Sunday, October 22, 2017

Review: Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt

Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt
Book 12.5 of the Maiden Lane series
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: November 14, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Miss Mary Whitsun is far too intelligent to fall for the rakish charms of a handsome aristocrat. But when the gentleman in question approaches her in a bookshop, mistaking her for his fiancĂ©e, Lady Johanna Albright, the flirtatious encounter only raises more questions. Could Mary, a servant raised in a St Giles orphanage, actually be Lady Joanna's long-lost twin sister? If so, Mary has been betrothed since birth—to the rakishly handsome artistocrat himself.

Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell, is far too intrigued by Mary to let her go so easily. He's drawn to her sharp mind, indomitable spirit, and the fiery way in which she dismisses him—ladies simply don't dismiss Lord Blackwell. But as Mary makes her first hesitant steps into society, she can't help but wonder if she truly has a place in Henry's world—or in his heart.

What I Liked:

If you've been following my blog for any amount of time, you'll know that I absolutely adore this series. I have yet to not dislike a book in the series. This series wasn't originally planned to be twelve novels long (with a few novellas), and so every time I saw a new addition, I couldn't wait to read it. Sadly, this is the final installment in the series, which is a little heartbreaking. But it is an adorable and very sweet story that wraps up the series perfectly. 

This novella takes us back to where it all begin - at least, back to a character who has been in the series from the start. Mary Whitsun is the beloved "Mary" of Temperance, who is now Lady Caire. Temperance is the heroine of Wicked Intentions, book one. She and her brother Winter ran an orphanage in St. Giles, and Mary Whitsun was one of the first girls to arrive. She had been at the orphanage for the longest, and she came with Lord and Lady Caire when they married. After years in the orphanage and years as the Caire children's nursemaid, life is about to change drastically for Mary Whitsun, when someone mistakes her to be Lady Joanna Albright.

The story begins with Mary in a bookstore, sensing someone watching her. Lord Henry Blackwell comes up to her and mistakes her for Lady Joanna, his fiancee. But he quickly realizes that while she looks like Lady Joanna, she isn't. The next day, Lord Blackwell arrives at the Caire residence with Lady Albright (the mother), and the grandmother. And thus, Mary is whisked into the life of Lady Cecilia Albright, the long-lost twin of Lady Joanna. She is to have lessons on comportment and dancing and all things nobility, and she is to be the one to marry Henry (since he was promised the eldest Albright sister). But a life among gentry isn't what Mary ever dreamed of - or wanted. Even if she has begun to fall for Henry, the dashing lord who she misjudged.

I always thought Mary Whitsun would end up with one of the other orphan boys, but I'm glad to be wrong. Mary is fiery and prickly, and she immediately dislikes Henry, even if she is also immediately attracted to him. She loves her independence and doesn't want to be a lady, even if she doesn't really mind not being the Caire children's nursemaid anymore. Mary has worked hard her entire life, but nothing is like working to be the perfect gently bred lady.

Lord Henry Blackwell is charming, sweet, and a little roguish. He seems playful and charismatic, every inch the aristocratic gentleman. Mary doesn't see this at first, but he is deeply devoted to his family and his family's title, and he is selfless about nearly everything. As Mary gets to know him better, she sees his selfless and noble side. 

I love this romance because it is hate-to-love, which I adore! Mary doesn't like Henry on the spot at first, and she lets her prickly side show. Henry thinks she is hilarious, and he likes her from the start. The two of them have great chemistry and the tension builds between them, even when Mary thinks she doesn't want an aristocrat like Henry. They are a great match and they understand each other. It was so adorable to watch them fall for each other. The romance was sweet and so lovely!

The conflict of this novella mainly deals with Mary Whitsun being the long-lost Albright twin, who disappeared the day she was born. Is Mary the missing twin? And who is trying to kill her, just days after Henry discovers her? The book does not end as you think it might, for both Mary and Henry.

I loooove the ending of this novella, because it ties in literally EVERYONE from the original trilogy in this series. Meaning, most of the Makepeace family, and the Reading family, but we also see the Huntington family and extensions (like Bridget and Val). I can't remember if we see Silence and Michael. We see many members of the Wakefield family (like Phoebe and James), though I'm drawing a blank if we see Artemis and Maximus. I so wanted a cameo from them because of their little bundle of job that was hinted at, in one of Hoyt's holiday check-in extras. In any case, the ending of this book is perfect because everyone is a part of it. This made me so happy and a little sad too. Everyone is all grown up! These aren't even "my" book children and yet I'm so proud and happy. I can't even imagine how Hoyt feels!

What I Did Not Like:

I don't like that this series is officially over with this novella, okay? *cries*

Would I Recommend It:

I don't usually read novellas because they're so short and I often want them to be longer. But this novella was perfect in length of density - the story felt complete full. I definitely recommend the novella because it really makes the series feel final. I really recommend the entire series if you love historical romance. 


4 stars. I appreciate Hoyt for writing this novella, and the other novellas of the series, and the series in general. I am so sad to see the series go and I'm feeling nostalgic already, but I can't wait to read whatever new projects she has in the works. I thought her contemporary was just as good! (I've read Once and Always and loved it. Ah!)

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Cover Reveal: Follow by Tessa Bailey

Hellooooo friends! Happy Sunday! Today I'm sharing the cover of Follow by Tessa Bailey, which was revealed on Friday. This is Tessa Bailey's first self-published novel, so please share the love! 

Get ready for Follow on October 30th! Let's give Tessa Bailey a warm welcome into self-publishing. But first, check out the cover!

(I LOVE IT. So much.)

Here it is!

Follow by Tessa Bailey
Publication Date: October 30, 2017

Official Summary:

He wants her soul. Too bad she already sold it. 

Family is everything to gambling den darling, Teresa Valentini. Blood comes first, especially before men. So when her brother lands himself in hot water, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to save him. And showing up topless in her unwitting savior’s motel room is turning out to be the furthest thing from a hardship…

Will Caruso is the bad boy of New York’s financial scene…and he just found out the very thing that drives his success is a damn lie. Now, he’s exchanged his high-stress life for the open road, no one but his Great Dane…and half a million Instagram followers to keep him company. When a mysterious beauty arrives, her secrecy prods his suspicions, even while she tempts his lust to the breaking point.

Teresa met Will under false pretenses, but the bond consuming them is real. They’re strong enough to overcome a little betrayal…aren’t they?

About the Author:

Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days. Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention. She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eight years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love. 

The Excerpt:

“Here we are.” 

My face heats over being caught even imagining such things. We’re at my door and I have no recollection of entering the motel. Come on, Teresa. Stop letting this guy get to you so bad. “Right.” I fish for the key card in my pocket, but cease all movement when Will brushes his fingertips down my arm, then trails them back up. Slow. And all the while, he invades my space, eliminating inches at such a leisurely pace that I’m panting by the time our mouths are a breath apart. 

“What are you going to do when I close this door behind you, Teresa?” He grazes my bottom lip with his teeth, making me gasp. “You going to get undressed in front of the air conditioner, thinking it might cool you down after teasing my cock for over an hour in the bar? It won’t. I give you five minutes before you’re face down in bed, riding your own fingers.”
My knees threaten to buckle. “That’s my business.”

“Make it mine.”

Mayday. Mayday. “Will—”

He stops my admonishment with a drugging kiss, his tongue stroking in and out of my mouth. His hands grip my elbows, lifting me up on my toes in desperate degrees, meshing our bodies, our lips, until I’m moaning, letting him have rough intercourse with my mouth. Just when I’m on the verge of giving in and begging him to take me up against the door, he steps back, eyes glittering, wiping away the moisture on his mouth with a wrist swipe. “I’ll be out on the balcony. If you’re going to finger yourself in my honor, I want to listen.” 

Don't forget to buy this book on October 30th! There will be no preorder options so please, support Tessa Bailey on that day. I'll be reading the book very soon, if you'd like to read my review to decide if this is a book for you. Chances are, if you love Tessa Bailey's previous books, it will be!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Stacking the Shelves (#252)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!

So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, October 15th to Saturday, October 21st?

(all links to Goodreads are provided!)

In the mail:

Thank you so much, publishers and publicists! Including Harper Voyager, Tor, Random House/Get Underlined, Rachel Caine, Sarah, Simon Teen, and Danielle. You all are the best!

Duke of Sin topper

I love it! Thank you, Rachel

Mara Dyer/Noah Shaw poster, An Ember in the Ashes sampler, The Speaker bookmark

Thank you, Raisa! I especially love the poster. Great timing, too!

From NetGalley:

Bad Princess

Bad Princess by Julianna Keyes

YAY, new Julianna Keyes book! It sounds very different from her usual, and I'm excited. :D

Make Me Want

Make Me Want by Katee Robert

Thank you, Harlequin! I love Katee's books and can't wait to start this one.

From Edelweiss:

Disturbing His Peace (The Academy, #3)

Disturbing His Peace by Tessa Bailey

I love Tessa Bailey's books and I'm happy to have books two and three in this series. Now, to read them!

Reviews from this week:

(Click on the covers to go to my reviews!)

Favorite Instagram post from this week:

A busy week on my end (as usual, it seems)! The week flew by. Can you believe it's almost Halloween? I pulled out a ton of Christmas/holiday decorations on Friday night, to decorate my cubicle at work! I love this time of year. Decorating will be sometime in November, but I'm excited!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Review: Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.

The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn't supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn't know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they're both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia's ever seen. As Claudia's world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.

What I Liked:

YA contemporary really isn't my thing, but I've read all of Emma Mills' books and I've enjoyed them. I read First & Then and This Adventure Ends and both books were so wonderful. Foolish Hearts certainly does not disappoint. With Mills's trademark humor and relatable characters and situations, Foolish Hearts solidifies this author's place as a queen of YA contemporary

Claudia likes things the way they are, with her life at her prep school, her best friend in the local public school, her brother taking community college classes, her sister living in another state with her husband. Life seems to be just fine, and Claudia doesn't really care for change, so this works for her. But things start to fall out of place the day Claudia overhears Paige Breckner break up with Iris Huang. These two made up the school's power couple, so when Paige breaks up with Iris, Iris doesn't want anyone to know what went down. Iris isn't exactly nice, and most people are afraid of her. When Claudia and Iris are forced to be partners for a Lit assignment, Claudia realizes that Iris isn't all bad. They try out for the school play, where Claudia makes friends with Gideon, a goofy and charismatic boy at the neighboring all-boys prep school, a guy who everyone likes and likes everyone. Life is changing for Claudia, and she realizes that it isn't all bad.

I knew I was going to read this book without even reading the synopsis. I'm not a huge fan of YA contemporary but at this point, I trust Emma Mills. So when I finally read the synopsis (last night), and then started reading the book, I started to feel a little apprehensive. Did I want to read a book dealing with girl drama? Not really. With Iris being furious at Claudia for overhearing the breakup, I figured this book would be rife with girl drama. But thankfully, that wasn't the case!

The book starts with that (Paige and Iris's breakup), but that isn't the whole point of the book, or the big issue, or anything like that. Iris and Claudia slowly become friends, after they are forced to be partners for a Lit assignment. This is a hilarious slow-burn friendship, because Iris is so stiff and unapproachable, and she doesn't like anybody. Which is fair, because most people don't like her. But Mills is so good at character development - Iris isn't a one-dimensional mean girl. In fact, as the story goes on, I realized that Iris isn't a mean girl at all. She isn't great with emotions and hashing things out, but she is a person I could empathize with. As she and Claudia hang out more, they develop a solid friendship.

Claudia is somewhat of a go-with-the-flow type of person, but she also hates change. She has a great sense of humor laced with a lot of sarcasm, and I thought she was hilarious. She might seem a little bland at first, but it's hard not to adore her as you get to know her. I could relate to her a lot. I loved how she honest and straightforward she was.

There are many positive friendships in this book, besides Claudia and Iris's friendship. Claudia has always been best friends with Zoe, since preschool. Though they go to different schools, they have remained very close friends. They go through a lot in this book, some pretty big obstacles, but their friendship comes out strong in spite of everything. I also liked Claudia good relationship with her parents (who are not crazy YA parents or absent YA parents).

One of the things that I loved about this book was how family dynamics were such an important part of it. Claudia's parents are so cool and "normal" - they aren't crazy or absent or too lenient. Claudia and her brother Alex are close, especially being one year apart. Claudia's older sister Julia is eleven years older and living three hours away, but Claudia and her sister have a good relationship. Julia is pregnant and she isn't super excited about it. She's scared and unsure. I loved this; everyone acts like a newly pregnant woman is supposed to be excited and happy and whatnot - and it's a crime if you're not. I disagree. It should be socially "okay" for a woman to be scared or a little less enthusiastic. Julia doesn't think she can do the mom thing, and this is a legitimate thing to worry about. Being a mom is a huge step and totally new to a first-time mom. I love how this is something that is addressed in this book. Being a mother isn't a box to check off on a to-do list. 

Secondary characters who were wholly developed, wonderful, and a delight to read -- Gideon (the sweet, goofy, charismatic boy who is loved by everyone), Noah (Gideon's friend/brother since they were very young), Iris (of course), Zoe (of course), Del and Caris (working in costumes alongside Claudia, for the play. There are so many secondary characters in this book, and I love that so many were positive "good" characters. 

The romance was so so so so so so slow-burn, but in a realistic and very cute way. It reminded me of a crush I had, when I was slowly falling for him. Gideon is a charismatic guy that likes everyone, and everyone likes him. He is the kind of guy to pick up new interests all the time, and for that reason, Claudia doesn't want to like like him. But she does, and she can't stop it. Especially since it's clear that he likes likes her. They are the cutest! She is a sarcastic Shakespeare wiz, and he is an adorably goofy jokester. He's not a d-bag kind of charismatic boy, which made me like him even more. He is sweet and very considerate, and definitely a guy I would want to date (though they were so rare, especially in high school).

All of the parts of the story come together in the climax, which involved Paige and Iris, Gideon and Claudia, Julia and her pregnancy, Claudia and a conflict with Zoe... there is a lot going on by the end of the book, and a lot for Claudia to take in. This story isn't about her making it through senior year or getting ready to go to college - but it is about her growing into a more mature and well-rounded person. I liked this book a lot and I will be rereading it in the near future!

What I Did Not Like:

I feel like I always want more kissing, in Mills's books! It's always towards the end and only very briefly. Her books have such potential to be so physically swoony! I love the slow-burn non-swoony swoony tension though. But I wouldn't mind more!

Would I Recommend It:

I highly recommend any of Mills's books, not just this one. This one is a lovely and enjoyable story, a quick read that will make you smile. I wouldn't necessarily call it "fluffy" YA contemporary, because of the range of topics and emotions induced, but it's not a tough-issue YA contemporary novel. It's one that is delightful and sweet but also deals with real-life issues (like navigating friendships and anticipating motherhood - in Julia's case). You don't have to be a YA contemporary fan to fall in love with Mills's stories!


4 stars. There is a reason Mills keeps me coming back - or maybe many reasons. Her novels have been wonderful so far. Foolish Hearts is yet another masterpiece that adds to Mills's stellar reputation as a pillar in YA contemporary. I will forever be looking for new books by her, no matter the genre!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Swoon Thursday (#247): Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting

This week, my swoon is from Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills!

He smiles a little, takes my hand in both of his and points my finger, brings it to his pursed lips. I feel the warmth from his mouth, the press of his lips on top of the bandage.

I never think about my hand being small. I never think of any part of my being small, really, but it looks small in Gideon's.

He lowers my hand but doesn't let go.

- ARC, page

This was a non-swoon swoony scene! The full scene is adorable. Read my review tomorrow! This author continues to impress me. I highly recommend First & Then and This Adventure Ends!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Promo and Giveaway: Mistress of All Evil by Serena Valentino

Hello everyone! Today I'm sharing a great promotion for Mistress of All Evil by Serena Valentino. You could win the four books in this series, and a color-changing mug! I received these four books (pictured below) and one of the color-changing mugs, thanks to Disney, and I can confirm that this is an awesome prize pack. Huge thanks to Disney for providing a prize for you all to win. See below!

About the Book:

Mistress of All Evil by Serena Valentino
Book Four of the Villains series
Publisher: Disney Press
Publication Date: October 3, 2017

Official Summary:

Why does Maleficent curse the innocent princess? What led to her becoming so filled with malice, anger, and hatred? Many tales have tried to explain her motives. Here is one account, pulled down from the many passed down through the ages. It is a tale of love and betrayal, of magic and reveries. It is a tale of the Mistress of All Evil.

Check out the series:

(Click on the covers for more information!)

About the Author:

Serena Valentino has been weaving tales that combine mythos and guile for the past decade. She has earned critical acclaim in both the comic and horror domains, where she is known for her unique style of storytelling, bringing her readers into exquisitely frightening worlds filled with terror, beauty, and extraordinary protagonists. The books in her best-selling Villains series are best enjoyed when read in the following order: Fairest of All, The Beast Within, Poor Unfortunate Soul, and Mistress of All Evil.

Follow Disney:

The Giveaway:

One (1) winner receives:
the complete set of Villains books
and a branded mug that changes colors when filled with hot water!

Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Disney-Hyperion.

Waiting on Wednesday (#251): Allied by Amy Tintera

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm featuring:

Allied by Amy Tintera
Book Three of the Ruined series
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 1, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the final book in the New York Times bestselling Ruined series, the romance of The Selection and the epic stakes of Red Queen come together in a story of revenge, adventure, and unexpected love.

Emelina Flores and her sister, Olivia, were determined to bring peace to the people of Ruina. But as the war for liberation raged on, what triumph and freedom meant to Em and Olivia slowly changed. As Olivia’s violence and thirst for vengeance became her only ambition, Em was left to pick up the pieces.

But it’s not only Em who is upset by Olivia’s increased violence. Other members of the Ruined army are beginning to see the cracks, and soon a small group of them defects from Olivia’s army and joins Em instead. The two sisters are soon pitted against each other in an epic battle for the kingdom and the future, and only one will win.

I looooove this series! I'm so excited for the final book. And this cover is absolutely stunning!