Monday 14 October 2013

Important Announcement!

Hello everyone! It's been quite sometime since you've heard from me... Well, I'm here today to remedy that fact and make a couple of important announcements considering my blogging future.

But, let's take things from the start. Well, my complete absence from the blogging community has a very good reason, I assure you. The last couple of months were so full of changes in my personal life and so busy that blogging was the last thing I had time to do. Add to all that the fact that I felt completely drained and reluctant to write even a single sentence and well, a break was somewhat necessary in order to keep my sanity. So now that everything is finally back to its normal pace and at last I got a much needed break from everything, I'm back and ready to change some things.

First of all, and that wasn't an easy decision at all, I've decided to stop running Books to Brighten your Mood. Like I said, it wasn't an easy decision and I struggled to come to terms with it. But considering all the changes in my life I just wasn't able to keep blogging the way I used to. As all bloggers know, blogging is a really hard and demanding job. It takes quite a few hours to prep all the posts and reviews and to that, I'm not counting all the time it's needed just to catch up with all the review requests and commitments with authors. In the past few months I found myself struggling just to catch up with everything and all I read were just books I had accepted to review. I know that's my own fault and noone else's. But what I realised was that along the way I had forgotten the reason I started blogging in the first place. And that was for the fun of it! But for the past few months blogging felt like a chore, like an actual job with deadlines and a full calendar I couldn't really catch up with. So, where's the fun in all that? I was tired and my blog suffered from that fact. And I realised I hated this more than the prospect of stop blogging altogether. 

So, this is the end for Book to Brighten your Mood. I want to thank each and everyone of you that made a dream of mine come real, for your comments and support and for making it possible for me to share my love for books in this really fun community.

But, that's not the end of my announcement. You see, I kept the fun part for the end :P
The end of Books to Brighten your Mood isn't the end of my blogging life. Far from it! Because lovely Stella (and fellow Book Lover) had the awesome idea of joining forces together on Ex Libris!!!!!!!!! Can you say how excited I am about the prospect????? Oh yeah, too excited to even describe it, because Stella isn't only a great blogger but one of the sweetest persons I was lucky enough to meet in the blogosphere! And the prospect of working together over at Ex Libris is reason enough for me to find all that energy to return to my blogging tasks that I lacked the past few months. It was the boost I needed to finally get excited again!

So, if you still want to catch up with my latest reviews and news feel free to join us over at Ex Libris! I can safely say that it will be too much fun :) Along with Stella we will discuss books, bookish news and we will have the occasional dual review that I hope will be so much fun for you to read as it is for us to write :)

Thank you everyone for being with me all this time and hope I'll see you again at my new home :)
Here I come Stella!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday 25 July 2013

REVIEW: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Infernal Devices, #3
Publication Date: March 19th 2013
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Hardcover, Collector's First Edition, 568 pages
Useful Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Book Depository

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy?
Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.
A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.

Clockwork Princess was one of my most anticipated releases of 2013 and not just for one reason... The previous book in the Infernal Devices series, Clockwork Prince, absolutely left me speechless, so naturally I couldn't wait to read how the story would finally wrap up. And what an ending did Clockwork Princess provide!

But let's take things from the beginning. To every reader that has read even a single book by Cassandra Clare, it's no news that this author knows how to grasp your attention and make you travel in fantastic worlds. And here, after having read and the final book in this prequel to the Mortal Instruments series, I just have to say that Infernal Devices is so much better than the MI and so much more mature. At least it felt that way and in any case I found myself enjoying Infernal Devices much more. And the thing I have enjoyed the most is the way the love triangle was written. Shocking, I know! I usually absolutely hate love triangles. But in Infernal Devices it was one of the best triangles I have ever read in a long time, maybe ever. In this story the triangle was there, centre to everything that happened throughout the whole story but at the same time it wasn't the sole focus of the story. It felt just natural, something that was absolutely essential for the narration and not just a trend.
And now that things have finally ended and I got my answer with whom Tessa finally ended up with and especially after that epilogue I can only say one thing: every reader will feel satisfied with how things wrapped up, at least in the romantic department. But I, felt that it was just too good to be true. That last 15 pages or so were so fitting to the story but they made me feel that I was reading a fairy tale with an ending that was too good for everyone. Yeah, one could say that I'm a bit torn towards that ending....

You see on a deeper level, I wanted for Clare to end her story the way she did. It was the best way for such a triangle to be solved. But still, no matter how fitting, no matter how I wanted it to end that way, I still felt that it was a bit unrealistic. As unrealistic after a moment felt for me the reactions of Tessa, Will and Jem. Who on earth is so civilised when such truths emerge? But that's a matter of preference. Because whether I liked the ending or not, it was written in such a way that I couldn't possibly not love it.

As far as the story is concerned, Clockwork Princess is the most action packed of all three novels in this series and that was to be expected. I loved every twist and turn of the plot and I literally devoured this book in a matter of hours. The best part for me? The genealogical tree at the end of the book. Silly I know to love such a detail from a great book but I can't help myself!I love those kind of details and I only wished that there were more characters' lineage there :)

All in all, Clockwork Princess was one of the best books I read by Cassandra Clare and even if I didn't agree 100% with the ending, I couldn't see how things could end otherwise. Any other ending would be a compromise to an outstanding series. All I can say now is that I can't wait for the new series Clare has in store and takes place after the MI.Something tells me that that series will be the best one yet!

Tuesday 23 July 2013

REVIEW: How Beauty Loved the Beast by Jax Garren

How Beauty Loved the Beast by Jax Garren

Series: Tales of the Underlight, #3
Publication Date: May 13th 2013
Publisher: Carina Press
ebook, 292 pages
Useful Info: Goodreads, Author's Website

It's all been leading to this .

Jolie Benoit has become a skilled agent of the Underlight, relying on her savvy to complete assignments while Sergeant Wesley Haukon was out of commission. But an unexpected clue to the Order of Ananke's diabolical scheme rattles Jolie, and she turns to Hauk for comfort.

It's been years since Hauk took comfort from the touch of another person, though his love for Jolie is deep and powerful. Uncomfortable in his skin, scarred by a terrible fire, he is unable to give in to the pleasures that Jolie so desperately wants to grant him.

Meanwhile, the Order is lurking in the shadows—and when they strike, the blow is swift and terrible. Hauk and Jolie scramble to fight for their community, but with the future of the Underlight threatened, no one is safe. And Hauk will never be the same…

How Beauty Loved the Beast is the much awaited conclusion to the very successful sci-fi series, Tales of The Underlight written by Jax Garren and let me tell you fans of the series won't be disappointed in the least. I know I wasn't! And how could I ever be when Garren's writing style and the way she portrays her heroes and their emotions is simply irresistible!

If you read my reviews of the previous two books in the series then you know how much I loved everything about Jax Garren's writing style and her story. So, there's no need for me to repeat myself by saying what an amazing author she is once more or how much I loved her main and secondary heroes of this story. Even if all the books in the series are rather short, Jax Garren's stories are character driven. Her main focus is her characters and their emotions and that is why I probably love so much this series. Jolie is so much more than a pretty dancer and Hauk is so much more than scars and muscles.

The final book in the series, wraps up the whole plot but here I have to note that there are more things to be said. Maybe most of the basic things were covered but I'm left feeling that there's just more to everything. I don't know if the author did that on purpose and she will return on the same universe with another set of characters later or things couldn't possibly wrap up better, but I sure hope that it was intentional. In my mind there are two characters who would make a perfect couple for a future story but that remains to be seen. After all, The Order of Ananke is far from defeated...

But while I really liked pretty much everything about How Beauty Loved the Beast, somehow, I was left unsatisfied too. Maybe part of that is because of the ending of the story and how I felt that there were more things to be said. Maybe it's because the whole thing wrapped up pretty quickly. And maybe it is because this final instalment in the series was more focused on Jolie's and Hauk's relationship rather than what happened with Underlight and the Order and their final battle. But probably, it's because of all the reasons mentioned above. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed reading about Jolie and Hauk, they are one of my favorite fictional couples but when so many other crucial things kept happening or were on the verge of happening, I just felt that it was wrong for the sole focus of the story to be their relationship. Maybe I'm wrong here, but that's what I was expecting from this final book. And while I did get a closure I still don't know how I feel about that. And the ending.... Well, after reading the author's note at the end I couldn't help but agreeing with her choice of ending but still, I found myself wanting the alternative... But, despite that, the whole ending is a matter of preference. Either one of them would fit the story, so that wasn't any real problem. Any problems I had were purely with the way things wrapped up with the Order rather than anything else.

All in all, How Beauty Loved the Beast is just as amazing as the rest books in this series even if I had some minor troubles with it. Despite what I said I really enjoyed reading it and I just can't wait to read anything else Jax Garren will write in the future. And even if I truly hope that she will return on the same universe again I really want to read something completely different and new too. Whatever the case, there's no way I'm gonna miss Garren's next story!

Review first published at Book Lovers Inc
* ARC provided via NetGalley for review purposes

Thursday 18 July 2013

REVIEW: Defying the Odds by Kele Moon

Defying the Odds by Kele Moon
Series:Battered Hearts, #1
Publication Date: December 20th 2011
Publisher:Loose Id LLC
ebook, 165 pages
Useful Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Book Depository

When struggling waitress Melody Dylan gives a handsome, lonely stranger a simple gift she has no clue her life is about to take a drastic turn.

The stranger ends up being Clay Powers, a famous UFC heavyweight fighter. Clay’s large build and dangerous fists have always intimidated. People in his hometown keep their distance and Clay is fine with that. Everything changes when a new waitress at the local diner buys him a piece of pie on thanksgiving. Touched by the gesture when it’s obvious she can barely afford to survive, her warm smile and lush body churn up powerful feelings that leave Clay wanting more from her than pie.

Melody is running from her past and the small, country town of Garnet is the perfect hiding place. With an ex-husband after her and scars from her abusive marriage etched deep, the last thing she expects is to fall for a man who makes a living with his fists, but she can’t resist Clay or the tender connection they share.

Finding love in the most unlikely of places, the passion is undeniable, but Clay and Melody know their haunted pasts and unpredictable futures leave the odds stacked against them.

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: violence.

Defying the Odds was a very pleasant surprise for me! Surely, I have read all the raving reviews about this book but with my luck lately, that doesn't mean that I would actually enjoy a book others have loved... But I'm glad to say, that Defying the Odds lives up to its expectations and it was a book I really enjoyed reading!

It's no big secret that I love my contemporary romances sweet yet at the same time sexy. It's a common combination in stories out there, but it's not that successful always as one might think. In some cases the sexiness overshadows everything else, while some other times a story can be really sweet, but with little to no sex in it, something that I have no problem with, but let's face it, I tend to feel unsatisfied afterwards, searching for a little spiciness in all that sweetness. Who says I'm hard to satisfy?

Defying the Odds though has the perfect balance between sexy and sweet. Between cute and lust. It's just written in a way that will satisfy any reader's appetite and mood. And that is the best thing about this story for me. That is what I loved the most and why I couldn't wait to pick book two as soon as I finished reading this one. Kele Moon, has found in this novel the perfect balance between everything thus making her story irresistible!

As far as the plot is concerned, you will not find any big surprises here. Defying the Odds follows most of the cliches of the romantic genre but fear not, it manages to stand out. Not only because of that balance I talked about before, but because of its characters as well, both main and secondary. And that is the second thing I really loved about this story: the way the characters were written and their development. Kele Moon really focuses on her characters, since most of the secondary characters in this one will either be the main ones in future novels or will appear again. So she tries her best to introduce everyone to us and make us want to know more about them, making it hard for the reader to not anxiously await for future novels in this series. At least I know I can hardly resist them when they get published! I want to read each and everyone's story!

This one though, is the story of Clay, a UFC fighter and Melody, a waitress who runs for her past and falls right into the hands of one unmistakably sexy and gorgeous man who will change her life forever! Clay is super delicious while Melody is as naive as one could get but somehow her naivete instead of irritating me made me adore her. Their chemistry is off the charts and the romance between them has the exact pace I love in a story. No insta love or lust. Surely they like each other and are attracted to each other but not in the way I'm tired of reading lately with clenching wombs and wetness between the heroine's legs every single time she lays her eyes on the hero.

All in all, Defying the Odds was a most pleasant surprise of a book for me! I loved pretty much everything about it and as soon as I finished reading it, I just immediately grabbed the next one. And so far, it's just as good, so something tells me that this series, will be my next obsession for some time :)

*This title was provided for review via NetGalley

Tuesday 16 July 2013

REVIEW: To Catch an Heiress by Julia Quinn

To Catch an Heiress by Julia Quinn

Series: Agents of the Crown, #1
Publication Date:September 4th 2008 (first published July 1st 1998)
Paperback, 384 pages
Useful Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Book Depository

When Caroline Trent is kidnapped by Blake Ravenscroft, she doesn't even try to elude this dangerously handsome agent of the crown. After all, she's been running from unwanted marriage proposals. Yes, Blake believes she's a notorious spy named Carlotta De Leon, but for six weeks until her twenty-first birthday, when she'll gain control of her fortune, hiding out in the titillating company of a mysterious captor is awfully convenient - and maybe just a little romantic, too.

Blake Ravenscroft's mission is to bring 'Carlotta' to justice, not to fall in love. His heart has been hardened by years of intrigue, but this little temptress proves oddly disarming and thoroughly kissable. And suddenly the unthinkable becomes possible - and this mismatched couple might be destined for love.

Review first published at Book Lovers Inc

I hadn't realised how much I had missed Julia Quinn's writing style until I picked up one of her novels! I mean she's among those authors that just can't fail me with their work and her stories are always a delight to read. So, it isn't really a big surprise that I absolutely loved To Catch an Heiress!

Most good authors have a distinctive quality, that certain something in their "voice" that makes the reader tell apart their writing style from that of any other. And in Julia Quinn's case, that certain quality is her humor. I mean her stories are so lighthearted and funny that are a pure delight to read! Her stories are not overly sensual, there's definitely some sex there, but it's not the main focus of the story. Her writing style is more playful and the romance is focused more on the constant bickering between the couple rather than their scorching hot encounters. And I had so missed that!

To Catch an Heiress is as good as one might expect from Quinn and then some! I loved Caroline and Blake's story, I loved their constant fights, Caroline's carefree personality and her ability to see good in every bad thing that happened to her in her life and Blake's wounded heart. To put it simply, I just loved everything about this book!

I really can't say anything about the character development or the quality of the writing style. They are impeccable, as one might expect from an author like Julia Quinn. She has a way around words and add to that her incredible humorous tone and you've got in your hands one hell of a story!

Honestly, I can't make that review long, even if I wanted. All I have to say about To Catch an Heiress is that every lover of Historical Romance should definitely give this title a chance. It's so fast-paced and funny and sweet that you won't even realise when you'll reach the final page!

Thursday 27 June 2013

REVIEW: What the Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries

What the Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries

Series: The Duke's Men, #1
Publication Date: June 18th 2013
Publisher: Pocket Books
Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Useful Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Book Depository

Maximilian Cale, the Duke of Lyons, long ago buried his grief for his missing elder brother, Peter, who was presumed dead after being kidnapped. When a mysterious note arrives from Tristan Bonnaud asserting that the Duke's brother is alive, it leads Max straight to the winsome Lisette Bonnaud, illegitimate daughter of a viscount and Tristan's sister. Soon he and Lisette are traveling to Paris posing as husband and wife, in search of Tristan, who has disappeared. And the longer he spends with Lisette, the easier it is for Max to see that the line between dukedom and desire is easier to cross than heimagined . . .

The premise of What the Duke Desires sounds more than intriguing and upon reading it I kind of believed that this book was right up my alley. Add to that the fact that I've heard nothing but praise about Sabrina Jeffries's work and I was more than excited about reading. Now that I finally read it, although I did enjoy this book in overall, I can't say that I was very impressed with it either. There were some parts in this book that really worked for me and some others that just fell flat I'm afraid...

Let's start with the good things about What the Duke Desires. And one among them is Sabrina Jeffries's writing style. Having finally read one of her books I totally understand why people praise her work. The pace of the story was great, I literally devoured it and finished it in no time, while her descriptions of Lisette's and Max's travels were beyond fascinating and probably my favorite part of the book.

But, even with the decent writing style and the vivid descriptions, What the Duke Desires was just an ok read. And that happened mainly for two reasons. The first one was the fact that the romance between the leading couple felt completely flat for me. There was no connection between them, no chemistry, no spark. I read about their feelings, I wanted them to get their HEA but I wasn't dying to see them reaching it. Even if the characters were well presented and had a background (I've noticed that underdeveloped characters usually make me not care about what happens to them) still, I couldn't feel their emotions. There were moments I felt that those two were together only because the author wanted them to.

The other reason I didn't enjoy What the Duke Desires as much as I expected was the fact that the mystery part of the story was not that mysterious after all.... I mean the reason Lisette and Max started this incredible journey was to get some answers and to solve a mystery but the real focus of this story was how their romance would evolve and not how they would solve the mystery at hand. And maybe that was the author's intention all along but I found myself wanting something more in that department, especially if you think how the romantic part didn't really convince me as well...

Other than that, there were some very interesting secondary characters introduced and even if they were completely underdeveloped I still want to learn more about them and that's a good thing because What the Duke Desires is the first book in a new HR series and all those interesting secondary characters will soon get their chance to tell us their story!

All in all What the Duke Desires was not exactly what I expected it to be but it was still a fun read and Sabrina Jeffries is definitely an author whose work I want to read again. I just hope that the romance in any future books in this series will be better presented or closer to what I usually enjoy.

* Review first published at Book Lovers Inc
*ARC copy provided via Edelweiss for review purposes

Tuesday 25 June 2013

REVIEW: PODs by Michelle K. Pickett

PODs by Michelle K. Pickett

Series: Pods, #1
Publication Date: June 4th 2013
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Paperback, 312 pages
Useful Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Book Depository

Seventeen-year-old Eva is a chosen one. Chosen to live, while others meet a swift and painful death from an incurable virus so lethal, a person is dead within days of symptoms emerging. In the POD system, a series of underground habitats built by the government, she waits with the other chosen for the deadly virus to claim those above. Separated from family and friends, it's in the PODs she meets David. And while true love might not conquer all, it's a balm for the broken soul.

After a year, scientists believe the population has died, and without living hosts, so has the virus. That's the theory, anyway. But when the PODs are opened, survivors find the surface holds a vicious secret. The virus mutated, infecting those left top-side and creating... monsters.

Eva and David hide from the infected in the abandoned PODs. Together they try to build a life--a new beginning. But the infected follow and are relentless in their attacks. Leaving Eva and David to fight for survival, and pray for a cure.

PODs by Michelle Pickett is a rather difficult book for me to review and rate I'm afraid. And it's difficult because even though I enjoyed reading it and I finished it in no time it could easily have been so much better. The potential of a great story was all there. And even though I can't deny that PODs had a very interesting story the execution just complicated things a bit.

First of all, let me just say that I found the idea of PODs extremely fascinating. I kind of love dystopian novels and lately I seem to pick one great dystopian novel after the other, so the idea of a deadly virus that wipes out almost the entire human population and leaves only small groups of people to pick up the pieces just made me love PODs before I even picked the book up!
Maybe the idea behind PODs isn't all that original. But I couldn't care less. After all I haven't read anything similar, even though there are similar books out there, and the certain Walking Dead vibe I was getting made me appreciate Michelle Pickett's effort all the more.
And here I have to take some time and note that even though the idea of a deadly virus wiping out almost the entire human population isn't something new, the way Pickett planned the PODs and how the government planned to contain the virus was simply amazing and well thought. It wasn't just something done in haste. Pickett had an entire plan in her head and managed to communicate it to her readers but unfortunately the fact that PODs was actually at least two books squeezed in one didn't leave much room for all that brilliance to shine. Because my main problem with PODs was it's pace and how many information was squeezed in one book.

Throughout this story, there were large amounts of time that just passed in a blink of an eye. Literally. 15 months of seclusion in the PODs were squeezed in a matter of 100 pages, probably less. And that was such a shame. Because that way we couldn't really see how 10 strangers could live underground with nothing really special to do. We couldn't really see how that seclusion affected them nor what exactly was the dynamic of the relationship between all those strangers. We were just informed that any relationship progressed rather than witness it. It was just stated that they were affected by everything that was happening rather than see how each character developed through all the dramatic things that kept happening. We were being told that they were afraid but we couldn't sense their fear. Because usually in a chapter of 5 pages there was covered a span of two months. So it's only natural that things would go on the fast forward. Only that fact kind of ruined the potential of this story I'm afraid.

The same thing unfortunately applies to the romance of this story too. There was real chemistry between Eva and David, there was a spark between them but it couldn't possibly be fully explored and felt while months were passing by in a blink of an eye. With the chemistry between them imagine how great a story could PODs be if we could actually read how their relationship developed. But no, Eva and David went from friends to undying love in a blink of an eye. And it saddens me to say something negative about the romantic part of this book because their chemistry was great and better than other books out there that try really hard to show the reader how perfect is the hero for the heroine.

Anyway, PODs is one of those books I really enjoyed reading but I had more than a few problems with it, despite how much I enjoyed it. Michelle Pickett has a strong voice and I dare hope that we should expect great things from her. It's not that PODs is a bad book, far from it. It's just that it could have been so much better. after all ,the potential is all right there, in front of the reader's eyes.

* Review first published at Book Lovers Inc
* ARC copy provided from publisher for review purposes

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