Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier


From the author of the New York Times bestseller Juliet comes a mesmerizing novel about a young scholar who risks her reputation—and her life—on a thrilling journey to prove that the legendary warrior women known as the Amazons actually existed.

Oxford lecturer Diana Morgan is an expert on Greek mythology. Her obsession with the Amazons started in childhood when her eccentric grandmother claimed to be one herself—before vanishing without a trace. Diana’s colleagues shake their heads at her Amazon fixation. But then a mysterious, well-financed foundation makes Diana an offer she cannot refuse.

Traveling to North Africa, Diana teams up with Nick Barran, an enigmatic Middle Eastern guide, and begins deciphering an unusual inscription on the wall of a recently unearthed temple. There she discovers the name of the first Amazon queen, Myrina, who crossed the Mediterranean in a heroic attempt to liberate her kidnapped sisters from Greek pirates, only to become embroiled in the most famous conflict of the ancient world—the Trojan War. Taking their cue from the inscription, Diana and Nick set out to find the fabled treasure that Myrina and her Amazon sisters salvaged from the embattled city of Troy so long ago. Diana doesn’t know the nature of the treasure, but she does know that someone is shadowing her, and that Nick has a sinister agenda of his own. With danger lurking at every turn, and unsure of whom to trust, Diana finds herself on a daring and dangerous quest for truth that will forever change her world.

Sweeping from England to North Africa to Greece and the ruins of ancient Troy, and navigating between present and past, The Lost Sisterhood is a breathtaking, passionate adventure of two women on parallel journeys, separated by time, who must fight to keep the lives and legacy of the Amazons from being lost forever.


***ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.***

I haven't read Anne Fortier's previous work Juliet, but a friend of mine said that it was one of her all time favorite books. I requested a copy of The Lost Sisterhood based on that recommendation of the author.  I didn't read the description or anything else about it before I started reading.  So, I had no idea what to expect & it kept me guessing all the way to the end.  

The Lost Sisterhood is quite a bit different than the books that I usually read.  It is essentially two parallel stories.  In the frame story, we meet Diana Morgan, a philologist who is guest lecturing at Oxford University. Her focus is on the legend of the Amazon women.  Even though she has been mocked throughout her career for believing that there is truth to the legend, she can't fight the feeling she has had since childhood that there is more to the story than anyone knows.  When approached by a mysterious man who offers her a large sum of money in exchange for boarding a plane no questions asked & accompanying him to see "proof" that the Amazon Women existed, she throws caution and all warnings to the side & goes on what could be a journey of a lifetime, or could be the most dangerous, reckless decision she has ever made.

In the companion story, we go back in time to a small village in Northern Africa & meet Myrina as she returns to home from a hunt to find her mother dying. When the villagers accuse her mother of witchcraft, Myrina & her little sister Lilli are forced to escape into the jungle to protect themselves. We follow their journey as Myrina goes from being a lost orphan to a high priestess not only charged with keeping Lilli alive, but also protecting the sisterhood that has taken her in.  

The stories are woven to create a beautiful picture of the past & present coming together.  The mysteries unfold like artifacts an archaeological dig.  As parts are revealed, their meaning isn't always clear until all of the pieces came together in the end.  At over 600 pages, this isn't a quick read, but as the story builds, it is complex & intriguing enough that I didn't want to put it down.  I don't know much about the legend of the Amazons or the other historical moments referenced in the book.  So, I'm not sure how much is truly historical or how much is the author's fantasy, but I liked how the two come together.  

The Lost Sisterhood wasn't the best book I have read this year, but I definitely enjoyed it.  It was a refreshing change of pace from the books I am typically drawn to.  Now, based on my friend's recommendation, as well as my enjoyment of this book, I'll definitely need to check out Juliet!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Event! -- Left Drowning by Jessica Park

Title: Left Drowning
Author: Jessica Park
Print Length: 399 pages
ISBN: 1477817158
Publisher: Skyscape (July 16, 2013)
Jessica Park is one of my current favorite authors.  Her book Flat-Out Love (and follow-up Flat-Out Matt) quickly skyrocketed up my favorite books list & has hung out there with a select few other authors & fantastic books.  Left Drowning is quite a different story, but wonderful in its own way (see my full review here!).  Somehow despite all of the fanfare surrounding Flat-Out Love, Left Drowning snuck in without much notice & definitely without the attention it deserves.  If you managed to miss out on this book last summer, it's worth checking out now!  And for the Flat-Out Love fans, keep an eye out on Jessica's facebook page for information on her next book Flat-Out Celeste (to be released spring 2014)!


What does it take to rise from life’s depths, swim against the current, and breathe?

Weighted down by the loss of her parents, Blythe McGuire struggles to keep her head above water as she trudges through her last year at Matthews College. Then a chance meeting sends Blythe crashing into something she doesn’t expect—an undeniable attraction to a dark-haired senior named Chris Shepherd, whose past may be even more complicated than her own. As their relationship deepens, Chris pulls Blythe out of the stupor she’s been in since the night a fire took half her family. She begins to heal, and even, haltingly, to love this guy who helps her find new paths to pleasure and self-discovery. But as Blythe moves into calmer waters, she realizes Chris is the one still strangled by his family’s traumatic history. As dark currents threaten to pull him under, Blythe may be the only person who can keep him from drowning.

*This book is intended for mature audiences due to strong language and sexual content.

Note: due to mature content recommended for Ages 17+

Official Book Trailer

Jessica's Left Drowning Playlist




I catch my foot on the first step outside of my dorm and fall unceremoniously onto the concrete. I stay where I am for a moment, thinking that the set of keys digging into my hand should probably hurt more. Not to mention my knees, since they just endured a direct blow. “Awesome,” I mumble as I push to a wobbly stand and careen toward the door. I giggle slightly while struggling to fit the key into the lock. The good news here is that if I banged the shit out of myself like I think I just did, I might just feel something tomorrow.
 It has to be better than feeling nothing, right? How’s that for a goddamn silver lining? I brace myself against the giant door, steadying myself. Wait, what’s less than silver? Iron? Zinc? Could there be a zinc lining? 

It takes a few failed attempts at working the lock for me to realize that the key to the house I grew up in near Boston will not, understandably, unlock a dorm in Wisconsin. I finally shove the proper key in the hole and turn the lock. “I’ve opened the door!” I whisper triumphantly to no one. The thick metal door is unbearably heavy and resists opening fully, so I slam my shoulder hard against the door frame as I try to slither through the narrow opening.
 Yet another victory! I think hazily. The hangover I’m sure to have tomorrow, plus the injuries from smashing into objects, is definitely going to hurt. So continues my endless search for physical feeling, sensation. Anything. Still, even in my decidedly inebriated state, I know that the bruises from a drunken night can hardly be equated with any sort of positive emotional step forward. At least it will be something, though. Something other than numbness. It will be a distraction, and distractions are always welcome. 

The stairwell is flooded with hideous fluorescent light. It’s empty, although at this time of night, I realize one of my drunken peers might stagger past me with a one-night stand in tow at any minute. I really don’t understand how people ever get laid on campus. Anyone who looks even vaguely attractive in a normal setting becomes drastically less appealing on the way back to a dorm room. Beer goggles are no match for atrocious lighting. I lean against the wall on the second-story landing and yank my phone from my pocket. My reflection in the small black screen confirms my suspicion. My already messy curls have popped out of my ponytail so there’s a frizzy halo around my head, and even on my dark phone I can see the puffiness under my eyes. I look bananas.

“I look bananas!” I holler, noting the echo of my slurred words. Maybe I always look like this? Not that I care. I don’t spend a lot of time in front of the mirror or concerning myself with my appearance in any way, really. I look however I look, and that is that. In the scheme of things, it just doesn’t matter. And no one is paying attention. However, I do indeed look bananas.

When I get to my room, I practically fall through the unlocked door. Luckily, I don’t have a roommate who might complain about my noisy entrance. She moved out a few days before—presumably to go live with someone less catatonic—so the double is now all mine. I don’t blame the poor girl. If you’re going to be trapped on a relatively small campus outside of Madison, Wisconsin, it’s best to surround yourself with cheerful people.

I walk through the dark room, stub my toe on what I’m pretty sure is an anthropology textbook, and collapse onto the futon. Oh, the irony of my having replaced the dorm-provided single bed with a full-size futon. Anyone seeing it might imagine I was the type to bring home boys.

But I am a failure in that area.
 Add it to the fucking list, I tell myself. I’ve lost track of the guys on campus that I’ve drunkenly led on and then pushed away before anything could happen. The thought of anyone else’s hands on my body makes me want to retch. This is not normal; I understand that. Which is why I always have that moment when I’m drunk and the idea of fun, no-strings sex seems like a bright idea. For God’s sake, if I could ever go through with it, I’d be in good company. Plenty of other twenty-one-year-olds were making walks of shame home in the wee hours of the morning. I’ve heard those supposedly shameful nights retold with plenty of laughs and sordid details. 

I can lure a guy in when I want to. Alcohol gives me that. And boys respond, although I have no idea why. It’s natural to want to connect with other people, I guess. Except I don’t want to. Not really. Which must be why I don’t have any real friends. But I drink and play the role, holding out hope that self-fulfilling prophecies exist, and that I might make a connection and feel whole again if I pretend long enough. The act is fun for me initially, yet it leaves me even worse off by the end of the night, when reality hits and my intolerable loneliness engulfs me.

            I know it’s not especially smart to lead guys on and then bolt the minute they try to touch me. But I have my strategies. I often mumble something about being a virgin, a revelation that effectively puts a damper on most guys’ interest. Discovering this did sort of amuse me. I’d have thought guys would like the idea of being a girl’s first. No pressure to perform acrobatic-style maneuvers and whatnot since I wouldn’t know any better. But it seems that the generally smart, decent guys at this small liberal college in the middle of Wisconsin’s snow tundra don’t want the responsibility of deflowering a drunken coed. Go figure. Either way, I make sure nothing physical ever happens, despite my fervent desire to find an escape, however temporary. God knows it wouldn’t be fun for me anyway, considering I have the arousal level of a rock.

So I add
 frigid to the list. To that stupid mental inventory I try so hard not to keep. An increasingly large list of all of my flaws. My inadequacies. My failures. 

There has to be a list of my successes, too, doesn’t there? Or at least my. . . adequacies? I try to focus. All the fucking liquor makes it hard, but I try. This is important.

I’m a not-terrible student. 

I shower regularly. 

I know a lot about tides. 

I will eat nearly anything, except for raisins. 

Christ. I refocus. I may be drunk, but I can do better.

I have mastered the art of melancholy. 

I have my doubts about whether this can even vaguely be considered a “success.” I think again, determined to find something I’ve done that is worth recognition.

I lived. 

The laugh that escapes my lips is awful. The bitter sound echoes throughout my sparse room. “I’m a regular fucking Harry Potter!” I shriek. “Fuck!”

I sit up and kick off my shoes. My phone is still in my hand, and I look dizzily at it.

I never give up on my brother. That at least should go on the “success” list. Without thinking about or planning what to say, I grab my phone and call him. 

“Jesus Christ, Blythe. What do you want?” James grumbles.

“Sorry. I woke you, didn’t I?”

“Yes, you woke me up. It’s three in the morning.”

“Is it that late? Well, you’re in college, too. Thought you’d just be getting home.” I wait, but he says nothing. “How’s school? How’s the leg? I bet you’re getting stronger every day still.”

“School is fine, and knock it off with the leg questions, all right? You bring it up every time I talk to you. Enough. It’s as good as it’s going to get, which is shitty. Stop asking.” My brother yawns. “Seriously, just go to bed.” The clear irritation, the disgust, in his voice sears through me.

“James, please. I’m sorry.” Damn it. I can’t disguise the drunken edge to my voice. “We never talk. I wanted to hear your voice. See if you’re okay.”

He sighs. “Yes. I’m as fine as I can be. You sound like a disaster, though.”

“Gee, that’s nice.”

“Well, you do.” James pauses. “Mom and Dad wouldn’t like this crap. You know that. Can you just… Can we do this another time?”

“I’m so sorry for everything. I need you to know that. To really know that. Things can be better for you. I want—”

“Don’t. Not now. Not again. We’re not having this fucking conversation again.”

“Okay.” I stare out the window into the dark. It’s late September in the wee hours, and I know what is coming. Nothing good. The same as it is every year. “Sure thing, James.” The ridiculous attempt at conveying a cheerful, nonchalant tone makes my voice crack. “We’ll talk soon. Take care, James.”

So that went well. Not that I should have expected better. Inebriated middle-of-the-night calls are sort of destined to fail. I know because I’ve made them before. What’s tragic is that after each dumb call to my brother, I resolve that the next one will go more smoothly. What sucks is that sober calls during the day aren’t any better; they always result in exchanges that are stilted and uncomfortable. 

I sigh heavily, then turn on the flashlight app on my phone. I love that not only does it make normal white light, but it lets me select whatever damn color I want. I set the phone down on my bed, and it illuminates part of the room with haunting blue electronic light.

As I stand and shuffle to the small sink, my body feels drained of all its alcohol-fueled energy. It takes a few tries, but I eventually shove my long, messy hair into a knot on the top of my head. A few curls fall from the tie and hang by my face. I can’t look at myself because I cannot stomach looking at a girl who has so little hope left, who is inexcusably weak. I am humiliated by my own inability to do better. I vow to spend at least the next twenty-four hours booze-free.

The water that comes from the tap is ice cold. Minute after minute goes by as I collect handfuls of water and toss them over my face. I don’t stop until there are no more hot tears to wash away.

About the Author:

Jessica is the author of LEFT DROWNING, the New York Times bestselling FLAT-OUT LOVE (and the companion piece FLAT-OUT MATT), and RELATIVELY FAMOUS. She lives in New Hampshire where she spends an obscene amount time thinking about rocker boys and their guitars, complex caffeinated beverages, and tropical vacations. On the rare occasions that she is able to focus on other things, she writes.

Please visit her at and on Facebook at and Twitter @JessicaPark24

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Searching For Perfect (Searching #2) by Jennifer Probst


The highly anticipated second novel in the new Searching For series from Jennifer Probst, "one of the most exciting breakout novelists" (USA TODAY)—a spin-off of the bestselling Marriage to a Billionaire series—featuring a sexy matchmaker, and the rocket scientist who becomes her special project…

The up-and-coming matchmaking agency Kinnections is the hottest thing to hit Verily, New York—just like Kennedy Ashe, social director for the service she owns with her two best girlfriends. A coach, consultant, and cheerleader rolled into one super-sizzling package, Kennedy creates dream dates, encourages singles to shine, and never refuses a challenge—not even Nate Ellison Raymond Dunkle, rocket scientist, nerd extraordinaire, and Kennedy’s newest client.

Kennedy vows to work her magic and transform this hot mess in a lab coat with a disastrous relationship track record into the most wanted man on the Verily dating scene. If only she could turn the wand on herself…though she radiates confidence and sex appeal, Kennedy harbors deep-seated insecurities from a tormented past and lifelong struggle with weight issues. When she realizes she and Nate are cut from the same cloth and might be perfect together, can Kennedy learn to let her heart lead the way? Or will her fears sentence her to the sidelines as Nate finds love—with someone else?


***ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.***

In Searching for Someday, we met the women behind Kinnections, an upscale matchmaking company in the small town of Verily on the outskirts of NYC.  Kate, Kennedy & Arilyn have helped lead the majority of their clients to true love & the happiness that comes with it.  However, until Slade walked in & changed Kate's life, none of them had managed to find love for themselves.  Now, happy & headed for marriage, Kate wants the same for her two best friends.  

With Searching for Perfect, we get to know Kennedy.  She has worked all of her life to feel beautiful & worth love, but has accepted that it is her calling to help others rather than herself.  She faces her biggest challenge when she meets Nathan Ellison Raymond Dunkle...a.k.a. Ned the Nerd.  Ned is a mess. He is an aerospace engineer (not a rocket scientist!) who can almost always be found wearing too large pants & a lab coat with the lunch of the day smeared somewhere on it. He spends more time with books & computers than real people, and his ideas of women come from his jaded brother, Connor, who was scarred first by their mother walking out & then again by a cheating girlfriend.  When Ned insults one of Kennedy's clients, she decides to take him under her wing as her own personal Eliza Doolittle.  

I found Searching for Perfect to be as cute & charming as Searching for Someday.  I really enjoyed the interaction between Kennedy, Kate & Arilyn as well as the budding romance between Kennedy & Nate. This story was quite a bit steamier than the first book (as it turns out...nerds do have their advantages!), but also maintained the heart & humor.  Where the "Love Spells" subtitle seems to have been dropped since Searching for Someday's release, the book of spells still makes an appearance & there is still a spark of magic to the story.  All of these elements come together to make a fun read.  If you are a fan of traditional romance stories, you should definitely check out this series!

Even though this is the second in the series, it can be read as a stand alone without feeling like you have missed something.  Now, the wait begins for Arilyn's story...

*This book will be released in e-book & paperback on April 29th*


To pass the time while waiting for Searching for Perfect to be released, join in the fun on 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith Ready

This Side of Salvation
Book Summary From The Author

Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure:  The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.

Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties in to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.

But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined… 

What Others Are Saying:

“THIS SIDE OF SALVATION is impossible to pigeonhole. It’s a mystery, a love story, a tale of friendship, of prejudice, and of a family overcoming tragedy…Jeri Smith-Ready has her finger on the pulse of American youth.” — Printz Honor winner and NYT Bestseller Elizabeth Wein

“This is a frighteningly realistic story that delicately handles the issues of religion and family—an emotional mystery sure to be popular and perfect for discussion.” — VOYA, **Highlighted (Starred) Review**

“[A] smart, well-rounded, and unpredictable tale...bringing to light issues of belief versus free will, spirit versus body, and family versus self—while never being heavy-handed.” Booklist, **Starred Review**

“This book has some of the best written, strongest, and most satisfying character dynamics that I have read in a long time...There are no extreme moral rights and wrongs in this book. These people just are, and they work, and they make this story beautiful.” — Bibliopunkk


What I Thought:

I first came across Jeri Smith-Ready in early 2012 when I checked out audiobook copy of Shade from the library.  I was immediately sucked into Aura's world.  I requested the audio for Shift before I even finished Shade & then pre-ordered a signed copy of Shine from Jeri's local bookstore.  I signed up right away for "Team Shade/Team Kilt" & have been following Jeri ever since.  Somehow, despite all of my Shade love, I hadn't read any of Jeri's other books.  So, I wasn't sure what to expect out of This Side of Salvation (her first contemporary novel). It turned out to be a unique, thoughtful look at grief, family & forgiveness.

This is, above all else, David's story.  David is a fairly normal 16 year old boy.  His world revolves around pitching a winning baseball game, hanging out with his best friend Kane & gaining the attention of Bailey, the new girl in town.  His life seemed to be coming together perfectly until one day changed everything...the day that his older brother John died.

When John joined the military & left to go overseas, his absence was expected, but the knowledge that he will never return has altered life completely for the Cooper family.  We see the story through David's eyes.  We feel his anger & pain as he scrawls "Why God Why?" on the side of a local church, and we feel his longing & hope as he joins the same church in an effort to find answers to his questions.  While he is searching, his parents think they have found their answers in a radical religious group who believe that God will return to collect his followers on May 11 at 3 a.m. in an event they call "The Rush".  When they ask David to give up everything he knows & loves to prepare for The Rush, he has to choose between his family & his hope for a future.  On the night of The Rush, David & his sister Mara sneak out to go to a party.  Running late, they return home at 3:30 to find their parents gone & clothes lying in the bed as if it had recently been occupied.  Did they miss The Rush?! Did it really happen?!

The chapters alternate timelines between Now, where we follow David & Mara as they work towards unraveling the mystery of their parent's disappearance, and  The Time Leading up to The Rush, where we get a more in-depth look at David along with his family & friendsI felt that this structure allowed us to get to know the characters in a way we never could have in a more traditional narrative.  This story is part coming of age & part mystery with a hint of romance.  The pace is slow & steady, but never boring. Jeri's writing was just as detailed and gripping as I remembered, and she handled the subject of religion & faith with a great deal of respect.  Where I didn't fall head over heels in love with the characters like I did Aura, Zachary & Logan, I did care about David & Mara on every step of their journey searching for answers (both before & after their parents' disappearance).

This Side of Salvation is the type of book that will make you think.  It delves into a subject often overlooked, avoided, or mocked & handles it in a way that appreciates both sides & encourages one to know what they believe & to stand up for it.  While this isn't a light-hearted, easy read, it was definitely one that I enjoyed & would recommend.

***ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.***


Giveaways Galore!

Jeri has two ongoing giveaways to celebrate the release of This Side of Salvation.

Join the Rush swag fest: free EXCLUSIVE swag for everyone who orders TSOS on or before Monday, April 7.

Superfan contest (March 31 – April 9): share the TSOS characters’ “trading cards”  on your social networks to earn points. Biggest Superfan wins the grand prize, but there’s a chance to win a book and a gift card every day you play!

Here's the final day's card, featuring the dream/theme quote from Mr. Ralph:

Cat blogging meets book birthday!

Meet Misha and Twinkle, the real-life inspiration for the cats of This Side of Salvation, on PulseIt, the official site of Jeri's publisher, Simon Pulse.

Order the hardcover:

Order the ebook:

Find Jeri

Visit Jeri's website, or follow her on one of these sites: