Friday, May 18, 2012

Fluffy Friday - Secrets on the Wind


Secrets on the WindSecrets on the Wind

by: Stephanie Grace Whitson
Genre: Historical, Christian Romance
Rating: 3.5

Summary:
After two people experience things which no person should have to endure one woman brings them together and helps set them on the path to healing. Laina, who was saved from certain death, struggles to overcome what has happened to her and the resulting nightmares. Sargent Nathan Boone still fights to get past the death of his wife. Granny Max helps to guide them to inner peace.

My Thoughts:
Before we seriously begin, I'd like to state that I have no idea where the title came from. It still confuses me. Now on to the real review. 

I have already read a Whitson novel, and find this one to be much less confusing than the other.  It is nice to read about a hero and a heroine who have had pasts that aren't something to be proud of. Too often the knight in shining armor is perfect...and while perfect is nice, for me personally that would be a little daunting. 
I loved Laina. Her inner conflict was fun to watch and see how she grew up and past what she was into the best version of who she could be. 
Also, this book thankfully didn't take the path of least resistance. the characters who I marked as ending up together never did, I like it when that happens. Too often I find things to be too predictable and I get bored.

I would recommend this for people who love historical christian romance.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Historical Thursday - The Book of Madness and Cures

The Book of Madness and CuresThe Book of Madness and Cures
By: Regina O'Melveny
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 2.5 stars

Summary:
Dr. Gabriella Mondini has lost her father, not to death but to study. Her father left her family years ago and now she is going to look for him. A strong willed Venetian female physician in the 1590's the Dotoressa must face many challenges as she travels across Europe to find her father, however she might not be happy with what she discovers.

My Thoughts:

First off, HELLO FROM ROME! That's right, I am going to be in Italy for school for the next few weeks and to honor that, I will be posting a review that takes place in Italy.

How to begin, well to start with, I was really glad when I finished it. It took me a while to figure out why I really wasn't liking the book at all, I mean, it has everything I like. There is a strong willed woman who is breaking the barriers of her age, Renaissance, Italy - everything I like is there. So...why isn't it clicking for me? I think it was the prose of the novel, and the fact that it felt like she had written herself into a corner at one point and was just grabbing at anything to prolong the story and finally to finish it.

I did really like the relationship Gabriella had with her "servants." Yes they work for her but it feels like they are more of parents than servants and when **spoiler** (highlight to see it) one of them dies, well it nearly broke my heart...or at least it should have, I felt sad because I actually liked that character but I didn't fee the grief that I normally would in this scenario.  **spoiler done**

Overall, while it had a couple of good points I would say pass on this one, though as O'Melveny matures in her writing I would keep an eye on her, she has potential for some really good work.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown and Company for giving me this book for review.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Historical Thursday - Sixteen Brides


Sixteen BridesSixteen Brides

by: Stephanie Grace Whitson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
When 16 women go west searching for land they realize that they have been tricked and are instead being taken west as prospective brides. Well, six women of that group won't settle for that and they decide to go off and start up a claim of their own.

My thoughts:
One point of view is good, Three is difficult but manageable, anything more than that is ridiculous. I almost had to make a chart determining which woman came from where and which man was interested in them. It was so confusing that I spent a lot of the first half just figuring out characters names. Once that all got sorted out however I loved what I was reading.
Each one of these women were very strong characters in her own right and were a joy to read. I like how Whitson was able to create so many variations of womanhood. From a southern belle, a northern woman and her mama and a spitfire red-head all different kinds were shown. 
The men in the novel were all nice as well but it was the women of the novel who really made it for me.

If you have the patience to figure out which woman is which I would highly recommend this novel! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

YA Wednesday - The Académie


The AcadémieThe Académie

By: Susanne Dunlap
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary:
As Eliza Monroe goes off to school in Paris she meets Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of Josephine Bonaparte; and Caroline Bonaparte, youngest sister of the famous French general. Quickly she realizes she is in for a summer that it not at all what she expected. Drawn into the competition between the two, Eliza finds herself interacting with people such as Madeline, a young actress in the Comedie Francaise. All she can do is hope that she doesn't get in too much trouble during a summer she will never forget.

My thoughts:
First off, I love this cover...so much! Ok, now that's out of the way on to the real review. 
This is very loosely based off of historical events but it is fun to read about the time of change that was between the French Revolution and the coming of Bonaparte to power. There were a lot of different viewpoints in this novel and well, I got confused. It took me about a third of the way through the book to figure out exactly who was who and what they wanted and such.  But once I figured that out I thought it was a lot of fun. It was a fun set of misadventures of 3 teenage girls. Not too much silly teen-romance, and just a lot of innocent adventures. 

I found Hortense to be my favorite of all the characters, Eliza was a little too teenage whiny for me, but since that's what she was supposed to be, I wasn't too annoyed by that, I just wanted to get to Hortense's part. 

Overall I really liked it and will be reading more by Susanne Dunlap in the future

Thank you Netgalley for giving me this book for review!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Misc. Monday - Jenna Starborn


Jenna Starborn Jenna Starborn

By: Sharon Shinn
Genre: Sci-Fi
Rating: 2 stars

Summary:
Jenna Starborn was harvested from the gen-tanks on the planet Baldus. Mistreated as a child she goes on to school and from there to far off planets as a nuclear tech. Here she grows to her place in the universe. A new and intergalactic telling of Jane Eyre.
My Thoughts:
Oh dear...this was supposed to be a retelling of  Jane Eyre (not my favorite story anyway) so I thought it would loosely hold onto elements of the classic novel. Well Shinn had a different plan in mind. Instead of little things here and there, she clung to the story of the classic novel much to the detriment of what could have been a very fun and interesting futuristic novel. Jane Eyre doesn't have the personality that is believable in modern societies. I really had difficulty taking her seriously in her own book so Jenna really wasn't working for me at all.

The only thing that made me finish it was wondering how they were going to get past the cyborg in the mining compound...sorry I mean mad-woman in the attic. I just laughed the whole way through because it was impossible to take seriously.

I really was disappointed with the novel because I think Shinn is a great writer. Oh well, I will stick to her fantasy and be happy there. Pass on this but don't give up on her.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hour 18

The Book of Madness and CuresChange of plans...I didn't like how the last book was turning out. So I will turn my attentions to a different book about insanity: The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O'Melveny. About a woman doctor in Venice during the Renaissance...Hey, I'm about to go to Venice to study Renaissance art. Sounds like a good pick. I hope it is better than the last one.


Happy Reading to you all!

Ok...8 more left....

Blue Asylum
I am now starting to get a little tired...I just finished The Academie. Now though I am about to get into a new book I am excited about called Blue Asylum. It takes place in an insane asylum post-Civil War. It shows promise...I hope it's good!
If not then I shall have to move on to won of the many other books that I have stacked around. I hope you all are having a wonderful night!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Ninth Hour...

The AcadémieJenna StarbornFinished Jenna Starborn....my review will be forthcoming in the next few days. But I can say that I am happy I am moving on to other things. I also finished 500 words of my paper...1000 more to go! But as I am now taking a work break, I won't be able to really finish working on it until 6. Oh well it isn't really due until midnight so I have time.

Happy readings to you all. I am going on and finishing up The Academie by Susanna Dunlap. Isn't that a pretty cover? She always has covers that I adore. I hope the book is just as good! Check back with you later!


....


It is later...my paper isn't done, I had to work for 3 hours and I just want to read! Why do teachers do this to us?

....
ALL DONE!!! YAY, Now I can do the next 12 hours unimpeded by stupid things like papers...

Hours 3-6

I've just been trucking away here at my reading, took a break for food and now I will be taking a break to do my paper - but as it is about T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land I should get some reading in right? - that is due at midnight....oh goody...but overall things are going pretty great.  Here is a fun book quote for your viewing pleasure (taken from the challenge home)


 

So true don't you think?

Hours 1 & 2

So Two hours down and still going strong. I would be quite said if it were otherwise because a two hour session really isn't that long. One of the mini-challenges hosted for today's read-a-thon asked about books we would want to read in the original language if we could.

Well I am learning French and would love to read Victor Hugo's books in their original language, also there is The Count of Monte Cristo...that would be quite fun. AND The Three Musketeers...it would appear that I am a bit of a francophone.

Well I must get back to my books. This time around rather than having a stack of books specifically picked out for this, I just grabbed the nearest unread book. Right now that would be Jenna Starborn by Sharon Shinn. I really am on a bit of a Shinn kick right now. I can't get enough of her. You can look down and find my review for her book Troubled Waters. This one is more Sci-Fi which isn't something I have normally read but I am loving it anyway!

See you soon! and Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

24 Hour Read-A-Thon!

So my second round of Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon is coming up! I am so excited you have no idea. I haven't been able to sit down and read solidly for a very long time. And since (almost) all of my papers will be turned in I will have (almost) nothing standing in my way...finals don't matter right?

If you care to join me go sign-up at 24hourreadathon.com and let me know what books you are planning on reading. I still need to figure out exactly what mine will be. More info to follow!

Historical Thursday - The Maid and the Crown

The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of ArcThe Maid and the Crown
By: Nancy Goldstone
Genre: Biography
Rating: 4 stars


Summary:
Politically astute, ambitious, and beautiful, Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, was one of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages. Caught in the complex dynastic battle of the Hundred Years War, Yolande championed the dauphin's cause against the forces of England and Burgundy, drawing on her savvy, her statecraft, and her intimate network of spies. But the enemy seemed invincible. Just as French hopes dimmed, an astonishingly courageous young woman named Joan of Arc arrived from the farthest recesses of the kingdom, claiming she carried a divine message-a message that would change the course of history and ultimately lead to the coronation of Charles VII and the triumph of France.


My Thoughts:
This is the first real biography that I have ever read and I must say that I really enjoyed it. I thought I was getting myself into another historical fiction novel, however, when discovering that this was in fact a biography I wasn't at all disappointed. This was quite interesting for me to learn about a time in history which my experience comes from watching Wishbone or other such kids shows which depict Joan of Arc. I loved learning about Yolande as well. She was a really powerful figure and knew how to best wield that power.

I found Goldstone to have a sense of humor in her writing that occasionally made me chuckle to myself. On the whole it was neither boring nor dry. There were parts that I was able to skip though when I felt like I was getting bogged down with story. Also I was wondering why it took so long to end after Joan was martyred. This was because Goldstone not only showed how the war ended (I skipped that part) but also how Joan's name was restored. I had no idea that the French didn't really like her either after she died so I am very happy that we view her as a heroine now rather than a heretic.

If you are looking for a biography of this time or just want to improve your knowledge in general this is a quick way to do it. (It was a nice SHORT read)

Thanks to Netgalley and Viking Publishing for giving me a chance to read this for review!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Misc. Monday - 60 Acres and a Bride

Sixty Acres and a Bride60 Acres and a Bride
By: Regina Jennings
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 3.5 Stars


Summary from GR:
With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to Texas and the family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have only three months to pay. Though facing eviction, Rosa can't keep herself from falling in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. Learning the American customs is not easy, however, and this beautiful young widow can't help but catch wandering eyes. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, to what lengths will Rosa go to save her future.


My Thoughts:
I had a lot of fun reading this...though I probably should have been writing papers for school at the time. (I can't wait for summer to come!) Rosa was a sweet character who showed the culture clash between America and Mexico in Texas at this time. The fact that this is a debut novel makes me happy because I believe that as she grows and matures as an author, Jennings will be one of the better historical writers. 


Her characters were warm and likable. Weston was the perfect combination of fortitude and protectiveness without seeming to be overbearing. This of course is enough to make the females reading this swoon. Rosa was a good counterpart to him with her genuine goodness and innocence. With both of them struggling to adjust to the curve balls life has thrown at them it is fun to see how they come grow into their new selves. 

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishing for providing me with a book for review!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

YA Wednesday - Troubled Waters

Troubled WatersTroubled Waters
By: Sharon Shinn
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars

Summary:
Zoe Ardelay receives astonishing and unwelcome news: she has been chosen to become the king's fifth wife. Forced to go to the royal city, she manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty river. 

It's there that Zoe realizes she is a coru prime ruled by the elemental sign of water. She must return to the palace, not as an unwilling bride for the king, but a woman with power in her own right. But as Zoe unlocks more of the mysteries of her blood-and the secrets of the royal family-she must decide how to use her great power to rise above the deceptions and intrigue of the royal court.


My thoughts:
I have read Shinn before (see this other review) and I love her. I love how she is able to build worlds that are believable and wonderful all because they have a hint of magic in them. In the books I have read her magic is more simple than what can be found in things like Harry Potter and other such fantastical things. Instead she deals in a quieter magic - though in this book it's a little louder than in her Safe-Keepers Series. 

I loved Zoe. She struck me as someone who was calm and for the most part in control of her emotions. She didn't sweat the small stuff and yet wasn't passive. She had say in how her story went and expressed it. I loved how she was a mix of the traits which Shinn had made up in this new world. As a coru she is calm like water but also has the spark of sweela which is that of fire. 

I also love that romance isn't what Shinn focuses on. Marriage isn't Zoe's goal, because frankly she is too busy doing other things to worry about that. One thing that I really did love about her is that she lost her temper occasionally. If she hadn't I don't think that I would have been able to like her at all.

I will admit I squealed a little bit while reading, and had those wonderful moments of revelations where I think I know how it's going to end and who the bad guy is and then it turns out to be someone totally different. I loved it. I will probably go out and buy it when I have money. (Or get it as a gift for my birthday or Christmas...hopefully)

If you love light fantasy this is the book (and quite possibly author) for you!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Misc. Monday - The Replacement Wife

The Replacement Wife.
By: Eileen Goudge
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
 

Summary from Goodreads:
Camille Harte, one of Manhattan’s most sought-after matchmakers, has survived more than her fair share of hardships. Her mother died when she was a young girl, leaving her and her sister with an absentee father. Now in her forties, she has already survived cancer once, though the battle revealed just how ill-equipped her husband Edward is to be a single parent. So when doctors tell Camille that her cancer is back—and this time it’s terminal—she decides to put her matchmaking expertise to the test for one final job. Seeking stability for her children and happiness for her husband, Camille sets out to find the perfect woman to replace her when she’s gone. 

But what happens when a dying wish becomes a case of “be careful what you wish for”? For Edward and Camille, the stunning conclusion arrives with one last twist of fate that no one saw coming. 

At once deeply felt and witty, The Replacement Wife is an unforgettable story of love and family, and a refreshing look at the unexpected paths that lead us to our own happy endings. 



My Thoughts:

Caution to conservative readers: lots of strong language and some sex.


I really liked this story. I thought the author did a really good job at portraying a marriage and all that it could go through when facing something like this. It also made me think about what I would do if I had 6 months or so to live. Thankfully as I don't have a husband and kids my choices could be a little more selfish. 


I thought Goudge did a great job with all of her characters I somehow loved Angie in spite of what was going on plotwise, and that was something that really was necessary.Spoiler, Highlight to see what is written If you have a mistress as a point of view character in a story you really have to like her otherwise you will skip most of what she is saying. SSpoiler done.


I did like the way the plot twisted and turned making a few different problems - cancer, cheating, and divorce all be focused on in one novel. I think this was a great book. And really heartwarming in how all of it was dealt with. 


The only thing that is keeping me from giving this five stars is the language and sex which I generally just skipped over. I loved it otherwise.


Thanks to Open Road Media for giving me a copy for review.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Misc. Monday - Bittersweet Surrender

Bittersweet Surrender
By: Diann Hunt
Genre: Christian Romance
Rating 2.5 stars


Summary:

Carly Westlake is living the dream. She spends her days at a spa (okay, so she owns the place), she's dating a hunk, and she's surrounded by chocolate-milk chocolate, her favorite-that she uses for the chocolate facials that made her spa famous.
But when long buried secrets threaten Carley's business and her friendship with business-partner Tom, she fights like crazy to keep the dream-and the illusions-afloat.
It takes a miracle of grace to get Carley to finally make that bittersweet surrender to love and real life.
My Thoughts:
First of all, despite what the title sounds like, this isn't some steamy romance.
Now with that out of the way. I really wasn't impressed by this book, I wanted to be. I like chocolate and a book about a chocolate spa just sounds like it would be fun. I felt like the whole thing was a little jumbled. Characters weren't consistent, ideas (like health food is for hippies) were a little behind the times, and there were, I'm sorry to say, some time line issues that should have been caught in the editing process. All of these added up to a story that, to me, felt sporadic. 
Carly irritated me and there were times when I just wanted her to stop complaining about everything. And the guy she is crushing on is quite obviously a jerk so that didn't help matters.
I personally was disappointed by the book and would recommend to pass on it.
Thanks to Thomas Nelson for allowing me to read this book for review. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Historical Thursday - Yellow Crocus

Yellow CrocusYellow Crocus
By: Laila Ibrahim
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars


Summary From Goodreads:
Mattie was never truly mine. That knowledge must have filled me as quickly and surely as the milk from her breasts. Although my family ‘owned’ her, although she occupied the center of my universe, her deepest affections lay elsewhere. So along with the comfort of her came the fear that I would lose her some day. This is our story... 

So begins Lisbeth Wainwright’s compelling tale of coming-of-age in antebellum Virginia. Born to white plantation owners but raised by her enslaved black wet nurse, Mattie, Lisbeth’s childhood unfolds on the line between two very different worlds. Growing up under the tender care of Mattie, Lisbeth adopts her surrogate mother’s deep-seated faith in God, her love of music and black-eyed peas, and the tradition of hunting for yellow crocuses in the early days of spring. In time, Lisbeth realizes she has freedoms and opportunities that Mattie does not have, though she’s confined by the societal expectations placed on women born to privilege. As Lisbeth grows up, she struggles to reconcile her love for her caregiver with her parents’ expectations, a task made all the more difficult as she becomes increasingly aware of the ugly realities of the American slavery system. When Lisbeth bears witness to a shockingly brutal act, the final vestiges of her naiveté crumble around her. Lisbeth realizes she must make a choice, one that will require every ounce of the courage she learned from her beloved Mattie. This compelling historical novel is a richly evocative tale of love, loss, and redemption set during one of the most sinister chapters of American history.



My Thoughts:
This book claimed to be one which those who loved The Help and so going in with that I thought I was going to get a totally different experience. Had I not been told that however, I think I would have liked the book a lot more.


Mattie was a character who I truly loved. She was the wonderful stable parent for little Lisbeth and it was obvious by Lisbeth's later change in the novel that she was a necessary one. Mattie never forgot who she was and was still able to love others unconditionally. She was the character who made this book wroth while for me.


That is the reason I am so sad she disappears for half of the book.


Lisbeth was a character who I took a long time to warm up to, almost the entire novel. But I am very pleased with the woman she turned out to be.


The plot as a whole was pretty good but nothing stellar. There were some vulgarities that I really didn't like. I definitely wouldn't recommend this to people under the age of 16.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Spring Break!

Hello All, thank you for reading! I am sorry but I will be out of town for a little while so there won't be any reviews until roughly the 13th of March.

I hope you all have a great spring break!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Just For Fun Fridays - Anything

AnythingAnything
By: Michael Baron
Genre: General Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary
What if you got a chance to change the past? Would you take it?  This chance presents itself to Ken a week before his wedding to Melissa, the absolute love of his life. Going back and seeing her past, he is given the chance to erase her worst memory - make it so it never even happened. But doing so could change the present so completely that they would never have met. Should he take the chance? Would you?

My Thoughts:
It has been a few months since I have read a love story this well done. It shows not only the power of love but also the effects one person can have on multiple lives. The changes that occur for Ken throughout the novel are really interesting and got me thinking as to what changes I would have in my life had I made a few different choices.

Ken is a wonderful narrator for the story and keeps it moving at a nice pace. It is written in simple and classic prose very reminiscent of Nicholas Sparks. The supporting characters, of Stephon, Kate and Paul were all wonderful as well.

Overall I found it a very satisfying and quick read.

Thanks to NetGalley for giving me a copy for review.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Must Read Monday - Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of GrayBetween Shades of Gray
by: Ruta Sepetys
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 stars.


Summary from Goodreads:
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously - and at great risk - documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.



My Thoughts:
This is a book that everyone should read. It holds a story of survival and courage which until this point in time has been forgotten. It shows the many different types of bravery which can be shown by the human spirit when faces with unfathomable challenges.
Told through the point of Lina, a fifteen year old girl, it still manages to show the courage of her mother, and the pain of her neighbors. 


This novel doesn't skirt around the horrors done at this time. She accurately writes what she discovered about her own ancestry and does so in a way that is neither overly gruesome nor too gentle. She simply states the truth.  She does so with hope and with humanity which is what makes such a hard story readable. 


I loved the writing style, the prose was simple and sweet and I hope to be reading more from Sepetys in the future. I do urge those who have any interest in WWII to read this.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fantasy Friday - Stardust

StardustStardust
by Neil Gaiman
Genre - Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria--even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie--where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.


My Thoughts:
This was a story which I read a long time after being introduced to the movie of the same title. I loved the movie and I love the British writing style so I was expecting this to be hit out of the park.


I wasn't disappointed.


There just seems to be a different writing style in Britain. It is filled with quips and quibbles and so many sarcastic remarks and wonderful one liners that I usually end up snickering throughout the entire novel. Now, since we have established that I am an Anglophile, let me tell you what I liked about the book in general.


I liked the ending in this book better. It differed drastically mainly because books don't have to have huge battle scenes in order to feel climatic. (That is as much of a spoiler as I will give you) I also liked the star so much (in both book and movie) here she was grumpy she was whiny and she was human. I liked how it this was a fairy tale only for adults. (And by the way, it IS for adults. Not for a younger audience unless you cut out about a page or so in the beginning.) 


This was great, a quick read to help me wind down during midterms. 


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Historical Thursday - Raven's Bride


The Raven's BrideThe Raven's Bride
By: Lenore Hart
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars


Summary from Goodreads:

When eight-year-old Virginia "Sissy" Clemm meets her handsome cousin, Eddy, she sees the perfect husband she's conjured up in childhood games. Thirteen years her elder, he's soft-spoken, brooding, and handsome. Eddy fails his way through West Point and the army yet each time he returns to Baltimore, their friendship grows. As Sissy trains for a musical career, her childhood crush turns to love. When she's thirteen, Eddy proposes. But as their happy life darkens, Sissy endures Poe's abrupt disappearances, self-destructive moods, and alcoholic binges. When she falls ill, his greatest fear– that he’ll lose the woman he loves– drives him both madness, and to his greatest literary achievement.

My Thoughts:
Reading this while studying Poe was quite a fun experience. Having a knowledge of his works, while not mandatory is definitely helpful as you read what the author thought was going on during his life as he wrote them. 


This was a darker story, not at all romantic, but well, it's Edgar Allen Poe, I really didn't expect any real romance. Having read many of these kinds of novels (particularly by Nancy Moser) I must say I did enjoy this writing style and content. 


I found Sissy to be correctly portrayed as a girl who was never entirely sure how to grow up. It wasn't until much later in life...well almost in death did she really come into herself. In most circumstances this would have annoyed me but here I found it quite appropriate, considering how her mother never left her to her own devices and how she married so young.


Loved it, and I know this is nerdy, but I giggled to myself when I saw that the name of the person writing this was Lenore. 


Great Job.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Misc. Monday - Desired

Desired by Ginger Garrett
Add caption
Desired
by Ginger Garrett
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
 Before Samson was an Old Testament legend, he was a prodigal son, an inexperienced suitor, a vengeful husband, and a lost soul driven by his own weakness. This is his story as told by three strong women who loved him—the nagging, manipulative mother who pushed him toward greatness, the hapless Philistine bride whose betrayal propelled him into notoriety, and the emotionally damaged seductress—the famous Delilah—who engineered his downfall and propelled him to his destiny. Desiredcelebrates the God of Israel's to work powerfully in the midst of hopes, fears, desires, and sorrows.


My Review:

I have read stories like this before ([book:Pearl in the Sand|8089607] was amazing) and have really liked them, however this one just wasn't up to par.  I really liked the young women's points of view. Young Amara was nicely characterized and fleshed out, though not particularly dynamic. 


The people I had the most problems with, were 1 Samson and 2 his mother. Samson seemed like a little boy who never grew up. I understand that he was more of side story and the real focus was on both Amara and Delilah but still I would rather have dynamic characters than stagnant ones. He seemed to be unwilling to take true control of his life and that simply irritated me. Also his mother...I don't see her being that nagging of a person. She was probably of the same caliber of Elisabeth and Mary in the New Testament or Hannah and Sarah from the Old Testament. I don't see a nagging, manipulative, prideful woman being called to raise a "chosen one." So her portrayal really made me tune her out throughout the novel. 


The one who made me keep reading this is Delilah. Her story was wonderfully written, her change from a young innocent to the infamous seductress was believable and my favorite part to read. I loved her and how she was humanized and how were actions, which have little to no motivation given in the biblical story found in Judges.

Overall I would say it was ok but not my favorite.

Many thanks to NetGalley for helping me get a copy to read for review.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fun Friday - A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar: A NovelA Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar
by: Suzanne Joinson
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genre: General Fiction

Summary from Goodreads:

It is 1923. Evangeline (Eva) English and her sister Lizzie are missionaries heading for the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar. Though Lizzie is on fire with her religious calling, Eva’s motives are not quite as noble, but with her green bicycle and a commission from a publisher to write A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar, she is ready for adventure.
In present day London, a young woman, Frieda, returns from a long trip abroad to find a man sleeping outside her front door. She gives him a blanket and a pillow, and in the morning finds the bedding neatly folded and an exquisite drawing of a bird with a long feathery tail, some delicate Arabic writing, and a boat made out of a flock of seagulls on her wall. Tayeb, in flight from his Yemeni homeland, befriends Frieda and, when she learns she has inherited the contents of an apartment belonging to a dead woman she has never heard of, they embark on an unexpected journey together.


My Thoughts:
This is one of the most enjoyable novels I have read in a long time. It tells two stories - Eva's and Freida's - in alternating chapters. This is among my favorite of narrative styles so I was greatly pleased. Also I loved the fact that Eva's story was told in a rather obscure location and time period - Western China in the 1920's. 

Freida while in modern day London, still is exploring different cultures both in her personal in professional life. And that really is what I feel this story is about. Both parts of the story explore the differences in culture and if they could possibly mesh. 

This was such a complex story all of the details which you think are irrelevant combine and are woven into a wonderful ending. 

Only thing I would change if I could would be the occasional strong language. This is something which fairly conservative readers might want to be cautious about.



Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA for giving me a copy for review.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Misc Monday - ...So There


...So There by William O. Wing...So There
by: William O Wing
Genre: Gen. Fiction
Rating: 3 Stars


Summary from Goodreads:
William O. Wing, a tousled-haired Catholic school boy spots Carmen Maria Bonocelli, a fiery little Italian girl walking in front of his house wearing his favorite football jersey, then proceeds to intercept her stroll and confront her with a healthy dose of male indignation. Carmen, a descendent of a long line of gypsies, has certain magical powers and quickly turns his anger into embarrassment as she temporarily paralyzes his mind and body, a trick some girls can perform even without the benefit of magic. Carmen has recently moved into William’s neighborhood with her five older sisters and robust Sicilian mother, while her father, who is an American bomber pilot, is stationed at an airbase on the outskirts of London. 


My Thoughts:
This was a story which attempted to explore puppy love. It starts with the meeting of William O. and Miss Carmen. These two seem to be made for each other and this novel tries to explore the first chapter of their story together. 


Overall I thought the writing style was quite fun, there was a lot of kid talk - words that your vocabulary drops as you grow up, and a smattering of 1940's lingo. I liked the story line and how it didn't seem to be leading up to some big moment but rather was merely a telling of peoples lives. It was about characters rather than the plot.


HOWEVER...these kids are 11 supposedly and well they weren't given a chance to be merely kids. I feel like they were a little sexualized, especially Carmen which is something that an 11 year old should most definitely not be. Had the story stuck with dancing and football and making sandcastles and the innocence of puppy love I would have loved it. It didn't though so I felt that it lost out on a lot of charm which it could have had. 


Thank to The Bookplex for the chance to read this book for review.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Classic Tuesday: Joy Luck Club

The Joy Luck ClubJoy Luck Club
by: Amy Tan
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
The Joy Luck Club explores the tender and tenacious bond between four daughters and their mothers. The daughters know one side of their mothers, but they don't know about their earlier never-spoken of lives in China. The mothers want love and obedience from their daughters, but they don't know the gifts that the daughters keep to themselves. Heartwarming and bittersweet, this is a novel for mother, daughters, and those that love them.


My Thoughts: 
I called this a classic even though it is pretty contemporary mainly because I believe that it is a book that will be read for generations. Amy Tan has a wonderful way with words and knows the human character and holds great insight to human relationships.

I didn't come across this until half-way through my junior year of college (last week). I somehow made it through school without being assigned to read this. It makes me sad that I wasn't able to read this sooner. It is a wonderfully written novel. I love the structure, the style and the stories. Lots of books focus on a plot, on moving the story along to one final climax and happy resolution. Well in this case it felt a lot more like it was focused on getting to know the characters and their lives rather than on getting through a story. 
It showed so many complex relationships between mothers and daughters and more importantly went back to reveal what caused these women to be this way. 

I loved this novel and would highly recommend it to any reader man or woman.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Misc. Monday Before the Scarlet Dawn

Before the Scarlet DawnBefore the Scarlet Dawn
by: Rita Gerlach
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 2.5 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
In 1775, Hayward Morgan, a young gentleman destined to inherit his father’s estate in Derbyshire, England, captures the heart of the local vicar’s daughter, Eliza Bloome. Her dark beauty and spirited ways are not enough to win him, due to her station in life. Circumstances throw Eliza in Hayward’s path, and they flee to America to escape the family conflicts and to build Hayward's legacy. But as war looms, it's a temporary reprieve. Hayward joins the revolutionary forces and what follows is a struggle for survival, a test of faith, and the quest to find lasting love in an unforgiving wilderness.


My Thoughts:
That plot looks exactly like my cup of tea doesn't it? Well it wasn't. This was a novel in which I lost my trust in the narrator and in the protagonist. Eliza seems to have the blind devotion to a man who really isn't the best choice for her.  (If I were to tell you why it would be a pretty big spoiler, even for me so you would just have to read it to see why.) It is this blind devotion which makes me question her as a character, if put in her same situation almost any other sane woman would definitely have reacted differently. She is also described as spirited in nature...I don't see it. She obeys her husband in all things some of which are of a questionable nature (once again read the book if you want to know what).  What redeemed it and kept me reading was the fact that it wasn't your typical marriage plot novel. It started with a wedding and then went to attempt to explore it from there. Also Fiona was a wonderful supporting character, she is everything anyone could want in a nanny.
Many thanks to Abingdon Press for giving me a free copy for review.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Historical Thursday - The Guardian Duke

The Guardian Duke: A Forgotten Castles NovelThe Guardian Duke
By: Jamie Carie
Genre: Christian Romance
Rating: 3.5 Stars


Summary From Goodreads:

The Guardian Duke is award-winning novelist Jamie Carie’s most exciting story yet, a uniquely arranged Regency-era romantic adventure where hero and heroine know each other through written letters but have yet to meet.
Gabriel, the Duke of St. Easton, is ordered by the King to take guardianship over Lady Alexandria Featherstone whose parents are presumed dead after failing to return from a high profile treasure hunt. But Alexandria ignores this royal reassignment, believing her parents are still alive and duly following clues that may lead to their whereabouts. Gabriel, pressured by what are actually the King’s ulterior motives, pursues her across windswept England and the rolling green hills of Ireland but is always one step behind.
My Thoughts:

Well this ending was the very definition of cliff-hanger. I just finished the book and was saddened to see how long of a wait it is until the next one. I loved Alex as a heroine. She is the headstrong, idiotic young adult who forgets that everything doesn't go according to plan and gets into some fun scrapes because of this. 

Now that is not to say that the book is perfect. There is one aspect of it which I find so confusing and which I am praying will be better explained - the Dukes odd and sudden deafness. (you find that out right away so no worries on spoilers). Also I was a little unconvinced that this Duke could fall in love after a few letters (Hey it's Christian Romance, it's supposed to happen so once again, no worries, I'm not really giving anything away.)
I loved the secondary characters, each one had a loving and lovable personality and I think this series will (once it is resolved, and not until then!) be a very good one.


Thank you to B&H Publishing Group for giving me a copy for review.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

BOOK GIVEAWAY!!

Pearl in the SandSo I am hosting my first ever book giveaway.  You may remember how much I loved the book Pearl In The Sand. (check the link for my review) Well I now have the chance to give it away!! Just enter below and I will announce the winner on Monday the 23rd!! Please leave your email in the comment so I can contact the winner!






Friday, January 13, 2012

Fluffy Friday - The Wonder of Your Love

The Wonder of Your Love (A Land of Canaan Series #2)The Wonder of Your Love
By: Beth Wiseman
Genre: Christian Fiction
Rating: 4 stars


Summary From Goodreads:

Settling in to her new life in Canaan, Colorado, Katie Ann Stoltzfus gives birth to a beautiful baby boy. The boy's father - her estranged husband - died before their son is born. Despite his infidelities, Ivan was her one true love. She mourns his loss, vows never to trust another man, and resolves to fill the role of both mother and father to her son.
Then Eli Detweiler arrives in Canaan from Middlefield, Ohio, to attend his niece's wedding. He's been raising his kids alone in Middlefield since his wife's death fifteen years ago. Now each child is married, so Eli looks forward to living a less-structured life-and eating shoofly pie for breakfast every morning. There's no one to care for except himself.
When a meddling-but good-hearted-Englisch woman plays matchmaker for Katie Ann and Eli, they find themselves facing an unexpected, hopeful future…brought together by God's wondrous love.
My Thoughts:
This is a very nicely done novel on portraying a different aspect of the Amish lifestyle. It explores the fact that those of other faiths and backgrounds all experience the same challenges. Now I jumped into the series half-way through, and while this novel doesn't entirely work as a stand-alone, it does give enough explanations that you aren't super confused the whole time.
In the previous novel, Seek Me with All Your Heart, Katie Ann deals with the knowledge of her husband cheating on her. In this novel she deals with the aftermath, both with other people and within herself. I loved the fact that Wiseman chose to break away from the basic wedding plot which most novels seem to have and try to focus on other issues.
I loved Martha. She is the type of woman I hope to be when I am old. She has attitude and a kind heart which she tries her best to hide. I love the twist that her personal plot took in the story and am excited to see how it will play out.
Many thanks to Thomas Nelson for letting me read this book for review.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

YA Wednesday - The Healer's Apprentice


The Healer's ApprenticeThe Healer's Apprentice
By: Melanie Dickerson
Genre: Christian Romance, YA
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
Two Hearts. One Hope.Rose has been appointed as a healer's apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter's daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her---a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill.When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she's never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose's life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.


My Thoughts:


This is my second Dickerson novel and I must say I enjoyed this one a lot more than the last one. I liked all of the characters, not just the main ones. I also thoroughly enjoyed the idea of retelling the story of Sleeping Beauty. It is one that I feel is over looked. 
I really liked Rose and her constant struggle to do what was right. Rather then just go along with what would be most beneficial for her in the long run, she stuck to her standards and did so in an admirable way not an over-zealous kind of way. I also loved her dog, everyone needs a good guard dog in their life.
From a literary standpoint, I really liked how she played with foreshadowing. It was done in such a way that it wasn't too obvious but if you know your literary devices you know that it's there.
I liked the way that the romance chose to develop rather than suddenly be there (too many authors just have love-at-first-sight types of things, and there really is no such thing as that in my opinion) it added more reality to the story as a whole.
I think this is a wonderfully done debut novel and hope that in her next ones her talents will strengthen rather than diminish.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Misc. Monday - Hour Before the Dawn

The Hour before DawnThe Hour Before the Dawn
by: Penelope Wilcock
Genre: Christian
Rating: 4 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Abbot John is undergoing deep, emotional shock after learning of the rape of his sister and murder of his mother; Father William is discovering his own vulnerability; and there, immersed in the daily routine of simple tasks, the brothers undertake the greatest task of nurturing the grace of God in their souls.


"The world is always darkest the hour before the dawn." Many of us have either heard or read this particular saying and it is from this that the title is taken from and it is a very fitting title for the story. It is a story which the author explores the varying paths of grief and the only way to truly come out of it. 

This is the fifth book of the series but can be read with minimal confusion on its own. It follows Abbot John and William, first as they travel to visit John's sister after her attack and then later as they go in search of Brother Oswald, one of Father Williams brothers from his old order. It is upon finding Brother Oswald that the path to happiness could finally be taken (you have to read the book if you want to find out why.)

As someone whose only knowledge of monasteries came from watching Sound of Music it was very nice to have it all spelled out so nicely both in the book and with extra explanations afterwards. Wilcock seems to have done real research into this topic and tells her story with ease.  It is a deep book and one which shows how God can lead individuals to a place of healing. as explained in one of my favorite quotes of the novel:

"God is the Creator who goes about making us and remaking us even when our hearts are broken and our lives are shattered. He searches for every shard of who we once were and makes something new of all those pieces and His love."

In all honesty I probably won't go back and read the rest of the books in the series, but I don't regret spending my time in reading this. Thank you to Crossway Books for giving me a book for review.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Historical Thursday - How Do I Love Thee?

How Do I Love Thee? (Ladies of History, book #4)How Do I Love Thee
By: Nancy Moser
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 2.5 stars

Summary From Goodreads:
She dreams of love for others but never for herself...
Elizabeth Barrett is a published poet--and a virtual prisoner in her own home. Blind family loyalty ties her to a tyrannical father who forbids any of his children to marry. Bedridden by chronic illness, she has resigned herself to simply existing. That is, until the letter arrives...
"I love your verses with all my heart," writes Robert Browning, an admiring fellow poet. As friendly correspondence gives way to something more, Elizabeth discovers that Robert's love is not for her poetry alone. Might God grant her more than mere existence? And will she risk defying her father in pursuit of true happiness?
My Thoughts:
To be honest, I read the first 200 pages or so but then skimmed the rest. I didn't like Ba. She was spineless and listened to others more than herself. Now I understand that this was a historical novel and we were sticking with facts here, but Moser could have at least given real reasons as to why Ba was so submissive to her father and why she was scared to go outside.  I thought this novel was going to focus more on the relationship between the two poets but it took so long to get going and was so slow, I asked myself several times why I was reading it.
Once the romantic part FINALLY started it was ok, but since most of that was letters written by the poets I am not giving all too much credit to the author.

I did like all of the sonnets included throughout and was appreciative of the historical facts in the back but overall, I was glad when I finally finished it and could put it down. It will be a very long time before I pick up a Moser novel again.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

YA Wednesday - Ophelia

OpheliaOphelia
by: Lisa Klein
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4 Stars


Summary from Goodreads:
He is Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; she is simply Ophelia. If you think you know their story, think again.
        In this reimagining of Shakespeare's famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who takes center stage. A rowdy, motherless girl, she grows up at Elsinore Castle to become the queen's most trusted lady-in-waiting.  Ambitious for knowledge and witty as well as beautiful, Ophelia learns the ways of power in a court where nothing is as it seems. When she catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and Ophelia's happiness is shattered. Ultimately, she must choose between her love for Hamlet and her own life. In desperation, Ophelia devises a treacherous plan to escape from Elsinore forever . . . with one very dangerous secret.



My Thoughts:
This is a wonderful story. It goes into a character of Shakespeare's Hamlet to try and explain her madness. Klein does an excellent job of bringing that world to life. She creates a plausible and wonderful situation. I love the complexity she adds to a character who has been cast as a minor and insane character by the world. AND I love that she understands that she isn't Shakespeare and doesn't try to make herself seem that way. She takes the plot that we know and then makes it her own. The story begins before Shakespeare starts his story and ends years afterward making it solidly its own work.

Ophelia herself is a strong character who has faults enough to be human, yet is someone who is easy to sympathize with. I love all of the herb-lore she has in this book and how she puts it to good use. 

This was a wonderful read, written with a fast pace and with a compelling plot line it is a book well worth reading