Just re-read part of this AMAZING historical romance...the part leading up to Lazarevo and beyond. This story takes r...moreAlexander...My Favorite Book Hero
Just re-read part of this AMAZING historical romance...the part leading up to Lazarevo and beyond. This story takes readers on a gripping journey starting in WWII Leningrad. Ms. Simons writes with stunning emotion. You'll never meet a more selfless, lovable character than Tatiana. Alexander is gorgeous, vulnerable, protective, infuriating, and deep.
I can’t stop thinking about this book. The world Emma Donoghue created for the eleven-by-eleven foot space Jack and “Ma” inhabit is so haunting and re...moreI can’t stop thinking about this book. The world Emma Donoghue created for the eleven-by-eleven foot space Jack and “Ma” inhabit is so haunting and real that I continue to feel frightened and creeped out. Yet I have positive feelings, too: admiration for Ma and protectiveness for Jack, who’s the cutest darn five year-old you’ve ever met. I want to take Jack home with me and cuddle. Unfortunately, taking him to a home in the outside world means he won’t know how to walk down stairs. He won’t like the unfamiliar sensation of shoes on his feet. All Jack knows is the comfort of Room.
It was brilliant to write the book from little Jack’s perspective. His fresh, honest take on the world is so precious. I love how he names the parts of his world: Meltedy Spoon, Track, Sundaytreat, Outer Space, Wardrobe, Old Nick.
(view spoiler)[ Or like the time he knocks a kid down trying to hug him, coming on too strong (p. 288).
“Remember,” Grandma says on the way to the white car, “we don’t hug strangers. Even nice ones.” “Why not?” “We just don’t, we save our hugs for people we love.” “I love that boy Walker.” “Jack, you never saw him before in your life!” (hide spoiler)]
When Jack kissed Ma’s breasts goodbye I couldn’t stop laughing.
“I kiss the right and say, ‘Bye-bye.’ I kiss the left twice because it was always creamier.” (p. 303). Ha ha!
Ma comes up with incredibly creative games and activities, egged on by Jack’s stunning imagination.
This story had me on the verge of tears and left me with a very hopeful feeling, the perfect combination. I care deeply about Jack and Ma, wanting so much for their future. Though they will undoubtedly be affected by Room, I desperately want them to get revenge by living the good life. With a mother like Ma, I think Jack has an excellent start. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This Young Adult story came highly recommended to me by friends, so I chose it for book club. I was thoroughly impressed by the author's research of t...moreThis Young Adult story came highly recommended to me by friends, so I chose it for book club. I was thoroughly impressed by the author's research of the French Revolution, modern-day France, genetic research, music, and New York City private school culture (do teenagers seriously talk that way to each other? The environment seemed so different from my Midwest public school experience. I found these teenagers incredibly smart but so sad and damaged). I enjoyed the interweaving stories of Andi and Alex, and the exploration of a family moving forward after trauma.
However, something felt a bit flat for me emotionally. I know that Andi's story is rather tragic due to the death of her sweet brother Truman, but for some reason the story felt melodramatic at times. Maybe it's because I didn't connect easily with Andi, or maybe it's just an accurate representation of adolescence and I'm not an adolescent anymore!
In the beginning of the novel Andi has some funny moments, like when she calls the outfit worn by the headmistress "purple menopause clothes" (p.13).
Or when she describes her wealthy friend Arden's big belt over her micromini: "It has a shiny buckle with PRADA on it, which is Italian for insecure." (p.34).
And her friend Vijay's nicknames for his mom are hilarious: Momsoon, Atom Mom, Vietmom, Flesh-Eating Mombie. :D
I did connect emotionally with the relationship between Alex and Louis-Charles--that was my favorite part of the book.
I guess I felt so much sadness throughout the story that I was seeking some relief, hoping for a big payoff. When it finally came it felt a little ho-hum. They say that everyone second-guesses or blames themselves after a tragedy, and that definitely seemed true for Andi and her parents. When she overheard her father on the phone stating that he blamed himself for Truman's death, I so wished Andi would've gone to him at that moment and shared that she also blamed herself. It felt like an emotional moment was lost in the story. At the same time, the ending between her and her father was realistic.
Overall I had a tough time choosing between three and four stars, so I'll say 3 1/2 and round up.(less)
Now that I'm writing a romantic suspense series, I'm finally catching up on reading some awesome romantic suspense authors like Pamela Clare. Extreme...moreNow that I'm writing a romantic suspense series, I'm finally catching up on reading some awesome romantic suspense authors like Pamela Clare. Extreme Exposure is the first novel in the I-Team series, and I can't wait to read the rest of the novels based on my enjoyment of #1.
The book cover says "The hardest exteriors hide the most vulnerable places", which is true of the romantic leads Kara McMillan and Reece Sheridan. Kara is an investigative reporter on the I-Team, specializing in environmental crimes. She has an adorable 4 year-old son Connor, who loves dinosaurs and smells like baby shampoo. The main reason Kara has a hard outer shell is that Connor's father is a total cad who wants nothing to do with his son. Kara has to fight to take care of Connor as a single mother, and is terrified of getting hurt again.
Reece is a Colorado state senator. How refreshing that Ms. Clare portrays a politician as one of the good guys, which is hard to believe in today's political climate but Reece's kindness and integrity make it more plausible. He's a former schoolteacher who wants to make the world a better place, inevitably smacking up against the corruption and greed making his goal quite difficult.
I LOVED the first meeting between Kara and Reece. Kara is drunk on the powerful margaritas served at Rio del Sol (I think I might have tried one of their margaritas in Boulder if I remember correctly) and she says some outrageous things to Reece as a result of her loosened inhibitions. Then their relationship begins to develop, a slow burn that was delightful to read. An environmental crime threatens their romance but I liked the way Ms. Clare handled the characters' quick attempts at resolving the misunderstanding.
The secondary characters, including Kara's tantric-loving mother, best friend Holly, and caddish ex Galen, as well as Reece's friend Miguel, are well-drawn and fun to read. Even the police chief has his own special style:
Chief Irving arrived in less than ten minutes. He was a big, beefy man with a beer gut that made him look eleven or twelve months pregnant. His white hair was cropped short and stood almost on end, giving him the look of someone who'd recently gotten an electrical shock. But the pale blue eyes that gazed out at them from beneath bushy white eyebrows were intelligent, appraising---the eyes of a lifelong cop. (p. 122)
Kara is totally smitten by Reece's hotness:
Her gaze traveled from his feet, which rested on the coffee table---could feet truly be sexy?---up his long, muscular legs, over his navy silk boxers with their appealing bulge to his bare torso. What must it be like to live in that body, to have all that delicious muscle and velvety man-skin within reach all day every day? If Kara had his body, she'd be too busy touching herself to make it out of bed in the morning. (p. 271) Ha!
I assume future books in the series will explore other I-Team characters, and I look forward to learning more about Kara's colleagues. This is an excellent read! (less)
Thanks to Buggy for recommending this book! This was my first foray into Suzanne Brockmann’s Tall Dark & Dangerous series, and it certainly won't...moreThanks to Buggy for recommending this book! This was my first foray into Suzanne Brockmann’s Tall Dark & Dangerous series, and it certainly won't be my last. (The cool thing is that "Harvard's Education", which I think is #5 in the series, also came in the ebook package I bought for my Nook). When Buggy mentioned that a hot uniformed man was imprisoned for murdering his commander, I knew this book was right up my alley!
Some things I really enjoyed: * Nell's character. She had a softness about her but she was also very strong. I also laughed when she made fun of "Crash's" name. What the heck kind of name is that? Very appropriate for a SEAL, I guess. I thought she should've called him Will. * Crash/Billy. He epitomized the brooding, stoic hero, and I loved when his walls finally came "crashing" down (with Nell's help). * The line "If you'd die for me, why won't you LIVE for me?" Go Nell! * The little surprise at the end. * The tightness of the story. The book was on the short side, mostly because there wasn't unnecessary fluff, and I liked how I could finish it in one weekend.
I wish more of the story took place in prison but I think it was important to know the development of their romance in order to connect deeply with the characters. A great read!(less)
I was excited when my book club chose this short YA novel because I’d heard great things about it from Goodreads friends. This story was different fro...moreI was excited when my book club chose this short YA novel because I’d heard great things about it from Goodreads friends. This story was different from anything I’ve read. It consists of letters written by Charlie, an observant fifteen year-old, to an unknown recipient -- the reader. It’s basically a diary of a precocious teenage boy and I loved his insight into the world of school, family, dating, and sex.
At first I thought Charlie had Asperger’s or Autism due to his unique, naïve voice as well as his emotional freak-outs, but then I understood his mental health issues more clearly once he reveals his secret at the end. I was stunned by the revelation which has stayed with me for a week after finishing the novel.
The story takes place in the early 1990’s and reminded me of some fond memories from that time, including the morose songs by the Smiths which could put you in a suicidal mood. Charlie talks about his sister’s boyfriend making her a good old mix tape:
He is always making mix tapes for my sister with very specific themes. One was called "Autumn Leaves". He included many songs by the Smiths. (p. 10)
Charlie made me laugh often, like when he discusses his brother’s football teammates:
They finally got around to talking about SAT scores. And this guy said, "I got a 710". And my brother said, "Math or verbal?" And the guy said, "Huh?" And the whole team laughed. (p. 52)
The following quote was so endearing to me. I loved Charlie even more after I read this:
My grandma is very old, and she doesn't remember things a lot, but she bakes the most delicious cookies. When I was very little, we had my mom's mom, who always had candy, and my dad's mom, who always had cookies. My mom told me that when I was little, I called them "Candy Grandma" and "Cookies Grandma". (p. 85)
Isn’t that adorable? I can totally picture a little boy bouncing on his car seat in anticipation of visiting Cookies Grandma.
I loved what his young English teacher tells him about the importance of participating in life. I could see much development in Charlie as he takes the risk to participate, morphing from a wallflower to a valued friend, brother, and son. I think his burgeoning personal strength allows him to face the secret from his past and finally begin to heal. Charlie’s genuineness and vulnerability were quite touching. Highly recommended! (less)
I had the pleasure of reading one essay in this collection: "Bent, Shattered, and Mended: Wounded Minds in the Hunger Games" by Blythe Woolston, and I...moreI had the pleasure of reading one essay in this collection: "Bent, Shattered, and Mended: Wounded Minds in the Hunger Games" by Blythe Woolston, and I'd like to read more because this essay was quite illuminating.
Ms. Woolston educates about the psychological diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and demonstrates how the characters in the Hunger Games trilogy exhibit symptoms of the disorder. Suddenly Mockingjay makes so much more sense to me. Katniss sleepwalks through the story, numb and fatigued, because she's suffering from PTSD. There's no way to have a "happy ending" after the trauma she and other tributes endured.(less)
What a great romantic suspense series! I loved all five books, including the most recent release Breaking Point.
Natalie Benoit barely survived Hurrica...moreWhat a great romantic suspense series! I loved all five books, including the most recent release Breaking Point.
Natalie Benoit barely survived Hurricane Katrina, and tragically, her fiancee Beau did not. She's a reporter on the I-team and is still mourning her lost love when she travels to Mexico with other reporters. A Mexican drug cartel called the Zetas kidnap her and throw her into a squalid cell.
In the cell next to her is Zach McBride, an undercover U.S. Marshal. Zach has endured trauma of his own: the deaths of his squad of Marines in Afghanistan. Zach is trying to take down the Mexican cartel but he's betrayed by a fellow agent who makes the Zetas believe Zach stole their cocaine. Natalie is horrified when she overhears the Zetas torture Zach.
The plot is suspenseful and credible, and the romance is sizzling. My favorite aspect of this series is the characterization. Pamela Clare writes compelling, tormented characters who heal each other through their love.
Now for my favorite quotes. I love learning something new when I read, like this fact:
"The U.S. Marshal Service is at the top of the law-enforcement pecking order, outranking everyone, even the FBI. They have jurisdiction no matter where they are."
A really beautiful method of grieving:
"The Lakota have a special way of dealing with mourning. They spend a year acknowledging their grief, and then they hold a Wiping of the Tears Ceremony so that they can move beyond sadness . . . Moving on and finding love again doesn't have to mean you forget . . . Moving on only means that you wipe your tears away---and let yourself love and live again."
Spot-on description of PTSD:
"Some men come home from combat. I . . . I can't. There's something inside of me---it just doesn't work. I went away to war, but I can't seem to come back. I do all right out there where the adrenaline is high and the rules of engagement are clear---shoot to kill. But in the civilian world . . . You know what I spent those nine months doing? Drinking scotch and trying to get up the guts to eat my gun."
If you haven't read this excellent series, get on it!(less)
This series came highly recommended to me by Buggy and Lisa Sanchez. I thought Dark Lover was very good and I definitely plan on continuing with the s...moreThis series came highly recommended to me by Buggy and Lisa Sanchez. I thought Dark Lover was very good and I definitely plan on continuing with the series, but I still have some reservations about paranormal romance in general which I’ll share at the end of this review.
Beth is a likable character, a serious journalist who hasn’t had much luck with men. She immediately finds herself in trouble walking home alone late one night, and it’s evident she’s no shrinking violet. Unbeknownst to her, she has some major changes coming up in her life, changes which bring her in contact with the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
The brothers are six leather-clad bad-ass super-vampires who protect all vampires from the “lessers” trying to kill them. Wrath is the brother in charge, and Darius asks him to help his daughter. Wrath was just okay to me. It’s interesting he’s almost blind and he has decent depth to his character, but he didn’t make me swoon. Maybe the other brothers will? I just kept thinking how unwashed Wrath must be in his leathers and long hair and sunglasses. ;)
When Wrath and Beth meet, they’re both overwhelmed by their intense physical chemistry. I enjoyed their unlikely romance, even though it proceeds rather quickly. The sex scenes are somewhat explicit but not over-the-top and there seemed to be the right number of them.
Are there plans for movies to be made of these books? I found myself imagining the characters in my head to look like some movie characters. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Foul Play with Goldie Hawn, but Mr. X totally reminded me of the albino baddie in that movie *shudders*. And the scribe virgin reminded me of a little old Italian lady dressed in black lace, like Johnny Camareri’s mother in the movie Moonstruck hee hee.
One of my favorite characters is the human Butch, especially when he meets the brothers. “Tell me something, boys,” he drawled. “Do you wear that leather to turn each other on? I mean, is it a dick thing with you all?” (Butch is lucky he’s still alive after that comment). It was great when Butch and Vishous bond over baseball, and I didn’t see Butch’s romantic interest coming at all but I loved it.
There are some really clever lines, like the one describing Mr. X feeling thwarted by the cops: His jones for torture had a serious case of the blue balls.
Regarding the wedding ceremony, I thought the brothers should’ve definitely used “Beth” instead of “Elizabeth” for the back tattoo, yikes! Good thing her name wasn’t Anastasia Gwendolyn.
I have a thing for tortured heroes and I can’t wait for Zsadist’s story (or maybe he should be named Nmasochist?)
Overall it was highly entertaining and I’m glad I read it. And now a few words about paranormal romance.
Paranormal Romance: How do you like it? I realize many readers LOVE paranormal romance, but there’s something about vampires and werewolves and demons (oh, my!) that doesn’t resonate for me like human stories do. I’m so freaking fascinated by human nature that I don’t need the supernatural to enthrall me, I guess. Sometimes I even find the paranormal to be silly, rolling my eyes at a creature going *poof* or an elf casting spells. I think vampire purists might like The Black Dagger Brotherhood series better than Twilight (maybe having to do with the sparkly vampire business), but for some reason I really connected with Edward Cullen so at this point I favor Twilight. Mostly I really want to connect with the characters, and paranormal creatures make it hard for me to relate.
I don’t mean to be a hater – it’s just my opinion. I read somewhere that we might be attracted to paranormal or fantasy as an escape from the crappy economy and all the problems of real life. For those of you who love paranormal, what do you love about it? (less)
What a shock--another 5 star review for a Pamela Clare novel! Here I thought she couldn't top her romantic suspense I-Team series but she comes damn c...moreWhat a shock--another 5 star review for a Pamela Clare novel! Here I thought she couldn't top her romantic suspense I-Team series but she comes damn close with this first novel in her historical romance series MacKinnon's Rangers. I know the series' third novel, Defiant, just came out, and I can't wait to catch up.
Surrender features Iain MacKinnon--the oldest of three Scot brothers, and Anne Campbell--a Scot aristocrat who was forsaken by her uncle. Both Iain and Annie were accused of crimes they didn't commit, and are now paying the consequences. The despicable Lord Wentworth has forced Iain and his brothers to fight for England in the French and Indian War. And after her uncle accused Annie of theft, she has to sail to the new world as an indentured servant.
Iain and Annie meet in the wilds of 1758 America. Indians have just attacked Annie's masters and she's about to be defiled and scalped when Iain rushes in to rescue her. Problem is, Iain's heroic efforts to see Annie to safety completely contradict his orders, and it's not pretty when soldiers disobey their English superiors.
Complicating Iain's plight is his strong attraction to the virgin Annie, who hides her criminal status from him. She's just as infatuated with her strong tattooed rescuer, with his barbarian exterior but loving and gentle character.
Pamela sure does know how to write hot romance, as seen through Annie's inexperienced eyes:
When next she looked up, she found his eyes squeezed shut and his head turned to the side, exposing the corded muscles of his neck. One strong arm was thrown above his head, his fist clenched. His hair had fanned out across the dark bearskin, like the black of a raven's wing against the night sky.
There's also a fair bit of humor, like when Iain deflowers Annie:
"Holy Mary!" Morgan glared at Iain in disgust. "When McHugh told me you'd given the order not to be disturbed, I thought you'd gone to comfort her. What did you do?" Iain looked at his brothers. "We need a priest."
Lord Wentworth is difficult to figure out, and I like his complexity. He acts like a cold bastard most of the time but then there are glimpses of humanity, and I'm eager to see what Ms. Clare has in store for his character in the next two books.
I've read every book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, and I found myself comparing this story to those wonderful novels. Similarities include the Scottish brogue, a military Scot hero full of integrity paired with a sassy English sympathizer heroine nurse, prison scenes, and a hated English lord who lashes the Scot hero mercilessly. Though I love Jamie Fraser from Outlander, I appreciate the sharper focus of this shorter novel. I'll say more about the comparisons once I've read more of this series.
This is a page-turner that's thoroughly enjoyable. Highly recommended!(less)
Lola Nolan has been through a lot in her seventeen years. Her drug addict mother was incapable of caring for her so...moreIs it Wise to Choose the Good Guy?
Lola Nolan has been through a lot in her seventeen years. Her drug addict mother was incapable of caring for her so Lola had to be raised by her uncle and his gay partner. She doesn't know her father. But does she let that heartbreaking history derail her? Heck, no! Lola turns her family pain into a creative flair and a bright future. Her quirky fashion sense has her wearing all kinds of outrageous costumes, like a pink wig, sequined prom dress turned minidress, David Bowie pin covered jean jacket, and glittery false eyelashes.
Today I'm wearing cat-eye glasses and a cheetah-print dress I made last spring. I've pinned oversize red brooches like bullet wounds to the front of the dress, and I have bloodred ribbons tied up and down my arms and throughout my hair. I'm protesting big-game hunting in Africa.
Lola performs well in school and at her job at a movie theater (with a familiar coworker...Anna!) But her dads are disgruntled by her 22 year-old rocker boyfriend Max, with his tattoos and piercings. Lola thinks she'll be with Max forever until her old neighbors--the Bell twins--move back to town. Calliope Bell is an Olympic figure skater and Cricket is her loyal brother, who had a connection with Lola but abruptly moved away after dissing her.
I love the character of Cricket. He's tall and gangly, sweet and smart. He's devastated when he meets Lola's boyfriend Max for the first time:
My boyfriend squints, almost imperceptibly, as his mind sorts this information. It's the exact opposite of Cricket, who is at a complete loss to hide his emotions. His face is stricken, and he's backing up.
Aww, poor Cricket!
Stephanie Perkins makes San Francisco come alive in this story. I love the fact that Lola has two dads and lives in a mint-green Victorian house. Even the San Francisco homeless feel true to life. I worked as a counselor in a homeless shelter in Indiana and learned to look the homeless in the eye as a sign of respect. However, when I met the eyes of homeless people in San Francisco, I felt accosted. One guy got in my face and as I tried to hurry by he hollered, "Oh, are you scared?" I was indeed freaked. Therefore, this part felt very real:
We break apart to find a guy in head-to-toe dirty patchwork corduroy glaring at us. "No need to be sorry." He glowers at me underneath his white-boy dreadlocks. "I'm only f-ing starving."
It's also great how Lola speaks to the moon. The moon and her cycles are tied to feminine wisdom, so this was a nice touch.
I was cheering for Lola to be with good boy Cricket, but there are obstacles in the way (like her current bad boy boyfriend Max and Cricket's jealous twin sister). I liked the realism of Calliope's figure skating career creating many sacrifices for her family. Cricket's explanation even matched research on Olympians, finding that bronze medal winners feel more satisfied than silver medal winners:
"Cal's been the most talented ladies' figure skater for years, but she's never skated two clean programs in a row in a major competition...it's why she'd rather get third than second. When she gets third, at least she's happy to have placed. But second. That's too close to first."
I've heard other reviewers comment that they liked Anna and the French Kiss better than Lola, but I enjoyed them both for their unique quirks. Stephanie Perkins really knows how to write realistic, feel-good YA romances, and I look forward to her third book featuring Isla.(less)