All I Want For Christmas Is…

imagesBooks, lots and lots of books.

Here are books that are already out (that Santa could actually bring me) that are on my Christmas List that I haven’t gotten to in 2012:

(In no particular order)

1. Slammed by Colleen Hoover

13372690Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she’s losing hope.
Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.
Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.

2. Anew (The Archers of Avalon Series) by Chelsea Fine

12875436Two years ago, Scarlet awoke in the forest alone, afraid, and unable to remember anything. Lost and confused, her life was a mystery…until she met a boy with a familiar voice.

Gabriel Archer has a voice from her past, and Scarlet’s determined to remember why. She immerses herself in his life only to discover he has a brother he’s kept hidden from her: Tristan Archer.

Upon meeting Tristan, Scarlet’s world becomes even more muddled. While she’s instinctively drawn to Gabriel, she’s impossibly drawn to Tristan–and confused out of her mind. As she tries to piece together her history Scarlet realizes her past…might just be the death of her.

3. Magic Burns #2 (Kate Daniels Series) by Ilona Andrews

1811543As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate’s going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.

When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realizes much more at stake. During a flare, Celtic god Morfran supersedes goddess Morrigan for witch coven worshippers of the Crow, and sea monsters from the Underworld enter via the Cauldron of Plenty. Kate starts looking for Pack maps and 13-year old Julia’s witch mother, and ends up uniting shapeshifters and vampire zombie controllers to save the world

4. Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout

12578077Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring…. until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something…unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don’t kill him first, that is.

5. Iced by Karen Marie Moning

Moning-Karen-Marie_IcedThe year is 1 AWC—After the Wall Crash. The Fae are free and hunting us. It’s a war zone out there, and no two days are alike. I’m Dani O’Malley, the chaos-filled streets of Dublin are my home, and there’s no place I’d rather be.

Dani “Mega” O’Malley plays by her own set of rules—and in a world overrun by Dark Fae, her biggest rule is: Do what it takes to survive. Possessing rare talents and the all-powerful Sword of Light, Dani is more than equipped for the task. In fact, she’s one of the rare humans who can defend themselves against the Unseelie. But now, amid the pandemonium, her greatest gifts have turned into serious liabilities.

Dani’s ex–best friend, MacKayla Lane, wants her dead, the terrifying Unseelie princes have put a price on her head, and Inspector Jayne, the head of the police force, is after her sword and will stop at nothing to get it. What’s more, people are being mysteriously frozen to death all over the city, encased on the spot in sub-zero, icy tableaux.

When Dublin’s most seductive nightclub gets blanketed in hoarfrost, Dani finds herself at the mercy of Ryodan, the club’s ruthless, immortal owner. He needs her quick wit and exceptional skill to figure out what’s freezing Fae and humans dead in their tracks—and Ryodan will do anything to ensure her compliance.

Dodging bullets, fangs, and fists, Dani must strike treacherous bargains and make desperate alliances to save her beloved Dublin—before everything and everyone in it gets iced.

6. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

11505797INTENSE. DANGEROUS. ADDICTIVE.

Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

7. Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens

13517535For almost two years now, Kiera’s boyfriend, Denny, has been everything she’s ever wanted: loving, tender and endlessly devoted to her. When they head off to a new city to start their lives together, Denny at his dream job and Kiera at a top-notch university, everything seems perfect. Then an unforeseen obligation forces the happy couple apart.

Feeling lonely, confused, and in need of comfort, Kiera turns to an unexpected source—a local rock star named Kellan Kyle. At first, he’s purely a friend that she can lean on, but as her loneliness grows, so does their relationship. And then one night everything changes…and none of them will ever be the same.

8. The Reckoning by Alma Katsu

13091829SECOND IN ALMA KATSU’S GRIPPING SUPERNATURAL TRILOGY THAT BEGAN WITH THE TAKER Lanore McIlvrae is the kind of woman who will do anything for love. Including imprisoning the man who loves her behind a wall of brick and stone.

She had no choice but to entomb Adair, her nemesis, to save Jonathan, the boy she grew up with in a remote Maine town in the early 1800s and the man she thought she would be with forever. But Adair had other plans for her. He used his mysterious, otherworldly powers to give her eternal life, but Lanore learned too late that there was a price for this gift: to spend eternity with him. And though he is handsome and charming, behind Adair’s seductive faÇade is the stuff of nightmares. He is a monster in the flesh, and he wants Lanore to love him for all of time.

Now, two hundred years after imprisoning Adair, Lanore is trying to atone for her sins. She has given away the treasures she’s collected over her many lifetimes in order to purge her past and clear the way for a future with her new lover, Luke Findley. But, while viewing these items at an exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Lanore suddenly is aware that the thing she’s been dreading for two hundred years has caught up to her: Adair has escaped from his prison. He’s free— and he will come looking for her. And she has no idea how she will save herself.

With the stunningly imaginative storytelling and rich characterizations that fascinated readers worldwide and made The Taker a singular and memorable literary debut and an international sensation, Alma Katsu once again delivers “a powerful evocation of the dark side of romantic love” (Publishers Weekly) in her breathtaking new novel.

9. Days of Blood and Starlight by Liani Taylor

12812550Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

10. Skylark by Megan Spooner

10352973Sixteen-year-old Lark Ainsley has never seen the sky.

Her world ends at the edge of the vast domed barrier of energy enclosing all that’s left of humanity. For two hundred years the city has sustained this barrier by harvesting its children’s innate magical energy when they reach adolescence. When it’s Lark’s turn to be harvested, she finds herself trapped in a nightmarish web of experiments and learns she is something out of legend itself: a Renewable, able to regenerate her own power after it’s been stripped.

Forced to flee the only home she knows to avoid life as a human battery, Lark must fight her way through the terrible wilderness beyond the edge of the world. With the city’s clockwork creations close on her heels and a strange wild boy stalking her in the countryside, she must move quickly if she is to have any hope of survival. She’s heard the stories that somewhere to the west are others like her, hidden in secret—but can she stay alive long enough to find them?

11. Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

7823600Frannie Cavanaugh is a good Catholic girl with a bit of a wicked streak. She has spent years keeping everyone at a distance—even her closest friends—and it seems as if her senior year is going to be more of the same . . . until Luc Cain enrolls in her class. No one knows where he came from, but Frannie can’t seem to stay away from him. 

What she doesn’t know is that Luc is on a mission. He’s been sent from Hell itself to claim Frannie’s soul. It should be easy—all he has to do is get her to sin, and Luc is as tempting as they come. Frannie doesn’t stand a chance. But he has to work fast, because if the infernals are after her, the celestials can’t be far behind. And sure enough, it’s not long before the angel Gabriel shows up, willing to do anything to keep Luc from getting what he came for. It isn’t long before they find themselves fighting for more than just Frannie’s soul.

But if Luc fails, there will be Hell to pay . . . for all of them.

12. Reached by Allie Condie

13125947After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

In this gripping conclusion to the #1 New York Times-bestselling Matched trilogy, Cassia will reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honoring a love she cannot live without.

13. Hidden by P.C. Cast.

7933615At last, Zoey has what she wanted: the truth is out. Neferet’s evil has been exposed, and the High Council is no longer on her side — but she’s far from done wreaking havoc in the vampyre world. First, a mysterious fire ravages the stables. Then, Neferet makes a devastating move that will test them all.
With the seeds of distrust sown and Darkness breeding chaos at the House of Night, everyone must band together — but that’s proving to be more difficult than ever before. The twins are barely speaking and the House of Night’s former enemy, Kalona, has now become their warrior, pushing their trust to the limit. To top it off, Zoey is pretty darn sure she might be losing her mind. She saw something when she looked at Aurox through the Seer Stone that she can hardly explain to herself, let alone her friends. Is it possible that Heath has come back in a different form? Is that why Zoey’s so intrigued by Aurox, when it’s so obvious that he’s dangerous? And who would believe her if she told them? Zoey knows that following her instinct about Aurox might be just what they need to defeat evil . . . but if she’s wrong, it could cause the destruction of those closest to her.
With the tension at a breaking point and friendships on the line, can the nerd herd come together to stop the spread of Darkness before it’s too late?

Okay, I know it’s a lot, but I’ve been really, really good this year. *Crosses Fingers*

What’s on your Christmas List? Have you read any on my list?

Guarding The Princess by Loreth Ann White

15803281As I turned the last (electronic) page of Guarding the Princess by Loreth Ann White, there was a smile on my face — for more than one reason. The first, this book was really refreshing and I enjoyed it. The second, it’s the first book I’ve read on my new Nook HD. (Yes, I know, I’ve turned to the dark side. I caved and purchased an eReader.) I still prefer the feel of print beneath my fingertips, but thanks to NetGalley, it was worth it because now I get to read advance copies. 🙂

“You’re not just a job anymore.” It was supposed to be a 72-hour mission, in and out, until Brandt Stryker got stranded in the arid African plains with predators before him, a killer at his heels and an exotic princess by his side. Dalilah Al Arif stirs his blood, makes him crave things he’d lost long ago—but she is off-limits, promised to a sheik.

Dalilah’s wedding contract stipulates she must wed before her 30th birthday—just months away. It’s a duty she accepts. But in the arms of her handsome protector, she’s torn between her sense of duty and honor, and her freedom. And as the terrorists close in, she fears the most dangerous creature in the savannah is Brandt himself.

I was immediately drawn to both of these characters. I could relate with each of them and also understand their initial contempt for the other. This is definitely a character-driven story. I was expecting a fast-paced romance but White delivered a slow, sincere romance that blossoms by the end. I felt invested in their lives and well-being. There was a connection that isn’t easy for a writer to create.

My favorite aspect of this novel that surprised me was the setting. This adventure takes place in Africa. White has certainly done her research or made a convincing fabrication because I feel like I’ve been to Africa. When Brandt and Dalilah are on the run, they traverse the wild of Africa; it was fascinating. I loved that she pointed out the terrain and the animals. She didn’t just mention these things in passing, she would stop and explain them but in a way that was pertinent to the story so it didn’t come off like a Discovery Channel segment. I loved it.

White’s writing style is very vivid and descriptive. I could see, taste and feel what the characters were, and that’s why I have a weird non-issue with this love story. If you’re looking for a take-me-now passion extravaganza resulting in the tearing of your own clothes, you won’t find it here. This love story is slow and sweet. There is one sex scene that White makes you wait for, and I found it lacking in emotion and quite frankly dull. It was “sweet” and “nice” but it wasn’t what I expected from a Princess and a Mercenary. I signed up for some battle-fueled passion! I commend White for not having scene after scene of carbon-copy love scenes though, which is expected in romance novels, but I wanted more. I felt she could deliver more. If this was book one in a series, I could understand but as a stand-alone, I found it lacking.

There were two other things I didn’t like about this novel. One: the cover. I felt like the couple on the cover didn’t match who I saw between the pages. However, the cover is what drew my eye. Two: the villain. Within the first few pages we are introduced to Amal, the one-armed killer. (I couldn’t help but hear Jim Carey’s voice as The Mask saying, “It wasn’t me, it was the one-armed man!”) Needless to say, I didn’t take him seriously at first; it was too cliché. However, White slowly changed my perspective throughout the story but I wish she would’ve showed how mean and cruel he was. Amal was constantly in the background and only a minor secondary character. He could have been more important, bigger, better.

I loved that this story has a happy ending. I’m actually glad that there wasn’t the expected showdown simply because my heart couldn’t take it. I wanted both of them to live — and live happily ever after. The story was tied up a little too nicely with a big, African-inspired bow, but it was just what I needed: A cool glass of water in the book-filled desert — a lovely, sigh-worthy, adventure-filled refreshment. This book will be released on December 18, 2012. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin books for providing me with an advanced copy!

Releases and Recommendations: Blood-Kissed Sky by J.A. London

It’s a very chilly Tuesday,  but do you know what warms my heart? Anticipating the release of Blood-Kissed Sky by J.A. London.

14812991There’s nowhere left to hide.

I thought vampires were our enemies – they controlled our lives, isolated our cities, and demanded our blood – until I met Victor. With Victor taking over as the new Lord Valentine, things were supposed to get better. Instead, they’re worse than ever.

Day Walkers, a new breed of vampires who can walk in the sun, are terrorizing the city. Blood supplies are low, and if Victor’s vampires don’t get enough, they will become infected with the Thirst – a disease that will turn them into mindless killers.

To stop it, I must journey across the desolate wasteland to the very place where the sickness began. I can only hope that the answers that await me are enough to save us all . . . before it’s too late

I LOVED Darkness Before Dawn, even though it was the cliched topic of a girl falling in love with a vampire. It felt like reading that storyline for the first time. I’m super excited to see where everything goes, especially between Victor and Dawn. This book is released on Tuesday, December 26, 2012. I will be purchasing this book; Merry Christmas to me!

The Lighter Side of Life and Death by C.K. Kelly Martin

I can’t remember what initially attracted me to The Lighter Side of Life and Death by C.K. Kelly Martin, but I heard rave reviews about the author. This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I was impressed and disappointed at the same time.

Acclaimed YA author C. K. Kelly Martin offers a sexy, soulful story of one confused boy, two girls, and all the complications that ensue in this romantic feel-good love story that celebrates friendship, first love, first lust, and second chances.

Sixteen-year-old Mason Rice is having the night of his life. He’s just delivered an incredible performance in the school play, basked in celebratory afterglow vibes at the party of the year, and lost his virginity to one of his best friends—the gorgeous but previously unobtainable Kat Medina. His dreams are coming true, and the future looks golden.

Unfortunately, Kat sees things very differently. Crossing the friendship line was a big mistake, and all she wants is to forget it and move on, even if that means forgetting Mason altogether. What’s a guy to do? Well, if you’re Mason, you hang your hopes on the first attractive twenty-three-year-old you cross paths with. At first Mason wonders if he’s imagining the chemistry . . . until Colette invites him over to her apartment. Suddenly Mason’s living in a whole new world.

 This story has an interesting, dynamic concept. A high school boy loses his virginity to his life-long crush, but she wants to forget it happened. So, what does he do? He starts hooking up with a 23-year-old woman. I enjoyed this idea — from a distance. It would be like me hooking up with a  16-year-old. Ugh. *shivers* I was torn between fascination and disgust, but for the most part I just accepted it.

Martin did an amazing job creating and portraying the main character, Mason. I can see why people rave about her ability to create a distinct voice. I found Mason to be completely believable even though he’s a male voice written by a female author. His emotions were spot on especially for his age and the circumstances he was dealt. I may not have agreed with his decisions, but I thoroughly enjoyed Mason as a character.

 My biggest issue with this book was the lack of action. The writing was there, the story was there, but there wasn’t any action. It read like a fictional memoir even though it was told in present tense. It was extremely realistic, but perhaps too realistic. Real life is rarely as exciting as the fictional adventures we embark on. I was engaged throughout the entire book but at the end I just thought, “Huh, okay.” It didn’t leave an impression; it didn’t make me think or make me want to change the world. Even more baffling, is the title. What does life and death have to do with borderline-statutory rape? There weren’t any deep character monologues about the meaning of life and death, and certainly nothing “light.” It just confused me.

The story unraveled very slowly with attention to detail. However, there were some details that were highlighted throughout the book that made me think something horrible was going to happen, but nothing ever came of it. I think it’s always good practice to avoid such random details if it amounts to nothing in the story; it distracts the reader.

I’m not sure if I would recommend this book. It’s a short, easy read with a well-developed main character, but it’s by no means exciting. If you’re into contemporary lit, this might be your thing. I appreciate this book for what it is, but I don’t think I will read anything else by Martin. I like to escape to other worlds when I read; I don’t like to be reminded of real, mundane life where answers don’t come easy and everything is complicated.

Releases and Recommendations: The Ward by Jordana Frankel

It’s Tuesday! My favorite day of the week (except for Friday-Sun) when books are released to the masses.

This week I’m anticipating the release of The Ward by Jordana Frankel on Tuesday, April, 30, 2013.

12399857

Sixteen-year-old Ren is a daredevil mobile racer who will risk everything to survive in the Ward, what remains of a water-logged Manhattan. To save her sister, who is suffering from a deadly illness thought to be caused by years of pollution, Ren accepts a secret mission from the government: to search for a freshwater source in the Ward, with the hope of it leading to a cure.

However, she never expects that her search will lead to dangerous encounters with a passionate young scientist; a web of deceit and lies; and an earth-shattering mystery that’s lurking deep beneath the water’s rippling surface.

As I perused through future releases on Goodreads, I found myself scoffing at futuristic, apocalyptic books. What?? I love dystopian, post-apocalyptic! What is wrong with me! Then I realized once I stumbled across The Ward that the others seemed too cliche in comparison, where as this book sounds fantastic! So, not to worry self, it’s going to be okay! I’m super intrigued by this idea of a water-logged Manhattan and I’m curous about the “passionate” scientist. I also adore the name Ren. What really does it for me though is this “mystery” lurking deep beneath the water. I HAVE to know what it is! I’m super pumped about getting my hands on a copy of this come spring 2013.

Defiance by C.J. Redwine

I’m still unsure about how I feel about Defiance by C.J. Redwine. I liked it but there were things that distracted me so much I may or may not have disliked it.

 Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan–the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same one who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but a fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

I really enjoyed parts of this story. The plot was really strong — the boy and girl off to find her father and the mysterious “package,” all while a wing-less dragon lurks underground for its next opportunity to strike. I was totally into it. The world-building was great. I could see the city of Baalboden and I had a good sense of the city’s poverty and desperation. Redwine’s lovely descriptions were paramount to her successful world-building.

However, her characters were sadly disappointing. The main characters Rachel and Logan were good, not great, but good. I had an overall sense of who they were, but Rachel had the annoying teen syndrome. Fortunately, Logan had a great personality and I loved reading his side of the story. I would argue that the best developed character was the commander. He is greedy, power-crazed and ruthless. We don’t really see his motivations but, as a reader, I understand the concept of the tyrant so it was easier for me to accept him as a character. However, he played a small role compared to the main characters.

The rest of the characters were one-dimensional. I wanted SO bad for there to be more depth, more life, more…something. It was difficult to feel emotion when the reader doesn’t understand the depth of the relationship between the characters. Also, Redwine did a lot of telling and not showing. I knew the characters were sad, angry, etc. but I didn’t know why and I didn’t know how. I feel like Redwine put in too much effort, not that effort is bad but it shows. For the story to be well told, it should seem effortless. I really wanted her to let the characters tell the story; it was too forced.

Towards the end of the book, I felt like the pace and plot were disrupted in an attempt to prolong the story for the sequel. The ending was kind of disappointing, but there were so many questions left open for the next book. Redwine eluded to a love triangle and secrets between the commander and Logan. I’m really hoping for more character development in the next book. According to Redwine’s blog, the title for the second book will be released in December 2012 and the book will be released in August 2013. Even though this book was disappointing, I’m hoping for a lot of growth and a better sequel.