Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cover Lover: Steampunk x 2 Plus the New Kate Daniels!

Curtsies and Conspiracies
(Finishing School #2)
Gail Carriger
Release: November 2013

Other book covers in this series:

A Clockwork Heart
(The Chronicles of Light and Shadow #2)
Liesel Schwarz
Release: August 20, 2013

Other book covers in this series:

Magic Rises
(Kate Daniels #6)
Ilona Andrews
Release: July 30, 2013

Other book covers in this series:

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1) Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, #2) Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, #3) 
Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels, #4) Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, #5) Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels World, #1)

What do you think? How does Curtsies compare to Etiquette? Do you like the new ‘face’ of the Kate Daniels books?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Early Review: Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

Etiquette & Espionage
(Finishing School #1)
Gail Carriger
Release: February 5, 2013
Add to Goodreads   Buy at Amazon
It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

First in a four book YA series set 25 years before the Parasol Protectorate but in the same universe.

“What was that?”

“A maid mechanical, dear. I know you’re from the country, but surely your family cannot be so backward as that!”

“No, of course not. My family has a butler, an 1846 Frowbritcher. But why doesn’t yours have a proper face?”

“Because it doesn’t need one.”

Sophronia was a little embarrassed, but it had to be said: “But her parts are exposed!”

“Mm, yes, shocking.”

Etiquette & Espionage is a fun steampunk YA by the queen of steampunk, Gail Carriger. I admit to not having read Carriger's popular adult series, Parasol Protectorate, but after reading - and loving! - this book I will certainly be remedying that!

My fear when starting E & E was that, being a full-fledged steampunk full of all the necessary quips and smarminess, it wouldn't engage me in the story or it wouldn't have the heart that I need in a book to really love it. I was pleasantly surprised that while this book has all the typical steampunk elements, lead character, Sophronia, and her friends provided a lot of that heart for the story and I fell completely in love with their world.

Sophronia is a charming and fearless tomboy less interested in beautiful dresses and more interested in taking apart her family's clockwork butler to discover how it works. Her mother decides to send her to a finishing school and she ends up at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, which by the way is on an enormous dirigible (sky ship) but, of course. As Sophronia learns more about her new school and the world of espionage, we get a lot of laughs.

Sophonia's closest friend in the book is Dimity, a sweet but slightly air headed character who faints on a consistent basis. She provided several comic moments throughout the story that had me giggling, but her loyalty to Sophronia was what really endeared me to her.

“The werewolf handed the bloody stick back to Monique, who took it with a little curtsy.

Dimity fell facedown into the grass in a dead faint…

Someone passed over the sal volatile, and soon enough, her friend’s soft brown eyes blinked open. Sophronia helped Dimity to sit, and while she did so she whispered in one ear, “Monique has an advocate on staff. I think that’s how she managed to keep the prototype location secret.”

Dimity looked at her, still recovering. “Really, Sopronia, it makes me most uncomfortable how you mange to sort everything out every time I faint.”

Also both hilarious and adorable is Sophronia's 'pet', a mechanimal in the form of a metal Dachshund of sorts named Bumbersnoot. How does Carriger make a mechanical animal out to have so much personality? I have no idea, but she did it and I fell in love.

Of course, there is also plenty of learning to become spymasters (while also learning how to carry a handkerchief) and many hair-brained schemes hatched by Sophronia in order to solve a mystery while aboard the ship. There's even a little forbidden romance, both sweet and exciting at the same time.

I highly recommend this one to readers! I think many will fall in love with this book whether you've read Carriger's other works or not.

Recommended for fans of: light and funny YA, seriously thorough steampunk, Gail Carriger, metal dogs that eat coal, Victorian manners and dress, and clockwork servants.

This review is based on an advance copy of the book.

  4.5 / 5 stars

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Early Review: House Rules by Chloe Neill

House Rules
(Chicagoland Vampires #7)
Chloe Neill
Release: February 5, 2013
Add to Goodreads   Buy at Amazon
In a city full of vampires, trouble never sleeps.

At the tender age of 27, Merit became a sword-wielding vampire. Since then, she’s become the protector of her House, watched Chicago nearly burn to the ground, and seen her Master fall and rise. Now she’ll see her mettle—and her metal —tested like never before.

It started with two . . . Two rogues vanishing without a trace. Someone is targeting Chicago’s vampires, and anyone could be next. With their house in peril, Merit and her Master, the centuries old Ethan Sullivan, must race to stop the disappearances. But as they untangle a web of secret alliances and ancient evils, they realize their foe is more familiar, and more powerful, than they could have ever imagined.


"I'm no James Bond," he cannily said. "I loved the Mercedes. It fit me perfectly. The Aston just...didn't."

"So you traded up?" I asked, walking toward the car and opening the door. "Do you treat your relationships the same way?"

"Yes," Ethan gravely said. "And I spent four hundred years shopping before I met you."

It was comments like that that kept me around, even when Ethan was being otherwise insufferable.

House Rules is the book in the Chicagoland Vampires series that I've been waiting for for quite some time. This series has taken us on an emotional roller coaster over the last few books: tension, romance, death, tension, resurrection, tension...but in House Rules the series finally comes full circle. I'm always up for a good paranormal murder mystery and this book focuses on solving the murders of vampires around the city. There's a balance in the plot between that and preparing for the split with the Greenwich Presidium.

This book feels more like the first four books of the series, with a great supernatural mystery that needs solving and a combination of affectionate and humorous moments between all the characters. The emotional undercurrents that fuel this series are certainly still there, especially with the political problems facing the Cadogan house now that they've decided to defect from the Greenwich Presidium and this, but a lot of earlier turmoil has either been resolved or is on the road to being resolved.

"Call us what you want, Sentinel. We already have a name for you." [...]

"No you don't."

"Yes we do." Lindsey stirred her spoon noisily around the walls of the yogurt cup to get the remaining drops. "You're Methan."

"We're what?"

"Methan. Merit and Ethan. Methan."

Ethan and Merit share several wonderful moments in this book and I loved seeing them work together as partners. They really stood together as a united pair for most of the plot and that was like breathing fresh air after everything that's happened with these two!

Another favorite aspect of this book for me was the continuing resolution between Merit and Mallory. I love where Mallory's character arc has gone since the shocking events of the fifth book in this series. Neill found a clever way for Mallory to both absolve for her actions and rehabilitate and I enjoyed seeing the two women slowly heal the rift between them.

And, of course, I took a moment before heading inside to share the evening's most important news in a quick text to Mallory: ETHAN EATS TOAST WITH A FORK.

It took a moment before she responded. DARTH SULLIVAN = PRETENTIOUS HOTTIE, she responded.

Fans of this series who stuck through all the hardships of recent installments will be rewarded with House Rules. And, even better, book eight is just around the corner with Biting Bad set to release in August of this year!

P.S. - We finally get to see Jeff Christopher shift - but, I won't spoil it for you, it's too good!

Recommended for fans of: vampires, shifters, fraternities, supernatural politics, and pretentious vampires hotties.

This review is based on an early finished copy of the book, provided by the publisher.

  4.5 / 5 stars

My reviews of other books in this series:

Drink Deep (Chicagoland Vampires #5)
Biting Cold (Chicagoland Vampires #6)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Early Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

(Lunar Chronicles #2)
Marissa Meyer
Release: February 5, 2013
Goodreads   Amazon
Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Scarlet is the long-awaited sequel to last year's hit, Cinder, by debut author Marissa Meyer. I was completely in love with Cinder and had this sequel on my highly anticipated list. I'm happy to say that Scarlet does not disappoint, folks! If you loved the first book you will adore this one.

Scarlet actually begins with Cinder, believe it or not. Those of you wondering how Meyer would keep her promise and show us more Cinder and Kai in this book, have no fear! Meyer fulfills her promise by managing to weave Cinder and Kai's stories seamlessly into that of Scarlet and Wolf's and we get multiple chapters from each of those character's POV. It's actually rather amazing to see how everything comes together and how each of the four individual characters' own plots ties in with everyone else's. I am impressed by Meyer's ability to connect the dots in ways that are just complicated enough to be astonishing but not so complicated as to confuse readers.

Our new heroine in this book is Scarlet, loosely based on the girl from Little Red Riding Hood. She is very tough and independent, but at the same time likable. Her narration is similar to Cinder's, but you can tell the difference between Cinder's sometimes hesitant confidence and Scarlet's better understanding of herself.

Scarlet's love interest is, of course, a guy named Wolf (love it!) who is a mysterious street fighter. He takes an interest in Scarlet almost right away and I was constantly wondering if his interest was genuine or if something more was going on. I loved his character and all the unexpected things we learned about him as the story moved along.

Readers are also introduced to a new character, Captain Carswell Thorne, a helpful but blundering young man who fancies himself a ship captain. He aids in Cinder's jailbreak at the story's beginning and they spend a lot of time together during Cinder's plot line. I am really looking forward to seeing more of him in the next book because he is a wonderful addition to the series!

It was also wonderful to be back in the unique world Meyer has created with her Lunar Chronicles series. All the new fangled sci-fi tools along with the combination of humans, lunars, supernaturals, and cyborgs in the well-imagined future world is a fun place to be. I am now placing book three in this series, Cress, on my highly anticipated list for next year!

Recommended for fans of: Cinder, young adult sci-fi, strong heroines and fun characters, fairy tale retellings, and snarky artificial intelligence.

This review is based on an advance copy of the book provided by the publisher.

  5 / 5 stars

My reviews of other books in this series:
Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Review and Read-A-Long Discussion: Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells

Red-Headed Stepchild
(Sabina Kane #1)
Jaye Wells
Release: April 1, 2009
Add to Goodreads   Buy at Amazon
In a world where being of mixed-blood is a major liability, Sabina Kane has the only profession fit for an outcast: assassin. But, her latest mission threatens the fragile peace between the vampire and mage races and Sabina must scramble to figure out which side she's on. She's never brought her work home with her---until now.

This time, it's personal.

This book is part of a read-a-long I am co-hosting with Jennifer from The Book Nympho and Jenese from Readers Confession. If you've read the book or plan to read it in the near future, please join us for the discussion, which is hosted this month at The Book Nympho. You can check it out HERE! 
 We will be reading the rest of this series over the next few months. Check out the read-a-long schedule at the end of my review and please join in on the fun!


Red-Headed Stepchild is the first in the Sabina Kane urban fantasy series focusing on half vampire, half mage, full assassin Sabina. This UF  has it all: a few of the paranormal world's staple supes, a kick ass leading lady, and a great combination of mystery and mayhem.

When I began reading, I wasn't sure how well Sabina and I were going to get along. She is fully committed to being an assassin for the rulers of the vampire world, which includes her very controlling and secretive grandmother. Sabina does whatever her grandmother says and kills whoever her grandmother tells her to kill, usually without question, and this is evidenced by her actions at the book's opening.

Sabina is a typical assassin in that she's a hard ass who keeps to herself and has few friends. But what's great about this story is Sabina's growth during this book. As she gets involved in the story's plot and meets others outside of the vampire race she becomes a slightly warmer and friendlier person and I look forward to seeing how she continues to grow throughout the series.

The characters that lead to Sabina's growth include a mysterious and frustrating mage, Adam, with whom a romantic relationship will most likely continue to develop in future books (this one was light on the romance but still managed to have some occasional sexy moments) and a hilarious, naive nymph named Vinca who provided some lighter moments in the book.

Another character was the demon who becomes bound to Sabina, Giguhl. At first he was just a comedic relief type of character but eventually I grew very attached to him and he provided some heart for the story.

The world of the Sabina Kane series is one vampire lovers will enjoy, with vampires behaving as they should: going outside only at night, drinking blood from unsuspecting humans, and not really interacting much with the human population. Vamps like to stick among their own here, with special rooms in bars and clubs for those of the fanged variety. This isn't a book where humans are aware of the paranormals. We didn't learn too much about the mage side of things, as Sabina has shunned that half of her for most of her life, but it looks like book two is steering us in that direction. I'm interested to see how the world of the mages compares to that of the vampires.

All in all, I finished this book feeling glad that I read it and satisfied in the story. I was more engaged in the second half of the story than the first, but overall I am pleasantly surprised and can't wait to crack open the next in the series!

Recommended for fans of: urban fantasy, vampires, Deadtown series,  Dreg City series, and hairless demon cats.

  4 / 5 stars

Read-a-Long Schedule:
1/25/13: Red-HeadStepchild
review/discussion HERE 
2/22/2013The Mage in Black
review/discussion @  Goldilox and the Three Weres 
3/29/2013Green Eyed Demon
review/discussion @  The Book Nympho  
 4/26/2013Silver Tongued Devil 
review/discussion @ Readers Confession
5/31/2013Blue-Blood Vamp
review/discussion @ The Book Nympho  

On the LAST Friday of every month we will post our reviews, share our favorite quotes and there will be about 3 discussion topics/questions to talk about.

Please feel free to follow me and my co-hosts:

Me and Reading button by Parajunkee

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