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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: A Hint of Frost

Title: A Hint of Frost
Author: Hailey Edwards
Page Count: 193 pages
Publisher: Samhain
Genre: fantasy romance, first in a series
Copy for review was purchased by me

Hope dangles by a silken thread.
Araneae Nation, Book 1

When the head of the Araneidae clan is found poisoned in her nest, her eldest daughter, Lourdes, becomes their clan’s new maven. If her clan is to survive, she has but one choice: she must marry before her nest is seized. All she needs is a warrior fierce enough to protect her city and safeguard her clansmen. Such a male is Rhys the Cold.

Born the youngest son of an impoverished maven, the only things Rhys has to his name are his sword and his mercenary reputation. His clan is starving, but their fondness for the flesh of fellow Araneaeans makes them unwelcome dinner guests. Torn between loyalty to his clan and fascination with his future bride, Rhys’s first taste of Lourdes threatens to melt the cold encasing his heart.

Amid the chaos of battle, Lourdes’s sister disappears and is feared captured. Lourdes and Rhys pursue their enemies into the southlands, where they discover an odd plague ravaging southern clans as it travels north, to Erania. Determined to survive, Lourdes will discover whether she’s worth her silk or if she’s spun the thread by which her clan will hang.

Warning: This book contains one mercenary hero with a biting fetish, one determined heroine who gets nibbled, and an answer to the age-old question, “What does dragon taste like?” Matricide and sibling rivalry are available upon request. The house special is revenge, best served cold.

This book was absolutely amazing to read. I had heard great things about it from other reviews and the premise grabbed me right away, and it took having some free time over the holiday weekend for me to sit down and read. I'm so glad I did! If you love fantasy romance and if you're looking for something that's definitely not the same old same old, look no further than this.

I should mention, though, that if you have a thing against spiders, be prepared to have your paradigms adjusted. The elements of silk weaving and the people in the book having such spider like characteristics was super unique, but it meets you right at the front door, so to speak.

Anyway, where do I even start in talking about the fun I had while reading this book? The setting is as good a place to start as any- it's lush and vivid, with just enough detail to grab your attention and keep you salivating for more. I freely admit that there could have been another hundred pages just of world building and background on all the different clans in the world of this story and I would have gobbled it right up.

The characters, too, are dynamic and engaging. The use of first person narrative here was an excellent choice, as we got a really good sense of Lourdes and her motivations for doing things. She's a heroine whom I absolutely love- she makes a decision and goes with it and doesn't dither or apologize unless she's genuinely wrong. She does what she thinks is right and is guided by her strong principles. She also doesn't hide from things that are right in front of her face- like her feelings for Rhys.

As a partner to Lourdes, we couldn't have gotten a better hero than Rhys. He's deep and has a lot going on, and he's so enamored with Lourdes from the first moment he meets her. It's very sweet. He doesn't think Lourdes will really care for him, and when he realizes she does, he's overwhelmed. Alpha without asshole. It's nice!

I love the tone and banter of writing and between the characters as well. Take this exchange between Rhys and Vaughn, his brother:
Vaughn stifled a yawn. “Is there a point to this bedtime story?”

Rhys picked the fork from Vaughn’s plate and drove it into his brother’s thigh. “There. I’ve made four points for him.” He yanked it free. “Show him respect or I’ll make four more.”

Vaughn spoke through clenched teeth. “A warning would have sufficed.”
Speaking of Vaughn, he's an interesting character too, and one I hope we learn more about in future books.

I could seriously go on and on about this book and how much I enjoyed it.  I'm a definite fan of this series now and will be reading the next book when it comes out.  I highly recommend making room for this book in your summer reading schedule- it's one of my favorites of 2012 so far.

Overall Rating:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Two Audiobooks: Death on the Nile and Evil Under the Sun

I hope everyone is having a fantastic holiday weekend! I'm traveling this weekend which involves a lot of time sitting in airports. That coupled with the fact that the end of the school year is seriously kicking my butt makes it an excellent time to listen to audiobooks. I've been on a huge Agatha Christie kick lately, between my audiobooks and the Poirot movie series. My dearly beloved jokes that I've heard David Suchet (the guy that plays Poirot in the movies and also is the narrator of these two audiobooks) talking more than I've talked to him! Audible is full of excellent renditions of Christie classics, so between that and other series I'd like to get as audiobooks I'd say my credits are well spoken for.

Here's what I've been listening to lately:

Death on the Nile- the version shown here isn't the exact version, as this one is full cast and in my version, David Suchet narrates the entire story, but this is still a good story nonetheless.  It's one of the ones where there are definite acts to the story, with different locations and events and lots of red herrings for everybody.  The main event happens as Poirot and the rest of the cast are cruising up the Nile and then the body count starts piling up.  I've read this as a print book before so I knew who the murderer was and how all the plot pieces fit together in the end, but it's still fun to see the events unfold and to follow along.  I listened to this one while trudging through a mountain of work paperwork and it made the whole experience much more fun.  Gotta love it!

My second book for this post, Evil Under the Sun, got me throguh my flight delay on Friday and was a great way to spend my traveling time before I got to my destination.  In terms of the overall timeline, this book happens after Death on the Nile and the events of that story are referenced briefly in the beginning of this one.  There are some similar plot elements between the two, particularly when you get down to who the killer actually is here and what their motives are.  I had seen the movie adaptation of this one and vaguely remembered some of the details so it was a lot of fun getting reacquainted.  When it was all said and done this ended up being one of my favorite Poirot mysteries.

Now I have to decide what I'd like to listen to next!  I have a bunch of other titles waiting in the wings, especially from past sales at Audible, but I also get to pick a new book soon with my monthly credit.  Any recommendations?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Sites I Read that AREN'T About Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

Believe it or not, it was pretty hard for me to come up with ten sites that I visit regularly that don't in some way pertain to books. I know they exist, but actually pulling the names out of my memory took a second. Especially in light of *yet another* round of blog drama going on right now, it's nice to have some other things to read. Just saying.

Anyway, on to the list! Notwithstanding Facebook and the Angel site for my class and my work email and junk like that, here are...

Top Ten Sites I Visit That AREN'T Book Related (In No Particular Order)

1. Feeling Stitchy- I love needlework and embroidery and the pictures on Feeling Stitchy are always so inspiring and beautiful.

2. and 3. XKCD and Questionable Content- my two favorite comics.

4. The Worst Things for Sale- Drew from Toothpaste for Dinner brings us the most horrible things ever to be vomited out of the internet that we can purchase for ourselves if we are silly enough to want to do that.

5. Pinterest- Pinterest is actually a good way for me to recharge my batteries because it combines a lot of my favorite things in one place- cooking, craft projects, neat ideas for activities for my classroom, visually appealing stuff.

6. Design Seeds- I could look at these little color swatches and corresponding photos forever.

7. Bakerella- Mmmm cake. And other things.

8. Foodgawker- If you find yourself in need of new food/cooking blogs to follow, look no further. Yum.

9. BoingBoing- There's always so much to see here that I end up with a massive starred folder to go through later. Life is rough.

10. Hyperbole and a Half- Although it hasn't been updated lately since the author has a book coming out, this is one of my favorite places to go to read funny things. How Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas is now a family tradition for us.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, May 21, 2012

This Just In: SYNC Has 20 Audiobooks for You!

Major props to Ms. Martin Teaches Media for posting about this!

Sync is a project that aims to get audiobooks into the hands of listeners, especially students, and also emphasizes that required summer reading doesn't have to be done with a print book- you could do it with an audiobook instead! To that end, for ten weeks this summer, Sync will have one YA book paired with one "classic" book to download for FREE! Here are all the details, according to the press kit:

SYNC YA Literature into Your Earphones

2 Free Audiobook Downloads Each Week
June 14 - August 22, 2012

Teens and other readers of Young Adult Literature will have the opportunity to listen to bestselling titles and required reading classics this summer. Each week from June 14 - August 22, 2012, SYNC will offer two free audiobook downloads.

The audiobook pairings will include a popular YA title and a classic that connects with the YA title's theme and is likely to show up on a student's summer reading lists. For example, Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone, the first book in a new series about a girl who opens a door to two otherworldly cities at war, will be paired with Charles Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities.

To find out when you can download titles to listen to on the run this summer, visit www.AudiobookSync.com or text syncya to 25827.

SYNC Titles
Summer 2012

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch, Read by Dan Bittner (Scholastic Audiobooks)
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Frank Galati [Adapt.], Read by Shirley Knight, Jeffrey Donovan, and a Full Cast (L.A. Theatre Works)

Irises by Francisco X. Stork, Read by Carrington MacDuffie (Listening Library)
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, Read by Wanda McCaddon (Tantor Media)

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud, Read by Simon Jones
(Listening Library)
Tales from the Arabian Nights by Andrew Lang, Read by Toby Stephens
(Naxos AudioBooks)

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, Read by August Ross (AudioGO)
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, Read by Ian Holm (AudioGO)

Guys Read: Funny Business by Jon Scieszka [Ed.] et al., Read by Michael Boatman, Kate DiCamillo, John Keating, Jon Scieszka, Bronson Pinchot (Harper Audio)
The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Stories by Mark Twain, Read by Norman Dietz (Recorded Books)

Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter, Read by Kirsten Potter (Oasis Audio)
Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare, Read by a Full Cast (AudioGO)

Pinned by Alfred C. Martino, Read by Mark Shanahan (Listen & Live Audio)
Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson (Brilliance Audio)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Read by Khristine Hvam (Hachette Audio)
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Read by Simon Prebble (Blackstone Audio)

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, Read by Rupert Degas (Harper Audio)
Dead Men Kill by L. Ron Hubbard, Read by Jennifer Aspen and a Full Cast
(Galaxy Press)

The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera, Read by Jay Laga'aia (Bolinda Audio)
The Call of the Wild by Jack London, Read by William Roberts (Naxos AudioBooks)

I'm already signed up to receive text alerts and am looking forward to scoring some seriously awesome free audiobooks!  Check out the website to sign up for email or text alerts and to read up on all the titles being offered this summer.  I can't wait!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

You've Lost That Loving Feeling...

Hello friends!  It's been awhile since my last bloggy confession, and while lots of things have been going on since my last post, reading hasn't really been one of them.  I'm trying to read some more nonfiction and so I've been taking a little bit more time to get through books in order to make sure I don't miss anything.  I've also got a bunch of audiobooks going and am enjoying them all, but I just need to hunker down and finish them!

I confess that blogging has not really had much appeal lately.  I always enjoy reading other people's reviews and comments and discussions but lately I haven't really been motivated to generate much content of my own, as the space between reviews no doubt indicates.  I blame a lot of this on recent drama in Mudville, and I won't rehash it here because UGH, but when my time is so limited to begin with it seemed like other things would be a better use of it.

This happens to me periodically, and I usually get my groove back sooner or later- I anticipate the end of the school year will help me out in that department.  Summer also means that my two big anticipated reads of 2012- Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh and Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews- will be released and that I will be hitting the beach with excellent books in tow.  This summer I really want to use my beach time to catch up on and revisit series that I really love- the Dark Hunter series, the Pink Carnation series, Pendergast, Harry Potter, the Charles Lenox mysteries, and so many others- so it should be a good summer indeed.  We only have five weeks of school left so the break is very close!  Even though I teach summer school I find that my time and motivation for reading definitely increases over the summer.

What are you all up to?  What's the last great book you've read? What are you reading now?
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