**Notice** Due to transfering back from a godaddy hosted wordpress blog back to blogger, reviews published before june 2017 don`t all have a pretty layout with book cover and infos. Our apologies.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Stacking The Shelves

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!



I've been good and haven't bought any books, so unfortunately I have nothing to show you.

Yesterday, there was a little trick or treating at my daughter's daycare so here are pictures of them as Princess Sofia and Ariel (in her wedding dress). Tonight they will be dressed as Cinderella and Raspunzel though! I'll get pictures of those to! Unfortunately The pictures I have today are closeup because I don't want to include other kids, privacy and all that ^^


Be safe tonight!!

[inlinkz_linkup id=577726]

Friday, October 30, 2015

Through The Dark Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of THROUGH THE DARK: A Darkest Minds Collection by Alexandra Bracken (Released October 6th), Disney-hyperion is offering a copy to one lucky winner!

Here's more about the book:
This collection of thrilling--and utterly heartbreaking--novellas set in the in the world of the Darkest Minds is an absolute must-have for fans of the New York Times best-selling trilogy.

Don't miss this breathtaking collection of stories set in the world of the New York Times best-selling Darkest Minds trilogy. Featuring ebook original novellas In Time and Sparks Rise, available in print for the first time, and a gripping, brand-new novella, Through the Dark is a must-have for fans of the Darkest Minds.This collection contains three novellas: In Time, Sparks Rise, and Beyond the Night, as well as a sneak peek at the first novel in Alexandra Bracken's new series, Passenger.



Gabe's life has been devastated in the wake of the economic crash. The only option left for someone like him to escape his tragic past is to leave his small town behind and to attempt to become a skiptracer. This already almost-impossible task is made all the more difficult by his first "score,"a young girl who won't speak, but who changes his life in ways he could never imagine.


Sam didn't think things could get worse at Thurmand rehabilitation camp. Then the Reds arrive. Everyone assumed the kids with firepower had been killed years ago. Instead they were taken away, brainwashed, and returned as terrifyingly effective guards. To her horror, Sam recognizes one of them: Lucas, the one spark of light in Sam's dark childhood.

Lucas has a deadly secret--he beat the brutal training that turned his fellow Reds into mindless drones. When Sam defends herself against an attack by a vile PSF guard and faces a harrowing punishment, Lucas must risk everything to save her.


The government-run "rehabilitation camps" have been shut down, but kids with Psi powers are anything but free. Sam would rather be on her own than put in the care of a foster family and given the "cure"--a dangerous procedure that unclaimed kids across the country are being forced to undergo. But there's more at stake than just her own safety. Sam once made someone a promise, and the time has come to fulfill it.

Now that she's out of her camp, Mia only has one thought in her head: finding Lucas, her beloved older brother. She hasn't seen him since they were separated and taken to different camps years ago, before Mia even became Psi. When Sam, Lucas's childhood best friend, rescues Mia from the government's inept care, Mia learns that nothing is as simple as she thought--and the past that she's so desperate to salvage may not be possible to recover...


One (1) winner receives a copy of THROUGH THE DARK.

Giveaway open to US addresses only.

Prizing and samples provided by Disney-Hyperion.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway


You can also download The Passenger e-sampler:

Download the PASSENGER eSampler



Two worlds collide in this sweeping, romantic novel about a love that crosses centuries by bestselling author of the Darkest Minds series, Alexandra Bracken.



Alexandra Bracken is the New York Times bestsellingauthor of The Darkest Minds and Never Fade. Born and raised in Arizona, she moved east to study history and English at the College of William&Mary in Virginia. Alex now lives in New York City, where you can find her hard at work on her next novel in a charming little apartment that's perpetually overflowing with books. Visit her online at www.alexandrabracken.com and on Twitter @alexbracken.


Visit AlexandraBracken.com

Follow Disney-Hyperion on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Alex Bracken on Twitter and Instagram



Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Magic Dark & Bright by Jenny Adams Perinovic

This was a really good book! I will admit, I was a little skeptical to read "ghost" in the book description, but A Magic Dark & Bright totally proved me wrong. There's a well-developed plot beyond "ghost story" and fantastic 3-dimensional character development. Even the setting is rich!

The book kicks off at the start of summer in Asylum, PA. Amelia is navigating a new normal after the death of her brother a year prior, and her parents' divorce soon after. Now a new boy has moved in next door, and she can't help but be attracted to him, even though she grew up thinking that his grandmother (her next door neighbor) is a bona fide witch. Oh, and just a side note: she occasionally sees a ghost, a woman in white, in the woods near their houses.

That's why I loved this book: yes, there's magic and a ghost, but it's just one part of a much richer story. There's also the story of healing, and how Amelia is finding a way to move on and develop her own personality without her brother or father. And there's the story of friendship, both between Amelia and her best friend Leah, and the blossoming friendship (or more?) between Amelia and Charlie, the new guy next door. There's history: their town, Asylum, is so named because it was originally founded as an asylum for French immigrants plagued by rumors of dark happenings. And last but not least, there's also mystery: a series of explainable deaths, which many residents want to pin on Charlie.

The author does a fantastic job of weaving all of these story lines together to create a captivating novel. There were no plot holes, and I never saw the ending coming. I see it listed as a "Book 1" on Goodreads.com, and I look forward to a potential sequel!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Knight of the Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin

Almost a hundred years before there was a Ned Stark or Robert Baratheon, a simple hedge knight and his squire made their way through the Seven Kingdoms.  Their encounters with the high born and commoners alike left their mark on the land as well as this unlikely pair.

The Tales of Dunk and Egg, as they are most commonly known among fans of A Song of Ice and Fire series from George R. R. Martin, chronicle these events in a way that only Mr. Martin can.  Primarily seen from the point of view of Ser Duncan the Tall, readers are treated to a sort of history lesson of the Seven Kingdoms after the Blackfyre Rebellion.  If not much of that means anything to you but, you like knights, castles and magic, this book may interest you.

This is a story set in a fictional world that closely resembles the Medieval Period, that is, if that period had know real fire-breathing dragons and magic.  This book is an excellent jumping on point since it doesn't require any fore-knowledge of the series.  The reader gets to see a still young kingdom as it gets its feet under it.  The collection of stories are so well placed together, it's hard to realize that this is an anthology.

Through these stories, we get to really know Dunk and Egg from the beginning of their companionship.  We even get to learn a bit more about some of the Great Houses of Westeros as well as some of the lessor ones.  If you are a fan of the series, it's satisfying to finally meet some of the characters hinted at in the series.

This is an excellent addition to the series of A Song of Ice and Fire and the type of additional material I hope we get from George R. R. Martin.  It is very entertaining even if the language and violence puts this one deep into the PG13 rating.


Roberts Signature

Monday, October 26, 2015

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


This book is brilliant. I was a little hesitant at first because of its unconventional format but once you get the hang of it, it's amazing. ILLUMINAE is a very original take on space exploration, especially since it's a story that's not told in prose, but in a collection of transcripts, reports, messages and various visual aids. You would think the plot would be difficult to follow, but on the contrary, it's actually very easy to read. The authors must have thought long and hard about how to play out certain scenes, and while some were a little more confusing than others, it's all very cohesive.

I was a huge fan of the TV show Battlestar Galactica and I'm assuming these authors were too. Although they are similar in genres, they are completely different stories. ILLUMINAE sheds light on the destruction of Kerenza, a mining world, by a competing mining company called BeiTech. The survivors were evacuated by three spacecrafts, helping them flee from the BeiTech spacecraft. However, BeiTech isn't the only enemy they have to survive. They also have to deal with a crazy Artificial Intelligence controlling the main battleship and find a way to survive a deadly and mutating pathogen that makes the infected go insane. Through all this, Kady and Ezra find a way to connect, even if they are on different ships. Although Kady had broken up with Ezra the morning of the bombing of Kerenza, they soon realize that working together may be the only way to help each other--and the rest of the fleet.

Although Kady and Ezra are physically separated throughout the book, that doesn't seem to bother them too much. It's almost as if their relationship on Kerenza was doomed, but now, as they're thrown into wartime and separated by a deadly vacuum, their relationship only grows stronger. Their short conversations through hacked communication lines are full of banter and teasing. You can really see how these two care deeply for one another. It might just be because their relationship is the only normal thing they have left to hang on to, or it's the only way they can cope with everything they lost, but somehow, they manage to stick and work together to save as many people as they can.

The pathogen that's a threat to the whole fleet is a little bit to far fetched for me. Scientifically, I don't think it's really possible, but who knows, since the book is set more than five centuries into the future, maybe viruses and bacteria have evolved into super(supersuper)bugs. I guess it doesn't help that some scientists are suspected to have had a hand in creating this superbug, which gained the ability to mutate very fast.

This book isn't for the faint of heart. So many people die, and personally, I think they authors killed off to many characters for my taste. As soon as I started to enjoy reading about a certain character, they were killed off. Gone! Some descriptions are also quite bloody and gory and I'm thankful I only had to read it and not see it.

This book was published as a young adult novel, probably because the two main characters are teenagers. However, I honestly think anyone who's a fan of the genre will enjoy this book. Sure the swearing is censored out (and there's a lot of censoring) but anyone who can fill in the blank can use their imagination to read it as if it wasn't censored. The format is pure genius, and the book is deceptively big with its 600 pages. Despite the large page count, it actually reads really fast. If you're going to read this book, I honestly believe only a physical copy will do it justice. I'm a huge fan of e-readers and tablets but I really think this book deserves to be enjoyed visually, and a paper copy is the only way you can appreciate it to its fullest. Whatever copy you end up with, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

stephsig moon

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Stacking The Shelves

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


 Hello all!  It seems like it's been a little while since my last turn hosting Stacking the Shelves... but don't worry!  The stack isn't overwhelmingly large.  I've been trying to limit the number of books that I bring home, because my reading time is a little reduced:  I started grad school (Masters of Library and Information Science) this semester!  Actually, I should amend that:  my leisure reading time is reduced; my homework reading is sometimes crazy!  Good thing I like the topic.  :)

I'm going to kick off this week's stack with three kind of special books.  One from the library, and two purchases:

Real Deal Guide to Pregnancy Erika Lenkert What to Expect When You're Expecting Heidi Murkoff Eating Well When You're Expecting

Yup:  the hubby and I are expecting our first!!!  I'm very excited.  And I'm a reader, so of course I'm reading the classics!  The Real Deal Guide to Pregnancy was a fun one that I picked up at the library.  Not very in-depth, but a bit reassuring.  Like talking to a girlfriend.  (I've found that often people follow up the news with a few questions:  so, I'm at 14 weeks, due at the end of April, and I don't know the sex yet.)

Now on to the rest of my stack, starting with egalleys and ARCs:

The Boy Who Played With Fusion Tom Clynes Wilberforce H S Cross Advent in Narnia Heidi Haverkamp Killshot Aria Michaels

The Boy Who Played With Fusion by Tom Clynes:  who wouldn't be intrigued by that title?

Wilberforce by H.S. Cross:  the description makes it sound like a cross between Winger and Dead Poets Society, both of which I love.

Advent in Narnia by Heidi Haverkamp:  the hubby and I love the Narnia books, so I'm looking forward to reading this together during the upcoming holiday season.

Killshot by Aria Michaels:  already read, loved, and reviewed!  You can read that review HERE, and an interview with the author HERE.

New Purchases:

Decameron Boccaccio

The Decameron by Boccaccio: first English edition!  The hubby and I collect books not just for pleasure, but also historicity, so we love first edition finds.  I also happen to truly love this book, and own a modern Penguin edition for reading and rereading.  I found this in a tiny little used book store in the Appalachian Mountains.

Before Liberty Roy Thompson Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant Joanna Wiebe

Before Liberty by Roy Thompson: a book I received while on a professional development trip this fall; it talks about North Carolina's role in the Revolutionary War.  Hardcover!  That's nice for a freebie book.

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe:  I read, loved, and reviewed this quite a while ago, but I had read an egalley of it.  After receiving a gift of the second book, I had to go buy the first one.  Can't have an incomplete series sitting on my bookshelf!  (So yes, I'll be buying the third book too!)  (Review HERE.)


Lair of Dreams Libba Bray Improbable Libraries Alex Johnson Come Rain or Come Shine Jan Karon Curious Nature Guide Clare Walker Leslie Breaking Dawn Stephenie Meyer Voracious Cara Nicoletti Morality for Beautiful Girls Alexander McCall Smith 501 Ways for Adult Students to Pay for College Gen Tanabe Kelly Well Fed Flat Broke Emily Wight

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray:  already read, loved, and reviewed!  You can read that review HERE.

Improbable Libraries by Alex Johnson:  yup, I'm that much of a book nerd that I even check out books about books...  :)

Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon:  my mom and I LOVE the Mitford books!  This is the latest one.  I read the library's copy, and am hoping to purchase my own soon.

The Curious Nature Guide by Clare Walker Leslie:  recommended through a professional development group, it's got lots of great graphics and pictures and easy-to-understand language.  I'd say it's one of those rare books enjoyable by anyone ages 8-108.

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer:  probably the best book of the four, I've already read and reviewed it.  You can read that review HERE.

Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti:  part cookbook, part memoir.  Haven't had time to delve into this one yet.

Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith:  this is #3 in his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which I thoroughly enjoy.  Not too deep, but good plots and pacing.  Comfort reads.

501 Ways for Adult Students to Pay for College: Going Back to School Without Going Broke by Gen and Kelly Tanabe:  obviously... because I'm back in school.

Well Fed, Flat Broke: Recipes for Modest Budgets and Messy Kitchens by Emily Wight:  I have a modest budget and a messy kitchen!  It's a book for me!  :)

What about you?  What books did you bring home this week?  Share your link below to join in the fun!


[inlinkz_linkup id=575182]

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

The book's synopsis opens with "Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together.  But who will rule, and who will serve?"  Y'all, let me tell you that this book is so much richer than that!  I have a habit of jumping into books "sight unseen" (without reading the synopsis), and I'm so glad I did that with this book.  From that opening line, the synopsis gets a little muddy, before circling back around to Marie-Victoria and Aelwyn's plot to switch places.  That is a (cool but) quite minor part of the story.  Rather, this is a book of political intrigue, magic, alternate history, and courtships.

Told from multiple points of view, the reader gets a very good view of the politics of the time.  The Ring and the Crown is set in an alternate early 1900s England during the Season.  (We all know about the Season from Downton Abbey, right?)  There's lots of balls and dresses and social mores that must be followed.  I always find it slightly ironic how many societal rules there are to follow while the people involved are unabashedly chasing potential spouses.  It's a romantic free-for-all, where people follow all kinds of unwritten rules about who gets invited to which party and which people are allowed to dance with each other or visit each other, all while discussing others' financial statuses in detail behind their backs, jockeying for the best match:  most good-looking + most rich.  No matter how silly the customs of the times seem to us now (I might not be married if I wasn't allowed to approach a man!  The hubby is a bit shy, and I approached him first), I do relish the descriptions of the dresses and the balls.  I would go to one in a heartbeat if anyone offered me a time machine ride!

The Season described in The Ring and the Crown is amped up to eleven:  this year the Queen of England and France (they're joint kingdoms in this alternate history) has announced her daughter and only heir's engagement to the Crown Prince of Prussia.  It's a totally political arrangement; while Marie-Victoria and Leopold have known each other since childhood, they're friends and nothing more.  This marriage will tie the two ultra-powerful kingdoms together.

But there's more!  Not only are Marie-Victoria and Leopold not in love with each other, they are in love with other people.  Marie-Victoria dreams of running away with Gill, a commoner, and Leopold had to break an engagement to Isabelle (who is in turn pursued by a Duke) in order to participate in this new treaty-engagement.  Luckily, Marie-Victoria's best friend is the court magician's daughter and they make plans for her to use glamour to take Marie's place.  This is ok, because Aelwyn really likes Leopold.  To add to the romance and the who-loves-who tangle, there's also Leopold's brother, Wolfgang.  He's free to date around, since he's not the Crown Prince, and he has his eye on an American, Ronan.  That courtship can't be simple either, of course; Ronan is simultaneously pursued by two others.  Is your head spinning?  I didn't find it a struggle to keep up once I was in the story, and I did find a Goodreads review with a very helpful chart if you do get lost.

And for a final plus:  magic!  In this alternate history, magic is very real and very prevalent in Europe.  (The Americans have figured out electricity and have abandoned magic.  They're cool with it but don't use it.)  All the royals keep a powerful mage in their court to help their influence, especially with political maneuvers and battles.  I love how seamlessly Melissa de la Cruz fits magic into the story.  It never overshadows the romance; it only serves to enhance the story.

Unfortunately, I do feel compelled to point out the sheer number of "main" characters and points of views, as well as all the world-building necessary, leads to very little character development.  I finished the book very satisfied with the story, but not really feeling like I knew any of the characters too well.  Multiple sources tell me that this is the first in a series, though, so I'm sure we'll get to know the characters better in the upcoming books.

Overall, I definitely recommend!  I saw it described on Goodreads as "historical romance lite," and I think that's very accurate.  It's definitely YA, so no overly-steamy scenes but lots and lots of courtship.  And the dresses and balls!  And intrigue!  I loved it.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

When Sarah Piper  accepted employment with Alistair Gellis, she could not have realized what that what entail.  Sure, he was up front about his ghost hunting but, could Sarah believe she would be part of a story like those told around a camp fire?  Just how does Mr. Gellis expect Piper to be of assistance in this unique ghost hunting endeavor?

Those are some of the questions we start out with in The Haunting of Maddie Clare by Simone St. James.  As suggested by the title, this is a good old fashioned ghost story set in Post-World War I England that centers around a small group of people in search of the truth about ghosts in general and how to deal with this ghost in particular.

Miss Piper really is the modern model of the modern woman.  She is self-sufficient and willing to break with certain social norms of the time.  I think one of the many things that rounds out this character is not the way she is willing transgress societal norms but, the fact that she does it with the deeper internal struggle.    Her companions, like Mr. Gellis, have their own inner turmoil that stem from the times they live in.  These things are brought out so logically and organically that they are hard to see as the character building that they are.

This story has a nice flow that moves us from thoughtful discovery to dramatic action in seamlessly smooth motion.  It really feels like one of those stories that is being reported rather than written.  The settings do their part to advance the story by adding the proper feeling to certain scenes.

With all the good there is to this book, I cannot leave out a few obvious detractors.  While the characters are well written and principle characters well rounded, we have seen them before.  At it's heart, this is not only a ghost story but, also a mystery. You don't have to look too hard to see some familiar tropes in the characters, the settings and the story itself.  The saving grace comes in how well they are incorporated.  It is hard to recognize these things until you are well into the story.

The Haunting of Maddie Clare is  book that, though it may not be the height of literature, is a very entertaining story and goes very well with the Halloween season.  There is some violence, some very rough language and a few tastefully written sex scenes.  All that earns this book a rating of PG13 nearing an R rating.

Roberts Signature

Monday, October 19, 2015

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Honestly, I don't read many graphic novels or comic books, so I'm probably not the best reviewer for this book. However, since Nimona exceeded my expectations, I decided to share my thoughts on this surprisingly funny and charming story. In my opinion, the actual story line was original and the characters were well developed for a graphic novel.

Nimona is a shapeshifting supervillain who imposes her services on Lord Ballister Blackheart in the first pages of the book. Although Blackheart is hesitant at first, they slowly built a strong working relationship. Despite his name, Blackheart isn't all that evil and the bad reputation he has, only comes from the fact that his nemesis is the hero of the city, Sir Goldenloin. The rivalry is old, dating back to when they were both training together to become knights. Every villain needs a good back story, and while Blackheart's is typical, it does explain why he does the things he does. But it doesn't really explain his fascination with science... (On a side note, my favorite quote from the book is "Halt, you villains! Unhand that science!")

Nimona is obviously the star of the book, despite being the sidekick. I love this quirky girl who has a hard time following the rules, and while her ability to shapeshift into any animal, human or beast she wants is exceptional, we don't realize how special she is until the very end of the story. I'm not quite sure why she's absolutely set on being a sidekick while she could wreck havoc very well all on her own, but I think it's because she craves companionship, even if the only villain available is grumpy Blackheart.

Knights, lasers, dragons, science, magic! Oh my! So many awesome things. The author definitely has an overactive imagination to come up with something so epic and humorous. Her unique drawing style is fun and I love the subtle changes in color palettes throughout the novel. I also appreciate how Nimona's human form changes ever so slightly as the story progresses. One thing I dislike is the font. The size varies from chapter to chapter and sometimes the letters are so small that it's really hard to read certain words.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in graphic novels or epic adventures. This isn't your typical comic, and while it might be intended for a younger audience, adults can most certainly enjoy it too.

Read the first three chapters

stephsig moon

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Stacking The Shelves [181]

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


 Happy weekend everyone! A quick visit to my local library this week and I added these books to my shelves, at least temporarily. Actually, I'm pretty satisfied with my local public library since it has recently come out with an app that allows you to keep track of your borrowed books and to place holds. I used to do this all online but this app makes everything simpler and easier. And honestly, they have a pretty good selection!

oct 2015

From the Library

The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Doctor Who: Shada by Douglas Adams and Gareth Roberts

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

That's it for me this week. Don't forget to add your link below!

stephsig moon

[inlinkz_linkup id=573620]

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

Before I start, let me warn you that Lair of Dreams is the 2nd installment in the Diviners series by Libba Bray.  If you haven't read The Diviners, you may want to start there.

Now, let me tell you that Lair of Dreams is definitely one of the top books I've read in 2015, if not the top book!  It's positutely the elephant's eyebrows!  You see, the characters are very young adults in the grandest of ages, the roaring '20s.  They live in New York, New York, and all have careers relating in one way or another to entertainment.  There are parties and speakeasies, the most fun and fantastic lingo you'll read in a book, and absolutely no cares in the world.  Hollywood, I'd love for someone to make this series into movies soon, please!

Some of these fun and flashy characters have special powers.  They are diviners, able to read the past and the future from personal objects.  Or dreamwalkers, able to reach people in their dreams, or the dead from beyond the grave.  Some of them have powers not yet realized when you start the book!  One thing I love about Libba Bray, though, is that she doesn't give every single character powers, and there's no formula to who has them and who doesn't.  Keeps this reader guessing right up to the reveal!  I also feel confident telling you that you will love all of the characters.  You will find yourself (like me) wishing for a time/fiction machine to go to the jazz age to hang out with them.  There's sweet and flirty Evie, who loves life (and her friends) with an unequaled ferocity.  And serious and smart Theta.  And southern gentleman Henry.  And goofball Sam.  And naïve but loyal Mabel.  And courageous and smart Ling.  And more!  I know it sounds like a lot, to have so many main characters, but Bray is a masterful storyteller who introduces them one by one (some in The Diviners and some in this book) to avoid confusion.  In both books, we meet the characters separately, or in small groups/pairs, then as the story progresses their individual narratives knit together to form the most lovely collective.

The plot also feels "woven together," from many different strands.  Each pair or group of characters is experiencing major events from very different viewpoints, giving the reader a total picture without an omniscient narrator talking over your shoulder.  My book's end flap described this book as "heart stopping," and I must concur.  This is one of those stay-up-way-past-your-bedtime-reading books, because you'll have to know that your beloved characters made it through another day!  Divining is a dangerous job already, with physical side effects (we learned in The Diviners that it's different for everyone, but usually involves something like a hangover effect), and now there's a mysterious sleeping sickness sweeping through NYC.  The victims appear healthy when they go to bed, but then their loved ones are unable to wake them by any means.  It especially affects Ling, who is the daughter of a Chinese man and who lives in Chinatown, where the sickness appears to have originated.  Will the dead she encounters in her dreamwalks help her solve the mystery before too many people are claimed?  Will she herself be able to remain safe of the sickness?  Soon all the local diviners are involved in a dangerous situation that involves the sickness, a ghostly woman, and a mysterious man in a stovepipe hat.  I don't want to give anything away, but it's definitely a page-turner!  It also feels a bit "dark," if that makes sense.  Despite all the fun '20s lingo, these characters feel like they're in very real danger, and much of the book takes place at night, and sometimes in unsavory parts of town.  Just one of the best marriages of suspense and mysticism and fright that I've read since Stephen King.

I'll close with an enthusiastic Hallelujah Chorus in praise of the audiobook.  A young lady named January does the reading and she's the bee's knees!  Absotutely the best!  No, the lingo doesn't do her justice... she, like the author, is a master at her craft.  She manages to get a 600+ page book onto only 19 CDs without ever feeling rushed.  She does distinct voices for 12+ characters, including males.  (My personal fave is New Orleans-raised Henry!)  And she sings!  With multiple characters in show biz, there are some snatches of tunes sprinkled throughout the book and January sings them and sings them well!  Really adds to the ambience.  I think this is an occasion where I'd actually recommend the audiobook over the physical book!

Five of five incredibly enthusiastic stars to Lair of Dreams!  And here's to hoping the third book isn't too long of a wait!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Diabolical Miss Hyde: Electric Empire Series #1 by Viola Carr

At a time when women had not yet gotten the right to vote, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a woman trying to make a career in a field that is not always taken seriously when performed by men.  On top of that, she has to deal with Lizzie Hyde, the Royal Society and her mysterious benefactor.

The Diabolical Miss Hyde: Electric Empire Series #1 by Viola Carr is a more unique telling of the old tale by Robert Louis Stevenson.  The change in gender of the main character(s) is accompanied by another subtler difference.  In this telling, we get a good understanding of the two characters that reside in the single body.  It is an interesting experience to watch both of these characters develop independently while still understanding they are essentially the same person. They are surrounded by a cast of characters that seem to fulfill their purpose. There are those exceptions that act outside of the archetype they represent and give a bit more life to the story.

The Victorian London setting always seems to be the best for the Jekyll and Hyde and Viola Carr takes full advantage of that in this book.  The style and sensibilities of an era marked by industrial advancement are a fertile field for a story that is about discovery and invention mixed with a bit of mysticism and folklore.

The story is interesting and keeps a decent stride, there are moments in the beginning where the author over used certain elements of the story (in my opinion).  To me, one of the more exhausting things a writer can do is to be repeatedly redundant over and over and over again. I may be more especially sensitive to this and that part of the book may not bother most readers.  Once I got into the meat of the story, I was in to the end.


The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr is an entertaining book that gives hope for the series that is promised in the title.  If you like classics reimagined, this is worth a try.  It is not, however, for the little ones.  Language, violence and mature scenes (yes, I mean sex) put this deep into the PG13 rating.

Roberts Signature

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"When I'm not writing" with Aria Michaels

I just finished reading Killshot by Aria Michaels, and it was fantastic!  You can read my review HERE.  And here's a teaser quote from the book (just try to resist that)!

LanternZander Killshot Icarus Aria Michaels


When I'm Not Writing Marie

Aria Michaels

When I am not writing, I spend the vast majority of my time swirling about in what I lovingly refer to as "the blender." You see, in addition to being an indie author, an artist, and an entrepreneur I am also a busy mother of six...six BOYS, ages 14, 12, 8, 8, 7, and 5, to be more specific. Add to the mix two with special needs and our blended family is a potent mix if his, mine, and ours that always keeps us on our toes and leaves others wondering, "how do you do it?"

My days begin in a rush as we scramble for meds, missing shoes, and last-minute "I forgots," before we race out to the car for another epic battle for the front seat. Once I deposit the children to their respective schools, the real fun begins. By three, I will have coordinated with my staff, run three miles, spent hours on promotion and marketing, kissed my husband goodbye, made my appearances on social media, and written at least a thousand words. Then, it's off to brave the dangers of the school pick-up line. Once the kids are home, we turn that blender on high while I master the art of juggling. Homework and chores, therapy appointments, football practice and Taekwando, reading time and baths, and how about dinner? Sure! I got this. Okay, who am I kidding? I'm not Superwoman; sometimes dinner is toaster waffles and yogurt and reading time is four boys huddled around a Lego catalog while the other two read The Walking Dead compendium, but we manage and everyone gets through the day mostly in one piece. The second their little heads hit the pillow, I start my second job...or is it my third? I lose track (laughs).

In 2012, I opened up a shop on Etsy called The Alternate Ending (www.etsy.com/shop/thealternateending). I have always been artistic but over the years, I have found great joy in the art of upcycling and re-imagining. I visit estate sales, thrift shops and clearance racks scouring the shelves for that certain something that is begging for a new story and I happily give it one. Some of the items in my shop are fun creations that pop into my head demanding to be seen and others are special requests from my clients, but each and every one of them is quirky and unique. It is truly satisfying to look at a piece and not only appreciate what it was, but envision what it could be and make it happen. In addition to helping me support my family and my writing career, my shop provides me with an additional outlet for my creativity and, often times, inspiration for a new story. Before I know it, I am back at the computer, typing away.

More often than not, my poor husband will come home to find my projects slung from one end of the house to the other like an arts-and-crafts crime scene.  Just past the trail of glue guns, fabric scraps, and discarded paint brushes, he will find me smiling over a glass of wine and click furiously on the keys trying to get that idea out of my head before it goes away. I'm covered in paint and the remnants of whatever I threw together for dinner, my hair is a mess and hanging in my face but I'm happy. Eventually, he'll pry me away and we'll snuggle in to catch up on the day's events, watch an episode of The Walking Dead, and surrender to a good read. Without fail, I fall asleep with my glasses on and my kindle cracking me across the face every night. A few hours later, I wake up to the sounds of giggling and shuffling feet and we start the process all over again.

"How do you do it?" I hear it so often, it's become second nature to simply respond with a shrug and say, "I just do," but the truth is there is so much more to it than that. Yes, it's difficult living in a blended family. Yes, it is challenging managing children with special needs. Honestly, I have no idea how I have enough time to write five-hundred page novels while running an Etsy shop full time. I still can't work out the math as to how I fit it all into my day, but I do know one thing without question. I wouldn't trade my chaotic life in the blender for the world. That chaos is part of who I am, and it feeds my creativity. It energizes and inspires me and even on the longest, most trying of days there are a half a dozen smiles, hugs, and I love you's waiting for me.

Here's hoping you have a little frappe in your life, too.


Aria Michaels is the author of the Best-Selling young adult dystopian novel Killshot (Icarus Series, Book One) as well as its companion novella, Before the Sky Fell. In addition to her career as an author, Aria Michaels is an avid reader, die-hard zombie fan and enthusiastic lover of bonfires and red wine. When she is not glued to her computer pouring out the voices in her head, Aria can be found playing in the dirt with her boys, painting, or binge-watching The Walking Dead with her husband. Don't let her mild-mannered smile fool you…this woman has lofty ambitions that include complete global domination. She is determined to live in a world where every pair of yoga pants comes with a free book, an iced caramel macchiatto and a magic force-field that repels the sound of screaming children (of which she has six). In the meantime, Aria is hard at work on the next installment of the Icarus Series, reveling in her role as instigator of literary mayhem and stealth assassin of fictional characters. 

For more information about Aria Michaels and the Icarus Series, be sure to check out her website at www.ariamichaels.com 

"You are never more than one choice away from a different future." --Aria Michaels

Thanks so much for visiting us, Aria! For more about Aria and her books, check out the following links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Here's the scoop on Killshot:


When 17 year old Liv Larson and her brother are sent to separate foster homes, she dedicates her every breath to getting him back. After months of solitude and anti-social behavior, her best friend Riley ropes her into a Rooftop Solar Flare Party. Despite the fascinating lights in the sky, Liv finds herself drawn, instead, to Zander- the boy with the crooked smile.

For a few hours, Liv’s troubles finally feel a bit less overwhelming—that is until what should have been a small flare erupts into a massive solar storm forcing them all to seek shelter in the school’s basement. Cut off from the rest of the world and with no signs of rescue, fear and paranoia set in and battle lines are drawn, dividing their ranks. What is left the group must embark on a perilous journey to save one of their own and find their families…but, something sinister awaits them in the shadows and it’s undeniably connected to Liv.

Can Liv keep her promise to reunite with her brother? What are she and her friends willing to do to survive? Will their bravery and determination be enough to save them all from a rogue government, a terrifying virus, and the things that go bump in the night…Or was Icarus, indeed, The Killshot?Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository


Do you guys have suggestions for who you’d like to see featured on the blog? If so, you can make your suggestions on this page. No guarantees that your favourite authors will be able to participate but we’ll try!

Authors, would you like to visit  us? Please email me at marie (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll set it up!


Monday, October 12, 2015

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

This book is definitely original. I guess when you combine a master of Fantasy with a master of Sci-fi you're bound to get something amazing. True enough, I've never read anything by Baxter so this was a good way to introduce me to his work. I've read one book by Pratchett, which happens to be another collaboration with one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman. In my opinion, Baxter plus Pratchett equals creative genius. That being said, I don't know how to categorize this book because it combines the two genres so effortlessly, that it can be placed in either one.

I really didn't know what I was getting into when I first started reading The Long Earth. Put simply, the book is primarily about a young man called Joshua who is travelling thousands and millions of parallel earths along with an artificial intelligence human called Lobsang. The ability to travel between the different Earths more or less became a worldwide phenomenon on Step Day, the day kids built steppers (the apparatus that allows most people to travel between Earths) and disappeared. For most, stepping between worlds is a nauseating ordeal but for Joshua, it's done effortlessly and even without a stepper. I guess you could say no to world is alike, some very similar, others completely different. New species of animals are being discovered, along with "new" hominid species that also have the ability to step. Some worlds are dangerous, while other are boring.

The main storyline is definitely Joshua's but you also get to read the point of view of many other characters. Personally, I'm never a fan of multiple point of views and this book is no exception. The various point of views makes it difficult to really get hooked by the book, but in this case, definitely important to understand how stepping has affected various people. However, once Joshua's story is established, the book is really hard to put down. I mean, who could put it down when you have two explorers travelling in an airship across the earth and through parallel universes at the same time?

I'm afraid true fantasy and sci-fi fans won't be able to fully appreciate this book. Personally, I really enjoyed it and I think it's the beginning of a great series. I think The Long Earth is simply an introduction, and things haven't really started yet. All series must start somewhere and this book is definitely a great introduction.

Personally, I think this collaboration is mind-blowing. The idea of parallel universes is obviously something that has been done before, but besides that, the rest of the book is by far one of the most original books I've read in a long time. The creativity behind every little detail is astounding and I'll be reading the next books as soon as possible.

stephsig moon

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Stacking The Shelves {180}

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


This time around, I have collected a variety of books that I loved and some that I haven't.  The one common thread among them is they seem to be all honest efforts to communicate ideas.  Here are some of the ideas I've been reading through:

Robert's STS_Oct


For all you aspiring (or in my own case wishful) an excellent addition to your library is Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris.  It's an interesting and fun peek into the world of editing and proof reading.

The Diabolical Miss Hyde: Electric Empire Series #1 by Viola Carr  and A Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin are two books I'll share more about later!

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is one of those classics that I really didn't like.  I understand writing a story that has an agenda but, when you sacrifice things like character depth, I lose interest.

My thoughts on The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred the Vampire Accountant by Drew Hays can be found here.  It's definitely a fun read!

Mutineer: Kris Longknife, Book 1 by Mike Stepherd is one of those science fiction books I choose not to review.  It has a significant fan base and I hope they enjoy the series.  I just want to say, the name Mary Sue comes to mind.Signing October

 Due to my own mistake when it came to dates, I missed the Jim Butcher signing of the Aeronaut's Windlass at The Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore.  I did manage to show up for Brandon Sanderson's signing of Shadows of Self .  Not only did Mr. Sanderson do a reading, he also talked about Sejong the Great of Korea, his alphabet and how literacy helps spread thoughts and ideas.  I could never do justice to the talk in this small space but, maybe I'll do my own take on the subject in a Soapbox post.

So, what salient bits of self expression have you added to your shelves?


Roberts Signature

[inlinkz_linkup id=570661]

Friday, October 09, 2015

Soapboxing: Gambling in books

soapboxing logo

*This post is sponsored by Steve Marks*
*Mature content links are in this post*

Soapboxing is our platform for talking about books and book-related topics that matter to us. Soapboxing posts may be rants, they may highlight awesome or terrifying trends, or they might tackle bookish issues on our minds…
The content will vary but the posts will (hopefully) never be boring!


It's been a long time since we last hosted a Soapboxing post and with my like of reading time lately I thought it would be a good time to dust it off. I've been thinking about all those books I read, with mentions of gambling, casinos, and what not and I realized they are much more present then I thought.

Just to mention a few, in Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series The People (Vampire pilots in a Dystopian universe) host all of their business from The Casino. There Aces Wild by Amanda Carlsonare even a few scenes there even though it's not the main theater. There is also an awesome series of novellas called the Sin City Collectors, written by Amanda Carlson and Kristen Painter. The whole series takes place in a paranormal version of The Strip and it's actually quite awesome! A twitter follower also mentioned there is a moment in The Hollows by Kim Harrison when they also go to a casino. I honestly don't mind since they are series with an adult audience.

I mean, we are adults, not as impressible and we are (at least suppose too lol) responsible of our own actions.

SilverShadowsbyRichelleMeadThis leads me to Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead. This title is meant for young adult audience and the last couple of chapters at the end are happening at the Strip in Vegas. The main couple are being chased from Casino to Casino, running away from their enemies. A very action packed moment! Of course, the focus isn't gambling, but I am wondering if any parents would forbid their teens to read such books for that reason? You know, banned books and all. I am a big fan of Richelle, and I don't condemn her of course, but I am wondering if others are? I am sure there are more YA titles with games but it's the only one coming to mind right now.

With online gambling being so accessible, such as many Royal Vegas games to play, or even lottery at the convenience store is this something you thought about? Does it bother you? Or on the contrary, do you feel it might be an educational tool to some extend? Do you have any other titles with reference to casinos or gambling that comes to mind?

Thank you all so much for taking part in the discussion, and I hope you'll be able to host more Soapboxing posts in the near future!


Suggestion from Melanie: The Cassie Palmer series by Karen Chance
Suggestion from Robert: Percy Jackson: Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan


Thursday, October 08, 2015

Killshot by Aria Michaels

If you're looking for a book that has it all, this is it.  It's YA, which I love, and there's a mystery for the teens to solve and overcome.  There's almost a feeling of a quest of sorts, and a definite dystopian feel.  While you won't love every character the same way, you'll definitely agree that they are very real and very brave.

This is one of those books that I loved reading so much, I'm not sure I can do it justice in this review!  It's so well done, the pages flew by despite the length.  (474 pages)  The story focuses around Liv, a 17-year-old girl who has recently lost her parents and is in a separate foster home from her little brother.  Her life went from carefree high school students to seriously focused young adult.  Everything she does is focused on earning enough money to support herself and her little brother once she turns 18.  That is, until the night that she accepts an invite from her foster sister to a rooftop viewing party for a solar flare.

Just one of the many things Aria Michaels does really well is the way that she introduces characters.  First we meet Liv, and see a little of her backstory through her memories.  Then we meet her foster sister, Riley, when she comes to wake up Liv for school.  Each character that is introduced is introduced in a really natural way, and we're never bombarded with a whole room full of new characters at once.  I love that chance for character development!  Even though we end up with a group of about 10 teens surviving together, I never had to flip back and forth to try to remember who was who.  Also, the cast of characters was diverse without feeling forced.  There were multiple sexualities and ethnicities represented, but none of it was thrown in our faces, and none were exaggerated into stereotypes.  For example, there's a Black girl, but she's not ultra-sassy or ratchet or anything.  She's cool, and goes with the flow.  In fact, the reader knows Falisha for about two chapters before it's even mentioned that she's Black.  Michaels even throws together different religious belief systems in her characters without ever sounding preachy!  I couldn't tell you if the author herself is Christian or not.  (Personally, I can usually guess the author's belief system if belief is mentioned at all in a book.  Very impressed that it wasn't obvious in this one.)  Not only were the characters very real and introduced in such an awesome way, they also show great growth throughout the book.  This goes hand-in-hand with none of them being stereotypes, I guess, but it's still worth mentioning.

(A tiny warning:  I'd give this to older teens.  The characters don't shy away from occasional heavy-handed language.  But that just makes them more real!  It's not overdone.)

The characters felt natural and were introduced in a smooth way, and the plot unfolds in the same way.  In the whole book, there wasn't a single period when I was bored and skimming, and there also weren't any areas where the plot unfolded too quickly.  You know how sometimes you're reading and you have to stop and say, "ok, what just happened??  That came out of nowhere!"  None of that in Killshot.  And that's a big compliment!  We're talking about a solar flare that's decimated society, and I never felt confused or overwhelmed or out of my ability to grasp the situation.  Oh, and I also loved how even though the characters are teens, I never found myself seriously disagreeing with decisions that they made.  They weren't too mature for belief, but they also weren't stupid.  Awesome!

Only two tiny complaints:  I read Killshot as an eARC, and there was a serious lack of conjunctions in it.  This really might just be because I read a pre-edited version of the book.  Unfortunately, I found it a little distracting, especially when the characters were in conversation.  Everyone says "I'm" instead of "I am" when talking!  Also, the ending.  Michaels, if you're reading this, I'm going to need the sequel ASAP.  Like, yesterday.  I'm way too invested in these characters for that exciting of an ending!  I need more!

While the length might be off-putting to some, the story is very much worth it.  Exciting without being overwhelming, with characters you'll get attached to.  Highly, highly recommended!


Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Drew Hays

The case of Fred brings up a good question: If an accountant turns into a vampire would anybody notice?  I mean somebody who doesn't go out during the day with a pallid complexion and their social life is dominated by business could describe either if you think about it. The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred the Vampire Accountant by Drew Hays is a truly unique take on a popular Urban Fantasy subject.   From Butcher to Harris to Meyer to Rice we've seen some ideas of what a modern vampire's day to day life might look like.  Action, danger and romance around each corner  gives an alluring picture of that  life could be.  Then there's Fred.

At the beginning of this book his best bet for excitement might have been becoming the accountant for one of the more popular of his kind. While the idea of an accountant vampire (vampire accountant?) may be fresh this book does rely on many familiar character types as well as the relationships among them.  Even so, the characters are more archetype than stereotype.  Some of the characters I thought would be somewhat flat and just background in the beginning wound up more rounded and interesting later in the book.  Of course, Fred goes through his own growth and becomes a somebody a bit more interesting.

This book is more a collection of short stories that blend well together.  They build off each other very well and keep a pace throughout the book that makes it easy to stay engaged until the end.  The stories are variations of some we've seen before but, they are done in a way that makes them entertaining none the less.  Using the settings of Los Angeles and Las Vegas gives these stories the darkened danger we look for in the genre.  The author also did a very good job of capturing that 'dark gritty danger lurking behind the glitz and glamor' feel at both locations.

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Drew Hays is an entertaining yet easy read.  It takes an almost light-hearted approach to a subject matter that has such a dark side.  It gets pretty violent and has some frank discussions of a mature nature which is why I would put it at a solid PG13 rating.


Roberts Signature


Monday, October 05, 2015

The Heir by Kiera Cass

There's something gripping and tantalizing about this series. Even if it's not amazing literature, and even if the story isn't all that original, there's something that keeps me coming back for more. The author couldn't finish this series in three books, like it was originally made out to be. She continued her story by reintroducing us to her world, 20 years after the third book ended. Illéa has changed but nothing much is different. Even though King Maxon has removed the caste system, people are still being judged and aren't satisfied with the prejudice and everything that is going on. The citizens are angry and some are even rioting against the monarchy and the invisible castes.

Worse, the people don't seem to like the heir very much. Princess Eadlyn comes off as cold, hard and lacking in emotion. Any royal that is born to rule should have a thick skin in order to deal with everyday life but in Eadlyn's case, it doesn't make her a very likable person. In order to create peace and to calm the riots, Eadlyn and her parent have come up with a probable solution: The Selection. In this case, instead of girls being invited to the palace, this time 35 boys are invited to meet and live with Eadlyn in hope that one of them becomes the next prince. At first, Eadlyn isn't too crazy about the idea but she agrees that it's a good one.

Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of Eadlyn. She does come off a little bratty and selfish but she really doesn't do it on purpose. She was raised to rule a country and she always thought she would have to be strong and unemotional. However, the selection shows her that she has a hard time trusting strangers and sharing her emotions, even with boys she might end up falling in love with. The thick skin she always thought she needed might be her downfall because passion is one thing she never thought she would need as a ruler, but it seems to be what her subjects are requiring.

The book leaves us confused because it's hard to read Eadlyn's thoughts. She was able to weed through the undesirable selection candidates, but from what's left, she has many great candidates. I guess you could say she has some favorites, boys she's gets along with, but despite all her efforts to date and get to know them, she's no closer to finding love. She is committed to finding someone that will help her rule but hopefully she makes the right choice and her people learn to love her for who she is.

I'm definitely going to read the next and final book of the series. I'm curious about who she will choose as her prince. THE HEIR, like all the other books in this series, is a great book to get your mind off things. The plot may be simple but the teen drama is really entertaining. If you're in the mood for a good teen drama or have an addiction to the reality TV show The Bachelor/The Bachelorette, you might want to consider this for your next read.

stephsig moon

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Stacking The Shelves {179}

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


 Hey Guys!

Another small week for me book wise. I got a review copy of Six of Crow by Leigh Bardugo and I am super happy!


On a personal note, I am always reporting how sick my daughters are, well they finally decided to do something for my youngest. She will be getting an ears surgery but there is a 9 months wait list I am particularly dreading with winter coming.

I hope you all add great weeks!

tynsignew[inlinkz_linkup id=569489]

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Breaking Dawn is one of those books where I really feel like I got my money's worth (and more, honestly), if that makes sense.  It is one long book, but for fans of the Twilight Saga, it might still not be quite enough.

I could talk for days about the plot- there's a LOT there.  Stephenie Meyer probably could have split Breaking Dawn into two or three books, and Twilight fans would have bought them all.  Kudos to Meyer for letting us have it all in one package!  I don't want to spoil anything, though.  I managed to make it through all the original fandom without finding out even a quarter of what happens in this book, and I don't want to ruin it for anyone else out there.  Just know that you will get some of the most romantic romance I've read in a YA book recently, some really intense mind-blowing medical drama, lots of friendship development, and plenty of character growth.  All in one!

I can talk about the intensity of the writing skill in Breaking Dawn without spoilers.  During the romantic scenes, I totally swooned.  Know that I do not swoon easily!  I tend to be more realistic and label romantic scenes as cheesy, but there were some bits early in the book where I was ready to try to marry into the Cullen family!  (Hubby:  not really.  Don't worry.  They're fictional.)  I think what I liked best is that the romantic scenes between characters in this book weren't all about kissing/bedroom eyes:  there was action.  The characters showed affection for each other in very realistic ways, like in spending time with each other, just holding hands, cooking for each other, etc.  The setting didn't hurt either:  I won't tell you where the characters travel to (it was a surprise for a character as much as for me), but I will tell you that Meyer does a fantastic time painting the landscape for the reader.  I had no trouble being transported to that place with those characters.  On the flip side, the descriptions were just as vivid during intense medical drama and fights-I got pretty nervous during a few of the scenes and had to take a moment to think about baby pandas instead.  Oh my!

I can also talk about character growth without any plot spoilers.  Remember how I called Bella a "dramarama mama" in my review of Eclipse?  She definitely shows the most growth in Breaking Dawn.  In just one book, she takes on multiple new responsibilities, all without complaint.  We see her transition from an unsure, clumsy high schooler to a conscientious young adult.  She's not the only one, either:  Jacob, I feel, also shows quite a bit of growth throughout this book as he also takes on some new responsibilities.  And finally, we can also look at the big picture and see growth in the relationships between supernatural groups, such as between the La Push werewolves and the Cullen vampires.  (There's more than just that, but that would be spoilery.  Teaser!)

Meyer does something cool with point of view in Breaking Dawn.  At the end of Eclipse, there's an epilogue from Jacob's point of view.  In Breaking Dawn, there's an entire chunk of the book from his point of view.  That was pretty cool.  While Bella isn't a vampire, she's very tied up in the Cullens and their lifestyle, and not the most objective observer.  I liked getting to see the Cullens from a slightly more critical eye.  And we all already know that I've been Team Jacob.  ;)

Don't think that Breaking Dawn is all lovey dovey hand-holding and character growth:  there's also a definite conflict.  That should probably be Conflict with a capital "c," really.  It's like all the other books' conflicts were piddly little set-ups compared to what's building in Forks, WA in Breaking Dawn!  This is hard to talk about without spoilers.  Just trust me that you will not be disappointed!

I listened to about half (the first half) on CD in my car, then finished it up in a physical book.  Nothing wrong with the narration; I just had more listening to do than I had time, and I can read slightly faster than I can listen.  The same narrator reads for the Bella parts in Breaking Dawn, and a new reader is introduced for the Jacob parts.  We already know that I think the Bella narrator is great; the Jacob narrator was ok.  He read clearly and with a good cadence, but his voice when he was reading quotes from Bella or Edward got a bit goofy.  Oh well.  I'd still call it a good audiobook overall.

This series definitely ends on a crowd-pleasing bang!  For fans of the first three Twilight books, I'd say that Breaking Dawn is an absolute must.