I love being taken on new adventures. Darwen Arkwright takes us on a grand one with his new American friends. In Darwen, A.J. Wright has created a very likable and relatable hero. Darwen is truly a fish out of the water when he's dropped into a new life in America. The proper young English boy is having a hard time of it when he accidentally sees a strange creature in the mall and follows it into a dusty old mirror shop. Little does he know that the owner of the shop will soon set him on a dangerous and mysterious path to a world on the other side of a magical mirror.
This is a fast-paced and fun story that will appeal to adventurous explorers of all ages. I especially think that boys of about 9 or older will get a kick out of the various creatures and gadgets that Darwen comes across. Wannabe archaeologist Rich is a stalwart friend to Darwen as well as an interesting character on his own. Girls will enjoy the eccentric Alexandra as she becomes a surprisingly stout supporter of the awkward Darwen. I was quite engrossed in the tale and enjoyed imagining the creatures that the author described. This story is destined to be a classic and definitely has a place on the keeper shelf. I highly recommend this story, especially if you or the kids like jumping into another world for a while.(less)
Once again Lydia Dare has entertained me immensely. I reviewed In the Heat of the Bite earlier this year and was thrilled to get a chance to check out...moreOnce again Lydia Dare has entertained me immensely. I reviewed In the Heat of the Bite earlier this year and was thrilled to get a chance to check out this book as well.
The author has continued her hot streak with Alec and Sorcha. Alec is a gentlemanly vampire who has known the fiery witch Sorcha all of her life. When she announces that she is determined to ensnare a Lycan for her husband, Alec goes into protection overdrive. The story that follows is hilarious, romantic and fun.
Ms. Dare has a knack for creating characters that make you laugh and root for their success. I love the fact that she has storylines occurring in the background the entire time. The machinations of some of the secondary characters is fascinating.
This is a fun series with stories that stand well on their own but also make great additions to the entire collection. I'm looking forward to the next Regency vampire story and to reading more about the wolfy men of her companion Lycan series.(less)
Many parents dread the day when their child asks them if Santa Claus is real. This charming new book by Kelly Moss is a lovely way to ease into that d...moreMany parents dread the day when their child asks them if Santa Claus is real. This charming new book by Kelly Moss is a lovely way to ease into that discussion. The colorful illustrations by Jim Keserich will delight both kids and adults. They complement the author's explanation brilliantly and will capture the attention and imagination.
The author has created a story that I think will become a family tradition. It invites the young reader with questions to join an exclusive club ~ "The Santa Club". There is a caution that the reader can't share what they've learned with others who aren't already a member. Ms. Moss brings together elements of Santa and the joy of giving with that of Christ and the reason for Christmas. Her book is appropriate for kids to read by themselves or with an adult. It will help keep the magic alive even for older kids who have already decided they know the truth. The true spirit of giving will be reinforced.
I highly recommend The Santa Club for all. It is a very gift-worthy book in a beautiful hardcover format with the full color illustrations. There is a really neat page in the back for a new Santa Club member where the child's photo can be placed.(less)
This is the perfect book for reading to the younger crowd or having them read it back to you. It is the story of a disgruntled snowman who is left out in the cold while the kids are having fun inside without him. He sees them enjoying the warm house and even warmer cocoa that Mom makes and starts to get a little upset. As he plots his revenge, nature takes its course and... you will just have to read the book for the rest.
A delightful tale that is a quick and easy read. The illustrations are bright and colorful and are a perfect match to the rhythm of the story. I think it would be a fantastic gift for the whole family this holiday season. (I do caution against reading it to the really young as the snowman is a little bit scary when he's mad.) Recommended for ages 4 and above.(less)
I am drawn to any story about the Arthurian legends or characters. There are so many variations and theories about these figures from history and legend that I think they will always be of interest me and others. I was impressed to read that one of the author's inspirations was T.H. White's "Once and Future King". It was one of my favorites as well.
Morgan Le Fey has always been one of the more mysterious players in the drama and mists surrounding Arthur. Alex Epstein has created a fascinating tale that starts with Anna as a young girl just before the murder of her father Gorlois. We are taken on the journey with Anna, now renamed Morgan, as she is sent to Ireland in exile. We are with Anna as she survives slavery and other hardships along the way. Her discovery of love, magic and religion are critical to the powerful woman she becomes.
It is interesting that the author has created a girl/woman that you find yourself rooting for and hoping for her success. Especially if you're familiar with the main threads of the legends and know what a pivotal and disastrous part she plays in King Arthur's life.
This is a great addition to the many King Arthur stories ~ although he doesn't play a part in this early story until the end. I definitely recommend it to those who enjoy a good adventure story as well as new takes on old legends.(less)
The unusual narrator of this story is what initially grabbed my attention. An 83 year old obituary writer is not the first to come to mind when looking for a tour guide through a small town mystery.
Unusual characters are actually what drive this book. Essie is our octogenarian storyteller. She's had an extremely full life and does tribute to the dead with her obituaries ~ even still typing them out on a 1953 typewriter. Essie is surrounded by other interesting folks: her grandson Doc who runs the paper, but wants to own a magic shop; her great-granddaughter Tiffany who has lived with Essie and Doc since Doc's sister Ivy dumped her there as a little girl.
One of the most mysterious and confusing characters for me is Daisy. She is the mother of the missing girl Lenore. Essie has the task of writing an obituary for the little girl as she is presumed dead. The question is: was Lenore ever even real or was she a figment of Daisy's imagination? This story is full of twists and turns and unanswered questions such as these.
The author created some fascinating characters that were a lot of fun to follow around Little Hope and the surrounding countryside. They were the highlight of the story. Some of the plot left me a little confused, but the characters made up for it.(less)
I had the good fortune to be on the book tour for The Lens and The Looker which is the first book in this Verona Trilogy. You can read my review HERE. I was hooked and was very fortunate that I didn't have to wait for this second book to arrive as I already had it on hand. I pretty much read them back to back. It was very easy to dive right into the past with these three teens.
The Bronze and The Brimstone picks up right where we left off in the first book. I did really like how the author briefly reintroduced us to the characters and their situation. It is helpful to remind the familiar reader of the storyline and could very easily pull a person who is just starting the series with this book right into the story.
I am still amazed by the obviously extensive amount of research that Lory Kaufman has put into these stories. He is very detailed and thorough. I have learned a lot about Verona and the fourteenth century. I've picked up interesting information on the creation of optical lenses, gunpowder, cannons and much more. The best part is that it was enjoyable and unexpected learning that was not from a dry textbook.
The characters are all growing up a bit more and are easing into their life in the Verona of the past. They each adapt to their situations and are learning to roll with the punches a bit more. The relationships they form with the people around them really reflect this move towards maturity for all three of them. While we still deal mostly with Hansum, Lincoln and Shamira are both getting more time to shine in this book. I especially enjoyed reading about Lincoln. He has grown up quickly and taken on quite a bit of responsibility.
I highly recommend this story and the entire series. The Lens and the Looker and The Bronze and the Brimstone are both available NOW. Lory tells us he is working on The Loved and The Lost which will wrap up this brilliant trilogy and the story of Hansum, Shamira and Lincoln. Looking forward to this highly anticipated book!(less)
The history of Spain and its royalty was mostly unknown to me until reading this book. I had heard of Isabella and Ferdinand of course, but not many details. While Reign of Madness went a long way to change that, it was also an enjoyable read.
Lynn Cullen has focused on a point in history that is still surrounded by more questions than answers, almost 500 years later. It continues to be a mystery what really happened to Juana during those four and half decades of imprisonment. I enjoyed the author's vision of what the Spanish Queen may have gone through.
One of the things I learned from this story was that Isabella had actually been the power in Spain, not Ferdinand. The glimpse into their personal life was very interesting. It is a real shame that poor Juana didn't get to benefit from her mother's strength and teachings. If she had, a completely different history may have unfolded.
The story moved along at a brisk pace and I was kept turning the pages, wanting to know more. I recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and those who want to read a really good story.(less)
Stone Cold Seduction is a fun start to a great new series ~ Set in Stone. Jess Macallan has created a lovely cast of characters and an interesting set...moreStone Cold Seduction is a fun start to a great new series ~ Set in Stone. Jess Macallan has created a lovely cast of characters and an interesting setting for their adventures. She has pretty much smashed the "rules" of what readers have come to expect with the "normal" paranormal novels.
Well, I have to say that I was completely taken with the heroine Elle. She's funny, snarky and compassionate. She's also very much her own woman. Where her upbringing should have crushed her, it only made her into a force to be reckoned with. Her lovelife is a bit of a mess, but what a mess to be in! Yum Jax..
One of the things that I liked the most about this story is that it is fresh. We are introduced to some characters that aren't quite the norm in the fantasy/paranormal genre lately. Not many gargoyles and phoenixes are in leading roles; it's a nice change that makes for an intriguing tale.
About the only thing I didn't care for was the abrupt ending. I realize it is setting us up for the next book, but I felt a tad rushed and wasn't ready for it to be over. Fortunately that wait won't be long as the next two in the trilogy come out in October and November!
This book was an enjoyable read that I quickly devoured. Readers who enjoy romance, fantasy, and unusual characters will love this story.(less)
Alicia Arnold has found a unique way to share the top-notch technique of using creativity to move forward. By marrying Creative Problem Solving (CPS)...moreAlicia Arnold has found a unique way to share the top-notch technique of using creativity to move forward. By marrying Creative Problem Solving (CPS) with the tried and true nursery rhyme of "Jack and Jill", she has improvised a tool to help those of us who are stuck in a rut get out.
Her own creativity has come out in full force in this short (156 pages) book that packs quite a punch. She gives us Jack and Jill's plight as a vehicle to show us how the CPS process can be applied to just about any situation. As we work alongside Jack and Jill through the steps of identifying, gathering, clarifying, generating, developing and planning; we are creating our own process to solve our own problems. The illustrations are cute and help convey the light tone the author uses to convey some important messages.
As I was reading this book I was continually finding ways to that I might implement these steps into my own issues. There were many times when I stopped reading in order to write some notes to myself. Ms. Arnold was successful in jump starting my own creativity regarding a couple of things I'm dealing with at the moment. I was impressed that while this book was targeted for a business environment/atmosphere; I could see many instances to implement the process in our everyday dealings.(less)
Kristine Grayson has obviously been having fun taking beloved fairytales and legends and giving them settings in the present. She has done it again by providing the age-old tale of Sleeping Beauty and her Prince Charming several fun twists and new possibilities.
Earlier this year I read Wickedly Charming and fell in love with Ms. Grayson's storytelling. I liked her explanation that there are several Prince Charmings! They are all from the same family and are the heroes for many of the lovely Princesses in the tales.
So on to Utterly... Sleeping Beauty is actually named Emma and has been in her glass coffin for 1,000 years - being fought over by Aethlelstan Blackstone the Wizard (aka Prince Charming) and her wicked witch stepmother Ealhswith. Their epic battles have been waged these many centuries and will finally come to an end when the lawyerly Nora takes charge.
This was a fun romp through fairytale land with many characters popping up. The Fates were a real hoot as they tried out modern Punk wear. One of my favorites had to be Sancho Panza. The magical dwarf was hysterical and frankly stole the show for me. I want much more of him! Another part that had me laughing was when Nora's mother's boyfriend Jeffrey Chawsir had to convince Sancho and Emma that he knew he wasn't that Geoffrey Chaucer since they had both known the famous author. The fact that Jeffrey also happened to be a professor of medieval studies just added to the humor.
The love story that was supposed to be Aethlelstan/PC and Emma/SB wasn't quite what the legends had made of it. When the wizard and his sidekick Sancho meet up with Nora for the first time, sparks start to fly and Blackstone finds out that he's met his match. The romance was sweet and made for a light, enjoyable read.(less)
One of the things other than the subject matter that drew me to this book is the fact that the author is actually a descendant of Martha Carrier. It a...moreOne of the things other than the subject matter that drew me to this book is the fact that the author is actually a descendant of Martha Carrier. It always fascinates me when a family member is able to write a story about someone in their lineage ~ especially when that ancestor's tale is as volatile as this one.
This book started out with the title of "The Wolves of Andover" and has been changed to it's current "The Traitor's Wife". I think this was a smart move as the first title was a bit misleading since the wolves have just a bit part in the tale. Of course the new title pretty much gives a bit of the story away, but history buffs will know how the story goes anyway.
The Traitor's Wife is actually a prequel to Ms. Kent's blockbuster The Heretic's Daughter. Both are quite enjoyable as stand alone reads so there is really no need to have read the first book before this one. I think I'd actually prefer starting with The Traitor's Wife as it tells us how Martha and Thomas came to be. Since Heretic is told from their daughter Sarah's point of view, it works well in either order.
Kathleen Kent has a lovely way with words. She makes the reader feel right at home in 17th century England as well as Salem, Massachusetts. Her characters and dialogue reflect the time period and various locations well. Her writing shows the extensive research that she undertook. I would imagine the fact that this is a fictional account of her real-life ancestors makes this attention to detail even more crucial.
Fans of historical fiction as well as those who enjoy learning about the Salem witch trials should read this story. The familial tie of the author just adds to the interest of the book.(less)
In January, I discovered Barbara Freethy and her Angel's Bay series when I read and enjoyed my review of At Hidden Falls. I was drawn into the characters and the town immediately and wanted more.
Garden of Secrets is the fifth and final installment in Ms. Freethy's series set in the fictional town of Angel's Bay on the Central California coast. As with the other books in the series, this one can be read alone. I'm a sucker for stories in a series so I suggest reading all of them simply for the whole experience and enjoyment.
The people that populate this little town as well as the angels that are responsible for the name are what make this such a heart-warming and fun series. The author has filled her tale(s) with characters that tug at your heart and make you wish you lived there with them. I had already decided that I really liked Charlotte from the last book. She has a big heart and tries to help everyone else out while ignoring her own pain and past. Her biggest problem is trying to decide which of the gorgeous men who are pursuing her is the one she should take a chance on. I have to admit that I was rooting for Joe even back in the first book when he was still with Rachel. Charlotte's first love Andrew just never did it for me. I disliked him from the moment he showed up. I had a hard time with Charlotte forgiving him so easily and spending so much time with him.
The mystery and murder storyline was well done. The author kept me guessing until right near the end. I liked it when so many of the threads started to come together and several of the stories/issues were resolved.
I recommend this book as an enjoyable read with just the right touches of romance, intrigue and magic to appeal to everyone.(less)
Elizabeth Chadwick is a name that is synonymous with fantastic historical fiction. Her latest masterpiece Lady of the English, is yet another justification for this well-earned reputation.
Daughter of Henry I and mother to Henry II, Empress Matilda's story is told in alternating viewpoints with that of her widowed stepmother Queen Adeliza and several male characters. This technique allows the author to show us a much more human side of the abrasive Matilda than what has previously been told. Her loving relationship with the pious peacemaker near her own age is an effective background for the tale of the strong woman who really should have become Queen of England. Instead, she paved the way for one of its more colorful Kings to finally take the reins after many years of strife and open war.
I really enjoyed learning about the Empress, as she liked to be called. I can't imagine how hard it would have been for her to be the beloved Empress of Germany, married to a man who loved and respected her and then to lose it all in a second. She came home to a place she hadn't seen since she was 15, now at the ripe old age of 23, to be used as a political pawn by her father King Henry I. To solidify his rule and further his machinations, she was married off to the Duke of Anjou who just happened to be an obnoxious boy of 14! Getting a glimpse into this early life explains a lot about Matilda's behaviour and character in later years. Her single-minded drive to claim the crown after her father's death, first for herself and then on behalf of her young son Henry, was amazing as well as disturbing.
Ms. Chadwick's style of writing pulls the reader in immediately and doesn't let you go. I was so engrossed in this story that I stayed up almost all night reading. My emotions ran the full range while I was immersed in this book. I became very invested in many of the players. The fact that Matilda and Brian were in love and couldn't act upon it was very sad. Their devotion to honor and faith were amazing. I felt sympathy and outrage at the way Matilda was treated by her father and her husband; sadness at many of the atrocities that were committed against innocents and women; but I actually did find quite a bit of humor in young Henry's antics.
One of my favorites was when he was 14 and gathered a band of misfits to unsuccessfully try to take a couple of the border castles from the English king. Neither of his parents were aware of his misguided plans. The fun really got started when he didn't have the funds to pay his outlaws or to get back home. He decided to just waltz into the King's camp and ask his cousin Stephen for the money. Stephen was highly amused by Henry's daring and after hosting him for many days sent him home to his father with many gifts and the requested money. Since Stephen is the very king that Henry and his parents are trying to wrest the English crown from, this little escapade was that much more exciting and funny.
I also have to admit that I became very attached to Adeliza. She was very diplomatic and made the perfect political wife to King Henry. She became very protective of her stepdaughter Matilda and was a loyal friend to her for decades. Her charity and goodness were well-known and she provided a calming and reasonable voice for Matilda. There is a point when she is saying goodbye to her second husband Will and doesn't know when or if she will see him again that had me bawling my eyes out. Theirs was a love match and my heart was breaking for her and him. He was also a character that I enjoyed. The author shared his thoughts with us many times regarding his struggle between his loyalty to the current King (Stephen) and his love of Adeliza, friend and champion to Empress Matilda. He has a few instances when he battles his own sense of honor in order to protect his wife and her stepdaughter.
This book is already residing on my keeper shelf and I highly recommend it. Plan on being drawn into 12th century England and staying there a while with some magnetic characters that you won't want to leave.(less)
I enjoy contemporary novels with characters that slip back in time, whether it is physical or just in the mind. The back and forth perspectives of the...moreI enjoy contemporary novels with characters that slip back in time, whether it is physical or just in the mind. The back and forth perspectives of the modern Corlis and her namesake from the past was a very interesting tactic. I appreciated the fact that it didn't step too heavily into the paranormal, but was right in line with the mystic qualities that surround New Orleans.
I admit to knowing just about nothing about New Orleans and its past so this was a very educational as well as entertaining story for me. I learned quite a bit about The Big Easy's history from the 19th century up to today. The plot was well done with a lot of historical fact mixed in with the drama of trying to save the condemned buildings. The tension and attraction between Corlis and King was palpable with their own tumultuous personal history tied into their race against time and the bureaucracy.
Ciji Ware is a master at giving her readers historical romance mixed with various other elements. This book was a treat because it is actually a contemporary story with a heroine that can "see" into the past. It was very apparent that the author's extensive experience with that of television reporting came in handy when she gave us the spitfire Corlis.
Lovely treat for historical and contemporary fans alike.(less)
Loreena McKennitt's haunting musical version of "The Highwayman" by poet Alfred Noyes is what drew me immediately to this book. I have always loved th...moreLoreena McKennitt's haunting musical version of "The Highwayman" by poet Alfred Noyes is what drew me immediately to this book. I have always loved that poem and then Ms. McKennitt's lovely voice brought life to the words for me. It is one of my favorite CDs and gets plenty of play at our house.
So, on to the book by Mary Ellen Dennis. I had high hopes that the story would basically be a fleshed out version of the original. While the poem did provide a slight backbone for the book, it was more of a suggestion than a foundation. I do realize that trying to create an entire full fledged tale out of a poem of 1000 or so words would be tough, but I really did expect a bit more resemblance to the original.
That being said, I did enjoy the story. Elizabeth is a fun heroine. She is strong and opinionated and her "profession" of a writer drew me to her. I loved that she wrote Gothic Romance novels. The fact that her book is what finally connects her and Rand is a lovely touch.
Rand is a perfect "Robin Hood" character. He is suave and swashbuckling while still having what counts - a heart. He and his "Bess" really do make a great couple and drive the story. The supporting cast weren't especially helpful and I didn't care for most of them.
While I did say I'd have liked it to follow the poem a bit more, I really am glad that the ending for The Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter is more upbeat than the tragic ending of the original Highwayman and his Bess.
Elements of adventure, romance, historical fiction and a bit of paranormal activity make for a fun read. (less)
I am an avid Gena Showalter fan and am working my way through her backlist. The latest book of hers that I've finished is actually three stories in on...moreI am an avid Gena Showalter fan and am working my way through her backlist. The latest book of hers that I've finished is actually three stories in one. It's a treat that includes two Lords of the Underworld tales and one from her Atlantis series. All three are really good examples of why her different series are so wildly popular. They are full of romance, adventure and steam. While I enjoyed all three of them immensely, I would have to say that the last story "The Darkest Prison" was my favorite. The story of Nike and Atlas had me glued to the pages. I liked the bonus guide at the end that gives you a little more info on the characters from the Lords of the Underworld series.(less)
Jumping between centuries and different people's perspectives can be confusing and distracting if not written carefully. Jeanette Baker has done a mas...moreJumping between centuries and different people's perspectives can be confusing and distracting if not written carefully. Jeanette Baker has done a masterful job of blending the stories of two women connected by blood and separated by time.
Strong characters are always a draw for me. I like women leads who use their brains instead of simpering and whimpering around waiting for a man to solve their problems for them. Both Kate and Catriona are dealing with issues of family, love and danger. Neither of them want to depend upon the men who have their hearts. Trusting someone else to make things right for them is not an easy thing for either of them to do.
The men in this story are remarkable and quite memorable. You have two hunky Scotsmen in the present who are both vying for Kate's attention ~ for two very different reasons. Niall is a Scottish historian and Hunter is the Laird of the Sutherlands. Catriona is married to Patrick MacKendrick for reasons that turn out to be much more than the politics intended.
I highly recommend Catriona to anyone who enjoys good historical fiction filled with romance and intrigue. A lovely romp through the ages with some fascinating characters.(less)
I wasn't really sure what to expect when I agreed to review this book. Hadrian is a historical figure that I had heard of before, but I wasn't familiar with his personal story or that of his beloved Antinous. The fact that this is in actuality a love story piqued my interest and made me want to find out more. Especially when I read that a grief-stricken Hadrian had immortalized Antinous and literally put him up on a pedestal next to his own.
I learned a lot about Hadrian and the times he lived in. This story is about a powerful man and the boy he loved. The young and attractive Antinous caught the great emperor's attention at a very early age. Extra opportunities and advantages were bestowed upon Antinous, including an excellent education. Hadrian enjoyed quick minds as well as youthful beauty and was grooming Antinous to be his companion or courtesan, if you please.
Told from Antinous' point of view as he looks back over his brief life, it shares the details of a close relationship that is doomed because of the society they live in, the expectations that are put upon them and the simple fact that the wheel of time turns. Melanie McDonald has given Antinous a voice to tell his story in his own way. I enjoyed seeing the Romans through his eyes and seeing how the different levels of society lived and were treated by each other. It truly is a story of love between two people that are at different stages in their lives and on two completely different Socioeconomic levels.
One of the things that really jumped out at me was the author's attention to detail. It is very obvious that she put a lot of research into the time period and what was normal for both the upper and lower classes. I was amazed when the dishes of one of the feasts were being listed and it included hummingbird! I was horrified to think of the little beauties that come to my window every day being in a dish. But then my logical side took over and I started wondering about who would have to catch the little hummers, pluck them, clean them, etc. I started feeling sorry for that person. Can you imagine having that task? Especially since the birds would barely be a mouthful for all of that effort... (Be sure to read Melanie's guest post about Food and Feasts in Ancient Rome).
I do recommend this book to those who enjoy a fresh look at an important time and person. It's a much more intimate and personal look into the story of a larger-than-life man in Rome's history. The author does a beautiful job of sharing a poignant and tragic tale that will stay with you long after you've finished reading the book. There is also a helpful section at the end of the book with questions for reader's groups or book clubs.(less)
If you read my review of the first book in this series The Fire Lord's Lover, you will know that I am a new rabid fan of the amazing Kathryne Kennedy. She is a master at building a world or altering the one we're in, to take her readers on an amazing and magical journey. This world is set in England's 1700s, but an England ruled by Elven lords who have divided the country into seven realms. The enslaved humans have finally started to rebel and are trying to get their land and rule back.
In this newest addition to her Elven Lords series, Ms. Kennedy has kept the bar high and not disappointed. Nine years have passed since we left off from the first story and the Rebellion has grown. We join 18 year old Cecily and 24 year old Giles as their safe little seaside village becomes a battle zone. They will be drawn into the intrigues and danger whether they want to be or not.
Giles is a handsome Rebellion spy posing as the quiet village blacksmith. He has been tasked with keeping Cecily out of danger, both from the Elven lords and herself.
Cecily is a gorgeous young woman with crystal blue eyes and the power to call down lightning storms. These are just two of the things that prove her to be daughter of the Lord of Dewhame. The same Lord Breden of Dewhame who just happens to be the one trying to kill her.
This story is a fun adventure with Giles and Cecily as they journey throughout England in search of family and their future. Neither wants to admit their attraction for the other: Cecily because her feelings were hurt by Giles' earlier rejection and Giles won't betray the trust Cecily's father Thomas put in him. The sparks fly as the two of them must overcome their mistrust and misunderstandings.
Large doses of danger, sexual tension and magic make this a fun and exciting page-turner. It is hard to classify these books into just one genre; there are elements of historical fiction, paranormal romance, adventure, fantasy, etc. And just like the first book, this can be read as a stand-alone..but I highly suggest reading them all. The third in the series The Lord of Illusion, will be out in February 2012. I have already placed my pre-order. (less)
I just started reading Gena Showalter's books last fall. I quickly became addicted to her stories. One of my first reviews in this genre and of one of her tales was Ecstasy in Darkness ~ which I also bestowed a 4.5 JEWEL rating upon. She has become one of my favorite authors. I am making my way through her backlist and enjoying myself immensely.
The latest and greatest in the Alien Huntress series is the story of Noelle and Hector. Fans will remember Noelle as Ava's bestest buddy from Ecstasy in Darkness. Their deep friendship and the fantastic, laugh-provoking banter definitely left fans wanting more from this terrible twosome. So Ms. Showalter came through with Dark Taste of Rapture. She found the perfect man for feisty Noelle in Hector. He is the dark to her light as well as the straight man to her snarky sense of humor. They bring out the best and the worst in each other. The sexual tension in this story is very high and hot!
As with the other books in the series, this book stands alone well. Of course I would suggest reading all of them simply because they are outstanding. They all deliver action, humor and steam in large doses. Must reads for lovers of paranormal romance.
MY TAKE: Lydia Dare is an author who has been on my radar for a while. She has created a fascinating world using ingredients from two of my favorite romance sub-genres: historicals and paranormals. I love that in The Heat of the Bite we have the background setting of Regency England and the unsuspecting ton populated with vampires and werewolves - in nob's clothing!
Matthew and Rhiannon are quite the pair. Sparks are literally flying between the two of them as they try to navigate the rough waters surrounding them. The fun really starts when both of their powers go haywire. Rhiannon's ability to affect the weather fascinated me. I enjoy stories about those who are connected to the elements and this was no exception. The book is full of richly written characters which is definitely what drives the tale.
Very enjoyable read, entertaining as stand-alones and as part of the series.
I have always tinkered with my writing and seem to gravitate to books and classes that aid me in that pursuit. Back in October of 2010 I had the privi...moreI have always tinkered with my writing and seem to gravitate to books and classes that aid me in that pursuit. Back in October of 2010 I had the privilege of reviewing Mr. Clark's book The Glamour of Grammar. His newest offering is another book that will be residing next to that one on my bookshelf for years to come.
Roy Peter Clark's writing style is very easy for the reader to comprehend as well as enjoy. As in the previous book, he breaks the material down into bite-size chunks that the would-be writer ~ or experienced author, can easily digest. His manner and delivery are both entertaining and educational. I found myself laughing at some points and taking copious notes at others. His comments and observations sparked several ideas that I had to jot down immediately. The book is presented in logical order taking you through seven simple steps of the writing journey. The author wraps it up with a list of 25 of his favorite writing books. I found this to be yet another helpful resource from him.
In the post I wrote about my meeting with Diana Gabaldon, I noted that she told all of us that we don't have to write in a straight line from A-Z or start to finish. You can write chapter 12 before you write chapter 3. Go ahead and create the ending before the beginning... Roy Peter Clark has reinforced that permission and "ah-ha" moment with this book. In the section on "Getting Your Act Together", he shares several techniques to keep your written inventory organized. With wall boards, index cards and many, many more tricks of the trade, Mr. Clark helps the writer keep it all straight.
The book's opening line instructs the reader to consider Help! for Writers an owner's manual for their writing process. I think this is a very apt statement as I have already found myself referring back to the book more than once as I work on a project. I have a feeling that this will quickly become one of my "go-to" references when I come across a roadblock or just need a refresher.
I definitely recommend this book to writers, would-be writers and students. It will become a staple on many home library reference shelves. (less)
Anne Boleyn has been a subject of fascination for me for many years. I tend to read any new book that comes along relating to her or the Tudor dynasty. To Die For is the newest addition to this sub-genre of historical fiction. It has earned 4.5 Jewels from me as well as a prominent place on my personal library's keeper shelf.
Sandra Byrd has taken the well documented historical figure of Anne Boleyn and given us a completely fresh new look at her life. Told in the voice of Anne's childhood and life-long friend Meg Wyatt, we get a different perspective of what their life may have been like. The author seamlessly blends the historical facts into a fictional tale of friendship, love and loyalty. The realistic dialogue and interaction between characters such as Meg and Anne as well as with their brothers added a very human touch to the politics and intrigues of life at court. We see into the horrible, grasping Edmund as well as the loving dreamer, Thomas. Our peek into the Wyatts' life at home with a dying mother and a hard-hearted father helps us see how everyone is at the mercy of the King and his whims, no matter how far away from society they might be.
Meg's thoughts and observations add much color and humanity to this story of the ages. While we know much of the facts surrounding their tale, it was enjoyable to get lost in a version that may have been. I admit that I couldn't put it down until I was completely finished with this engrossing book.
The book includes some great extras with a reading group guide and an author Q & A. (less)
Debut author Alma Katsu has come onto the literary scene in a big way. Her new novel The Taker is one of those books that will fit on the shelves of s...moreDebut author Alma Katsu has come onto the literary scene in a big way. Her new novel The Taker is one of those books that will fit on the shelves of several different genres: historical fiction, paranormal, thriller, fantasy, romance, mystery, etc. I really am having a hard time choosing just one niche to put it in on my own bookcase.
I must admit that I didn't know exactly what to expect from this book. A lot of the really early hype likened the author's style to that of Anne Rice and a few others. While I can see why they might mention these other authors and/or stories, it might take away from the fact that this is a truly original tale. Ms. Katsu has taken elements of myth, history and fairytale to create a new masterpiece for readers to delve into and not want to return from.
The Taker is a fantastic story with multi-dimensional characters that drive an exciting and intriguing plot. It is definitely a dark story, but with the odd moments of brightness. The author has a beautiful writing style that flows effortlessly from one character to another and from the past to the present and back. I like the technique of flashing back into the past to tell the historical aspects of Lanny's life. It is an effective way to educate the reader of the events that led her to be in the present sitting in Luke's emergency room, asking for his help.
Lanore/Lanny is a courageous woman who has been through hell. Even though she has 200 years of bad choices behind her, she still holds out for love and what it promises. Adair is very seductive and I can see why he would be so hard to resist as well as easy to despise. I did actually feel bad for him when I read how he became immortal. It was a bit ugly. Lanny's unrequited love Jonathan is, quite simply: a putz. I wanted to just whack him up alongside the head on a regular basis. But then we come to Luke. While Luke has his own share of issues, he is the stability that Lanny has been searching centuries for. Maybe together they can figure this out.
The ending is not quite what I expected. It was a tad bit abrupt and I was definitely left wanting much, much more. I was quite happy when another reader told me that there is a sequel planned. Can't wait for it.
While I highly recommend this enticing new story, I do want to caution that it is an ADULT novel. The paranormal aspects are most likely going to appeal to younger readers (as will the gorgeous covers - I WANT one of those UK copies!), but there are some heavy sex scenes that include violence and multiple partners as well as actual rape. This aspect does not take away from the story by any means, it is just part of the tale and is intended for a mature audience.(less)
This was a tough book for me to rate and review. It was one that I enjoyed greatly at times and then became mildly irritated with at certain points.
I agreed to be on the tour because the "memoir" was promoted as being akin to Julie Powell's "Julie and Julia" which I adored. The fact that I have always admired the amazing and inspirational Eleanor Roosevelt sealed my decision to read this book.
My Year With Eleanor does have that certain something that made Julie Powell's story so engrossing. Noelle Hancock writes with a light touch that makes you keep turning the pages; even if only to find out what absurd or mind-blowing thing she comes up with to try next. I don't know that this was quite what Mrs. Roosevelt had in mind, but we should all take inspiration where we find it. The author did a nice job of keeping Eleanor in the limelight alongside her. I found that I learned many things about the great lady that I didn't know.
There were several laugh out loud moments during the story which is always a plus for me. This is not to say there aren't some serious issues also being touched upon as she is trying to get her footing on a path that isn't quite clearly defined in places. Her visits and dialogue with her psychiatrist were thought-provoking and funny at times. I liked that her close friends played a large role in her adventures and that she didn't come across as the solo, sword-wielding Amazon who could conquer everything in her path by herself.
The age difference between myself and the author as well as the places we are in our lives may be a factor in some of the irritation that I mentioned above. I can't quite relate with the need to "find oneself" at almost thirty years of age. In my circle that had mostly been accomplished seven to ten years prior and we were working on polishing what we'd become. The notion of spending a year running around doing impractical and improbable things still doesn't fly with me or sit well, especially when I consider the financial aspect.
That being said, the book was enjoyable for me as a light women's fiction type read even though it is marketed as a memoir. I think readers of a close age or with similar life experiences as the writer will be really able to relate to the tale. I also encourage readers who are interested to read the books from Eleanor Roosevelt herself. Noelle's book has reminded me how great a lady she was and how much she had to offer us. (less)
This was a delightful story that I think will appeal to older middle grade readers and up. T.M. Wallace has created a story chock full of characters that kids can relate to. They are well written and quite believable in their actions and dialogue. I enjoyed the fact that the author's fae were based on the darker, more malevolent beings from myth and legend. The lighter "sparkly" fairies tend to get the majority of the attention so this was a refreshing change. Fairies weren't the only supernatural beings inhabiting the garden and this book. We were introduced to elves, lizard men, sages and other interesting players.
While I know next to nothing about the game of chess, I am an avid gardener. The careful research obviously undertaken by Ms. Wallace is much appreciated. Her descriptions of certain plants and flowers were quite accurate. The garden was well thought out.
I appreciate the opportunity to read and review this lovely tale. Thank you to the author T.M. Wallace and the lovely ladies at Pump Up Your Book for including me on the tour. If you'd like to read the first chapter, you can visit Literarily Speaking.(less)
John McWhorter has brought us an original and upbeat look at language. The full title tells it all: What Language Is (And What It Isn't and What It Could Be). I knew this book would be interesting, I just didn't realize it would also be fun.
With tidbits such as the fact that the written word is only about 5500 years old versus the 150000 years of the spoken word; we are taken on a wild linguistical journey from Ancient Greece and beyond. The study of language has the propensity to be a dry subject but with McWhorter guiding us it becomes fascinating and a bit clearer in some aspects. I learned much about this fabulous tool we use to communicate.
I really liked the style of writing. The author doesn't "write down" to his audience or even "dummy it up" for us. He makes linguistics available and approachable to the average reader. His love of language definitely shines through in this delightful book and gives us much to ponder.