I was excited to read this when I first heard about it. It sounded pretty awesome, and that cover, yeah, that had me pulling towards it faster than an...moreI was excited to read this when I first heard about it. It sounded pretty awesome, and that cover, yeah, that had me pulling towards it faster than anything else could. When Netgalley accepted my request, I was so anxious to dive right into the story. I was never really worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. And it did. Even going beyond what I was hoping for, and promising so much more.
I find pirates rather intriguing. Maybe that stems from my liking of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but don’t pillaging, sword fighting, treasure seeking pirates have a ring of adventure and mystery to them? Even if some of them are good for nothing scoundrels. The pirates in this here book were fashioned quite well. The story is told from a young pirate girl’s point of view. Which I honestly find quite appealing. A pirate girl isn’t going to be a TSTL heroine who relies on her hero to save her. Ananna was fierce and independent. She takes action, and she doesn’t wait for the dazzling hero to get her out of the situations she gets herself into. And this is what drew me completely into the story.
I found myself falling in love with Ananna’s voice. She was just such fun to read. She was a strong character. She was the fierce, independent pirate girl, but she also shows a soft side. A side that cares about people and that could love. And she shows that she’s not completely fearless. There are things that scare her senseless. But she doesn’t let her fright get the better of her. She rises after the scare with strength and determination to set out to do what she needs to. Then there was Naji. The assassin whose life Ananna saved and now they’re bonded together and they have to find a way to break the curse. Naji was a pretty cool character, and I felt was created really good. He’s an awesome assassin. Black as night that can move without a sound and can kill with precision and skill. But Naji isn’t your typical prince charming who has girls falling over their feet to get him, who dazzles everyone, including the heroine, with his charms and extremely hot looks. Naji is scarred, physically and internally. And this shows the reader his weakness. It shows that he is not just the fearless, stealthy assassin. He has demons he’s trying to fight, and he tries to hide it. And I really did feel for him. I find myself liking the tortured hero, because it shows they’re not perfect, and that they have a past.
I liked the subtle, slow growing romance. I liked that Ananna didn’t immediately fall in love with him (which would be pretty hard to do when he just tried to kill her). I liked that they were forced to be together which they both resented, but that through this bond, this curse, they grew to understand each other. I liked that Ananna was able to see past Naji’s scars, and focus on the man who desperately needs help. I felt that the buildup of their friendship, and potential, inevitable romance was done well and was beautiful. I’m extremely excited to see how their romance will blossom.
And the ending. The ending was perfect! The last line made me smile and made my heart grow warm because of its beauty and love. This novel was beautifully crafted and executed. It was by no means perfect. When I really think about it, there are a few flaws, but I just don’t want to think about those, because the book was otherwise so awesome that I don’t want my love of it tainted in any way. So, I’ll focus on the bright spots instead. K? The characters were very well rounded, and I loved them, the plot was exciting and intriguing, the world was luscious and wonderfully built, the writing was amazing. Pretty much I just loved the whole book. Clarke did an awesome job, and I cannot wait for the sequel. Which should be coming out any day now. Sometime next year. Or maybe sooner if I can bribe the publisher, and find some ingenious way to force Clarke to write faster. Because we all know how readers hate to wait. Anyway, I applaud Clarke for writing an incredible, worthwhile young adult novel that hopefully readers everywhere will love.
Thank you to Strange Chemistry and Netgalley for the arc.(less)
Glamorous Illusions follows the journey of a young woman as she tries to discover who she is, and what she can become. At the beginning, she learns ab...moreGlamorous Illusions follows the journey of a young woman as she tries to discover who she is, and what she can become. At the beginning, she learns about a secret her parents kept from her her whole life. She feels betrayed by what happened, and that they never told her. Then she is offered a chance to go on the Grand Tour of Europe with her new found siblings, who may just hate her for who she is. She goes a little grudgingly, wary of the man who she knows now as her blood father. But she finds as she travels with her siblings, and comes to accept who she is, that she can’t be mad at any of her parents, her mother or her two fathers, because they each gave her a life that helped shape her into the woman that she is, and is becoming.
Cora was a nice protagonist. I didn’t always like being in her head. Not that she was annoying, or stupid, I just couldn’t quite connect with her. It helped that her narrative was broken up by the viewpoints of Will. I did like seeing Cora’s journey, and how she coped with her new, extravagant life, and having to leave the people she loved. She was strong, and didn’t let her siblings dislike of her keep her down. I appreciated her humility, and determination to stand firm, and her accepting herself for who she is, no matter what her past is. People could treat her however they may, but she knew there were people who cared about her, so their disdain couldn’t hurt her. But, I also felt that she was kind of boring. She’s just a normal girl, trying to find where she fits in; which is, you know, cliché. And nothing terribly original or exciting happened to put a twist on that storyline. So maybe that’s partly why I couldn’t connect with her.
The plot also, was kind of boring. It wasn’t bad, or completely disinteresting, but it wasn’t interesting enough to keep my attention focused solely on the book, so that I couldn’t bear to be stop reading. I did enjoy learning about the history, and whatnot. I can tell that Bergren did her research well, and cared enough to get the details right. It wasn’t until the ending, where the real excitement began, that I became really interested, and excited, and couldn’t stop reading. Too bad that happened at the end, and not sooner. Don’t get me wrong, not all books have to be exciting and adventurous to be worth reading, or to have deep meaning. I love books that are slow, and contemplative, with lush descriptions and wonderful characters who triumph not by fighting a dragon, but by coming to know their heart and the hearts of others. And Glamorous Illusions did do this. It did have wonderful descriptions of the places the characters visited, and well-rounded characters that the reader comes to understand and like. I just felt that something was missing, for me at least.
I did like the romance, and actually, the biggest reason why I would consider reading the second book would be to see that romance develop. I’m interested to see where it goes, and to see Will and Cora fall in love. Will was a wonderful hero. He was a gentlemen who only wanted to teach his clients history, and to protect them on the tour. He just wasn’t ready to have his heart stolen. And he tries to fight it. Cora is above his station, and he isn’t supposed to get involved with the clients. But he can’t help what he feels. I liked seeing his perspective. Being able to see his side and Cora’s, seeing both of their uncertainties, and wondering if the other could possibly like them, but then telling themselves that it could never work. And then there’s Pierre, a Frenchman who falls for Cora, and she can’t help but be pleased by his attention. So, there’s a little love triangle, which will probably be explored more in the coming novels. But this triangle isn’t angsty or annoying, where the girl flip flops between the guys. It’s done well, and is believable.
So, in the end, I liked Glamorous Illusions well enough. I loved the ending, and would like to see more of Cora and Will. I think fans of the River of Time series will like this novel, and probably history fiction buffs. As for me, I’ll just have to see what the next novel has to offer before I invest in it.
Thank you to David C. Cook and Netgalley for the arc.(less)
This was such a wonderful love story. As promised on the cover, the story of Leigh captured my heart, and my soul. The cover here on Goodreads actuall...moreThis was such a wonderful love story. As promised on the cover, the story of Leigh captured my heart, and my soul. The cover here on Goodreads actually has a different sentence. On my copy it says A love story so powerful it captures more than your heart. It was a beautiful story about a girl finding herself, going out to live in a more liberated world with no overly protective mother hovering over her shoulder every minute of the day. The messages found within made my soul smile. Seeing the characters growth and love and faith strengthened mine and made me want them to have their happily ever afters!
Some scenes were so poignant I had tears in my eyes. Leigh is a survivor of ovarian cancer and has moved to BYU Utah with her brother to attend college. We’re taken inside Leigh’s head, and see the love she has for her brother and Nathan and Brian and her parents. We see her fears and uncertainties and her strengthened faith as those who love her help her to see the light and as she overcomes trials and finds who she is. I loved her strength and determination to do things herself, to do what she loves. She is rather stupid about boys. She never knows when one likes her, and fancies herself deeply in love with one who is so obviously not right for her, and doesn’t notice when the one who is her only true friend loves her. I knew from the very start that Noah was not good for her. He seemed too presumptuous and perfect with no charm or kindness. I loved that Leigh finally realized he wasn’t right. A little late, but not too late.
And then Brian was always there for her. Whenever she needed something he was there to help, to watch over her, to let her lean on him. He was so perfect. Not perfect in that he was godlike and flawless, but perfect in the sense that he was a good man who had faults, but his love was true and his faith was strong. He was such a sweet guy. Intimidating at first, with his broad build and tattoos, but kind and gentle and loving underneath. His and Leigh’s relationship was great. They started out as friends, then became pretty much best friends, and then Leigh realized what she was feeling for him was more than just friendship. Her realizing this, and me reading Brian looking at her deeply, made my heart go pitter patter and long for them to come together with love.
This novel wasn’t perfect. The pacing of the plot was disjointed sometimes, the dialogue stilted at times. The execution wasn’t amazing. But, the emotions were very apparent, the characters endearing, the romance sweet and beautiful, and the spiritual messages inspiring. I would recommend this book to any LDS member who loves a good romance. Don’t read it for the brilliant plot and wonderful writing. Read it for the love and spirit you will find. (less)