September 27, 2016

Motivate Me: Ted Talks on Stress

I can't process fiction lately. At first, I thought I'm in some sort of slump so I tried my true and tested "first-aids" like reading novellas, favorite authors, switching genres, etc. None of it worked!

Then out of curiosity, I borrowed Gary Chapman from the library and quickly realized that I'm NOT in a reading slump, I'm reading the wrong things!

September 24, 2016

Bought, Borrowed & Bagged [218]: Celebrity Mean Tweets

BB&B (Bought, Borrowed and Bagged) is a weekly meme, inspired my The Story Siren and Pop Culture Junkie, where we share with you the books that we have bought, borrowed or bagged (won or gifted) plus a recap of the previous week's reviews, upcoming reviews, ongoing events and book movie or television news. 

BB&B is an homage Barron's Books & Baubles from Karen Marie Moning's smash hit series, Fever. 

September 23, 2016

Motivate Me with Joel Osteen and Gary Chapman

It's been a while since I've done this. Call it a palate cleanser/expander, an effort to improve oneself, etc. I indulge in these once in a whole in an effort to better myself. Also, I turned a year older this week so maybe that's it. :P

Covers are linked to Goodreads

September 21, 2016

Liked It: The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie

Series: The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy
Format: eGalley
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Atria Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Historical | General Fiction

And you thought sisters were a thing to fear. In this compelling follow-up to Sally Christie's clever and absorbing debut, we meet none other than the Marquise de Pompadour, one of the greatest beauties of her generation and the first bourgeois mistress ever to grace the hallowed halls of Versailles.

I write this before her blood is even cold. She is dead, suddenly, from a high fever. The King is inconsolable, but the way is now clear.

The way is now clear.

The year is 1745. Marie-Anne, the youngest of the infamous Nesle sisters and King Louis XV's most beloved mistress, is gone, making room for the next Royal Favorite.

Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a stunningly beautiful girl from the middle classes. Fifteen years prior, a fortune teller had mapped out young Jeanne's destiny: she would become the lover of a king and the most powerful woman in the land. Eventually connections, luck, and a little scheming pave her way to Versailles and into the King's arms.

All too soon, conniving politicians and hopeful beauties seek to replace the bourgeois interloper with a more suitable mistress. As Jeanne, now the Marquise de Pompadour, takes on her many rivals - including a lustful lady-in-waiting; a precocious fourteen-year-old prostitute, and even a cousin of the notorious Nesle sisters - she helps the king give himself over to a life of luxury and depravity. Around them, war rages, discontent grows, and France inches ever closer to the Revolution.

Enigmatic beauty, social climber, actress, trendsetter, patron of the arts, spendthrift, whoremonger, friend, lover, foe. History books may say many things about the famous Marquise de Pompadour, but one thing is clear: for almost twenty years, she ruled France and the King's heart.

Told in Christie's witty and modern style, this second book in the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the world of eighteenth century Versailles in all its pride, pestilence and glory.

ICYMI, Sally Christie's The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy is a dramatization or fictional depiction of some of France's King Louis XV many mistresses (57 in total?). It's a mixed bag of infamous characters and lesser known paramours from the Nesle sisters, a few commoners, and in this installment, the high profile Madame Pompadour, who during her time was considered one of the most influential females in Europe alongside Russia's Catherine The Great. 

September 18, 2016

Steampunk Sundays: Blameless by Gail Carriger

Series: Parasol Protectorate 3
Format: Paperback
Release Date: September 1, 2010
Publisher: Orbit
Source: Purchased 
Genre: Steampunk | Paranormal Fantasy

Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto.

BLAMELESS is the third book of the Parasol Protectorate series: a comedy of manners set in Victorian London, full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

Since a lot of you have either read or are familiar with Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate, I'll make this quick. I won't get too much into the great writing, witty narrative, silly yet still sensible conflicts, unforgettable characters, and whimsical and atmospheric feel of the series overall. It's no wonder the spin-offs, Finishing School and The Custard Protocol, has a solid, if not bigger, following than its parent series. GCarriger is one of those exemplary writers who dominates the genre. 

September 17, 2016

Bought, Borrowed & Bagged [217] + A Brief Movie Review

BB&B (Bought, Borrowed and Bagged) is a weekly meme, inspired my The Story Siren and Pop Culture Junkie, where we share with you the books that we have bought, borrowed or bagged (won or gifted) plus a recap of the previous week's reviews, upcoming reviews, on going events and book movie or television news. 

BB&B is an homage Barron's Books & Baubles from Karen Marie Moning's smash hit series, Fever. 

September 15, 2016

Shelley Liked Uprising by Jessica Therrien

Series: Children of the Gods  2
Format: Paperback | 388 pages
Release Date: October 2, 2015
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Mythology

Elyse has done everything she can to protect her friends from The Council's reach. As long as they believe she's dead, she has time to rest and train for war. And war is inevitable.

When Kara arrives with the news that Anna and Chloe have been captured, Elyse is faced with the realization that no one is safe until The Council is stopped and Christoph is destroyed. She doesn't need a prophecy to tell her to lead an army. Christoph has done the one thing that ensures she'll fight to the death. He's threatened the people she loves.

It will take more than the words of an oracle to help them fight against the most powerful Descendant alive. To break The Council's oppression and rise up against a plot so many years in the making, Elyse will need to get dangerously close to her enemy. So close, in fact, she may not survive.

UPRISING is the second installment in author Jessica Therrien's Children of the Gods trilogy. Picking up right where Oppression left off, Elyse has more than her hands full in this world where descendants of Gods have supernatural abilities and live secret lives among humans. Elyse, like the rest of the descendants, ages very slowly. So, even though it appears she's a 18-year old teenager, she's actually ninety years old. Elyse is also the last healer of her line. She is also unique in that half her body can heal, while the other half can kill. 

September 14, 2016

Loved It: How To Run with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

Series: Naked Werewolf 3
Format: Paperback
Release Date: December 31, 2013
Publisher: Pocket Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Down, Boy
Anna Moder has just witnessed a shooting, seen her car pulverized, and rescued a wounded stranger only to discover he's really a werewolf. And by her recent standards, things are actually looking up. Lycanthropes don't faze Anna. Doctoring a wolf pack outside Grundy, Alaska, is the closest thing to home life she's known in years. But hitching a ride to Anchorage with long-absent pack member Caleb Graham that&'s a risk. Part of her itches to whack his nose with a newspaper. The rest is trying unsuccessfully to keep her own paws off every delicious inch of him.

The problem is, Caleb employs his lupine tracking abilities as a not quite- legal bounty hunter, and Anna is suspicious of both him and his profession. On the run from her past, with old problems closing in, she'd like to stay far, far away from anybody with connections to the law. Caleb, however, seems determined to keep her close. Are his intentions noble, or is he working a more predatory angle?

Anna's been dreaming of returning to a semi-normal life, but now she's experiencing a strange new urge . . . to join Caleb in running with the wolves.

I'm a Molly Harper fan. If I need a quick read or in need of a good laugh, I can always trust on her to provide an entertaining escape. MHarper writes these humor-filled carefully plots casted by silly yet clever characters.

September 13, 2016

Loved It: Fool by Christopher Moore

Series: Fool 1
Format: Paperback
Release Date: February 20, 2009
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Purchased
Genre: Satire | Historical

A man of infinite jest, Pocket has been Lear's cherished fool for years, from the time the king's grown daughters—selfish, scheming Goneril, sadistic (but erotic-fantasy-grade-hot) Regan, and sweet, loyal Cordelia—were mere girls. So naturally Pocket is at his brainless, elderly liege's side when Lear—at the insidious urging of Edmund, the bastard (in every way imaginable) son of the Earl of Gloucester—demands that his kids swear their undying love and devotion before a collection of assembled guests. Of course Goneril and Regan are only too happy to brownnose Dad. But Cordelia believes that her father's request is kind of . . . well . . . stupid, and her blunt honesty ends up costing her her rightful share of the kingdom and earns her a banishment to boot.

Well, now the bangers and mash have really hit the fan. The whole damn country's about to go to hell in a handbasket because of a stubborn old fart's wounded pride. And the only person who can possibly make things right . . . is Pocket, a small and slight clown with a biting sense of humor. He's already managed to sidestep catastrophe (and the vengeful blades of many an offended nobleman) on numerous occasions, using his razor-sharp mind, rapier wit . . . and the equally well-honed daggers he keeps conveniently hidden behind his back. Now he's going to have to do some very fancy maneuvering—cast some spells, incite a few assassinations, start a war or two (the usual stuff)—to get Cordelia back into Daddy Lear's good graces, to derail the fiendish power plays of Cordelia's twisted sisters, to rescue his gigantic, gigantically dim, and always randy friend and apprentice fool, Drool, from repeated beatings . . . and to shag every lusciously shaggable wench who's amenable to shagging along the way.

Pocket may be a fool . . . but he's definitely not an idiot.

"This is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity, as well as nontraditional grammar, split infinitives, and the odd wank . . . If that's the sort of thing you think you might enjoy, then you have happened upon the perfect story!"

Verily speaks Christopher Moore, much beloved scrivener and peerless literary jester, who hath writteneth much that is of grand wit and belly-busting mirth, including such laurelled bestsellers of the Times of Olde Newe Yorke as Lamb, A Dirty Job, and You Suck (no offense). Now he takes on no less than the legendary Bard himself (with the utmost humility and respect) in a twisted and insanely funny tale of a moronic monarch and his deceitful daughters—a rousing story of plots, subplots, counterplots, betrayals, war, revenge, bared bosoms, unbridled lust . . . and a ghost (there's always a bloody ghost), as seen through the eyes of a man wearing a codpiece and bells on his head.

September 12, 2016

Loved It: Forevermore by Kristen Callihan

Series: Darkest London 7
Format: eGalley
Release Date: July 28, 2016
Publisher: Forever
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Historical-Paranormal Romance

The final book in USA Today bestselling author Kristen Callihan's critically acclaimed Darkest London series!

Miss Layla Starling, the young, beautiful, and extremely wealthy heiress, is the talk of London. Until now, she's managed to evade the marriage noose. Despite the fact that she is unfortunately American, she's received a staggering number of offers. And turned down every one. St. John Evernight does not want to admit the relief he feels every time he hears that she has rejected one of her suitors. Which is unfair of him. Layla deserves to be happy. But he can not offer her happiness. He will never be normal, never be anything but a freak in her world. So St. John resolves to keep his distance, until he is recruited by the Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals to guard Layla. For she is in grave danger, and he is about to learn the full extent of his powers.

I know, I know, I'm late for the party considering this is the Darkest London's last hurrah. In my defense, I have a hard time saying goodbye to book series and characters that I've grown to love! Ember Firelight. Miranda and Archer's tale, debuted the series as this Beauty & the Beast-ish/Steampunk romance. It slowly evolved into this fantastical historical paranormal romance that had werewolves, vampires, angels, demons, clockwork mechs, and a host of other supernatural creatures joining the cast. This just made Darkest London addictive and each installment became one of my most anticipated book of the year. 

September 9, 2016

Shelley Loved: The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

Series: Seven Realms 3
Format: Hardcover, 517 pages
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult | Epic Fantasy

Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family as good as killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen.

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.

THE GRAY WOLF THRONE is the third of four installments in author Cinda Williams Chima's Seven Realms series. This book picks up about a month after the events of The Exiled Queen. As with the previous novels, the author once again alternates narratives between Princess Heir Raisa of the Queendom of the Fells, and Hans Alister, once a street king, who is about to get a surprise of his life when he finds out who his friend Rebecca Morley really is. For Raisa, she's survived an assassination attempt, she's escaped being forced to marry Micah Bayar, only to escape being dragged to another Kingdom by Gerard Montaigne who wants Raisa's hand in marriage. 

September 8, 2016

Liked It: Where The Wild Things Bite by Molly Harper

Series: Half-Moon Hollow 5
Format: ARC
Release Date: July 26, 2016 
Publisher: Pocket Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Delivering a rare book to a valued customer is definitely part of mild-mannered archivist Anna Winthrop's job description. You know what isn't? Protecting her precious cargo from mid-flight theft by the very pilot who is flying her to Half-Moon Hollow...while trying to appear as unappetizing as possible to the only other passenger, a vampire. Undead bookstore owner Jane Jameson could be waiting a very long time for her book. Possibly forever.

Fortunately, Anna's dashing fanged companion Finn Palmeroy helps her fend off the attack, but not before their plane crash lands in the forest hundreds of miles from civilization. Great, now she's stranded with a priceless tome and a rakish vampire whose bedtime is fast approaching. Why does everyone want this book so badly, anyway? Anna just wants to get it to Jane before Finn decides to turn her into dinner-or sweep her off her feet. Okay, the second option is really tempting. But they're not out of the woods yet...

I am a fan of Molly Harper's Half-Moon Hollow, a series set in Kentucky featuring vampires. It's sexy, comedic, and at times satirical in its portrayal of blood-suckers. WHERE THE WILD THINGS BITE is the fifth installment and takes us away on a wild adventure from surviving a plane crash to escaping the clutches of a rouge shape-shifting community.

September 7, 2016

Loved It: Deja Who by MaryJanice Davidson

Series: Insighter 1
Format: eGalley
Release Date: September 9, 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Urban Fantasy | Chick-Lit

Leah Nazir is an Insighter. Reincarnation is her business. But while her clients' pasts are a mess, Leah's is nothing short of tragedy. She's been murdered. A lot. If left to that bitch, destiny, it'll happen again. Leah wants to know who's been following her through time, and who's been stalking her in the present...

P.I. Archer Drake has been hired by Leah's mother to keep an eye on her. But the more time he spends watching, the more he finds himself infatuated. Before long, he even finds himself agreeing to help find the person who wants her dead. Over and over again.

Now going full-on "rewind," Leah hopes it can stave off the inevitable. After all, she's grown fond of this life - and even fonder of nerdy Archer. But changing her pattern means finding out who her killer is today. And as Leah fears, that could be anyone she has come to know and trust. Anyone.

I can always rely on Mary Janice Davidson to give me a good time. Her new series, Insighter, debuts with DEJA WHO. This new urban fantasy/chick-lit inducts us to a world where reincarnation is widely accepted and people's past lives are taken into account when they commit a crime. Our new heroine, Leah Nazir, is an Insighter and a clinical expert of sorts. She works with the criminal justice system in diagnosing criminals and who they were in their past lives.

September 6, 2016

Loved It: The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin by Stephanie Knipper

Series: Standalone
Format: eGalley
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Alonquin Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Literary Fiction 

Sisters Rose and Lily Martin were inseparable when they were kids. As adults, they've been estranged for years, until circumstances force them to come together to protect Rose's daughter. Ten-year-old Antoinette has a severe form of autism that requires constant care and attention. She has never spoken a word, but she has a powerful gift that others would give anything to harness: she can heal things with her touch. She brings wilted flowers back to life, makes a neighbor's tremors disappear, changes the normal course of nature on the Kentucky flower farm where she and her mother live.

Antoinette's gift, though, puts her own life in danger, as each healing comes with an increasingly deadly price. As Rose—the center of her daughter's life—struggles with her own failing health, and Lily confronts her anguished past, they, and the men who love them, come to realize the sacrifices that must be made to keep this very special child safe.

Written with great heart and a deep understanding of what it feels like to be “different,” The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin is a novel about what it means to be family, and about the lengths to which people will go to protect the ones they love.

THE PECULIAR MIRACLES OF ANTOINETTE MARTIN by Stephanie Knipper is mainly a story about family, homecoming, with a dash of magic realism. It's a picturesque story about sisters and how the birth of Antoinette change the whole dynamic between them. Although my story is very different from Lucy and Rose's, I immediately connected to the storyline because I had my son very young and my sister was very close to us mostly because of how close in age we all are. 

Here are my highlights:

September 5, 2016

Bought, Borrowed & Bagged [216]: Riverdale #Archie

BB&B (Bought, Borrowed and Bagged) is a weekly meme, inspired my The Story Siren and Pop Culture Junkie, where we share with you the books that we have bought, borrowed or bagged (won or gifted) plus a recap of the previous week's reviews, upcoming reviews, on going events and book movie or television news. 

BB&B is an homage Barron's Books & Baubles from Karen Marie Moning's smash hit series, Fever.