Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

I’ve had this book for a couple of months.  I read “Austenland” by Shannon Hale and laughed out loud, but for some reason, I hadn’t delved into this book. I am very sad that I have put this off for so long because I adored this book! 

The Goose Girl is apparently a retelling of a fairy tale, but I am not sure which one.  I am apparently unfamiliar with it, but I assume a google search would ease my curiosity.  Hold on…ok Wikipedia has an excellent synopsis of the fairy tale written by the Brothers Grimm.  Reading that synopsis I can assure you that Shannon Hale kept very near to the original fairy tale. 

Ani is the crown princess of Kilderan and she can talk to animals.  There are others who can influence people with their words and others still who can speak to the earth.  Ani soon learns that she is betrothed to the prince of Bayern and is sent with 40 guards and her lady-in-waiting to Bayern. 

The trouble begins when Selia, her lady-in-waiting uses her skills to influence the guards to put her forward as the crown princess.  This begins Ani’s long journey through Bayern where she makes many friends and learns the plight of the people of Bayern and earns her own way as the king’s goose girl.  Both Selia and Ani are blonde’s in a country full of dark headed people.    

I won’t say anything else, but I read it in 3 days (that included me working full time, so basically every moment not eating, sleeping or working I was reading!).  Ani’s speech at the end where she is giving the prince, the prime minister and the king a piece of her mind is awesome!

Favorite Quote:   

“A warning there, pig boy,” Conrad shouted from across the camp.  “Don’t touch her hair without leave, or keep a good hold on your hat.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Secret by Julie Garwood

4 stars
This was my first Julie Garwood novel and like another book I just read it has an omniscient narrator.  I enjoyed it and plan to read more of her novels.  There appears to be many, many, many of them out there for me to get my grubby little hands on. 
Judith is English and only four years old when she meets her best friend, Frances Catherine who is Scottish.  Neither of them understood they should hate each other and by the time they did they were besties for life.  Frances Catherine ended up marrying a highlander and is pregnant.  Judith promised to be by her friend’s side when she gave birth.  The problem is that the clan that Frances Catherine married into is very closed off from outsiders and very set in their ways.  Frances Catherine had to do some pleading and petitioning in order to get her friend to be able to visit. 
It just so happens that Frances Catherine married the Laird’s brother and it is in fact the Laird who ends up going to get Judith.  It is no secret that Judith and Iain Maitland (the aforementioned Laird) struggle to resist their attraction.  Their dynamics are quite comical at times and Iain expects to be obeyed always and immediately and Judith has a bit of fire in her blood. 
I loved all the characters.  They were likeable (except when they weren’t meant to be, like Agnes, I am sure glad that she got what was coming to her) and three dimensional.  I loved Gelfrid and Graham (two of the elders) and how Judith had to be careful with their pride, but was able none the less to win them over and make much needed changes to the clan. 
The biggest problem turns out not to be that Judith is English, but actually that she is only half English and her father is an enemy of the Maitlands.  Iain knows this to begin with, but Judith doesn’t know that Iain knows (I hope you followed that!).   
Favorite Quote (there were many amusing parts, this is just one, although it occurs to me that one might need to know the context: As little girls Frances Catherine told Judith that women get pregnant when they drink from a man’s goblet after they have spit into it):
“I specifically remember we both promised never to drink from any man’s goblet of wine.  From the looks of you, Frances Catherine, I’m thinking you broke your word.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Fire is labeled as a companion to Graceling.  It actually takes place before Graceling and there is only one character that is in both of the books.  As far as location, it is in the same world, but not anywhere we heard of or knew about in Graceling.  It is a world called The Dells and there are no gracelings there.  They have monsters.  It appears that every species of creature (leopards, bugs, birds, mice, humans, etc) have a monster version.  The monster version is always brightly colored.  For example, a monster kitten may be bright blue with yellow streaks and purple eyes.  The other difference is that the monsters have an ability to lure their prey in with their beauty and control their minds.  The more intelligent the monster the more control they have over someone’s mind.
There is only one human monster left and her name is Fire.  She is very beautiful.  She lives in a house near the estate of her only friends, Archer and Brocker.  Brocker is Archer’s father and Fire also considers him like a father.  Archer is obsessed with Fire and they have what appears to be a “friends with benefits” type of relationship. 
Fire is attacked in the jungle outside the compound where she lives.  This isn’t something new, but it is strange in its own way and sets off a string of events.  Archer and Fire journey to the queen’s house.  At the same time, King Nash (who is the queen’s son) and Prince Brigan (who is the commander of the king’s army) are also visiting the queen.  This is Fire’s first encounter with the king and the prince.  They have vastly different responses to her.  King Nash proposes immediately and Prince Brigan attacks her.  Prince Brigan’s mind is different though, he has learned to protect himself from monster mind invasion.
This meeting triggers the rest of the story.  Fire ends up in the royal city as a monster advisor who is trying to help the king and royal family determine who are loyal and who is a traitor for there are two factions of people who are trying to overthrow King Nash.  There are too many side stories to cover a synopsis of the entire plot.  It was very good, but I didn’t like it as much as Graceling. 
The main reason that I didn’t like it as much was because I didn’t like how little time Fire spent with her love interest.  (It appears this might be a spoiler if I revealed who it is because of the way it is revealed to the reader, although I will say I had it figured out.  *smugly smiles while typing this*)  The romance was still believable and I enjoyed the time it took to develop, but I just wished they had gotten to spend more time together instead of stolen moments here and there. 
Another reviewer pointed out that there was a lot of sleeping around and until you get to the end you don’t fully understand that truth until you learn who is this person’s father and that person’s real father.  I didn’t like that either. 
Overall, I really enjoyed learning about the monsters.  I loved Fire and her love interest.  The world of the Dells was amazing.  It is a bit pricey for a kindle book at $9.99 and therefore if you can get it from a library I would recommend that. 

It appears that there is another cover
for this book, possibly for another
country but I like it as well so I am
including it.

Favorite Quote: This isn't so much a favorite quote but one of my favorite parts:

At this Fire smiled, and held the handkerchief out to Musa.  "Thank you."

"It's not mine, Lady,  It's Neel's."  Fire recognized the name of one of her male guards.


"The commander took it from Neel and gave it to me to give to you, Lady."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning

I debated whether to include this
scandalous book cover, but it
adds  more interest to the post
so I apologize for the cheesy-ness.
 This is the first book in the Highlander series.  This is the first book I have ever read from this author.  The POV in this novel appears to be omniscient.  This is a fairly new narrative for me, and while it felt odd at times, I actually liked it.  I enjoyed getting to be in the head of both of the characters in the same scene.  A few times it was tricky as I didn’t realize I had switched from Adrienne to Hawk, but it didn’t take long to figure it out.  I certainly wouldn’t want every book I read to be an omniscient POV, but I liked this one. 
Adrienne de Simone is from the year 1997 and she has a tragic past that you are told in bits and pieces.  Without revealing too much, Adrienne was an orphan.  She fell in love with a man named Everhard (weird name!), and then something tragic happened and she now considers herself to be on the lam.  Due to some interference from the fair folk, Adrienne is transported back in time to the early 1500’s.  She ends up married to a man who is interchangeably referred to as both “Hawk” and “the Hawk.”  Adrienne has become the pawn in which the fair folk (or more precisely, a particular fae) use to get revenge on the Hawk. 
Hawk is instantly smitten with his unwanted wife and Adrienne is constantly working to spurn him.  She doesn’t like beautiful men.  She has been ill used by Everhard and has no use for beautiful men.  Hawk has his work cut out for him to win her over.  Once he does (because there is no question that he will) there is still the problem of the fair folk to deal with.  They want their revenge and they won’t be denied. 
I will definitely be buying the next book in the series.  And she has another series called the fever series that is supposed to be awesome so I will be delving into that as well (once December starts and my book allowance is back! Yes, that does mean that I have spent all my money for November).  

Favorite Quote: 
"Good. Because he wants my wife, and she doesn't want me.  And I saw her wanting him with a hurt in her eyes."  --Hawk to his friend Grimm about the nefarious Smithy   

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking by Emily Dickinson

Apprently it is a morning for poems.  I work in a cancer center and one of my patients stated that this poem is particularly healing for him:

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Poem from The Gray

So while I don't like movies without a HEA, I do love this poem from The Gray that Liam Neeson recites.  I read somewhere that it was something the director wrote.  I don't know why, but the poem won't get out of my head.  Maybe if I put it out here for you all, it will leave me be.

      once more into the fray

      into the last good fight I'll ever know

      live and die this day

      live and die this day

Monday, November 12, 2012

Treason: Book Two in the Grimoire Trilogy by S.M. Boyce

5 Stars
I received an Advanced Review Copy of this book.  I was encouraged to write a review.  Since I always write reviews this was a win-win for me!  Yay!
I absolutely loved the first book in this series.  Review: Lichgates: Book One in the Grimoire Trilogy by S.M. Boyce The world building is amazing.  I’m sure there are others, but the only books that come to mind with better world building in this genre are The Lord of the Rings books.  This book picks up with Braedon and Kara back in The Vagabond’s village.  They are training and waiting until they need to go to the Gala.  The Gala is where all the Yakona kingdoms (except the Stele, of course) will meet together to sign a treaty and celebrate.  This is where things got boring to me.  From 20-40% it was predictable and I dreaded opening it up! Of course the Gala goes all wrong and Kara and Braedon are in trouble again and this felt boring to me too.  How?  I don’t know, but something didn’t work for me.  Maybe it was just Kara pushing Braedon away over and over again saying the same stupid stuff.  So you are wondering how I can give the book 5 stars if I felt that?  It is because what comes after it is so amazing it blows my mind!
I convinced myself to keep reading and (this is a long book) from between 40-95% I was absolutely entranced again!  There were so many twists and turns.  I mean, an Isen?  Ahhh!  It cannot be!  And Braedon must go back to the Stele and I really didn’t want him to go! But he had to.  And the cat is out of the bag! Everyone knows everything.  Except Kara.  Kara only knows what people feel like telling her.  How can Kara possibly know who to trust?  They are all conniving behind her back and trying to get her power!  Niccoli plays a bigger role and Dierdre is back.  I can’t tell what her end game is even after the epilogue! 
I am going to say right now, that what I wrote above is quite possibly the worst synopsis ever, but there is so much that I can’t tell you. 
Favorite Quotes:
From Richard to Braedon: “You are and always will be my son.  That you ever doubted me is my failure and mine alone.”
Richard talking about Blood Gavin: “He led a campaign against the squirrels once for moving into an abandoned attic when he was six.  In his mind, they invaded his home.”

Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley

4 Stars
I read this book in spurts.  I enjoyed the beginning, then between 25-50% it dragged then I really enjoyed the last half.   But between 25-50% I would just read some then read something else, then come back to it.  I am glad that I finished it. 
Tack “Kane” Allen is the president/leader of the Chaos Motorcycle club.  We met his first in Mystery Man, and he also showed up again in Law Man.  He first meets Tyra at a Chaos party where they hit it off and end up getting it on.  But then Tack bursts Tyra’s “dream man” bubble by kicking her out and sending her on her way. 
Also, Tyra is Tack’s new office manager.  She knew this before hand, but Tack did not, and he doesn’t date people who work for him.  He wants to fire her and she gets mad and insists on staying (although at this point she believes he is a big jerk and wants nothing to do with him).  Also at this point, Tack changes his mind and decides that Tyra is a keeper. 
As with all books in this series, the heroine is under siege.  In this book, it is not her crap that is drawing the attention.  It is either 1.) her best friends fiancĂ© (kidnapping by association) or 2.) Tack himself.  Tyra ends up taken multiple times.  I actually love those parts.  Not that I like for women to be kidnapped or beaten or stabbed, but I love how the KA heroes go crazy without their women and do anything to get them back.  My only complaint is that the actual action last about ten seconds.  Tack’s boys drew the fire away from him, he went in and bang, bang and the action is over.  I want some fighting or nasty villain dialogue in which Tack can smack him down. 
I loved that Hawk, Mitch and Brock were all in this and willing to do anything to help Tack get Tyra back.  We even Saw Hector and Sadie once too!  I love the “posse”, but it is obvious these girls aren’t as close as the Rock Chicks.  I am excited that Shy and Tabby get their own book and that means the start of a new series. 
Favorite Quote:
Hmmm…this is harder than usual.  I went through my clippings and I only had two from motorcycle man and neither were appropriate for a blog.  I also remembered that Tack and Tyra would make grand proclamations of love and it got old because people don’t talk like that. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Conquering the Dark Axe (The Northern Knights) by Amber Dane

3.5 Stars
The story line was actually quite good.  This book was only a couple of bucks so my expectations weren’t high but I was in the mood for some medieval romance warrior stuff.  It wasn’t just about the hero and heroine falling in love.
Alexa is the sister that was promised to Rourke.  Now that Alexa’s sister is dead, the king has decided that Alexa will marry Rourke in her stead.  Only Alexa has been raised more like a boy and has never intended to marry.  She won’t make this easy on Rourke.  And Rourke has scars so deep he won’t let anyone in. 
A good chunk of the story is how these two try to hurt one another because they are scared how they feel and don’t want to be vulnerable.  Another aspect of the story are that someone at Barnett manor is trying to kill Alexa or Rourke or both.   And yet another aspect of the story is that a part of Rourke’s past that he thought long dead comes back and uses trickery and deceit into acquiring Rourke for his nefarious purposes. 
At times the lengths that Alexa and Rourke went to hurt one another got tiresome.  They always regretted what they would say, but too many times the author noted that the characters were too mad to care at the time. 
Overall, it was enjoyable. 

Funny Story

I know this isn't a book review or have anything to do with books actually (but it does involve reading).  It made me laugh so hard.  It is a story of the worst first date ever...

The Fart That Almost Altered My Destiny

Friday, November 2, 2012

Ilona Andrews Serial FREE Online Story

I know I posted before about this, but it is getting really good and I can't even wait for the next installment to come out every week.  You all should go read it right now!  Catch up!  Clean Sweep is the name of the novel. 

Favorite line from today's installment:
"At no point did the words ‘Help me, Sean Evans’ come out of my mouth.”


A Kiss at Midnight by Eloise James

4 Stars
This is an adorable (and adult) retelling of the Cinderella story.  Kate is the Cinderella in this story.  Instead of evil stepsisters, she had one kind but flighty half-sister.  There was indeed an evil stepmother.  And we learn that Kate’s father was not the blameless beloved man from the Disney version :).  The prince, Gabriel, is from Marburg and must marry a Russian princess for money.  Not for himself, but for those hangers-on that rely on him.  Kate’s sister needs the prince’s permission to marry the prince’s nephew (really I supposed that Kate’s sister’s fiancĂ© needs the permission as he is the prince’s nephew), but he must meet Victoria (the sister) in order to do this.  Victoria is unable to go and Kate had to go in Victoria’s place (as Victoria).  As someone else mentioned the prince quickly learns Kate’s real identity, which I found refreshing.  I find it frustrating when the reader knows the truth and a main character labors under misinformation the entire time.

It took too long for the hero and heroine to meet and it just took too long to get the story rolling in general.  Once it did though I found I was thinking about the story long after I had turned off the kindle.  I wanted to get back to the characters and see what would happen.  The author clearly has a sense of humor.  My favorite part is when Kate is trying to train Victoria’s dogs (which she must take around in public for the disguise).  She uses cheese to do this, and at one point she is taking a boat ride with the prince and it comes out that she has stuffed her reticule full of cheese (dog treats).

I loved how strong the heroine was.  She was charming and witty.  She laughed and made others laugh.  I enjoyed that there weren’t overtly catty females causing general mayhem.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a sweet (and sometimes steamy) retelling of classic fairy tales.   

Marti Talbot's Highlander Series I

I am so pleasantly surprised by this book.  I am definitely going to get the next book in the series (once October 1st hits as my book allowance will allow that).  I am always a little bit leery of the free books and I tend to have a little bit more lenient review for free books because…well they are free. 

As you can see from the title of the book, this book is actually a compilation of three novellas featuring first Anna, then Rachel and finishing with Charlet.  I loved each of the stories by themselves, but they created a larger story that I loved as well. 

Anna is sent to marry Laird Kevin MacGreagor sight unseen.  However, when she arrives she is a little worse for wear.  She was taught that she should fear the highlanders and when they find her badly beaten they are angry and she is more frightened.  The rest of the story is the story of Anna and Kevin and how they grow together. 

Rachel is Anna’s little sister.  She was barely four years old when she came to live with the MacGreagor’s.  Connor has loved Rachel for a long time and it appears that she can’t stand him.  There is trouble with a near-by clan and Rachel is the scout to find out the other clan’s plans.  She gets into a bit of trouble on one of these missions and Connor goes out of his mind with worry. 

Charlet is the baby that was found on MacGreagor land sixteen years.  Now the English are after her, to wed or kill her, and every Laird in Scotland wants to marry her to keep her from the English.  In an effort to save her, Laird Kevin MacGreagor sends her away with Blair Cameron (Laird Thomas Cameron’s second) to keep her safe. 

My criticism only applies to the first two books with Anna and Rachel.  They both have reasons to not like small spaces and I understand this, but the way they acted on these feelings was annoying to me.  It could be that I don’t have any irrational fears that I didn’t like that aspects.  I found their mother to be selfish.

Overall I really enjoyed these.  The descriptions of the land, people, dress etc was wonderful.  The stories are short enough to keep my attention the entire time.    

Fate Succumbs by Tammy Blackwell (Timber Wolves #3)

Oh-My-Goodness.  I have had this book on my kindle for a couple of months but just now read it, and I read it in 2 days once I started (because I couldn’t be bothered to do such things as eat or sleep, who needs those, pah!)
So the book picks up with Scout and Liam on the lamb from the Alpha Pack.  Liam is his typical self, being scowly  and brooding.  He doesn’t tell Scout where they are going or what the plan is.  Scout is still devastated that Jase has betrayed her and she doesn’t know what happened to Charlie after they escaped.  They move from place to place and soon find that they need to disguise Scout as the Alpha Pack has released to the media that this particular Senator’s daughter is missing so the whole country is looking for the strange looking girl with pale skin, silvery hair and silvery eyes. 
Throughout the book we learn more about the shifter culture and just what exactly is so wrong that the rebellion is needed for.  We learn about Liam and Alex’s past.  Alex still comes to Scout in her dreams.  Liam and Scout get closer.  This is the last book in the series (although, I just want my voice to be heard, I think this should be a quadrilogy, or a longer even!) so we do get resolution to the situation with the alpha pack. We met more characters and I loved them all!  Just Read it! 
Favorite Quote:  I will have you know that this author is amazingly funny!  There were so many times when I found myself chuckling or smiling at something Scout said and that doesn’t happen often for me.  I love you Tammy Blackwell!  So I don’t really know if this is my favorite, it is one of a long line of favorite scenes…
“Are all Shifters impervious to the cold, or are you just so badass the cold avoids you out of fear of being Chuck Norrised?” –Scout to Liam
I read from others that they didn’t feel like the Scout/Liam connection was valid and I must respectfully disagree.  I absolutely loved, loved, loved it!  It was slow and sweet.  They were both struggling over whether it was real or cabin fever or just Alex-look-a-like attraction.  My only complaint about it was the very end when Liam came back from Romania, it ended a few pages too soon.  What is the plan?  He asked her to give up the alpha position!  She said no, but that should have been a bigger deal.  Will he stay in Kentucky or will she go to Romania.  I could have used another entire chapter just about those two stinkers working things out.  I savored every moment throughout the book when those two got pushed too far and their lovey-dovey feelings broke through.