thing to an innocent they could call their own. Cillian hated this place as much as he loved it, but it was here his feet brought him when he wandered.

Olivia crossed her arms over her chest, which only served to accent the way her breasts pressed against her shredded T-shirt. It wasn’t ripped enough to be truly indecent, but he could see several slices of her dusky skin beneath the black fabric, and it was distracting as hell. She cleared her throat, but he still gave her body a slow look, taking in her spiked combat boots, tiny skirt, coming back to that shirt, and then settling on her face. She was beautiful in the way good models were—a little too sharp for strictly traditional good looks, but all the more striking because of it. The mass of dark hair and the anger in near-black eyes took her over the edge into devastating.

She looked like the kind of mistake he would have jumped at a year ago. He had  jumped at her six months ago when they’d first met, and it had gone in the same direction their current interaction was headed. She’d taken an instant dislike to him, and nothing he could say seemed to convince her that he wasn’t this monster she seemed to label him as.

So much had happened between then and now, so much that weighed him down and threatened to drag him under for good. He hadn’t even been out by himself since he was shot—the same night he’d last seen Olivia. He rubbed his shoulder, half-sure he could feel the scar beneath the fabric of his shirt.

What would it be like to be that carefree and crazy version of himself, just for one more night?

The Giveaway:

Courtesy of the publisher, so this is USA only!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 29, 2016

Review: The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst

The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
Book One of the Queens of Renthia series
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure

Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .

But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms. 

With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.

What I Liked:

Good... but not great. I'm not quite sure how to articulate how I feel about this book. I didn't hate it - no, I enjoyed it, to a point. In the end, the book was predictable and a little cliche, as far as adult fantasy fiction novels go. But, it was okay, enjoyable, not terrible.

This story follows several protagonists, but mainly Daleina. The story starts with her as a ten-year-old, with her four-year-old sister, and parents. One day, as the family is going about their business like any normal day, their tree village is decimated by spirits. Spirits are always everywhere, but the queen controls them, so they don't usually attack humans. Why did they attack? Daleina's family is taken to another village, but Daleina is taken to train at Northeast Academy to hone her power (she discovers, when her family is attacked, that she has some power over the spirits). Nine years pass during this story, from beginning to end. After years at the Academy, Daleina is chosen the disgraced champion to be a candidate to be an heir, one of fifty women in the running to be queen, when Queen Fara dies. But Queen Fara has plans of her own, and they don't always seem to line up with the intentions of a good queen. Daleina must learn her power to take on even greater power than she'd ever encountered.

This book is written in third-person, limited. Most of the story is told from Daleina's POV, but we also have Ven's (the disgraced champion), and sometimes Queen Fara's, and Headmistress Hanna's. At first I wasn't a huge fan of the switches in POV, but I definitely began to appreciate the various POVs as the story grew more complex.

I liked that the story followed Daleina, for about nine years. From a ten-year-old to a nineteen-year-old, we see so much of her life story, and her growth. Durst doesn't skimp on the "backstory" - no, a huge chunk of this book (like, 20%) takes place when Daleina is not even a teenager. Then we see her going through the Academy and learning and struggling. And then Champion Ven comes to the Academy and chooses a candidate (which is like an apprentice) - her.

Champion Ven's story is easily the most important, behind Daleina's. Ven is possibly one of the best Champions to have existed. A Champion trains candidates to (hopefully) becomes heirs, who are able to be future queens. Ven is fairly young, maybe thirties or so. He used to be Queen Fara's lover, until she declared him the "Disgraced Champion" and exiled him. I liked Ven a lot - he's very smart, skilled, well-practiced, and good at what he does. I didn't like how he couldn't ever seem to resist Fara, and was a little blind to her wrongdoing.

One thing I liked seeing in this book was the positive female friendships! Daleina makes a ton of girl friends at the Academy. The Academy encourages competition, for the girls to treat each other like enemies. But Daleina makes friends and the girls help each other and stick together, and not just in the Academy. Each of them are chosen by Champions, and they help each other to the end of the book. Very good!

There is a small aspect of romance in this book. It's very small, involving Daleina and a young Healer. I liked these two together, though you can clearly see the author pushing the Healer to the side and making Daleina seem much more powerful and independent than him. I don't love this, but at the same time, good for Daleina. Ven has his own weird "romance" with Fara.

This book is pure adult fantasy, and the world-building is set up nicely. It doesn't feel particularly unique to me, but that might just be me. The spirits things (spirits of fire, water, air, wood, ice, etc. -- not human spirits from dead people) was interesting, but the vessel queen thing was kind of cliche. I didn't love the progression of the story, and the ending was entirely predictable, but it was okay. I must credit the author with excellent writing and world-building and character development.

What I Did Not Like:

The beginning of this book, and other parts of it, was dreadfully boring. I had a bit of a hard time getting into the story, past the initial 20%. I liked watching Daleina grow, but her pre-teenage and early Academy years were so, so boring. Things really only started to get interesting when Daleina left the Academy with Ven.

I'm not a huge fan of the plot in general - it was very predictable. Maybe it was predictable to me, maybe to everyone, but I could see where things were going pretty much from the start. OF COURSE Queen Fara is doing this or that. OF COURSE Daleina is going to do this in the end. There is a little bit of "the chosen one" syndrome in this book too.

Did I mention the cliche and totally predictable ending? Good grief, I didn't see that one coming. Nope, because the ending was SO original.

I liked Daleina's relationship with Hamon (her Healer boyfriend), but I didn't always like how Daleina didn't consider his opinion on things. I know we're all feminists these days (this is good), but that doesn't mean we should discredit the thoughts of others. Or make fictional male love interests two-dimensional lovesick puppies. This bothers me immensely. I wanted to like Hamon, but I feel like Durst was trying to show that Daleina was her own boss, and by doing so, Durst neglected to really craft Hamon. We meet Hamon waaaaay before Daleina meets Ven, In fact, Hamon is introduced to the story when Ven is exiled (and Daleina is not a teenager at this point). 

In general, I just wasn't impressed. This is not something I can pinpoint. I didn't love the story. I have reasons, and they may not seem like enough, but I didn't love the story. I liked it, but not enough to gush about it. It was okay!

Would I Recommend It:

It's not a bad story, but I just wasn't feeling it. It was okay. Good, but not great. Well-written, but I'm not in love with the story. I feel like others might like it? It's adult fiction (not adult romance), very well-written fantasy. Definitely on the predictable and sometimes cliche side, but well-written. Adult though (even though it's something of a coming-of-age story) - there is somewhat mature content.


3.5 stars -> rounded down to 3 stars. I just didn't like it enough to give it 4 stars. Good but not great is what goes through my mind when I think of this book. I'll probably read the next books in the series. I think they follow different female protagonists, if I'm not mistaken. The next book will probably be more about Merecot!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Release Week Blitz and Giveaway: An Indecent Proposal by Katee Robert

Welcome to the release week blitz for An Indecent Proposal by Katee Robert! This book publishes tomorrow, and you want it in your hands! I've been singing this book's praises, as well as the series', and I hope you all will check out the books!

About the Book:

An Indecent Proposal by Katee Robert
Book Three of the O'Malleys series
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: August 30, 2016

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

Greed. Ambition. Violence. Those are the "values" Olivia Rashidi learned from her Russian mob family-and the values she must leave behind for the sake of her daughter. When she meets Cillian O'Malley, she recognizes the red flag of his family name . . . yet she still can't stop herself from seeing the smoldering, tortured man. To save her family, Olivia sets out to discover Cillian's own secrets, but the real revelation is how fast-and how hard-she's falling for him.

Plagued by a violent past, Cillian is more vulnerable than anyone realizes. Anyone except Olivia, whose beauty, compassion, and pride have him at "hello," even if she's more inclined to say good-bye to an O'Malley. While his proposal of sex with no strings seems simple, what he feels for her isn't, especially after he learns that she belongs to a rival crime family. Cillian knows that there is no escape from the life, but Olivia may be worth trying-and dying-for.

About the Author:

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. She found romance novels at age twelve and it changed her life. When not writing sexy contemporary and speculative fiction romance novels, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her wee ones, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

Check out book four, Forbidden Promises (05/30/17)!

The Excerpt:

“Hey, stop!”

She ran after him, thankful she’d put on her badass studded boots instead of the pair of heels she’d been jonesing after. An eight-hour shift on her feet would have her hating herself if she’d gone with the pretty shoes—and they would have made it impossible to catch up with the O’Malley.

She grabbed his arm and froze at the feel of his muscles flexing in her grip. Holy wow.

He finally turned to face her and it struck her that, without the bar between them, he was so much larger than she was. Not large like her ex, Sergei—this man was built lean instead of for brute strength—but he still dwarfed her. And he smelled good, like some kind of spicy men’s cologne that instantly had her thinking thoughts she had no business entertaining.

Like what it would be like to bury her nose in his neck and inhale deeply. The insane desire to do so almost overwhelmed her.

Everything about him was overwhelming, from his beautiful face, to his impeccably styled dark hair, to the tattoos peeking out of his clothes at neck and wrists. The ink creeping up the side of his neck was like a wild thing trying to escape from his insanely expensive suit, a strange combination of brutal strength and poised polish that she should have known better than to be attracted to.

Except, apparently, her body hadn’t gotten the memo.

She realized she was still clutching his arm and made herself let go so she could offer back the cash. Right, because that’s why you chased him down a dark street. “I don’t want your money.”

“It’s called a tip, sweetheart. It’s just good manners.”

“I don’t want it.” Even as she said it, she wondered why she was being so damn stubborn about this. He hadn’t asked anything of her. All he’d done was throw too much money at a bartender, which was something plenty of drunks did from time to time. Except he wasn’t drunk. She should be elated at having the extra cash—God knew she needed it. Instead, there was a growing recklessness in her chest, one she’d thought she’d outgrown a long time ago. “Just take it, okay?”

“No.” His gaze narrowed on her face, giving her the sudden thought that he saw too much. Before she could decide what to do with that, he moved closer, giving her another whiff of that cologne that made her whole body break out in goose bumps. Or maybe it was the man himself, the streetlights creating a skeleton’s mask of his face, turning his eyes into dark pits of shadows. “Why do you care so much?”

“Oh my God, just take it back.” She should drop the cash and head for home. Or, hell, at least take a few steps away so that she wasn’t in danger of brushing against him if she took a deep breath.

But she couldn’t force her hand to unclench or her feet to create any distance between them. She cleared her throat, trying to get her thoughts back on track. “I didn’t ask for your charity.”

“Yeah, I got it. You win. I’m an asshole.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Not in so many words, no.” His gaze raked her body much the same way it had back at the bar, making every alarm in her head go off. Spending any more time in this man’s presence was dangerous, though she couldn’t say for sure what she was most afraid of. She lifted her chin in challenge, demanding…She wasn’t sure what she was demanding. Her gaze dropped to his mouth, and she licked her lips. What am I doing? Walk away. Walk away right now.

No. Not yet.

He murmured, “If the shoe fits…”

And then he gripped her jaw and kissed her.

The Giveaway:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Review: A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas
Book One of the Lady Sherlock series
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society.  But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London. 

When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her. But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.

What I Liked:

When I first saw this, I was curious, because I've read some of Sherry Thomas's books in the past, and really enjoyed them. She writes adult historical romance, Young Adult fantasy, and now alternate historical fiction! Such a wide range of fiction to write. And Thomas has not let readers down, in any genre or age level!

I'm counting this as my Pili-Pushed recommendation of August! To see all of my Pili-Pushed reviews, click on the "Pili Pushed" tag on my blog!

Charlotte Holmes has a brilliant mind and excellent memory, and it has always set her apart. She isn't interested in catching a husband and maintaining a household - she wants independence. To achieve her independence, she does something ghastly, and she runs away, as a result. Now on the streets, Charlotte is faced with the harsh reality of being a woman with no references, no experience, and no education. But when three deaths occur, two of which involving her sister and father, Charlotte knows she must do something to cast the blame elsewhere. She knows her family is innocent. Sherlock Holmes is born, a mastermind problem-solver, and it is up to Holmes to solve the mystery of the three murders.

I liked Charlotte - she's so clever and observant, it's almost bizarre! At first I was furious at The Thing she did that turned society against her - how could she do something like that? But I came to really respect her decision, and who she involved, and why it needed to happen. I wish it had happened some other way, but you have to admit, it was... well thought-out. Charlotte - Sherlock - is brilliant and thinks of just about everything. At times I wondered if she felt human emotions like everyone else, but Charlotte is just as human as anyone else.

Other characters worth mentioning - Mrs. Watson, Inspector Treadles, Lord Ingram, Livia. Mrs. Watson takes in Charlotte as a lady's maid, but she's more than meets the eye. In fact, Charlotte doesn't know certain things about Mrs. Watson until the very end of the book. Inspector Treadles is put in charge of investigating the Sackville death (one of the three), the one not indirectly related to the Holmes family. Treadles is quite intelligent in his own regard, and I love how sweet he is with his wife. Lord Ingram is a rich and powerful lord, married to a haughty, cold woman who is estranged from him, and has two children. Lord Ingram is, well, Lord Ingram. He is the silent, intelligent type, very clever but one that has a quiet yet forceful presence. Livia is Charlotte's older sister, who, at twenty-seven, is a spinster in her parents' home. I liked Livia, though I liked Charlotte more.

This book is written in third-person, and we get to read from Charlotte's, Treadles', and Livia's POV. I liked Charlotte's the most, but as the book went on, I began to really enjoy Treadles'. Livia's felt the most useless to me, throughout the whole book.

The mystery was so well-written! I wasn't quite sure of anything, until the reveal. Thomas has a way of twisting the story so that you're never sure who did what, no matter how sure you think you are. It certainly kept me reading! The more interesting parts of the mystery came around the 40% mark and beyond.

There is a tiny smidgen of romance, but it's weird and complicated, and I really can't see how Thomas will make that work. Part of me really doesn't want Thomas to make it work. But then, Charlotte and her man are really great together. They've known each other for years, and while they've never done anything with each other, they've had this simmering chemistry between them for years. I want it to work out but... it's weird. How is Thomas going to make it happen?

This book wrapped up perfectly, with the mystery solved and the correct people taken blame. I know this is book one of a series, but I'm honestly curious as to how this will be a series. I'm glad though, because I want to know how the barely-there romance is going to work out. Oh, and I'd love to see more mysteries solved by Sherlock Holmes!

What I Did Not Like:

I'm going to be honest -- the first, let's say, one-third of this book was frustratingly slow, and boring. I struggled to get past that initial one-third, and it took me several days to do so. Once I did, I flew through the rest of the book.

Obviously I'm going to complain about the romance -- it's so disappointing in a way! I don't know how Thomas is going to let it work out, because there really is no good ending. Unless everyone dies. Or key people. Ugh! Frustrating.

Would I Recommend It:

I do like this book a lot, and there is very little "big stuff" to complain about, so I do recommend it. However, it might be a good idea to binge-read the series, if you're like me and would prefer a romance easier on the heart? I have no idea how Thomas is going to let that work out, but I'm sure binge-reading the series will be much less painful than waiting for each book to publish to see how things go. 

Of course, if you couldn't care less about romance, and you're 100% in it for the mystery, then READ THIS! It's such a great historical fiction + mystery novel! Gender-swapped Sherlock Holmes for the win.


4 stars. My complaints seem relatively tiny compared to how much I liked the book overall. Hopefully the series in general will work out nicely (in terms of those few complaints I had). I am looking forward to reading the next book! (In Fall 2017, unfortunately...)

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (#192)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!

So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, August 20th to Saturday, August 27th?

(all links to Goodreads are provided!)

In the mail:

Tote bag and mug

AHHH! One of the coolest boxes I've ever received! Thank you, Penguin. I've read both The Young Elites and The Rose Society, and I am so excited to read The Midnight Star!

Ooo! Thank you, Random House! This one is high on my October TBR.

Unsolicited, and a new title to me! I may give this one a shot. Thank you, Abrams!

From NetGalley:

I'm reading this book right now! I've enjoyed Sherry's YA books, so I'm curious about this historical fiction one. Thank you for the widget, Berkley!

My last weekend before I head back to uni! One more year of me posting random irregularly mail hauls! :D

Friday, August 26, 2016

Summer Wrap-Up and A Look to Fall

Happy Friday, friends! I'm not posting a review today, mostly because I'm tired, but also because I'm having a bit of a challenging time with the book I'm currently reading. It's okay, but not engaging me, and I found that I wasn't reading it fast enough to finish in time to write a review and post it from Friday at midnight. So instead, I'm going to talk a little about my summer!

This summer was very different for me. It was my final summer sandwiched by "school", the ever-important summer between junior and senior year of university. At least where I attend university, this summer is critical; everyone who wants to be anyone has to have an internship this summer. 

For me, the application process for internships was challenging. Many firms hiring environmental engineers (full-time, or interns) weren't taking on interns. I'd been applying since November 2015, and hit a lot of walls. Either I never heard back, or I heard back and they said they weren't hiring interns, or I heard back from one or two that were hiring interns.

Eventually, I chose the State Highway Administration, as a hydraulic engineer intern. This was a completely new field to me, because hydraulic engineering is a part of civil engineering (and I'm an environmental engineering major). But I accepted the position for that reason - to learn something completely new.

I started at the end of May, and just finished a week ago. I got to choose when I started and stopped, so I did just over twelve weeks of work. I've worked eight-hour days before, but never for a job that is somewhat related to my major. Not for a job that felt so important.

I absolutely loved it at State Highway. If I could have stayed, I would have. If it weren't for school, I would have extended my internship, and then applied full-time. I loved it there, and I know just about everyone in my division loved me and having me around. It was so hard to leave!

What I took away from interning there (in general):

- I'm more than capable of crossing over into the civil engineering side of things. Hydraulic engineering at State Highway is quite related to environmental issues (like runoff and water pollution), so I didn't feel like I was completely out of my element.

- I think I'd be a pretty good design engineer. Not everyone who majors in engineering ends up doing actual "engineering". Not everyone who majors in engineering ends up doing design engineering. Over this summer, I got to do a lot of design - and it was great! Challenging, sometimes overwhelming, but definitely an amazing experience. And I was pretty good at it!

- I love working early. Apparently I like arriving at 7:30 AM and leaving at 4:00 PM. When I start working full-time (wherever that may be) after I graduate, I think I'd like this same schedule!

- I'd much rather work in the public sector than private. There is significantly less money working for the government, BUT there is job security, and only 40-hour weeks. In the private sector, in the engineering world, there is little job security, and lots of overtime.

- I love how much traveling is involved at State Highway. Site/field visits and off-site meetings were definitely some of the highlights of my internship. I accompanied engineers on my team and other teams to visits and meetings all over Maryland! The only part of Maryland I didn't get to hit was Garrett/Allegany/Washington counties, i.e. western Maryland. But that's okay!

- I miss everyone that I worked with. Seriously! I almost cried on Friday! I'll definitely be applying there in the spring.

Tips for students applying for internships:

- Apply early. Like, October/November early, if you're looking at summer ones. It doesn't hurt to email HR and ask for an application early, or if they're hiring interns in general.

- Apply to A LOT of internships. You might heart back from, let's say, 10% of them. And even less than that might actually have applications and/or acceptances. Google your major, narrow down by your target location, etc. Also, check your university' career search site for listings (my university uses something called "Handshake").

- Draw on connections. Whether they be familial, or via your university, use as many connections as you can. You might find an internship this way, you might not, but it doesn't hurt to try.

- When you get one/choose one, don't be afraid to ask "simple" questions. Like, what is the dress code? Can I come in earlier/later? Do I get paid for overtime? 

- If you like where you work, be sure you have contact information and information about how to apply full-time. Ask around, see who typically does the interviews. Keep email addresses and phone numbers handy. Email your supervisor or team leader if/when you do apply.

- Ask if they do winter internships, if you want to come back as an intern. Or internships during the school year (if feasible for you).

School starts for me on September 1st, so I've been home for a week, and I have another half-week. I like being home, because I pretty much went straight into the internship after finals, back in May. The rest and recharge thing has been good for me. But I'm ready to go back to school, and finish things off! I'm hoping it'll be a good year. I think I'm ready to join the workforce though.

With that, my summer has pretty much ended! I hope everyone else had a pretty fulfilling summer as well, especially students like me. I wish everyone going back to school the very best!