It started out strong and really gripped me. But eventually it just began to bore me with it's slow movement of events. So I skimmed a bit to the end.It started out strong and really gripped me. But eventually it just began to bore me with it's slow movement of events. So I skimmed a bit to the end. And skimmed. And it's just not worth finishing. Bummer!...more
The Guardian Duke by Jamie Carie (A Forgotten Castles #1) Pages: 320 Release Date: February 1st, 2012 Date Read: December 20th, 2011 to January 8th, 2012The Guardian Duke by Jamie Carie (A Forgotten Castles #1) Pages: 320 Release Date: February 1st, 2012 Date Read: December 20th, 2011 to January 8th, 2012 Received: ARC from NetGalley Rating: 3/5 stars Recommended to: 13+
SUMMARY - On Holy Island in Northumberland lives Alexandria Featherstone, daughter of Lord Featherstone and his wife. Alex's parents have gone to and from their castle constantly - typically gone more than not. But now they've been away for a year, with no news, leaving Alex to wonder. The king says they're dead, that she is now the ward of the Duke of St. Easton, but she doesn't believe for one moment that her parents are gone for good. She would feel something, right?
Gabriel, the Duke of St. Easton, has gone deaf. Sudden dizziness - and then nothing, no hearing. At least his correspondence with Alexandria keeps up his spirits. When he hears of her need for money and her castle's decrepit situation, he decides to go to her and take care of matters in person. But when he arrives and Alex is not at the castle, Gabriel must set off in pursuit: not just of the body, but of the heart as well.
MY THOUGHTS - The Guardian Duke is a very charming book. It holds mystery, intrigue, travels, love, and a while goose chase that will have you laughing! It isn't the best book, but sometimes a good, fun read is all you want, and The Guardian Duke delivers excellently.
CHARACTER NOTES - Alex is a fun character, but man she can be infuriatingly stupid! Sometimes she drove me up the wall with her crazy ideas and impulses (which she acted on!). She likes to tell little fibs to get her way and has one goal: find her parents. Nothing else will do. Surprisingly, despite all that, I still liked her. Pushing aside all the immaturity, a woman is waiting to appear. I very much hope this happens soon, however, because I don't know how much more I can take of that girl's crazy ideas! Ha!
Now, Gabriel - he's a fine man. He's got his faults, yes, but he is generous and kind and determined (in a more mature way than Alex) and totally dedicated to his ward. His love for Alex seemed a bit too quick in coming but I understand it. I so look forward to more of Gabriel in the future!
The other characters - Montague, Baylor, John, etc. were good, although some were unrealistic or inconsistent. However, they do make for a fun read, no matter the flaw.
STORY NOTES - Some of this story had me on the edge of my seat; some of it had me floating with the beginnings of a love story; some of it had me going, "Ummm, I don't think so!"
When Alex is traveling, a group of soldiers, one man in particular, begs to escort her. He keeps pestering her, and when she has to go on alone without her coachman, the soldier makes even more serious advances. She's scared he'll try something, and he does - but she is saved by a stranger from the inn the night before. He's an older gentleman who still kicks butt and sends the soldier limping away. He says he'll help Alex, protect her, and so on and so forth. And Alex let's him come!
I'm sorry, but it it was me, I would have run to find some female company. Just because the dude talks about his faith in God doesn't mean much unless you know for sure he wasn't just getting the other guy away just to carry out his own evil intentions.
Obviously, that's one of those I-don't-think-so parts. But really, I have some great things to say about the story line. The mystery: where are her parents? The romance: who will end up with who? The chase: will Gabriel catch up to Alex in time to make her stay? The faith: In what ways will Alex and Gabriel's faith be strengthened next? Some questions are answered, some are not - which is making me itch for The Forgiven Duke! Ah!! Very well - I shall have to get to reading it very soon!
Oh! And, in The Guardian Duke, there's a masque ball!!!!!!!!!!!!! I know, right!? Those are the best, always, forever and ever. This one was no exception. It made me grin from ear to ear and totally gave me butterflies!!
SUMMING IT UP - Good ole fashion fun, I tell you! Right here, in this book. If you're looking for a good, light read, this is your book!
For the parents - Nothing at all! 13+
*This ARC copy was provided by NetGalley (thanks a million!!) in return for an honest review. I was in no way compensated; all thoughts and feelings expressed are my own.*...more
Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren (#1) Pages: 416 Release Date: June 1st, 2012 Date Read: 2012, May 8th-13th Received: ARC via NetGalley Rating: 4/5 sGlamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren (#1) Pages: 416 Release Date: June 1st, 2012 Date Read: 2012, May 8th-13th Received: ARC via NetGalley Rating: 4/5 stars Recommended to: 13+
SUMMARY - Cora's life may not be grand or full of wealth, but there's one thing she's sure of: who she is. Even when tragedy strikes her father's farm and her education to be a teacher is in jeopardy, Cora works hard to do what needs to be done. But when her true parentage is revealed, everything falls apart. She is whisked away into a fantasy world where she is not yet accepted. Her new siblings, her new cousins, the long trip - the Grand Tour - she is to take with them... It seems everything has fallen apart. Her growing friendship - and possibly something more - with the tour guide's nephew, Will, and her desire to discover who she keeps Cora busy...and who are the people who might be following them? In the end, it might come down to Cora to put her bravery to the test.
But for now, I am happy happy happy with Glamorous Illusions. OMG. I seriously adore this book! Maybe not as much as the River of Time, but by golly it was a riot! I love Cora's character, for one. She's a strong-willed, clear-headed girl who loves God and wants to do what's right. I loved her journey of faith and how even though she wasn't quite sure who she was, she always knew she was a child of God. She's such a feisty girl, too! She made me laugh more than once.
And, erm...I have a weakness for boys/men named Will. First, it's the little boy I've babysat for nearly 7 years, ever since he was 1 year old. He loves me, I love him... He tells me stories and we play video games together...and he tells me that if I don't let him climb that tree he'll never love me again and I tell him to get down from that tree or else and he climbs right on down and gives me the biggest hug ever. Other than that Will, there's my magical love for Will Turner...I'm a Pirates junkie. So yeah. I have good associations with the name Will. And this Will - he is NO exception. He's amaaaazing!! I seriously adore him so so so much. His growing love for Cora (even though he's certain they can never be together) is soooo sweet and adorable and innocent...and still passionate at the same time.
Come on now, don't tell me you don't want to read this book. Not only do you have awesome characters such as Cora and Will, but you also have fancy dresses, romantic boat rides (more than one!), castles and masked balls, a (possibly) dangerous game in a large maze, and more! Seriously, though, the first boat ride and the maze scene were my favorite scenes in the book! Ca-ra-zy! CRAZY!
My only drawback - the end seemed a liiiittle bit fast. Rushed, kind of. Not terrible, and totally fascinating and lovable, but just, given the length of the book, a little too quick for my liking. Oh, and the alternating POV's were a bit disappointing. I wanted it to be all from Cora's perspective, but there was some from Will's and some from Cora's real father. Not bad, just me wishing it was all Cora!
All in all, this was a great book with an awesome story and a promise for more and greater adventures! And we have yet to get to Italy, where Lisa works her magic! Eeeep! So excited!
This book reminds me of... Downton Abbey (the time period and the dresses - the story was completely original) The trip to France I'm someday going to take Traveling to exotic places Evil stepsisters Roguish gentlemen (oxymoron, I know) Castles I want to see Adorable, slow-moving romances (that I wish would move faster!!!)
For the Parents - A bit of adventure, a few flirtatious characters, but nothing improper! Great for ages 13+
Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren (River of Time #3) Pages: 388 Release Date: September 1st, 2011 Date Read: 2011, October 2nd - 5th Received: Own Rating: 5/5 staTorrent by Lisa T. Bergren (River of Time #3) Pages: 388 Release Date: September 1st, 2011 Date Read: 2011, October 2nd - 5th Received: Own Rating: 5/5 stars Recommended to: 12+
This review contains spoilers for the 1st and 2nd books. If you haven't read them, I suggest you do, for I highly recommend them to everyone!!
SUMMARY - Gabi and Lia have just done something unimaginable. They went into the future (or rather, the past), saved their dad before he died, and managed to talk him into going back to the past with them. Now they are reunited with Marcello, Luca, the Nine, and the Forelli household in Siena. Castello Forelli is still under the command of Paratore and Firenze - and Fortino, Marcello's brother, is still in their possession, being beaten within an inch of his life.
It is up to the She-Wolves and their men to get him back and to save Castello Forelli. What will they be willing to sacrifice to rescue Fortino and the Castello? Marcello wants Gabi to marry him, but is she ready? And will her family toss aside any future plans to give Gabi the lifestyle she so desires? There is only one way to gain Fortino's freedom and one so dangerous that none of the Betarinni's may come out of this plan alive. It will take every ounce of courage and love they have, and the help of a mighty God, to see this battle to the end.
MY THOUGHTS - Oh my gosh, I don't even know what to say. (And now watch me write a lengthy review.) I had no stinking clue the conclusion would be...this. No way. It's flipping intense. There were times when I almost cried. Then I would laugh out of sheer joy. And then I would get so pissed at some dude or another (there were some seriously annoying dudes here...) And then, guess what? I would laugh. And almost cry. And then be so happy I thought I'd burst. There was so much adrenaline pulsing through me that I felt it long after the book had finished. It was nearly 400 pages of non-freaking-stop. I can't even stand the awesomeness. I need to read the series over again - or Tribituary needs to come out TOMORROW. Or both. Preferably both.
I just can't believe how perfect this book was. It fit the series to the exact - giving me what I was expecting and yet totally shocking me with every movie. I mean, it was craziness! And I had no idea that Gabi's and Marcello's love would be so sorely tested...
CHARACTER NOTES - Gabi is amazing. She is not only a fantastic daughter and sister, but also a fierce warrior and passionate, faithful lover. And, most importantly, she grows to be a wonderful woman of God. I respect her even more than a lot of my most respected heroines because of this. And if you combine that with everything else, you get...amazing. Even with her faults, she's just the best. Anyone would want her as a friend.
Marcello...and Rodolfo. Where to begin with those two? In the last book, Cascade, I felt like Marcello was more...real. And I was fascinated by Greco. This time, Marcello was only in half of the book. The rest of it, Gabi was with Greco. And I totally fell for Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome. All. The. Way. I understand why Gabi didn't, of course (she and Marcello - totally and completely!), but if I were Gabi and I hadn't already pledged my heart, making a decision between the two would have been hard. By the end of the book, I definitely (finally!) fell completely for Marcello, but I still love Greco. A LOT. I want more of his story!! I think the two men tie...or, well...Oh I don't know!
Before moving on: I loved Marcello's growling. OMG (fanning myself)! You'll only know if you read the book, so hurry up already! Marcello definitely had me blushing often... Such a MAN!
Lia, Mom and Dad are great characters - kicking butt and saving the day. I loved seeing the girls with a father figure, and watching "Lord Betarrini" observe Marcello was hilarious!
The only person who didn't seem extremely real to me was Luca. :( He felt flat. He said some funny things, helped out a bit, but he was never truly there. Or at least not for me.
STORY NOTES - Like I said before - Non-freaking-stop. Front to back, top to bottom. The ink markings between the covers of this book contain an adventure totally of its own originality and spark and element. I mean, just, wow. And wow again. So many twists and turns in the story - no end to the madness. I got to the point where I found myself asking, "Could this get any worse?!" I doubt it could have. Dang. I had no idea what the turnout would be.
And yet it was perfect. Any different would have felt...off. Ohmygosh I was just so happy with those last four or five chapters that tied everything into a giant bow of beautifulness. (And still left room for the story to take off again!)
Lisa does an amazing job describing events. There were quite a few scenes that were so dang powerful - either because of the dialogue or the descriptions. Either way there was just enough of everything to give the story the perfect touch, one that, in turn, has affected the lives of many (seriously, I view these books as life-alteringly cool) and will do so for more, I am sure.
I loved the awesome faith questions asked in here. Gabi struggles, asking herself, and others, questions about God's existence, His sovereignty, and it was incredible to see those questions answered and to see how they affected Gabi and everyone else.
SUMMING IT UP - Powerful. In every way, this book had me grasping the book for dear life. And when I set it down I found I was pumped and ready to live. I love books that make me want to jump up and climb a mountain, or bike cross-country, or swim and ocean. Or write a book. Books that inspire are always my favorite - and that is exactly what Waterfall, Cascade, and Torrent are. Inspirational. Favorites.
FOR THE PARENTS - Some kissing, passionate but only a few details. Two of the characters get married, and only detail-less kissing beforehand on their first night together. So clean - and a beautiful example of healthy, faithful, passionate love. Recommended 13+...more
Gabi and Lia are back in their own time - and boy, do they have stories to tell! But in order to get their mom to believe them, they must return to 1300's Italy to prove it. When they arrive, their archaeologist mother just can't get enough of the artifacts; Fortino is healed, based on Gabi's remedies; Lady Romana Rossi is squirming her way into things - just in a different way than before; and Gabi and Marcello's love is blossoming into something greater than they'd imagined. But when Gabi, the she-wolf, is forced to make some tough (ok, really really really hard) decisions, and some very wicked plots are discovered, will the Castello Forelli be able to hold? Will Gabi and Lia have the strength and courage to live the lives of the She-Wolves of Siena? Or will Firenze crush them all? _______________________________________________
My thoughts - OMGEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I kind of liked this book a lot...like, a ton...I loved it!!! To be completely honest...I mean, seriously! This book held so much more than the first book. I came in with lower expectations than I had with the first - and suddenly I was shocked! Cascade became a favorite about half-way through. The battle scenes, the escapes, the characters - they were much more real and memorable. I look back at my favorite scenes and I realize that they amount to pretty much the entire book. And now I'm thinking the release of Torrent can't come fast enough!
Character notes - Oh, Gabi. She inspires me. Lia, too, and Mom. But Gabi is by far one of my favorite heroines. Humor, strength, and courage. Beauty - inside and out. And love. So much genuine love for everyone. Her growing relationship wiht God totally inspired me - her small prayers that meant so much.
And Marcello - phew! Someone get me a fan and a fainting couch! That man became so much clearer to me in Cascade. His face, his personality. He gave me chills most the time...Gabi is one heck of a blessed girl! He's the ultimate stronghold, the kind of man any girl would want to spend forever with. The way he loves Gabi is gut-wrenching. It's not a summer fling - on either side. It's a forever kind of love.
But those are the good guys. What about the bad? The wicked men in this book are...wicked. Super wicked. They gave me chills...different kind of chills than Marcello, of course. Chills, like I want to cower in fear and hide from them. New enemies are formed, raising the old, already high stakes a level or two or three higher. No kidding.
And Lord Greco...who ARE you?
Story notes - YES YES YES YES! With action, fast and furious, danger, escape, and a love story that will melt your heart - there is no reason why you should not pick up this book this very second. Begin our journey into a world of old, where battles are fought with a sword and bow, feuds are extremely common, almost getting killed is a common pastime, and true love really comes in the form of a knight in shining armor. The escapes will have you dying to turn the page; the battles will have your blood pumping; the sweet, stolen moments between Gabi and her man (and Lia and hers...?) will sweep you off your feet. Oh, yes. This is epic story-telling at its finest. And the way it was written... I mean, must I still go on? ;)
Summing it up - Memorable, from first word to last. I want to relive it over and over again, like a good song. Let it play, again and again...
For the parents - A few kisses. Nothing inappropriate. Good for young teens. :)...more
Gabi and Lia Betarrini are tired of being in Italy. While most girls would love to spend summer vacation in Italy, it is not so for the Betarrini girls. Their mother is a major archaeologist who spends most of her time in old tombs and castles. The girls think it's boring to do this every summer, and especially now, since their father has died in an accident. But when the girls come across some hand-prints in the wall of a tomb (a tomb they're not supposed to be in), Gabi is separated from her sister as they are transported back in time - right into the middle of a political land feud in the 14th century. At first, it's like she's dreaming. But when she realizes that this past world is real, she must face dangers like she never dreamed to find her sister and get them both home. But the young man who rescued her at the tombs and gave her a place to stay in his family's castello - he's so wonderful. She's never met anyone like him, and knows she never will again. He is engaged to marry a very prominent young lady in Italy - but what if he loved her back? Would such a love be strong enough to convince his family they were meant to be together - to make Gabi never want to leave this past time ever again? _________________________________________
My Thoughts - I liked this book from the start, but it took me a while to love it like I was hoping to (about 150 pages). But after those 150 pages, I was flying through, totally sucked into the story and loving the characters. This really is a great time travel story. I loved how it was all planned out, each aspect of the story so closely entwined with the others. I felt very...involved. As though I was living in the story. It is original and builds the story on a world that, if I'm not mistaken, has been written about very little.
I sometimes felt like the dialogue was a bit off (examples: language back then was much more proper. It's one thing for Gabi to use lots of contractions, but I felt like Marcello and Luca used too many. Also, random word choices were just a bit too...modern for me); but most of the time I was swept away by their conversations. I especially loved the politics involved in this story; to me, a bit of political intrigue added just the perfect touch to this story. It wouldn't have been the same without it.
Character notes -
Let me start by saying that Gabi is one of my favorite heroines. Every time she did something brave (which was most of the book), all I could think was, "You go girl!!!!" I admire her so much and love her brave heart. She's a "she-wolf" all right! I really loved how it showed her growing faith and trust in the Lord - how she heard prayers that were really felt by those saying them, and how she began to cling to that communication between her, a feeble human, and the Almighty God. Inspiring. :)
I may be a "loner" here, in saying what I'm about to say... But: I didn't fall for Marcello right away. In fact (this goes for both Marcello and Luca), I wasn't even sure if I liked his character. Both he and Luca were a bit bland to me at first. But after a few chapters, once things got into full-swing, they became more realistic. Also, I came to appreciate Marcello's personality and strong character before I found his physical features attractive. I couldn't quite picture him for the first 100 pages, but after that I could see his face clearly. For those wondering what I thought: Yes, he's a good-looking guy, but I prefer...less shoulder, more height. Every time Gabi would admire his broad shoulders, it kind of bugged me...until I started to like him, as a person. Then I was okay with anything she did or said. ;)
I never quite got into Luca...he stayed bland to me through most of the book. But Fortino - he's a definite favorite character. I felt bad for him in his sickness, cared for him, and felt pain when he did. He was really well developed to me and I can't wait to read more about him in the second book!
Story notes - Everything about this story was well pieced together. The time travel, the events, the battles, the relationships... The love story is my favorite aspect - it had me gasping because they couldn't be together. Stupid, wonderful forbidden love - you make me crazy! I must admit, though: for the first 100 pages I didn't quite see the connection between them. I could see how/why he was crazy about her, but I didn't quite understand her side, and why she was attracted to him... (It was probably because I wasn't even sure what I thought about him.) But then...oh! Then there was the secret-meeting-to-dance scene (well, that's how it ends up...), and I was all for the romance, and could totally see why Gabi loves him. That scene was one of my favorites!
The peril in this story is definitely intense. Like, for the last 100 pages or so I bit my nails down to the quick. I knew that at any moment, anything at all could go wrong. To be able to do that to your readers is very good story telling.
One word or phrase to sum it up (final thoughts) - The word that runs through my mind when I think of this book is daring. It was so full of adventure and romance and wonderful twists and turns that had me shocked. (AKA - for those who have read it - chapter 19, page 288 specifically. If you read this and weren't gasping for breathing and absolutely shocked by this turn of events...and that stupid ***spoiler!!!*** blank page...well...I don't even know what to say to you. HA!) I definitely recommend this book and think everyone should give it a try! :) Now, I have to wait for book 2, Cascade, to come out. At least it's only three weeks! :)
For the parents - Honestly, nothing. There's a quick, one paged scene where some bad guys throw Gabi to the ground, tacking her there with their swords. One guy moves to untie his pants...and the good guy comes running in. The word "rape" is not even mentioned; his intentions almost went unnoticed to me. There are a few kisses, innocent and sweet. Good for ages 12 or 13 (depending on maturity level) and up. :)...more