Saturday, 31 December 2011

The Best of 2011 - Top 10 Reads of YA & Adult

According to my Goodreads account, I've read over 140 books this year. I'm quite impressed with this number; it's more than last year but it is also inaccurate. There are so many books I borrowed and didn't record on Goodreads. So many I re-read. But here what it is a true account of - 140 new books discovered. So it was no wonder when I sat down to write my Top Ten Reads of 2011, that I struggled to pick only ten out of all those books. In the end, I said, sod it, I'll have two categories. So here they are - my favourite reads of 2011. They have made me cry, laugh, swoon, shift uncomfortably, want to hide it in the freezer, but they are all on this list for a reason. And here they are.

Top 10 Adult Reads of 2011

No. 10
I absolutely adored Stone Cold Seduction. Hot guys, fierce heroine, betrayal, lost memories and intense action. What's not to love?
No. 9
The movie does not do this book justice. An epic historical romance with the intoxicating pull of the circus.
No. 8 
This book put me through the ringer. I felt every emotion possible. Read it now, and get the tissues ready.
No. 7
This is to represent the entire Royal House of Shadows series. It was epic, amazing, romantic, hot and sweaty and just, well, amazing. 
No. 6
The Last Letter From Your Lover stayed with me a long time after I read it. Definitely one of my all time favourite reads.
No. 5
I really got into the WW2 historical romances this year. This was one of the best.
No. 4
Ethereal. Beautiful. Mesmerising. Blissful.
No. 3
And the Band Played on haunted me. 
No. 2
For another complete series. Kat kicks ass. Bones is...Bones...
No. 1
This series grabbed me by the throat and still hasn't let go. Rock on January for book 5!

Top Ten YA Reads of 2011

No. 10
Edgy. Gripping. Dark. 
No. 9
Edgy romance. One of my favourite non-paranormal reads of 2011.
No. 8 
One of my first trips into dystopian. And of course the beginning of a dystopian obsession.
No. 7
Andrea Cremer's world of Guardian wolves is dark and dangerous. And oh so intoxicating.

No. 6
Why am I always a sucker for a bad boy?
No. 5 
Forgotten was like nothing I'd ever read before. And haven't since. 

No. 4
Zombies and Victorians and hotties oh my!
No. 3
Two of my favourite things - romance and Greek mythology.
No. 2
See what I mean? Obsession...

No. 1
Do I really need to say anything?!

So there you have it. But I'm curious - what are some of your favourite reads of this year? Let me know!


Thursday, 29 December 2011

Book Review: The Demon Lover by Juliet Dark

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (21 July 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0091940184
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091940188
I gasped . . . or tried to. My mouth opened, but I couldn’t draw breath. . . . His lips, pearly wet, parted and he blew into my mouth. My lungs expanded beneath his weight. When I exhaled he sucked in my breath and his weight turned from cold marble into warm living flesh.
Since accepting a teaching position at remote Fairwick College in upstate New York, Callie McFay has experienced the same disturbingly erotic dream every night: A mist enters her bedroom, then takes the shape of a virile, seductive stranger who proceeds to ravish her in the most toe-curling, wholly satisfying ways possible. Perhaps these dreams are the result of writing her bestselling book, The Sex Lives of Demon Lovers. After all, Callie’s lifelong passion is the intersection of lurid fairy tales and Gothic literature—which is why she finds herself at Fairwick’s renowned folklore department, living in a once-stately Victorian house that, at first sight, seemed to call her name.

But Callie soon realizes that her dreams are alarmingly real. She has a demon lover—an incubus—and he will seduce her, pleasure her, and eventually suck the very life from her. Then Callie makes another startling discovery: He’s not the only mythical creature in Fairwick. As the tenured witches of the college and the resident fairies in the surrounding woods prepare to cast out the incubus, Callie must accomplish something infinitely more difficult—banishing this demon lover from her heart

Folklore and mythology have always been a large part of Callie’s life. Her parents told her stories that felt real to her, and after their untimely death, a handsome prince visited Callie in her dreams to continue their stories. But they all stopped when Callie started researching her book, The Sex Lives of Demon Lovers.

Callie is on the hunt for the perfect teaching opportunity at a university. She is less than impressed with Fairwick, but nevertheless something draws her in, enticing her and changing her mind to stay. Especially when she discovers Honeysuckle House and it seems to call her home.

When she moves into her new home, Callie is greeted by an old friend. Her handsome prince returns to her dreams, only this time he is not interested in telling her stories. Every night Callie has intensely orgasmic and toe-curling dreams of him that feels so real her muscles ache come the morning. Her co-workers at the university stage an intervention, and inform her that she is being preyed upon by an incubus. But he isn’t the only mythical being at Fairwick, and Callie learns she has been living and working alongside witches, faeries, even vampires. Callie knows she must expel the incubus before he devours her, but expelling him from her heart proves a lot more difficult that banishing him from her home.

The Demon Lover had an amazing mix of folklore, sexual intensity and mystery. It was refreshing for a book to go back to the bare bones of paranormal, the ancient views of demons and mythical creatures rather than the somewhat jaded modern types. The relationship between Callie and her incubus is intoxicating and their chemistry leapt off the page.

Callie’s discovery of what Fairwick is really like proves life-altering for her, and leads her to question her own background. Watching Callie grow as a character and make incredible decisions was a pleasure to read, and I am sure not to forget The Demon Lover for sometime yet.

This book is full of heat, difficult choices and incredible sacrifice. Be drawn into the incubus’s charm and let this story seduce you.


Monday, 26 December 2011

Book Review: Her Dark Knight by Sharon Cullen

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 456 KB
  • Publisher: Carina Press (28 Nov 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language English

Madelaine Alexander is on a mission. When her boss sends her to the hottest nightclub in town to meet with the owner, she won't be deterred, even if that means standing in line for fifty-eight minutes in torturous heels while she'd rather be home in her pj's with a bowl of popcorn.
A Knight of the Templar, Christien Chevalier was given immortality along with the responsibility of protecting the treasure of the Templars. He's been unwavering in his task for centuries until his one true love—who died seven hundred years ago—shows up in his club, demanding his attention.
Christien couldn't protect Madelaine when they first fell in love. She was married to a lord and he was simply a knight. Now, through some unknown miracle, she stands before him again and they have a second chance. But Christien fears that Madelaine is being used as a pawn in a dangerous game, a game of good versus evil that could affect all of mankind...

Every obstacle is standing in Madeleine’s way. She has urgent papers for the owner of the hottest nightclub in town, and knows her life isn’t worth living if she returns to her formidable boss, Giselle, without them. After arguing with the bouncer and enduring a torturous wait in killer heels, she makes it inside.

When Madeleine meets Christien Chavelier, she knows she has met him before. There is an unmistakable connection between them. Madeleine is confused by the encounter, but Christien is suspicious, believing someone has placed her in his path for a  reason…to keep him distracted. Christien is a Knight of the Templar, granted immortality to protect the key that could bring about the Armageddon if it fell into the wrong hands.

The more time the spend together, the more certain Christien is that Madeleine is the reincarnate of his love he lost seven hundred years ago. Madeleine has dreams of her past life, and of Christien. She experiences their love, and it isn’t long before it becomes her own.

It isn’t all smooth sailing for the reunited lovers. Dark forces are at work against them, intent of their ruin…and revenge.

Her Dark Knight has an intricate plot full of dips and turns to keep the reader of their toes…and keep those toes curled thanks to the hot chemistry between Christien and Madeline. With a mix of doomed historical love and modern romance, this novel has something for everyone. A fantastic page turner. 


Thursday, 22 December 2011

Book Review: Too Wicked To Wed by Cara Elliot

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Forever; Import edition (19 Jan 2012)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0446584576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446584579

Outspoken and independent, Lady Alexa Bingham enjoys the heady freedom of making all her own decisions, even though the challenges of overseeing her family's country estate are daunting. But when a chance encounter with London's most notorious rake awakens a secret longing for adventure, she accepts her aunt's invitation for a Season in Town . . . only to find that breaking the rules of the ton has serious consequences.
The Earl of Killingworth uses his rakehell reputation to hide the fact that poverty has forced him to work for a living. As the owner of a gambling den and brothel, Connor has no time for glittering ballrooms or innocent young ladies. But after a reckless wager leaves him with a new business partner, he is forced to take a risky gamble . . . Will the cards fall in their favor? Alexa and Connor begin to play a dangerous game of intrigue and deception as they seek to outwit a cunning adversary who wants to put them permanently out of business. But if they are not careful, it is the flames of their own fiery attraction that may destroy them.

A chance encounter lands Alexa in the lair of the most notorious rake in Town, it irrevocable changes them both. Outspoken and unafraid, Alexa is refreshing for Connor, the Earl of Killingworth, and for Alexa, she has never met anyone quite like Connor.

When her aunt asks her if she would like to visit to spend a season in Town, Alexa eagerly agrees. But glittering ballrooms and forced pleasantries aren’t what she thought they would be, and Alexa finds herself craving the company of someone she shouldn’t, if not to spice up her evenings a little. Alexa struggles against the confines of the ton and makes the rash decision to pose as a male to enjoy a little freedom. And with a lucky hand at cards, Alexa wins half Connor’s business…a gambling hole and brothel.

But Connor has bigger things to worry about than his new female business partner. Someone is determined to see him fall…and willing to go to deadly measures to ensure it. With Connor injured, he and Alexa retreat to his crumbling family home and pose as newlyweds to stop wagging tongues. But somewhere down the line, their lie doesn’t feel false, and it is all to easy to forgot about the dangers awaiting them back in the real world, while they are surrounded by wild countryside.

Alexa and Connor’s love story was intoxicating, and very, very frustrating. With great action and steamy romance, Too Wicked To Wed is an amazing regency romance with a strong beating heart, sure to lure anyone in.


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Book Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 512 KB
  • Publisher: Jamie McGuire, LLC; 1 edition (26 May 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language English
  • ASIN: B0052VUNHC

**For mature readers. Contains sexual situations and strong language**

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn't drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend America, 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 needs--and wants--to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the charming college co-ed. Intrigued by Abby's resistance to his charms, 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' apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

 When Abby meets Travis, there is an instant connection. One she wants to avoid, one he is fascinated with.

Travis is Eastern University’s living legend – the guy famous for one night stands, who the girls can’t stay away from…even when they know better. Abby is a good girl – keeps out of trouble and avoids Travis’ type like the plague. But fate seems intent on pushing them together.

Curious about the girl who isn’t fazed by his charm or swoons at his biceps, Travis wants to know all about Abby. He comes up with a bet – if he loses, he must abstain from sex for one month. If she loses, she must live with him for one month. Either way, things are going to change between them.

I cannot begin to describe how much I loved this book. Electric banter, sizzling chemistry and bittersweet whisperings, Beautiful Disaster has it all. And I am so not ashamed to say, I totally fell under Travis’ spell.

Abby and Travis will entrance you, their story keeping you up into the night as you say to yourself ‘just one more chapter’. For once, I’m keeping my review short and sweet. Too much said would ruin this jem of a book. Just read it. Like, now. 


Monday, 19 December 2011

Cover Reveal: Sleepers by Megg Jenson

Introducing the new artwork for Megg Jensen’s bestselling novel SLEEPERS!

To celebrate the re-launch of SLEEPERS in January of 2012, Megg is giving it a new cover with artwork from the incredible PhatPuppy.

An adoptee raised in a foreign land, sixteen-year-old Lianne was content with her life as handmaiden to the queen, until a spell cast on her at birth activated. Now she's filled with uncontrollable rage and access to magic she thought had been bled from her people years ago. Even her years of secret training in elite hand-to-hand combat and meditation can’t calm the fires raging inside her.

Her heart is torn between two boys, the one she’s always loved and the one who always ignored her. But when the kingdom threatens to tear itself apart due to rumors surrounding the queen’s alleged affair, who will Lianne protect and who will she destroy?

On sale now for only 99 cents!

Check back here for my review of this awesome YA novel.


Thursday, 15 December 2011

Book Review: Reality Jane by Shannon Nering

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 704 KB
  • Publisher: Bancroft Press; 1 edition (26 Oct 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language English
  • ASIN: B0060AYIBQ

Set behind the scenes of America's most popular guilty pleasure—reality TV―Reality Jane delivers a high-spirited, delicious tale of finding love and a career in Hollywood while juggling lipo envy, singlehood angst, and the resounding results of success. 
Reality Jane follows Jane Kaufman, a Canadian journalist who, because of a lucky connection, finds herself in LA as a producer on a hot new reality show. Mingling with rock stars, attending Grammy parties, and visiting the Sex Kitten Mansion, Jane sees her new career as a one-way ticket to the big-time! But for a small-town girl thrust into the cutthroat Hollywood scene, 90- hour work weeks, heartless bosses, and superficial womanizers are a rude awakening.
Just when her love life seems at its bleakest, along come not one but two guys vying for her heart: hunky Alex, a hot up-and-coming reality show host, and Grant, a sweet, sincere cameraman who’s unfazed by Hollywood fame. With a sizzling sex life on the horizon, and maybe even true love, Jane’s fondest hopes seem en-route to full realization when she lands the cherry gig of all time: a producer’s post on TV’s hottest new self-help talk show. 
But the deeper Jane ventures into reality TV, the more completely un-real her life―personal and professional―becomes. And the realities of life behind-the-scenes—like goading people to confess their deepest, darkest secrets on cue—are chipping away at her very soul.
Lead character (and narrator) Jane embodies the perfect blend of smart-ass sarcasm, weary cynicism, and hopeful romanticism to appeal to today's readers. She also possesses a biting, acerbic wit that casts devilish, laugh-out-loud observations on the Hollywood scene, which are sure to please celeb watchers and reality show junkies alike. 
A hugely entertaining glimpse at the world of reality TV from one of its own, who’s lived and breathed the business practically since its inception, Reality Jane is the chick-lit novel that reality TV junkies and chick-lit enthusiasts have long been waiting for.

Reality Jane took me on a rollercoaster ride of success and what it meant to sacrifice in order to achieve it.

Jane, a journalist from Canada, finds herself thrust into the fast paced Hollywood lifestyle all thanks to a lucky connection. Jane is the new producer on a reality show. Her life suddenly becomes a blur of Grammy parties, Sex Kittens, rock stars and backstabbing. It doesn’t take long for her to realise the glitter of Tinsel Town doesn’t always cover the greed and darker side.

Just when her life and career seem at its bleakest, Jane is offered a new opportunity on a hot new show. The new show brings not one, but two hotties into Jane’s life – upcoming TV host, Alex, and down-to-earth and gorgeous camera-man, Grant.

But Jane must make some choices and decide what is more important to her – integrity or success, love or career, honesty or lies.

Reality Jane had the perfect mix of my two favourite things – reality TV and chicklit. This is an awesome read for anyone who loves either of these, and the awful decision of choosing between two men…


Monday, 12 December 2011

Book Review: Crave by Melissa Darnell

  • Paperback: 431 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin; Original edition (25 Oct 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0373210353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373210350

Savannah Colbert has never known why she's so hated by the kids of the Clann. Nor can she deny her instinct to get close to Clann golden boy Tristan Coleman. Especially when she recovers from a strange illness and the attraction becomes nearly irresistible. It's as if he's a magnet, pulling her gaze, her thoughts, even her dreams. Her family has warned her to have nothing to do with him, or any members of the Clann. But when Tristan is suddenly everywhere she goes, Savannah fears she's destined to fail.
For years, Tristan has been forbidden to even speak to Savannah Colbert. Then Savannah disappears from school for a week and comes back…different, and suddenly he can't stay away. Boys seem intoxicated just from looking at her. His own family becomes stricter than ever. And Tristan has to fight his own urge to protect her, to be near her no matter the consequences….

When Savannah is suddenly dropped by all her friends and new husband, Tristan, in the fourth grade, it feels like her world is ending. She gets no explanation or warning and in the space between one day and the next she goes from popular to ridiculed.

High school is no different. The kids in the Clann who were once her closest friends still tease and torment her, shout names and make life intentionally difficult for her. Except Tristan. Tristan pretends she doesn’t exist, which somehow feels even crueller.

But things are changing for Savannah. When a bad case of what she thinks is the flu leaves her bedridden, only her estranged father can clue her in. She is a half vampire, and is going through the change. And her change comes with some rules. Don’t make eye contact, unless she wants people to become obsessed with her. Keep clear of the Clann kids. And under no circumstances should she go anywhere near Tristan.

Too bad some rules are meant to be broken…

Told in alternating view points between Savannah and Tristan, this book is a great new twist in the YA market. Crave is a paranormal Romeo and Juliet tale of forbidden love, defying parents and growing up. The first in a brand new series that is sure to be an amazing hit! 


Thursday, 8 December 2011

Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Secker; First Edition edition (15 Sep 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 184655523X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846555237

In 1886, a mysterious travelling circus becomes an international sensation. Open only at night, constructed entirely in black and white, Le Cirque des Rêves delights all who wander its circular paths and warm themselves at its bonfire.
Although there are acrobats, fortune-tellers and contortionists, the Circus of Dreams is no conventional spectacle. Some tents contain clouds, some ice. The circus seems almost to cast a spell over its aficionados, who call themselves the rêveurs - the dreamers. At the heart of the story is the tangled relationship between two young magicians, Celia, the enchanter's daughter, and Marco, the sorcerer's apprentice. At the behest of their shadowy masters, they find themselves locked in a deadly contest, forced to test the very limits of the imagination, and of their love...
A fabulous, fin-de-siècle feast for the senses and a life-affirming love story, The Night Circus is a captivating novel that will make the real world seem fantastical and a fantasy world real.

 The Night Circus was a beautiful work of fantasy, impossible love and best of all…magic.

The circus arrives with no warning. No announcements precede its arrival. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Patrons of the circus grow entranced by the acrobats, amazed by the illusionist, intrigued by the fortune teller. The Night Circus is not like others – the only colours are black and white, it only opens at night and it has countless number of tents that amaze and astound.

But there is more to the circus than meets the eye. It is also the place of a fierce competition – a duel of magics and the entire circus is their game board. Celia and Marco were selected when they were only children to compete against each other by two old masters. Both are educated differently, one by books, one by pain, but both are talented in their own ways. Around each other, Celia and Marco are free to be entirely themselves. Intoxicated by this freedom, they tumble headfirst into love.

The Night Circus is by far the best book I have read this year, by a very long shot. Its mix of fantasy and reality and dizzying love and heartache swirls around the reader until it feels as though they could be sitting in the circus itself, perhaps at the Wishing Tree or warming by the bonfire eating chocolate mice.

Anyone who reads this book is guaranteed to become entranced and hypnotised by the charm of the poetic prose. I for one cannot to re-read this amazing book. 


Monday, 5 December 2011

Book Review: The Queen's of all the Earth

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 310 KB
  • Publisher: Bancroft Press; 1 edition (30 Sep 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language English

As her freshman classmates move into dorms at Cornell University, Olivia Somerset suffers a nervous breakdown. When months of coaxing and analyzing fail to rouse Olivia from her stupor, big sister Miranda decides the sisters should fly off to Barcelona for some “vacation therapy.”

After a mistake at their Barcelona hostel puts the Somersets in a large co-ed dorm room, Olivia and Miranda are saved by kindly Mr. Brown and his son Greg, who happily volunteer to surrender their private room. But while Olivia feels an instant connection with brooding Greg Brown, Miranda sides with fellow guest and cocky American travel writer Lenny, who believes 
the Browns are just plain weird, and must be avoided at all costs.

In the midst of an urbane priest-in-training from Peru and hordes of Scottish soccer fans, from the shops of La Rambla to the waters of the Mediterranean to the soaring heights of Montjuic, Miranda works to protect her still-fragile sister while Olivia struggles to understand her burgeoning adulthood, her feelings for Greg, and the fear that makes the next step in her life so impossible to take. 

The Queen’s of all the Earth is very much a coming-of-age story, but instead of being in early teens, it is in the form of a college freshman, Olivia Somerset.

Olivia suffers a breakdown and defers her freshman year of college. Her sister, Miranda decides the best therapy for Olivia is a vacation to Barcelona. With the sultry summer heat and gothic architecture as a backdrop, Olivia struggles to figure out who she really is, how she really feels, and how to go about taking that next step to move her life forward.

At the hostel the Somerset sisters are mistakenly placed in a co-ed dorm, rather than the private room they requested. Enter the Brown’s. Mr Brown gallantly gives up the private room he shares with his son, Greg, to the sisters. Miranda is wary of the Browns, but Olivia has an all-together different reaction to Greg. There is an instant spark which only further confuses her.

The Queen’s of all the Earth was an easy read to glide through and the reader will feel the warm Spanish sun kiss their skin as they soak in the words. Olivia’s story is very interesting, and I’m sure would be valuable to anyone struggling with a major change in their life.

A perfect read to warm you up in these chilly winter nights. 


Thursday, 1 December 2011

Book Review: The Juliet Spell

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin; Original edition (27 Sep 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0373210396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373210398

I wanted the role of Juliet more than anything. I studied hard. I gave a great reading for it—even with Bobby checking me out the whole time. I deserved the part.
I didn't get it. So I decided to level the playing field, though I actually might have leveled the whole play. You see, since there aren't any Success in Getting to Be Juliet in Your High School Play spells, I thought I'd cast the next best—a Fame spell. Good idea, right?
Yeah. Instead of bringing me a little fame, it brought me someone a little famous. Shakespeare. Well, Edmund Shakespeare. William's younger brother.
Good thing he's sweet and enthusiastic about helping me with the play...and—ahem—maybe a little bit hot. But he's from the past. Waypast. Cars amaze him—cars! And cell phones? Ugh.
Still, there's something about him that's making my eyes go star-crossed....

Miri’s school is putting on a production of Romeo and Juliet…and Miri is determined to be Juliet. She rehearses and memorises lines but it isn’t enough. When Miri is turned over for the part, she decides to take matters into her own hands.

Miri casts a spell but it backfires on her. Rather than getting her the role she wanted, she inadvertently plucked William Shakespeare’s younger brother, Edmund, out of his time, and dropped him in hers.

Edmund is confounded with the future, seeing everything with childlike curiosity and marvel…especially when he finds out how famous Will is in the future. Miri enlists Edmund’s help with the play, but he does her one better. He tries out for Romeo himself…and gets it. Suddenly Miri is understanding Juliet a whole lot better.

The Juliet Spell was a light and quirky read. It is written a little immaturely at times, though its content is definitely not for the younger end of the YA spectrum. While it was a witty and brilliant new take on the genre, there was something missing for me. Some element not present to take it from an okay book to an amazing one.

The characters felt underdeveloped, and to my irritation, took things as they came. A teenage girl summons a boy from the past and says he will live with them? No problem. You suddenly realise you have feelings for the boy? Okay. The boy is catting around with uber-bitch? No worries. The book’s saving grace was Drew – highly loveable character with all the right answers and reactions. The downside was he didn’t have enough page time.

The Juliet Spell is a perfect read for anyone who likes light YA with a hint of romance, time travel and doomed relationships. 

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