This Heyer stands out for making the well-rounded, virtuous characters so wonderfully attractive while the spoilt, self-interested fools couldn't be m...moreThis Heyer stands out for making the well-rounded, virtuous characters so wonderfully attractive while the spoilt, self-interested fools couldn't be more tedious.
The unassuming but well born Miss Ancilla Trent is governess to the spoilt and dangerously beautiful heiress Miss Tiffany Wield, and has a difficult time keeping her charge out of mischief.
When the famed sportsman Sir Waldo Hawkridge inherits a dilapidated house in their village, Tiffany sets about adding him (as well as his cousins) to her list of admirers. But Sir Waldo is perceptive, and it's not long before he's able to see past Miss Wield's dazzling beauty to notice her far more interesting governess.
The modern-medieval romance continues, and in this volume nearly the whole story revolves around Gabi's romances/attractions. Even when she's captured...moreThe modern-medieval romance continues, and in this volume nearly the whole story revolves around Gabi's romances/attractions. Even when she's captured by the enemy, her struggle is not in trying to escape, but in trying not to give in to her attraction to Lord Greco whom she's apparently being forced to marry. However, (view spoiler)[ give in she does, leaning in to his kiss and letting him run his fingers through her hair. She 'couldn't help it', she had to ask him what he wanted most as he's looking down at her, asking her not to tempt him. At least she calls herself a 'traitorous, two-timing, skanky wench' afterwards, even though Greco had her 'totally, completely, confused', and she wonders how she could turn down someone so incredibly good looking. (That's what love's all about, after all.) Later, after a very elaborate, pre-bridal, ten-part bath and massage and sauna and oil-rubbing, Gabi is again tempted by Lord Greco, but this time she only thinks how nice it is to be held by him and does not return his kiss, slowly pulling away. (hide spoiler)]
It was odd that the only religious figure we meet in fourteenth century Italy is an excommunicated priest, excommunicated because he killed a man while defending a woman from her violent husband (I'm not sure such an act would really merit excommunication-I guess it depends on the circumstances-but this is fiction, so whatever the author says, goes). It does allow the (non-Catholic) author to pretty much steer clear of real fourteenth century Italian Catholicism and include instead a religiosity that's better tailored to this specific group of characters. Thomas (no longer referred to as Fr Thomas) is thus free to serve Marcello and his friends without having any other duties to attend to.
We hear more of Gabi's (rather self-centred) prayers: 'Lord, is there a better way? Show me. I need Your help. Show me. Protect me. Free me. Amen.' She considers that people in 'total Freak Out Mode' tend to be 'good pray-ers', like that.
There were a few deeper insights that enriched what is otherwise a fairly emotive narrative, relating to the brutal suffering and death of a fairly important character. At first this element was simply confronting, but later when Gabi considers it more, she sees that "This deep, dark grief - it kind of shakes you up, makes you appreciate life, love more. It opens your heart." I wish there could have been more considerations like that.
The family unity was also nice to see, now that the girls and their mother have found their father/husband (at the end of the last book). The parents are nicely protective and proud of their girls, but like good hero-parentals they're not afraid to get into the action in the style of 'let's show these guys what kind of family we are...'. Verging on cheesy, but at least it's positive.
But back to the romance, the passion between Gabi and Marcello continues to escalate (even though it started fairly strong at the outset), but Marcello tries at least to have some restraint: one time, after some restrained kissing in public, Marcello leads her up to her room where Gabi has hopes for more, less restrained kissing, but he says 'God help me, Gabriella, I cannot take but another second of being close to you. Not if I wish to maintain your honour... Stay here, she-wolf. I must run to the well and dive in.' Eventually, (view spoiler)[ they do marry and spend the night together; there is a some sensual description of unbuttoning and shoulder kissing etc, but mostly it's an emotive rejoicing in their 'intimacy and oneness' (italics hers). (hide spoiler)]
It seemed to me that what started out in this series as 70% adventure and 30% romance ended up 80% romance and 20% action, because so much of the adventure and action was caught up in romantic tension. Perhaps young readers should just consider whether that's something they'd want to immerse themselves in. Reviewed for www.GoodReadingGuide.com(less)
Gabi and Lia travel back to fourteenth century Italy and are once again immersed in a life of romance, war with neighbours, captures, escapes and plag...moreGabi and Lia travel back to fourteenth century Italy and are once again immersed in a life of romance, war with neighbours, captures, escapes and plagues. The story remains an interesting concept, contrasting life and attitudes in medieval Italy with those of today. Yet stylistically it is more a feel-good, action-packed and highly emotive romance than quality historical fiction.
Though the heroines try to do what's right and mostly strive to maintain their dignity in difficult circumstances, one can't help but think the series a well-intentioned medieval soap opera. There's plenty of drama, almost becoming cringe-worthy at times, in the novel's effort to throw the reader into the 'earthiness' of medieval life. In one episode, Lia is told to show an enemy soldier her wound (he doesn't realise she is a woman), so she lifts her tunic higher than he expected, giving him "an eyeful of her flat stomach, a wisp of a belly button, and the graceful curve of hips. It had the desired effect. His sword tipped to the ground, and his mouth went slightly agape. She stared him in the face, then grinned." (214)
In another episode, one of the baddies gets close to raping Gabi when she is dressed in the clothes of a soldier, ripping down the front of her top and eyeing the knot of rope that held her tights up, saying 'Mayhap this wench need only be reminded what it is to be created female' (228). Later again, Gabi is humiliated by being imprisoned in a cage and hung in the town square, where, as well as suffering hunger and extreme cold, she has to relieve herself on the floor while those below look on.
Meanwhile, the romance never really gets beyond sentimental, focusing on the intense attraction Gabi and Marcello feel for one another. "Right then, I wished we could stay together. Forever. Get married, if that was what it took. I just knew I couldn't stand to be torn from him again, that I wanted more time to be together. To walk, hand in hand, to talk, just talk, for hours. And to kiss. Kiss like this—"
And in the tradition of great contemporary teen fiction we find a love-triangle, or, as I think it is more aptly termed, an 'attraction-triangle'. When Gabi is captured by Lord Greco, it is not long before he reveals (with eyes travelling over her) how attracted he is to her, and she confesses internally how very, very, very handsome he is, and how easy it would be to pretend to be in love with him. More on that in the next book.
The other characters get much less screen time (and even less personality): Luca only shows up periodically to make a suggestive comment to which Lia responds with the likes of 'in his dreams'. Lia herself frequently gets to show off her arrow-shooting ability, after witnessing which Luca exclaims something along the lines of 'saints in heaven, how much deeper in love can I yet fall?'
The language is a mish-mash of contemporary teen and popularised medieval, with plenty of 'nay, my lord' alongside phrases like 'I was so scared I almost peed my pants.' It's not really a series to look to for style.
Faith makes a sporadic appearance, but essentially amounts to questions of 'is God real?', 'I hope so', 'if you are real, please help us', etc.
Overall, the series means well in presenting a pair of feisty modern heroines who are keen to learn from (as well as show off in) medieval Italy, and with all the action and emotion teens are likely to love it. Yet it's not a series to challenge readers, and, considering the points mentioned above, it may be unhelpful for some. Reviewed for www.GoodReadingGuide.com(less)
This series is great fun, not particularly deep but the adventure fits together well. We hear more about new characters than those from Book 1, in par...moreThis series is great fun, not particularly deep but the adventure fits together well. We hear more about new characters than those from Book 1, in particular Scarlet (granddaughter of the famous Michelle Benoit) and Wolf (whose real name is Kesley, a mysterious soldier). But their adventures collide with Cinder and Kai and it will be fascinating to see what will become of their cooperation in future.
There’s slightly more violence here than in the first with genetically modified human/creatures waging war on the inhabitants of earth. And unlike Cinder and Kai, Scarlet and Wolf get just a little bit soppy over his ‘animal instincts’ which lead him to disobey his master and protect Scarlet instead. In fact, the whole wolf-pack army phenomenon brought back memories of that dreadful vampire book, but at least the context and storyline is new. Cadet Thorne is a tedious addition with his flirting and bad magazines and painting a naked lady on his ship, but our protagonists give him his due and he occasionally offers some comic relief.
These things are all contained in the context of a big adventure whose main characters are good – if realistically weak at times – and even struggle to be better.
Though I prefer Cinder and Kai to Scarlet and Wolf and hope to see more of the princess and emperor in future volumes, I am extremely relieved to find no love triangles; instead, the additional characters have their own romances, so they’re not all fighting over the same girl. Quite refreshing really.
Cinder battles with herself over her ability to influence people's minds and wills, even if for their own good, and I look forward to seeing what she'll do to fight against Queen Levana for the good of the Earthen and Lunar people.
It’s remarkable how easy it is to accommodate oneself to the android/cyborg universe, perhaps because this story is much more about the characters than the sci-fi.
An intriguing first book in a new series by self-published author Mark Ottoson. A short book—less than 100 pages—it throws you straight into the actio...moreAn intriguing first book in a new series by self-published author Mark Ottoson. A short book—less than 100 pages—it throws you straight into the action: in a kingdom vaguely reminiscent of Sherwood Smith's Remalna, a young prince struggles with leadership responsibilities while his dying father is bedridden and a neighbouring kingdom has threatened invasion. Being unsuccessful in forming a marriage alliance with the countries of the north, he must decide whether to continue to pursue allies to help him face the invasion, or instead, negotiate peace. He must also determine how to treat a prisoner who claims she is the daughter of the invading King, come to offer for peace. Meanwhile, his kingdom's leading officials continue to plot their own way toward war.
As the Prince ponders his dilemmas he seeks advice from his father and from mentors, and though he feels unworthy he sends prayers to heaven for guidance. One particular passage from the Bible—referred to as the Book—is considered at greater length by both the Prince and the captive Princess: the Sermon on the Mount. They wonder how it might be possible for leaders in their position to 'love one's enemies', and their insights offer excellent food for thought.
It is these musings that make the two main characters so interesting, for although the story is short and we are not given much opportunity to know them well, they come across as deep and complex and seem to offer promise for future development.
However, though there is a great deal of wisdom in the story about leadership, war, diplomacy and even love, it is occasionally difficult to follow the sense of the story: characters seem to change their attitude or course of action inexplicably, as though we have not been privy to their thoughts, or sentences don't follow on smoothly, sometimes leaving one unsure of who is speaking—things that perhaps worked in the author's mind but weren't conveyed adequately for an outsider.
Nevertheless, as such a short novel it is not difficult to continue to the end, and upon reaching it one is eager to know what happens next to these intriguing characters (and in particular what response will be given to the Prince's brave offer!). Thankfully, it is the first in a series. Review copy received from the author, reviewed for www.GoodReadingGuide.com
A beautifully illustrated introduction to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings for readers of all ages who can ponder the details of the illustrations...moreA beautifully illustrated introduction to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings for readers of all ages who can ponder the details of the illustrations to learn more about the stories.(less)
This is the BEST audio version of the New Testament I have heard. The voices are simply amazing, especially the rather important voice of JC himself (...moreThis is the BEST audio version of the New Testament I have heard. The voices are simply amazing, especially the rather important voice of JC himself (you feel like he is there, speaking to you). The music behind the words is perfect, though I sometimes skip the halleluia songs which pop up occasionally (they are always separate tracks so they are easy to skip.) I have listened to a part of it every day for the last 5 years; it still makes me cry.(less)
I can't do better than quote Kimberly Hahn's review of this book: "Always uplifting, The Catholic Girl's Survival Guide for the Single Years offers tim...moreI can't do better than quote Kimberly Hahn's review of this book: "Always uplifting, The Catholic Girl's Survival Guide for the Single Years offers timeless truths that help women see beyond current circumstances to grasp the bigger picture of life as a beloved daughter of God. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is a single Catholic woman—or anyone who wants to learn how to love single women better. I don't know of another book that does what this book does for single women—it's simply outstanding!" Kimberly Hahn.
Even not being the kind of reader this book is aimed at, I found so many suggestions for daily life that would be helpful for anyone. But what is so uniquely special about this book is that it has three qualities that make a spiritual-help book particularly attractive: honesty, humour and holiness. The author is candidly honest about how she feels (as do many others in her situation), she writes with a sparkling sense of humour, and she anchors all her advice on deep spiritual truths that give a refreshing and beautiful 'fragrance' to her writing. Highly recommended. Reviewed for www.GoodReadingGuide.com(less)
A direct, energetic call to young men to meet God and discover the purpose of their lives. It's about developing a relationship with God, learning to...moreA direct, energetic call to young men to meet God and discover the purpose of their lives. It's about developing a relationship with God, learning to pray and meditate on Scripture, learning to repent when needed, developing strength of character, learning how to love, learning wisdom, learning to be holy wherever one is, learning to be pure in heart, learning to be of service, and much more. He offers excellent, engaging advice, and in spite of the title, it's relevant for girls too. Reviewed for www.GoodReadingGuide.com(less)
Covers some very good content helping young people to apply the questions Jesus asks in the Gospels to our lives, but is perhaps a little more meander...moreCovers some very good content helping young people to apply the questions Jesus asks in the Gospels to our lives, but is perhaps a little more meandering and verbose than the average young adult spiritual book. It could be very helpful as an aid to prayer about these passages of the Gospel for those who are patient and will invest the time. There are many examples from El Salvador where the author is working as a missionary priest. Reviewed for www.GoodReadingGuide.com(less)
Beckman offers some wonderful suggestions for learning how to pray, helping us to deeply engage in time with God. He explores why prayer is important...moreBeckman offers some wonderful suggestions for learning how to pray, helping us to deeply engage in time with God. He explores why prayer is important in spite of having 'no time' or even being 'to busy doing good things'. He explains how prayer is a relationship with the Blessed Trinity; we can't live without it! He looks at how to pray when everything in our society turns us away from God and towards ourselves, helping us to address deep questions raised by a pagan worldview. He explores prayer as an intimate relationship with God, helping us to engage our heart, dealing with distractions and temptations not to pray, how to pray when we feel far from God, how to develop 'interior life', how to engage our imagination to fuel our prayer, and how to make prayer a real habit. He quotes from saints who specialised in prayer: St Teresa of Avila, Mother Teresa, St Therese of Lisieux, St John of the Cross, from the Catechism and also from St Ignatius and his many teachings on prayer. Reviewed for www.GoodReadingGuide.com(less)