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Thursday
Feb272014

Brighter than the Sun by Julia Quin

Brighter Than the Sun by Julia Quinn is not a terrible book. It has many of the trademark Quinn qualities that I love. The dialogue is great. There are many funny interactions. And in this book, there is more than one incredibly colorful minor character.

But I just couldn’t get past the fact that I could not stand the heroine. Ellie is a supposed to be a strong, capable woman, but instead she comes off as an obnoxious know-it-all.

As the book begins, Ellie is walking along a path as a man falls onto her from a tree. That man is our hero: Charles Wycombe, the Earl of Billington. In the fall, Charles injures his ankle, and Ellie offers to help him back to his carriage in town.

By the time the two arrive at the carriage, Charles has asked Ellie to be his wife. Never mind that she’s a vicar’s daughter, or that they’ve just met. Charles needs a wife within the next two weeks or he will lose his fortune.

When she returns home, Ellie also realizes that she wants to marry quickly in order to get out of her father’s house. It’s not her father who is the problem, but his new fiancée, who, for Ellie, is unbearable.

On a certain level, I find the entire premise of the story to be odd. Not because it’s a marriage of convenience — I’ve read an enjoyed many convenience romances — but because, after Ellie leaves her home, Quinn spends the entire book repeatedly telling the reader that Ellie can survive and make the best of anything. Yet, Ellie never even makes an attempt to survive living with her father’s new fiancée. For me, the action she takes in marrying Charles simply doesn’t fit with her headstrong and determined personality. In addition, Ellie is said to be reasonable and pragmatic, and marrying a man who fell on her from a tree is hardly reasonable.

Anyhow, Ellie marries and moves into Charles’ home under the condition that the couple doesn’t consummate their marriage before Ellie is ready. When Ellie arrives at Wycombe Abbey, she is greeted by Charles’ four female relatives, each of whom live at the abbey. I loved Charles’ Aunt Cordelia, who is a bit senile, and his six-year-old cousin Judith, who is adorable.

His 14-year-old cousin, Claire, though immediately hates Ellie. And when everything Ellie touches begins to break, Ellie wonders if Claire has anything to do with it.

When someone begins targeting Charles, though, those living at Wycombe Abbey realize that someone dangerous is around. Can Ellie use her sensibility to help save her new husband, before it’s too late?

There really are a lot of injuries in this book, and after a while it becomes a bit tiresome. It seems as if Ellie or Charles or both are getting seriously injured in every chapter. In addition, there are some really absurd situations in this book. I mentioned that Charles fell out of a tree to meet Ellie (though it never became clear why he was in the tree). In another chapter, Ellie and Charles find themselves smashed together inside a fireplace in a tenants’ home. Odd. Certainly, no one can accuse Quinn of a lack of creativity.

In all, I enjoyed certain parts of Brighter than the Sun, though I found Ellie to be overbearing and entirely unlikable. The story isn’t exactly close to historically accurate, but I’m OK with that. If I wanted to read history, I would pick up a history book.

Would I recommend Brighter Than the Sun ? No, I don’t think so. I would say pick up one of Quinn’s other books, instead. With the exception of Dancing at Midnight, the others  are much better.

Also, when I did an image search for this book, I noticed that I totally got jipped, as my book does NOT have the above back cover/step back. What the heck! lol

Tuesday
Feb252014

Blame it On Bath by Caroline Linden

I really enjoyed Blame It on Bath: The Truth About the Duke by Caroline Linden. I know I loved it, because I was disappointed when it was over.

The story is part of the series that includes One Night in London, though Blame it on Bath certainly doesn’t need to be read as a part of the series. In fact, I’ve never read One Night in London and I loved this book, anyway.

It’s the story of Gerard de Lacey, who is the third son of the Duke of Durham. Gerard is in a tough spot, because after his father’s death, Gerard and his brothers find out that someone had been blackmailing their father. Should the blackmailer’s claims be true, then Gerard and his brothers all would be bastards, leaving them penniless.

Katherine Howe is in dire straights, too, because, as a widowed heiress, she is expected to marry her dead husband’s nephew. She’d much rather marry Gerard, though — especially since she’s cared for him for more than 12 years.

Gerard doesn’t remember plain Katherine from his childhood, though, which surprisingly makes it all the easier for Katherine to approach him and propose marriage. Katherine knows Gerard is desperate, and though everyone tells her she’s ugly, Katherine hopes he will marry her for her money and save her from the iron-fisted man she is expected to marry.

Gerard does agree to marry Katherine, and he quickly whisks her from London to Bath in order to hunt down his father’s blackmailer. Gerard doesn’t make it very far where the blackmail scheme is concerned, but he does quickly learn to care for his wife, making this a wonderful marriage of convenience story.

However, the blackmail storyline is a bit frustrating at times because I wanted to know more about it, and it was the only part of the story that really disappointed me. **SPOILER ALERT** At the end of the book, Gerard hands the investigation off to his oldest brother with no resolution, and I really wanted to know who was behind the plot and why. It’s perhaps one of the only weak points of the book.

But the relationship and personal growth between Katherine and Gerard more than makes up for the lack of blackmail resolution. Katherine changes quite a bit through the story, as she starts out as a bold-yet-mousy character and blossoms into in a self-assured and confident wife. I really took pleasure in the ways she changed — not only with the help of Gerard, but also on her own. I wasn’t sure I liked her when the story started out, but I adored her by the end of the book.

In fact, the same is true of Gerard on some levels. I thought he was more of a jerk when the story began, but by the time the couple arrived in Bath, I realized that I liked him more than I expected, too.

So admittedly, I loved the hero and heroine, and that contributed quite a bit to the easy enjoyment I felt while reading. I expected the book to be a bit more drama-filled and intense, given Gerard’s investigation and the quick marriage between the couple. Instead, the story is easy and relatable. The relationship is realistic, in some odd way, and I found that I could identify with the love story and the growth of love. I found both Gerard and Katherine to have their feet on the ground, which helped create a down-to-earth love story.

Wednesday
Oct162013

Blog Tour: Guest Post from Caitlin Greer, Author of Parawars: Uprising

Today we have a guest post from author Caitlin Greer, in which she talks about her top 10 favorite books. Thanks so much to Caitlin for taking the time to share!

Top 10 favorite books
By Caitlin Greer, author of ParaWars: Uprising

Trying to pick a favorite book is like trying to count trees in a forest. You can count, but you’ll always have the feeling you’ve missed one. Chances are good if someone else asked me, my list would be similar, but never exactly the same. But somehow, I always go back to books I read as a kid, and keep rereading. So here are 10 of my favorite books, but who knows if they’re actually the top 10…

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchet—This one’s an easy favorite, for laughs and re-readability. The end of the world has never looked so good, or been so full of laughs!

The Dalemark Quartet by Diana Wynne Jones—One of the many epic fantasies I devoured as a kid, this and Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain are still my go-to reads for worldbuilding on a wide scope.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien—Do I really need to say anything? (And don’t talk to me about the movie. Peter Jackson should burn in hell.) (Except the part where they cast Richard Armitage as Thorin, because that’s pure brilliance.)

Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams—Tad Williams is one of my favorite authors, because he dreams big and never disappoints me. Tailchaser’s Song was the first animal-protagonist book that I really loved, and it’s one of those I’ve never forgotten. I love to dig it out and reread it, just for the sense of nostalgia it gives me. This one, and Birth of the Firebringer by Meredith Ann Pierce.

Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffery—I love all the Pern books, especially the early ones, but Dragonsdawn is the first book I remember bringing me to tears because of a character’s death, and it left a huge impression on me. Also, the story of a space-traveling society being dropped back into basically Middle Ages tech is always awesome.

Dealing With Dragons
by Patricia C. Wrede—Another childhood favorite, the entire Enchanted Forest series is one I’ll read again and again. It’s just so much fun.

The Little Princess
by L.M. Montgomery—It’s short, it’s sweet, it’s perfect.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle—Really, I don’t think I have to explain this one. Seriously, if you haven’t read it, go find a copy.

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper—I’m still a little in love with this series, even though it came out decades ago. The Aurthurian legend has never been told so well. I still have the poems memorized, and my copies are beaten and tattered from being read so many times. I even have a nod to it in ParaWars: Uprising.

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley—This one will always, always, be on my favorite books list. I still wish I could be Harimad-Sol, or the next girl to wield Gonturan. Some dreams never die.

Author Bio:
Cait writes YA and NA stories that range from sci-fi and fantasy (because she loves making worlds and things up), to contemporary (because she kind of sort of fell into it and discovered she’s not half bad). Her best friends growing up were the combined works of Robin McKinley, Madeline L'Engle, Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, and too many others to mention.

She drives a Jeep, loves the outdoors, takes pictures of everything she can, and writes obsessively. A martial artist and a former teacher, Cait is owned by two cats who started out incredibly small, and are now incredibly huge.

She currently live in Utah, but Virginia will always be home.

And a synopsis of her book, Parawars: Uprising:

The Paranormal Uprising brought myth and legend out of the shadows and into real life. The war that followed tore the world apart. Two years after the Uprising, twenty-year-old Kendry is learning the hard way that the battle lines aren’t as clear-cut as human versus para. And the hard way means being hunted down by both human militants and para separatists. Trouble is, she has no idea why.

On the run with only her mysterious gargoyle guardian, Kendry knows that finding out why she’s on everyone’s most-wanted list will be no easy task. It means charging headlong into a war she’d hoped to avoid, and is woefully unprepared for. So when she realizes that everyone in her life has been lying to her, discovering that she’s somehow the key to ending the war is the last thing she needs. With both sides tearing up the world to find her, it’s decision time for Kendry—keep running, or stand up and fight.

Read more about the book on Goodreads: ParaWars: Uprising Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18283667-parawars

And Twitter: Twitter: https://twitter.com/Cait_Greer

Buy it here: ParaWars: Uprising
Thursday
Sep262013

Blog Tour: Beautiful Broken by Nazarea Andrews

Today we have an excerpt from Nazarea Andrews' most recent release, Beautiful Broken. The book was released on Sept. 24, and it's fantastic. It's the second book in Andrews' University of Branton series. Before I share the excerpt, I'd like to share a little more about the book. Here's the summary:

She's been broken by her past. He's been breaking for as long as he can remember. Together, they can make each other whole--or destroy each other.

When his best friend asks for something, Dane rarely says no. But babysitting a newly sober Scout Grimes for three weeks isn't exactly a normal request. And with their history, it's a recipe for disaster. Not to mention, she's drop dead gorgeous and he can't touch her.

There are few people Scout trusts as much as Dane Guillot. He's always been her safe place, where nothing can hurt her. He's also been the only man she's never let herself want--screwing up their friendship isn't worth one amazing night together.

They have too much history, and too much personal baggage to ever work. But if they are willing to take a chance on love--it might be worth the risk.

Sounds good, right?

So, without further fanfare, here's the excerpt:

Being on campus is terrifying. There are clusters of students everywhere, and I stride through the Green without meeting their eyes, trying to be invisible. It doesn't work—I can feel them whispering, the kids I graduated from high school with, juniors now, and other students, who have never seen me before.

In a crowd of people wearing jeans and sweatshirts, my sweater dress and tights stand out. Screw that, though—I look amazing. If I didn't, Dane would never have kissed me.

I head to the History hall, almost running down the stairs.

I hate stairwells.

Louisa is talking to a guy, her hands dancing through the air as she makes some point that he's grinning about, as she walks toward her father's office.

"Hey, Lou!" I call.

She glances up, her eyes wide. There's a long second, uncomfortable and tense, where I'm not sure what she'll do. Then she shrieks, breaks away from the guy, and throws herself at me.

I laugh as she wraps me in a ridiculously tight hug. For a second, it's like the years haven't happened—it's only me and my best friend, no drugs, no secrets, nothing

It's amazing.

Then she pulls away, a self-conscious smile turning her lips, and she stares at me. "What are you doing here?"

"I called your mom—she said it'd be a good place to find you."

"But when did you get back to Branton?"

"A few days ago? I'm staying with Dane for a few weeks until I get my own place."

There's a moment of silent surprise, and then: "You and Dane?"

"No!" I say, quickly and adamantly. "You know better—he's just a friend."

"That was six years ago, Scout. Things can change."

The guy she's with make a soft noise, and she turns to him. "This is my boyfriend, Luke Harrison."

"Nice to meet you," I say, extending a hand. He shakes it with a grin. "I'm the long lost friend."

"We'll have to do coffee sometime," Luke says with a smile. He's got a nice smile, and his eyes don't wander, which is a huge point in his favor. "Babe, I gotta get to class."

Lou kisses him, quick and hard, and he grins once more in my direction before heading down the hall toward class.

"Come on in, Scout. Tell me what's been happening in your world."

I follow her into Dr. Randall's office. She tosses her bag onto the weathered sofa that's been there as long as I've known the Doctor. He's missing, and she goes to the mini fridge and fishes a bottle of water out. She offers me one, and I nod, catching it when she lightly throws it in my direction.

"So. You’re back. For good?" 

I shrug. "Don't know yet. I guess we'll see."

"You look amazing," she says quietly, and I flush.

"I've been in rehab since July," I say. Her expression stays even, and I shrug again. "When I got out, Dane took me in. Until we figure out what I want."

"And you thought you should look me up," She says, leaning against her father's desk.

I stare at her, at the patient waiting in her gaze, the quiet acceptance. She looks like she did three years ago, the last time I saw her. Her black hair is shorter, sleek around her face, the clothes are different and the boy is new—but my Lou is still under those superficial changes.

"You said, once, that I was gonna wake up one day and need to face what drove me to drugs. That when I did, you would be waiting to help me."

And, of course, we have a bit about the author, Nazarea Andrews:

Nazarea Andrews is an avid reader and tends to write the stories she wants to read. She loves chocolate and coffee almost as much as she loves books, but not quite as much as she loves her kids. She lives in south Georgia with her husband, daughters, and overgrown dog. http://www.nazareaandrews.com/

Monday
Aug122013

Blog Tour: Blood Rule by Heather Hildenbrand - Review

I already posted the description of Blood Rule in the post earlier today, so I won't go too much into the plot line of the story here. I will say this: I LOVE Tara.

Tara's the speaker in the jacket cover description, and she's the alpha in the hybrid clan. It seems as if she's always running into trouble one way or another. The poor girl just can't catch a break. In Blood Rule - the fourth in the Dirty Blood series - Tara is charged with keeping her hybrid clan under control while dealing with the failing health of two friends. When she has to kill one hybrid, she's concerned that his loss of humanity may be an indicator of what's to come with the other 45.

As the alpha, she can hear the thoughts and feelings of 46 other people. Forty-six other people are constantly in her head. That alone is enough to drive a person insane, but Tara seems to deal with it as well as can be expected. In addition, she's constantly trying to deal with an awkward situation between her ex-boyfriend and her current boyfriend.

Finally, Tara is attempting to avoid CHAS and Gordon Steppe, who want to question her about supernatural violations that may have occurred when so many hybrids were created.

Heather Hildenbrand weaves the story together so seamlessly and she's an expert at keeping the reader in suspense. She creates compelling and interesting characters (I love Tara and her incredible strength) and she easily draws readers through the story. I loved this book.

Want more Blood Rule? I'll be talking about the book tomorrow on Novel Heroes. Come check it out!

Find Blood Rule on Amazon: Blood Rule (Book 4, Dirty Blood series)
Or on Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blood-rule-book-4-dirty-blood-series-heather-hildenbrand/1116310366?ean=2940148570240