Friday, August 5, 2016

Jen, Moriah, and Ambur's Excellent Read-a-long Adventures: THE ROSE & THE DAGGER - Review & Playlist!

Hello, hello! 

Sooo....I've been a pretty bad blogger lately, and I haven't been posting at all this summer, but today I have an extra awesome post to share!! Jen, Moriah, and I have continued our read-a-long adventures with the sequel to The Wrath & the Dawn, THE ROSE & THE DAGGER! We decided that for this one we would share our reviews and also our own fanmade playlists with however many songs we wanted that reminded us of THE ROSE & THE DAGGER!

So...let's get straight to it! 

(The Wrath & The Dawn #2)
by Renée Ahdieh

Source: Borrowed from the library.
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Number of Pages: 416 (Hardcover)

Description from Goodreads:

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.


I absolutely LOVED the first book in this duology, THE WRATH & THE DAWN, so I was extremely eager to pick up THE ROSE & THE DAGGER! I was hoping for vibrant prose, excellent characterization, and some seriously high-stake situations similar to the first book and Renée Ahdieh didn't disappoint!

THE ROSE & THE DAGGER was just as magical, and amazing as the first book⎯I really didn't want it to end! It was exactly what I could have hoped for, but I definitely wouldn't have minded if it were longer. I don't think I can ever get enough of Shazi, Khalid, Jalal, and Despina! As soon as I started reading, I didn't want to put it down and I was so glad to be back in the wonderful world that Renée Ahdieh created!

This book begins just slightly after THE WRATH & THE DAWN left off, and the rapid pace Ahdieh established in the first book just keeps going! I loved seeing both Shazi and Khalid grow in their own parts of the story, but I loved when they worked together even more. I ship those two so much! AS always, I love how feisty and strong Shazi is. She never faiths to make me grin like a madwoman with her witty and quick remarks...and I really loved seeing Khalid come into his role! I also loved seeing him interact with more of the characters. While the first book is pretty much confined to the palace in Rey, THE ROSE & THE DAGGER expands over a much larger area. Jalal and Despina are still my favourite secondary characters in this duology, but I also really loved getting to see Shazi's sister, Irsa, in THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER! She didn't have much of a role in the first book, but in this one, she really comes into her own!

Sequels are always a bit tough to review because I don't want to spoil anything, so I'm being rather vague, but just know that I loved this book! I loved the characters, the story, the magical elements, the little tie-ins with One Thousand and One Nights, and the writing itself! I absolutely adore Renée Ahdieh's writing style, and her characterization is wonderfully dynamic⎯even amidst her minor characters, there isn't a flat character in the whole bunch!

Overall, I absolutely loved both THE WRATH & THE DAWN, and THE ROSE & THE DAGGER! This is one duology where both books equally pack an absolutely epic punch, and the ending will leave you satisfied...but possibly also eager for more, just like me!


1. "A Whole New World" - Aladdin Soundtrack (Disney)

I just simply couldn't resist putting this song on my's ridiculous yes, but I honestly kept singing it in my head throughout several parts of the book. Once you read it, I'm sure you'll know the parts I mean. hahah


2. "Icarus" - Bastille (from All This Bad Blood)

I'm a HUGE Bastille fan, so I pretty much adore all of their songs. "Icarus" is a particular fave of mine, and it definitely reminded me of one of Shazi's stories, so when I was thinking of a playlist for THE ROSE & THE DAGGER, this song immediately came to mind.


3. "Demons" - Imagine Dragons (from Night Visions - Deluxe Edition)

Imagine Dragons is another of my favourite artists, and I think "Demons" is pretty much the PERFECT song to describe Khalid and the complexities in his past which have led him to the path that he's been on before he met Shazi. Want to know more about those demons? Well, my lips are sealed, you'll have to read the books to find out. ;) haha


4."Treacherous" - Taylor Swift (from Red - Deluxe Edition)

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a big Taylor Swift fangirl, too. haha Anytime I think of romance in books, I tend to think of T-Swift songs, but I think this song is extremely fitting for Shazi and Khalid. Their love really is treacherous...and I love that. Take out the modernizations in this song, and this song is even more perfect! :D


5."All of the Stars" - Ed Sheeran (from x - Deluxe Edition)

Ah, Ed Sheeran. I really just CANNOT make a playlist without an Ed song, and I think that this song is another one that fits well with Shazi and Khalid.


6. "Strange Magic" - Darren Hayes (from Ella Enchanted Soundtrack)

This is another one of my silly picks for my playlist. There's a bit of magic going on in this duology, and I thought that "Strange Magic" added a nice levity to those scenes.


7. "Haven't Met You Yet" - Michael Bublé (from Crazy Love)

 This song totally reminds me of Jalal and Despina....I can totally picture Jalal singing this song before he met her, and after I think he would change the words to "Hadn't met you yet"...he's such a charmer that I just know he'd totally pull something like that. ;D


8.  "Let Her Go" - Passenger (from All the Little Lights)

 Another song that reminds me of Jalal. That's all I'll say because I don't want to give away any spoilers. ;)


9. "She Is" - The Fray (from How to Save a Life)

I feel like this song completely embodies how Khalid feels about Shazi...and just listening to this song with them in mind gives me ALL the feels!!!


10. "Teardrop" - Newton Faulkner (from Hand Built by Robots)

This happens to be one of my absolute favourite songs about love. It's a song with simple lyrics, but it never fails to make me smile and to move me, so I'd just apply this song to all of the couples in this books, but it definitely reminds me of Irsa's storyline the most. :)


11. "Brave" - Tawgs Salter (from The Vampire Diaries soundtrack)

This is also one of those songs that I just love so freaking much, so I pretty much think of it whenever I want to make a playlist, so I may be biased, but I think it fits, too. Again, this one is perfect for Irsa⎯it's all about being brave, especially in love.


12. "Heart Like Yours" - Willamette Stone (from If I Stay Soundtrack)

First, I really wish Willamette Stone was a real band...their songs are my favourites on the If I Stay soundtrack, and second, this song is PERFECT for Khalid! I think it really embodies his feelings for Shazi. :)

Listen to my playlist on 8tracks, here:

Don't forget to check out Jen's (The Book-Nook) and Moriah's (Feel Your Books) posts, too! 

What do you think?
Have you read THE WRATH & THE DAWN and THE ROSE & THE DAGGER yet?
If not, do you want to?

And what did you think of my playlist?
Do you have any songs that you'd add to a playlist for either/both books in THE WRATH & THE DAWN duology?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Release Day: DEFENDING TAYLOR by Miranda Kenneally!

Woo hoo!! 

Happy Book Birthday to Miranda Kenneally!
Today's the release day for DEFENDING TAYLOR!

Defending Taylor
By Miranda Kenneally
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Praise for Defending Taylor

“I can’t quite put my finger on what is so enthralling about Kenneally’s newest novel, but it totally sucked me in. I loved that Kenneally didn’t go with an easy, traditional happy-go-lucky ending. I also enjoyed the flawed nature of the characters, which made them feel more relatable. This is a great summer read and my favorite novel by Kenneally so far!”
RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars


There are no mistakes in love.
Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision—one lie to cover for her boyfriend—and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?
Buy Links (The Defending Taylor e-book includes an exclusive bonus story with Jordan and Henry from Catching Jordan!) : Amazon | Apple | B&N | BooksAMillion | !ndigo | Indiebound

About the Author:
Growing up in Tennessee, MIRANDA KENNEALLY dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband. Visit

Social Media Links: Website | Twitter | Instagram

Excerpt from Defending Taylor:
I now understand culture shock: it’s me experiencing Hundred Oaks High for the first time.
A lot of kids go here. Five hundred? A thousand? There are so many I can’t tell. At St. Andrew’s, there were only forty kids in my entire class. We lived on a calm, sprawling, green campus. Walking down the halls of Hundred Oaks feels like last-­minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall.
Two guys wearing football jerseys are throwing a ball back and forth. It whizzes by my ear. A suspender-­clad male teacher is hanging a poster for the science fair, while a couple is making out against the wall next to the fire alarm. If they move another inch, they’ll set off the sprinklers. At St. Andrew’s, kissing in the hall was an über no-­no. We snuck under the staircase or went out into the woods. Ben and I did that all the time.
Thinking of him makes me stop moving. I shut my eyes. Dating Ben was stupid. Going into the woods with him was stupid. Thinking about what happened makes me so mad, I want to rip that newly hung science fair poster off the wall and tear it apart.
A boy shoves past me, slamming my arm with his backpack. That’s what I get for loitering in the middle of the hallway with my eyes closed. He looks me up and down. “You coming to Rutledge Falls this afternoon?”
“Paul Simmons challenged Nolan Chase to a fight. Rutledge Falls. Three o’clock. Don’t tell the cops.”
A fight? Where the hell am I? Westeros?
A girl bumps into my side. “Watch it!” Flashing me a dirty look, she disappears into a classroom with a group of friends, chattering away.
Seeing those girls together reminds me of my best friends, Steph and Madison. Right now, they’re probably gossiping before trig starts. I miss Steph’s cool British accent and Madison’s cheerful laugh.
I take a deep, rattled breath. And then another. I feel trapped, like the time I got locked in my grandpa’s garage and no one found me for an hour and I banged on the windows until my fists turned purple from bruises.
I can’t believe I had to leave my school. My home.
All because I made one stupid decision.
I check my schedule. My first class is calculus 1, the most advanced math course Hundred Oaks offers. Just a week ago, I was taking an advanced calculus quiz at the University of the South. St. Andrew’s is one of the best prep schools in the country, and they offer seniors the opportunity to take courses at the university, which is up the road. Even though I was still in high school, the professors treated me just like a college kid. I was only in the course for two weeks, but still. It was insanely difficult. The truth is, unlike everybody else in my family, I hate math. I have to work at it harder than anything else in my life.
But if I didn’t take college calc, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t get into an Ivy League school. I need to go to a top-tier school because that’s what people in my family do. My father attended Yale, and my sister Jenna is there now. According to Dad, my brother Oliver—­Jenna’s twin—­is a traitor for going to Princeton, but I think Dad respects him for having the balls to make his own decision.
When Dad called me into his home office last night, he barely looked at me as he pored over my new schedule. The silence was killing me.
“I don’t know how Yale will still consider me if I’m not taking all AP courses,” I said. “Hundred Oaks only offers AP chemistry.”
Dad sighed, took off his glasses, and set down my schedule. “I’m incredibly disappointed in you, Taylor.”
I looked him straight in the eyes. His quiet restraint worried me. I’d never seen him so upset.
But I was upset too. He rarely had time to call me when I was away at school, but he could spare a few minutes to comment on my one screwup? After how hard I’ve always worked?
Over the years, I’ve done hours of homework every night. I had a 4.2 GPA at St. Andrew’s. A 1520 SAT score. I was on track to be valedictorian. I was captain of the soccer team and on the debate team. I did everything I could to show Yale that I worked hard. That I am a unique individual. Because that’s what Yale wants.
But my one misstep has muddied my glowing record.
Dad ended our conversation with a death knell.
“Tee, I gave you all the tools you needed to succeed,” he said. “I’ve paid for your private school education since first grade, and you squandered it by getting kicked out.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, my face burning. “I’m going to keep working hard at Hundred Oaks though.”
“You’re damn right you will.”
My father had me so flustered, I wasn’t thinking straight when I said, “Maybe Yale will still take me because of who I am.”
“You mean because of who I am.” Dad rubbed his eyes. “I’ve always taught you kids the importance of integrity, and the minute you got into trouble, instead of owning it, you called me to bail you out. And now you’re doing it again. Using my name to try to get ahead.”
I hung my head. “I’m sorry, Dad.”
“I love you more than anything, but you have to take responsibility for what you did. You’ll have to figure college out on your own.”
“What does that mean?” I asked slowly.
“It means I’m not lifting a finger. I won’t be calling the alumni association or the school president to put in a good word for you.”
“But didn’t you do that for Jenna and Oliver?” I blurted.
He put his glasses back on. “You need to own up, Tee.”
So here I am, glancing around the unfamiliar halls of Hundred Oaks. The school is neat and orderly, but it doesn’t look completely clean, like no matter how hard you scrub, it still looks old. At least it’s not juvie.
I step into my math class, which is already filled with kids. I choose an empty seat at a wobbly wooden desk and stare out the window at the sunny, seventy-­degree September day. I bet at St. Andrew’s, my world politics teacher is telling my friends, “Gather your books. It’s a beautiful day out. Let’s have class in one of the gardens.”
I check out the problem set on the whiteboard. I could do this level of math years ago…
My former guidance counselor told me that colleges look for trends in our GPA and activities over four years of high school. So that means when colleges see my application, they will see:
      I’m taking easier classes;
      I’m no longer doing debate;
      I’ve lost my soccer captainship this year; and
      I was expelled.
I have never simply given up when calculus got a lot tougher or an opponent ran faster than me on the soccer field. So I refuse to believe my entire future is over because of one mistake.
I just need to figure out how to move forward.


Enter to win 1 of 2 Copies of Defending Taylor
Runs July 1-July 30 (US & Canada only)

I'm a HUGE Miranda Kenneally fan and I love her Hundred Oaks series, so her release days always get me super excited! Any other Miranda fans out there?

And what did you think of that excerpt?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Review: DINNER WITH EDWARD by Isabel Vincent

Source: Received an ARC through work. All opinions are my own.
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Number of Pages: 224 (Hardcover)

Description from Goodreads:
“I loved every moment of this book . . . Everyone deserves their own Edward--and everyone deserves to read this book.” —Susannah Cahalan, bestselling author of Brain on Fire

When Isabel meets Edward, both are at a crossroads: he wants to follow his late wife to the grave, and she is ready to give up on love. Thinking she is merely helping Edward’s daughter--who lives far away and has asked her to check in on her nonagenarian dad in New York--Isabel has no idea that the man in the kitchen baking the sublime roast chicken and light-as-air apricot soufflé will end up changing her life.

As Edward and Isabel meet weekly for the glorious dinners that Edward prepares, he shares so much more than his recipes for apple galette or the perfect martini, or even his tips for deboning poultry. Edward is teaching Isabel the luxury of slowing down and taking the time to think through everything she does, to deconstruct her own life, cutting it back to the bone and examining the guts, no matter how messy that proves to be.

Dinner with Edward is a book about love and nourishment, and about how dinner with a friend can, in the words of M. F. K. Fisher, “sustain us against the hungers of the world.”

“A rare, beautifully crafted memoir that leaves you exhilarated and wanting to live this way. Edward is a marvel of resilience and dignity, and Vincent shows us that the ceremony of food is really a metaphor for love. The key is to live your life generously.” —Rosemary Sullivan, author of Stalin’s Daughter

“Isabel Vincent delves deeply into matters of the kitchen and the heart with equal and unabashed passion . . . Rich with description of meals savored, losses grieved, and moments cherished, it’s at once tender, revealing, and utterly enchanting!” —*Gail Simmons, judge on Bravo’s Top Chef and author of Talking with My Mouth Full  

“One of the most stylish and emotional works of nonfiction I have ever read. I savored every page.” —Bob Colacello, author Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up

“Although the food (I am partial to the roast chicken, lovingly described) is excellent, it is the charming and effortlessly wise company that makes this sweet read
a charming way to pass a day.” —George Hodgman, New York Times bestselling author of Bettyville

“Delightfully combining the warm-heartedness of Tuesdays with Morrie with the sensual splendor of Julie and Julia. This is a memoir to treasure.” Booklist, starred review

I rarely read nonfiction, but sometimes I can't resist a great sounding story. Usually I go for travel narratives, but I loved the sound of DINNER WITH EDWARD and couldn't resist giving it a shot. I ended up absolutely adoring DINNER WITH EDWARD, and it actually blew me away how much I loved it!!!

I loved reading about how Isabel's life changed during the time she spent getting to know Edward and I also thought that it was wonderful getting to know Edward through Isabel's narrative. He imparted so much wisdom and even reading about his amazing cooking skills made me marvel...I can't even imagine how scrumptious everything he made tasted!!!

The writing was fabulous, and the story itself was inspiring and uplifting. I may not be able to fully relate to all of Isabel's struggles because I simply haven't experienced all that she has yet, but I still loved reading about her dinners with Edward and I found both her commentary and Edward's advice to be extremely encouraging.

I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open for more nonfiction after reading DINNER WITH EDWARD! I've been missing out! I think that this is the perfect nonfiction title to appeal to readers who like inspiring stories, but don't necessarily regularly read nonfiction, and I wholeheartedly recommend it! 

What do you think?

Does DINNER WITH EDWARD sound like something you'd enjoy?

And when was the last time you read a book in a genre you don't normally read that surprised you?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Review: UNDONE by Katey Wolfe (a.k.a. Kelley Armstrong)

Source: Received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: June 21, 2016

Description from Goodreads:
 Microbiology student Jess Devereaux is a girl with a plan — shake loose from her stalker ex, gain independence from her over-controlling family and, most important for her immediate happiness, seduce her sexy shooting instructor into the wild, no-strings-attached fling she’s been dreaming of.

Gun-club owner Declan Cavanagh is a guy with a plan — do whatever it takes to gain custody of his young half-brother from his violent stepfather, even if it means making cash fast in the bloody cage matches he thought he’d left behind. And he’s been doing some dreaming of his own about sweet, smart, sultry Jess.

When Jess finds herself in danger, Declan decides what she really needs is a bodyguard. Jess is determined to put aside her seduction plan and treat him like the professional he is. Which is not what Declan wants at all.


When I saw that Kelley Armstrong had posted that she was going to be releasing UNDONE, her first contemporary book in the New Adult genre, I jumped at the chance to read it. I'm a huge Kelley fan and I'm always interested in seeing what she comes up with next, and I was extremely happy and satisfied with UNDONE

UNDONE is a little bit different from Kelley's previous books. She's written it under the penname "Katey Wolfe" so that fans won't be surprised that it's so different than her other books. It's her first contemporary, her first new adult, and definitely the most explicit of her books. While her other books have sex, and quite a few of them have even more sex than UNDONE does, UNDONE is a lot more detailed...there's definitely no fade-to-black or vague detail here. It may be a little different than her other books, but I think Kelley has done a splendid job. I was completely wrapped up in Jess and Declan's story, and I was one-hundred percent invested in their relationship...loved it!

Even though the genre is different, there are still parts of UNDONE that make it quintessentially a Kelley book. If you're a Kelley Armstrong fan, you've likely come to love her strong, snarky and smart female leads, so you'll definitely enjoy Jess. She's as smart as they come, and while she is relatively naive in some ways, she is definitely prepared to take care of herself. She does tend to underestimate herself a bit, but she's quick to learn and to admit she's wrong, and I really loved her as a character. Kelley also writes some of the sexiest leading men, too, and Declan is no exception. He's strong, yet sweet and determined to protect Jess...he's also incredibly sexy. ;) One of the best parts...these two actually communicate about things!! They might overreact at times, but they actually use their heads...and their words, which is something I absolutely LOVE to see in romances! :D

The story itself is super fast-paced, and I didn't want to put down, so I just flew right through it. It's a pretty dramatic story with a stalker ex-boyfriend, cage-fighting, and a bit of mystery all thrown in, but the budding romance is really what's at the centre of the story, and I definitely loved every moment of it! 

I'd recommend UNDONE to contemporary fans who like their romances with a bit of heat, and I really do think that Kelley Armstrong fans will love it...just don't expect werewolves or other paranormal bits because you won't find them here. :P

What do you think?
Does UNDONE sound like a book you'd like?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Blog Tour Review: THE RULE BOOK by Jennifer Blackwood

by: Jennifer Blackwood
Rule Breakers #1
Publication Date: May 9, 2016
Genre: Adult, New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Entangled Embrace


Starr Media Second-Assistant Survival Guide

1. Don't call your hot boss the antichrist to his face.

2. Don't stare at hot boss's, um, package or his full sleeve of tattoos. (No. Really. Stop!)

3. Don't get on the malicious first assistant's bad side.

4. Don't forget to memorize the 300-page employee manual.

5. If you value your cashmere, steer clear of boss’s dog.

6. Boss’s dimples are lust-inducing. Do. Not. Give. In.

7. “The elevator ate your clothes” is not a valid excuse for showing up to important meetings half dressed.

8. Don't break seven of the rules within the first week of employment if you, ya know, are in dire need of money to support your sick mom.

9. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the boss. See rule eight about sick mom.

10. Never forget the rules.


Jennifer Blackwood is an English teacher and contemporary romance author. She lives in Oregon with her husband, son, and poorly behaved black lab puppy. When not chasing after her toddler, you can find her binging on episodes of Gilmore Girls and Supernatural, and locking herself in her office to write.


Holy crappola! This book had me SUPER smitten!! I may have stayed up reading when I should've gone to bed because I had to work in the morning. I may have been thinking about this book ALL day at work until I had the chance to get back to reading it when I got on the bus...and I may have most definitely gotten completely wrapped up in this story!

The characters were AMAZING! I absolutely loved Lainey! She was so strong and stood up for herself, and I loved that she basically had no verbal filter, it was hilarious! I also really related to her. She's about the same age as me, and she's starting to pursue her career after getting her degree, so I clicked with her INSTANTLY! And Brogan...oh my goodness, Brrrroooooggggaaannnn....*dreamy sigh* I think I seriously fell in love with him. He was so freaking sexy, so nice...and totally emotionally unavailable, but still soooo hot, and tattoos, dimples, a dog...seriously, I'm in love. ;)

The setting of this book, and the whole boss/assistant thing had me thinking that THE RULE BOOK might be similar to BEAUTIFUL BASTARD by Christina Lauren. It definitely had those two aspects in common and the two leads also had AMAZING chemistry, but that was where the comparisons stopped. THE RULE BOOK was one-of-a-kind, and the characters were so fantastic....seriously, loved them to bits!! Their banter, the sexual tension, their dynamics, and just every single moment between them had me absolutely consumed! I laughed, I blushed, I cried, I grinned like a buffoon, and I may have even smirked a few times! This story just completely got to me, and I really loved it. It was the perfect contemporary romance for me...and the ending had me as happy as can be!

I'd recommend this one to fans of contemporary romance, especially if you like the whole boss/assistant/forbidden-romance type story and if you love dynamic characters with amazing chemistry!
It's definitely a new contemporary romance favourite of mine!! :D




 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the rest of the blog tour for THE RULE BOOK, here: Tour Schedule

Do you think you'd enjoy THE RULE BOOK?