Friday, April 14, 2017

In the Shadow of Lakecrest


In the Shadow of LakecrestIn the Shadow of Lakecrest


By: Elizabeth Blackwell
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Gothic
Rating: 3.5 stars
Summary:
The year is 1928. Kate Moore is looking for a way out of the poverty and violence of her childhood. When a chance encounter on a transatlantic ocean liner brings her face-to-face with the handsome heir to a Chicago fortune, she thinks she may have found her escape—as long as she can keep her past concealed.


After exchanging wedding vows, Kate quickly discovers that something isn’t quite right with her husband—or her new family. As Mrs. Matthew Lemont, she must contend with her husband’s disturbing past, his domineering mother, and his overly close sister. Isolated at Lakecrest, the sprawling, secluded Lemont estate, she searches desperately for clues to Matthew’s terrors, which she suspects stem from the mysterious disappearance of his aunt years before. As Kate stumbles deeper into a maze of family secrets, she begins to question everyone’s sanity—especially her own. But just how far will she go to break free of this family’s twisted past?


My Thoughts:


I will start out by saying that Gothic stories are not my favorite. I don't have much patience for the woman going mad story. I prefer to cut to the chase, figure out what is going on and actually having problems that you are capable of facing. Ghosts are not my things, thinking that you are being driven insane is also not my thing, being put in a position where you feel that all of your power is taken away from you - MOST DEFINITELY NOT. MY. THING.

 
I read it in just 2 days - so it was compelling. Irritating as anything, but compelling.


Kate makes a case for not marrying a man until you know who your mother-in-law is going to be. The first Mrs. Lemont is controlling, cold, manipulative and really I couldn't find anything redemptive about her. She is the spider and everyone in her family is caught in a web of her design and she comes across - at least to me - as flat out evil. Emphasis on the "flat" there wasn't enough of a development of her character to make her compelling. 


With all of the frustration from the MIL I will say that this was a book that made my lunch hours fly by. I was entertained by it and I needed to read it faster so that the book would actually get to the part that it had been hinting at so heavily.

If I find more of Elizabeth Blackwell's work I will definitely give it a go though this isn't a book that I would buy for my shelves. 


I was given a galley of this book in exchange for an honest review. 





Monday, March 13, 2017

Everything


AlwaysAlways


by 
Genre: General Fiction
Rating 3.5 stars

Summary:

While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiance, Ryan, at one of Seattle's chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can't believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for the Herald and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister. 

When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense everything connected and felt "right." But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what and whom she wants. 



My Thoughts:


I have difficulty figuring out how I felt about this book. There aren't very many books that I actually like the whole flip-flopping between two time periods. Kate Morton is one of the few authors where I have to read what is going on with each generation/time period. About halfway through I just passed on all of the parts taking place in the 90's. I knew how that part would end and that the mystery wouldn't be resolved there but rather in the present time.


It was good subject matter. I live and work in an area that has a rather high homeless population and it really is easy to forget that these people didn't start out here, they had a past and perhaps - if they accept help - they can have a much better future. 


Kailey is a well rounded woman - at least she would be if Cade hadn't suddenly popped into her life. The feminist part of me is thinking "Girl, finish your work focus on the life you have and don't let some boyfriend from the past mess it up." The nurturing part of me thinks "good job, way to take care of your man - even if he hasn't been yours for a long time." The only thing that drove me nuts was the fact that she wasn't straight up and honest with Ryan.  I think that it was a childish move and that she could have avoided a lot of pain had she done the adult thing and practiced open communication with her partner.

Overall I thought it was decent. I'm not racing out to purchase my own hard copy, but if I see anything else by Jio I most likely will get it. 


I received a galley for free in exchange for a review. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Victoria


30841109Victoria

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

Summary: In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.

One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….


My Thoughts:

"Your subjects are not dolls to be played with...To be a queen, you have to be more than a little girl with a crown."

I love Goodwin. She is one of my top 5 current authors and I always want to read whatever she has written. The American Heiress is one of my absolute favorites. So when I saw she wrote about the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign I was so excited.

She didn't disappoint.

I have read a lot about Victoria - her tempestuous relationship with her mother, her love story with Albert and of course the scandals in the beginning of her reign with the whispers of Lord Melbourne - and Goodwin wove all of the history together brilliantly. I often forget that the greats of history were teenagers at some point - I mean I'm currently 7 years older than Victoria was when she took her crown and while she was more prepared than I will ever be to run a country, Goodwin allowed for her to be an 18 year old and showed her missteps and corrections.

It was beautiful to read. Well written, well researched and simply a joy. I would recommend this for anyone who has any interest at all in Queen Victoria.

I was given a galley copy in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Magdalen Girls


The Magdalen GirlsThe Magdalen Girls


Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3 Stars
Summary: Dublin, 1962. Within the gated grounds of the convent of The Sisters of the Holy Redemption lies one of the city’s Magdalen Laundries. Once places of refuge, the laundries have evolved into grim workhouses. Some inmates are “fallen” women—unwed mothers, prostitutes, or petty criminals. Most are ordinary girls whose only sin lies in being too pretty, too independent, or tempting the wrong man. Among them is sixteen-year-old Teagan Tiernan, sent by her family when her beauty provokes a lustful revelation from a young priest.

Teagan soon befriends Nora Craven, a new arrival who thought nothing could be worse than living in a squalid tenement flat. Stripped of their freedom and dignity, the girls are given new names and denied contact with the outside world. The Mother Superior, Sister Anne, who has secrets of her own, inflicts cruel, dehumanizing punishments—but always in the name of love. Finally, Nora and Teagan find an ally in the reclusive Lea, who helps them endure—and plot an escape. But as they will discover, the outside world has dangers too, especially for young women with soiled reputations.


My Thoughts:

Wow - well first off, I didn't know what I was getting into when I picked this up. It was definitely judging a book by it's cover - because I really love it. But the subject matter was hard for me to read. It was a part of history that I didn't know existed - at least in this fashion. I knew about women being locked in insane asylums when they didn't fall in line with the societal norms but I didn't know the religious side of it. 

Alexander did a good job at trying to not demonize the Catholic church while still showing the indignities that occurred. 

It was a book that left me angry and frustrated for the characters - for the fact that there was no way for their voice to be heard - for the lack of justice and mercy. It went against the grain of innocent until proven guilty and just left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I think Teagan was the one who gave me the most grief. She was put in simply because a priest (who really had no business joining the clergy) was having "impure thoughts" about her. And just like that her parents signed her over to the custody of the nuns with no sign of ever taking her back. So many times she tried to tell the truth, explain what happened and no one would listen to her simply because she was fallen. 

Being a Christian myself the whole scenario left me feeling terrible. In no way did the actions reflect the teachings of Christ - but as I earlier stated, Alexander wrote this in such a way that while the local leaders we dealt with drove me crazy she didn't condemn the Church as a whole.

Overall, if you want to find out more about a little known bit of history go for it.

I was given a galley copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What a Disappointment...


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child


By: John Tiffany and Jack Thorne.
Genre: Drama (It's a script after all)
Rating: Goodness, like 2 stars.


Here it is, the big one, the one we've all been waiting for...Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!

And what a load of rubbish it was. Let's make one thing very clear - ROWLING DID NOT WRITE THIS. Her's might be the biggest name on the cover but she didn't write this book. I am very disappointed with the results Jo. And so is Minerva.


While perhaps the story might have come from her, the words most certainly did not. I was not at all reading the same characters in this script which I grew up reading and listening to almost daily at some points. (It helped me go to sleep as a child, it's almost impossible for me to read the books without Jim Dale narrating for me.)

The story was good and when I get to go and see the play I know that it is going to be phenomenal. The magic that those stage hands are going to have to do, the technical work that will have to be done. Goodness it is going to be amazing. 
But this was not Rowling's characterization, these were not her words. It got frustrating at times to read because all I could think of is THIS. IS. NOT. RIGHT.  
The part that was the worst was the fact that in the alternate universe they freely used the Dark Lord's name. Voldemort was said all over the place. That is in direct conflict to what Voldemort stood for - the fear, mystery and intimidation which surrounds him. We remember that "fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself." Even in the 7th book when the ministry had fallen and the dark powers were in charge he made it taboo. That part of his mentality was never going to change.
Nor was he capable of having a child. Nope, nope, nope. His lust was for power, his drive was all funneled toward his ambitions, his release from death and torture. To imagine that he had a child with Bellatrix? Esp. when we clearly saw a not at all pregnant version of her when escaping from Malfoy Mannor.



Read on if you dare, there are spoilers in the rants.

And then there is the relationship between Scorpius and Albus which while reading makes me wonder if Scorpi's obsession with Rose is merely a cover up. 

This is NOT the 8th installment of the series. This is just bad fan fiction - granted it did better by the Harry Potter series than 50 Shades did to Twilight. But goodness, not worth the hype, time or money. (But I am still excited for the play, just because the stage directions promise that this will be great.)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Reads - Save Me


Save MeSave Me

By: Kristyn Kusek Lewis
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
Daphne Mitchell has always believed in cause and effect, right and wrong, good and bad. The good: her dream job as a doctor; Owen, her childhood sweetheart and now husband; the beautiful farmhouse they're restoring together. In fact, most of her life has been good--until the day Owen comes home early from work to tell her he's fallen head over heels for someone else.

Unable to hate him, but also equally incapable of moving forward, Daphne's life hangs in limbo until the day Owen's new girlfriend sustains near-fatal injuries in a car accident. As Daphne becomes a pillar of support for the devastated Owen, and realizes that reconciliation may lie within her grasp, she has to find out whether forgiveness is possible and decide which path is the right one for her.

My Thoughts:
"You can never know the truth about anyone's marriage, including your own" -Nora Ephron

That was a great quote to set the book rolling. Daphne is coming home from a business trip - something routine, she plans for her husbands birthday dinner, only to come home to the announcement that he has fallen in love with someone else. 

This was enough of a draw to get me involved. Not because of the physical messiness that was potential here. But because Lewis did her best to go through all of the various shades of emotional turmoil that this kind of event - which sadly is all too common - could cause.  Owen easily could be written off as the bad guy and this turn into another one of those books of woman independence, finding yourself outside of your relationships, and whatnot which are very prevalent in today's culture. But Lewis did far more than that.

She explored where relationships come from, what they need to thrive and how and when is the time to draw the line. Owen was far from the bad guy. He wasn't excused for his actions. But it seemed to be a case of life rather than something where you can suddenly point fingers and everything is black and white.

I was surprised by it's ending. And am still not quite sure how I feel about it. But it was definitely one that left me thinking. 

This novel explores fidelity, love and what is needed to keep a marriage going and I recommend it. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

YA Wednesday - Princess of Thorns


Princess of ThornsPrincess of Thorns

By; Stacey Jay
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
With the kindom at the mercy of soul-stealing ogres, the next generation of Sleeping Beauty  is in for a fight that no amount of fairy blessings could prepare them for. 

Given fairy blessings from her mother, Princess Aurora has been given the tools needed to end the reign of her evil step mother. Given superior fighting abilities, mercy and bravery Ror has everything necessary. But all magic comes with a price and Ror was also cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as her brother, she goes out to save the kingdom, in the process finding the cursed Prince Niklaas who joins her in her quest to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora's throne ten years ago. 

My Thoughts:
Well, this was a sequel that I had never thought about. This takes what happens after "Happily Ever After" to a whole new meaning.  It also shows how not all blessings are blessings and even things which seem like curses can be to our benefit.

Princess Ror is impetuous, cunning and loyal to a fault. She loves her brother and would do anything to save him from the ogres who hold him captive. This requires raising an army, staging a revolt and killing the ogre queen all before the end of summer. She is a princess who sometimes is impossible to like. She pushes away others ideas, can't seem to see any other path than what is before her and will stop at nothing to achieve her goals.

In short she is a teenager -  a very driven teenager, I'll give you that but a teenager none the less. She knows what is best even if it hurts pretty much everyone around her in the process. And with this hubris, she is going to need her growing up moment and that is a painful, but almost beautiful thing to watch.

I love fairy-tales, always have, and I found this blend of a young woman who seemed to come out of Divergent''s 'dauntless' group an interesting fit. She actually did remind me of Tris, in how Ror tried to push out every spark of mercy she could to achieve her ends. (That was why I really didn't like Divergent. I didn't feel like there was any redemption for Tris...) But it was Ror's ending which redeemed her and which made the book a great read.

I liked the weaving narrators - of seeing the ogre's thoughts and motivations. Of seeing the sudden realization of Ror when it all comes coming to pieces around her and her determination to build back up.

If you like fairy-tales and remakes, or strong female leads (WITHOUT LOVE TRIANGLES!!! YAY!!!) then give this a shot. You will enjoy it.


In the Shadow of Lakecrest

In the Shadow of Lakecrest By: Elizabeth Blackwell Genre: Fiction, Historical, Gothic Rating: 3.5 stars Summary: The year is 1928. Kate...