{Top Ten Tuesday} 4 – “Top Ten Resolutions For 2015”


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish that features a new top ten list each week.

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I’m posting my Top Ten list for the week of December 31st late as I was out of the country on vacation. Either way, I hope this post will keep me motivated.
The week’s topic was “Top Ten Resolutions for 2015.”

  1. I have set my Goodreads 2015 reading challenge for 110 books and hope/plan to complete it.
  2. I want to read more YA contemporaries, at least two sci-fi and classic books, and some new adult novels.
  3. At least every weekend, I plan on commenting on other blog posts this year.
  4. I want to make a habit of scheduling more blog posts—discussions, reviews, blasts, and tours—at least twice a week.
  5. I hope to expand my blog to at least 200 followers via WordPress/email and 100 followers on Bloglovin.
  6. I hope to gain more followers on Twitter.
  7. I would also like to make more bookish Twitter friends as well as keep my new ones.
  8. I plan to be more active in my Goodreads groups and join more challeges.
  9. I hope to start reviewing books on NG.
  10. Lastly, I plan on being more organized in my reading, blogging, commenting, and life.

What are your top ten resolutions? How do you keep track of blogs you want to comment on? What kind of discussions would you like to see on here—bookish ‘or not? What other kinds of posts would you like to see?
Jackie

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Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing


The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Violet Lasting is a girl who lives in the Marsh, the poorest circle in the Lone City. She is a surrogate sold to the highest royal bidder to bare her child after which she enters the richest circle, the Jewel and has to maneuver her way through politics, love, and friendship.
When I first read this book, I read it in a day and absolutely loved it! I still love this book because like You Are Mine this book deals with the issue of buying and selling women. However, this book also introduces the theme of surrogacy.
Amy Ewing cleverly introduces the topic of buying and selling girls to be used as surrogates. Along with that, she introduces an extra layer by having the girls bought by royal women.
I loved all of the plot twists in the book! I especially enjoyed the cliff-hanger at the end.
However, I felt that the romance between Violet and Ash was just too instantaneous for my liking. I didn’t mind the romance itself, but I thought it was forced at times and it could have been written better. I also thought the romance made Violet less independent in a way which contradicted her character throughout the book.
Overall, The Jewel brought new concepts to the table and I highly recommend it.

{Top Ten Tuesday} 3 – “Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing”


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish that features a new top ten list each week.

Top Ten Tuesday.jpg
I’m posting my Top Ten list for the week of December 23rd late as I was on vacation. Nevertheless, here goes. The week’s topic was “Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing.”
For this list, I’m going to list the top five books I’d want to get in Braille since those are extremely rare and hard to get. Then, I’ll list the top five print editions I’d like of books.

  • Braille
    1. A new set of the Harry Potter books as mine are all torn.
    2. The last two books of The Hunger Games trilogy because it bothers me that I don’t have the complete set.
    3. The Fault in Our Stars because I just love the book and why not?
    4. This is kind of a cop-out, but either Lock and Key, The Truth About Forever, or Dreamland by Sarah Dessen.
    5. The Divergent trilogy because even though many of my friends disliked it, I adore it. 🙂
  • Print
    1. A hardcover box set of the Harry Potter series even though it’s above, I think it’d be cool to have both.
    2. A signed hardcover of The Jewel by Amy Ewing which if you’ve been following me, you know how much I loved it by my review. If not, check out my review here.
    3. A signed copy of The Fault in Our Stars because the feels and again, why not?
    4. A signed copy of The Truth About Forever as it’s one of my absolute favorite books.
    5. A box set of The Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. I know I cheated there but you can’t have one without the other, right?

What books did you wish for and did you get any of them?
Jackie

Review: Cranberry Bluff by Deborah Garner (Blog Tour and Giveaway)


Cranberry BluffCranberry Bluff by Deborah Garner
Synopsis:
Molly Elliott’s quiet life in Tallahassee, Florida, is disrupted when routine errands land her in the wrong place at the wrong time: the middle of a bank robbery. Accused and cleared of the crime, she flees both media attention and mysterious, threatening notes, to move across the country to Cranberry Cove, where she has inherited her Aunt Maggie’s bed and breakfast on the Northern California coast. Her new beginning is peaceful – that is, until five guests show up at the inn for a weekend, each with a hidden agenda.
Mix together one blushing honeymoon couple, one flamboyant boutique owner, a deadpan traveling salesman, and a charmingly handsome novelist, and there’s more than scones cooking at Cranberry Cottage Bed and Breakfast. As true motives become apparent, will Molly’s past come back to haunt her or will she finally be able to leave it behind?

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About the author
Deborah Garner is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now divides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.

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Excerpt:

Molly dried the last of the breakfast dishes and put them away before sitting down to look over the inn’s schedule. No new arrivals were due that evening, or the next. But she had to do some shuffling to accommodate Bryce Winslow’s longer stay. She still couldn’t believe she hadn’t written down his departure date. That wasn’t like her. She always kept on top of the details in her reservation book. Had their phone conversation thrown her off-balance that much? Apparently it had.
She didn’t like feeling scattered, the way she’d felt when she left Tallahassee. Taking over Aunt Maggie’s bed and breakfast in Cranberry Cove had been a chance for her to reorganize her life, to start over. It was one of the main reasons she was there.
Molly shuddered, thinking about Florida. Her life there had been peaceful for so many years. She’d loved her job as an administrative assistant at a small advertising agency. Long work hours during the week were rewarded with free weekends. She didn’t have to put in the extra hours that the ad execs did. Saturdays and Sundays often found her enjoying the warm waters on a Gulf Coast beach or adventuring through swamp areas. She’d landed some impressive alligator pictures on one of those trips.
Her duties at the ad agency were basic, which suited her just fine. She handled incoming phone calls, made coffee, kept appointment calendars updated and ran errands when needed. Aside from the lack of romance in her life, it was a perfect existence. Until that day.
She hadn’t realized at the time that she’d walked into a bad situation. It was an ordinary morning. She’d stopped at FedEx to send out an overnight package, chatting about sports with the clerk, a college student. He was a Gators fan; she was a Seminoles fan. They had a long history of jovial teasing whenever she dropped off shipments.
From the FedEx office she’d stopped at a favorite coffee house, grabbing a decaf macchiato to go. Her next stop was a quick drive-through at the post office, where she dropped a batch of metered mailings in the driveway box. And then she went to the bank.
For the three years she’d worked for the ad agency, she’d taken a daily deposit to the bank. She was a stickler for accuracy, and the execs appreciated her efficient loyalty. She never thought twice about her quick jaunts in and out of the bank building. It was an errand, just like any other errand she had to run. At least it was, until the day a woman at the teller’s window next to her pulled out a gun. One minute Molly was thanking the teller for the ad agency’s deposit receipt. The next, she was sprawled out on the floor, like everyone else who had the misfortune to be in the bank at that moment.
It had all happened so quickly, though it didn’t seem like that at the time. The news reports later would say the robber was gone within six minutes. To Molly, face pressed against the bank’s cold, marble floor, it felt like hours.
That should have been the end of it. The whole episode should have gone down as a terrifying close call. She could have gone on with her life as it had been if not for a wild twist of fate. The robber had the same build, hair length and hair color as Molly, who had walked away quickly after the incident even before police arrived. She was shaken, but assumed the experience was over. Little did she know what was about to unfold.


Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I’d like to thank Kathy from I am a reader and the author for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this light mystery and think it was the perfect book to get me out of my reading slump. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I would like this book when I started it because of how short it was and how long it’s been since I’ve read a mystery, but I was pleasantly surprised. Deborah Garner created an intricate plot in a short time enveloping each and every character into the story nicely. The story is mainly told from Molly Eliot’s point of view, but contains the points of view of the other five main characters.
Molly is the main character who begins her life anew in Northern California after a bank robbery gone wrong in Florida. She is in charge of her late aunt’s bed and breakfast and wants nothing more than to leave her past behind. However, one weekend brings her past rushing back in an unexpected way when five guests stay at the inn that weekend. These five guests are all connected to each other and Molly’s past in twisting and surprising ways. The plot twist toward the end had me reeling and I’m sure I’m not the first.
However, the only reason I gave this book four stars and not five is because of the romance between Molly and Bryce, a guest at the inn. I liked how it played out in the end, but I think the execution in the beginning could have been better.
Overall, I really enjoyed this mystery and would like to read more of Garner’s boos. Side note: I love the recipe book at the end!


Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 1/19/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Review: You Are Mine by Janeal Falor


You Are Mine by Janeal Falor
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I’d like to thank the author for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Firstly, I read the whole book in a day and I absolutely LOVED it.
Serena is a seventeen-year-old girl who lives in a land called Chardonia. In this world, the land is ruled by Warlocks—men with magic in their blood. Women are seen as inferior to them and are little better than “tarnished”—undesirable women who did not please the men and nonmagical men who are treated as slaves.
The book starts out on Serena’s birthday when she has her blood tested for magical potency. Since her blood is very potent, she is sold to a powerful Warlock named Thomas. Like Serena’s father and the rest of the men in this society, Thomas treats Serena harshly, and that’s putting it mildly. Anyway, the book goes on and Serena’s husband dies in a battle against an Envadi barbarian. Serena, along with Thomas’ other possessions are given to the Envadi Warlock. At first, Serena believes that her new husband will be more cruel to her, but as the book goes on, Serena learns to challenge societal rules, overcome childhood trauma, and learn to love others.
To say that I loved this book is putting it mildly. This book was a completely new take on witches and wizards. It also reminded me a little of The Jewel in that it had the premise of buying and selling women. I’m usually skeptical going in to books that discuss slavery, but I think the author handled the issue nicely.
Serena was a great protagonist throughout the book. She didn’t whine or plainly accept her fate and she wasn’t too annoying. However, I did think that she couldn’t get past the fact that her new husband wasn’t a barbarian even after he showed her time and time again that he would not purposely harm her.
Overall, this was a refreshing read and I can’t wait to read the sequel!

Blog Tour&Giveaway: Forbidden by Kimberly Griffiths Little


Forbidden Kimberley

Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little

In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.

Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.

With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.

Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.

AMAZON * Barnes & Noble

 

Praise for Forbidden

*STARRED* Review, ALA BOOKLIST

“. . . At its core, this is a romance, with all the push and pull that goes along with impossible love, and Little elevates the story by creating a perilous landscape, both outward and inward, as Jayden must deal with the hardship of desert life as well as her own desires.”

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

“This is a fast-paced, entertaining choice which will appeal to fans of historical fiction and romance.”

“Lush, lyrical, romantic. Forbidden transports readers into a vividly imagined place and time.”
–Claudia Gray, New York Times bestselling author

“The harsh beauty of the deserts of ancient Mesopotamia come to life in Forbidden, with beautiful descriptions that will make you crave water and check for sand in your clothes. Your heart will break as you root for Jayden to triumph over the many struggles that threaten to tear her world apart, and the ending will leave you thirsting for more!”
–Sara B. Larson, author of Defy

 

EXCERPT:

The night was starkly beautiful under a canopy of jeweled stars. I savored my moments of freedom, which were marred by the realization that it was dripping away day by day.

The sizzle of coffee beans roasting in the skillet floated across the still air. Cups clinked on a tray as my father passed them around the circle. The aroma of roasted brew spiced with cardamom seeped into the night.

As I tried to slip past, Horeb’s eyes caught mine. Firelight flickered over his face, outlining his jaw and wind-tangled black hair. He was devastatingly handsome just as all the girls said, but his lips curled into a smile that sent shudders down my spine.

Horeb’s glance lingered on my body, settling not on my face, but lower, as if he was undressing me right there on the dirt path.

His eyes locking onto mine, Horeb rose from the circle of men. I jerked around, breaking off his stare. Walking faster, I turned the corner of the tent just as his arm reached out to stop me.

“So, little cousin,” Horeb said. “Have you been enjoying the betrothal ceremony? Tell me, are the women telling stories of marital relations?”

My breath caught like a thorn in my throat. The women’s ceremonies were not discussed with any male—only inside the privacy of a marriage bed.

“You shouldn’t be saying these things to me,” I said.

Running his fingers down my arm, Horeb continued to study me. “There are many things I’d like to say to you, Jayden. Do to you.”

There used to be a time when my throat pounded every time Horeb turned my direction. A time when he was growing into those big, dark eyes and that hard, muscular body. Moments when I wanted to touch his thick, black hair, or run my finger along his jaw to discover what a boy’s skin felt like with a newly growing beard. But now that I was sixteen, and he twenty, his stares made me uneasy. My heart still pounded, but not from love. And I wasn’t sure what it was or what to call it.

 

Author Kimberley Griffiths Little
Award-winning author Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and their three sons. Her middle-grade novels, When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, have been praised as “fast-paced and dramatic,” with “beautifully realized settings.” Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell. She’s stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria.

 

Forbidden

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$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 1/4/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken


The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Bracken built an incredible world with this book.
I loved how the book took place in the United States. I also liked how seamless the shift from the present to the flashbacks was. I did find keeping track of the various people chasing Ruby and the others somewhat difficult, but it wasn’t distracting enough that I had to stop and go back to find out who was who. I also thought that the identity of the slip kid was very predictable, but maybe that was just me.
Ruby: I really loved her as a character and thought she grew significantly throughout the book. I also liked seeing events from her point of view as a teenager and as a child.
I feel that Liam and the rest of the characters didn’t just compliment Ruby, but they added a whole new level of dimension to the story. Each character was well-developed and experienced significant growth in the story.
I don’t know what took me so long to read this book and I highly recommend this book.
What are your thoughts?
Jackie