Monday, March 30, 2015

Review: Pan's Conquest by Aubrie Dionne

Release Date: February 24th 2014
Genre: Adult PNR
Source: Bought
Format: Ebook

Goodreads Summary:
Syrinx pulled a fast one on Pan to escape his raging lust. The God of Chastity wasn't about to break her vows and succumb to his temptations. Transported to the twenty-first century, she runs a florist shop—fulfilling her fake, mortal life. Until the breathtaking Parker Thomas hires her to decorate his grand estate for a gala. Five hundred roses? Easy enough. Except Parker makes her feel things she can't ignore...

As the God of Fertility, Pan is used to maidens flocking in droves to his pastures. So when Syrinx denies him, he's determined to win the one that got away. He poses as a mortal to get close to her, but he doesn't count on falling hard for his conquest—hard enough to make a life and stay.

But Syrinx is falling in love with a man that doesn't exist. Can Pan hide his identity forever, or will the truth tear them apart?

My Review: 
For those of you who don't know. I was a classical humanities major in college. A huge part of my curriculum involved the studies of ancient philosophy and myth. I love mythology. So, with that type of a background, you can imagine that I'm always on the lookout for stories that involve myth in any way and my particular favorites are those who have Gods who disguise themselves as humans in the mortal realm or as Harry Potter fans would say, in the muggle world.

I have been looking for an Adult Paranormal Romance novel with mythology that would really win me over for quite some time now. I have read several but they usually end up in disappointment because as the Adult books that they are, they get drowned too  much in the physical aspect of a romantic relationship and forget about characterization. And really, isn't it a crime to ignore characterization when you have a story where an immortal God has to learn how to be human, and all of the complexities that come with being mortal and imperfect, as compared to Gods who are immortal and perfect. When you have a story that has someone learning to be human you can explore so much about identity, emotions, feelings and this is what Pan's Conquest does. It gives us a look into the minds of two Gods who are learning that identity is so much more than what you are assigned with a birth. Identity boils down to feelings and actions and learning to break down misconceptions that are imposed on us by strangers and the particular society we live in.

The characterization in this novel is everything. Pan is the God of Fertility and he is set on trying to add Syrinx, the God of Chastity, to his last of many conquests. But as their titles suggest, these two Gods kinda represent the opposite of each other. Pan is a sort of playboy/ player, while Syrinx is the serious girl who has morals and boundaries amongst the Gods. So, what happens? Syrinx goes to the mortal world to escape Pan under a human identity, while Pan follows and also takes up a human identity to see if he can win her over. What I love about Pan and Syrinx is that their human selves allow them to discover who they are as people because once they hit the human realm, they have to shed their God identities and all that these entail, and have to learn just how to BE. To just be a person, living in the world, learning and living. Pan becomes Parker, a wealthy young bachelor, while Syrinx becomes Sylvia, a florist.

What ensues amongst Pan and Syrinx as humans is a really sweet, and well developed romance. Both characters are hell bent on hiding their true identities as Gods. They are also reluctant on love because they are too hung up on their God roles. Luckily, the secondary characters come in and help them challenge their own views in the form of Kaye, the friend and assistant of Syrinx at her floral shop and Rutherford, the older butler and advisor of Pan in his estate. Kaye really helps Syrinx break out of her shell and to open to love and Rutherford helps Pan see that love is so much more about lust and the physical, that love helps you to see the beauty in life and to cherish and consider others.

I could go on some more about the characters and the lessons learned in this book but I don't want to give the story away. All I can say is that Pan's Conquest was a really lovely story of two souls that kinda had a certain loneliness to them, but who become whole through each other. The characters were witty and fun, and getting to see two Gods fumble as humans while doing ordinary things
was really great too. Makes you think about how the little things in life aren't little at all, and could lead to extraordinary discoveries. I loved this book. It was easy to get into and the writing just flowed.

My rating: 4/5



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (49): The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Visit Breaking The Spine to see more entries!

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:
Release Date: September 30th 2014 by Spencer Hill Contemporary 
Format: Paperback
 Goodreads Summary:
According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you're friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

 Reasons I want to read & own this book: 
1.  Rachel Harris. She is one of the nicest people ever. Loves books. Super friendly. Loves to write cute romances that make you smile. Rachel rocks!
2. The title of the book. The Fine Art of Pretending. Reminds me of that line: love and hate, such a fine line. And pretending is kinda like that. You are always walking a fine line of, will they discover me or will I fall into the trap of my own lie and then be caught up in drama? It's endless. I'm curious about what pretending leads to in this book.

3. The cover. Its cute and the story looks cute, so i want to read this. Simple as that, lol.

4. This book kinda reminds me of Easy A, that Emma Stone movie where you have a girl who isn't seen as date-able who kinda changes up her image to be that IT girl everyone likes and that is gorgeous and fabulous. And that was definitely a fun movie, that was insightful. And this book seems to have that vibe a bit.

 What do you guys think? :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (48): The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Visit Breaking The Spine to see more entries!

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:
The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines #6) by Richelle Mead
 Release Date: February 10th 2015 Razorbill
 Format: Hardcover

 Goodreads Summary:
The epic conclusion to Richelle Mead's New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series is finally here...

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series. When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world.

 Reasons I want to read & own this book: 
1. Richelle Mead. Since reading Vampire Academy, I have simply fallen in love with her writing style. She knows how to get in a characters head. She is amazing at world building and characterization. And she can write a romance that you agonize over like nobody's business

2. The protagonists. This story is told from Sydney Sage's point of view. She has such a unique voice as a heroine. Really different from most female leads. Methodical, logical, intelligent and loyal. In the bloodlines series we have seen how she breaks out of her shell and also how her qualities help her out as a person and make her special. Adrian Ivashkov, the male lead. Who is a pretty legendary character since Vampire Academy. Smooth, sarcastic, sophisticated and  tortured artist with a fun sense of humor. I can't get enough of Adrian.

3. The secondary characters. What I love about a Richelle Mead book is that her secondary characters are not just props in the background. They all have such unique stories and I am dying to see how things conclude for the secondary characters in this series, such as Eddie and Jill, to name a few.

 What do you guys think? :)


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (47): Again by Lisa Burstein

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Visit Breaking The Spine to see more entries!

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:
 Release Date: September 22nd 2014
 Format: Paperback

 Goodreads Summary:
How far would you go for a second chance?

Eleven years after flunking out of college, Kate has finally hit rock-bottom. Losing her job and boyfriend in one drunken night, she’s determined to fix her life by going back to the moment when she let partying and sex take over. And do things right this time. At twenty-nine, she heads back to freshman year of college, with a catch.

Pretending she's nineteen with a new roommate and full class schedule is easy. When she meets her shy, sexy and seven-years-younger RA, Carter, following her self-imposed sobriety and celibacy rules is proving to be anything but.

A senior enduring years of regret, Carter is more than ready to graduate. He’s anxious to move on from the party his freshman year where he witnessed his frat brothers about to commit a sexual assault. Instead of doing the right thing and stepping in, he looked the other way and left. His guilt has made for a lonely four years.

When he meets the new freshman on his floor, spunky and confident Kate, he wonders if his time as an outcast has finally come to an end.

Kate and Carter’s growing friendship and undeniable attraction make it harder to hide the demons from their respective pasts. But when their secrets are finally revealed, will their chance at starting over together still be there?

 Reasons I want to read & own this book: 
1. A 29 year old woman, pretending to be 19 years old to start over in college - Doesn't that sound interesting already? Why take the 10 years off your age when plenty of older twenty somethings are in college? Why start over? Why face the challenges of being 19 again? I'm curious about Kate's double life. Aren't you?

2. A relationship of an older woman with a younger man. Not that the age difference is huge, just 7 years, both in their twenties, but in the New Adult genre, it doesn't happen too much, so I'm wondering how the dynamic is gonna work.

3. How could I forget to state the obvious, a relationship is going to develop between two people who have a hidden past they want to forget, that seems to me, is going to resurface anyway. I wanna know how Kate and Carter will handle the baggage.

4. This book just sounds awesome and I love a college setting, the place where people are always trying to redefine themselves at no matter what age they come in at to study. Will Kate and Carter put the past behind them? I wanna know!

What do you guys think? :)


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Birth of the Vampire by Gayla Twist

Birth of the Vampire by Gayla Twist
Release Date: May 25th 2014 
Genre: Young Adult paranormal romance
Source: Author
Format: E-book

Goodreads Summary:
 Dorian is a vampire who doesn’t believe in love. Haley is a human who doesn’t believe in vampires.

At seventeen, Haley Scott’s life is pretty miserable. She lives with her uncle in a small town where she has absolutely no friends and barely any social life. Haley knows for a fact that there are very few people on the planet who care if she lives or dies.

Dorian Vanderlind is a vampire with a past he’s reluctant to face. He visits his cousin as a favor, only to find himself entangled in the enticements of the mortal world.

What happens when these two are thrown together in the most complicated of circumstances? Find out in Birth of the Vampire ~ Book 1 in The Vanderlind Realm. 


My Review:
Yes, the Young Adult genre has a lot of vampire books. You might ask yourself if it's worth taking the chance on YET another vampire book. Well, I am here to tell you that you should take a chance on Birth of the Vampire. It's a fun quick read, and even though it is not the lengthiest book, it has a lot of interesting life observations; hidden nuggets of wisdom, if you will. Oh, and it stays true to it's genre, it does vampires justice. I loved that even though this book takes place in a modern day setting, the vampires in this book have an old school flare and sophistication to them. It added an air of intrigue to the story.

Now on to characterization. This book is told from several point of views, the principal and most prevalent of them being of the protagonists, Hayley and Dorian. Hayley has had a rough life, being bounced from foster home to foster home, a mother who has a mental illness and an abusive half uncle who has taken her in until she graduates high school. This girl is the epitome of loneliness. She has no friends, no stability and a whole lot of abandonment issues that have made her a bit cynical about life, but still a girl who has within her, a hidden goodness. Not to say that she isn't flawed, she definitely has a lot to work on, that is introduced to the reader in this book, but if she goes the right way, I think she has the potential to grow. Dorian on the other hand is a vampire who is quite sophisticated, he is handsome, blonde, with gray eyes and described as looking like a male model. Yes, the immortality in this book makes you good looking. No old school dracula's here. He reminded me a lot of Lucius Vladescu from Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Darkside, one of my all time fave vampires and male leads. Like Lucius, Dorian has that special quality about him, where he starts off as really skeptical on motrals and humans, but still there is a part of him that is fascinated by human nature and knowledgeable about it, despite feeling jaded by having lived so long. Dorian doesn't believe in love, and that just makes him so interesting. You can't help but wonder what's happened to him in his life.

Though this book is labeled as a romance, it's not the biggest focus of the book and I loved it. There was a big focus on being inside the characters heads and I thought that was really cool. Because even if a book is a romance, it doesn't have to focus on that all the time, there has to be insight into each character to further understand the romance going on in the story. There is a lot of heart break in this book, jealousy, betrayal. I loved that this book addressed slut-shamming. This happens a lot with young people, where they are shamed in a wrong way over the decisions that they make in their romantic life, especially for girls. It felt very real, the issues that Hayley confronted with other characters.

The setting of this book is a small town in Ohio and the author did a great job of placing the reader there and also creating a separate vampire world that is intermingled with the real world setting of Ohio.

I really liked how easy it was to get into the writing of this book. Dorian had a distinct voice. You could immediately tell he was a vampire who had his reservations on modern day youth and humans. Hayley definitely was a conflicted young woman and that came through in the writing.

My only complaint is that I got frustrated with Hayley at  times. But it's a good frustration in the sense that I really want her to grow. She is witty and snarky, mature, but at the same time for being a smart young woman, she would be very naive sometimes. I could easily say: "where did that come from, her poor choices?" But the reality is, Hayley has been so starved of love and affection and support, that like most people who struggle with that, she falls into the pitfalls of falling for anyone who whispers sweet nothing's into her ears. I also felt like she also needs to figure out in future books to get over her past and just become a better person for her and not care about her haters and past bullies.

As this book title says, this book is about the birth of a vampire. Someone who goes from being a conflicted human to a newborn vampire who doesn't quite adjust well to being a vamp and has to figure things out. If you want a look into what a human might feel if they became a vampire and didn't know how to understand it in their head, this book is for you!

My Rating: 4/5


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Review: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross
Release Date: June 11th 2013 by Delacorte Books
Genre: YA Historical fiction
Source: Author
Format: E-book
Goodreads Summary
When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive.

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil.

But Isabelle has no idea her new "friend" is the hired help, and Maude's very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.
My Review
For me, Belle Epoque, was quite a special book. What I loved about it the most, was just how emotionally intelligent it was. This book really tries to focus on how every person should pay attention to what they feel, and not pay attention to societal tenets of how a person should be. This book has a very willful and strong heroine, Maude, and an array of really interesting supporting characters; that were for me, really well developed.
The concept behind Belle Epoque was really interesting. In the book, you had an agency that hired young women who were considered unattractive in some form or another. These ladies were called repoussoirs. A word that means repulsive in French. Their sole goal was to make other women stand out when they stood next to them. In Belle Epoque the lead character, Maude, is hired as a repoussoir and through her journey, the reader gets to see how brutal it is on a persons psyche to be constantly undermined, ignored, and compared to others.
The characterization in this book was really good. Maude is an excellent heroine. She is strong of character, willful, and intelligent. And though it is tough on her to be a repoussoir, an ugly girl for hire, she is able to figure out who she is and what she needs to do in order to grow. Isabelle, who is the daughter of a countess who hires Maude, is the opposite of Maude in social status. She is rich, and beautiful, but secretly struggling because she wants to become go to college and study, and not marry. The fellow repoussoirs of Maude were also quite well-developed, each with a distinct personality. Characters like Durandeau who ran the repoussoir agency and the Countess, were excellent villains, who had a total disregard for the feelings of others and were experts at manipulation.
The setting of this book was perfection and interesting to read about. Belle Epoque takes place in Paris, during the Belle Epoque era - late 1800s, early 1900s - where art and literature thrived in Paris. I honestly felt like Paris was a character of its own in this book because the author did a great job at recreating the era. The clothing, the artists, the cafes and famous Parisian spots that were mentioned really make the reader feel like they are in Paris, during the belle epoque era. What also adds to recreating the era in this book is that the author tackles what wealthy people lived like and what very poor people went through in this era, so you get to see both sides of the coin, per se. It was also very interesting to me that the author made sure to include how controversial the making of the Eiffel Tower was during this time. What a surprise to me, that something that is so symbolic of Paris now, was once so rejected in its time.
I don't think it was an accident for the author to place her characters in Paris. For many, Paris seems like a city of dreams, maybe because it possesses so much culture and history, but there is something about the idea of Paris, that has been inspiring for many across the centuries. Especially those who seek academic freedom and who want to pursue art. Maude, the lead heroine in this book, left her really constricted life next to her father, to see if she could find more and not just become somebody's wife. Same with Isabelle, the daughter of her first client, who dreams of leaving debutante life and becoming a woman who studies and can support her own self.
There is also a cute romance that develops unexpectedly between Maude and Paul, a struggling musician, that was quite endearing.
I really liked this book. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes to read about art, self discovery, Paris, and friendship. 
My Rating: 4/5