Saturday, October 31, 2009
We also had some yummy pumpkin seeds thanks to Christine at The happily ever after. The cinnamon pumpkin seeds were delicious! The only problem... not enough seeds. LOL I don't think I even got a full cup out of the one pumpkin. They were gone nearly as fast as I could get them out of the oven. LOL I'm tempted to get the pumpkins seeds at Sprouts Market and try it with them even though they're already roasted.
This year I took the boys out trick-or-treating and dh stayed home to hand out candy. A couple of things I realized - 1. Parents end up carrying accessories. In my case I ended up with two swords. I just hope my shorts and flip-flops didn't detract from my badass look. :) 2. I need new flip-flops. My feet are killing me! The bottoms feel like they are on fire. I've put a ton of lotion on them but they still hurt. : (
The costumes were a big hit. The boys were thrilled and while not everyone knew who Ryan was, we had one Peter Pan and two Robin Hood guesses, most people at least knew he was from the Zelda video games. Let me just say that it will be a loooong time before I make another shield. LOL It was very time consuming! Abby went to a friends house dressed as an anime character. I have no idea who she was. LOL
Here are Ninja Dude Nick (that's what he called himself) and Link (Ryan) ~
If you participated in Halloween festivities, I hope you had a great time and got the bejesus scared out of you!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Author: Cheryl St. John
Genre: Historical Romance/1865
Published: February 1999
Year of the Category Challenge
From the back cover ~
Tye Hatcher returned to Aspen Grove to find that life int he sleepy Western town hadn't changed much. The townspeople stubbornly refused to see the man he had become. That is, everybody but Meg Telford. Meg definitely took notice of the reticent rancher and gave him a chance in life when no one else would. Still, Meg clung to the memories of her late husband, afraid of the feelings Tye aroused in her heart. And though Tye vowed to proved his worth to the town, could he ever prove to Meg that he was worthy of her love?
The cover ~ I think it's sweet. It's certainly dated - it is 10 years old. But it's a fairly accurate portrayal of the hero and heroine. And the back has a picture of the hero, heroine with a little girl at a picnic - cute.
I had heard about this book around the blogs, mostly KristieJ's, and while I have a number of Cheryl St. John's books on my TBR pile there was just something about Joe's Wife that said "read me first". Maybe it's the title. You know from the synopsis that Joe isn't the hero but Meg is still referred to as "Joe's wife". Even Tye thinks of her that way. It's barely been a year since Meg received word that her husband Joe was killed in battle so she's still grieving and attempting to move on with her life.
Meg Telford at first comes across as a soft spoken, kind and gentle woman. And she is all that but she is also much more. Her kind and gentle nature hides a backbone of steel. She is still quite young and has every intention of keeping the ranch that her and her late husband Joe bought. The ranch was Joe's dream and Meg is determined to run it even at the opposition of her in laws. Her mother-in-law wants Meg to move in with her at her home in town. Meg sees this option as giving up and she sees her life as being very restricted and bleak if she were to move in with her mother-in-law.
I liked Meg but she was easy to like. She had a practical nature and wasn't afraid of hard work, in fact she seemed to enjoy it. She was much more at home on the ranch than in town at her mother-in-laws doing needlepoint or some other such "lady-like" pursuit. She was kind and not as condemning as the majority of the townsfolk were when it came to Tye. The other thing I liked about Meg is that she stayed true to her character. At the beginning she was still in love with Joe, still missing him terribly. Throughout the book she still thinks of Joe, will always love him, but she begins to understand that she doesn't have to stop loving Joe in order for her to fall in love with someone else. That she can still honor Joe's memory but move on with her life.
Tye Hatcher was the bastard son of one of the town's whores. He grew up around other whores and was shunned by the town because of his parentage. Growing up he understands why he's treated differently than the other kids and tends to keep to himself. When the war is over he returns to Aspen Grove, determined to prove to the townsfolk that he is worth something.
I couldn't help but feel sorry for Tye. Here's a guy that just wants a break. He's more than willing to work hard and do any job that's available. What he really wants to do is own his own ranch. His dream is to have a place that's his, one that he can work and make into something. He also has ideas on how to improve ranching in the area. He has big dreams but with the town against giving him a chance his dreams look like they'll stay only dreams. Then Meg makes Tye an offer he can't refuse and it looks like his dreams might just be within reach. But someone from Tye's past needs him and he finds that he can't refuse them either. So he does the right thing, the only thing that he can. He takes in a little girl who has no one left.
That little girl was Eve and she was a delight. Didn't get on my nerves at all. LOL Sometimes kids in romance novels or any story for that matter, can get on my nerves. But Eve became another piece of the puzzle and added another dimension to Tye. Eve and Tye had far more in common that anyone could have guessed. They were the misfits, outsiders who so desperately wanted to fit in. Meg was their champion in a way - she stood up for them. She showed them kindness and treated them with respect. She wasn't exactly crazy about Eve showing up but she dealt with it and didn't take it out on Eve. That's not to say Meg was perfect, she certainly had her faults. While she may have treated Tye better than everyone else did she still had her doubts about him.
One of the aspects of the story that I really liked was the lack of real external conflict. Sure, we had Meg's in-laws trying to get her to sell the ranch and the narrow minded townsfolk that would go to church and at the same time gossip and shun Meg and Tye but there wasn't any real bad guy. No railroad tycoon hiring outlaws to run Meg off her ranch. No gangs of vicious cattle thieves to deal with. It was just Meg and Tye and Eve getting to know each other and learning to trust each other. It was three heartsick people slowing becoming a family. Loved reading about these three and all the ins and outs of their lives.
Don't get me wrong, this wasn't all rainbows and roses. There was still Joe to deal with. He may have been dead and buried but he was still very much there on that ranch. It was Joe's ranch and Joe's dream and for all of Tye's hard work, Meg still wanted to hang on to Joe's dream. Trying to over come not only an ex but a dead ex is extremely difficult for the new guy. Then there's the fact that Tye was only there because Meg had no other options, there was no one else to help her. So Tye had a ghost to deal with plus his own horrors of war that he had to live with. Tye had also seen battle and been injured but he had lived to come home. Then he gets a child to raise and a new wife who's still in love with her dead husband. Yep, lots of conflict here. And yet I never once felt that St. John rushed the story, that I was reading what should have been a longer book. I had actually forgotten that this book came in at just under 300 pages. It felt full - full of characters and plot and story. The dialogue was crisp and gave such depth to these characters. Yes, I was indeed a happy reader at the end. And I haven't even mentioned Major, the dog, who I adored. :)
Cheryl St. John has an extensive back list that can be found here.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Saturday was ASU Band Day. High school marching bands from all over the state perfom throughout the day. It's exciting to see them in such a huge stadium. Abby's band played early, 9:30, so we didn't stay the whole day, the boys would have drove me nuts! We did get to see Abby's band perform, which was great, they are doing a Cirque du Soleil themed show. AWESOME! I love watching them perform. The shows these high school kids present are truly amazing. How they manage not to run into each other as they are moving all over the field while playing their instruments is proof of all the practice time they put in.
Coming onto the field. The band is small, about 65 kids. Some of the larger schools have around 150-170 kids in their marching bands.
This is right before the performance. They get in these positions which are suppose to reflect the theme of Cirque du Soleil. So they're not stiff and at attention but relaxed like the Cirque du Soleil performers.
After the fun of the marching bands, dh, the boys and I went to the big downtown library where the boys rode the glass elevator and then we got some books. I was a bit disappointed because I wanted to get Kate Lyon's book Hopes Captive. There were two copies but both were nasty to the point that I didn't want to touch them. I'll get that one from Paperbackswap. I did get Hex in High Heels by Linda Wisdom and Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle.
Then it was time to eat a late lunch. The kids voted for Sonic but dh and I spotted TGI Friday's on the way so we used our veto powers and went there. I indulged and got a bacon cheeseburger which was delicious! Then it was on to the last stop, Party City - truly a shop of horrors since it was Saturday afternoon, the week before Halloween. A Madhouse! But we had success and got 8 year old son's costume. Nine year old son is going to be Link from the Zelda video games. Guess who's going to make the costume? Yep, me. And I don't sew so it should be interesting. LOL Thankfully I found a woman who made the Link costume for cosplay and posted detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to make everything. I'll make adjustments for my non-sewing self - Velcro and liquid stitch are my friends. :)
Tomorrow (Monday) is my mom's 83rd birthday so my two nieces, one niece's boyfriend, my nephew, Auntie Fran and my family all went out to a breakfast buffet. Then over to mom's house to hang out for a while. It was fun and good to see everyone. This afternoon I actually took a nap. I'm not a good napper, I usually wake up more tired then before the nap, dh says I don't do it right. He should know, he's a championship napper. LOL
I read another Jill Shalvis - Double Play - very funny. I hope to get the review up this week. So how was everyone's weekend? Read any good books?
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Author: Meg Rosoff
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary (w/futuristic aspects)
Published: HC August 2004/PB July 2005
From the back cover ~
Fifteen-year-old New Yorker Daisy is sent to live in the English countryside with cousins she's never even met. When England is attached and occupied by an unnamed enemy, the cousins find themselves on their own. Power fails, systems fail. As they grow more isolated, the farm becomes a kind of Eden, with no rules. Until the war arrives in their midst.
Daisy's is a war story, a survival story, a love story - all told in the voice of a subversive and witty teenager. This book crackles with anxiety and with lust. It's a stunning and unforgettable first novel that captures the essence of the age of terrorism: how we live now.
How to describe this book? First off it's told by Daisy in a journal type format. There's no dialogue, just Daisy telling the reader what is happening, who said what and giving her teenage opinion on the world around her. The book comes in at just under 200 pages but it's not exactly a quick read, no dialogue means more words per page. I was surprised at how fast I got into these characters. Daisy's witty and sometimes sarcastic viewpoint made the reading easy. It's as if I'd been rummaging around in someones attic and finding this diary of a teenage girl, sat myself down right in the dust and cobwebs and began to read, oblivious to everything but this girl's story.
Daisy finds herself in unfamiliar surroundings when she is sent to her cousins' farm. It's her mother's sister, Aunt Penn, who has taken Daisy in. Daisy's mother died when Daisy was born and now her father has remarried a woman who Daisy can't stand. Since Daisy and her stepmother don't get along, Daisy's father has decided to send her to live with her cousins for a while. The threat of war is there, it's been talked about for sometime so I can't help but think the father is a real ass to send his daughter away at such a precarious time.
Daisy is picked up at the airport by her cousin Edmund who is fourteen, smokes and drives. He's likable in an odd sort of way.
Here's Daisy's first impression of Edmond. ~
Now let me tell you what he looks like before I forget because it's not exactly what you'd expect from your average fourteen-year-old what with the CIGARETTE and hair that looked like he cut it himself with a hatchet in the dead of night, but aside from that he's exactly like some kind of mutt, you know the ones you see at the dog shelter who are kind of hopeful and sweet and put their nose straight into your hand when they meet you with a certain kind of dignity and you know from that second that you're going to take him home? Well that's him. page 3
Edmond along with his twin Isaac, their older brother Osbert and nine year old sister Piper all live on a farm with their mother. The house is falling down but in a welcoming kind of way for Daisy. Where she didn't feel at home in her father's house she feels welcomed in her cousins home. This family is not the Brady Bunch but an eclectic group of kids with a mom that loves her children very much but has little time to mother them. So the kids take on adult responsibilities while still maintaining the childlike attitude of the importance of having fun and enjoying themselves. There are some things that happen with the kids that could possibly be called "paranormal" and made the setting even more unique.
Before long Aunt Penn travels to Oslo, leaving the kids in charge of themselves. This doesn't really change their lives that much, they are still basically taking care of themselves only this time there is no adult supervision. A kind of Utopia for them. Then the war happens. At first it doesn't have a direct affect on the kids, they are in the countryside and relatively safe. But they are alone and come to depend on each other more and grow even closer. Eventually things come to a head with Aunt Penn still gone, unable to return to England and Daisy and Piper sent to live away from the farm.
This is where the kids are truly affected by the war and their chance for living any type of normal life is gone. At this point I had a hard time putting the book down, I had to find out what happened to Daisy and Piper. Where were the boys? When would they see them again? Would they see them again? I was right there with Daisy, not sure what the outcome would be and what she and Piper would have to endure to get home again, home to the farm. The way Daisy changed from this teen that is focused on herself and her issues to someone who takes responsibility for others was written well with a progress you could see, it didn't just happen overnight.
The courage and determination of Daisy and Piper was amazing and at times a bit unbelievable. People don't always know what they are capable of under extreme situations and what these two went through could certainly be called that. In the end I found myself cheering them on, knowing that they just had to make it home. The final end was sweet and poignant and while it wrapped up a little too quick for me I still felt it was a good way to end the story.
This book is intended for young adults, I've seen both "ages 12 and up" and "ages 14 and up" for it but I would caution parents to be aware of the contents. There is teen sex, descriptions of death and decaying bodies and some mature subjects are discussed. I would recommend How I Live Now for high school age teens but that is really an individual decision for the parent. I mentioned the teen sex - as a reader I didn't have a problem with it. It wasn't graphic and I thought it fit with the situation these kids were living in. As a mom of a fifteen year old daughter, yeah, I was uncomfortable with it. Parents don't like to think about their kids and sex, that's just how it is.
The publisher does have a "Browse and search" function available for the book. You can try it here if you want an idea of the type of format and writing style. Meg Rosoff's website can be found here.
I did enjoy How I Live Now. I found it different and fascinating and compelling with Daisy's unique outlook on life making this story stand out. I could say that I would have like to get to know the other characters more, perhaps got inside their heads, but then it would have been a different story and I happen to like How I Live Now just the way it was.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Carved in Stone ~ Six year old Rachel Vandermere didn't believe in monsters--until she saw one kill her parents. Now all grown up and an INTERPOL investigator, Rachel has quietly amassed an impressive collection of evidence to support the existence of preternatural creatures. But she dares not go public with her beliefs until she can produce a living, breathing abnormal being to show the world--which she is certain she can do if only she can convince the enigmatic Nathan Cross to help her.
Now as betrayal and savage violence threaten to explode around them, Mara must decide if she has truly found the man of her dreams -- or the embodiment of her nightmares...
Gargoyles? I know but still... I like the premise, I like the blurbs. So I got the first two books and there they sat, waiting for the third book. Now it looks like the third book in the series is finally being published. Legacy of Stone was supposed to be published over two years ago but now, according to the author and the publisher is set to for release this December.
This is all I could find for a blurb but I'll still be getting it. For some reason I'm looking forward to reading about gargoyles. :)
Vickie Taylor's website isn't updated but she does have a blog that's current. She also writes for Silhouette and has a new release for them coming out next January and is working on the fourth book in the Gargoyles series.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Author: Christine Feehan
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Dark series/Book 20
Published: September 2009
From the author's website ~
A rumor has persisted in the vampire world of a dark slayer—a woman—who travels with a wolf pack and who destroys any vampire who crosses her path. Mysterious, elusive and seemingly impossible to kill, she is the one hunter who strikes terror into the hearts of the undead.
She is Ivory Malinov. Her only brethren, the wolves. Long ago betrayed by her people, abandoned by her family, and cast out by everyone she held dear, Ivory has lived a century without companionship or love. She has sustained her sanity by the habit of the hunt and the custom of the feeding. Until the night she picks up the scent of a man, her unexpected salvation. Her lifemate. The curse of all Carpathian women.
He is Razvan. Branded a criminal, detested and feared, he is a dragonseeker borne of one of the greatest Carpathian lineages, only to be raised as its most despised—and captive—enemy. Fleeing from his lifetime of imprisonment, Razvan now seeks the dawn to end his terrible existence. Instead he has found his deliverance in the Dark Slayer.
In spirit, in flesh and blood, in love, and in war, Ivory and Razvan are made for each other. For as long as they dare to live.
Wow - book 20 and I'm still reading this series. It's hardcover so it has become a library read. Which is good since the anticipation has been waning. I'm planning to continue with the series because there are a few characters that I do look forward to reading their stories but I'm okay with waiting to get it from the library. I haven't liked all the books, some favorites and some I could have done without. Feehan's world does have the sometimes dreaded "destined mates" cliché but if the h/h get to know each other and the author makes me believe they belong together then it works for me. This time around, not so much.
Ivory Malinov has suffered horrendously. She was thought dead and has kept to herself, away from other Carpathians for all these centuries. She has only her wolf pack as her family and seeks only to kill the vampires. She's not what I would consider a typical Feehan heroine. She doesn't need a male to save her from the vampires, she's someone the vampires fear. She is extremely self-reliant and wants no contact with anyone. That all changes when she finds her lifemate and he's near death. The last thing she wants is a lifemate but she feels she has no choice and takes care of him until he is healthy.
Razvan is not a warrior like the other Carpathian males. He has been used by the dark mage Xavier for centuries, ever since he was a child. Used for acts of such deprivation and horror that now that Razvan has escaped he only wants to be left to die. When he realizes that his lifemate has saved him he feels such despair that she will see what a despicable creature he has become. Razvan, for me, just didn't work. I get why he was so depressed and had no hope left. This guy was forced to commit such heinousness acts against innocent people, even his own daughter, that it's surprising he hasn't gone insane. But at some point it gets to be overkill when a character continues to languish over his past. I just plain got tired of hearing about it. Maybe I'm becoming use to the tortured character and their even more tortured past that it's become blasé. Been there, done that, now get over yourself. Whatever the reason I didn't feel much for Razvan.
The pairing of Ivory and Razvan on the surface made sense. She is a warrior and he is a strategist. They share the same burning desire to destroy Xavier and do join forces to finally defeat him. But I never felt that click that you get when you begin to think of the h/h as a couple rather than separate. For me they were together because they were lifemates. Period. I had such high hopes for Ivory since she is more like the male Carpathian heroes than the female heroines of past books. And while I liked her I couldn't see her with Razvan. I think my main problem was with him. If she had been paired with someone else it might have worked for me. *shrugs*
Something I feel needs a mention is the Carpathian language. It's intricate and detailed and at times very boring. It tends to pull me out of the moment. I have to stop, read it, then read the translation. Which is annoying because it takes about five Carpathian words for one English word. Then I have to get back into the story. Ugh! I do think the chants and songs are pretty but should be used sparingly. The book contains two appendices, over 30 pages, with various chants and information about the language. It's obvious much thought, research and time has gone into the language and while I find it interesting it tends to pull me out of of the story. I do however love the lineage charts at the beginning of the book that gives all the family and lifemate connections. It's very helpful when there are so many characters in the series.
One odd thing about Dark Slayer was a secondary character that I really enjoyed in this book. What makes it odd is that I didn't like him in his own book. Gregori Daratrazanoff is the primary healer of the Carpathian people and is also responsible for the safety of Prince Mikhail. A responsibility he takes very seriously. He's arrogant, bossy and overbearing. A man who thinks he knows it all. He got on my nerves in his own book Dark Magic and I didn't like him with his heroine, didn't feel like they belonged together. But in Dark Slayer he actually seemed human and approachable. He really showed his feelings in this one and I found myself looking forward to when he was on the page. It was very odd. LOL
In the end the pairing of Ivory and Razvan just didn't work for me. I was bored by them and their story seem to drag when it was just the two of them. I much preferred when they were interacting with the other Carpathians. By the end of their story I was ready to move on to the next book. The plot did resolve some of the continuing issues that have been plaguing the Carpathian women. A number of previous characters turn up and I did enjoy seeing them again. We did get to see more of Skyler and a glimpse of her and Dimitri, many fans are impatiently waiting for their book but my guess is that it will be a few years.
The next book in the series is titled Dark Peril. No synopsis or excerpt yet. Christine Feehan's extensive back list and information on all her series can be found on her website.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Author: Jill Shalvis
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: American Heroes: The Firefighters/Book 2
Published: August 2008
From the back cover ~
Firefighter Aidan Donnelly has always battled the flames with trademark icy calm. That is, until a blazing old flame returns—in the shape of sizzling soap star Mackenzie Stafford! Aidan wants to pour water over the unquenchable heat between them. But that just creates more steam….
Kenzie is not the delicate, fragile female she looks like. She has one clear objective, and nothing will stand in the way of her goal—well, nothing but the red-hot touch of a certain dangerously sexy fireman, that is!
The cover ~ It's become a habit with these Harlequins but I have to say something about the cover. I like it except my eye keeps going not to his chest and abs but to his left hand. That would be the hand highest up on the suspenders, near the nipple. Anyway, is it just me or does it seem almost too small for the rest of his body? Maybe because his chest is so big it makes the hand look small but to me it looks like it belongs on a smaller man.
Another hot and steamy firefighter story from Shalvis. This time it's Aidan and Kenzie that heat up the sheets. Aidan we met in Flashpoint, book 1 (my review). He is the partner of Zach, the hero from book 1, and is a bachelor at heart. Or so he thinks. You ever notice how they say that but then they're the next to fall to the ol' luv bug? This has one of my favorite romance tropes - former lovers, in fact they're former summer lovers, even better. Ah, summer love, where everything is perfect and you feel like it can't end. But it did end when Kenzie got serious and Aidan got scared. Six years have past and while they've both changed that attraction is still there. Kenzie is back in Santa Rey not because of Aidan but because of her brother Blake who was killed in a fire. He was also a firefighter and good friend of Aidan.
You know what I liked about Aidan aside from the obvious sexy firefighter hero thing he's got going? He actually admits he made a mistake all those years ago. He admits that he was a jerk for running away from Kenzie when things got serious. He admits that he wants a second chance with her. Aidan is a good guy, faults and all. He's sweet and gentle and knows when to push and when to ease back when it comes to Kenzie and sex. And sometimes he's just down right adorable it just melts your heart. Like after they have sex and Kenzie thinks that maybe she's broken his heart a little. Aidan quickly disabuses her of that notion. ~
"You screamed my name." He lifted his head, revealing a strong smile. "You begged." He out-and-out grinned then, not broken, not even a little bit. "We still work hard."
"There is no we." She pushed him off her, suddenly and irrationally irritated. "No we at all."
Completely oblivious to the picture he made sprawled out on the bed, buck naked, he put his hands behind his head and continued to smile like an idiot. "Are you telling me you have no desire to do that again?"
"Ah, Kenzie. You're such a pretty liar." page 88
It goes on and Aidan asks her to stay and she does but she asks him why he really broke up with her six years ago.
He looked at her and she nearly backed down; she certainly held her breath, but he touched her face. "Because I didn't know what I had." page 89
Loved the way Aidan opened up to Kenzie. She tries to resist but he proves irresistible. :)
Kenzie is a former soap star. Former because her soap was cancelled and now she's out of work. She comes back to Santa Rey, looking into the circumstances surrounding her brother's death. Thankfully she's not a diva but easy to like and while she can be stubborn she's smart enough to ask for help when desperate. That's how she lands on Aidan doorstep, in need of a place to stay. The sparks are there but Kenzie has decided that this time she's not going to let things get serious. She there to find out about her brother's death, that's all. I liked Kenzie. I liked her determination, her cunning and her need for revenge on Aidan. Yep, she admits to him that all she wants to do is break his heart like he broke hers. At least she's honest. :) She does have a few moments when she gets herself into some trouble but I think those were more due to lack of experience rather than TSTL syndrome.
Aidan, Kenzie and Sex ~ Shalvis can write some very hot, very steamy sex scenes. With a short format there's only so much that can be devoted to the build up and climax *grins* of the scenes. When compared to some of the erotic romances I've read where the sex scenes go on and on, page after page, I'd say Shalvis does an amazing job in the short format. With the anticipation, culmination and grand finale', she still makes it more than just the physical. She gets these characters to open up and expose their insecurities, hopes and fears.
Give it another win for the hot men and their heroines of Firehouse Thirty-Four. The plot was interesting but easy to figure out the who behind the arson fires. I liked the overall story, especially Aidan and Kenzie's romance, and getting to know more about the people that make up this firefighting family. Next in the series is the anthology Heating Up the Holidays with Shalvis' story, All He Wants for Christmas about an EMT and a firefighter from Firehouse Thirty-Four. Jill Shalvis and her books can be found on her website.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Author: Monica Fairview
Genre: Historical Romance/1812ish
Published: October 2009
From the author's website ~
Unpredictable courtships appear to run in the Darcy family...
In this Pride and Prejudice sequel with a difference, Caroline Bingley is our heroine. Caroline is sincerely broken-hearted when Mr. Darcy marries Lizzy Bennet— that is, until she meets his American cousin…
Mr. Robert Darcy is as charming as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is proud, and he is stunned to find Caroline weeping at his cousin's wedding. Caroline, caught in a moment of extreme vulnerability, intends to put as much distance between them as possible, preferably a whole ocean. But events bring them together, and they must make the best of a bad situation.
As for romance, that is the last thing they could possibly expect...
I wasn't sure what to expect with this version of what happens after the famous wedding of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. This story has the focus not on Lizzy and Darcy but on the ever so proper Caroline Bingley. As Lizzy and Darcy are wed Caroline thinks she's lost the perfect man, the only man she wanted to marry. Caroline isn't the most likable person. She's a product of her environment of wealth and privilege. So it surprised me that I came to like her and rather quickly.
When Caroline and Robert Darcy first meet it's over Caroline's tears for another man. She is embarrassed and upset that this stranger should find her in such an improper state and proceeds to extract an oath from him that he will not speak of what he witnessed. Caroline then leaves without finding out who Robert is.
Fast forward almost a year and the two are thrown together on a journey to Pemberley, home of Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Along for the ride are Louisa, Caroline's widowed sister and Colonel Fitzwilliams, another cousin of Darcy's. The journey finds Caroline in close proximity to Robert Darcy and allows her to see him as someone far more interesting than she first perceived. Her sister Louisa doesn't help matters with her criticism of Robert Darcy. The fact that he's an American gives Louisa a multitude of factors to find lacking in him. Caroline, oddly enough, finds herself coming to Roberts defense and dislikes Louisa's continued negativity concerning Robert.
Robert Darcy was something of a pale character in comparison to Caroline. I never really felt I got to know him that well. He comes across as kind and open, stating what he thinks and making friends easily. He doesn't seem the type of man to practice deception and yet that is exactly what he ends up doing. He does it to help Caroline and only sees it as helping someone out, not because he has any strong feelings for her. He doesn't regard her as the type of lady he would wed. Caroline is shocked when he tells her this and also surprised at the hurt his admission causes. I would have like to have gotten to know him better, perhaps had he and Caroline spent more time interacting because I did enjoy their banter, I would have felt more connected to his character.
Once at Pemberley Caroline finds herself not only with the Darcys but the boisterous Bennet family arrives to add to the already tense situation Caroline finds herself in. The author does a good job bringing in the flavor of Austen's Bennets, with Mrs. Bennet as irritating as always, Mr. Bennet hiding behind his reading and the girls staying true to form. The cast was quite large and I liked seeing Caroline interact with the various members of the families. I especially liked Caroline and Lizzy, or Eliza as she is called, getting to know each other and seeing Caroline come to the realization that Eliza and Darcy belong together and the she (Caroline) is over Darcy.
The pace of the story is fairly slow. It's a lovely walk in the park with a few side trips, running into some old friends and meeting some new ones. I only wish the walk had picked up the pace a bit rather than strolling through. I think the main problem I had with the story was that I didn't feel much of a spark between Caroline and Robert. They came across as more friends than lovers or potential lovers in this case. The part I liked the best was Caroline and her observations of the actions of others and her reactions. I liked watching how she changes and becomes a far more likable characters than before the journey to Pemberley.
I think if you enjoy historical novels with a soft touch on the romance, a large cast of characters and focus on the character interactions then The Other Mr. Darcy could be for you.
Monica Fairview can be found on her blog and information about her novels can be found on her website.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Forbidden Falls releases January 2010
Angel's Peak releases February 2010
In fact, beneath his faded fatigues and bushy beard, Aiden Riordan is a doctor, recharging for a summer after leaving the Navy. He’s intrigued by the pretty, slightly snooty refugee from the rat race — meditating, journaling and definitely keeping him at arm’s length. He’d love to get closer...if his scruffy exterior and crazy ex-wife don’t hold him back.
Moonlight Road releases March 2010
And if you can't wait until January, Robyn Carr currently has out a novella in the anthology, That Holiday Feeling. Stories by Debbie Macomber and Sherryl Woods are also featured.
Under the Christmas Tree by Robyn Carr
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
According to AskMen the most influential man of 2009 is Don Draper. Who? The name doesn't ring a bell? Didn't for me so I checked out the story here. Turns out the most influential man of the year isn't even real, he's a fictional character from AMC's show Mad Men. I've heard some good things about the show but for some reason I haven't had the urge to start watching it. And why are they doing this now? Shouldn't they wait until the year is over?
So why is it that not only was a fictional character chosen but he's not even from the current time period? He's an ad exec from the 1960's.
From the article ~
Draper illustrates old-school values even though he often fails to meet them himself. His human flaws are what make him so relevant to men today. He is by turns a chain-smoking, drinking-in-the-office emblem of a bygone age, and an unusually real, earnest human being who illustrates the struggles modern men know all too well.
Aside from the chain-smoking, he sounds like he could be one of the alpha males we love to read about. Was a fictional character chosen because we can accept their flaws and misdeeds far easier than a real, living person? Or was a fictional character chosen this year because people especially need that escape from reality? And who would have been chosen had this poll been taken on a woman's site? Perhaps President Obama would have made it higher than #3? I think maybe I'll just check out Don and see what he's all about.
In case you were wondering who the other top ten are:
10 ~ Dana White
9 ~ Peyton Manning
8 ~ Roger Federer
7 ~ Steve Jobs
6 ~ Michael Jackson
5 ~ Simon Cowell
4 ~ Mark Zuckerberg
3 ~ Barack Obama
2 ~ Usain Bolt
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
While browsing online for a new bookcase, because I desperately need one for an odd corner space, I found a few I liked and then I found this one...
The Human Bookshelf by David Blasquez
Just for fun, if you could have this in your home, for your eyes only, what fictional heroes would you choose to make your custom bookcase?
Me ~ I'd pick Barrons, Roarke, Curran, Cadeon Woede, Rhage and Cian MacKeltar. Not necessarily stacked in that order. ;)
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Young Adult
Series: Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy/Book 1
Published: August 2009
From the author's website ~
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl.
In summer, a few precious months of being human... until the cold makes him shift back again. Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.Maggie Stiefvater puts a different spin on the werewolf - wolf during cold months, human during warmer month. Interesting... I have to say I was pulled into the story pretty quick but I did have a few problems with it. And since I haven't read that many Young Adult novels or at least current YA novels I wonder if it's common to make the teens seem at times more mature than the adults.
The story is told in both Grace and Sam's POV. Each chapter is titled with either Grace or Sam's name. I liked the way the POVs shifted by chapter. I think the story would not have had the same effect if it had only been told in Grace or Sam's POV. Also includes in each chapter title was the current temperature is which I thought added an element of suspense. The temperature plays a major role in the story. It works as a time clock, counting down the amount of time Sam and Grace have together. It became something to dread with no way of holding it back. Knowing that Sam was destined to change back to a wolf definitely added tension to the story. This was far from your typical teenager problems of girl dating guy parents wouldn't approve of.
Grace and Sam first meet not as Grace and Sam but as Grace and her wolf. When Grace was 11 years old she was taken from her backyard and dragged into the woods by wolves. This is the first time she sees Sam. In the years following Maggie watches for "her wolf" from her backyard which borders the woods where the local wolf pack lives. I loved the way Grace thought of Sam as "her wolf." She makes a connection with him when she's still a child and that connection carries over into her teen years. They do become romantically involved. Grace probably thought she was in love with Sam all along and Sam was always out there, looking out for Grace. I don't think they really fell in love until they got to know each other once Sam became human and they met.
The first time Sam sees Grace in public when he's human. ~
The day I nearly talked to Grace was the hottest day of my life. Even in the bookstore, which was air-conditioned, the heat crept in around the door and came in through the big picture windows in waves. Behind the counter, I slouched on my stool in the sun and sucked in the summer as if I could hold every drop of it inside of me. As the hours crept by, the afternoon sunlight bleached all the books on the shelves to pale, gilded versions of themselves and warmed the paper and ink inside the covers so that the smell of unread words hung in the air.
First, I just love the imagery here. You can feel Sam's love for the summer heat. The need to not miss one moment of that heat and what that warmth represents to him. He says how it was the hottest day of his life meaning this is when he is the most human. The way Sam reacts to being near Grace is so much like a teenage boy, not sure what to do, hoping he won't have to talk to her, hoping he will. :) It was a wonderful scene that told a lot about these two characters. And it's it the best that it happens in a bookstore?!
In the fall a boy from Grace's school is attacked by wolves and dies. This causes fear in the population and some people take it upon themselves to hunt down the wolves. Grace is worried about her wolf and can't stop thinking about him. Wondering if he is safe.
When Grace finds Sam on the deck of her home bordering the woods, she recognizes his eyes. His eyes are a very distinct shade of yellow and Grace knows he's her wolf which is impossible since he's a teenage boy. But still, she just knows it. The woods become a symbol of what separates the human population from the wolves. They represent sanctuary to the wolves. Many times Grace or Sam are looking towards the woods, lost in their thoughts or looking for answers. Sam is looking for his pack mates. He's also sets out looking for his mentor, Beck.
Grace and Sam spend a bunch of time together and really get to know each other. Grace still has to go to school but they spend their free time together with Sam even sleeping in Grace's room. There is definitely a physical attraction, they are teenagers! LOL And their bond that was made six years earlier only strengthens with time. I liked their romance and watching how their relationship developed from a girl more or less obsessed with a wolf to a young woman falling for a young man. They made a unique but believable couple by the end. I could totally see how they fell for each other. It was quick but they had that time clock ticking away and that was always foremost in their minds. How much longer will Sam have as a human? Yeah, I can see how they're not going to go slow with the whole dating thing.
Grace's parents inadvertently helped Grace and Sam be together because they (the parents) were so absorbed in their own lives and so accustomed to Grace more or less raising herself. There were times when I could only shake my head and wonder ~ are these parents clueless? Do they not realize that their daughter has a boy staying in her room? Overnight? And it's not like they had other kids to take care of, Grace is an only child. Yeah, the parents bugged me. And Sam's parents weren't any better. No spoilers, but I will say that they didn't deserve him and I'm glad Beck took responsibility for Sam and took him in.
The secondary characters other than the parents were mainly Grace's friends and Sam's pack mates. Okay, Grace's friends were teenagers and for the most part acted like teenagers except towards the end when I couldn't help but think that one in particular was acting very adult and it just felt a bit off. But I went with the "fix" to the problem and got past that bit of WTH. The pack macks I found very interesting. They were such a mix of characters with human and animal traits and not just when they were in their human or wolf forms. These werewolves, when they are in their wolf form, are essentially wolves, not humans in a wolf's body. They think like wolves and act like wolves. When they are human they act like humans but with some wolf like mannerisms. It gave them that extra "umph" that kept me curious as to what they would do next.
I could say more but I think I've gone on long enough. Even with the few bumps in the road I found myself not only liking Grace and Sam but involved in their story. I wanted them to get a HEA. I also felt this need to know what happens. I just knew they had to be together somehow and I needed to know what that somehow was.
The second book in the trilogy, Linger, is due out fall 2010. Also, Ms. Stiefvater announced the movie rights to Shiver have been bought. I will definitely be reading Linger. I have to find out what happens next to Grace and Sam. They certainly left an impression on this reader.
Friday, October 2, 2009
I was shocked when she told me that she had written a review and if I wanted to I could post it on the blog. The majority of her reading is Young Adult so I was expecting a YA review. I don't read much YA so I thought it would be nice to have some YA reviews. But in typical teenager fashion she gives me a review not for a YA novel but for an adult romance. She had to read it and write the review for her English class so this probably isn't going to happen often. :) I haven't read The Time Traveler's Wife yet, it's on my TBR pile but I will get to it. Enjoy!
Title: The Time Traveler's Wife
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Genre: Time Travel Romance
Published: July 2004
From the back cover ~
A most untraditional love story, this is the celebrated tale of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who involuntarily travels through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare’s passionate affair endures across a sea of time and captures them in an impossibly romantic trap that tests the strength of fate and basks in the bonds of love.
Usually, movies are major book-reading turnoffs for me. And romances aren’t really my thing, either. I hadn’t even heard of Time Traveler’s Wife until after the movie came out, and I was rather skeptical at first, but I wound up devouring the entire book over the course of a weekend.
There’s really no genre for this book: it’s that fantastically unique. It could, perhaps, be called a ‘sci-fi romance’. It’s almost a paranormal romance, except for the fact that there is a scientific explanation for Henry’s condition – another thing that makes this book incredibly unique. Traditionally, the ability to time travel is discovered / created somewhere in the future (along with flying cars and the Fountain of Youth) and used via machines to aggrandize the knowledge of the scientific community / humankind as a whole by viewing events in the past for better understanding, and / or altering the course of History Itself to make life better.
. . . What.
I won’t even begin on how little sense that makes, instead turning to an explanation of the time travel that occurs within Time Traveler’s Wife. Henry has only marginal control over when he travels; it usually occurs when he is stressed, so keeping himself calm does help, but it doesn’t stop him from travelling. He has no choice over the location he’ll go to, or the time at which he arrives, or when he goes back; and he can’t interfere in the path of History Itself.
And all the while, poor Clare is left in the Present (or her present, at least), waiting for Henry, worrying, wondering. Unlike her husband, Clare is a completely normal person, who does not time-travel at random and therefore does not generally run the risk of dying in a foreign time and place. She loves Henry, despite probably sometimes thinking he’s an idiot for taking so many risks, and is willing to wait for him for incredibly long periods of time – multiple decades in one case.
The bond the two share – stretching from Clare’s childhood at age six, all the way until their deaths, despite the time-travelling – is incredibly touching, in a way I can’t quite put into words. Maybe it’s just the fact that Niffenegger’s writing is so convincing – there’s a very “this could be happening to someone I know” feel. It’s real. And that’s what makes it so entrancing.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
On to the story... It's the time of the American Civil War and while Kristin McCahy isn't living in what would be considered the thick of the fighting she's still exposed to the brutality and the bloodshed. Living in Missouri during the Civil War, Kristin and her family learn to fear the Jayhawkers (Union sympathizers) and the Bushwhackers (Confederate sympathizers). These two groups of fighters are no more than vigilantes who go after anyone who stands against them. In the land of the Kansas/Missouri border, it's like there's another civil war going on with the McCahy family caught in the middle.
Kristin is 18 years old when she meets Cole. While that may seem young, at the time many women were married by 18, certainly in wartime they married younger. Kristin was a mature 18, she had to be. She had no time for frivolities and pursuits of pleasure. After her father was killed by the Bushwhackers, her brother joins the war, for the North. She is now in charge of the ranch and takes that responsibility very seriously. There is also her younger sister Shannon to look out for. And the freed slaves Delilah and Samson who are family to the McCahys. Add in the ranch hands and Kristin is overwhelmed by her responsibilities.
Then Zeke Moreau, one of William Quantrill's men, comes calling. Zeke and a bunch of his men come to take what they want and what Zeke wants is Kristin. It's at this point that the dark stranger appears, killing many of the men and saving Kristin from Zeke. But Zeke gets away so Kristin knows it's only a matter of time before he comes back for revenge. Kristin has to get the stranger to stay, to keep her and her family safe from the likes of Zeke Moreau. While Kristin may have had to grow up fast she's still naive when it comes to men. That naivety makes it's appearance in some amusing ways. Cole certainly found Kristin's shyness attractive and reminded him of how young she really was. I like how Kristin's youth was used as a strength instead of focusing on her lack of experience as a weakness. Cole's experiences in the war made him appreciate Kristin that much more.
Cole Slater was just passing through when he saw what was happening at the McCahy ranch. He has no plans to stay on after driving off the scumbag that is Monreau. He tells Kristin to leave the ranch and head somewhere safer, Missouri is no place for a couple of young women alone. Kristin refuses to leave her home and makes Cole and offer he tries to refuse but in the end stays while making some demands of his own.
With the war still going on Cole can't stay with Kristin indefinitely. He has to get back to the fighting so when it comes time to leave he gets word to his brothers Malachi and Jamie. They come to the McCahy ranch and are able to stay for a while. Cole also gets word to Quantrill that Kristin and her family are under his protection and are not to be touched by any of Quantrill's men. Quantrill tells Cole that he can't make any guarantees unless Cole marries Kristin. To say Cole isn't happy about this is an understatement. He has his own ghosts to fight, one of them being his deceased wife. Cole is one of those heroes that makes a quick impression with his charming of Delilah, his gentleness with Shannon and his respect for Samson. The way he treats Kristin is far different from how he treats everyone else. I think it was because he was attracted to her from the beginning and he doesn't want to be. He feels that by doing so he is betraying his deceased wife.
At first Kristin finds Cole abrasive, irritating and a bit scary. He also fascinates her with his manners and good looks. He's not what she was expecting and while his attitude about the war upsets her, he's fighting for the Confederacy and her brother fights for the Union, she still can't help caring and worrying about him when he's gone. I really liked the way these two broken souls came together. Once they did sleep together it didn't fix their problems or cure their distrust. They still had many obstacles to overcome not the least of which is a secret from Cole's past.
Dark Stranger is a fast read. There's a lot going on in this story that spans almost three years. The book comes in at just under 300 pages but it felt much longer, in a good way. :) Heather Graham loads the story with not only Kristin and Cole's romance but what it was like living during this tenuous time in US history. She also has a number of secondary characters that add even more depth to the story. Of course we know that Zeke will be back and there will be a dramatic showdown between Zeke and Cole but I found myself caught up in the day to day tests of faith and perseverance that each of these characters went through.
All in all I'm glad I choose this as a re-read and plan to re-read the next two books in the trilogy. The second book, Rides a Hero is Malachi's and I do remember ever since reading Dark Stranger I have loved the name Malachi. :) The third book is Jamie's, Apache Summer. Oddly, I don't remember much about it but I'm sure it will come back to me once I start reading it again.
Heather Graham, who also writes as Shannon Drake, has a new western coming out this November. Night of the Wolves is about.... Vampire Hunters in the old west! An old west paranormal - who'd have thought it. LOL I checked on Amazon and Harlequin's pages and can't find a synopsis. Hopefully one will be posted soon. Heather Graham and her huge back list can be found on her website.