**Disclaimer: This book does involve past adultery between the lead characters. I pretty much hate adultery in romance novels. I avoid those storyline**Disclaimer: This book does involve past adultery between the lead characters. I pretty much hate adultery in romance novels. I avoid those storylines when I can. But this sounded very interesting, and the adultery does seem to fall into the accidental category, if that can be said about marital cheating. One of the reasons I rated this four stars is because Donald takes this novel to deep waters. What you think you know about the characters gets turned on its ear before everything is over. And initially, while one might tend to think of the wife as the victim, you will find out soon that it's not the case at all. Perdita is a strong woman, and I loved seeing that she went from vulnerable teenager to independent, self-actualized mature woman with her own life and her own finances. She goes back to confront Luke and to get acquainted on her own terms, willing to tangle with Luke in order to have the chance to know her children.
I liked this book quite a bit. I think the strength of it was that the author really allowed the reader to walk in Perdita's shoes. That was hugely crucial, considering that she's effectively an adulteress. And while I hate adultery, I couldn't judge her or even Luke for that matter. I'm not saying that I'm sanguine about the situation. But by the end of the book, I had to come to terms with everything. I won't spoil, but the deceased wife definitely doesn't come out of this looking like a martyr or smelling like roses. Luke did annoy me quite a bit, but he grew on me by the end of the book. He was as much as a victim as Perdita was, and he did really care about his children, loved his wife, and much to his chagrin, loved Perdita. There were a lot of ugly words thrown at Perdita, considering that she was underage (at least according to my standards--16-17) when it happened, but she held her own, and Luke wasn't really as much of a b*stard as he could have been (especially by old school Robyn Donald standards).
The dynamic with the twins was interesting, as Perdita got to know them, and they got to know her. The ending was a bit weird with what happens, but that's just me.
I give this four stars because it meets my criteria for a very good Harlequin Presents: well written, angsty, dramatic, likable heroine, intense storyline. I wanted to keep reading and I wasn't in a hurry to finish it. It's a plus that the hero has to admit his love for Perdita fairly sooner than usual in these books.
This is on Kindle (and that's the format I read). It's worth checking out as long as adultery of any kind isn't completely a no-no for a reader. Normally I pass it by, but this was a good book and the adultery wasn't rationalized or dismissed as immaterial....more
So, this is my review of the latest Ward book. I love this time of year, and the traditions that come alone with it as a long-time JR Ward fan. It's aSo, this is my review of the latest Ward book. I love this time of year, and the traditions that come alone with it as a long-time JR Ward fan. It's a big part of why I enjoy this series so much.
Sorry, but this is a really long review. I had a lot to say!
Possible Spoiler Disclaimer: I will warn readers that while I really tried not to use overt spoilers, you will see that there is an emotional shock that comes in this book, but I don’t reveal exactly what it was. Readers beware!
The Shadows is the telling of the story of the two s’Hisbe brothers who have become unofficial members of the Brotherhood’s growing family. Trez is running away from his destiny, written in the stars, as the future mate of the Princess of the s’Hisbe. He’s done everything he could to disqualify himself, but the time is growing short and he can run no longer. iAm has stood in the gap for his brother for many years, trying to keep his brother from going over the edge of oblivion to the exclusion of having his own life. But the time is coming when he won’t be able to save his brother. Trez is stone cold in love with the Chosen, Selena, but for many reasons, a happy ending doesn’t seem to be written in their destinies. Will iAm ever get the chance to build his own life, and to make decisions that aren’t dictated by his sacrificial love for his brother?
With a storyline that like, you know there’s going to be major drama.
Drama is JR Ward’s calling card. When I read one of her books, I automatically expect it. It’s hard, at the same time, waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it often does, very hard. I deliberately took my time reading this, preparing myself for the emotional blows sure to come. Not at all sure that there would be a happy end by the last page. I know a lot of people weren’t happy with this book, and I was prepared that I might not be, or that I might like it and find myself an outlier in saying why I liked it. So, it was emotionally stressful for me to read it. Another reason to take my time.
Some have argued that Ward has moved away from her initial writing of romance. I’m not sure I agree. Even in her earlier book, there was always a sense that not everything was settled, and while there were committed and happily mated couples, troubles could be lurking around the corner. Yes, the books were shorter and they focused more on the romance, but there was always something more, and plenty of drama. As the series has progress, the books have expanded, and with them, the storylines. And yes, the drama quotient. At times, it’s wearying how the storylines get dragged out and she introduces yet another set of new characters instead of giving more resolution on current storylines. This book was not different in that regard. And there were parts of this book that ripped my guts out and gave me a headache that was just a shade below a migraine. I wanted to slap one particular character super-duper silly. And I wanted to shake another one. I wanted to rail at the capriciousness of life, and ask the whys. But at the same time, I was satisfied at the end of the story. Hence my rating.
My opinion won’t be popular on this book amongst many of my friends. Largely, I really enjoyed this book. While there were some parts that were terribly sad and that made me sob like a big old baby, I felt that JR Ward delivered the quality of storytelling I appreciate about her writing. I’m not the one to tell you if she messed up specific details. I love this books a lot, but I don’t always remember which hand of Vishous glows or which eye of Qhuinn’s is blue versus green. To me, I don’t find that terribly important. I do care about the stories and the emotional journey. I don’t care if she rewrites some aspects of the storyline, because that’s to be expected in a long-running series. As an artist, one’s creation will evolve, and Ward views these people as real, probably as real as they seem to me, but probably even more real. And real people do change.
I will say this as well, I believe in eternal life. I believe that life doesn’t end on this plane. I believe that death is an enemy in that it steals love ones away from their beloveds, hopefully not forever, but sometimes it is forever. Our mortal bodies fail us and we leave this life and go to another place. I’m a Christian, so I believe that Heaven and Hell are real. For the Brothers, it’s the Fade. But I think the pain is the same, knowing that you won’t see a beloved again in this life. And when one is dying, it’s facing one’s mortality, and the question of whether what you’ve believed that whole time was real or not.
My two cats (that I had for pretty much their whole, long lives) died this past fall, and it broke my heart to pieces. They were older and I should have been prepared. I work in animal medicine, and I lost my dad about ten years ago, so death is not new to me. But it still wrenched my soul to lose them. It’s funny what people say and don’t say to you when you lose someone. I had people say some things that were quite ugly even though they didn’t mean it that way, and that didn’t help my emotional healing. I also had people who ministered to me in my grief, and understood exactly how I felt. They can’t know how much they helped me, but I say a prayer of thanks that God put them in my path at the right time.
I think this book touched me because I saw one of the characters go on that journey. The stages of grief were so tangible to me because of my recent loss (and quite honestly, I also lost a church friend recently, so I was dealing with that as well). I could feel what it was like for this character and the pain of losing a person, but also the fact that they could not ever have regrets about having loved that person, for however short that time was. It’s real for me. I don’t know, but I’m thinking that Ward went through a loss recently, and she wrote this from her heart. I connected with that, and I can see why she didn’t change the ending to a “happy, joy, joy” one that would be expected.
Sometimes, that’s not the way life works. Sometimes, you lose people and you have to get out of bed the next day. You have to attend to the ceremonies that come along with the loss and keep one foot in front of the other until you can walk without falling. Sometimes you have to be strong so you can be strong for another person who needs that strength, and put your own needs aside. That was all so real to me, and very well-written.
Others may not like how that was done. I respect that. While it sucked that this person died, it was also valuable in the terms of the story. I can’t fault Ward for that decision. I’ve seen her make others in her stories that I was more angry about. I think she handled the situation with grace, even in the most ugly and emotionally wrenching parts. I think she knows that people are going to be angry with her, and she owns it. I respect her for that.
Speaking of things that made me angry, Xcor was a real tool in this book. I had started seeing more potential for him as a future hero in the past few books, but now I’m just annoyed at him and I question his value as a future love interest for a certain person. I really disliked what he did, for numerous reasons. Those who know my tastes can probably pinpoint why, and can understand why I wanted to bitchslap him. It’s not that I don’t understand his character or the whys but it was a jerk move. At some point you have to stop being a whiny baby and say no to the past and declare a better future. I hold out hope that he’ll get a clue, but he’ll need to get a cleansing deep inside and outside before everything will be okay with me.
I continue to like Layla’s character. She’s really growing as a three-dimensional character in her own right. I wasn’t happy about that storyline with Qhuinn at first, but now I’m okay with it. I think it’s an interesting dynamic, and I want to see where things lead with her and her ancillary relationship with Qhuinn and Blay. I just want her to have a Hellren who is worthy of her. She deserves it! I hope the male she’s in love with gets his head out of his rear end sometime soon.
One of the things I absolutely loved about this book was the relationship between iAm and Trez, and how things turned around, and the one who always made sacrifices got to be the one who was put first in a crucial way. iAm is a really classy guy, a worthy male, and while Trez did have some jerk moments in the past few books, I really liked him in this book and felt for him. He proves to be a very worthy male (although I don’t agree with his view of prostitution being okay as long as the women get the lion’s share of their earnings). Yes, they don’t consider themselves black or African American, but I liked that they do represent people of color in this book so well. I also found the s’Hisbe culture fascinating. In some ways, it’s not super well-defined, but it’s intriguing to me. An interesting compare and contrast to the Vampire and Sympath cultures. ‘s’Ex is some kind of dude. On the real! He has swagger like my beloved Rehvenge, and that is a very nice comparision from a reader who is stone cold in love with Rehv! I hope we see more of him. I like one of the new characters introduced very much, which I cannot reveal as a spoiler. Thumbs up for her. That was super-sweet too what happens with her and another character.
A few things I was indifferent about as well. I am indifferent about the Lesser storyline. It doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. We’ll see what happens in the next book. I can’t make up my mind how I feel about Assail. I hate drug abuse/activity, so he’s got a major strike against him. At the same time, I do appreciate the pragmatism of his character. I think he truly is amoral, and he sticks true to that. I’m not sure if he’ll turn out to be an antihero or a full on villain. I have this sick appreciation for a good antihero, I freely admit.
I feel like the Band of Brothers storyline was underrepresented in this book, but I think Ward is saving it for the next book and chose to focus on other aspects. It will be interesting to see what happens between Xcor and Throe (and I’m glad that Wrath ain’t nobody’s fool when it comes to that situation). I wish she’d spent more time on the BoB instead of developing the new storyline with Paradise. I don’t hate her, but I can’t say I really care that much about her right now. Having said that, I’ll definitely be reading the spinoff series, even though I think it’s Ward’s bid for the New Adult niche (and I’m not interested in that genre).
So, yes, I think I could go on about this book, but I’ve already written such a long review. It won’t change anything. I’m pretty set on how I rated the book. I own it. I liked this book a whole lot. I enjoy Ward’s writing. I love the elegance of the old races she writes about, juxtaposed to the gritty modern world. I even like the thug slang and urban ways of the Brothers (as odd as some find it). I know a lot of folks hate that, but I feel that it’s characteristic of her writing, and I smile every year when I get to hang out with the Brothers and their ever-growing circle of acquaintances. I think that Ward really loves writing about these characters and that joy is infectious to me as a reader. I wish that some of my favorites were more front and center, but most of them had their day in the sun and it’s time to let someone else take the center focus. I will say it was nice to see more of Rhage and Mary in this book.
I guess I’m always going to enjoy Ward’s book for what they are. I don’t expect her to be a perfect writer. She has her quirks like any other artist, but I think she’s a darn good writer, and I love this world she’s created, even more with each book. I added The Shadows to my BDB hardcover shelf with a feeling of proprietary pride. Enough Said! ...more
I am sad that this series is over, but it ends in such a satisfying way. I do think that this series is required reading for those who like fairy taleI am sad that this series is over, but it ends in such a satisfying way. I do think that this series is required reading for those who like fairy tales and especially clever retellings. Each volume ups the ante on the grim aspect of fairy tales. Each book seems less appropriate for a younger audience. I'm torn on that. Mr. Gidwitz is obviously a teacher, and he understands the young minds he writes for. I mean, he has to in order to teach them. I'm going to trust that he knows what they can handle, but my personal limit would be 12 or older for these books. There is way too much dark violence and subject matter for kiddos younger than twelve, to my thinking. Also, the cruelty of adults against children in this book is highly disturbing.
I also think this is the saddest out of the series. Wow, the things that our young protagonists are faced with really tore at my heart. And how the cruelty and neglect they experienced warped something inside of them. Gidwitz deals with the psychology of abused/neglected children in a poignant way without getting too soapboxy.
There are some great life lessons here. Family, loyalty, honor, integrity, kindness, and making moral decisions. These kids have to raise themselves and that leads to some issues when they are faced with adult moral decisions. Along the way they make mistakes and have to learn from them and 'face the music.'
This book breaks the 4th wall in a way that the other ones in the series did not. At first, I really didn't like that about the book, but then I saw how integral it was to the story. It was also good because Gidwitz doesn't follow the predictable pattern I expected.
Johnny Heller truly is an awesome narrator. If he didn't win an award for narrating this series, then he was cheated. He deserves it. He was all in, and you would have to wonder how he didn't get emotionally affected by this book as he read. Not just in horror or sadness, but in hilarity, because this book involves all those emotions.
I am biased. I love fairy tales a lot. Yet, I think that increases my standards for fairy tale retellings. Gidwitz is a writer who clearly loves fairy tales just as much as I do, if not more. He respects the genre, and it clearly is a huge creative influence on him in crafting these marvelous books that add very much to the cultural relevance of fairy tales.
If you have not checked these out and you like fairy tales, what are you waiting for?...more
I had to put a lot of thought into this review. Anne Ursu has done that to me with her last two books. I enjoyed her Cronus Chronicles series and it wI had to put a lot of thought into this review. Anne Ursu has done that to me with her last two books. I enjoyed her Cronus Chronicles series and it was novel in that it presents a family with people of mixed racial heritage in a very normal, everyday fashion, and I loved that about the books. Plus, it was just plain fun Greek Mythology fantasy with a spunky heroine and her good natured cousin along for the ride.
With Breadcrumbs, she gave us a young girl who touched me deeply. Her internal life and her attachment to a friend as an effort to deal with loneliness and rejection was a visceral ache. I think with The Real Boy, she has strummed that emotional chord again.
Oscar is an orphan who was 'bought' by a charmer to watch over his shop, do the cleaning, and to prepare his herbs for the potions he sells. It is never explicitly stated, but I believe that Oscar has autism. He has sense-related issues (will only eat bread because he doesn't like the feel of other foods), he has trouble looking people in the eye, and blurts out things and doesn't understand social cues, he's got a genius level intellect but others may perceive him as not all there. Oscar starts to believe he's not a real boy because he is viewed as so different.
This touched me deeply, that this boy would feel so isolated and feel so unworthy. This is real, how cruel people are to those who are different. It breaks my heart in fact to see him suffer this way. I think this aspect of the book resonated deeply with me. I also appreciated Oscar's developing friendship with Callie, an apprentice to a healer who has no magic.
The world-building was less impactful. I felt like there was more to be discovered and understood. Although I appreciated how the story builds slowly and the reader's understanding expands with continued reading, too much was assumed in this book, and too little spelled out. The concept of how magic was so crucial to the small island that Oscar lives on, with the folktale of the wizards who became large trees so they could watch over the island, that was pretty cool. Although I feel it sort of becomes less clear and tangible as the story goes along. I would say the reveal towards the end was quite interesting, but to talk about that too much would be a spoiler.
Fundamentally, I feel that Ursu excelled with the emotional landscape of this story, but the fantastical foundation suffers in contrast. Oscar is an unforgettable little boy. His emotional journey speaks to my heart. For that alone, I gave this four stars. I was conflicted because I don't think this book measures up as well as far as a fantasy novel. As with Breadcrumbs, I wonder how much of the emotional depths will register with the young audience it's aimed at. It would be a great thing if kids who feel isolated because of their oddness would feel touched by Oscar's story and would understand that they aren't alone after all....more
This was nearly a four star read for me on the strength of the story with Roy Harper and the Justice League and the truly despicable villain PrometheuThis was nearly a four star read for me on the strength of the story with Roy Harper and the Justice League and the truly despicable villain Prometheus. He is not only a formidable supervillain but he is also maliciously psychopathic but in a very methodical way. The Justice League underestimated him to their detriment, and he wreaks serious havoc as a result. I read Justice League: Rise and Fall first, so I'm glad I ended up finding this and getting some background on the events in "Rise and Fall." I'm really surprised that Prometheus doesn't get more buzz in the comic book world. He's like a dark Batman and he's super, duper evil. Yet I hadn't even heard of the guy until I read about him on DC Wikia a few months ago.
The reason why I couldn't give this four stars right out is because some parts are a bit hokey and confusing. I didn't like how each person who experiences personal loss due to Prometheus ( and some that are having some misgivings about how non-lethal the Justice League's approach to villains is) issue a 'cry for justice', well it just seemed a bit cheesy to me. Also, Congorilla? What a strange superhero. I was thinking, are you for real? Your mileage may vary.
I have a huge crush on Green Arrow (definitely top five favorite comic book characters), and he's in this a lot, so yay. He shows a lot of loyalty to his friend and co-Leaguer Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), based on their very strong friendship. In the end, he also becomes even more pivotal to this story because of what happens with Prometheus and Roy Harper (his sidekick Red Arrow aka Arsenal aka Speedy).
I also admit to having some confusion about some aspects of the story. I went to my trusty DC Wikia to get some clarification, and that definitely helps.
One of the things I really liked about this book was the artwork. I felt the characters were excellently rendered, and the colors were beautiful. Graphic Novels are inherently visual, and that is such a crucial component that I definitely grade hard on the art. The art in this one stands up very well overall.
Ultimately, this is one of those books that ends up with a half star review, due to the positives and negatives. 3.5/5.0 stars is my rating for "Cry for Justice."...more
This was a riveting, emotional read. It's heartbreaking what Roy Harper (the first Speedy) goes through. I wish that things were different. That Roy dThis was a riveting, emotional read. It's heartbreaking what Roy Harper (the first Speedy) goes through. I wish that things were different. That Roy didn't have to go through the grief of losing a child. Unfortunately, he goes on a downward spiral, and he's not alone. Oliver Queen, his mentor (and foster father) goes over the line, seeking vengeance instead of the justice his membership in the League represents.
This book had me feeling very uncomfortable. I have a problem with drug abuse, and it was hard to see Roy going down that road. I could understand the pain he was trying to kill with drugs, but I hated seeing him go down that road. His decision to pursue a more violent personage is iffy as well. The combination is a very scary proposition.
Ollie is a character I just love. I can't explain why. He's very flawed, but he's one of my favorites from the graphic novel series. I felt bad for him for what happens between him and Dinah, but I can understand her reasoning. The writing is complex here, you can feel all the angst and the complicated actions and feelings of characters. I think that this is really good writing for a graphic novel. The writer doesn't take it easy on you. You go through all the pain with the characters, feel their horror, and the impact of the poor and not-so poor decisions they make. You also flinch when you see how they treat each other, for valid or not reasons.
I don't want to revisit Roy's loss head on, but I'm interesting in continuing his story....more
I read Captain America's Civil War first, and I think I am still sympathetic to his viewpoint. However, I caThere is always another side of the story.
I read Captain America's Civil War first, and I think I am still sympathetic to his viewpoint. However, I can completely understand Tony's reasons for backing the Superhero Registration Act. He believes that superheroes shouldn't be going off half-cocked, with poor training and little accountability. Part of his view is informed by events in his own past and his guilt about his own alcoholism while he was also wearing the suit of Iron Man. While Stark is troubled by the moral complexities of the situation, he is determined to stay on the path set before him, and not unaware of forces in the government who want to manipulate the uneasy situation and him in their favor. Things are worsened by the fact that his stance has put him at odds with a very good friend who he deeply respects, Captain America. He thinks that Cap is a good man who doesn't understand that while he won't abuse his power, many are less able to avoid that happening.
This graphic novel explores his viewpoint and his conflicted feelings about the situation. I was captivated by this book. Stark's retelling of the King Pyrrhus of Ancient Greece, and the origin of the term 'pyrrhic victory' especially resonated with me, especially in light of the tremendous loss suffered in the aftermath of the Civil War. I felt for Tony and I hurt for him, because he was trying to stand up for what he believed is right.
While I don't want to bring in politics, I do feel that this novel reminded me of some of the battles that are going on in our society over moral issues and laws that have a tremendous impact on the expression and choices people can make. The book shows that many of these issues aren't cut and dried, because they involve human beings, and we are as far from simple as can be imagined.
The artwork is lovely, and I liked that it includes flashbacks to germane incidents that provoked the present Civil War, and that it touches on the resolution of the Civil War which is indeed a Pyrrhic victory.
The real monsters are the ones who try to create them.
A brilliant geneticist embarked on a quest to create the perfect weapon. Nobody believed in her,The real monsters are the ones who try to create them.
A brilliant geneticist embarked on a quest to create the perfect weapon. Nobody believed in her, but when she finds a person willing to finance her research, Dr. Sarah Kinney comes to realize she has gotten into bed with real monsters.
With stolen genetic material from the legendary Weapon X, aka Wolverine, these fringe scientist create clones (to make more weapons, of course), only to realize that the clone embryos aren't viable because of the Y chromosome. Dr. Kinney hits on the idea to use a X-gene. Of course the male chauvinist pigs don't like the idea. She does it anyway, and X-23 survives. Her penance is to have to carry the embryo to term. This backfires on the researchers and the company, because Sarah bonds with her daughter, instilling lessons into her that will come into play in her life at a later time. Despite the fact that Dr. Zander Rice, a %$%* of the first order, exercises his complete misogyny on X-23 (and latent hatred of Wolverine, who killed his father), torturing her to making his weapon, and unleashing her into the world as a killing machine with the use of his trigger scent.
This story is very tragic and also heartbreaking. I'm not sure if the writer intended to put so much pathos into the story, or if he was just trying to create a credible origin story suitable to Wolverine's daughter. The end result was a graphic novel that inspired a lot of emotion in me. Outside of my awe that X-23 is so awesomely kickbutt, is my sadness for her deprived childhood and what she was forced to do by her handler. I mean I can't help but appreciate an assassin of her caliber. But the idea of a child being raised that way and created to be a weapon, is heinous. It reminded me of Saber of the GhostWalker series by Christine Feehan (Predatory Game, which is a nice recognition, since I love that series. She was also cultivated as a child assassin (using her innocent, childlike appearance to infiltrate and destroy her targets).
To think I didn't even know who X-23 was six months ago. Boy was I missing out. Glad I discovered her. She's up there as a Marvel favorite now for me. Unfortunately, the Craig Kyle versions are out of print. But at least the awesome Marjorie M. Liu takes over, and those are still in print, so I will be checking those out.
Because of the storytelling and lovely artwork, I'd have to give this one 4.5 stars. ...more
This was interesting and unputdownable until the end. This is the drama I was looking for in the last books by this author I read and was disappointedThis was interesting and unputdownable until the end. This is the drama I was looking for in the last books by this author I read and was disappointed with. Add a hero who has a vibe that sets you up to dislike him, and mix him with a heroine who is sweet, but sassy enough to hold her own. Put a dash of "Wow! Did they really meet that way?" and some family drama. And lastly, great sexual tension, and you have an arresting read.
Caleb didn't endear himself to me at first. I admit the butt slapping intro was a black mark. It hit my male chauvinism buttons. Plus, he has the macho air of aggression that normally doesn't work for me when it hits me in the face in a book. However, Cat was so good at facing off with Caleb, and she's no one's pushover, so they were perfectly matched. While the age difference is pretty considerable (15 years), it didn't bother as much, because Cat is fairly mature, independent, and Caleb doesn't feel way too old at 39. He reminded me of the Hollywood sex symbols of the early 80s, and since I was a wee girl and I hadn't developed my palate for actors at that tender age (although I wanted to marry Hutch on the eponymous show for some reason), I can't say I was feeling that vibe. Caleb started winning me over gradually. I think it was seeing his vulnerabilities as much as his obvious strengths. And the fact that even though he was supposed to be this confirmed bachelor hardened against woman after a divorce (except as bedmates) and jaded about women, it's clear he's crazy about Cat. There is plenty of sizzle between Caleb and Cat, but Caleb doesn't win Cat over too easy (I hate that). He has to work to earn her. I liked that he was so jealous of her deceased fiance'/childhood sweetheart.
The fact that Caleb's dad is an elusive Hollywood maven still mourning his wife's death for thirty years adds an intriguing facet to this book. I have a bit of a jaundiced love affair for Hollywood, due to the fact that I am a huge movie buff and TV-watcher, so I am always a bit drawn to a bit of Hollywood thrown into my fiction reading. Lucien's POV was sad and gruff and intriguing, and the perfect touch to help Cat get over her angst over her lost love and to gain some insight on her feelings for Caleb. And his son, Luke's bad behavior (Luke's bad behavior is why Cat and Caleb meet under such infamous circumstances), hides a sad soul that Cat connects with on a deep level because she identifies the desperation within.
Every character in this book adds something to the portrait of its main characters, from Lucien (Caleb's father), Luke (his son), Norm (his assistant/Man Friday), and a bit of Mrs. MacDonald (Caleb's housekeeper) and Vicki, Cat's flatmate. They make a short novel feel incredibly textured.
No Longer a Dream is a vintage Harlequin Presents that I think is worth seeking out. There is a lot of emotional complexity in the short length, and a story that builds on the foundation of a good romance in such a way that you feel like you get a bonus level of storytelling. I think books like this make me keep seeing out vintage Harlequin Presents books.
Thought not a five star read, it's more than a four star. Let's say it's 4.25/5.0 stars....more
Maisey Yates takes the Beauty and the Beast story and twists it on its side with this book. Is the heroine the beast due to her unsightly scars, or isMaisey Yates takes the Beauty and the Beast story and twists it on its side with this book. Is the heroine the beast due to her unsightly scars, or is the gorgeous prince with his decadent lifestyle really the beast?
Disclaimer: I didn't put this review in spoiler tags, although there might be some borderline spoilerish elements. I endeavored not to give too much away, that wasn't necessary to expressing my thoughts of the book.
As I read this novel, it struck me that this is a very serious book. I didn't feel much levity, not that I always expect it, but it was noticeably lacking. Layna and Xander have some serious hurts in their past and their present situations. Xander went off the rails big time and the author wasn't afraid to keep it real in describing Xander's depredations. No Xander did it all in his checkered past (recent and distant). He was notoriously promiscuous to the degree that he doesn't even know how many women he's slept with (and doesn't even remember some of them), abused drugs, and was a hard drinker. In my mind I couldn't help wonder how healthy his liver is. I have alcoholics in my family on both sides, and through them I have seen the effects of long-term alcohol abuse on a person. I was glad that Layna doesn't let him off the hook when she agrees to marry him. She demands fidelity from him, and I was so glad that she required that he get STD tested. It was judicious, considering the circumstances. As for Layna's scarring, it's not just confined to a thin line that barely disfigures her face. She has significant scarring and the tabloids/newspapers say some truly awful things about her. That part was heartbreaking. I could completely understand her fears about going back to the public life she escaped from ten years ago. Going from a shallow, spoiled socialite with impeccable looks to a scarred woman in her near to mid-thirties who is marrying a good-looking future king would be heart-wrenching for any woman. Even with her training that vanity has no place in her life from the convent, that was difficult to weather. Although Xander is clearly the worse bargain, they make it seem like Xander is being altruistic in honoring his promises and marrying Layna.
Yates definitely brings the reality to what seems like a storyline straight out of the fairy tales. I can't say I would be eager to marry Xander with his abuses on his body (and it's not out of judgmentalism, but because you can't just click a finger and erase the effects of such a lifestyle from his body). And I think that it's clear that Xander has a ways to go before he breaks fifteen years of bad habits. I think this is evident when they are first intimate. Xander's lovemaking style while accomplished, does show a certain degree of selfishness and callousness about sex. He doesn't understand why Layna is conflicted about the experience, even though she enjoyed it. This is telling and I think realistic for a man who has spent fifteen years sleeping around with random women he meets as he frequents the casinos where he parties and makes his living gambling. I also liked how Xander's perception of Layna changes. He never thinks she's ugly, but he sees the scars through a harsher lens initially. As he falls in love with her, the scars become a part of her, and he loves the character of her features, because that's who she is. They cease to stand out to him.
Layna isn't portrayed as a perfectly good, pure woman either (other than what she appears to be on the surface). While she retired to a convent for ten years, her actions did have a certain degree of self-motivation. The convent was an escape, although she does realize how much she loves helping others and that her faith in God is real to her, in the process. At the root, it is running away, from the exposure she suffered as Xander's rejected fiance who was horribly scarred by an angry protestor, and also from her own emotional breakdown.
Yes, as I wrote earlier, this is a very serious book. Despite the fact that one would consider this storyline fertile ground for a dramatic, glossy style Harlequin Presents, there is a deep emotional core to this book that refuses to allow the reader to dismiss this book as a light read.
I gave this four stars because it was a intense, layered, well-written, and emotional novel, and I think that Yates handled this dicey subject matter very well....more
The Ocean at the End of the Land straddles the line of magical realism and fantasy, in my opinion. There is a good dose of reality, and did that reallThe Ocean at the End of the Land straddles the line of magical realism and fantasy, in my opinion. There is a good dose of reality, and did that really happen mixed in with some very visually stunning imagery. It's also quite sober and heartbreaking in a subtle, literary fashion.
I think there is a reason that adults continue to read stories with children as the main characters. We never truly detach or divorce ourselves from our child selves. It's therapeutic to look back at that time through the viewpoint of a child character in books and to work through the issues from our own childhood.
That is why I did connect very well with the narrator of this book. I remember vivid the powerful mix of fear, curiosity, joy and the intensely visceral assimilation of all sensations from my childhood. Also in some of the bittersweet experiences that the narrator has. Not in a small way, our parents are godlike figures to us. They live on pedestals and glimmer like gold, until they don't. Until something reveals their feet of clay. However, even as children, we want to keep believing in the purity of their perfection, because we can't not believe. That dose of reality finally takes effect as we near adulthood, if we're fortunate enough to hold on to that innocent view of our parents until then..
I felt the pain of this young boy as his family is nearly torn to shreds by the arrival of a very old, very cruel force. I felt his uncomfortable situation of being the only one in his family who sees through her seemingly benign facade. At the same time, I felt great comfort in knowing that Hattie and her family are there to protect and even coddle him, when his own family fails. I loved the way they take him in and feed him delicious, satisfying food that made my mouth water as I read this book.
I like that we don't quite get all the answers for who Hattie and her family are. We just know that they are old, very old, and they have enormous power. However, they are not invulnerable.
Gaiman succeeds as he typically does in tempering the truly sinister with the sweet comfort of the familiar and childlike. He knows how to use just the right phrasing to convey this duality in his storytelling. Even though this is an adult book, I feel that it speaks to the young girl in me.
I can't say much more about this book because my mind is not very clear right now, and I read this last week (and there have been some busy days for me), but I can say that this was an enjoyable reading experience. It accomplishes much in the short span of pages, and leaves this reader with even more to ponder and to ruminate on.
This is the first book by Gaiman I've read in print. I've been getting his narrated audiobooks from the library (and enjoying them tremendously). His writing stands up to both media formats, but I have a feeling that I will probably get this to listen to as well, because I love his soothing voice and the manner in which he uses that voice to better illustrate his words on the page for an auditory experience.
This second volume in the Courtney Crumrin series is superior to its predecessor. It's atmospheric and creepy, and a bit sad underneath it all. CourtnThis second volume in the Courtney Crumrin series is superior to its predecessor. It's atmospheric and creepy, and a bit sad underneath it all. Courtney is not remotely a sweet little girl. She's cranky and isolated from her peers. She has a devious nature. However, she's also decent and kind when she wants to be. She's so well drawn, her personality coming through loud and clear.
At first, I didn't like that the whole book is drawn/inked in black and white. I prefer color, but it suits the story and the mood very well. The drawings are gorgeous and the use of shadow and light (values) is impeccable. As an artist, it's important to be able to convey everything through the strength of one's skill with that particular medium, and Naifeh definitely succeeds. It's interesting that I just completed a unit on Chiaroscuro in my drawing class around the time I read this. This book enhanced my understanding of its usefulness in illustration.
There is a very sad element to this book that affected me even after I finished the book. I'm still grieving about it, actually. Someone innocent is used as a pawn and injustice seems to win out. Courtney resorts to extreme measures to exact justice, and one wonders what stains that will put on her soul. Her magic ability is growing in leaps and bounds, and it's going to be interesting to see where that goes in the next volumes.
I like her uncle. He's a pretty tough character. I wish there was more interaction between Courtney and him in the books.
An interesting world that seems to be growing in an intriguing way. I'll keep reading these....more
Changes is a wonderful example of what historical romance can accomplish in giving us a spotlight into history. History is alive and vivid, and we canChanges is a wonderful example of what historical romance can accomplish in giving us a spotlight into history. History is alive and vivid, and we can learn so much from it. Why not wrap that history lesson in a human story about two people who are very different, but connect through the love they share, and in the process learn that humans are all the same deep down?
I pulled this one up on my Kindle because I was watching the HBO movie "Bessie" with Queen Latifah (who is the definition of awesome), and I wanted toI pulled this one up on my Kindle because I was watching the HBO movie "Bessie" with Queen Latifah (who is the definition of awesome), and I wanted to read something set at this time, and especially IR. I had downloaded is specifically because of the time setting and the storyline, and this was the perfect time to read it. I wasn't disappointed. This was a very good book.
Disclaimer: I will use the term 'colored' for black people because that is what black people were called at this time. This term is not appropriate to use anymore, but in the context of this story, it's timely.
Harmony sings the blues at the Cotton Club. Music is in her soul and it's her gift, how she pours out her anguish over the loss of her grandmother and her man. Her dreams of escaping a life bound by the restrictions of race and lack of money are given full rein when she sings. When her brother goes missing, she exploits the fact that powerful gangster Vinnie Romano seems captivated with her voice. She asks him to help her find her brother, knowing he'll have a price, and one that she's willing to pay. Set in a time of Prohibition when gang violence is near an all time high, this book delivers on the intensity.
I bought in on the chemistry between Harmony and Vinnie from their first meeting. I like that you initially don't know what Vinnie's motives are. He's a hard man and he keeps his heart buried deep. Coming over from Sicily with nothing, he's earned his status as a Boss with blood. And Vinnie definitely has an intimidating vibe. I like dangerous heroes, although I can't say I'm fond of mobsters. They aren't my cup of tea since I don't like brutality and the ruthless killing for profit and status associated with that kind of business. What hooked me in with Vinnie was his extreme appreciation for Harmony's singing and his love of blues music, a music that was strictly colored music at this time. They actually called them race records. For Vinnie to connect with such soulful music showed that he was deeper than he might have appeared. While at first, you don't get that race isn't an issue with him, you wonder that it can't be if he would connect so deeply with a culture so different from his own. Vinnie made me care about him. As Harmony sees his layers and the lion's heart he has, so did I. I appreciate loyalty and honor, and I don't tend to associate those with mobsters, but Vinnie clearly has those traits. He's a fascinating guy and I could see why Harmony loved him.
Harmony is equally layered. She's tough and independent and fiery passionate, but also sweet and demure. She's an artist and a believer deep in her soul, a dreamer, even in this world where colored people aren't allowed dreams. I loved how determined and fearless she is at the end of this book. That was a really bad and scary situation and she did something that only a lioness would do to save her man. Kudos to her for that.
I remember there is a great movie that I saw a long time ago called "Machine Gun Blues", starring Cynda Williams and Nick Cassavettes, about a colored blues singer who falls in love with an Italian mobster. It has a sad ending (sorry for the spoiler), and I always wished it had ended differently. I would like to thank Ms. Mynx for giving me a happy ending version of that seemingly doomed love affair. There is a time in this book where you aren't sure you'll get a happy ending, and I think I hardly breathed as I read the final pages of the book. The thing about Kindle books is it tells you how much time you have left in the book, and the last 20% was agony for me. But Mynx delivered.
I have a problem with erotica, and I try to avoid it. I just don't like all the 'anything goes' sex. I like to know there will be limits on what kinds of sex acts are depicted in the book. I don't mind steamy vanilla sex and plenty of it (so long as it doesn't take over the story), but I don't like the kinky stuff. A reference during the first love scene had me worried, but that stuff didn't take place on screen in the book, so I heaved a sigh of relief. While I do think this did have a bit more sex than strictly necessary, I can understand how important it was to show the passion and desperation of these two lovers, and how their love comes to the surface past their guarded armor and facades.
I won't say I'm a mafia/mobster romance fan, but I really did like this book. And since I'm a sucker for Early 20th Century romance, and I like reading about the 20s and 30s, it kind of comes with the territory. Prohibition was a very violent period in American history, and there are a lot of untold stories. I loved seeing what it was like a young colored woman and her Sicilian lover, that they did have a chance at a happy ending, even in their world of blood and strife. I learned some historical facts as I read that found very fascinating, such as which states it was legal to marry interracially during this period.
The writing was crisp and very organic and visually-stimulating. I felt like this was a cinematic read, and I would love if someone did make a movie out of this one day. I would definitely go see it! The music aspect was well-conveyed and integral to this story. The editing was pretty good, with only a few errors, mostly near the end.
I'd have to give this 4.5/5.0 stars because this was an intense, passionate and involving book that kept its hooks in me even when I was afraid to keep reading. I really cared about Harmony and Vinnie and I wanted desperately for them to get their happy ending together. I can see why Sienna Mynx is such a popular author. ...more
I gobbled this book down. Seriously! I was so drawn into this story. The heroine's personality and the psychology of her character was tremendously faI gobbled this book down. Seriously! I was so drawn into this story. The heroine's personality and the psychology of her character was tremendously fascinating. I think Milburne nailed Natalie. Natalie was a ball of rage, and with good reason. She is a realistic product of toxic parents who have forced an innocent child to shoulder blame for something that never should have been her responsibility. And as the author showed, this damage doesn't just disappear overnight. Instead, a hurt child like Natalie takes that into her adulthood and every relationship she has as a grown woman. I literally hurt for Natalie.
Some readers would be turned off by her comments to Angelo, which were often abusive. But to me, I could see them for what they were, a cry for help. Natalie felt trapped by her family obligations and how they had damaged and poisoned her life and her very self-esteem. She wanted to break free, but that wasn't as easy as it seemed. Honestly, I think she probably needs therapy, and I personally feel that an encounter with Jesus Christ would do a lot of good for her. He would take away those burdens and the anger and pain she carries. It hurt to see her truly hating life and having trouble even enjoying one day in her life. I was just glad she hadn't taken the suicidal route. I think she felt obligated to live because of what had happened to her when she was young. So in real life, I would have expected something more interventionist for Natalie than just a love connection with the hero. Most of the time, that isn't going to fix what is broken, although being loved unconditionally is an important ingredient. But in the context of this story, I liked how the author dealt with her issues. Angelo has truly impressed me. He make a few miss-steps along the way, but overall he showed tremendous patience, even though Natalie did things that were hurtful to him. I liked how he didn't give up on her, but kept showing her that she mattered to him and he wanted a life with her. Considering how hurt Natalie was and how damaged her family was, and his ignorance of that, I think Angelo did a great job of connecting to her. Other than one thing he does shortly after they get married, I found him to be a real hero. Just the man for this very wounded woman. Maybe not truly realistic, but still I felt the power of their connection and how it put Natalie on the track to healing.
Man, this book blew me away. I found it very enthralling and emotionally involvinhg. It also involved me intellectually as I assembled the puzzles of Natalie's tormented psyche and came up with a picture of a woman who had been wronged so utterly by her parents. They had failed her in huge ways, and that kind of damage just sets an adult up for a lot of dysfunctional relationships as they get older.
I don't normally read Harlequin Presents for a look at 'real life.' I'll be honest. But I love angst and passion and I love seeing hurting people find happiness, healing and love. And Ms. Milburne definitely delivers.
This book won't be for everyone. But I was very impressed. I just pimped it to my sister, who doesn't read a lot of Harlequin Presents. I can't wait to see what she thinks of it.
How much can a person survive before their humanity is destroyed?
Cassie is a young woman who will learn exactly what makes her human and what would caHow much can a person survive before their humanity is destroyed?
Cassie is a young woman who will learn exactly what makes her human and what would cause her to lose the intrinsic element to her nature. She goes from being a normal teenager who has nothing more to worry about than whether her epic crush on Ben Parrish will be returned, to losing nearly everything, and living in a earth decimated by an alien invasion that is nothing like the ones showcased in movies and books thus far.
The aliens want the earth, and view humans as pests, much like we view cockroaches. Their solution, to kill off the majority with cataclysms and world-wide pestilence, and let hysteria and suspicion do the rest of the work.
What happens when humans can't trust each other and start viewing each other as the enemy? It's not much longer before humanity becomes extinct.
Cassie learns the hard way that she is safer alone, trusting no one, but she made a vow to her brother, and she will do anything to keep that vow. When her life is saved by Evan Walker, every hard lesson she learned to stay alive in the earth devastated by the alien invasion will be tested. Can she trust, when trust has led to betrayal?
This is a bleak and heartbreaking read. I listened to the audio, and I would highly recommend this medium because it makes the story that much more personal. The narrators, Phoebe Stohl and Brandon Espinoza allow us to view the story through their eyes, and feel their pain. Their voices portray the passion and pain, the angst and longing, and the violated innocence of young people who are in a horrible situation that they cannot escape.
While this is okay for the older end of the young adult audience, I don't feel that subject matter is appropriate to kids younger than 14. The atmosphere is dark and desperate, and people die in this book. Lots of them, and many in horrible ways. Not only that, but people are forced to kill others to survive or as part of the consequences of the invasion. But don't misconstrue me to be saying this is full of gratuitous violence. Many who have read Yancey's Monstrumologist series know that Yancey is not afraid of gore, but he doesn't take that tactic in this book. Instead, his tone is frighteningly realistic. Don't think that just because the majority of the characters are children, that he will take it easy on them. You'd be lying to yourself.
As a reader, I was sucked into this world, and I asked myself how I would adapt or deal with the circumstances that our characters faced. I am amazed at the resilience of the young. That Cassie could stay strong in heart and her mind whole after seeing what she's seen and being forced to make decisions she never would have faced before. That Ben could find the strength to keep living under his burden of guilt for surviving when his family and many others didn't. That they both could deal with the massive betrayals they suffered.
While clearly science fiction, the use of technology is minimal, but it feels credible. Enough that the presence of the alien invaders is undeniable. But not so much to blunt the realism of the novel.
The tension is neck-breaking, sustained until the last words of the book. I honestly had to take my time listening to this. It's so bleak and depressing at times, it doesn't make for 'fun' reading. But at the same time, I can say this was a fantastic and moving book. I think this book shows what can be achieved in young adult literature. Showing teenagers and young people in a scenario where as much is demanded of the reader as is of the characters. Not lightening the subject matter just to get a YA rating, or fantasizing or sensationalizing the story either to get more readers. From the beginning, I was engaged in this novel, and even when things got harrowing and I feared for what would happened next, I couldn't turn off the CD player and refuse to finish the book. I had to know what Cassie would do next, how she would handle the next situation. If she would find her brother and save him.
Yancey made me care about these people. He made me rage that children had to make these kinds of decisions, but at the same time, he didn't give me a convenient villain, not in the easy way that can happen in fiction. Instead, I was continually forced to reevaluate the situation and my hypotheses, along with the characters. There were times, I just gave up on making a guess on what was going to happen and I just kept listening and decided to let the chips fall where they may.
You wonder what an author feels when he puts his characters through the depredations seen in this book. Does it hurt like he's hacking off a limb? Does he smile gleefully at the computer screen? Or does he feel the grim determination of a surgeon who is cutting into their patient to save its life? This is a question that books like this make me ask. In a strange way, I feel more connected to the writer of a book like this, because I can imagine that the creative process was a demanding one. The they sweated and shed their own blood to write a book just for me to read.
I recommend this book fully to readers who are prepared to face the bleak, upsetting content of this novel. To walk in the shoes of these young people who have to face the end of the world head on, and can't close the book and read something else when it gets too painful for them....more
Holly Harrison meets kind, good-looking, if very overweight Jess Colton when they are stranded in the elevator in their apartment building. He helps hHolly Harrison meets kind, good-looking, if very overweight Jess Colton when they are stranded in the elevator in their apartment building. He helps her to get through her attack of claustrophobia and fear by praying for her, and shows what a nice guy he is. Once they are rescued from the elevator, Jess invites her to go to church with him. Holly became a Christian years ago, but she listened to her sister's insistence that God wouldn't forgive her for the sins she had committed while in college, so she stopped going to church, praying and reading her Bible. Jess's encouragement and spiritual counseling helps Holly to get back in a close relationship with the Lord, and she starts to fall in love with the gentle, beautiful man. His weight doesn't matter to her. She sees the loving person inside, and is drawn to him for his love for God and the warm friendship he shows her. Even though she knows that he probably wouldn't want damaged goods like herself.
Jess falls in love at first sight with Holly, but more importantly, he reaches out to the lonely, unhappy young woman with the love of Christ. While others seem repelled and critical of his weight, she shows him loving friendship and support. He knows that no woman would want him with his large body and his addiction to food. All he can do is take comfort in their friendship, even if he wants more in his heart. But what can he offer to her when it turns out that with his weight issues, his health is a ticking clock getting closer to eternity?
Give Us This Day was a very touching novel about the relationship between two lonely people who felt deeply unworthy inside, despite their relationship with Christ. I appreciated that God brought them together so they could help each other through their mutual issues with feeling loved and accepted. Additionally, it was refreshing to read a book where the couple falling in love aren't drop dead gorgeous or without flaws, and they love each other for what they see inside, as well for their mutual love for Christ.
The story touched me deeply, both from a spiritual and emotional perspective. Jess was a very good man, and it was painful to see how people treated him because of his weight, as if he was disgusting and inferior and undeserving of respect. Foster ably conveys the message about God's love for all people, and that he accepts us as we are. Jess's struggles with an alcohol addiction that he substituted with food because of feeling a lack of acceptance from his hypercritical father resonated with me. His process of turning that addiction over to God and seeking his help to recover from it, was a powerful message to me of God's ability to heal all our wounds and to be our sufficiency in a fallen world. In the case of Holly, I was reminded that God's love is unconditional, that there is no sin he won't forgive and that we don't need to feel unworthy of his love and fellowship because of mistakes we make, past or future.
At times, I feel as though Christian fiction can be all about a message with no story to go with it. With Give Us This Day, I felt that the message was seamlessly intertwined with an involving story. I rooted for Jess and Holly to find their happy ending together, even as I appreciated the spiritual truths and insights given in this novella. I loved how in the midst of their struggles, these characters were able to find comfort in each other, and from the people in their lives (both Christian and non-Christian), but also to help those who didn't know and appreciate God's unconditional love as a gift available to all.
There are very few, if any romance books that feature an overweight hero or even a hero who struggles with weight issues, so this book serves as a very good trailblazer for a needed genre today. I found that I loved Jess for his whole being as I read this novella. While I felt pain for his emotional issues that led to his obesity and worried about his health, his weight didn't diminish his attractiveness to me as a person. It wasn't hard to see why Holly fell in love with him. I definitely see this as being realistic, because many people don't just look for the perfect physical specimen, either because they have gone down that path and been disappointed or because they know all along their soulmate won't come in that package. They look to the heart for a person who they feel safe and loved with. Give Us This Day is the book for those readers. And for readers who want a great romance with an effective and non-preachy Christian message. I recommend reading it.
Happy Sigh! Lots of angst, passion, and true love. And a hero who reminds me of Edward Fairfax Rochester. I'm not sure if that was deliberate or not.Happy Sigh! Lots of angst, passion, and true love. And a hero who reminds me of Edward Fairfax Rochester. I'm not sure if that was deliberate or not. Declan is a nice mix of wounded, grumpy and tortured. Even at his worst, I couldn't hate him. I guess I could see pain behind his actions. With his brother's death and his feelings of guilt that he had failed him, it was hard to see clearly. On the other hand, I could see why Chloe couldn't settle for what he had to give her. She had fought too hard to claim a sense of self-esteem in her life.
I loved how the courtship between Declan and Chloe bloomed. I got that feeling of Jane Eyre in their interchanges. How Chloe might be his employee, but she won't kowtow to him. And also how Chloe is the light in the darkness to Declan. I found that bond and growing feelings between them very romantic. And the sexual tension and sensuality culminates beautifully.
After Declan finds out just who Chloe is, I wasn't sure what would happen next. I respect that Ms. West managed to keep the story on a mature level, even though Declan does act like a jerk. I loved how Chloe was able to hold her own and keep her dignity even in the way Declan was treating her. He might be her boss, he might seem to have the upper hand, but he didn't, because deep down, she wouldn't be allowing him to be control her.
And yes, the end might be sappy to some, but I found it deliciously romantic.
*Disclaimer*--I have endeavored to make this spoiler-free, but beware anyway.
It’s been a long time coming, but readers of the Black Dagger Brotherhood*Disclaimer*--I have endeavored to make this spoiler-free, but beware anyway.
It’s been a long time coming, but readers of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series finally get to see the culmination of the romantic entanglement between Qhuinn and Blay. While I wouldn’t have called myself Team Qhuay, I had hopes that their love story would be satisfying, and I can gladly say that it was! I am very much in love with this series, and each year, I look forward to reuniting with the Brothers and their loved ones, allies, and associates (and antagonists), and spending time in that busy little city of Caldwell, New York. While there was a great deal of nervousness of how this book would hit me, I am a happy reader. I found that I couldn’t give it less than five stars since I enjoyed it so very much. A book that has my eyes and attention stuck to the pages like Super Glue and happily (or otherwise) talking to myself and the book has to be a five star one in my mind.
Qhuinn is an acquired taste. His ‘don’t care’, abrasive personality and highly promiscuous behavior did not endear him to me, although I did respect his loyalty to John Matthew and Blay, and as a result, to the Brothers. He evolved beautifully over the course of the series, growing into the worthy male he always had the potential to become. With this book and the previous two, Ward showed me that his personality was shaped by a childhood of being denied what every person should have in this life, loving acceptance from his parents and family. Qhuinn more or less raised himself. I do have to say that when I take this into account, it’s amazing he turned out so well. Deep down, he is a very wonderful male with a good heart. It’s interesting that some of the gentleness that calls to me from a male of worth was first brought to light in his relationship with Layla. While I never saw them as a future mating, their interactions showed a strong bond of friendship and caring, and the courteous way he treated Layla warmed me to Qhuinn, as well has his loyalty and bravery in fighting for the Brotherhood. With this book, I felt as though my heart was scraped over with sandpaper as I saw truly how it was for Qhuinn in his life. The mindless sex didn’t work for me, and it still doesn’t. But I can see that this was just a way to hide from the pain. In the end, Qhuinn made me cry and showed that he deserved Blay’s love. I was happy to go through his journey or realizing what truly was important in his life, and the one consistent in his life was his friend and beloved Blay, even though he couldn’t admit for a long time that his heart desire to love and be loved by Blay. I literally hurt for him, as he looked back on his past actions with excruciating regret. I know we all wish we’d made different choices, and our hearts cry out for acceptance and unconditional love. I felt so much for Qhuinn as he went through this painful process. At the end of this book, I realized that I truly loved Qhuinn, he has become one of my favorite characters in this series, which is saying something!
I have always loved Blay. I loved him just as much now. He has so much to offer others, and his center is strong and complete. Being around someone like that is so good for you, because we need that pillar of strength in our life. Qhuinn certainly did. Even when he wasn’t being very kind to Qhuinn. I can certainly understand why. It’s very hard to keep loving someone who clearly doesn’t want your love, or at least that is how they act. Despite that, Blay still showed love in his intent and his uncalculated actions, which speaks volumes. The acts he does on behalf of Qhuinn definitely speak of unselfish love, and even when he was being nasty to Qhuinn, I could look past that to the why of his behavior. I didn’t find his viewpoint as strong as Qhuinn, but I guess that Qhuinn is just a more vibrant character in the end. I think that it’s because Blay has known who he was for a long time, and what he wanted. He just had to wait until that person was ready to be claimed. But for what I saw of Blay, he remains a beloved character for me. I feel that his steady nature complements the windstorm that is Qhuinn.
As before, I feel sad about Saxton. I think they both knew it wouldn’t last, because Blay’s heart was elsewhere. But I still pain for Saxton that he had to let go of Blay, even though he had fallen in love with him. It was the right thing to do in the end. I hope high hopes that Saxton will get his happy ending. He deserves it.
If there was a couple who weren’t more meant for each other than Qhuay, then I can’t name them. Their love has traveled some tough roads, with lots of pain and anguish along the way. But anything forged in fire is built to last. I feel that way about Qhuinn and Blay together. Like most of the other Brotherhood couples, they have found their place on the shelf in my heart as I smiled at their happy resolution at the end of this book. I do feel that Ward did them justice.
We get more of a snapshot of all the Brothers in this book than anything else. Instead of focusing on the established characters, Ward spends most of her attention on the newer characters and of course, Qhuinn and Blay. However, I just love catching up with the Brothers. They have me laughing and sometimes crying. They watch out for each other and love each other, even if it’s in a dysfunctional way. To me they are real people. Maybe that’s sad, but I can’t feel any regret about my psychotic belief that these are real people!
Layla is a character that many feel conflicted about. I like her. I like her just as much as I did before. I do like that she is taking measures to root herself in newly found autonomy. There were moments in this book that I cheered her on seriously, because she showed the potential I felt she always had. While she is not Qhuinn’s true love, I really like their relationship, how she sees the good in him and loves him dearly. She had faith in him when I didn’t and probably few others did. That means a lot. But more than this, she is her own person with her own destiny to fulfill outside of Qhuinn or her Chosen status. I’m glad she grabbed for that with both hands. I am so glad that things are going okay with the situation that arose out of the last book. I can say no more without spoilers.
When I read a book, I go through a period of wondering where an author is going with a storyline, but I am willing to take the ride. With this book, there was a fair amount of that initially. Especially with Assail and the Band of Brothers. While Assail was intriguing in the first book, he is doubly so now. That male is fierce and very, shall we say, ‘antiheroic.’ His interactions with a certain lady and some of his shameless comments definitely had my heart beating fast. He has that pull I look for in a romantic hero, for sure. Let me just say I am eagerly waiting seeing where things go next with Assail. He is turning out to be quite the character.
The Band of Brothers storyline is another one that is in flux. I wasn’t quite sure what I thought of it, but I am definitely feeling the Xcor/Layla connection. The scene in the car made me feel so deeply for them. The writing was so good on that scene. The imagery embedded itself in my consciousness, and I felt this aching poignancy of that moment. Call me Team Xcor/Layla! As far as the BoB’s war against the Brotherhood, this promises to be intense. I love the Brothers, but I can’t say I want to see the BoB hurt. I am feeling kinda invested in these guys. I don’t think of them as full-on villains right now, but more like antiheroes. Maybe that’s good that they aren’t so cut and dried. But more layered and complex in their motivations.
I am gratified to see Trez’s storyline develop. At the same time, I wonder, what about iAm? I guess Ward has to pick her battles, and she chose to work with his story first. The Shadows have me very intrigued, and I want to find out more about their origins. Trez is definitely in the hot seat. While I don’t like his method of dealing with it, I definitely can understand his feelings of being trapped by his destiny.
Summing Things Up
I haven’t followed reviews of this because I don’t like to let that affect how I view a book. I tried very hard to avoid spoilers before I read this. In all honestly, the new Brotherhood book is a highlight of my year. And I was not disappointed. While many dislike JR Ward’s writing or have become dissatisfied with the series, I am not one of those. I felt that she showed that she cares about these characters as much as I do, and puts a lot of energy and creativity into writing these books. I’m happy with the result. I’m back on the merry-go-round, because now I am starting the year long wait for the next book. It’s hard work being a Black Dagger Brotherhood fan, but there are payoffs! ...more
I started reading this early this morning when I couldn't sleep, and I finished the whole book in that short time. This is really one of those unputdoI started reading this early this morning when I couldn't sleep, and I finished the whole book in that short time. This is really one of those unputdownable reads. I was compelled by and drawn into the dramatic situation that Oceans and Marshall faced.
I always enjoy a good survival on the elements book, and Pace excelled with this novel about two people who end up being stranded on a Caribbean deserted island and have to make a life there for the time being until they are rescued. This book is incredibly realistic about survival on a deserted island, including the risks and privations that people would face. Emotionally, Pace goes there. She involves you with Oceans and Marshall, makes you fall in love with them, and walk in their shoes in a way that doesn't leave you unaffected when the book is over. I can honestly say that Marshall is the kind of man I would want to be stranded on an island with. He steps up to the plate in so many ways. While he isn't a chest-thumping, stereotypical alpha, he shows all the traits that a mature man should have in a desperate situation and when he has a family to protect and care for. Oceans was also an incredible character. Her ability to adapt and survive and to use her knowledge of the islands to help them both survive really made me admire her. She is the kind of more realistic heroine I would like to see in romance novels. Not perfect, but perfectly lovable.
One aspect of this story was utterly heartbreaking. I felt the pain and anguish that both Oceans and Marshall faced, and I didn't think I would recover (it really hurt me on a deep level). It was one of those situations where I didn't agree with the choice made, but I still love and respected the person who made it, and like the other party involved, I had to decide if I was going to move past it for the greater good. I was so glad that things ended up working out in the end. While I still would have loved this book, I love it more the way things ended than if they had gone in a different way, just because that is such a tough, wounding situation to read about. I don't think either party in this book could have walked away whole from that. I can imagine it's even worse if you lived it.
I loved the fact that love blossoms realistically and intensely, and the sexual content wasn't the focus, although it was a big part of the novel. There were so many emotional depths to plumb that I would have felt cheated if this book was mainly sex scenes. I think a very good point was made about how sex is a way to express intimacy between two people, but certainly not the only way. And the fact that Pace shows the real consequences of sexual intimacy on a couple, good and not so good.
This is one of those books that lingers on the mind, making an indelible imprint on the emotions. I was very glad I got the opportunity to read Stranded, and Pace has upped the bar for stranded/marooned/survival romance for me. While not a perfect read, it's very close for me.
I finally finished this, and I am very glad I did. While some parts did not appeal to me, the memoirs of Justine and Richard's grandmother, Gabriele wI finally finished this, and I am very glad I did. While some parts did not appeal to me, the memoirs of Justine and Richard's grandmother, Gabriele were very moving and at times heartbreaking.
I can't quite give this four stars because it was too slow moving initially, but it's definitely worth 3.5 stars, just for the WW2 narrative.
Daggerspell is an epic fantasy novel built on the idea of reincarnation. If we have failed to fulfill our destiny in one life, we are compelled to retDaggerspell is an epic fantasy novel built on the idea of reincarnation. If we have failed to fulfill our destiny in one life, we are compelled to return to this life in another form to do that. As I read this novel, I was confronted with my feelings about that inalienable destiny. There are some people that you have in your life that seem only to bring pain and hardship, and the comfort is that when you leave this life, you leave that pain they cause you behind. In this novel, that is not the case. And more importantly, a person cannot run from themselves and the anguish their own actions will deliver them. In some ways, that was a bitter pill to swallow as I read. The blessing in this novel was that one man, Nevyn, which sounds like ‘no one’ has lived through three lives and walks that anguished road with those people who he failed to help the first time. Another integral part of this novel is the Welsh-like feel to their world. I’m not an expert on Welsh language, so if I’m wrong, I apologize. But it felt as though this novel used some of the Welsh language particulars and it felt pretty distinct and authentic to me. I was afraid that the names and the language would be an issue, but it wasn’t. After I read the novel, I read through the glossary, and surprisingly, I was able to discern what most of the terms meant through context.
The Characters: Nevyn and Jill were standout characters for me. I felt deeply for Nevyn. The huge burden of seeing people he had cared for in the first go-round suffer through their Wyrd (destiny) again and again until they got it right. That was tough. I loved that he had followed his own destiny, not without loss or sacrifice, and had used this incredible skills as a dweomerman (magician/wizard) to help people and to fight for the forces of light. In the first life, he made a selfish choice, and it cost the life of a woman he loved. He had vowed to help her find her destiny, and it took him three life cycles to do it. That’s determination. Jill was young but she had substance and a strong heart. One of her choices in this novel gave me heartburn. For a romantic, I was surprised I didn’t want her to follow that path and go in another way. I’m glad that this worked out despite my apprehensions about it. Cullyn was also a compelling character. He had me worried a few times. He was a man who had one heck of a wyrd to work out, and it was a rough one. What I loved is that he was able to overcome that dark destiny through the power of his integrity and love for his daughter. Rhodry was a character that didn’t quite convince me he was worthy of Jill. He was a decent person, a little spoiled, but I didn’t feel he was Jill’s wyrd, at least not in a good way. I guess the author knows better than me about such things. In the first life cycle, it was like watching a car wreck before it happens, I mean literally. That really took me out of my comfort zones. I was actually shouting at the book, saying, “Please don’t do that.” It took some fortification to keep reading after that, but part of me couldn’t let go of this story because like any good fiction novel, it made me ask the central question. “What happens next?” I’m not a believer in reincarnation, but the way things work out for the characters in that life cycle kind of made me glad that it exists in this novel.
Magic and Magical Folks: I loved that Jill could see and interact with the Wildfolk. Especially the cute gray gnome who was often her boon companion and her comfort through her tough young life. I liked this idea that those marked by the dweomer are able to perceive the Wildfolk. It was also interesting how many ‘normal’ folks feared the magic and many more didn’t even believe in it. It seemed strange to me since this felt so real, and their lives were deeply affected by the power of the magic around them. I appreciated how within this landscape of humanity there were pockets of legendary creatures, such as a dwarf metalsmith who gives Jill her silver dagger, and the Westfolk, who are actually elves. I really liked the elves!
My final thoughts: I went into reading this cold. I had never heard of this book until it was recommended on the fantasy group. I saw it at the bookstore and thought, “Why not?” And I am glad I read it. I think the writing was strong, the storyline interesting, although a bit on the tragic side in some ways. It felt intricate and complex and deep, and that appeals to me. The idea of having to work out the consequences of the choices you make in life resonates with me, and for a foundation of a fantasy novel, it works surprisingly well. I think I would like to continue this series to see where Kerr takes this story and the characters next. I recommend it to readers who enjoy epic fantasy. ...more
I wish I'd had time to read this during the past Christmas season, because it would be perfect to get a reader into the mood, and to reinforce the deeI wish I'd had time to read this during the past Christmas season, because it would be perfect to get a reader into the mood, and to reinforce the deep meanings of this beloved holiday.
Mr. Kirch is on point with the meaning of A Christmas Carol in this novella, and he lovingly does homage to it, while he takes the story forward in time to a family that very much needs to be reminded about the importance of family and love.
For a while, I was quite worried. I cried bitter tears, but I kept hope alive in my heart that Marley would do his magic to help little Kathy, a young girl with two bickering parents who often forget she's around. Kathy, Marley, and Tobias make this story, while parents Dan and Beverly make for some frustrating moments. But one of the most important truths of Christmas holds true here, that love is a miracle. A light that can enter into the darkest abyss, and its miraculous ability to change a human heart will ultimately triumph over the most hopeless of situations.
I enjoyed this story very much, and I recommend it to readers who love A Christmas Carol, and readers who like modern gothics and horror that bring to mind the classics in these genres.
Thanks to Donald Allen Kirch for the opportunity to read Marley-The Other Christmas Carol.
Really good, angsty, passionate western with a very tormented heroine, and an extremely sighworthy hero. The Indian/white conflict causes pangs withinReally good, angsty, passionate western with a very tormented heroine, and an extremely sighworthy hero. The Indian/white conflict causes pangs within me that remind me why I avoid NA romance. Not because I don't care, but because I care too much. I have found a new western author in Elaine Levine. I will be reading her other books.