Monthly Archives: December 2012

Cinders and Sapphires (At Somerton #1) by Leila Rasheed Review

The countdown to the US premier of Downton Abbey season 3 has begun. January 6 is practically around the corner (18 days)! I have begun to rewatch the first two seasons, which have just added to my excitement. The wait has also been eased by reading Cinders and Sapphires, the first book in a new series by Leila Rasheed.

cinders and sapphires

Cinders and Sapphires (At Somerton #1) by Leila Rasheed
Disney-Hyperion
January 2013
400 pgs

After nearly a decade in India, the Averley family is returning to England to take up residence in their ancestral home, Somerton. Lady Ava is aware that her father, Lord Westlake, has left his government post in disgrace, though she is not aware of the details. She is currently more concerned with her own scandalous secrets. She has fallen for a man who would make a most unsuitable match and she harbors dreams of attending Oxford. Matters are complicated further by the arrival of Lady Templeton, Lord Westlake’s new bride, and her three teenaged children. Ada is not the only one at the estate adjusting to changes and keeping secrets. While rivalries and jealousies among the ladies’ maids threaten to destroy the families they serve, one valet desperately tries to prevent the ruin of his master.

This deliciously scandalous novel offers a glimpse into the social and political environment of England as the British Empire begins its slow collapse. Rasheed successfully showcases the complex relationship between the ruling class and the people who served them. The myriad of scandals and secrets made it impossible to put this books down. Betrayals, backstabbing, and blackmail are par for the course as wealthy and poor alike scramble for power. This is an excellent series opener and I look forward to more from Somerton.

You may also enjoy Distant Wave by Suzanne Weyn, Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray and The Luxe by Anna Godberson.

This book was provided by the publisher and NetGalley.com for review.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

 

 

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Top Ten Tuesday-Top Ten of 2012

toptentuesdayHere it is dear reader, the ultimate Top Ten Tuesday list. This week The Broke and The Bookish asked for our ten (yeah, right) favorite books of 2012! I swear I have been composing this list since January and it was still difficult to choose. In fact, it was nearly impossible (the original list had 25 favorites) and forced me to get creative. After much debate, I am ready to present my favorite YA books of 2012. My favorite non-YA reads are a in a different list!

Before I present my proper and official list, I am going to cheat a little. Some of my most enjoyable reads of the year were books in series. In fact, I got to say farewell to some beloved characters. Let’s do a little retrospective…

A Fond Farewell to:

flock serpent's shadow endlessly black heart stupid cover spell bound

I loved the final chapters of Katla and Jack’s story in Flock (Stork) by Wendy Delsol.

Carter and Sadie’s story came to end in The Serpent’s Shadow (The Kane Chronicles) by Rick Riordan.

I was really sad to say goodbye to Evie and Lend in Endlessly (Paranormalcy) by Kiersten White. I ♥ them.

I thought I was okay with the way things ended for Cassel and Lila in Black Heart (Curse Workers) by Holly Black. Then I heard a rumor that there will actually be a fourth book and now it is all I can think about. Please be true. Please be true. Please be true.

Sophie Mercer’s story may have sort of ended with Spell Bound (Hex Hall) by Rachel Hawkins, but I am sure she’ll have a cameo appearance in the upcoming spin-off series starring Izzy Brannik

Ok, now that we’ve paid our final respects to some beloved characters we can get back to the task at hand. A Top Ten Twelve List. Surprisingly, with the exception of The Diviners and Cinder, the rest of this list is made up of titles that I did not expect to love. What a surprising year it has been!

1. Mothership by Martin Leicht and Ilsa Neal. I’ve said it before and I will say it again-quirky, light, campy hilarity. Read it.

mothership

2. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. I did not expect to love this sweet romance. I loved it so much I read it in one sitting.

my life

3. I Hunt Killersby Barry Lyga. I love Dexter and I loved this book about the son of a serial killer.

i hunt killers

4. Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt. I did not read The Wednesday Wars and I never really intended to read this companion novel, but when the book-loving community was up in arms about it not winning the Newbery Award, I figured I should see what all the fuss was about. There is a lot going on in this quiet, charming book. I can’t wait to discuss it with my book club next month.

okay

5. Revolutionby Jennifer Donnelly. This was definitely a surprise hit for me. While listening to this one I began to realize that I actually do enjoy historical fiction and I really enjoyed learning about the French Revolution, something I really knew nothing about.

revolution

6. Ashes by Ilsa Bick. For me this one did not get lost in the tidal wave of new sci-fi/dystopian books that have been flooding the shelves since The Hunger Games. I am dying to read the sequel, but I am saving it for a time when I can really linger over it and enjoy. Things are too frantic now. Soon, Shadows, soon.

ashes

7. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. So different from his beloved The Book Thief, but just as amazing.

i am the messenger

8. Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Cybor Cinderella? Hell yes! I fully expected to love this one and I was not disappointed. Come on February…I NEED Scarlet!

cinder

9. Diviners by Libba Bray. I bow down before the greatness that is Libba Bray. I rarely reread, but this one is at the top of my To Be Reread list.

diviners

10. Hold Me Closer Necromancer by Lish McBride. This one lingered on my TBR list for two years until I pulled it out for the October readathon. This was the perfect book to devour in one sitting. Thankfully the sequel was ready and waiting. And then the news that caused conflicting emotions: More Lish McBride books soon, but the Necromancer series is on pause. Yay/Boo…so confused!

necromancer

11. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. This was THE surprise of the year. After the disappointment I felt about the Wolves of Mercy Falls series I decided to finally brave another book by Ms. Stiefvater. Don’t get me started. Anyway. This one was raved about, I figured everyone deserves a second chance, so I popped in the audio and was immediately mesmerized. Loved it.

raven boys

12. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Another surprise. The audio was last-ditch effort to give this book a second chance. Oh, thank goodness for books on CD! I have the sequel in the car now just waiting for me to finish Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick.

daughter of smoke

And of course my list would not be complete without some additional runners-up:

code name verity westing game game of thrones

Thanks for reading to the end of this ridiculously long and cheater-y list!

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Mondays with Megan-The End is Near! Will I Make My Goal?

Happy Monday! I had the busiest, most exhausting weekend, but it was super productive! I got tons of things done for Christmas (tree up, house decorated, obscene amounts of cookies baked, gifts bought, lists made, and I still found time to read). So, it’s Monday and I am exhausted but it was totally worth it. My Goodreads goal ticker is currently taunting me and I am in a panicked race against time to read my 200 books for the year. I need to read 15 books in 14 days! Can I do it? I made some awesome progress last week. Let’s just jump right in to It’s Monday! What Are Reading? Be sure to visit Book Journey and Teach Mentor Texts for more fabulous book lists.

mondayreadingMon Reading Button PB to YA

Finished: I LOVED the books I read and listened to last week, especially The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin and Ask the Passengers by A.S. King. Jacky Faber and Stephanie Plum are always a good time and I owe a review of the deliciously scandalous Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed asap.

westing game viva hard eight ask cinders and sapphires

In the car: I am about 2/3 of the way through Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick. Tensions are high between fallen angels and the Nephilim and I am pretty sure things are about to get crazy. These may not be the best books ever written, but I have enjoyed them very much and I am hoping for a happy ending for Patch and Nora.

finale

Currently Reading: In a shocking turn of events I am only reading two books right now. I have an ARC of Blood Prophecy, the final book in The Drake Chronicles series by Alyxandra Harvey and To the Nines by Janet Evanovich (totally enjoying the formulaic fluff right now). Oh, and I still have that bizarro Playaway, Contest by Matthew Reilly.

blood prophecy nines contest

On Deck: For the car I have Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor. Can’t wait. That is the things I am sure of. My stack of TBR books is enormous so I have plenty of options. I am leaning towards The Emperor of Nihon-Ja by John Flanagan or Passenger by Andrew Smith. Of course I am ignore all my library books and pick up the next Jessica Darling book. Who knows what will strike my fancy next.

days of blood emperor passenger

I have my work cut out for me, but I think I will make my 2012 reading goal. What are you reading this week?

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Top Ten Tuesday-Favorite New-To-Me Authors of 2012

toptentuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, brought to you by The Broke and The Bookish, is all about new-to-me authors. I hope debut authors count because without them my list would be much shorter and you all know how I like to make long lists!

1. This year I discovered A.S. King when I read Please Ignore Vera Dietz. I definitely plan to read the rest of her works! I think I will work my way backwards and start with Ask the Passengers.

please ignore vera dietz

2. This 2012 debut author is certainly new to me, but I plan on us being BFFs for a long time. I LOVED Melissa Meyer‘s Cinder.

cinder

3. The first book in Katie Alender‘s Bad Girls Don’t Die series hooked me…and yet I have still not finished the other books. Shame on me!

bad girls don't die

4. Another new-to-me author is Patrick NessThe Knife of Never Letting Go was such an amazing read. I really need to get on the rest of the series.

knife of neve

5. Ilsa Bick may be best know for her Star Trek novels (totally not my thing), but I discovered her this year when I picked up her 2011 novel,  Ashes. Wowza! I have Shadows waiting for me at home. Must. Read. Faster.

ashes

6. Barry Lyga has been writing YA novels for years, but I just “discovered” him this year when I read was I Hunt Killers. Love. Can’t wait for Game. Must have now. While I wait for it to be April, 2013 I should go back and read his other books.

i hunt killers

7. I can’t stop recommending this charming and hilarious middle-grade novel by Christopher Healy. Seriously, do yourself a favor and read The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. Again, April 2013 can’t get here soon enough. The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle? Yes, please.

hero's guide

8. I had a rocky relationship with Laini Taylor‘s The Daughter of Smoke and Bone. When everyone else was gushing about Karou and Akiva way back in 2011 I was like, meh. Oh thank goodness for awesome audiobooks. This year I discovered the amazingness that is Laini Taylor!

daughter of smoke

9. I finally got around to reading Lish McBride‘s 2010 debut,  Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (followed immediately by the 2012 sequel, Necromancing the Stone). I now ask myself two questions. 1. Why in the world did I wait so long to read this crazy-fun book? 2. When will there be more?

hold me

10. Megan McCafferty‘s Jessica Darling is the darling of YA and I finally know why. Sloppy Firsts is adorable and I will be working my way through the rest of the series.

sloppy

This would not be a typical Top Ten list if it didn’t include at least 12 items. The following bonus new-to-me authors are also 2012 debuts and I want more from them. Preferably right now.

11. Huntley Fitzpatrick‘s My Life Next Door is my new favorite YA romance. Remember all the buzz and excitement about Anna and the French Kiss? Right. Well MLND is this year’s Anna. Totally.

my life

12. The writing team of Martin Leicht and Ilsa Neal gave me the gift that is Mothership this year. I am eternally grateful and eagerly await more. Do yourself a favor and check out this campy gem.

mothership

What new-to-you authors did you enjoy this year?

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Mondays With Megan: Critter Christmas, Puppy Love, and What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday! Did everyone have a good weekend? I sure did. Saturday was the Critter Christmas Party sponsored by Rocky River Public Library to benefit the Cleveland Animal Protective League. This was my first animal program at the library and I really had no idea what to expect. I am so excited to report that the day was HUGE success! APL staff and volunteers brought four dogs and four kitten to the library for a day of cuddles, crafts, and adoptions. Over 90 people stopped in to say hello, make crafts, and drop off gifts for the animals! Two of the dogs found forever families and a third guy stole my heart and will hopefully be mine soon. The animals that went back to the APL took bags of food, treats, and toys with them to share with their friends. This event was so easy and inexpensive to put on and I hope to see it become an annual event here at the library. My crafts were a hit among people and pets alike. For the cats we made a simple toy out of pipe cleaners and jingle bells (attach a bell to one end of the pipe cleaner and then wrap it around a pencil to make a curly cue shape). The kittens on hand loved them! The dogs got snacks. The day before I whipped up a quick batch of No-Bake Peanut Butter Treats (1 c. natural peanut butter, 3 c. quick oats, and 1/2 c. milk) which were rolled into bite-sized balls and gift wrapped in foil. They were a tasty favorite!

In other news, I FINALLY finished A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin and quite frankly, I find it a little distressing and uncomfortable not having another one to snatch up. On the bright side, I am now able to zip through my enormous TBR list and maybe even meet my reading goal. Maybe. Let’s check in with Book Journey and Teach Mentor Texts with the past week’s progress.

It’s Monday! What Are You  Reading?

mondayreading Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Finished:

interview with vampire fables werewolf dance meant to be mouse guard

In the Car: I will finish Viva Jacquelina! by L.A. Meyer today. Up next is Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick.

viva finale

Currently Reading: Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich and The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

hard eight westing game

Walking the Dog: The weirdest book ever. Contest by Matthew Reilly. So weird.

contest

This week’s hopefuls: Bloody Prophecy by Alyxandra Harvey, Undead by Kristy McKay, and a handful of graphic novels.

blood prophecy undead

Only twenty books to go to make my goal. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can….

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Top Ten Tuesday-Dear Santa, I Would Not Mind Finding These Books Under My Tree

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is one big Dear Santa letter. I like to think big when it comes to Santa. I mean, he’s all about magic, right? I am sure he will have no problem squeezing these ten little gifts onto his sleigh. Also, I am totally ok with taking a rain check. Get all the prezzies to the good little boys and girls and swing by my place later. December 26 works for me. Here’s my Santa wish list:

1. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. I have read them all and would love to own them. You know, for when my nephews come hang out.

2. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. I used to have a complete set, but I am missing pieces. The books that are gone have been loaned out and not returned and I am fine with that, but I think it’s time to rebuild my collection. Santa could help with that!

3. Goliath by Scott Westerfeld. I have Leviathan and Behemoth. They are sad and lonely with out Goliath.

4. The Map of Time and The Map of the Sky by Felix Palma. I have been meaning to read these books ever since I saw them at the library. The covers are gorgeous and Scott Westerfeld blurbed them. I even have reliable confirmation from my friend that they are awesome. Maybe I should have them permanently at my house. What do you say, Santa?

5. Endlessly by Kiersten White. See #3. Paranormalcy and Supernaturally are so lonely on my shelf.

6. The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness. I have read the first book in the series and really want to finish the second and third books. Maybe if they were handy at home…

7. A Little House Christmas: Holiday Stories from the Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It is Christmas, after all and this is one of my favorite Christmas books.

8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Why don’t I already own this one?

9. Elemental by Antony John. It’s no secret that I have a little author crush on Antony John. I mean, how could I not? His books are wonderful and he is such a nice guy. But anyway. I really need his new book.

elemental

10. Fables by Bill Willingham. I want to own them. And read them over and over. And since I am being greedy, dear Santa, can I have the hard cover volumes, please?

fables

One last thing and it is not a book, but I MUST own them.

firefly

Thanks, you’re the best Santa!

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Mondays With Megan-Hello, December!

I won’t bore you with all my vacation details, I promise. But maybe just a few highlights? I had a relaxing week hanging out at my sister’s 36 acre ranch, feeding chickens (and for a few days one poor turkey…), bribing horses, cuddling with a pack of dogs, and generally being lazy. Except for when we were outside exploring. We even attempted some Black Friday shopping, but apparently the shop keepers of Red Lodge, MT didn’t get the memo that is was the biggest shopping day of the year. The first store we stopped at was closed-at 9:45 am! I even managed to get some reading done. A good time was had by all (except for  the turkey, but he sure was tasty). How about one picture? Pretty horse, pretty snow.

rojo

This is just one of the many reasons why I am way behind in my reading and probably won’t make my goal of 200 books this year. I still have a few weeks and  I am trying! Let’s check in with Book Journey and Teach Mentor Texts and see what everyone is working on this week.

mondayreading Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Finished:

 amulet dash and lily this is howsloppy

I really enjoyed Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan and Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty! I am sure I will eventually continue listening to The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathon Stroud, but I have to move on to other more pressing books on cd…Jacky Faber!

Currently Reading:

In the car: Viva Jacquelina! by L.A. Meyer. Hurray for Jacky’s tenth adventure!

viva

On the Nook: A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin. I cannot believe I am still reading this one. Seriously. I need to focus!

dance

On the night stand: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill. I just started this one, but it appears that it is going to be an opposites attract sort of rom-com.

meant to be

I also have a few items that I am just sort of putzing around with. You know, those books that are just there, always within reach, but you’re not fully committed to. Anyone else have those? Anyway. I do.

alice hard eight

Happy Reading!

˜Megan