Thursday, August 28, 2008

Unforgiven by Mary Balogh

This book was very different from the first installment of this series (Indiscreet). When reading this book you get the impression that the author was in a bit of a rush to tell a story but not committed to it’s outcome.

At the end of Indiscreet we find that Kenneth Woodfall, the Earl of Harverford needs to rush back home to Dunbarton Hall in Cornwall because he needs to marry a woman he hates since she will be having his baby in 6 months time. So based on the timeline of the novels, while Rex is getting in trouble with Caroline, Ken had already done his damage to his neighbor, Moira.

Moira Hayes has given up hope for a HEA after many years of hatred poisoning her heart for a man she once loved and that betrayed her. Her father has died and a distant relative has inherited her home. He has decided that Moira would make just as good of a wife as the next and formalizes that betrothal over the Xmas season. What Moira didn’t expect was that Ken would return to his home seat after 8 years absence and that the idiot that she is to marry wants to mend fences with the Earl.

The book is divided in two parts. Before the pregnancy and after. The first part we see the enmity between these two fester and explode after a Christmas Ball, where Moira’s pride gets her into a predicament that causes her to be trapped in a cabin under a snow storm with Ken.

The After takes place when Ken returns from the duel fought by Rex in Indiscreet. The hasty marriage and the terrible aftermath the day after the wedding. I can’t say what happens there since it would be a spoiler but Ken removes himself from his home a week after the wedding and spends two months in London with his buddies trying to forget. When that fails he decides that he must at least try to make the marriage work and calls for Moira to come up to London.

Now, first of all, the story is mostly narrated with an occasional dialog here and there. I don’t get that. There is a lot of story telling but not enough content that SHOWS us what is going on. I think Ken and Moira really shouldn’t have been together. Too much had gone on. There were too many misunderstandings that had sat in their hearts for too long. Then all of a sudden Moira goes off to London and within 24 hours discovers that SHE loves him. I could believe Ken’s affections since he only thought himself betrayed but Moira thought that Ken had not just betrayed her but also lied to her, caused her brother’s death and, if we follow the chain reaction, her own destitution.

I was very disappointed in this one and hope that the last in the trilogy will return to the first's great writting.

Grade: D+
Format: eBook

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Indiscreet by Mary Balogh

For the longest time I thought this series was a category romance but when I went to pull it out to read I realized that it was a full length novel masquerading as a category (look at the cover!). Balogh is mostly a hit for me but she is also an author that writes more serious regency romances. They are books that have more bite to them and at times that is not what I’m looking for. This is why the book has been in my TBR pile for such a long time.
This year I put it on several of my challenges so that I could get it off my TBR list.

Rex Adams, Viscount Rawleigh heads out to visit his twin brother with two of his friends. When he arrives he lays eyes on Caroline Winters who has confused him with his brother and smiles at him. Rex confuses this gesture with flirtation and singles her out for his attention.

Caroline wants nothing to do with the Viscount. Her past holds many secrets that must remain hidden if she is to continue enjoying the peaceful life she has made for herself. She is frightened by her own urges but holds herself steadfast and denies Rex.

Rex, being the dumbass he is, thinks she is playing hard to get and continues on his pursuit until it’s too late. With her name in tatters, Lord Rawleigh must do the right thing and step up to the plate. Caroline is forced to expose her past to the man that has destroyed her present.

Rex was a bit moronic through most of the beginning of this book. His arrogance was his downfall. He just could not accept that Caroline wanted nothing to do with him. She avoided him like a plague and yet he kept seeing a game she was playing with him instead of seeing it for what it was. She was scared that her attraction for him would lead her to an indiscretion that would cause her to lose everything she had built.

Caroline was a strong heroine. A regency woman that learned from her mistakes and was determined not to fall again. She was so determined to keep what she had, she gave up all pleasures. She was frightened of living beyond the comforts her current life offered. But when she had to confront that past she did (kicking and screaming by her husband but she did do it).

Great first installment to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse trilogy.

Grade: A
Format: eBook

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Twilight - The Movie

Ain't it Pretty!!

August 15, 2008

Movie News Flash!

So, many of you have heard that the release of the sixth Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, has been moved from this Thanksgiving to next summer. First and foremost, please know that this schedule change has absolutely nothing to do with Twilight, me, or Summit Films (so enough with the imdb death wishes, okay?). This is Warner Bros. decision, and it was not motivated by anything Twilight-related.
Now for the good news! Though we're all sad to have to wait for Harry Potter, this open spot at the theater creates a cool opportunity. The good people at Summit were thrilled to let me know that now Twilight fans are going to get their movie three weeks earlier than scheduled. That's right—Twilight will be released in theaters November 21st! Let the merry-making commence!


So I'm a bit excited about the movie now but at the same time I'm a bit weary. I have an obsessive relationship with another YA author, Christopher Paolini.

His Inheritance series is a dream for those that love the Fantasy Genre. Dragons and Wars and Monsters.. It's a Lord of the Rings for the YA with a bit of Dragon Heart thrown in to make it tasty. When the movie Eragon was announced I was all over that!! I waited with baited breath for the release. And the day it opened I was there dragging my daughter and sister to the movie to watch this GREAT story.

I almost walked out of the theater, it was so bad. Just thinking of it gives me a bad taste in my mouth (like when you throw up and are forced to swallow it back down). So when I think of this movie and the potential for great work, I get worried that it won't live up to my expectations. My expectations are not for it to be like the books but for it to keep the story intact. Don't change the story so it will fit in the hour and a half the film might be. Cut non-essentials but don't change the story (like in Eragon and The Golden Compass).

I will keep the faith and head over to the theater the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rules of Engagement by Christina Dodd

This was the second installment in the "Governess Series" and although Dodd has not been rocking my boat lately I still enjoyed this book a lot.
It seems that the Distinguished Academy of Governesses is in a bit of a financial bind and Pamela Lockhart is trying her best to get their heads above water but things are going from bad to worse when on her way home after receiving her pay for services she is robbed. Leaving everyone in the lurch, so to say.

In comes Devon, the Earl of Kerrich who is having a hell of a time himself. Seems that the Queen knows some secrets from his past and is using the info to blackmail Kerrich into some semblance of respectability. She has threatened to expose his secret if he doesn't get his act together. So he decides that the best way to show he is respectable is to bring in an orphan to show his more charitable side. Of course the child will need a governess and so he goes off to hire a governess that will then pick out a orphan who he will sponsor until the coast is clear of the Queen’s threat.

The academy is outraged at the mere suggestion that they would be an accomplice to such fraud but they need the money and Pamela decides that she is the best candidate for the position. She has enough hostility stored up that she will not be influenced by the Earl's good looks. This is something that the Earl himself has stipulated. He arrogantly request that the governess in question not be attractive but more on the old and worn side (as governesses should be) with no aspirations to his bed (he has had a few issues with women showing up naked in his bed)

Loved that Devon was such an arrogant bastard. He would say the most outrageous things with a straight face. I also love that he made a move on Pamela before she shed her costume. It showed more depth to his feelings. There was plenty of humor to go around but the last portion of the book just seemed a bit out there and could have been left out. Honestly, why the drama?

Until the last few pages of the book I had been enjoying every minute. I would still recommend this book because the HEA was not affected at all.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Lady Be Good by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

I read this one as part of many of the challenges I entered this year. It is the sequel to Phillips earlier title Fancy Pants. I did not read the first book but I've heard I really didn't miss much and even after reading this one, I honestly don’t have the inclination to pick up the first in the series. In other words this one does a great job as a stand alone title.

Lady Emma Wells-Finch is visiting the Lone Star state at the suggestion of her friend to finish some research on a paper she is publishing. She also has the intention of losing her reputation as a goody two shoes. Her pristine reputation has led her to be engaged to a pompous windbag in order to save her treasured boarding school (dysfunctional childhood and all that). She is picked up at the airport by a very handsome man who, she believes, her friend has contracted to be her driver / guide while in Texas.

Kenny Traveler would like to stay VERY far away from scandal. The suspended golf mega star agrees to cart Lady Emma around in hopes that the golf commissioner’s wife will put in a good word for him and have his suspension lifted so he can play in the Masters.

The problem is that Lady Emma is quite determined to do something a bit outrageous in the most public place so that news of the scandal reaches British soil and her fiance can be sufficiently offended to break off the engagement but not too outraged that he will close down the school. Difficult edge to walk on and Kenny is not helping her at all!!

I found the book quite humorous and at times I was wondering why Emma was doing this. I just had a problem following her whole reasoning. In the end it was good enough to get the B because it kept me engaged until the final confrontation and I love when a bad boy gets put in his place. You have to love Kenny and how he tries to avoid the temptation that is Emma.

Grade: B

Friday, August 15, 2008

TheThirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

There has always been questions on how a cover of a book might influence the buyer/reader. It has been debated many times and it always results in a resounding YES, the cover is a big draw on a book. A bad cover will have a book wither away on the shelf but a good cover will have the book flying out the door.
I absolutely feel in love with the cover of this book. I had no idea what the book was about but I saw the cover and knew I had to read it. For the longest time I thought this was a romance (never opened the book to read the jacket insert). I finally got over the cover and opened the book to read what the book was about and felt myself get disappointed.
With a cover that beautiful, why was the book not about love?

This book was definitely about love but a whole different type of love and I just had to read the darn thing to find that out.

The book is about the famous author, Vida Winters who is very ill and in her last days decides that her biography should be told. She had related her biography before but, as a storyteller, she would yield a new story about her life every time, swearing that the new version was the truth. Now she decides that the truth must be told but it's easier said than done. How does a storyteller step out of herself and deal with facts vs fiction when the fact is that her whole life has been fictionalized.

Margaret Lea, a young novice in the writing community is called upon to write the biography. But part of the challenge for Margaret is to decipher the true story out of the facts that Vida Winter gives her.

The love story is about the love of sisters, the love of family and the extent you go to in protecting those you love. This is reflected not just in the life of Vida Winters but also in Margaret who's own story needs to be told.

This is a ghost story, a story of identities lost and then found, a story of lies that were forced into truths.

Diane Setterfield's debut novel is not to be missed. The book reads like a fairytale and every glimpse we are given into Vida Winter's past is a story on it's own.

Don't miss this one. It's definitely one of my best reads of this year.

Format: Audiobook

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

Okay, I don't even want to go into this one. I have read all the previous installments of the Gemma Doyle series (A Great and Terrible Beauty & Rebel Angels) but this last installment made me want to cry at seeing how this great story just took a nose dive into mediocracy. This was a strong story that was brought down by a lack of continuity in characterization.

As the book starts we find out that Gemma has not been able to return to the Realms since she bound the power to herself. Kartek has disappeared even though we thought him part of an alliance with Gemma. When she finally get back into the Realms we find that the place has changed... ALOT. It is a more scary place and everyone wants a piece of the power. Gemma's alliance with the forest folks has not been completed and they are very resentful that they had helped her defeat Surcy and yet she has not lived up to their side of the bargain.

This is my big problem. Gemma always has had a bit of a problem with fitting in but I've never known her to be so easy to manipulate. She was such a mat, letting everyone govern her actions while saying it was all on her. She kept doing things so that people would like her with no regard of the outcome of her actions.

Gemma was very abusive with her power and had so little regard for her duties as the vessel to that power that it just was a disaster. Felicity was her typical self but Gemma was the one with the power. She needed to learn to say NO and move on. The book dragged on forever with all the idiocies that the girls were doing and all the "I do what I want because Felicity/Anne/ said so!"

The book could have been so much shorter and then the ending was terrible when we lose so many strong characters in the end !!! I would stop anyone from even starting this series because the last installment was such a GREAT AND TERRIBLE DISASTER!!

Grade: D-
Format: Audiobook

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward

I waited with great anticipation for this installment of the Black Daggerhood series.
We would finally give Phury his HEA, yet as the date of release approached many reviews of ARC popped up and the buz was that the book was a complete and utter disappointment. My anticipation for the release deflated.
My daughter was leaving for her two month journey to Japan the day of the release and I wanted to give her the book so she could read it on her 12 hour plane ride so when I got my hands on a copy the night before I happily gave it to her who had not read the reviews and still was on a high. I went out an purchased a copy of it for my eBook reader. I didn't get around to reading it until mid July.

It was FABULOUS!! I will try not to let reviews influence my mood on a book ever again. the main complaint on the book was that Phury's story was loss in all the other storylines going on. Also that Ward was deviating from the paranormal romance theme. All true. Wonderfully true!!

After reading the book I think Phury wasn't strong enough to carry a book the way the others did. Even Butch's story (which is my least favorite of all) had so many things going on for the romance between him and Marissa to reach that HEA that they had to be the main focus.

I think that Phurry's story was not cheated at all. We got to see his HEA and so much more. The War took a place front and center and it was very intense. I think if you wanted a pure romance this series is not going to be offering you that in the future. This book brought the series into a Alt-Universe/Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre with some elements of romance. I couldn't be more thrilled.

Phurry deals with alot of self doubt and with alot of pity parties between it all. Many thought he was overreacting but honestly the guy put his life on hold to search for his twin. The guilt of having been the one not taken shadowed his whole life, then when he finds him, the guy is so messed up that you got to wonder if he did Zadist any favors in saving his hide. I think he is owed some gratitude but I don’t think he should expect it. Zadist is not going to see the need for gratitude because he has too many emotional scars to accept anything good going his way. This is totally dished out in one of the more poignant scenes of the book.

The caretaker became the one needing the care. I loved that Ward explored this relationship because Phurry needed to hit bottom before he could get up. I think there was more that could have been dredged up but I think it was sufficient to get a feel of what was going on there.

The rest of the book was focused on the war between the brotherhood and the lessen society. Seems the Omega fathered a son and infiltrated him into the brotherhood. There is a traitor and when you find out who it is you are a bit thrown back but honestly not surprised.

Love, Love, Love John Matthew in this installment as well as his two buddies Qhuinn (who has problems of his own) and Blaylock (who blew us away with his own little secret!).

Rehvenge shows another side of himself and Xhex is finally intrigued by John Matthew!

And if all that is not enough… We have a new ally bringing home a lost brother!

Rumors are that we won’t be seeing a new brotherhood book for sometime. I am a bit bummed on that front. This is a series that has been on my list of must reads but it has moved to a positions that rivals my all time favorite series (The Outlander series by Gabaldon)

Grade: A

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Sometimes when reading a series it's difficult to ascertain if you like the story because the book was everything you wanted or because you are reunited with old friends (which give you everything you really wanted anyway). The last installment in the Twilight series was a finale worth remembering and worth every hour spent reading the mammoth book.

Bella finally gets her wish to join Edward in his world but it does not come without a cost and the rollercoaster ride to get to her final destination made for one hell of a read.

It's difficult reviewing this one since the whole story is packed with one surprise after the other. If you haven't read the book and don't want ANY spoilers...

Stop reading now.

The books opens on Bella and Edwards wedding. This part is told from Bella's POV and it goes over the phobia she has of marriage and we see how difficult it is for her to go through the process of the marriage. She is not afraid or concerned about the commitment (hell she wants to be a vampire and live eternity with Edward, so it's not a commitment issue) but the word marriage has always been voodoo for her, yet she survives the ceremony with grace.

Move on to a somewhat stressful honeymoon that for Bella is dreamy but has Edward rethinking the "I don't want to turn you just yet" proposition. and just when Edward thought it was safe to be with his wife, it turns out that Vampire males have a fertility issue... they can reproduce children on mortal women. Yup!! The marriage phobic Bella becomes pregnant. The thing is that this is no normal pregnancy. A Hybrid child who is half human and half vampire can make gestation period a bit difficult.

This leads us into the second part of the book that is told from Jacob's POV.
LOVE LOVE LOVE this transition.
Jacob is the epitome of a tortured soul. To have him guide the reader through this delicate time is wonderful because his love for Bella stops him from walking away and he has to suffer through his emotions every step of the way.

The last part moves us back into Bella's mind. She starts her life as a newborn vampire and everything that entails. The pain of transitioning, the urges, the discoveries and on top of that.. motherhood. She finds blissful happiness but it doesn't take long for the other shoe to drop. Those pesky Italian vamps (the Volturi who we met at the end of New Moon) are back to create havoc. If you didn't see it coming you really didn't pay attention to our encounter with them in New Moon.

I had not heard any resounding reviews on the book that was highly anticipated by young and old so I was intimidated and went in a bit skeptical. After reading 3 books you don't want the last book to bring you down. I should not have doubted the quality of Meyer's work. She came through for me with flying colors.

This was the best series I have read this year and if you haven't been lured yet into the world of Twilight, don't hesitate. Go out and pick up this series before the movie (coming out in December) taints your view of it.

Grade: A
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