Category Archives: Series

Famous in Love

Finished Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The romantic story of a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature film franchise based on a book and the ensuing love triangles she gets entangled in on—-and off screen.

Meet Paige Townsen, Rainer Devon, and Jordan Wilder…

When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.

In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches.”

I absolutely loved this book.  It’s incredibly fun but it’s also got a lot going on under the surface.

I think most people have had little daydreams about becoming famous and this book addresses that somewhat—the idea that, while it seems incredibly fun at first glance, there are a lot of other things to consider.  You’ll earn a lot of money, of course, but you’ll also have to give a lot of things up: privacy, obviously, but also a lot of your relationships will change.  It will be hard to relate to your friends who have minimum wage retail jobs when you can match their weekly salary in probably, what, half an hour of work? This was touched on in this book, but I think it will come into play in the next two books, as well.  (YES, this will be a trilogy and that makes me ridiculously happy.)

I feel like this contemp is breaking all the contemp rules (trilogy, not standalone; love triangle where both boys are actually good people, not the obvious choice and the distraction) and I love it.

And yes, while we’re here, let’s talk about the boys.  I love Rainer and Jordan but my choice is clear: I am SO Team Rainer.  And again, it’s not that Jordan is a bad choice.  He isn’t.  I just feel like we got to know Rainer more in this book and I like him as a person and as the “leading guy” for Paige.

Bottom line, this book is an absolute delight and I can’t wait for everyone to read it and talk about it.

Highly recommended.

The Silent Murders

Finished The Silent Murders by Mary Miley.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Vaudeville actress Leah Randall took on her most daring role ever when she impersonated missing heiress Jessie Carr in order to claim Jessie’s inheritance in The Impersonator. Now that the dust has settled around that tumultuous time in her life, Leah has adopted Jessie’s name as her own and moved to Hollywood, where she’s taken a modest but steady job in the silent film industry.

Jessie’s thrilled when Bruno Heilmann, a movie studio bigwig, invites her to a party. She’s even more delighted to run into a face from her past at that party. But the following day, Jessie learns that sometime in the wee hours of the morning both her old friend and Bruno Heilmann were brutally murdered. She’s devastated, but with her skill as an actress, access to the wardrobes and resources of a film studio, and a face not yet famous enough to be recognized, Jessie is uniquely positioned to dig into the circumstances surrounding these deaths. But will doing so put her own life directly in the path of a murderer?

With Silent Murders, MB/MWA First Crime Novel Competition winner Mary Miley has crafted another terrifically fun mystery, this time set in the dizzying, dazzling heart of jazz-age Hollywood.”

Like the first book in the series (The Impersonator), this book is full of little winks at classic Hollywood history.  (Jessie’s really good friends with the person who becomes Myrna Loy, who is friends with the guy who becomes Gary Cooper—fun fact: many people change their names in Hollywood!)

Also like in The Impersonator, Jessie is a fun, easy-to-root-for heroine.  While I preferred the first one, this was very entertaining.

It centered around  a slew of murders that are seemingly centered around guests and workers at a big Hollywood party.  Not surprisingly, Jessie finds herself right in the middle of it and realizes that she is taking certain clues far more seriously than the police are.

This series is incredibly fun and I’m excited to see where they go next.

Queen of Someday

Finished Queen of Someday by Sherry Ficklin.  I received a copy from the author for review.

QoS Cover

TOUR PIC

Summary (from Goodreads):

ONE GIRL WILL BRING AN EMPIRE TO ITS KNEES…

Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophie will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia—at any cost.

Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family—and herself—Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans.

Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be.

In a battle for the soul of a nation, will love or destiny reign supreme?”

This book is just completely fun.  It’s been compared to the CW show Reign, and I can absolutely see that comparison.  Unlike Reign, though, it held my attention for the entire thing (I watched, I think, two episodes of Reign.  Maybe three.)

I loved Sophie, who is completely pragmatic.  She’s there to marry Peter.  If she does, her family will be safe and she will be comfortable for the rest of her life.  She doesn’t love him and she knows he doesn’t love her, but she knows that love has nothing to do with it.  She has a responsibility to her family and to her own future and she’s going to fulfill it.

Except then she meets Alexander and all of a sudden, things aren’t so clear-cut anymore.  And, not surprisingly, there is also a great deal of court intrigue (not surprising to anyone who’s read Katherine Longshore or Philippa Gregory).

This book is a complete delight and I cannot wait for the sequel.  I can’t wait to see what happens with Sophie and how she lives with the choices she made in this book.

Recommended.

Whisper From the Past Blog Hop

I’m happy to host Elizabeth Carsten Langston today!  She’s the author of the Whisper Falls series; the third book is out now.  (I have all three and am so excited to binge read them, hopefully soon.)

The Whisper Falls series has time travel elements, since all 3 books have settings in 18th/19th century North Carolina. I had to do a huge amount of historical research, which I absolutely love to do. Yet I also love reading historical fiction. When I was asked about doing a guest post on my favorite YA historicals, I was happy to agree. But there were two problems: (1) picking only ten and (2) deciding which were my favorites.

So here is my list of the most memorable YA historicals that I’ve read (with a few middle grades and one time travel thrown in). The books are in alphabetical order by title, because it wouldn’t be fair to rank them in any other way. They’ve all touched me as both a reader and a writer.

  1.  Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  2.  Fever 1793 by Laura Halse Anderson
  3.  The Golden Hour by Maiya Williams
  4.  Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
  5.  Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
  6.  Sacajawea by Joseph Bruchac
  7.  Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
  8.  The Stolen One by Suzanne Crowley
  9.  Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
  10.  The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Book 10, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, has long been one of my favorites.  Its hero is named Nathaniel “Nat” Eaton.  In the Whisper Falls series, I have a secondary character—Senator Nathaniel Eton. I promise you—I didn’t do that on purpose (Senator Eton’s name evolved from several different possibilities), but I’m pretty glad that it’s true.

I also want to mention several authors that I love to read: Jane Austen, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Louisa May Alcott.  Although they were writing contemporary fiction at the time, their books are classics and give us a wonderful look at the 19th century.

I’m always ready to read more historical fiction—so if you have suggestions, please let me know!

The Young Elites

Finished The Young Elites by Marie Lu.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

This sounded very different than Marie Lu’s Legend series and initially I was a little worried about how I’d enjoy it.  (Turns out I was worried for nothing; while the two series are not at all similar, both are incredibly enjoyable.)

I liked the idea of there being these “young elite” people who have these incredibly creepy powers.  (I sort of picture them as being like the kids in Village of the Damned, in terms of being able to make things happen with their mind.)

They view themselves as being descendents of the gods; not surprisingly, “regular people” view them a little differently—they’re considered demons and are hunted and killed on a regular basis, typically in creepy ways.

I feel like I’m just starting to get a handle with what’s going on, and I am so excited for the second book in the series.

I’m definitely in love with this series and can’t wait to see where Marie Lu goes next.

Highly recommended.

Stars In Their Eyes

Finished Stars In Their Eyes by Lauren Blakely.  I received a copy from the author for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A sexy and swoony new adult romance…

Celebrity photographer and college senior Jess Leighton desperately needs to crash the wedding of the year. Snapping just one pic of the A-list Hollywood couple tying the knot will pay her way through grad school. But with security tighter than the bride-to-be’s corset, she’ll need more than her camera and smarts, she’ll need help from her biggest rival–hot, British, motorcycle-riding William Harrigan, whose sexy accent can melt the panties off any woman. He’s the last person Jess should trust, but he’s her only ticket in.

William Harrigan wants one thing – to stay in L.A. past college graduation. With a student visa set to expire, the clock is ticking. When he lands a gig that pairs him with the beautiful blond spitfire Jess, he’s scored his best shot at living out the American dream. Winning her trust would be a whole lot easier, however, if he didn’t have ulterior motives…

But there’s no faking the intense attraction between them. Try as they might to resist each other, soon sparks are flying, as they devise a plan to sneak into the ceremony. But when Jess’ new celebrity client raises the stakes, she starts to smell blackmail, and soon she and Will are chasing down cheating directors, staking out clandestine trysts, and making fake IDs, all while sneaking scene-stealing kisses and hot nights together.

The audience loves a happy ending, but in a town where everyone’s acting and no one’s playing by the rules, can Jess and William find their own ever after in time?”

**STARS IN THEIR EYES is a spin-off of the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling CAUGHT UP IN LOVE series. It is the start of the new adult series WRAPPED UP IN LOVE.**

After reading the prequel,  I was incredibly excited to dig in to this one.

As pointed out in the story itself, this book perfectly mirrors your standard romantic comedy and deserves its place next to the best of them (in my mind When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail or pretty much anything by Nora Ephron).

One of the things I love best about Lauren Blakely’s books is the fact that pretty much every book features little cameos by the characters we already love.  This book is no exception (although I won’t be any more specific, because spoilers) and I love every time it happens.  I like imagining that these characters are real and that their stories go on even after their respective books are over. Yes, I’m weird; no, I don’t care.

I’m happy that this is the start of a new series and I cannot wait to spend more time with these characters.  (While I am told that the next books will feature different main characters, I have every reason to hope that they will pop up in other books.)

Highly recommended.

A Starstruck Kiss

Finished A Starstruck Kiss by Lauren Blakely.  I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“A sexy and swoony new adult romance…

There are no two ways about it — William Harrigan is a certified babe. He’s sexy, smart, and British, and he wants nothing more than to charm the pants off fellow college senior Jess Leighton. Well, he does want other things; he just can’t tell her about the job he’s working on since it maybe, possibly involves her. Jess, who moonlights as a celebrity photographer, is laser-focused on earning enough money snapping pics to pay her way through grad school, but when the criminally handsome William starts moving in on her turf, she’s got to fend off the competition from him as well as resist her desire to smother him in kisses because William makes her heart race and her skin sizzle.

Too bad this man is not to be trusted.

Right? Except if Jess wants to snag the million-dollar picture she desperately needs, she’ll have no choice but to trust Will, and he’ll have to come clean about everything he wants from Jess. Including her.”

This book is sweet and fun and completely sexy—in short, just what I was in the mood for.
It’s no secret that I love celebrity gossip and so this story was perfect for me.  There are all these little winks and nods to real life celebrities and movies, and it was fun catching them.
But even better, of course, is the  immediate chemistry between Jess and William (who is, of course, British—because why not?).  Obviously they’re going to get together but how? And when?
It’s another perfect book from Lauren Blakely and I expect no less.
Highly recommended.

The Impersonator

Finished The Impersonator by Mary Miley.  I received a copy for review from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

In 1917, Jessie Carr, fourteen years old and sole heiress to her family’s vast fortune, disappeared without a trace. Now, years later, her uncle Oliver Beckett thinks he’s found her: a young actress in a vaudeville playhouse is a dead ringer for his missing niece. But when Oliver confronts the girl, he learns he’s wrong. Orphaned young, Leah’s been acting since she was a toddler.

Oliver, never one to miss an opportunity, makes a proposition—with his coaching, Leah can impersonate Jessie, claim the fortune, and split it with him. The role of a lifetime, he says. A one-way ticket to Sing Sing, she hears. But when she’s let go from her job, Oliver’s offer looks a lot more appealing. Leah agrees to the con, but secretly promises herself to try and find out what happened to the real Jessie. There’s only one problem: Leah’s act won’t fool the one person who knows the truth about Jessie’s disappearance.

Set against a Prohibition-era backdrop of speakeasies and vaudeville houses, Mary Miley’s Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition winner The Impersonator will delight readers with its elaborate mystery and lively prose.”

This was an incredibly fun novel.  I love the fact that it features vaudeville and speakeasies.  I wasn’t too familiar with vaudeville and my knowledge of Prohibition is basically incredibly limited (although I want to learn more) and I immediately loved Leah/Jessie.  She’s got intelligence and strength for days.

I also love the way that she falls in love with her family but is also still homesick for vaudeville.  It’s literally the only life she knew, and those people were her family before she inserted herself into the Carrs’ lives.  (Fun fact: several famous people make cameos in this.)

I also love the fact that Leah is definitely not Jessie.  There’s no amnesia or revelations that she and Jessie were twins and one was stolen away, never to be spoken of again.

I’m not a huge fan of the ending, but that’s a minor thing. There’s a sequel that I’m ridiculously excited to read (hopefully within the next couple weeks).

If you want something fun to read, this is for you.  Recommended.

Jessica Darling’s IT List #2

Finished Jessica Darling’s It List #2: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide To Friends, Foes & Faux Friends by Megan McCafferty.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Jessica Darling is getting the hang of seventh grade — finally! While her old BFF, Bridget, is busy talking (nonstop) about her new boyfriend, Burke, Jessica tries to fit in with her new friends, Sara, Manda, and Hope. The IT List instructions from her sister, Bethany, and an epic slumber party may help Jessica secure her spot in the cool clique, but does she even want it?

Megan McCafferty’s It List series introduces readers to Jessica Darling, an unabashedly brainy seventh grader who stays true to herself, even if it means being (totally not) cool.”

As you know, I am insanely in love with Jessica Darling and have been since I was in college.  I love this whole MG series because I’ll be able to give it to my goddaughter in a couple of years and my niece in 8-10 years.  I’m so excited that they’ll be able to grow up with her.  (Although seeing as how I met her when she was in high school and we went through college and early adulthood together, you can make the case that I grew up with her, too.)

As far as the MG books go, I preferred this one to the first one.  Jessica seems a lot more like herself and her friendship with Hope (and with our Marcus Flutie) is really starting to develop.  I would be willing to bet that by the next book, we’ll definitely see the Jessica Darling we know and love.

(Speaking of, there’s a reference to the later series that seriously made me shriek and then grin like a freak.)

I love these books.  You should read them if you haven’t already.

Highly recommended.

After The Funeral

Finished After the Funeral by Agatha Christie.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Amazon):

The master of a Victorian mansion dies suddenly – and his sister is convinced it was murder…When Cora is savagely murdered with a hatchet, the extraordinary remark she made the previous day at her brother Richard’s funeral suddenly takes on a chilling significance. At the reading of Richard’s will, Cora was clearly heard to say: ‘It’s been hushed up very nicely, hasn’t it…But he was murdered, wasn’t he?’ In desperation, the family solicitor turns to Hercule Poirot to unravel the mystery.

This is the third (of four) books in Harper Collins’ readalong of Agatha Christie’s novels.  (The next and last one is The Monogram Murders, a new Hercule Poirot novel written by Sophie Hannah.)

This is easily my favorite of the ones we’ve read so far.  I loved the concept and the fact that pretty much every single person was a suspect for one reason or another.  (No, I did not guess the killer—I’ve not guessed the killer in any of the three so far, which makes me cranky.)

These books are so fun and I’m just incredibly grateful for Harper Collins for doing this so that I could finally read some of Agatha Christie’s books.  I’ve gotten a few others (including Murder on the Orient Express) and I plan on getting The Body in the Library so that I can meet Miss Marple.

Note: this new edition has an introduction by Sophie Hannah.

Highly recommended.

And now to the questions! :)

1)   From the beginning, there is tension among the surviving Abernethie family. Despite being bound together by name and blood, there doesn’t seem to be a strong connection amongst the different generations. Did you sense a motive for murder or suspect someone in the group early on?

I thought it was Gregory.  I would have placed a lot of money on that.

2)  It was noted early on that Helen Abernethie felt something was strange during the will reading. Were you ever able to guess what it was she sensed? Once the murder plot is revealed, it becomes clear that the answer was there from the beginning.

Nope.  It wasn’t even one of those cases where it dawned on me right before we were told.  I can never guess the outcome of a Christie mystery.

3)  Name some of your favorite red herrings, as there are quite a few. To get you going, I enjoyed the reoccurrence of nuns. I knew they had to have some significance, as nothing can just be a coincidence.

The nuns! I was pretty sure that they weren’t really nuns (because how hard would it be to dress like a nun?).    That was by far my favorite.

4)  The will was split fairly across Richard’s relatives and each had their own reason for needing the money. Did you ever once consider Cora’s murder to be separate from Richard’s?

No. I thought they were obviously connected, even if only because she knew that Richard was murdered and the murderer got twitchy.

5)  Some of the family members (by blood or marriage) acted truly deplorably—there was the house-bound Timothy, the beautiful but vapid Rosamund and her cheating husband Michael, and Susan’s husband, Gregory who was outed as a mental patient. I half expected Helen to have her own dirty secret (which really wasn’t all that bad once revealed). Did you consider any of them for the murderer?

Gregory.  I hated that guy and was sure that he would do it.  (I never really liked any of the people, but I was so confident in Gregory.  I should’ve known better because I think he was the obvious choice.)

6)  In Sophie Hannah’s introduction to After the Funeral, she discusses the Christie-concept of “nontransferable motive,” meaning a motive that no other murderer in any other crime novel has had or will have.  Do you think that applies to After the Funeral? What do you make of a “nontransferable motive?” Does this apply to other Christie mysteries?

I like the idea, but I could see a lot of the people killing for the same reason (namely money).  I think it applies to other Christie mysteries ( and really to mysteries in general).  I loved that we got an introduction from Sophie Hannah and I’m very eager to see her take on Poirot.

7)  This was my first time reading After the Funeral, and I couldn’t help but think this had all the components of a classic Christie mystery.  What are some of those elements?

Red herrings and people being much more than they appear to be.  (Although Rosamund was about as dumb as I thought, unlike the wife in Dead Man’s Folly.)