Glamorous Illusions follows the journey of a young woman as she tries to discover who she is, and what she can become. At the beginning, she learns abGlamorous Illusions follows the journey of a young woman as she tries to discover who she is, and what she can become. At the beginning, she learns about a secret her parents kept from her her whole life. She feels betrayed by what happened, and that they never told her. Then she is offered a chance to go on the Grand Tour of Europe with her new found siblings, who may just hate her for who she is. She goes a little grudgingly, wary of the man who she knows now as her blood father. But she finds as she travels with her siblings, and comes to accept who she is, that she can’t be mad at any of her parents, her mother or her two fathers, because they each gave her a life that helped shape her into the woman that she is, and is becoming.
Cora was a nice protagonist. I didn’t always like being in her head. Not that she was annoying, or stupid, I just couldn’t quite connect with her. It helped that her narrative was broken up by the viewpoints of Will. I did like seeing Cora’s journey, and how she coped with her new, extravagant life, and having to leave the people she loved. She was strong, and didn’t let her siblings dislike of her keep her down. I appreciated her humility, and determination to stand firm, and her accepting herself for who she is, no matter what her past is. People could treat her however they may, but she knew there were people who cared about her, so their disdain couldn’t hurt her. But, I also felt that she was kind of boring. She’s just a normal girl, trying to find where she fits in; which is, you know, cliché. And nothing terribly original or exciting happened to put a twist on that storyline. So maybe that’s partly why I couldn’t connect with her.
The plot also, was kind of boring. It wasn’t bad, or completely disinteresting, but it wasn’t interesting enough to keep my attention focused solely on the book, so that I couldn’t bear to be stop reading. I did enjoy learning about the history, and whatnot. I can tell that Bergren did her research well, and cared enough to get the details right. It wasn’t until the ending, where the real excitement began, that I became really interested, and excited, and couldn’t stop reading. Too bad that happened at the end, and not sooner. Don’t get me wrong, not all books have to be exciting and adventurous to be worth reading, or to have deep meaning. I love books that are slow, and contemplative, with lush descriptions and wonderful characters who triumph not by fighting a dragon, but by coming to know their heart and the hearts of others. And Glamorous Illusions did do this. It did have wonderful descriptions of the places the characters visited, and well-rounded characters that the reader comes to understand and like. I just felt that something was missing, for me at least.
I did like the romance, and actually, the biggest reason why I would consider reading the second book would be to see that romance develop. I’m interested to see where it goes, and to see Will and Cora fall in love. Will was a wonderful hero. He was a gentlemen who only wanted to teach his clients history, and to protect them on the tour. He just wasn’t ready to have his heart stolen. And he tries to fight it. Cora is above his station, and he isn’t supposed to get involved with the clients. But he can’t help what he feels. I liked seeing his perspective. Being able to see his side and Cora’s, seeing both of their uncertainties, and wondering if the other could possibly like them, but then telling themselves that it could never work. And then there’s Pierre, a Frenchman who falls for Cora, and she can’t help but be pleased by his attention. So, there’s a little love triangle, which will probably be explored more in the coming novels. But this triangle isn’t angsty or annoying, where the girl flip flops between the guys. It’s done well, and is believable.
So, in the end, I liked Glamorous Illusions well enough. I loved the ending, and would like to see more of Cora and Will. I think fans of the River of Time series will like this novel, and probably history fiction buffs. As for me, I’ll just have to see what the next novel has to offer before I invest in it.
Thank you to David C. Cook and Netgalley for the arc....more
The Merchant’s Daughter gave me the same feeling as did The Healer's Apprentice. Melanie’s stories of love and Christianity are beautiful in their simThe Merchant’s Daughter gave me the same feeling as did The Healer's Apprentice. Melanie’s stories of love and Christianity are beautiful in their simplicity that manages to sing out with perfect love. Love of Christ that urges the characters to strive to live and better their lives and help others, and the love between the two main characters that make me smile and sigh and ache for them to be together, to love completely with no hindrances. I realize this book, as a Christian story, will not appeal to many readers, but as a Christian myself, I delight in stories like these. That are full of soul and love and are clean.
I’ll admit I didn’t read this book for the outstanding plot, or the brilliant execution thereof. The plot is a little weak, some of it I didn’t quite care for, some scenes could have been elongated, shown more emotion, or just dismissed. But it was the characters that livened up the story, that gave me the desire to read to the end and see their happily ever after. And the romance. I love a good love story, and this one was beautiful, so sweet and romantic and fun. It had me smiling, and had my heart aching for Ranulf and Annabel and for their blooming love that had a hard time fully manifesting.
This tale is based on Beauty and the Beast, and reminded me slightly of Heart's Blood, (which is an incredibly brilliant novel that you should read.) Fairytale’s are one of my favorite kinds of stories, and this rendition was most beautiful. Ranulf made a great beast, scarred and misshapen with a sad past and a cold, angry demeanor. Annabel was a strong heroine who was sweet, shy at times, but not afraid to love that which most people fear.
The ending was a little rushed. It certainly could have used more substance (even so, it still had my heart dancing at their romance). But all in all a beautiful end to a wonderful book. I believe anything Melanie writes, I will wholeheartedly love.
This arc was provided by the publisher via Netgalley. ...more
Gail Carson Levine, I must say, is one of my favorite authors (at least when I need a cute, light fairytale type read). Her books are sweet, and enchaGail Carson Levine, I must say, is one of my favorite authors (at least when I need a cute, light fairytale type read). Her books are sweet, and enchanting, and just purely fun little fairytales. A Tale of Two Castles was no exception. It had that special magical quality that Levine’s other books all possess, simple in its light fairytale esque feeling, yet beautiful with its engaging writing and endearing characters, complete with an intriguing plot, at first perhaps simple, but at the end, quite brilliantly played out and executed.
Elodie is a 12 year old girl, traveling to the kingdom of Lepai in hopes of becoming apprenticed as a mansioner, an actress. After arriving at Two Castles, with an excess of cats roaming the streets, she is unable to acquire an apprenticeship, and is instead employed to the dragon, Mastress Meenore, the Great, the Unfathomable, master of inducing and deducing, able to find any lost object, solve any riddle. When his Lordship’s, the ogre, dog goes missing, Elodie assists IT (the dragon, which is called IT as only ITself knows ITs gender) in finding the dog. And thus ensues the mystery of finding who stole the dog, who poisoned the king and set the cats on the ogre, who mauled the ox, with a rather surprising ending to keep you on your toes.
Elodie is a strong young girl, who starts out attempting to fulfill her dream of mansioning, but finds her true calling in inducing and deducing, which she acquires by interacting and being with IT, and hearing IT’s own deducing of mysteries. For a 12 year old, she is quite astute and determined.
The world Levine created was delightful and enchanting. The writing will strike some people as too simple, but I love it for its simplicity and the magic found within. And it’s just Levine’s style of writing, with stories geared toward younger teenagers and children, and not older teenagers or adults looking for epic stories with a lot of depth and stark, passionate emotion with though provoking messages. This book isn’t for everyone, but fans of Levine will surely love it, and those looking for light fairytales. ...more