I really like Shannon Hale's books. And I love Jane Austen. It has taken me this long to get around to reading Shannon Hale's Austenland because I had a suspicion I might be disappointed. The book is a light quick read perfect for summer reading. If you are fan of romantic comedy, either in chick lit or chick flick form, then you might enjoy it. If you are a Jane Austen fan....it is going to depend on what type of Jane Austen fan you are. If you are in the camp that loves her books (and more than the books the period movie adaptations of them) because they are Regency romances that are historical chick lit (or flicks) then you might also enjoy this. Neither of these things being true about me, I didn't. In fact I have some rather major issues with it. I almost feel bad about this because I do really really like Shannon Hale's other books. I almost wasn't going to write a review I felt so bad, but I have been stewing over this for a couple of days and just want to get some of it off my chest.
I had issues with Jane. The same issues I have with all of the similar characters to her that seem to be cropping up more and more in this type of book or movie. Jane is a single successful woman with a career and life (sort of) in New York City. Yet she is a mess because she is a desperate husband hungry crazy girl. Why do women keep getting portrayed like this? We are meant to believe that these girls are savvy enough to graduate from college, secure a job, keep a job, live within their means in a large metropolis and yet they can't wear high heels without (at some point) falling over on their bottoms? (How many times is that shtick going to be used????) I have big problems with the whole idea that a woman can not be content and completely free of desperation if she doesn't have a boyfriend/husband. Each chapter of this book is introduced with a history of one of Jane's failed relationships. These highlight exactly how crazy desperate she is for this kind of relationship. Of course they have all failed. Men tend to run screaming scared from crazy women.
Irony: Jane is exactly the sort of woman Jane Austen was making fun with her books.
Because that is what her books are, not romantic frolics in period gowns, but social satires. At first I thought maybe the irony was intentional. And it may have been, but it fell fall short of its mark if it was. There is one point when Jane has an epiphany and realizes that she is not Elizabeth Bennet, but more like Mrs. Bennet. I expected things to turn around maybe, and that she would become more than she was, but the change that occurred wasn't one that had me believing in its longevity. While the Jane that leaves Austenland has more confidence and has convinced herself she was not looking for a Mr. Darcy duplicate, she never convinced me she was cured. In fact, the end makes it abundantly clear that she's not. More confident, less desperate, but given where she started she still has a long way to go. Except she got her storybook ending, so where is the motivation to grow?
It was so frustrating.
The frustration was probably greater for me because I know Shannon Hale can write strong female characters better than this. The girls in her Books of Bayern: amazing. Same goes for the girls in Princess Academy. Actually, Shannon Hale can just write better than this period. Honestly, if someone gave me this book to read without telling me who wrote it I never would have believed it to be Shannon Hale.(less)
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
I love that when I pick up a Rachel Neumeier novel I am always surprised at what I end up ge...moreOriginally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
I love that when I pick up a Rachel Neumeier novel I am always surprised at what I end up getting. (In a very good way.) She is such a diverse writer and covers so many different types of fantasy and characters. I went into Black Dog the slightest bit wary because I don't ordinarily enjoy paranormal fantasy, but I trusted her enough to know it would probably be something I ended up liking in the end. I didn't like it, I LOVED it.
(This is a review of an ARC received in exchange for a fair review.)
When I did my TTT wish list a few weeks ago I said I would love to see more sibling stories in YA, and that is what Black Dog is first and foremost. The whole story centers around the bond between Alejandro, Natividad, and Miguel, a black dog, a Pure girl, and a human boy, and their love and loyalty to each other. After the death of their parents, they flee to the only place they imagine they will be safe. While dealing with their grief and tragedy, they must learn to navigate the politics and personalities of the powerful black dog family who has taken them in and begin to trust people outside of each other for the first time. The story is told in third person and follows all three of them, with a stronger focus on Natividad and Alejandro. And through all three of them the reader also gets a thorough introduction to Dimilioc's Master and Executioner, Grayson and Ezekiel. I love all these characters so much, but I particularly enjoyed the book when it followed Alejandro. It was fascinating to look through his eyes as he shifted between a human body and that of a black dog. There is a wonderful exploration of the duality in human nature between light and dark. This is also there in Natividad and Miguel, but in more subtle ways. Natividad is a stubborn and independent soul. She is mourning her parents, working hard to keep peace in her new home at a time of war, and knows that as a Pure girl her job is not to be protected but to protect. The men her life all want to protect her, but she does what she knows needs to be done. This often puts her in danger, but I never felt she was being unthinking or stubborn for the sake of proving her independence. She did what needed doing. I had a great respect for her as a character. Miguel is the strategist and critical thinker. He is also incredibly persuasive when he wants to be. The three siblings make a terrific team. Ezekiel, who was chosen for his role of executioner at the age of 13, is a complicated character. Through all three Toland siblings different sides and nuances of his character are shown. I found that I wanted more about him still though. He is thoroughly fascinating. My one complaint is that I wanted more of him and less Grayson (who is interesting but not as interesting).
The world of Black Dog is an intensely interesting one. It takes place in contemporary times and picks up following a war between vampires and the Black Dogs. The vampires lost and are gone, but the black dogs did not fare much better. Black dogs, as much as they may sound like it, are not werewolves. Neumeier did new and interesting things with the old stories here and I enjoyed the combination of legend, magic, and politics. A outside threat to Dimilioc involves a renegade black dog who is after the Tolands, most particularly Natividad, for the power she wields. Neumeier did not shy away form the consequences of vicious creatures at war with each other. This book has a pretty high body count and is quite gruesome in some respects. I loved the realism of this. I can't stand it when situations like this are made unrealistically safe for the protagonists and the people they love. Or when innocent bystanders remain unaffected. This is a story that shows all of that, and then tackles the emotional consequences as well. Nativdad, as a Pure girl, is expected on her 16th birthday to choose one of the Dimilioc dogs as her mate. Ezekiel makes it quite clear he is going to destroy anyone other than him that she picks. The two of them share some intense moments, but there is no strong romantic element to the story, something I also appreciated. (I'm choosing to assume here that Natividad's relationship with Grayson is NOT heading in that direction because that squicks me out.) The book takes place over only a week's time, and they are fighting a war. Natividad is confused, and Ezekiel is determined, but mostly they are just trying to stay alive.
Black Dog has so many elements I look for in my favorite books: strong characterization, deep and layered relationships, rich setting and world-building, and an intense plot that doesn't shy away from the darker elements it explores. It is going on my favorites shelf and will be one I revisit again. And I'm really hoping there will be a sequel sooner rather than later. (I've heard there is going to be one, though this works perfectly as a stand alone.)
I read an e-galley received via the publisher, Strange Chemistry, on NetGalley. Black Dog is available on February 4th. (less)
Sometimes a book's praises are sung so loudly before it reaches my hands I wonder if it will have any impact on me at all. How...moreOriginally posted here.
Sometimes a book's praises are sung so loudly before it reaches my hands I wonder if it will have any impact on me at all. How could it possibly when my expectations for it are so high? Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein was such a book. I don't care how many reviews and bloggers say how amazing, how beautiful, how shattering it is. It is near impossible for it to not meet your expectations. I dare you to read it and not be gobsmacked by its brilliance.
You'll shoot me at the end no matter what I do, because that's what you do to enemy agents. It's what we do to enemy agents. After I write the confession, if you don't shoot me and I ever make it home, I'll be tried and shot as a collaborator anyway. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and this is the easy one the obvious one. What's in my future-a tin of kerosene poured down my throat and a match held to my lips? Scalpel and acid, like the Resistance boy who won't talk? My living skeleton packed up in a cattle wagon with two hundred desperate others, carted off God knows where to die of thirst before we get there? No. I'm not traveling those roads. This is the easiest. The others are too frightening even to look down.
I have so much I would like to say about this book, but so little I can say. It is a book one needs to experience. So go. Buy. Read. Experience. Bite your nails. Sit on the edge of your seat. Laugh. Cry. Let it break your heart and put it back together. That's what the best books do after all. And this most definitely falls into the best books category.
And if you still aren't convinced, also know:
This is a story about friendship, the true steadfast kind that can change people and the world around them.
It is a story about ordinary people who do extraordinary things in an exceptional time.
It is a story that captures the reality of war and the perseverance of the human spirit in remarkable ways.
It is a story that can be funny and sarcastic one minute and then slice open your gut with its razor sharpness the next.
This is a story that's characters become real. They will take up residence in your head. They will haunt you.
It is a story full of suspense, intrigue, and danger.
It is a story that simultaneously devastates and is hopeful.
It is surprising, shattering, brilliant in every way. And nothing I say about it is going to do it justice.
I read a copy received via NetGalley. The US release (with the top cover) is Tuesday, May 15. It is currently available in the UK (with bottom cover).
I have a thing for best friend turned lovers stories and this one is so good. I also really enjoyed that it was about an older couple also dealing wit...moreI have a thing for best friend turned lovers stories and this one is so good. I also really enjoyed that it was about an older couple also dealing with things like their children getting married and moving on with their lives. I'm nowhere near that phase of life yet, but I can imagine it isn't going to be easy. I enjoyed how Mack and Anne balanced and smoothed each other out. I have always liked the character of Mack in the other chocolate books. He's such a great dad and it was fun to get to see more of his personality than just the father role. It was also fun to see all the other couples playing and having fun together at the wedding. And Sylvain! The Chocolate Thief is my least favorite of all Florand's books and I didn't fall for him as a hero as much as the other chocolatier, BUT I have fallen for him more and more in each novel he has shown up in. Man does he know how to snark at and discombobulate the other heroes in the best way. Loved what he did with Mack and the chocolate. :) (less)
Oh my goodness!!!! I'm in love with this book. If you like romance and you like politics, this is the perfect book for you. And by like politics I mea...moreOh my goodness!!!! I'm in love with this book. If you like romance and you like politics, this is the perfect book for you. And by like politics I mean really like politics. If The West Wing was a show that sort of bored you and was hard to follow, this is probably not the book for you. But it was so the book for me. I really liked how both Millie and Parker had so much going on in there work lives and were far from perfect and happily successful. The disillusionment that comes from several years in the real world that can erase some of you idealism is presented so well. How that affects a person's perception of themselves and spills into their personal relationships is so well done. Millie and Parker both have things to work out and this was really a story about them figuring out whether or not they could work out their individual issues together and make a together work. I admired both of them and liked that all the bumps their relationship hit were realistic and made sense for their characters.
The best thing about this book for me is how smart they both are and the dialogue that results from that (and how much of it was political debate). That this was used as serious flirting by them was just perfect. Despite their instant attraction to each other this is a slow burning romance too, another favorite of mine. I am so happy that there is going to be another book that follows this about two characters introduced here. I already pre-ordered it. Hoping there will be at least one more. (less)
I have a lot of friends who love this series so I feel really bad that I didn't like this book at all, so bad I thought, "I could give it two stars. I...moreI have a lot of friends who love this series so I feel really bad that I didn't like this book at all, so bad I thought, "I could give it two stars. It wasn't that badly written." Yet one star means didn't like it and I didn't like. I have reasons:
1. Totally called it. I knew who the murderer was from the first scene that person was in and figured out the motive shortly after. Now that in and of itself is not enough to turn me off a book. If I believe the amount of time it takes the characters to figure it out makes sense, I'm good. And with Julia it did. There is no reason any of that should have been on her radar. I'm less impressed that Nicholas didn't even seem to flirt with the notion. He has seen more of the world and had more experience. Really, the thought should have crossed his mind. Which leads me to...
2. Nicholas is fairly useless as a character. He is supposed to be this great agent. He makes his living off of investigating things. He does absolutely no investigating in this book. All the important clues are stumbled on by Julia. He contributes an arsenic test and a few field trips to question some people-to no avail I might add. Most of the time he is "indisposed" or "out of town". What he does contribute is a perfect brooding stare, snarly dialogue directed toward Julia, and some obligatory I'm-too-sexy-for-my-shirt scenes. None of which endeared him to me. Also he's there to save Julia in the end when she needs him, which of course she does because...
3. Julia is not exactly possessed with an overabundance of critical thinking skills. Au contraire. The book kept telling me she was smart. All the people who knew her kept stating it. I kept waiting for evidence of it to show up. Example: She finds a crucial clue to the case in her own private study, in her own private book. She has a couple of days to ruminate on this before showing it to Nicholas. She is utterly shocked when he presents the notion that this means the murderer is most likely someone in her own household. She had days to think it over. This is only one example, there were other times I was blinking at Julia's inability for deep and nuanced thinking. But she must be intelligent because the author kept insisting on it. After all she had a great education because...
4. Julia's family believes in fully educating women. Is this a bad thing? No. They are also completely okay with people having same sex lovers, performing merciful abortions, and are loving and helpful to gypsies. They are open minded and accepting of all the things. Now if this were a contemporary series all this together would not be a problem but...THIS IS VICTORIAN ENGLAND. I will say the context in which these are included is believable for the time period. If ONE of them had been present, I would not have been skeptical. But all of them together? No. This is a 21st century family living in Victorian times.
5. Finally: Nicholas's big "secret". I really hated this element. Why? What on earth was the purpose of this really? It seemed it was just a convenient way to have him out of commission for half the novel and then able to rescue Julia in the end. Also so he could angst and have reason to talk himself away from Julia. Lame.
Needless to say I will not be reading any more of these. They are clearly not meant for me.(less)
I read Rachel Neumeier's The Floating Islands (my review) and really enjoyed it, so when I saw people begin to talk about her latest book House of Shadows I knew I wanted to read it. I bought it rather than wait to see if my library would ever get it, and boy am I glad I did. I was able to read this wonderful story that much sooner.
Did you read the synopsis? No? Doesn't matter. This book is about a lot more than that and, in fact, does not focus nearly as much on Karah and Nemienne as it would lead you to believe. True the story starts with them and they are used to introduce us to the world, but there's a lot more going on. And two other characters of far more import. (Or maybe they just seemed that way to me.) Taudde and Leilis. Don't get me wrong. Nemienne and Karah are both important to the story, but Taudde and Leilis were what kept me reading and wanting more. I loved both of them so much. Taudde is a conflicted foreigner torn between his honor and a need for vengeance. Leilis is a bitter ensorcelled young woman who has given up on her dreams, but uses her wits to her best advantage with the life she has been left. I could have read a book all about these two and been quite happy. But that would have been a typical book, and Rachel Neumeier's books are anything but typical and so she made this one more. The shifting viewpoints and all the angles shown of every story give a richer fuller picture of what is going on. At the same time, Neumeier manages to surprise the reader from time to time. It's marvelous. The world these characters live in is rich in beauty and detail. I would love to read more about these characters and their countries.
Also there are mages, sorcery, politics, and a dragon. So you know, it's all awesome. If you are someone who breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought of reading High Fantasy, if all the strange long names and places distract you, if you don't like kingdom intrigue and political plotting, then this book isn't for you. If however, like me, you will read anything so described and are over the moon excited when it delivers everything you could want and more, then read this book.
House of Shadows is being marketed as adult but has a definite cross-over appeal for a YA audience which is why I chose to review it here. Nemienne and Karah are both in their teens, and the other characters are in their 20's. (less)
How do you take boating on the Thames, bad Victorian art, WWII, a cat with an appetite for expensive fish, a seance, the battle of Waterloo, 1930's de...moreHow do you take boating on the Thames, bad Victorian art, WWII, a cat with an appetite for expensive fish, a seance, the battle of Waterloo, 1930's detective fiction, time travel, and romance, to say nothing of the dog, and put them all into a thoroughly engaging and fun story? Read this book by Connie Willis and you will get it all.
Ned Henry is an historian from the year 2057. He is pulled from his job working to restore a cathedral and is sent to the year 1889 to rest when he suffers from an acute case of time lag. The problem is he has been sent back not only to rest but to correct an incongruity before the space-time continuum implodes. Unfortunately, he was too time lagged to really understand the instructions of his mission. Now he and his fellow historian, Verity Kindle, must work fast (and minus the promised rest) to save the world and history as we know it. I loved this book because of Ned. He was a fantastic narrator. I loved his wit, his intellect, his self deprecatory humor, his ability to appreciate the absurd and his dedication. I liked Verity very much as well. She was a great foil for him, impulsive, sensitive, equally intelligent and dedicated, and cleverly manipulative. This is going to be a book I will read more than once. (less)
I did something with The Returning by Christine Hinwood that I never do with debut novels. I preodered it. Why? Well, if...moreReview originally posted here.
I did something with The Returning by Christine Hinwood that I never do with debut novels. I preodered it. Why? Well, if you look at the back of the US hardcover you will find quotes by two authors who praise highly the characters and themes of the story. Those two authors are Megan Whalen Turner and Melina Marchetta. Little wonder I wanted to read it. I can see why the book would appeal to these two. Hinwood has the same ability to convey much with few words and create fascinating characters that both of them have.
t is certainly a gripping novel. Megan Whalen Turner also has a quote on the front cover which says, "Every detail evokes a fully realized world." I would agree. Hinwood did this in the way I like too, presenting it as it is and not explaining it. It is rich in detail, tradition, and custom. There is a sense that these people have a history that is bigger than them or this story.
The style of the book is unique and it took me a while to get in the rhythm of it. The first eight chapters are episodic, a series of shorts on the lives of different characters. If you are a reader to whom plot is the most essential part of a story, you may have a problem with this. There is no plot or common action binding the characters of these chapters together. The one thing they all have in common is Cam. This is an interesting way of introducing a central character. The reader sees him from many perspectives before seeing from his own. The book is essentially about how an individual, family, community, country recovers from war, and all the characters play a part in telling that story. I found myself caring very much what happened to them, but was frustrated sometimes at how the story moved around so often. This also made it difficult to truly connect with or fully understand the characters. The middle part of the book that focuses on Cam, and then Graceful, was my favorite part because I finally felt like I could settle in and get to know these characters. I was a tad disappointed when the final chapter jumped ahead several years and switched perspectives again. Also that information regarding Cam was so light in this chapter.
I don't really know what genre label to put on this one. The kingdom they live in is made up, but other than it's not having actually existed by the name given in this book, there is really nothing that makes the story a fantasy. There is a religious system in place and the characters practice its traditions but the supernatural never makes its presence known in the story. So, I'm labeling it as both historical and fantasy.
Note on Content: The Returning is marketed YA, but is one of those that could also be an adult novel. (I'm labeling it as both.) There is strong language, and, in the last chapter, a couple sex scenes. I personally did not feel like these scenes added much to the plot or character development, but they are short (yet descriptive) and not a lot of space was wasted on them.(less)
I read Something About You a while ago and enjoyed it but didn't love it. I recently reread it to remind myself of why I didn't seem to like James's n...moreI read Something About You a while ago and enjoyed it but didn't love it. I recently reread it to remind myself of why I didn't seem to like James's novels as much as everyone else I know. In doing this I also remembered how much I liked the good stuff: the banter, intelligent, successful characters who behave like the adults they are, and how the romantic and sexual tension builds. I decided I needed to read A Lot Like Love sooner rather than later. I ended up liking this one more. I appreciate Jordan's character especially in this. Man this girl is the queen of snark. And Nick is the perfect match for her. I'm also a huge sucker for the pretend relationship that turns real trope so this was probably a guaranteed win for me. The same thing that bothered me about the first book in the series (the amount of time spent following the villain around as he plots) bothered about this one too. It isn't enough to turn me away from these though. I'm well and truly hooked now and sense a binge read coming on. I'm already thinking longingly of the next installment. (less)
This is a light romantic chick lit book, which is not a genre I read much of. However, I was looking for some brain candy one night and remembered how...moreThis is a light romantic chick lit book, which is not a genre I read much of. However, I was looking for some brain candy one night and remembered how many people have recommended Jennifer Cruise and so I picked it up and was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It is predictable and follows the plot line of most romances but there was more depth to the characters than I have found in books of this genre I have tried out before. (less)
Is someone had told me you could take "Beauty and the Beast" and rewrite it as a contemporary realistic romance involving pastry chefs I would have la...moreIs someone had told me you could take "Beauty and the Beast" and rewrite it as a contemporary realistic romance involving pastry chefs I would have laughed. But I'll be darned if that isn't exactly what Laura Florand did. And you know what else? It's wonderful. I loved it, and this is my absolute favorite fairy tale. It is hard to impress me with stories that come from it. (less)
I am not typically a reader of historical romance anymore. Julia Quinn is the one exception. I discovered her books my first year of teaching and they...moreI am not typically a reader of historical romance anymore. Julia Quinn is the one exception. I discovered her books my first year of teaching and they were a lifesaver. Exactly the kind of brain candy I needed. Fun but never insipid. A new one always comes out around this time of year and has come to mean the beginning of summer just as much as the last day of school.
I like her witty dialogue, the way she has subverted several of her genre's tropes, and that the sensual scenes are rare and easily skippable.
So you could say I am a fan. But not of this particular one.
There were some things I liked. The things that I have come to expect from Quinn's book, although the dialogue was not as good as usual.
The problem? I was completely distracted by a mistake. I am not being picky, it was a massive mistake. The plot of this book overlaps with Romancing Mister Bridgerton. The musicale in this and that are the same. Romancing Mister Bridgertonis my favorite of Quinn's books so this should have made me happy. And it would have. Except...
"Mr. Bridgerton's brother's wife's sister is married to Mr. Berbrooke's brother."
That statement is in chapter two and simply can not be true, as by the time this book ends Colin and Penelope have not even kissed yet. Which means Ms. Quinn lost complete track of her timeline. Now I realize all authors make mistakes. That is why they have editors. How did both of them miss this? I, who spend very little time reading or thinking of these books, noticed it on a first reading. And it was hard to look past. It is why I am giving this two rather than three stars.(less)
Ugh. Okay so I rather enjoyed the firs book in this series. Not enough to love it, but enough to overlook some things that bothered me and ke...more2,5 stars
Ugh. Okay so I rather enjoyed the firs book in this series. Not enough to love it, but enough to overlook some things that bothered me and keep reading. But this one really got on my nerves, mostly because I tend to like more character development than these are giving me. Ford is sexy. Okay. What else is there really? Most of the time that's all he is. Tara has major issues over giving a guy her heart despite the fact that every time a relationship of hers has failed SHE is the one who walked out. There are some parts I just thought were silly (Tara, Ford, and Mia all loving to cook being one of them. And that whole situation? Resolved way too easily.) Here is the thing that really bothered me to the point that made my teeth grind: Logan is not going to get Tara back As readers we know that from the get go. But I didn't like that the first real comparison we get of him to Ford is when he orders a drink that is a "woman's" drink. I guess is liking of fruity bubbly drink is supposed to make us see him as less than manly rather than someone who owns who he is and what he likes no matter what the next guy thinks. Something that is truly manly. What pushed me into the rage category is how Ford thinks of him in this scene and how he and Sawyer talk about him using the p-word. (The one that pretty much means the same thing as "girlie" but is not as nice.) I HATE that: using either word as an insult. I'm probably going to read the third book just to see if this one is an aberration. I also confess to being curious as to how Chloe and Sawyer will play out, but my expectation are certainly way down. (less)
It has been a long time since I've found an author whose books I wait for with eager anticipation and plan an entire evening around on the day a new b...moreIt has been a long time since I've found an author whose books I wait for with eager anticipation and plan an entire evening around on the day a new book comes out. It's been even longer since one of those authors has been a writer of adult fiction. BUT THESE BOOKS. They are some of my favorite books of the year, every single book in this series. I love Florand manages to bring a fresh angle to each story even though they have so many similar elements, and each one (except The Chocolate Thief-unless I missed it) she incorporates a fairy tale or myth. I adored what she did with the one she used here. I pretty much adored everything about this story: the interactions between Summer and Luc, both of their characters individually, the glimpse into the workings of a high class hotel, and the themes Florand worked into the story. How real and balanced the characters are in Florand's books has always impressed me. They are not always likable, but the reader is given a clear understanding of WHY they are currently being unlikable. Summer has so many issues and some of her actions spawned by this issues are not at all laudable, but at the same time you can not help but sympathize with her situation. The way both Luc and Summer are worked into their characters in the myth used is also well done here. Luc is a perfect foil for Summer. While he has many issues of his own, his are a good balance for hers. I like the way Florand shows that fitting two lives to gather is difficult and takes work. An added bonus were all the scenes with characters from the other books and the glimpse we get of the couple her next book will focus on. And again, I will be planning an entire evening around it. (less)
I don't think there are enough books out there are that are about wanting to make a hard marriage (is there any other kind?) WORK. There is a lot of l...moreI don't think there are enough books out there are that are about wanting to make a hard marriage (is there any other kind?) WORK. There is a lot of literary fiction about disillusionment with the whole thing, there are books about divorced or widowed people finding new love, and, of course, there are all the books about fresh new love. I love that Snow Kissed is about a couple is married, has problems, and wants to stay married anyway. YAY! It is a lovely story, but also heartbreaking. Anyone who has suffered the same traumas trying to have children that Kai and Kurt faced might have a hard time with it. It is a beautiful story of fighting for a marriage and what love and forever truly mean. There was a teensy bit more of the sexy times in it than I am normally okay with for a book of this length (which is my ONLY complaint and totally a subjective personal thing-It also could have been the mood I was in when I read it.).
I really enjoyed this book at first. It is a classic who-done-it mystery in which there are multiple suspects and no real clear evidence. Yet the bodi...moreI really enjoyed this book at first. It is a classic who-done-it mystery in which there are multiple suspects and no real clear evidence. Yet the bodies keep piling up. I loved the portrayal of small British village life. I was thoroughly enjoying the character of Richard Jury and thinking this would be a book (and series) I could really get into do despite the sometimes overwrought use of figurative language. (Seriously, the similes in this are way over the top.)
There is insta-love. The hero takes one look at a girl and decides he is madly in love with her. Never mind that she can actually be considered a suspect. Never mind that she is known to be close to two other people who are also suspects. No. He is in love. And why? I couldn't really tell since the girl hadn't spoken a word when he decided this, but it is implied she in some way reminded him of a former lover. Nice. Jury immediately gets all grumbly and jealous over her interactions with other men. My liking for his character dwindled fast. The overwrought similes in the writing became more annoying when tied up with this, and the last half of the book left a bad taste in my mouth as a result. Sigh. I so wanted to like this one. (less)
I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Laura Florand's books I've read so far, but I truly LOVED this one. Dom and Jaime are both characters that you can re...moreI have thoroughly enjoyed all of Laura Florand's books I've read so far, but I truly LOVED this one. Dom and Jaime are both characters that you can relate too right from the beginning, even if you are nothing like them (which I'm not). I was excited about Dom especially when it is revealed he only uses dark chocolate in his salon. My kind of chocolatier, he is.
One of the aspects I really appreciate about all of Florand's books is the realistic way the protagonists interact. Any misunderstandings are believable in the circumstances (not over dramatic plot devices) and the characters actually communicate. That shown particularly bright in this novel. There are also some truly hilarious scenes in this book.
And I never thought I would say this, but do you know how bad I want a balsamic-vinaigrette caramel with dark chocolate now? Never tried one. Never even heard of one before. Now it is a major goal of mine to find one somewhere somehow.
Content Heads-Up: This is an adult romance novel. It has some sexy times. (less)
As far as retellings of Tam Lin go, this one does an excellent job maintaining the story and characters. The meeting at the we...moreFull review posted here.
As far as retellings of Tam Lin go, this one does an excellent job maintaining the story and characters. The meeting at the well with roses, the heroine’s heedless love of running through the woods in unladylike manner, the hero’s cold manipulative indifference, the curse, the unfeeling Faerie Queen, the heroine holding the hero through transformations to break the curse, it is all here. This story adds the twist of the sister equally fascinated by the hero. Corbet wants Laurel because she embodies all that is human and held within time. Rose reminds him too much of the world he is trying to escape. She sees too clearly and that frightens him but at the same time he recognizes that quality is the only one that might save him. He leads both of them on abominably, although Rose at least understands what he is doing. Poor Laurel. I really felt sorry for her. One quibble I have with this version is that I could really see no reason why both girls fell so hard for Corbet. The only answer seemed to be that he was just so completely other that they couldn’t help themselves. This makes some sort of sense in the case of Rose who saw him clearly, but not for Laurel who already had a perfectly good fiancée. I don’t like romances that are based on the author telling me, “He’s good looking, charismatic and wonderful. Just go with it.” I actually want to see those qualities. I don’t know that the complication of the love triangle was worth the sacrifice of fleshing out Corbet’s character more. I also do not like when all the complications of such a triangle are done away with by a convenient forgetfulness of all the facts by two of the parties. So overall I was less than impressed by the way the romantic side of this one was handled.
This version is not really about the relationship of the heroine and hero though so much as it is a coming of age story of the heroine herself. It is about Rose discovering who she is and how she fits into the world, and into which world she truly belongs. The story did an excellent job portraying that. The story is told in first person from Rose’s point of view and it was quite easy to fall into her head and lose myself in her voice. Rose’s struggle to define who she is was my favorite part of this retelling.(less)
This book is oh so good. I loved the magic and whimsy of La Maison des Sorcieres. The romance is exactly the sort of challenging one I adore too. I wa...moreThis book is oh so good. I loved the magic and whimsy of La Maison des Sorcieres. The romance is exactly the sort of challenging one I adore too. I was really able to relate to Magalie's character and all her issues. Sometimes a little too well, she's very well written. I moved around a lot as a kid too and am in recovery still from a lot of the same issues. Overall, very well done and well written. I'm so happy to have discovered these book. One drawback is that it gave me a ridiculous craving for macarons and there is no place in this small southern town of mine to get fresh macarons. Frustrating. (less)
I enjoyed reading this book so much. I read it all in one delicious sitting. It was more sensual than I was expecting, but so much of that was tied in...moreI enjoyed reading this book so much. I read it all in one delicious sitting. It was more sensual than I was expecting, but so much of that was tied into the food and chocolate rather than just sex. (Though there is some of that too, so be warned if you don't like that in your books.) I loved the main characters, their banter, and the Parisian setting. I'm looking forward to reading the companion novels too.
Warning: This book will make you want to eat chocolate. And not just any chocolate, but QUALITY chocolate. Fortunately I had some handy. (less)
Regular readers of my blog may find it astonishing that I had not read Sorcery and Cecellia by Patricia C. Wrede and Carolline Stervermer before now. I love Regency romance. I love magic. Any combination of these two things is enough to make me giddy. And it is an epistolary novel. I love those too. So what on earth took me so long? My immediate thought upon hearing of the existence of this book was, "This has to be one of the best books ever!" It was closely followed by, "What if it's not?" I have been bouncing between a wild anticipation to read it and nervous fear that has kept me from it ever since. I finally decided enough was enough.
Turns out my first thought was right on the mark. The book consists of the correspondence between two cousins, Kate and Cecelia. Kate is in London for her debut into society. Cecelia has been left behind. Their aunts think they get into too much trouble together. Turns out they can get into quite a lot of trouble apart as well. Kate is very nearly poisoned by a witch mistaking her for the Mysterious Marquis. Soon Kate finds herself faking a betrothal to said Marquis in an attempt to thwart the witch. In the meantime Cecelia is being spied upon by one of her neighbors and when he is not spying on her he is being surly and suspicious of her. The girls find themselves deeply embroiled in a plot involving stolen magic, evil neighbors, and, of course, love.
Kate and Cecelia are absolutely delightful characters. Each girl's letters were written by a different author and the result is they both have very different voices and personalities. The epistolary format gave color to their personalities and story. It also brought all of the secondary characters to life in wonderful ways. The letters are written as if the reader knows exactly who and what is being spoken of , which is exactly how epistolary novels should be written as, of course the reader is supposed to know, and need not have things explained to them. Reading this book is like coming across someone's long forgotten correspondence and reading it. I loved it.
It should also be noted that I was very fond of both Thomas and James as well. The romances in the book were done just right. They are typical Regency romance fare and that is a-okay by me because I like to have my expectations met. I enjoyed the Kate/Thomas interaction the most and felt more invested in their part of the story. I loved Cecey and James almost as much.
This is a perfect book for anyone, young or old, who is looking for Regency era books that are romantic and fun.(less)
Sir John Fielding was the half brother of British novelist, Henry Fielding. Together they started the first London police force known as the Bow Stree...moreSir John Fielding was the half brother of British novelist, Henry Fielding. Together they started the first London police force known as the Bow Street Runners. After Henry's death, John took over as the Bow Street Magistrate. His ability to discern truth and learn the facts of crimes was extraordinary given that he was blinded in an accident in the Navy when he was 19. Bruce Alexander wrote 11 fiction novels in which the historical figure of Sir John is the protagonist. Blind Justice is the first volume of the series. I am looking forward to reading the others as well.
The narrator of the story is a 13 year old by the name of Jeremy Proctor who finds himself standing before the famous magistrate after he is accused of a theft he didn't commit. Sir John dismisses the charges against Jeremy but at the same time brings him under the custody of the court. While trying to sort out Jeremy's future Sir John is called to investigate a death. In the course of gathering information the extremely observant Jeremy proves useful as a pair of eyes for Sir John when needed and helps during the rest of the investigation.
The mystery is an interesting puzzle though not tricky or surprising. The plot unfolded in a way that was never boring. The characters are memorable, some for being rather stereotypical of the time period. The two things that made the book a great read for me were the historical integrity of the novel and Jeremy's voice.
Georgian London is represented in all its glory and grit from the upper class to the Covent Garden prostitutes and everything in between. The job the Magistrate and the Bow Street Runners had before them is shown clearly through the eyes of the innocent country boy Jeremy. The historical figures who make appearances in the novel are not trifled with. They remain true to the historical accounts of their lives with no embellishment. This is true of the ones who are merely small players and of Sir John, who is the main protagonist. I found the book to be a clear window on what life in London at the time was like.
Jeremy is a newcomer to London so seeing the world through his eyes allows even those not well versed in London history to gain a clear picture of what it was like. The novel is written very much in the style of the times so it reads like something Henry Fielding himself might have written. Jeremy's story reads genuine as a result. I found this made it easier to get caught up in the time period even more. I also enjoyed Jeremy's observations on the world around him and is innocent obliviousness to many things was amusing.(less)
Laura Florand just keeps writing these stories oh so perfectly. This one has the couple dynamic I love the most too-an outwardly lazy, always joking,...moreLaura Florand just keeps writing these stories oh so perfectly. This one has the couple dynamic I love the most too-an outwardly lazy, always joking, light bearded man who is using his humor and charm to disguise a super-driven serious heart and a perfectionist introverted girl who takes herself a little too seriously. The dynamic between Patrick and Sarah is wonderful and I enjoyed how their relationship developed, and how they handled it despite their working relationship. And as is typical of Florand's works, there's a fairy tale inside it. (less)
I have a soft spot for stories about people who reunite after years apart and this is a good one. I really liked both Meg and Sam as characters too. I...moreI have a soft spot for stories about people who reunite after years apart and this is a good one. I really liked both Meg and Sam as characters too. I identified with Meg's need to achieve and be independent, and while I found her attitude about her boyfriend sometimes frustrating, it was completely understandable. I like how Sam is a man unafraid to face past mistakes. I also loved how clear it was that is charming confidence did not mean he didn't have massive insecurities to deal with. He's an interesting parallel to Meg's nephew, Josh (son of Matt from first book), and I enjoyed how that was touched on a bit. I like how the stories of all the Fletcher family continued to be important. The conflict between Meg and Sam in the end was one that worked well in the context of there story and had a quick enough turn around and a compromise from both parties involved that it made me ridiculously happy. I preferred this one slightly to the first book, mostly because of how much I really liked Meg and Sam. As in Carolina Home, this is so much more than a romance. The Fletcher family is an intricate part of this story as well and I love seeing this family interact. Sam's family also plays a big part in his life and those scenes were excellent as well.
(I'm still far more interested in Josh and Thalia than is probably normal for an adult reader. I can't help it. I love YA and I work with high schoolers and now I'm FASCINATED by the idea of a YA novel set in the Outerbanks, that's not a summer vacation story, but about the kids actually growing up there. Set in winter so we just avoid the whole summer tourist dynamic. Someone please make this happen.)
Very much looking forward to reading Carolina Man which comes out Tuesday! I usually save my adult fiction reading for Friday nights, but I may be tempted to squeeze this one in on release day if my review schedule allows for it. This may be a case where I decide to say forget the stupid schedule. (less)
I liked that this one didn't have the drama of danger and a villain with too much page time. On the other hand, this one felt like it had a...more3.5 stars
I liked that this one didn't have the drama of danger and a villain with too much page time. On the other hand, this one felt like it had a lot more backstory for both characters that needed filling in. It does have all the things I like about James's other novels: smart, hard-working, sensible people falling in love with lots of great banter and sexual tension. (less)
I've liked the plot of this one the most so far. I loved how it was a simple story about balancing life, love, and ambition. I adored Cade (he's my fa...moreI've liked the plot of this one the most so far. I loved how it was a simple story about balancing life, love, and ambition. I adored Cade (he's my favorite hero thus far too). Some of my favorite parts of this book were the ones between him and Zach. Overall this is just really well done. Reading all these back to back so quickly, makes one pick up on the things James likes to reuse. Well then. (I'm not ever saying those two words together again.)(less)
I really enjoyed Barry's first book, Special Interests, but I LOVED this one. There are so many books out there where the quiet, often overlooked girl...moreI really enjoyed Barry's first book, Special Interests, but I LOVED this one. There are so many books out there where the quiet, often overlooked girl finally gets the hot guy she's always secretly (or not so secretly) wanted. You don't often see that gender reversed. I like that here it is. Liam is such a great hero in so many ways. I have to admit I have a fondness for ridiculously optimistic despite all evidence to the contrary journalists. I'm actually married to one. (There aren't that many of them in existence.) Liam is that and one of those heroes that has a quiet strength and assuredness that is calming. At the same time he can be super sexy. I also really liked Alyse and her struggle to figure out who she really was and what she really wanted out of her life in D.C. Together they are not the easiest of partnerships, but they work. The roadblocks that they encounter on their way to a happy ending are ones that make complete sense for the type of people they are and the places they are in. Liam has every right to be cautious of what Alyse will do to his heart, and she has every right to feel like she needs space and time to figure out what she wants. Fitting those two together is not easy.
The political storyline in this one is realistic again and fairly simple, but it does have some fun espionage moments and mystery. The writing is stronger than the first one overall I think. There were some places where I absolutely adored the way Barry phrased things. I also liked the humor.
I'm the first to recognize as much as I love these books, they aren't for everyone. But if you are in the market for smart, realistic, politically savvy romance, you need to read these books NOW. (less)
This was a fun night's read but I didn't like it as much as Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. I liked Minerva House and all the women who liv...moreThis was a fun night's read but I didn't like it as much as Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. I liked Minerva House and all the women who lived there. I also liked getting Nicholas's story as I enjoyed his character very much in the first book. I am not a big fan of the lack-of-communication-leading-to-misunderstanding device though and this book beat that trope to death. It is particularly bothersome when both characters think about how they should be talking about the problems and THEN DON"T. (less)
Magic Realism isn't my favorite genre but I like Sarah Addison Allen's books when I am in the mood for something light and romantic. They do the trick...moreMagic Realism isn't my favorite genre but I like Sarah Addison Allen's books when I am in the mood for something light and romantic. They do the trick every time. Read this book on a full stomach because no one describes food or can make you want it as well as this author can. The sexuality in this book is more prevalent than I care for but not nearly as much as you find in most typical romance novels. (less)