Monday, October 15, 2012

Short-Straw Bride


Short-Straw BrideShort-Straw Bride

by: Karen Whitemeyer
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating 3.5 stars

Summary:
No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both.

My thoughts:
I love Witemeyer. She manages to get enough of the romance in that it is the perfect book for when you are having a blah day that you just want to perk up. Now do I wish that there was some more communication between everyone? Yes, naturally. But then we wouldn't have much of a story now would we?

Travis and Meredith might have started off with marriage but it is fun to read about how their friendship grows throughout the novel. Something I especially liked was how Travis learned the necessary lesson of how no man is an island and it's necessary to draw on others for help when you need to.

I have read the rest of Witemeyer's work (see Head in the Clouds and To Win her Heart) and while this one wasn't my favorite it really was up to par with her previous work. I can't wait to see what else she comes up with.

This book was given to my by Bethany House Publishing in exchange for an honest review.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cutting out early

There is no way for me to healthily stick with this so I will cut out 2 hours early.

It has been quite fun and I shall prepare better for future Readathons.

Moby-Dick...a whale of an assignment

My senior paper class has me reading Herman Melville's Moby-Dick currently and I came in not excited at all. If you haven't picked up on it yet, when it comes to classic literature give me England over America any day. So knowing I had to study Herman Melville for a semester I wasn't too thrilled. But the more of his works that I read the more in love with them I become.

Thus far Moby-Dick proves itself to be a masterfully crafted work. It dives deep into human nature and spirituality. I love it (even though I am way too far behind in it) and am so glad I have this opportunity to read it. I recommend it to everyone. It IS the classic that every person should read.

A Spy in the House

A Spy in the House (The Agency, #1)A Spy in the House
by: Y.S. Lee

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Summary:
Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past.

My Thoughts:
First, let us take a moment to drool over the cover - it's even more beautiful in person. Now the story is just as good as the cover. Yeah, doesn't happen all the time but here goodness it is amazing.  

I love Mary, she is strong willed, can be a bit snarky when she so chooses and recognizes her weaknesses yet doesn't let herself be over come by them.  Her characterization is consistant and fun and I am definitely going to find time to read the rest of these novels! It's the first in the series and her storyline wasn't completed so I cannot wait to get my hands on the second one.

I picked up the book thinking that it would be more about the schooling part of her life but it breezed over it and you know what I was fine. This story is much better than another boarding school story would have been. 

I also loved all of the little Victorian details that the author kept slipping in there. I can tell that they know their stuff. As a total Victorian I approve of the research that went into the writing of the book. 

So, if you love strong female protagonists, Victorian London, mysteries and not too much romance (huge plus) Read it!

Halfway! and Now I can really start!

So finally all of my obligations are over and I can just read!

Popcorn is popping, blanket fort is made and here is my midway survey!

Mid-Event Survey
1) How are you doing? Sleepy? Are your eyes tired?
Eyes are tired and feet are sore.
2) What have you finished reading?
Sadly nothing, give me another 30 minutes...
3) What is your favorite read so far?
See above.
4) What about your favorite snacks?
Those little jawbreakers that you get in those huge mix bags of candy, though popcorn is one of my favorite things on the face of the planet.
5) Have you found any new blogs through the readathon? If so, give them some love!
Not yet, but I haven't really been looking I will later on when I feel like I can't stay awake any longer.


Ok next post will have something finished! I promise!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ok, one more break then a solid 9 hours!

So, I got asked to a dance...very last minute and have to take a little break and have some fun on the dance floor.

I almost finished A Spy in the House so more updates to come.

Why was Homecoming This week?

So yeah, Homecoming was this week and as I am on almost every committee known to mankind I have been running around all day. So I finally get about 3 hours of total reprieve nowish...

In the minutes I have been able to catch here and there I have been reading A Spy in the House which I have been wanting to read for ages because it has pretty much everything that I could ever want in a novel (except for a consistent narrator, sometimes it's limited omniscient other times its told from the point of view of their thoughts...yeah it isn't confusing and I wouldn't have noticed it before my narrative approaches to literature class, but there you go. At least I know that I'm learning something.) it's Victorian based, has a young female spy for a protagonist and a love plot that about half-way through has NOT manifested itself...perfect!

So I will get to homework eventually....I hope.

It's time for another readathon!

Sadly while today is Dewey's Semi-Annual 24 hour read-a-thon life has other plans for me so I will have to be checking in and out a lot. But I am excited to do what I can. I have a bunch of homework that I'm hoping to catch up on - Bleak House, Moby-Dick, and Heart of Darkness for starters - but I am going to try and sneak some good stuff in there as well. I have the Mistborn Trilogy out on loan from a friend so this is going to be a very good day.

Loves to you all, Happy Reading!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Angelina's Bachelors


Angelina's Bachelors: A Novel with FoodAngelina's Bachelors: A Novel with Food

By: Brian O'Reilly
Genre: General Fiction
Rating: 5 stars

Summary:
Far too young to be a widow, Angelina D’Angelo suddenly finds herself facing a life without her beloved husband, Frank. Late one night shortly after the funeral, she makes her way down to the kitchen and pours all of her grief and anger into the only outlet she has left—her passion for cooking. In a frenzy of concentration and swift precision, she builds layer upon layer of thick, rich lasagna, braids loaves of yeasty bread, roasts plump herb-rubbed chicken; she makes so much food that she winds up delivering the spoils to the neighbors in her tight-knit Italian community in South Philadelphia. Retiree Basil Cupertino, who has just moved in with his kindly sister across the street, is positively smitten with Angelina’s food. In a stroke of good fortune, Basil offers Angelina (not only husbandless but unemployed) a job cooking for him—two meals a day, six days a week, in exchange for a handsome salary. Soon, word of her irresistible culinary prowess spreads and she finds herself cooking for seven bachelors—and in the process discovers the magical power of food to heal, to bring people together . . . and maybe even to provide a second chance at love. 

My Thoughts:
I have tried to become more stingy with my 5 stars, only offering them to books which changed me in some way, be that on a philosophical plane or something more shallow such as picking up new habits and hobbies. All of my food books that I've read recently has made me want to cook more, but this one seems to take all of what the other books started and brings it all together to the point where I am going out and buying supplies to make my own recipe box. 

Right from the start where she is making her "Frangelico Chocolate 'Dream' Cake" I was hooked. I loved her indignation at someone serving a store bought cake as homemade. (Though this may or may not be something that I am guilty of.) The whole book made me want to get up, go to my pantry and see if I could whip up something tasty. I also really loved the different bachelors that Angelina had coming up to her house. My favorite one being a man who isn't really in the mafia...but still "knows a guy" who can take care of pretty much anything. 

The plot overall is a very sweet, and heartwarming. The writing genuine and well executed. I was actually surprised when I looked at the author's name and realized that it was written by a man, he has good insight in to the feminine perspective.  Also, since he is the head of Food Network's Dinner: Impossible the recipes he includes are all great.

I love it and would recommend it to anyone who wants to read something heartwarming and sweet.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Kitchen Daughter


The Kitchen DaughterThe Kitchen Daughter

By: Jael McHenry
Genre: General Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summery:
After the unexpected death of her parents, painfully shy and sheltered 26-year-old Ginny Selvaggio seeks comfort in cooking from family recipes. But the rich, peppery scent of her Nonna’s soup draws an unexpected visitor into the kitchen: the ghost of Nonna herself, dead for twenty years, who appears with a cryptic warning (“do no let her…”) before vanishing like steam from a cooling dish.

A haunted kitchen isn’t Ginny’s only challenge. Her domineering sister, Amanda, (aka “Demanda”) insists on selling their parents’ house, the only home Ginny has ever known. As she packs up her parents’ belongings, Ginny finds evidence of family secrets she isn’t sure how to unravel. She knows how to turn milk into cheese and cream into butter, but she doesn’t know why her mother hid a letter in the bedroom chimney, or the identity of the woman in her father’s photographs. The more she learns, the more she realizes the keys to these riddles lie with the dead, and there’s only one way to get answers: cook from dead people’s recipes, raise their ghosts, and ask them

My Thoughts:
I loved, loved, loved the point of view character here. She doesn't have a disorder, she has a personality. It was great to read a book from a person with mild Aspergers  Syndrome. And I also liked how the beginning of the chapters had recipes from the story. (Some of them worked I tried and they made me happy.) Now, the book does have a lot of food references but the story really does focus on how Ginny grows and learns to cope after the death of her parents. One thing I really love is the relationship between her and her housekeeper. She is like a second mother who teaches Ginny how to grow beyond her difficulties. 

I think that this book, while it isn't a total foodie book, is a great one to read. It deals with grief and all of its different forms and beautifully describes life after death.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chocolat


ChocolatChocolat

By:Joanne Harris
Genre: General Fiction
Rating:3.5 stars

Summary:
In tiny Lansquenet, where nothing much has changed in a hundred years, beautiful newcomer Vianne Rocher and her exquisite chocolate shop arrive and instantly begin to play havoc with Lenten vows. Each box of luscious bonbons comes with a free gift: Vianne's uncanny perception of its buyer's private discontents and a clever, caring cure for them. Is she a witch? Soon the parish no longer cares, as it abandons itself to temptation, happiness, and a dramatic face-off between Easter solemnity and the pagan gaiety of a chocolate festival. 

My Thoughts: 
I first watched the movie on this one in my high school French class (It was in French and I wasn't too fluent yet so I didn't get too much from it except for the imagery.) I loved the imagery and well I love chocolate so this looked like a fun little read. I loved the characterizations of the different townspeople and the relationship between Vianne and her daughter Anouk. It was a little bit slow in the middle while the priest seemed to be doing the same thing over and over again, but overall I really liked this one. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

School of Essential Ingredients


The School of Essential Ingredients

The School of Essential Ingredients

By: Erica Bauermeister 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian's Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. Students include Claire, a young mother struggling with the demands of her family; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer learning to adapt to life in America; and Tom, a widower mourning the loss of his wife to breast cancer. Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students' lives. One by one the students are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of Lillian's food, including a white-on-white cake that prompts wistful reflections on the sweet fragility of love and a peppery heirloom tomato sauce that seems to spark one romance but end another.

My Thoughts:
I read this for the first time about 3 years ago and the story has stuck with me.  The language  is wonderful to read and rich and decadent like some of the dishes the students create. Each chapter focuses on a different member of the class, how they got to be there and the wonderful healing power which good food can offer.  Each character relates to different people, a mother who has lost her identity, a teenager who is still trying to figure out who they are and a man who is trying to get over the loss of his wife.

Overall I think it is a great first piece and foodie and non-foodie alike would enjoy it.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Foodie Week!

Hey there everyone! This past little bit I have just happened to begin trying to expands my skills in the kitchen. Most likely this has been triggered by all of these foodie books I've been reading. So if you are looking for books to get you excited about food again that's what I am going to try and help with this week! And if you have any food books that you think are great let me know! I would love to check them out.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

YA Wednesday - When the Bough Breaks


When the Bough BreaksWhen the Bough Breaks

By: Kay Lynn Mangum
Genre: LDS fiction
Rating 4.5 stars

Summary:
Rachel Fletcher thought that her biggest secret in high school would be her crush on Jason West, but after her father dies in a car wreck, one she thinks is her fault, all of that changes. She has to deal with the problems of a mother who is almost catatonic with depression and worse a brother who is turning into an alcoholic. As time passes and her mother remarries she has to add a new step-father and step-brother into the mix. Rachel's brother's addiction just gets worse. She wonders why God isn't helping out more, but God doesn't always help the way we think He should.


My Thoughts:
I love this book, and have read it several times. It's one that can be hard to read (especially the first time) but almost impossible to put down. Rachel is a quiet girl who prefers to spend her time writing poetry and working on her creative writing skills, she never asked for the problems of a lost father and an alcoholic brother. She has the typical questions of "why me?" I love how real Mangum can make her characters.

A criticism of LDS fiction is that it generally can't deal with the problems which face the world of today -drug and alcohol addictions and what not, this book proves that incorrect.  It illustrates beautifully what it's like to have a family member who is an addict and how people react to it. The whole plot of healing both for Rachel and her brother Ryan left me almost crying a time or two (I have only cried twice while reading) but not wanting to stop at all.


I would recommend this book to both YA and adults, and all religions, it is beautifully done. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Misc Monday - The Beginners Goodbye


The Beginner's GoodbyeThe Beginner's Goodbye

By: Anne Tyler
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 2 stars

Summary:
Crippled in his right arm and leg, Aaron spent his childhood fending off a mother and a sister who want to manage him. So when he meets Dorothy, a plain, outspoken, self-dependent young woman, she is like a breath of fresh air. Unhesitatingly he marries her, and they have a relatively happy, unremarkable marriage. But when a tree crashes into their house and Dorothy is killed, Aaron feels as though he has been erased forever. Only Dorothy’s unexpected appearances from the dead help him to live in the moment and to find some peace.

My Thoughts:
I have read Anne Tyler before, I liked Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant but this book that I read wasn't written by a Pulitzer Prize winner. I didn't really like Aaron or Dorothy or really anyone else. I thought Aaron was unnecessarily harsh with everyone around him. There were parts of the novel where I wanted to smack him upside the head and shout "no you idiot, get over yourself and give some attention to someone besides yourself!" And Dorothy's visits...they seemed to really have no explanation or point. He talks about how other people saw her too but only in passing, I was waiting for an incident to go into further detail. And I didn't really feel like Aaron grew at all. He seemed to be the same all the way through until magically a couple of years after the fact he **spoiler**(highlight to see it) has married Peggy and has a little girl who he loves to play with at the park**spoiler done** really makes no sense to me. Also, he sounded 60 not the 36 he is supposed to be, the whole cast felt like a retirement community not like contemporaries. 

Overall, I would stick with Anne Tyler's older works and pass on this one. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Attachments


AttachmentsAttachments

By: Rainbow Rowell
Genre:Romance
Rating: 4 (excessive language kept it from 5 stars)
Parental Guidance suggested for hard language


Summary:
Beth and Jennifer know their company monitors their office e-mail. But the women still spend all day sending each other messages, gossiping about their coworkers at the newspaper and baring their personal lives like an open book. Jennifer tells Beth everything she can't seem to tell her husband about her anxieties over starting a family. And Beth tells Jennifer everything, period.

When Lincoln applied to be an Internet security officer, he hardly imagined he'd be sifting through other people's inboxes like some sort of electronic Peeping Tom. Lincoln is supposed to turn people in for misusing company e-mail, but he can't quite bring himself to crack down on Beth and Jennifer. He can't help but be entertained-and captivated- by their stories.

But by the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late for him to ever introduce himself. What would he say to her? "Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you." After a series of close encounters and missed connections, Lincoln decides it's time to muster the courage to follow his heart . . . even if he can't see exactly where it's leading him.

My Thoughts:
It has been a long time since I have finished a book and just wanted to yell to the world (or at least type to them) that they must read it! But this book had me texting friends to get going on it before I was even done. 
Now, it is fluffy, (I have seen it described as "it's so fluffy I'm gonna die!" said of course in a Despicable Me voice)  and the email gimmick has been done before and failed miserably, but it is witty fluff that was very nicely done. Beth and Jennifer have these hilarious conversations that had me giggling through the whole thing, even though currently this is quite a painful thing for me to do (wisdom teeth..blech). That really is what made this story so wonderful for me, yes it was fun to see Lincoln go from this sad, empty life to a fun, fulfilling one, but it was the true friendship between the two women that have me loving it and setting it apart from other romances I have read.

Now is it somewhat creepy and stalkerish that he was reading their email? Well, in a word kinda... it is his job and the way it's portrayed doesn't have him come across as all that bad. He is a relatable guy who is dealing with the awkward position he's been put in.

There were a couple of curves at the end which were really quite nice. At one point I wasn't sure if it was going to end the way all romances end and I feel like I would have been satisfied if it hadn't. It was just written that well.

I feel like this is one of the few books I've read that will appeal equally to both men and women. It is a fun, quirky, lovable read - one that I will probably return to.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Historical Thursday - The Dressmaker

The Dressmaker: A NovelThe Dressmaker: A Novel

By: Kate Alcott
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
Tess Collins wants more from her life than to be a maid in England, so when she is given the chance to cross over to America on the Titanic as the personal maid of the Lady Duff Gordon she jumps at the chance. Once on board thought she catches the eye of two men. One a Chicago millionaire and the other a sailor seemingly like the village boys she is trying to escape. On the fourth night of her journey however disaster strikes.
 
Amidst the chaos and desperate urging of two very different suitors, Tess is one of the last people allowed on a lifeboat. Tess’s sailor also manages to survive unharmed, witness to her employers questionable actions during the tragedy. Others—including the gallant Midwestern tycoon—are not so lucky. 
 
On dry land, rumors about the survivors begin to circulate, and Lady Duff Gordon quickly becomes the subject of media scorn and later, the hearings on the Titanic. Tess eventually must choose who to believe and who to trust.


My Comments:
Let me first say, I have never been much of a Titanic nut. I have never seen the movie and have never really had much interest in the story beyond Thomas Hardy's poem "Convergence of the Twain." So I came into this basically a blank slate. And I loved it. I loved her telling of everything from the decadence of the boat to the opulance of turn-of-the-century New York City. 

There are two very strong female leads, Pinky, a reporter who is trying to be the next Nelly Bly (for those of you who don't know who she is please check here, because she is really cool) and Tess who may be British by birth but she is American in almost every other aspect. Both of these women are hard working and will take what chances are offered them. I thought that Alcott did a great job with both of them and was fine that the narrative was split between the two.

There were a few questions that I wished were answered, a couple of character questions that I wish had been resolved. However on the whole I loved how the plot focused on the Senate hearings rather than the sinking itself. 

This was a great read and I recommend it highly to people who want to see what that world was like and want some insights into the Titanic.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Historical Thursday - Death By Petticoat


Death by Petticoat: American History Myths DebunkedDeath by Petticoat: American History Myths Debunked

By: Mary Miley Theobald
Genre: Non-Fiction
Rating: 3 stars

Summary:
Covering many myths which have become "common knowledge" in America, Theobald sets out to easily set the record straight on 63 American myths.

My thoughts:
First of all, yes I know I am reading non-fiction...it happens occasionally...

I thought this was a perfect level for those who aren't hard-core history buffs but still have an interest in history. it is explains these stories  in a slightly humorous, matter of fact way which makes it very memorable. 

The title comes from the myth that colonial women's second leading cause of death was their skirts catching fire. However, this due to the fact that the cottons, wools and linens of their age are far less flammable than the nylon, rayon and polyesters of ours. 

This has more credibility for me than most of the works like this mainly due to the bibliography in the back which allows for checking of the facts. This book is perfect for what it is and is a fun little thing to have on hand. 

Thanks to Netgalley for giving me a copy in exchange for review. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Just a little Something





Here is a picture I just found and I believe that it is something worth considering. Especially in summer when you shouldn't be inside all day. Plus internet has been spotty at my school for the past...ever and so this fits in marvelously with my life right now.

Misc. Monday - The Messenger

The Messenger The Messenger

By: Siri Mitchell
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
Hannah Sunderland felt content in her embrace of the Quaker faith 


...until her twin brother ran off and joined the army and ended up captured and in jail. Suddenly Hannah's world turns on end. She longs to bring her brother some measure of comfort in the squalid, frigid prison where he remains. But the Quakers believe they are not to take sides, not to take up arms. Can she sit by and do nothing while he suffers?


Jeremiah Jones has an enormous task before him. Responsibility for a spy ring is now his, and he desperately needs access to the men in prison, whom they are seeking to free. A possible solution is to garner a pass for Hannah. But while she is fine to the eye, she holds only disdain for him--and agreeing would mean disobeying those she loves and abandoning a bedrock of her faith. 



My Thoughts:
I love Siri Mitchell, as is evident by the fact that I have already read and reviewed two of her books A Constant Heart and She Walks In Beauty. This is the fourth book book of hers that I have read and I loved it. She has a habit of taking historical eras which are very popular to write about and finding an angle which hasn't been looked at. The idea of being a pacifist in wartime has always been a difficulty and in the Revolutionary War which had a "for us or against us" mentality it becomes much more difficult.

Having such dynamic characters as Jeremiah and Hannah really helped to make this story what it was. From the timid, obedient child, Hannah becomes a woman in her own right with her own believes both political and spiritual.

With two different points of view I expected to get confused at first with the switching between back and forth. Mitchell is quite good at this though and made for very smooth transitions.

If you love historical fiction and haven't read any of her books this would definitely be a great place to start. I love her and can't wait for new books from her.

Thank you Bethany House Publishing who gave me this book in exchange for an honest review. 



Friday, June 8, 2012

Hey All!

So, I am back in the country now, (Italy was AMAZING!!!) and have read a lot of stuff so I will be working on catching up on everything that I have read. I have a lot of stuff that are from different genres from where I normally go so I hope y'all like the change of pace.

Thanks to all for still being with me! I hope all of you are having good summers!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Misc Monday - Uneasy Fortunes

Uneasy FortunesUneasy Fortunes
By: Mandi Ellsworth
Genre: Christian Romance
Rating: 3.5 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Battered by his past, Pete knows he has no business falling for anyone. But when time can’t heal a wound, love steps in to make it right. Based on a true story of the post–Civil War South, this gentle rustic romance will pull you in from the first page and leave you with a renewed hope in the power of real love.


My  Thoughts:
I found this to be a very sweet novel.  All of the characters were more real than what is generally found in romance novels. There wasn't some bolt of lightning romance, as the characters grew their relationships grew with them.  Everyone was facing challenges and figuring out how to deal with them in the best way they could. It's less a story about love and more a story about growing up and learning to live life after tragedy. 


It was a perfect "de-stressor" and something that I read a chapter or two of before going to bed to help calm down after finals. If there was one thing I would change it would be the going back and forth in dialect. Sometimes the characters were speaking "southern" and sometimes "yankee" I wouldn't really care which one was picked, I just wanted the author to choose.


Many Thanks to NetGalley for letting me read this book for review.

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.