Title: It's Getting Scot in Here Series: Wild Wicked Highlanders Author: Suzanne Enoch Release date: February 26, 2019 Cliffhanger: no Genre: historical r Title: It's Getting Scot in Here Series: Wild Wicked Highlanders Author: Suzanne Enoch Release date: February 26, 2019 Cliffhanger: no Genre: historical romance
This series is about three Scottish brothers who were raised in the Highlands by their father after their English mother left them at an early age. Their parents' marriage was a hasty love match that resulted in a rocky marriage with two very hardheaded people. After years of being unable to compromise, they decided to live apart and split up their children. He would raise their sons, and she would raise their daughter in England. In an unusual twist for that time period, the wife was the one holding the purse strings, so she used that power to force his agreement in making their sons marry English brides. Which leads us to now, because the time has come for the oldest, Coll to meet the woman she has chosen for him. Set to inherit the McTaggert earldom, this arranged marriage is satisfactory to Amelia-Rose's parents despite their snobbish opinion of his "barbaric country."
I've got to say, I despised the heroine's parents immediately, and loathed the brothers' mother as well. Amelia-Rose's parents were looking for an advantageous marriage, and their daughter's happiness never once factored into their thoughts. Her mother especially was a hateful harpy who tried to suppress her daughter's personality in order to make her more compliant and biddable to potential titled suitors. She didn't show an ounce of worry for her daughter when she was distraught over what Coll was proposing-marring her, abandoning her to her parents' household, and keeping children she would bear him in Scotland. Her mother didn't bat an eye, and chastised her for standing up for herself to such an unacceptable life. As for the hero's mother, I had no sympathy for her. There's no excuse for leaving your sons and having pretty much no contact with them their whole lives. Even at the end, I feel as if they forgave her too easily.
After two seasons, Amelia-Rose has had several marriage proposals, but struggled to keep herself free of scandal. Her mother has drilled etiquette and propriety into her head because she has an inconvenient tendency to be too "impertinent." To give inappropriate set downs and let her emotions run away with her. God forbid, women speak their minds! In other words, she's not the mild and meek bride that Coll is hoping for that he would be able to control. So after a disastrous first meeting, it falls on the youngest brother Niall to smooth things over.
For the first time it occurred to Niall that perhaps the MacTaggert brothers had spent too long out in the wilds. They saw every meeting as a battle, every negotiation as a surrender, and every new thing as a threat to the old ones.
Our hero, Niall, is definitely the sweetest of the three brothers. Don't get me wrong, they're all wild and very much rough around the edges without having a woman's influence in their childhood. They brawl, speak bluntly, and aren't concerned with so-called proper manners. However, Niall is a little different, in that he is the peacekeeper of the group. He's a people pleaser who uses his charm to make others around him happy. He's also extremely self-confident, and unaffected by the opinion of the English who look down their noses at him. From the very beginning, Niall saw through Amelia-Rose's veneer of agreeableness and respected her quick wit and snark. For the first time, someone was appreciating her for who she truly was instead of trying to mold her into the image of what was convenient for others. An Englishman has always been her ideal match for the future, so she could remain in the lifestyle she had become accustomed to. Suddenly Niall is making her feel and wish for things she shouldn't be.
The meek side of her, the one Coll wanted, didn’t much interest him at all. The other side, the one she’d been trying so hard to stifle, near drove him mad.
Niall and Amelia-Rose had a sweet, forbidden romance. There was no cheating involved, which I was a little concerned about going in because of her arranged marriage to a different brother. Due to the fact that he was an intolerable, hateful jerk for the entire time who could barely be forced to spend time in her presence, my sympathies did not lie with him. But besides that fact, neither Niall or Amelia-Rose crossed any lines before the engagement was broken. After that, all bets were off, and she was pursued by the very hot blooded, enamored Scot.
I enjoyed these two together a lot. He accepted her just as she was, and valued her opinions and needs like no one ever had before. He was very sweet, funny, and most of all, willing to make compromises for her happiness. I liked the heroine's spirit when she lost control and spoke her mind to those who mistreated her. As much as she tried to fit in and make her parents happy, she wasn't willing to sacrifice herself to the highest titled bidder to achieve it. At nineteen, I would imagine that a young woman in her place would find it nearly impossible to rebel against what was chosen for her life. She may have taken a while to put her foot down with them, but once she did, there was no going back.
There were a lot of frustrating characters in the book, and I found it really hard to get into in the beginning of the story. I felt like there needed to be more character development earlier on, because it took a while for the brothers' distinct personalities to surface. After about 1/3 of the way through I finally got hooked, but it took me two days of struggling to get past it. This was an issue for me personally, and may not be the case for others. I am curious about who the other brothers will end up with, but Coll didn't win any favor from me with his brutish behavior. He was unspeakably rude and insulting, which I understood to a point, but he potentially ruined the heroine at one point because of it without a second thought. I'm not sure I could be convinced to read his book. The third brother however, is a possibility!
If you like historical romance with Scottish Highlanders, arranged marriages, and a heavy dose of humor, this could be the right fit for you.
Title: A Bend in the Stars Series: Standalone Author: Rachel Barenbaum Release date: May 14, 2019 Cliffhanger: No Genre: historical fiction
A Bend in the S Title: A Bend in the Stars Series: Standalone Author: Rachel Barenbaum Release date: May 14, 2019 Cliffhanger: No Genre: historical fiction
A Bend in the Stars is a sweeping epic portrait of the devastation and desperation of war. This story does not read like it came from a novice writer, far from it. If I hadn't known this was a debut novel beforehand, I would have expected this kind of talent from a seasoned author with years of honing their craft under their belt. Once I got past situating myself in the beginning, I was flying through the book for the majority of its 464 pages. That's no mean feat. With every gasp that escaped these characters, every fearful thundering heartbeat, I was standing next to them in solidarity.
Miri and Vanya Abramov have already suffered great loss and injustice by the year 1914. Their parents died attempting to make it to America for the family, and since then tensions have escalated to the point of war. As Jews living in pre-war Russia, beatings and murder are occurrences that could happen without warning on any given day. There is no such thing as safety, and they've learned to live their lives as if walking on eggshells. To survive the constant abuse and discrimination and get by one day at a time. The siblings are both brilliant in their own right: Vanya is a professor of physics, Miri a doctor who has just been approved to become one of the first few female surgeons to practice in her country. But however much they excel, there are always those who wish to abuse their position of power to prevent them from succeeding.
Vanya idolizes Albert Einstein and has even corresponded with him once over his theory of relativity. He is consumed with the idea of proving his theory and making a huge difference in the world through scientific discovery. The upcoming total solar eclipse is his chance to make that contribution, and at the same time gain entry into America. If he can meet with the American journeying there to take photographs of the rare event, a position at Harvard will be assured. That will mean safety and freedom for his family unlike anything they've experienced before. Unfortunately the timing of WW1 breaking out is cataclysmic for his plans. But he's determined to succeed and begins a perilous, life or death journey fraught with danger.
The historical detail was very well researched, and rich with detail without being too indulgent. I never felt as if it was at the expense of a well paced plot. We alternated between brother and sister until they finally intertwine towards the end near the final climax. Fact and fiction were perfectly woven together to create a war novel unlike any I've read before. There was love amid the madness: unequivocal love for family, and another love story that seemed doomed to end in tragedy in one way or another. Why? Because Miri is engaged, suddenly there is another love interest, and at any moment any one of them could die at the hands of a multitude of people hunting them. I'm not a huge fan of love triangles, and this one was no different but those are my personal preferences. I felt almost guilty for taking off a half star because the quality of the writing was so good. So gripping. This romance fell in a grey area for me because of the extreme circumstances that influenced the decisions made. Still there was some disappointment involved, but not enough to detract much from my love of the overall story.
The flash forward to the year 2000 brought everything to a close so poignantly and tied all the loose ends together crisply. Rachel Barenbaum is a new talent to watch. After her sparkling debut, I'm a firm fan that will be following her work in the future. Not to be missed!
Title: The Time Collector Series: Standalone Author: Gwendolyn Womack Release date: April 16, 2019 Genre: fantasy, fiction, romance
This was my first Gwen Title: The Time Collector Series: Standalone Author: Gwendolyn Womack Release date: April 16, 2019 Genre: fantasy, fiction, romance
This was my first Gwendolyn Womack book and it was such a breath of fresh air! It had a lot of elements that I enjoy reading but with a spin that felt thoroughly refreshing. The Time Collector was like a palate cleanser after reading a massive amount of books that are too predictable. I actually thought there may be some time travel in this book based on the synopsis, but that wasn't the case. This story explores the metaphysical: using psychometry to learn the history of everyday objects and their secrets, and interpreting that knowledge to theorize about how time works.
Psychometry is the ability to touch everyday objects and sense an "imprint" of the people it came in contact with through the years. In a sense, it was almost like the protagonist Roan was traveling through time. He could sift through the different layers of experiences and actually feel and see others' life events through history. These experiences felt so real that he would often refer to the people he saw in the present tense. As if they were old friends that have told him all of their most intimate details.
I loved reading about him using his heightened senses. Although he used them initially for monetary gain, he's grown into a man who consciously uses his gift to help others by delivering family heirlooms back to their rightful owners. After witnessing countless horrific tragedies spanning centuries, he wants to do his part to right some of those wrongs. He's also a bit of a loner, not trusting many people to accept his unusual abilities and all that comes with it. If anyone had told him he'd be intrigued with another psychometrist and tempted to break all of his rules for her, he'd never believe it.
...Melicent Tilpin was a comet that had come streaking across his world. Was he rescuing her or chasing her? Maybe both.
Melicent has led a pretty average life up until the loss of her mother. Now she carries the weight of taking care of her grieving teenage brother, a mountain of debt, and the possibility of losing their family home on her shoulders. When she uses her inexplicable ability to sense things in objects to sell a valuable antique on television, she draws the kind of attention that could very well get her killed. This is where the mystery comes in. Someone is targeting people like her: disappearances, arson, and even murder are occurring. Roan soon discovers that the Ooparts (out of place artifacts) play a central role in the mystery surrounding these crimes. He must solve the mystery of why they are so important and how they work before anyone else gets hurt.
Womack blended scientific theory on time, history, and unexplained mysteries like crop circles and out of place artifacts to create a multi-layered plot that was unlike anything I've read before. The romance between Roan and Melicent wasn't heavily focused on in comparison, but it was just the right balance to keep me invested in their feelings for each other. It was a tricky attraction to say the least. Imagine you had the ability to delve into a person's past with a brush of your hand. Roan is forced to wear gloves most of the day in order to avoid unintentionally invading people's privacy.
He couldn't imagine attempting a relationship with another psychometrist. Not only would he have to worry about holding her hand, he'd have to worry about her holding his. The problem was that was exactly what he wanted to do with Melicent.
This story drew me in immediately, and my interest didn't wander for a minute. The ending built in suspense and I was glued to the pages as I flew towards the conclusion. I ended up taking half of a star off my rating because while I enjoyed the action in the end, I just wished there had been an epilogue because things were left a little open ended for my taste. I wish more answers could have been given and the fate of the villian more conclusive. But that's just me. Some readers enjoy when things are left up to their own interpretation. If you love books that take you outside of your typical box and shake things up, try The Time Collector. The author is an eloquent storyteller that held me absolutely riveted. Highly recommended! I already ordered another paperback of hers and without a doubt I'll be reading it the earliest chance I get.
Title: Echo North Series: Standalone Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer Release date: January 15, 2019
I went into this book thinking it was going to be a simple Title: Echo North Series: Standalone Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer Release date: January 15, 2019
I went into this book thinking it was going to be a simple fairy tale retelling, a fresh spin on something I've heard a million times. Beauty and the Beast is a beloved fairy tale and known to many, but I guarantee nothing about this will feel stale or uninspired. This book is more of a mash up of several fairy tales with the author's imagination stamped in the fine details. Meyer held me spellbound and captive to her words, there's no other way to describe it. One minute you're strolling through her world, naively thinking you'll coast on comfortably 'til the end. The next, the force of the story slaps you in the back with unexpected momentum. And you're careening through its twisted, thorny path so fast you're breathless with wonder.
They were fairies, I think, or something like fairies: wispy creatures as tall as trees that seemed to be made of rain, or flowers; willowy spiders with laughing hair; bears with long fingers and masques instead of faces; hundreds of others harder to describe. They all danced together in the center of the clearing, a mass of strangeness and swirling color. In their midst sat a woman on a writhing throne, her hair the same shade as the starlight.
I'm sitting here trying to form coherent, linear thoughts to write down. But my mind is still dizzy with the adventure I reluctantly returned from. I'm in the enchanted house under the mountain where nothing is as it seems. Your smallest wish is granted, and the nightmare you never knew existed waits for time to slip through your fingers. The answers to this enigmatic puzzle are as ephemeral as a dream you can't quite remember when you wake. Teasing the edge of your consciousness. Echo must have the cunning to solve the mystery, and the courage fight an ancient adversary with immeasurable power. You will agonize every step of the way with her. One wrong move will have all hope for the future folding in on itself like a house of cards.
Echo Alkaev was disfigured by a mysterious white wolf in the woods as a child. Once she led a normal life, now she's reviled and feared because of the scars mapping one side of her face. Her father and brother have always given her unconditional love, but her confidence has been shattered by small minded people who cannot see past her surface imperfections.
I learned very early that in the old tales of magic the wicked were always ugly and scarred, the good beautiful; I was not beautiful, but I wanted to be good, and after a while I couldn’t bear to read those stories anymore.
Growing up in her father's book shop has garnered a passion for reading, and a thirst for knowledge. Yet nothing outweighs the loyalty and love she has for her family. So when her father disappears one winter after a journey into the woods, she sets off alone. Desperate to find him. Stumbling upon his half frozen and unconscious body, she's frantic to get him home. The white wolf from her past appears, and offers a bargain. One year of her life in exchange for her father's safe return.
That year is a two-sided paradox of euphoria and despair, like a coin flipped and suspended in the air holding her fate in the balance. Even as she swears to uncover the wolf's past and set him free, the house's magic dazzles her with distractions. It's a visceral feast on your senses. Who wouldn't be enthralled with a library that allows you to enter its mirror-books, silver spiders spinning webs that can bind collapsing rooms, and a venomous garden with poison roses and vines? At night the house cracks and moans, cackling in evil delight. Echo doesn't know what forces threaten outside her locked bedroom door, but she doesn't truly know who's locked inside with her either.
"What happens at midnight?" "The magic ceases to function, and the house is unbound." Did that mean he would become unbound too?
This book had so many dualities to explore. Layered characters with secrets and muddled intentions. Jaw clenching, white knuckled suspense where time ceases to exist. Just when you think you've reached the pinnacle of the adventure, you're steered on a harrowing voyage that seems doomed to end in failure. But this is where Echo's heart is exposed the most. She's a true heroine that may get knocked down, but she dusts herself off and runs fiercely towards the challenge again. Her courage never fails her, even on her darkest days.
I was nothing short of frenzied this morning when I woke up and immediately dove right back into the book. I blew through 300 pages without pause, refusing to put it down until the conclusion. That's how good it was, I didn't have any choice in the matter. The lush, dark landscape was constantly shifting, the characters along with it. I loved not only this author's writing, but her finesse in storytelling. I'm an instant fan and cannot wait to read more from her in the future. Do not hesitate!! If I could heft a huge a neon sign up that blinks, "READ ECHO NORTH" I would. I want everyone to experience this exhilarating, fantastical tale.