Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thursday Thoughts: Can Somebody Find My Desire to Write Reviews?

Seriously... I seem to have misplaced it somewhere. :-/

Normally when I hit a period of burnout, everything goes up in flames... or down the toilet... or something to that effect... Not really sure which expression I'm looking for here. :-)

But my point is, I usually just find myself in a total reading and reviewing (and consequently, blogging) shutdown. Of course, the ol' blog is definitely suffering right now during my current period of non-reviewing... I can't even remember when Tuesdays are, apparently, since I missed Teaser Tuesdays for the second week in a row -- GAH! However, my book consumption is still going strong and not only that, it's actually on track to be a banner reading year (for me). *Knocks on wood* I've read 67 books towards my original goal of 100 for the entire year. And it's not even June, yet!

I suppose I should just be grateful I'm still excited about reading and devouring all of these books.

But the more I write about and think about my reviewing drought -- three weeks in a row blogging about it here in some way, shape, or form, and I'm sure you're sick of hearing me whine muse about it about it -- the more I wonder if I'm just not that into blogging anymore. But then I look at my blog and all of the time and effort I've put into it (even with that long hiatus for a year and a half in 2010-2012) and I just can't bring myself to write that little blog post that says I'm hanging up my hat or even just taking a break to get out of my funk. I have some major commitment issues, apparently... I can't commit to blogging & reviewing and I can't commit to giving it up!

Gosh darn it, I need to figure out how to make reviewing fun again! Problem is, I keep finding myself drifting back to my same old "formula" when I sit down to write a review. Unless I find the need to gush, my reviews are usually three paragraphs consisting of opening thoughts, what I liked and what needed improvement, and final thoughts (which often include more of what I liked since I try to close on a positive note). *Snore* It puts me to sleep just thinking about it...

So, I guess once again I've got to go back to the drawing board and brainstorm some ideas for a different review style altogether. I just wish I could have some kind of epiphany as to what that format should be... I tried a "what I liked vs. what I didn't like" format and a few other bulleted-style reviews but nothing stuck... That said, until I can figure something out, don't count on reading a review here any time soon. I've started two separate reviews (both would have been 4 or 5 stars) and both are sitting in draft, gathering virtual dust... I am about to just post some star ratings on Goodreads for my recent reads and call it a day (but I can't commit to that either, go figure). I will do my best to have at least a couple of regular posts every week, as I want to try to stay connected, but I have got to come up with something to shake up my reviews or that dreaded hiatus/"I quit" post may rear its ugly head...

So this leads me to ask in all seriousness...

What do YOU like to see in a review? Do you like long reviews? Short & sweet? Prose or bullet points? Technical points or touchy-feely, more emotionally-driven "how the book made me feel" reviews? More of a focus on the plot than what is found in the synopsis (without being too spoiler-y, of course)? All of the above? <== If that's your answer, I'm not sure I want to know -- just kidding!! :-D

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday Snapshot: A Recent Sunset

Saturday Snapshot was started by Alyce from At Home With Books and is now hosted by West Metro Mommy. To participate in Saturday Snapshot, post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy's blog.  Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
A couple of weeks ago I was sitting outside on our patio (which I've become a bit obsessed with this year -- it's been my go-to spot when the weather permits and I have the time to just sit and read or relax) and witnessed a gorgeous sunset. As it progressed, I just sat and took pictures as the colors changed and the cloud formation progressed across the sky...

Here's the start...

And here's where it really started looking interesting...

And this was the most colorful shot I was able to get...

Time to go get the dollbaby out of bed so we can start our three day weekend together. I'll be back to visit your posts soon! Happy Saturday and I hope you are able to enjoy the holiday weekend! Many thanks to our armed forces who have fought for us to enjoy freedom and holiday weekends like this one. Your sacrifice has not gone unnoticed and is greatly appreciated and respected.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thursday Thoughts: A Confession

Happy Thursday! So in a bit of a continuation of last Thursday's post, I have a confession to make... It's been six books since my last review (LOL).

Yes, I have read six books and not written a review for one here. I did write a review and post it on Goodreads for a New Adult book that was so explicit I'd never review it here, so I guess in some ways I don't count that one. But I've read five other books that I would normally post a review for here on the blog and I can't seem to find the inclination to get a single one written. I've got one that I started days ago and it's still sitting in draft. And most of the reviews would actually be pretty positive with at least one being a resounding five stars! If I don't hurry up and write them, I'll likely forget about anything I wanted to say, sigh... (I've never been a note-taker while reading -- I'm always amazed at those of you who keep extensive notes for your reviews. I tend to write my reviews off the emotions I feel after reading a book.)

These days it seems like so many book blogs have become more about posting memes than reviews. Oh, I don't mean EVERY book blog, and I still see quite a few reviews out there, but as I was going through Feedly the other day, it seemed like the overwhelming majority of posts were cover reveals, books people were waiting on, teasers, etc. And I'll admit, I generally only go read reviews of books I might already be interested in reading. I find it so difficult to keep up with all of the blogs out there. I have a small handful that I visit regularly and the rest I tend to visit haphazardly at best.

Does anyone else out there find that keeping up with blogs is, well, time-consuming? I want to be friendly and social and have others read my own blog, but frankly, with a full-time job (even if it is from home) and a little one running around, it's a challenge to devote much time to blog hopping and commenting (and sometimes the blog itself). One of my blogging buddies has been gravitating towards Goodreads for more of the social aspect of book reviewing, but so far I haven't felt that calling. (Hmmm, maybe I'm actually just anti-social? Haha...) When it comes to Goodreads, I've actually felt more of a calling to just post reviews there. But then where does that leave the blog?

As many times as I run into these reviewing/blogging burnouts, I am still unwilling to give up this blog. I think part of me likes the idea of having my own little piece of web property out here, while the other half just feels like I've already invested so much time and effort here, it would be a shame to give it all up.

Yes, I think we all write our blogs in part for ourselves -- certainly that is the case initially since most of us start out with no following. But as time goes on, I think most of us are posting in the hopes that we are attracting readers and growing our blogs. And while it's fun, at times it does feel like a job... And I guess I just haven't figured out what I need to do differently so it doesn't feel so much like a job sometimes, haha.

So really, I'm not sure where I'm going with this rambling post. I guess I just want to reassure those of you who do keep up with me that I'm doing my best not to disappear again, despite the slacking off of posting going on here... (I mean, this week I didn't even participate in Teaser Tuesdays, sheesh!) I'm hoping to re-energize myself and come up with some new ideas, whether it's types of posts or the way I write my reviews. In the meantime, I'll try to be good about participating in the memes I love and maybe just musing here on Thursdays while I work on getting my blogging mojo back.

If you made it through all of that, here's a virtual cookie and a thank you! :-) Hope everyone (well, those of you who are in the U.S.) enjoys the upcoming holiday weekend!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday Snapshot: Mother's Day 2013

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at Alyce's blog, At Home With Books.
On Sunday we celebrated Mother's Day at my parents' house with my mother. We got our obligatory three-generation picture to remember the occasion, too. :-)

Of course, we just barely managed to get this one before Laura took off again. That girl won't sit still for pictures anymore, haha!

Off to look at your snapshot posts... Happy Saturday!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thursday Thoughts: Reviews, This Blog, & More...

Happy Thursday! Just one day away from that magical day of the week, FRIDAY! Actually, for me today is like Friday because I am taking tomorrow off to spend it with my hubby -- it's our 5th anniversary! My, how these first five years of marriage have flown by! We are celebrating by going to see Iron Man 3 (I know, romantic, right?) and then we're having dinner at a great little restaurant in downtown Canton. My parents are gracious enough to watch our little Sweet Pea so we can go do these things and have some time to ourselves. In honor of May 17, 2008, here is one of the pictures taken at our wedding:
(photo credit: Carol Cole Photography)

Anyway, my intent with this post was actually to discuss this blog a bit. You may have noticed I've been a little quiet this month. In part, I haven't been plowing through the books as quickly as I was for awhile. However, even for those I've read, I admit that I haven't been feeling too inspired to write any reviews. I even recently read a wonderful book that totally surprised me in terms of how much I liked it, but I just haven't mustered up the desire to actually write and post the review. I started to set up the post in my usual review format, but it's still sitting in draft, waiting for me to write the actual review. A little voice in my head keeps hinting that maybe I'm getting burned out on blogging again, but gosh darn it, I hate to think that is what is happening! I want this blog to thrive and be a resource/hangout for those who love to read.

That said, perhaps it's time for me to step back a little bit and perhaps recharge my blogging batteries. I enjoy participating in Teaser Tuesdays and Saturday Snapshot, so I will probably continue to try to write posts for those memes. And of course, I will still try to post reviews regularly, as well, though I may take a break from posting reviews for every single book I read. (I had told myself and even mentioned it here that I was not going to pressure myself to write reviews, but I guess old habits are hard to break!) And frankly, I feel like reviews can get stale. I feel like I'm always using the same talking points, just applying them to different books. I'd like to do something to freshen up the content of this blog, but I'm just not sure yet what that would be.

So that leads me to ask you, dear readers, is there anything new and different you'd like to see here at Melissa's Bookshelf? I may try to work in some general ramblings and musing posts like today's, which I'm tentatively labeling as Thursday Thoughts. (This is mainly due to my OCD side -- I like having my posts on a bit of a schedule, I guess!) But I see other bloggers doing some interesting posts out there -- cover reveals, new release posts, among other ideas, and it makes me wonder if I should branch out more. Then again, if other bloggers are already doing these things, I'm not sure how much I would add to the "discussion." But all thoughts, advice, and suggestions are most welcome and will be taken into consideration.

Thanks for following along with my ramblings today! :-)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays: The Apothecary's Daughter

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! (If you're on Goodreads, I've included a button to add the book to your list just below the teaser!)

In true TT fashion I am sharing just two sentences -- the opening lines -- of the book I am just getting ready to start reading...

I remember it clearly, although it was years ago now. For I remember everything.
~ prologue from The Apothecary's Daughter
by Julie Klassen

The Apothecary's Daughter

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday Snapshot: Clematis (and a Pedicure)

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at Alyce's blog, At Home With Books.

With all the rain we have had lately here in Georgia, our clematis vine has just exploded with blooms and new growth, in general. I actually plan to go out and purchase a second structure for it to wrap around and attach to, as the privacy fence behind it isn't really meant for that function. ;-)

This first picture is the very first bloom that opened up a couple of weeks ago. Initially they are a deep, vibrant purple...

After they open up (and I suppose due to sitting in the sunlight), they fade to a pretty periwinkle color...

And here you can see how many blooms we have now!

And last but not least, a week ago I finally got around to going for my first (and MUCH-needed) pedicure of the season. I no longer have to be embarrassed by my feet!

Happy Saturday! Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

BOOK BLITZ/REVIEW: The Haunting Season by Michelle Muto

Today I am excited to be participating in a Book Blitz promotion hosted by Xpresso Book Tours, featuring The Haunting Season, by one of my favorite indie authors, Michelle Muto. You might recall a couple of days ago, I gave you a teaser from the book, and today I'm going to share with you more goodies about the book, my review, and an international giveaway for an eBook copy of The Haunting Season!

Pub Date: December 2012, Dreamscapes, Ink 
Genre: NA Paranormal/Ghosts
Source/FTC Disclosure: I purchased my copy of this book. I was in no way compensated for this review and my opinions are my own. This Book Blitz & Giveaway are sponsored by XPresso Book Tours and the author.
The Haunting Season
Be careful what you let in…

Siler House has stood silent beneath Savannah’s moss-draped oaks for decades. Notoriously haunted, it has remained empty until college-bound Jess Perry and three of her peers gather to take part in a month-long study on the paranormal. Jess, who talks to ghosts, quickly bonds with her fellow test subjects. One is a girl possessed. Another just wants to forget. The third is a guy who really knows how to turn up the August heat, not to mention Jess’s heart rate…when he’s not resurrecting the dead.

The study soon turns into something far more sinister when they discover that Siler House and the dark forces within are determined to keep them forever. In order to escape, Jess and the others will have to open themselves up to the true horror of Siler House and channel the very evil that has welcomed them all.


Earlier this year, I became acquainted with Michelle Muto's books thanks to an indie author event that I attended in a nearby city. I read one of her books before going and it was such a pleasure to meet and talk with her -- she was very generous with her time and so sweet. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you might recall that I really enjoyed her YA books, The Book of Lost Souls and Don't Fear The Reaper -- you can click on the titles to see those reviews. When the opportunity presented itself to be a part of a Book Blitz for The Haunting Season, naturally I jumped at it! This book is very different from Muto's other works... For one thing, it is classified as New Adult, not to mention it is in the Horror genre -- much, much darker and creepier than her other paranormal stories.

I'm actually kind of torn with this review. On the one hand, I loved the horror aspect -- the story was deliciously creepy. I've actually not read a lot in the genre, though I've seen a few horror movies over the years. I love the adrenaline rush of being scared and believe me, this was a book that I could not read in the dark. Seriously, I actually read a good portion of it during the day because of the major creep-factor. The setting in Savannah is just perfect for a haunted house story, as well. But then on the other hand, I was kind of turned off by the romance storyline. I didn't find it particularly believable and was surprised at how much it overtook the story. A large part of the focus is on Jess and Gage, not to mention the story is told from their points of view, but I found Allison to be a much more interesting character and wish that Bryan had been developed a little bit more than he was. Even the strange Dr. Brandt and the role he played would have benefited from a little more time in the spotlight. Nevertheless, the story moves right along and I found myself on the edge of my seat (literally AND figuratively speaking) watching the shocking events unfold.

Though classified as New Adult (which I knew going in), in many ways The Haunting Season read more like YA. I'm not sure how to elaborate other than to say it simply had a YA feel to it. And truly, even with the sex scene (which wasn't overly graphic) and some occasional strong language, I would probably consider this a mature YA read at most. Recalling my reading tastes at the time, I think this is a book that I would have really enjoyed when I was in high school, though I can certainly appreciate the horror element now, as well. Fans of the horror/haunted house genre will love this book for what it is, but for me, the romance served as more of a distraction to the story, rather than adding to it. I confess I prefer Ms. Muto's aforementioned YA books to The Haunting Season, but there are many out there who love this one, so I encourage you to check out the book's Goodreads page for more reviews, and be sure to enter my giveaway for an eBook copy below!

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I'm excited to be able to host a giveaway for one (1) ebook copy of The Haunting Season. The contest is open internationally and ends at midnight on Thursday, May 16th! There are lots of ways to enter -- just use the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Michelle Muto lives in northeast Georgia with her husband and two dogs. She loves changes of season, dogs, and all things geeky. Currently, she’s hard at work on her next book.
Author Links:
Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


Here's something fun -- the playlist Michelle Muto created for The Haunting Season!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays: The Haunting Season

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! (If you're on Goodreads, I've included a button to add the book to your list just below the teaser!)

This week, as sort of a "prequel" to a book blitz, I'm sharing a teaser from The Haunting Season, a new adult horror book. Check back later this week for my official book blitz post, complete with my review, more about the book and the author, and a giveaway for an eBook copy!

Since the incident with the knives, Jess didn't like wandering the house alone at night. Not that having Allison with her would do much good. If anything, having a demon magnet for a roommate should have meant keeping away from her.
~ page 169 of The Haunting Season by Michelle Muto

The Haunting Season

Saturday, May 4, 2013

MINI REVIEWS: The Frost Chronicles by Kate Avery Ellison

As you probably know from some of my previous reviews here, I enjoy reading self-published books by indie authors, though they can be very hit-or-miss. A friend of mine recommended the Frost Chronicles to me, since we share similar tastes in books. Kate Avery Ellison, the author of the Frost Chronicles, lives in Atlanta, Georgia, so I thought I would take the opportunity to support a local author. Lucky for me, the Frost Chronicles has turned out to be one of the best indie series I have come across so far! Every book is a relatively quick read -- the first is right around 200 pages, and each book is a little longer than the last. (Side note: I’m reading the eBook versions.) I devoured these books in just a few days and thought that rather than post four consecutive reviews (one for each book), it might make more sense to share four mini reviews here in one post. Then, when the fifth book is published later this year, I will devote one review to it as a finale of sorts. :-)

NOTE: If you haven’t read this series, you might want to stop reading my reviews after Frost, because eventually it will get a bit spoiler-y, given that I’m reviewing four books…

MINI REVIEW #1: Frost 
SYNOPSIS: In the icy, monster-plagued world of the Frost, one wrong move and a person could end up dead—and Lia Weaver knows this better than anyone. After monsters kill her parents, she must keep the family farm running despite the freezing cold and threat of monster attacks or risk losing her siblings to reassignment by the village Elders. With dangers on all sides and failure just one wrong step away, she can’t afford to let her emotions lead her astray. So when her sister finds a fugitive bleeding to death in the forest—a young stranger named Gabe—Lia surprises herself and does the unthinkable.

She saves his life.

Giving shelter to the fugitive could get her in trouble. The Elders have always described the advanced society of people beyond the Frost, the “Farthers,” as ruthless and cruel. But Lia is startled to find that Gabe is empathetic and intelligent…and handsome. She might even be falling in love with him.

But time is running out. The monsters from the forest circle the farm at night. The village leader is starting to ask questions. Farther soldiers are searching for Gabe. Lia must locate a secret organization called the Thorns to help Gabe escape to safety, but every move she makes puts her in more danger.

Is compassion—and love—worth the risk?

Frost sucked me right in -- you might recall my Teaser Tuesday post earlier in the week… Those first few sentences had me hooked from the start! Ellison has managed to bring something fresh to the YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Dystopian genre with this series. Part of me was sorry that Frost wasn’t a little longer, but at the same time, Ellison’s ability to so thoroughly paint the picture and fully tell the story in less than 200 pages was impressive! Admittedly, some of the writing and phrasing (and eBook formatting) could have been tightened up with just a bit more editing, but honestly, I really enjoyed Ellison’s storytelling and writing style -- it is very descriptive with vivid imagery. The only part of the story I had a small issue with was Lia’s and Gabe’s (admittedly brief) relationship -- it was just a little hard to believe Lia could have developed such strong feelings so quickly, but I like a little romance in my stories, so I could overlook this, mostly… As it was, immediately upon finishing Frost, I purchased and downloaded the next three books in the series (the fifth is yet to come), so that should tell you something! This book was THAT good.

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Frost (The Frost Chronicles, #1)
MINI REVIEW #2: Thorns
SYNOPSIS: Lia Weaver went against everything she’d ever known when she risked her life to help a Farther fugitive named Gabe escape from the Aeralian soldiers, and her life changed forever. And the Frost changed, too—the Farthers have taken over her village, a new group of vigilantes calling themselves the Blackcoats are making plans to overthrow the Farther occupiers, and the Thorns are seeking for her to join them.

Lia seeks to fight back against the evil and injustice that has swallowed up her home, but danger lurks at every turn. The monsters that dwell in the deepest regions of the Frost are growing bolder and more dangerous every day, a Farther noble takes up residence in the village on a mysterious mission, and Lia discovers that her parents were harboring even more secrets.

As the frozen world of the Frost grows even more perilous, can Lia survive?

Perhaps the best part about having an eReader is being able to immediately download the next book in a series… (Well, assuming it’s been published, haha.) I loved that I didn’t have to wait after finishing Frost to begin Thorns. For me, Thorns and the third book, Weavers, are my favorites in the series so far. Thorns was fast-paced and I liked the direction Ellison decided to take Lia’s affections this time (despite the invetible love triangle). To me, this attraction was much more believable than Lia’s fast tumble for Gabe in the first book. I had actually wondered if this particular romance might develop when I was reading Frost, but that’s all I’m going to say on that subject. J Trying to keep things as spoiler-free as I can here… Ellison does much to advance the story in this book, developing the conflict caused by the Farther occupation of Iceliss, and still further building the world of the Frost (and beyond!) -- I could not put this book down. Once again, Ellison’s writing is beautifully descriptive and this time I really felt like it was spot on and very well-edited. With the way events were left in the Frost and the fact that Lia’s new romance was not quite fulfilled, needless to say, I had to jump right in to Weavers
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Thorns (The Frost Chronicles, #2)

MINI REVIEW #3: Weavers
SYNOPSIS: Every day, life in the Frost grows increasingly perilous for its inhabitants. The Farther occupation continues, and food is becoming scarce. And Lia Weaver’s family is facing increasing perils, too—Jonn pushes his health to the brink as he works to uncover the secrets of Echlos, and Ivy risks everything to get food for the family. And for the second time, the Weaver family is harboring a fugitive, but Lia doesn’t trust her.

Lia has personally braved many struggles—a Farther occupation, family secrets, a heart torn between two men, and Watcher attacks—as she struggles to keep her family safe. But now she will face her greatest challenge and uncover the Frost’s deepest secrets as she completes her most dangerous mission yet for the Thorns.

Wow, Weavers almost left me breathless by the end of the book, as once again Ellison packs quite a punch in her stories! As much as I enjoyed her writing in Frost (despite some minor flaws) and then again in Thorns, it just keeps getting better and better. As the conflict increases in the Frost, I really like that we are beginning to see the more vulnerable side of Lia, who has struggled for so long to provide for her siblings in the harsh climate (both weather-wise and politically-speaking) of the Frost, while trying to complete missions for the Thorns and subsequently doing what she can to help end the Farther occupation of the Frost and the village of Iceliss. Isn’t that enough to wear anyone down? And then there’s her whole struggle with her feelings for two boys, poor girl, though really, that frustrates me to no end because at this point I just don’t think Gabe should be a factor. Admittedly, I’ve pretty much been “Team Adam” from the start of this series, when he wasn’t even on the radar, yet! And oh, the end of this story and the cliffhanger! I was fortunate that Ellison just released Bluewing because I didn’t have to wait long to find out what happened next.
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Weavers (The Frost Chronicles, #3)

MINI REVIEW #4: Bluewing
SYNOPSIS: Lia Weaver is a fugitive. Her family's farm has been confiscated by Farther soldiers, her sister has been reassigned to a new family in the village, and her official status is "missing." Now, she and a band of fugitive followers must make their home in the harsh wilderness of the Frost. Food is scarce, and hope is scarcer still as Lia tries to find information about the whereabouts of her missing friends. She is determined to rescue them, but when a surprising ally steps forth with an offer that will both return her friends and expel the Farthers from the Frost in exchange for something very precious, Lia must make a choice.

While I enjoyed Bluewing, I thought it started off a little slower compared to the other books in the series and it took me longer to really immerse myself in the story. I can’t quite pinpoint what it was, because the writing continues to be outstanding and a lot does happen in this book to further the plot, but for some reason Bluewing just didn’t grab me early on the way the first three books did. Perhaps it's simply that most of the action was in the latter half of the book. Ivy, Lia’s younger sister, continues to play a larger role in this story, and we also see a lot more of Gabe’s brother, Korr, who first came into the picture in Weavers. The Blackcoats and Thorns join forces against the Farthers, and that alliance brings with it a few surprises. Interestingly, a rather significant portion of the storyline wraps up by the end of the book, though we are definitely left with several questions and a pretty big cliffhanger, so there is plenty of the story left for Ellison to tell in the final book. As for that cliffhanger, I have my suspicions, so I am anxious to see if they are confirmed in the final book. And this time, darn it, I have to wait, haha…
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Bluewing (The Frost Chronicles, #4)

If you stuck with me through all of that, suffice it to say that I LOVED these books and would recommend them to anyone who is a fan of YA Dystopians. And I'd also like to extend props to whoever designed the covers for this series -- I love them all!

Read this series…
  • If you like YA Fantasy/Dystopian/Sci-Fi (this story is a great blend of all of those genres)
  • If you enjoyed the Under The Never Sky series by Veronica Rossi
  • If you liked The Girl of Fire and Thorns series by Rae Carson

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

REVIEW: Beautiful Bandit by Loree Lough

Series: Lone Star Legends #1
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Pub Date: August 2010, Whitaker House
Format: eBook (Kindle)
Source: Purchased from
Joshua Neville is a quiet, even-keeled rancher who was just minding his own business when he witnessed a brazen bank robbery in San Antonio, Texas, that leaves three men dead. Even more shocking than the heist itself is that the ringleader looked like a woman! Weeks later, when Josh is on the trail, a lost and confused woman stumbles upon his campsite. He agrees to take "Dinah" to Mexico, but soon their journey is hampered by harsh weather and wild animals. When Dinah breaks her ankle, Josh takes her to his ranch to heal.As the two grow closer, Josh realizes he's fallen in love, even as he learns the truth about Dinah. But does he know the whole story? And, after the truth comes out, will he put his life at risk to keep her with him?


Beautiful Banditi is the first book I have read by Loree Lough. I'll admit it's been sitting on my e-reader for awhile, probably because though I found the synopsis intriguing, that cover is a bit of a turn-off. And now that I've read the book, I just don't think that image suits "Dinah" (a.k.a. Kate Wellington) at all, not to mention that it just looks too modern, given that this is supposed to be fiction set in the Western frontier. But here we have a classic example of the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover."

So that said, my advice to you (assuming you like to read Christian historical romances) is to ignore the cover and just dive right in! Though this story might not have pulled at my heart quite as strongly as some other Christian and/or historical romances have, I did think it was a good inspirational read and it kept me turning the pages to find out how everything finally resolved itself. I have to confess that I was really afraid that I was going to be annoyed by how Josh reacted when the truth about Kate/Dinah came to light. Thankfully, Lough did not choose to go the route of mutual misunderstandings, trumped-up, imagined hurt feelings, and/or false assumptions that I just find beyond irritating in historical romances. Sometimes it is nice to keep the drama at a minimum!

Lough's writing is fast-paced and she keeps the story moving along with every page. Though the outcome is admittedly predictable (but you know I love my happy endings!), Lough tells the story in such a way that it keeps you engaged and rooting for Kate and Josh. Though the story focuses heavily on the two of them, we also meet a lot of Josh's extended family and I expect you will love his "Mee-Maw" just as much as if she were your own grandmother. And while there is a sad side-plot in Beautiful Bandit, the overall story is touching, with Christian undertones that were just right for my tastes. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more by Loree Lough and adding her to my rotation of Christian fiction authors!

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Read this book...
  • If you enjoy Christian historical fiction set in the Western frontier (think: Tamera Alexander and Janette Oke)
  • If you liked Love in Disguise by Carol Cox
Beautiful Bandit (Lone Star Legends, #1)