Thursday, February 26, 2015

*Top Reads* January 2015

After agonizing over a list of my favorite books of 2014 last year in November for #BookBlogWriMo, I decided it might be a better idea if I made monthly posts about my favorite books. That way the books would be more fresh in my mind and it would be easier to collate a yearly list towards the end of the year simply by looking back at previous posts (I'm kind of lazy like that.)

But I didn't want to exclude my fellow reviewers here at Just Another Girl and Her Books in these monthly posts, because this isn't just my blog. So even though I asked Kara and Courtney back at the end of January for their top books of January, here is January's list, almost an entire month later (remember that lazy thing I talked about).

Kara's Top book of January

Genre: Romance/NA
Published: January 7, 2015
Pages: 159
Ages: 18+ (I'm guessing)


Best friends since they could walk. In love since the age of fourteen. 
Complete strangers since this morning. 
He'll do anything to remember. She'll do anything to forget. 


At the time of this posting, Kara does not have a review for this book, but there are loads of them available on both Goodreads and Amazon (not surprisingly because Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher are both quite popular authors). Kara did say that January was a bad month for her, I'm not sure if that means that the books she read just didn't really stick with her or if she just didn't have much time for reading. 

Katie's Top books of January

I couldn't choose just one favorite book in January, I had to choose a couple. Here they are in no particular order. 

Genre: Fantasy
Published: December 7, 2014
Pages: 352
Ages: 14+ (My estimate)


The Riven Wyrde Saga continues with Fae - The Realm of Twilight. 

The Wyrde is dead and gone, its protection passed into the ether. The fae have been loosed upon the world as they begin their wild hunt, a nightmare from fables and legend made flesh. 

At Hesk, in the heart of the Barren Isles Ylsriss must confront a reality she never could have imagined when her son is stolen from her by the fae. Her desperate attempts to reclaim him lead her far from this world and deep into the Realm of Twilight where a still darker truth awaits her. 

As the Bjornmen invaders drive their way deeper into Anlan, King Pieter refuses to act. Selena is forced to confront him directly even as Devin and Obair flee Widdengate and begin a search for answers, seeking help from a woman who may little be more than a memory.


It has been eight months since I read Fae: The Wild Hunt (the first book in this series) and normally for a series with this scope, re-reading the previous books is mandatory for me to feel up to speed with the storyline after a break that long. I didn't find that to be the case with Fae: The Realm of Twilight. I was thrown a little at first, until I realized that the character I was following wasn't one of the major players from the Wild Hunt (although he is a major player in Realm of Twilight). Once I had that realization, I was immediately back in the world that Graham Austin-King created in Wild Hunt. 

I was once again struck by how similar Austin-King's storytelling is to that of George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. Austin-King weaves a story together, while following several different characters as their lives are affected by both the Fae and each other. I frequently found myself frustrated by the characters actions because as an outsider it's clear to me what they should be doing, and they're just not doing it. I have hope that they will see the error of their ways in the next installment of this series. 

I already knew most of the characters from Wild Hunt, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend more time with them, although I'm starting to question the role one of them has played. I am once again left with some unanswered questions, which just make me that much more anxious for the next book in the series. 

Overall I give this book 5 out of 5 stars, because it immediately pulled me in and transported me back into Austin-King's world and left me desperately wanting the next book. I would still recommend this series to fantasy fans and readers of The Song of Ice and Fire series.


This book earned it's place on this list immediately after I read it. I loved the first book in the series and this book easily kept that love and momentum going. If you are a fantasy fan looking for a good indie author to follow, I can't recommend Graham Austin-King enough. 

Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian
Published: July 25, 2014
Pages: 434
Ages: 18+


“Those in power will do whatever they can to get away with everything they can.”

Every citizen in Atlas, the last city on the planet, is born with a unique, special ability, and no one sleeps past the age of two.

Except for Wick Lesser who, at seventeen, still sleeps. Hiding this rare ability from the world, his father, who can calculate futures, trains him in self-defense and combat while his healing-gifted mother works an unglamorous job in the muds and keeps his secret safe with the help of Wick’s older brothers. The Lesser family of the ninth ward slums manages to keep afloat, suffering under the corrupt, greed-driven Kingship of the Lifted City.

But not for long.

In the first installment of the Outlier series, Wick’s unassuming slumborn life soon explodes into a full-speed adventure of danger, betrayal, and self-discovery when he secretly joins an underground rebel movement working to take down the oppressive ruling power. But the task is far from easy, and there are more adversaries than Wick can count. Not to mention the complication of an intense, unplanned attraction ... to someone on the wrong side of the rebellion.

Powerful forces are gathering to put an end to the uprising, including the city’s elite crew of law-enforcers called Guardian, of which Wick’s own two eldest brothers are sworn members, and all corners of the slums grow ever restless: a lustful boy with blackened eyes leads a violent street gang, with Wick’s younger brother as his newest recruit. A cunning orphaned girl whose ability is to be unseen, sees everything. And high up in the Lifted City, a privileged and wealthy boy yearns for an exciting new life in the slums.

Their world is at a precipice of great change. No one is safe. The rebellion has begun.

*** Contains adult themes, M/F and M/M sexuality, and violence.


This book was like a combination between The Hunger Games and Twilight for me, without the blood sucking. The Lifted City is clearly the Capital from Hunger Games, and the various wards that make up the slums are similar to the districts in the Hunger Games. The special abilities, or Legacies, that everyone is born with, seemed a lot like the special abilities that some of the vampires in Twilight possess, like Edwards ability to read minds or the little blonde psycho Volturi guard's ability to cause great pain with just a thought. Also like the vampires, no one sleeps. 

I LOVED this book. I wanted to just sit and devour it without getting up, and yet I found myself having to put it down after every two to three chapters because I needed time to absorb what I had read. I can't think of a time when that has ever happened to me before; where I wanted to keep reading but just couldn't do it because I needed time to wrap my head around everything I had just taken in. I do not consider this a bad thing.

The story itself is told in limited omniscient third person, rotating between characters (although not with a particular pattern). It was a great way to get inside many of the characters heads, albeit briefly every time, allowing us to see the events of the story from several different angles. And while there was a fairly large cast of characters, I never felt lost as to who was who. Each character had a very distinct voice, and the legacies also kind of helped to keep them straight in my mind because I always immediately thought, "That's the one who..." 

I thought the descriptions were excellent. I had no problem picturing the filth of the slums and the shine of the Lifted City. I was able to imagine most of the Legacies, except Forgemon's math, but math stopped making sense to me when I got to Trig, and that was 14 years ago, so I don't expect to be able to picture a math Legacy very well. 

Overall I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. It's a book that I would happily re-read and I imagine there are things I would pick up on in a second and third reading that I didn't notice in the first, you know, because I'd be starting with more knowledge. I would definitely recommend this to all dystopian fans because I cannot say enough good things about it.


I love a good dystopian book, and this was a great dystopian book. I really look forward to reading more from Daryl Banner. 

Sadly Courtney did not have a book to contribute to our favorite books of January list. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

*Review* The Man I Love by Suanne Laqueur

Genre: Romance
Published: June 16, 2014
Pages: 590
Ages: 18+


From author Suanne Laqueur comes an astonishing debut novel: a young man's emotional journey to salvage relationships destroyed in the wake of a school shooting. 

As a college freshman, Erik Fiskare is drawn to the world of theater but prefers backstage to center stage. The moment he locks eyes with a beautiful, accomplished dancer named Daisy Bianco, his atoms rearrange themselves and he is drawn into a passionate and soulful love story. But when a disturbed friend brings a gun into the theater and opens fire, the story is forever changed. 

Spanning fifteen years, The Man I Love explores themes of love and sexuality, trauma--physical and mental--and its long-lasting effects, the burden of unfinished business and the power of reconciliation. Through Erik's experience we reflect on what it means to be a man, a son and a leader. A soul mate, a partner and a lover. What it means to live the truth of who you are and what you feel. What it means to fight for what you love.
This was one of the most real books I have ever read. It's right up there with Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and The Good Soldiers by David Finkel in the realm of realism. All three of these books are about tough subjects, and all three of them hit me deep and will remain with me for a long time to come. 

This book is told in first person from Erik's perspective, giving us a narrow view of the events that unfold, but making them feel extremely personal. The characters were dynamic and flawed and never felt cliche. Although I empathized most with Erik's experiences, being in his shoes and all, I also felt connections with most of the other major characters as well. 

The descriptions were detailed and vivid. My experience with ballet is limited to Save the Last Dance and the scene in Step Up where Channing Tatum is in that introductory ballet class with the little girls. I've never even seen a Nutcracker ballet that wasn't a cartoon. In spite of that, I was easily able to imagine the dancers on stage. I believe this visualization was more easily accomplished because the story was told from Erik's perspective and prior to college, he had even less experience with ballet than I have. 

My one issue with the book is that I feel like the life trials the characters faced were excessive in the end. Although the book spans fifteen years, Ms. Laqueur threw a whole lot of problems at her characters. It almost felt like fifteen years of not being able to catch a break. It was emotionally exhausting for me, and I was only reading about it. But this complaint just added to the realism of the book because we all know that life isn't all flowers and sausages. 

Overall I give this book 5 out of 5 stars because it was just really well done in basically every area. Would I call it the next great American novel? No, because I'm not qualified to make that claim, but if someone else were to declare that, I wouldn't be surprised. I would definitely recommend this book to people looking for a more realistic romance. - Katie 

Buy the Book

About the Author
Suanne Laqueur graduated from Alfred University with a double major in dance and theater. She taught at the Carol Bierman School of Ballet Arts in Croton-on-Hudson for ten years. An avid reader, cook and gardener, she started her blog www.eatsreadsthinks in 2010, and now writes at Suanne lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband and two children. The Man I Love is her first novel.

Chapter 1

My Challenges

I used The Man I Love to fulfill my romance category for my Book Bingo challenge and my book with more than 500 pages category for the Popsugar reading challenge (sorry Outlander, maybe next year.) 

Other categories it could have fulfilled for the Popsugar challenge include:

A book by a female author
A book with a love triangle
A book that made me cry
A book by an author I'd never read before

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

*Challenge Review* Taming Me by Alexandrea Weis

Genre: Erotic Romance
Published: February 2, 2015
Pages: 323
Ages: 18+


Lexie Palmer is a writer in search of the perfect story.

When a case of mistaken identity introduces her to the charismatic dominant, Garrett Hughes, she discovers her salvation. In hopes of penning an accurate portrayal of the BDSM lifestyle, Garrett agrees to educate Lexie.

She eagerly places herself in Garret’s capable hands, but what starts out as just business with the sexy Mr. Hughes takes a turn toward the unexpected.

Soon, Lexie becomes immersed in his world, and finds Garret taking control of her life. Her experiences with Garrett may be providing wonderful material for her book, but how far is she willing to go to for her story?

Lexie Palmer is about to get a lesson in submission that she will never forget.

Taming Me falls in the Cover to Cover tie In Series but is a stand alone.


Once again, Alexandrea Weis has written characters that I just absolutely fell in love with. Lexie, the writer who will do anything to get her story, and Garrett, the Dom that just can't help the urge to try and tame her in the process, are explosive together. When they're not butting heads over Garrett's completely unreasonable desires (although perfectly reasonable within the BDSM culture), they have great chemistry together. I absolutely adored Lexie's continued spunk in spite of Garrett's attempts to tame her and make her the sub he was looking for. 

This was a fast paced story, really only spanning about three weeks, and I enjoyed how each chapter was a different day in their relationship. It made reading this book sort of like reading Lexie's diary. It's an incredibly detailed diary, but she is a writer, so that's not even really too far-fetched. 

While this is the fifth book in Weis's Cover to Covers series, it CAN be read as a standalone. A few characters from other books in the series are mentioned, but you don't have to know their stories for this one to make sense. You will probably want to go read them afterwards anyway, but you don't have to. 

Overall I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of 50 Shades of Grey and similar stories. 

Buy the Book

My Challenges

This book clearly fits the New Release category for Book Bingo because it's only two days old right now, so I half marked out my "two new releases" block to reflect it's position (it made sense to me). I also used this book to fulfill my "Published this year" requirement for the Popsugar reading challenge. 

Other categories this book would fulfill include:
A book by a female author
A book from an author I love that I hadn't read yet
A book set somewhere I've always wanted to visit (New Orleans)