Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review: Aurelia

by Anne Osterlund

Aurelia, princess of the kingdom of Tyralt, longs for freedom. Weighed down by old-fashioned traditions, courtly expectations of behavior, and her father's unending parade of chosen suitors, Aurelia wants to make her own choices and move freely among her kingdom and its people.

But someone wants this kind and just princess dead; recently, she has been the target of multiple assassination attempts. Her childhood friend Robert, the son of a former royal spy, has returned to court to try to protect her and identify the culprit. As they race to gather clues, their friendship begins to blossom into something more. As her situation becomes increasingly dire, Aurelia must depend on Robert and herself to preserve her kingdom, and her life. 

Aurelia is a smart, headstrong, determined heroine from start to finish. She knows what she wants and will not be turned away from her goals. She is not a stilted, prim and proper princess; she is realistic and relatable. I could feel her sense of entrapment, the conflict between her desire to go off and see the world and her duties to her family and her kingdom. She is never the damsel in distress; she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself and, ultimately, defending herself against immediate danger. She and Robert are a team, not a one-sided rescue mission.

The mystery of who is behind the assassination attempts is very well carried out. Hints are dropped one at a time, letting readers puzzle over them and try to piece them together just as Aurelia and Robert do. I have to admit that I didn't see the final revelation coming. (SPOILER - highlight to read: I knew her stepmother Elise was too obvious - she's a bitter, hateful woman, but too many clues were pointing to her. It just couldn't be. I had a feeling Chris was involved somehow - he always seemed to be showing up at critical moments - but I didn't anticipate the connection between him and Melony. She seemed genuine in her kind and gentle interactions with Aurelia; I was just as taken in as Aurelia herself was.)

The romance between Aurelia and Robert was developed so perfectly - not too rushed, not too slowly, not too mushy and cutesy. It was natural and wonderful. I kept waiting for Robert to make a move and voice his feelings, and when he finally did, my heart melted. There is a passage at the end of the book about Robert's gaze on Aurelia that solidified Aurelia and Robert as one of my favorite YA couples: "There was power in that gaze, something that drew her in and held her. But it was not constricting. It did not push down on her from above. It simply was." I can't even put into words how beautiful I think it is that with Robert's love, Aurelia finally finds freedom.

I finished the book reluctantly, wishing it wasn't over. I loved this fantasy/romance/mystery blend and I can't wait to see how Aurelia and Robert's adventures continue in the sequel, Exile!

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Freebies: December 30, 2011

I've picked out some Kindle freebies that intrigue me - perhaps you'll want to give them a read too. :)  Click on each title to go to the Amazon Kindle edition listing. Be sure to double-check the price before you download!

The Soulkeepers
by G. P. Ching

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 309 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication date: March 13, 2011
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, urban fantasy

First in The Soulkeepers series. From Amazon:

"When fifteen-year-old Jacob Lau is pulled from the crumpled remains of his mother's car, no one can explain why he was driving or why the police can't find his mother's body. A beautiful and mysterious neighbor offers to use her unique abilities to help him find his mom. But in exchange she requires Jacob to train as a Soulkeeper, a protector of human souls. He agrees to her demands, desperate for any clue to the mystery of his mother's disappearance. But soon Jacob finds himself trapped in a web of half-truths, and questions her motives for helping him."

The Trouble With Spells

by Lacey Weatherford

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 326 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Moonstruck Media
Publication date: November 12, 2009
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, witches

First in the Of Witches and Warlocks series. From Goodreads:

"Portia Mullins had always lived the life of a normal teenager, up until her sixteenth birthday. She is then informed by her grandma that she is actually a witch who is a descendant of a long line of witches and warlocks. After overcoming her disbelief she finds that being a member of the coven comes with one great perk in the form of the school's handsome bad boy, Vance Mangum. Vance and Portia have an immediate connection as a budding romance begins, only to be threatened by turbulent skies on the horizon as Vance's checkered past rears its ugly head to haunt them. Portia is forced to use her untried powers in defense of everything she loves in a desperate attempt to hold on to the one thing that really matters in her life."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best Books of 2011

I browsed the Best Books of 2011 lists on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads and picked out some that sound interesting to me. These will be at the top of my reading list for 2012! Click on the links above to see the Best Of lists, or the covers below to see the book information on Amazon.

Young Adult

Middle Grade


Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Well, my Christmas was exceptionally wonderful this year, because I got a Kindle! :)

I'm slowly exploring the world of ebooks. I'm finding there are lots of free books, novellas, and short stories out there, so I'm thinking a weekly freebies post might be a good addition to my humble little blog here. I haven't been a big reader of novellas and short stories in the past, but I think my Kindle might change that. It's so nice to have an endless supply of stories just the right length for bedtime reading at your fingertips!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

And may you find lots and lots of books wrapped up under your tree this year! :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Welcome to the Book Nook!

If you found the name of this blog to be appealing and decided to check it out, I'm guessing you like books. Quite a bit. Maybe you like putting real life on hold for a little bit and curling up with a good book to live in a literary world for a while instead. Maybe you like pulling out your Kindle/Nook/etc. in the middle of a busy day and enjoying your momentary respite. Maybe you like fonts and appreciate when the typography matches the story just right. Maybe you like the way the plastic dust jacket on a library book makes that crinkly noise when you open it. Maybe you like good storytelling, witty wordplay, being challenged to think in new ways, being inspired, surprise endings, cliffhangers, and all the other innumerable pleasures that books provide.

Guess what. I do too. :)

So I decided to make a blog all about books. A digital reading journal, basically. A place to write book reviews, keep track of new releases, and hopefully chat with other readers about books. It'll give me some practice with my writing and I'll get to READ. A lot. :)  I'm looking forward to keeping this blog and I hope you'll enjoy reading it!

Come join me in the Book Nook any time you like!