So, I purchased this anthology of seven stories called Romance through the Ages for $.99 (a CRAZY good deal), and Running Barefoot is one of the storiSo, I purchased this anthology of seven stories called Romance through the Ages for $.99 (a CRAZY good deal), and Running Barefoot is one of the stories. I hadn't heard of this author or this book, but I was just trying to read through the entire anthology.
I HAD ZERO EXPECTATIONS. I WAS BLOWN AWAY.
WOW. I started reading this and couldn't stop. Life would drag me away, but even when I wasn't reading, I was still thinking about these characters. I usually read novels very quickly, but I read this one so slowly, just savoring every word. Relationships that could be "problematic" in another author's hands were handled so tastefully by Amy Harmon and worked so, so well. I loved Amy Harmon's writing style. I was completely captivated, and these characters felt real. There was so much chemistry it was palpable. (And I actually learned a ton, too, about everything from classical music to Native American legends.)
I totally cried. More than once. It's been awhile since I cried reading a book.
My only critique is that sometimes minor characters were introduced kind of choppily and then fell away only to come back kind of jarringly because I'd forgotten about them, but it's so not important because Amy Harmon got the two main characters perfectly right.
This one is going on the favorites shelf, and that's rare for me. I truly only put my very favorite books on that shelf, but this one's on it. ...more
This is a little preachier than Karen Witemeyer's other books because Crockett is, well, a preacher but I. LOVED. IT.
I opened up Stealing the PreacherThis is a little preachier than Karen Witemeyer's other books because Crockett is, well, a preacher but I. LOVED. IT.
I opened up Stealing the Preacher thinking I'd just read a few pages and ended up reading the whole book in one sitting. Fans of Short-Straw Bride will delight in seeing the predicament this Archer brother finds himself in...and how love awaits in the most unexpected places....more
My very favorite Sarah Eden book. I thought I'd read a few pages before I went to bed at 1:00 a.m. and ended staying up until 5:00 a.m. to finish it.My very favorite Sarah Eden book. I thought I'd read a few pages before I went to bed at 1:00 a.m. and ended staying up until 5:00 a.m. to finish it. Some of the best character chemistry that I've read in a long time...and all through little touches and longing looks. I LOVED IT!...more
Ally: "I’ve been working on this series and living with these characters since 2005. Saying goodbye to them has been bThe title and cover are PERFECT.
Ally: "I’ve been working on this series and living with these characters since 2005. Saying goodbye to them has been bittersweet, but I’m so grateful to be able to give the series a proper send-off. So few authors have that luxury. Will the ending make readers cry? I don’t know. All I can say is that this author cried buckets."
This book had me in tears. TEARS. And laughing. And smiling. And sighing over those sweet, swoony parts. In other words, it was classic Carla Kelly. OThis book had me in tears. TEARS. And laughing. And smiling. And sighing over those sweet, swoony parts. In other words, it was classic Carla Kelly. Oh, how I love this woman's way with words! Her books are just in an entirely different galaxy than other romance novels. That attention to historical detail. Those characters that pull at my heart and feel so real.
I warn you now. This is a sad book. However, it's realistic, and the ending is so hopeful and sweet. If you're looking for a light, beachy read, this isn't that book. If you like your romance novels with a lot of bedroom details, this isn't that book, either. What it is is a character-driven story of loss and love. A story of finding yourself and loving yourself and having the courage to love the person perfectly perfect for you. What a gem from Carla Kelly!...more
Carla Kelly is the MASTER of historical fiction. I always feel like I just took a college history class from my favorite professor every time I read oCarla Kelly is the MASTER of historical fiction. I always feel like I just took a college history class from my favorite professor every time I read one of her books. My Loving Vigil Keeping especially touched my heart, as I am descended from Welsh coal miners. I had never explored the history of life in the mining towns, and I was filled with appreciation and reverence for their sacrifices. I was brought to tears numerous times while reading this book--the harsh realities coupled with the love and faith of these characters.
My Loving Vigil Keeping has all the elements I love about a Carla Kelly novel--those characters that seem to really breathe, all that fascinating historical research, and a love story that kept me reading way past my bedtime--mixed with an extra dash of extraordinary. Carla Kelly has written an abundance of stellar books, but this is one of my very favorites. The ending is a tiny bit abrupt, but I'm hoping for a sequel. =)
Give a copy to your mom. Give a copy to your grandma. I did, and they loved it as much as I did.
Another beautiful, moving book from Carla Kelly. ...more
I think this may be the best Regency romance I've ever read. CARLA KELLY CAN WRITE. She creates these characters that live and breathe, complex characI think this may be the best Regency romance I've ever read. CARLA KELLY CAN WRITE. She creates these characters that live and breathe, complex characters with flaws and heart that you can't help but cheer for. I've never read a Regency romance quite like this one. There are serious themes of redemption, prejudice, and forgiveness mixed with wit and romance. The blend is intoxicating--a novel that made me laugh, made me cry, made me swoon, and, importantly, made me think and reevaluate myself. How does one make his or her life worth living? Don't we all need a bit of redemption at times?
Lord Ragsdale is an indolent, neglectful man who won't "exert" himself for anything or anyone. He neglects any and all duties and wastes his life on drink and worthless past times. The worst part--he knows it but is too lazy to change. The best thing he can say about himself is that he doesn't gamble. So why does he exert himself and save Irish indentured servant Emma Costello in a card game? And what will be the results when, in a drunken stupor, he agrees to let Emma reform him?
This story has so much expected depth and sparkling wit. In this day of the overused love-at-first-sight romance and cardboard stock character, Reforming Lord Ragsdale shines with it's slow building romance and complicated characters. Would you believe it, but these characters actually grow from hating each other to becoming FRIENDS. It's a indication of the power of this story that the most important part is when the heroine tells our flawed hero, not that she loves him, but that she LIKES him.
Carla Kelly, please keep republishing these classics of yours. This is what a historical romance should be. This one deserves to be re-read every year....more
Cedar Fort acquired a real indie gem with Geek Girl. I first read Geek Girl back in March when it was self-published, and I burned through it in a matCedar Fort acquired a real indie gem with Geek Girl. I first read Geek Girl back in March when it was self-published, and I burned through it in a matter of hours. Talk about flow...Cindy C. Bennett's writing is addictive and all-consuming and emotionally gripping. And she ALWAYS makes me cry.
I initially gave Geek Girl four stars, but as I re-read it now that it's been published, I'm upping it to five. Out of everything I've read this year, this is one of those stories that has just stayed with me. I can't tell you how many times this year that I've stared at all the books on my iPad and opened Geek Girl back up to read some favorite passages again. These isn't anything too earth shattering here, but I've had a hard time saying goodbye to these characters. Cindy's characters always breathe. Her heroines are fierce yet symphatic. They speak of the attrocities of their lives with such raw honesty that you can't help but cheer for them to get their happy ending. And let me tell you, Cindy knows how to write the White Knight.
This book has only gotten better with time. I can't wait to see more from Cindy C. Bennett. Her book Heart on a Chain is another indie gem, and I'd love for it to see publication (hint, hint!)....more
Cindy C. Bennett, you know how to make me cry. I'm not much of a book crier, but you've made me weep through not just one book, but TWO. You have someCindy C. Bennett, you know how to make me cry. I'm not much of a book crier, but you've made me weep through not just one book, but TWO. You have some magic button that just unleashes my tear ducts so that I find myself sobbing while reading. And then, you add these crazy-good, awwww endings that make me smile through my tears. May we have some more, please?
I devoured Cindy's book Geek Girl and couldn't stop thinking about it. Her writing and characters draw me in and make me feel like I'm present for everything--that I'm watching my best friend live these events. I have now read BOTH of Cindy's books in one sitting each because I care so much about these characters that I can't stop without knowing the conclusion of their story.
While Geek Girl is a little lighter, a littler fluffier, Heart on a Chain tackles some serious issues: abuse and bullying. You can't read this book without it making you want to be a nicer, better person. It exposes the effects of bullying in a way that tore at my heart. It showed how a plea for help may be stifled or go unnoticed because bullying has isolated and destroyed someone to the point where there's no one she can trust to protect her from unimaginable horrors at home. A particular conversation between Kate and a tormentor at the end had me WEEPING as the tormentor realized what her bullying had done--how she had made sure Kate had no friends...and thus no one to confide her terrible secret to.
Every mean girl needs to read this book.
Bad boys, move aside. Cindy sure knows how to write the white knight. Her heroes are squeaky clean and devoted, and it's refreshing to see the anti-jerk get some page time. Cindy's boys are so...non-judgy. Henry and Kate share some sweet chemistry, and Henry's epilogue at the end had me awwwwing because it was so adorable. (Yes, Henry, ADORABLE.)
While the events may border a tiny bit on melodramatic at times, Heart on a Chain made me want to stamp out bullying and sprinkle friendship and kind words all around. I can't think of a better way to teach teenagers the effects of bullying. This is a story of abuse, redeeming love, and forgiveness that's unforgettable....more
There four stars are all for the goofy smile I had on my face while I read this book. It's a light, quick read and not particularly original or groundThere four stars are all for the goofy smile I had on my face while I read this book. It's a light, quick read and not particularly original or ground breaking, but I'm ranking this based on my enjoyment as I read. I read it in one sitting and couldn't stop thinking about the chemistry between Jen and Trevor for the next two days.
I started reading the first 10 chapters for free on the author's website after reading Erica's review, and about 12 pages in, I knew I was going to need to find a copy. This work was originally self-published. The author recently got a publishing deal for the book, making it difficult to find a copy of this since it's going to be republished. (Goodreads still offers it as an ebook, thankfully!)
Geek Girl does have some thoughtful messages, mostly a "discover who you are and then love yourself" and "don't be afraid to change, but change for yourself and not for someone else" message. As Jen tries to bring Trevor to the dark side, she begins to change, but she doesn't do it for him--she does it because she's discovering who she wants to be and that she's let the terrible circumstances of her life mold her too much. With the love and support of Trevor and her foster family, she becomes someone new. I loved seeing the transformation, even though it was painful and heart-wrenching at times.
Trevor's perfect for much of the book, but he does reveal his big flaw for the last fourth of the book--that boy can hold a grudge! I had to fight to keep liking his character for the last few chapters, but he did redeem himself at the end.
The author does a make-my-heart-flutter job of letting the love simmer and build, creating realistic timing for the attraction and chemistry between the two main characters. They actually spent time together and *gasp* had conversations before falling love. Bennett's pacing kept me coming back for more and more, until I was so captivated by this book that I couldn't put it down without knowing the conclusion.
Yes, Geek Girl's a little cliche and predictable, but if you're looking for a light, make-you-laugh-and-smile book, check out the first 10 chapters on the author's website and see if this book is for you....more
Anna Sheehan's A Long, Long Sleep has one of the best first chapters I've read all year. I read that first page and couldn't put the book down for theAnna Sheehan's A Long, Long Sleep has one of the best first chapters I've read all year. I read that first page and couldn't put the book down for the rest of the afternoon. What a hidden gem! The cover is pretty enough, but it absolutely does not convey what a touching, heart-rending story this is.
You read that blurb, and you THINK you know what A Long, Long Sleep is going to be about. You THINK you know exactly where the author's going to take this story (at least I thought I did). And then Sheehan takes these events and writes such an unexpectedly beautiful, startling, tragic story that I was blown away. This book was NOTHING like I thought it was going to be...in a very, VERY good way.
Forgotten in her stasis tube, Rosalinda Fitzroy is awakened after 62 years by a kiss. She struggles to come to terms with the death of her beloved Xavier and everyone she's ever known, and she understandably feels alone and lost in this strange world. Initially, Rose is passive and full of self-loathing and guilt. I've read about many YA heroines in need of a healthy dose of self-worth, and oftentimes the voices of these characters can be unbearable. But not Rose. Don't give up on Rose as she seems to shrivel with self-loathing. As her story unfolds and the REASONS for Rose's self-hate and passivity come to light, she becomes such a tragic, sympathetic character that you just want to love and embrace her. Watching her overcome her past and seeing her character growth was a beautiful, albeit heart-wrenching, journey.
Sheehan's writing shines in her characterization. Her characters are fascinating and well developed, especially my favorite, Otto. Otto, an experimental blue human with alien DNA, is such a poignant, compelling character. He cannot speak aloud, so he and Rose begin communicating through IM chats. After reading the annoying chats in Beastly, I was initially wary of this technique, but Otto and Rose's chemistry instantly won me over. These heartfelt chats quickly became the moments I looked forward to the most. Otto and Rose feel connected to each other through their loss and abandonment, and their devotion and understanding creates a touching relationship.
This story is absolutely devastating at times. Read with Kleenex. A Long, Long Sleep may be called sci-fi, and while it does have a futuristic setting, at its heart, this is a story about child abuse and abandonment. About the aftermath of abuse. About overcoming the tragic hand you've been dealt and learning to LIVE. Yes, there are those annoying future words and few new gadgets but this is not heavy sci-fi. This is a stirring blend of sci-fi lite, mystery, and romance coupled with a serious look at neglect and abuse.
I had an inkling from the beginning about a certain twist of events, and I read the next 250 pages wondering how Sheehan could possibly resolve this situation without a major dose of ick. (Let's just say the relationships in this book are unconventional.) At the end, I was utterly impressed--Sheehan crafts a satisfying resolution for these characters that feels authentic. The end isn't all rainbows and sunshine, but it feels triumphant and hopeful. And that last paragraph? CHILLS. What a powerful ending.
A Long, Long Sleep is a story of overcoming tragedy, of learning to love yourself in the aftermath of abuse. It is a story of love--not just the romantic kind, but of true friendship--and of finding a family in the ones who love you. It is tragic and devastating, but the ultimate message is one of hope and triumph. ...more
This series is what every other angel book wishes it could grow up to be.
Hallowed is "middle book" at its very best.
Out of all the paranormal creatureThis series is what every other angel book wishes it could grow up to be.
Hallowed is "middle book" at its very best.
Out of all the paranormal creatures in YA, angels get by far the worst treatment. Three of the worst YA series all feature angels, and until Unearthly, I thought perhaps it was impossible to write a decent angel book. But Unearthly was not decent--IT WAS AMAZING. That delicious, slow-build romance between Clara and Tucker. A strong, likeable heroine with a realistic voice. A vivid, gorgeous setting. Intriguing mythology that makes sense. Tucker. (Did I mention Tucker?) Ever since I closed the pages of Unearthly, I've been clamoring for a sequel.
In Cynthia Hand's follow-up novel, she DELIVERS. She makes me feel things about characters that I never thought I could. She takes this in the direction hinted at throughout Unearthly, but she makes it work (in ways this Team Tucker girl didn't think were possible) and adds some complexity with other unexpected twists. My heart was aching--ACHING--when I finished this book.
Cynthia Hand, how did you make me like Christian? I'm as TEAM TUCKER as they come, and yet you drew me in to see Christian's goodness and charm and caring with such a sly hand. I'm no advocate of love triangles, but this one is as good as they come.
And the writing? As addictive and snappy and heart-breaking as ever. I love that Cynthia can poke fun at her own book and genre with funny little lines about stalker girlfriends and love triangles and jealous boyfriends. Her writing makes these characters feel REAL, so real that she can make me feel absolute joy and then devastation because of the struggles and choices these characters face. And trust me...you will feel a gamut of emotions reading this.
Cynthia Hand has shown that Unearthly was no fluke. This woman can WRITE. This series shines with stellar characterization, fascinating mythology, compelling choices, and Tucker (it needed to be said). I cannot wait to see what she has in store next for these beloved characters.
Sea is unlike anything else I've read this past year. The story is rich and unique--I can't fathom the amount of research that must have gone into thiSea is unlike anything else I've read this past year. The story is rich and unique--I can't fathom the amount of research that must have gone into this beautiful tale. The characters were compelling and believable--you could feel their emotions, feel their heartache, pain, and love. Seeing the intersecting journeys of healing (for several characters--Sea, Deni, her father) took hold of my heart, and I could not put this down until I knew how it ended.
And the ending? While it may not be what you expected, it was so satisfying. This is not a sad tale--it's a story of healing and redemption, of opening up your heart and finding yourself again after immense tragedy. It's a beautiful message of hope wrapped up in a beautiful cover....more