A dramatic and messy high-profile divorce is told via documents which are facilitated by a twenty-something female attorney.
Description: Sophie Diehl is a young criminal defense lawyer who gets drawn into a high profile divorce case because the other lawyers who would normally cover family law are out of town. The wife from the wealthy couple seeking the divorce chooses Sophie even though the woman knows Sophie has no experience in family law. And the firm’s senior partner keeps Sophie on the case because the divorcing wife is the daughter of a favored and major client for the firm.
Told through emails, legal documents, personal correspondence, office memos, articles, and notes, the messy divorce, internal office politics, romantic entanglements and the main character’s personal growth dramatically unfolds.
Shellie’s thoughts: This is one of those intellectual chic-lit books which was very compelling for me because I love epistolary novels and enjoy legal aspects in my fiction reads. This may be a problem for some readers since the book is in part told via a number of legal documents, which for some may become tedious and boring. For me, contrarily, it was a book that I found difficult to put down (even including the legal documents) and I devoured it in a few sittings.
It gets predictably messy between the divorcing wife and the husband, with egos and revenge working in the emotional soup from the fall-out of the break up and the fight for legal custody of their daughter. It’s one of those stories that features a train-wreck-and-I-can’t-look-away aspect for the reader. But what becomes a key theme for the story is the internal workings inside the main character’s mind as she works on the case. She begins to question her own relationships and experiences growth in unexpected ways. This gives the book its traditional chic-lit connection.
A fun read although I am not normally a chic-lit reader. I would imagine that the book is not going to be enjoyed by many typical readers of the genre. And from looking at the reviews available for the book it looks like it’s a book that the reader either really liked or hated. I am from the former camp, it was a 3.5 star read for me. I liked it a lot. (less)
A detailed and romantic epic fantasy which features intelligent dragons and magic.
Shellie’s description: In a place that feels almost medieval, Prince Corin, heir to the throne, and a beautiful commoner named Tam meet by chance in his castle’s library. She is at the capital city and in the castle in hopes of finding a husband. It is love at first sight. However, he cannot marry someone of such low standing so they try to keep their attraction secret - at first. They know that it is only a matter of time before the castle’s courtiers find out that they are together. Both fear that the court’s petty jealousies and deep rivalries will create problems for Tam, since it is the etiquette of the time that women remain chaste until married.
But there is trouble in the land. War is coming to the peaceful city of Caithen and both Tam and Corin will have a part to play if it is to remain peaceful. Corin must heed the call to free the dragons, which have been enslaved by an evil emperor, while Tam, who doesn’t realize her gifts, must help him. With loads of romance the drama unfolds – with the struggle against war and for the freedom of the dragons.
Shellie’s thoughts: This is Anne Leonard’s debut novel, but it doesn’t show since it’s a readable story with excellent details. I was immersed in the story from the very first few pages. She’s included political intrigue, courtier back stabbing, violent darkness, human insight, detailed description of hair and dressing, and intelligent and beautiful dragons. All fun stuff in fantasy (especially for women).
The publisher has done a fabulous job on the gorgeous covers for both US and UK versions of the book. Onscreen it’s hard to see the iridescent details for the moths that are on the cover of the US version, but they are lovely.
My only complaint about the novel is that there is A LOT of “mushy” romance, especially in the last two thirds of the novel. There was, in fact, one love scene which made me roll my eyes and laugh (not a good thing); I will not share any details but it was that ridiculous. So I would recommend that a potential reader really love romance.
As for other recommendations, because the setting is so similar to a European medieval world, I think it would be a decent read for someone who loves historical romance; also perhaps for readers who are interested in trying out fantasy, since this story is very accessible; and for long-term fantasy fans who would like to read some lighter fantasy. I would say that it’s a book for women rather than men since there is so much romance and dress and hair style information in the story. I give this book a 3.5 stars. (less)
Shellie’s quick take:A sweet and “bookish” story about a house that helps lost but tal...moreOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
2.5 stars actually.
Shellie’s quick take:A sweet and “bookish” story about a house that helps lost but talented women find themselves. It’s magical realism for female bibliophiles.
Shellie’s description: There is a special house near London located on a street called Hope. It calls to exceptional women to live in its walls when they are in crisis. What’s unusual about the house is that you cannot see it unless you have been chosen by it. In fact many famous women have arrived and received its help over its 200-year life and their pictures cover the walls.
As the story alternates between a handful of characters that are in need of assistance, we slowly get a picture of why the current set of women are there. They are then magically given what they require so that they can move on in their lives.
Shellie’s thoughts: On the plus side it’s an easy-to-hold and physically small book with some cute ideas. It has an eclectic group of gifted main characters including one that is over 60 and another that is LGBT. There is also an impressive list of the long-deceased prior inhabitants, whose ghosts visit its current residents with their advice and insight. With the dead’s accomplished mini bios at the end for reference, the book has a slight feminist perspective highlighting the women that have paved the way both for the current residents and for women in general.
However, even though it has chocolate, ghosts, fashion, romance and advice, it was a bit trite for my tastes. And sadly, though the story line gave me the desire to want to know what was going to happen to the characters, the writing did not pull me into the text and consequently I felt the desire to skip parts of it.
Do not let my slightly negative thoughts deter you; I am seeing positive reviews from a variety of readers. I did think the book was okay, but would not put in on my favorite list for magical realism. I would recommended it for literary-minded romance readers who want everything tied up neat and sweet in the end and who like a bit of magic in their reads. 2.5 stars for this debut novel.(less)
A darkly intriguing mystery/romance and the second book in an action packed steampunk series. Including a brillia...moreOriginal review at Layers of Thought.
A darkly intriguing mystery/romance and the second book in an action packed steampunk series. Including a brilliant and strong willed female lead that goes against the Victorian-like social norms of the setting, and perhaps a glimpse of a “Jack the Ripper–ish” sort of villain.
*(SPOILER ALERT) Please note if you have not read the first in this series this review does contain spoilers. Read my review for Tarnished (book #1) and pick it up first. I believe that they are still selling the ebook version for .99 cents at various online retailers. What a deal!
About: In a realistic yet fantastical setting – a steam powered Victorian London - we have the second in this atmospheric series. The complex and strong main character, Cherry St. Croix, was once a circus waif and performer, giving her physical attributes which allow her to pursue and apprehend persons of greater strength and stature than herself. A petite red-head with striking thick hair which she covers with lampblack on her outings into the polluted city underworld, she is not of bad character. Her darkness is due to forced circumstance. She is addicted to Laudanum (a poppy -derived opiate that was popular during Victorian times) and is also what is termed a “collector” – where she finds wanted persons or information for nefarious others for a price. It’s her way to maintain her addiction and to prevent herself from going mad due to the constrained mores for women of the times. Cherry does her best to get by in this world where women aTarnishedre not allowed to own property and are considered wards of their male family members.
In the first book of the series (Tarnished) we become familiar with Cherry, her romantic entanglements, and find out that she is the daughter of a crazy scientist and a beautiful socialite. In this second book, Cherry is in pursuit of a killer (she thinks Jack the Ripper perhaps?) who is dissecting the underworld “sweets” (prostitutes.) However, she finds that there is in fact another killer – so another mystery ensues.
Thoughts: Karina Cooper writes in an old fashioned convoluted style in this series, which works very well for the setting. It creates text that feels authentic and Victorian-ish. I do need to mention that readers may have to consult Google when looking up some of the old fashioned English words the author uses. Even John (my UK/English dictionary/husband) had some difficulty telling me what several words meant. But this is all good. We both “learnt somefink”.
It also has another fun cover much like the first in the series. I am really glad there is not a naked guy or a lot of skin featured on it. Which brings me to mention that I liked the light and tasteful romantic involvement included in both books since there’s nothing worse than a sex scene that makes me laugh when it’s not supposed to.
What happens to Cherry as we find out more about her and her romantic interests is the best part of this story. Cooper does romance well. But most compelling is how the author sets up this book for the next in the series with it’s heart pounding, drop off the edge of your seat ending. So don’t expect closure, I am thinking the next in this series will have a “Kill Bill-ish” flavor set in steampunk Victorian times? I can’t wait.
Recommended for readers who like strong and dark female leads, unexpected twists, a bit of a murder mystery and of course romance and steampunk. Skip this if you are looking for a solid ending, want happily ever after, or are not interested in being addicted to a series. I enjoyed this book A LOT. It’s a fun second book to hopefully a long series. 4 stars. My only regret is that I am not reading this series after the entire collection has been completed. (less)