I picked this one up as it was on a list of time travel romance must-reads.
I wish they had placed an asterisk next to it that said: "Actually, this is book #4 so you might want to start at the beginning of the series which also has time travel and romance."
And then I wish they had placed a second asterisk next to it that said: "And the time travel is only for about a quarter of the book sandwiched in the middle...the rest of it takes place in modern times dealing with characters/family trees you learned about in the first three books."
Let's be honest...I really did not enjoy this that much. I think that's partly because I jumped into the series a few books in and it read like it. There was no attempt to really catch a new reader up on the world...which is totally fine. I should have researched the book a bit more before picking it up. I think even if I had been caught up on the series I would have not cared for this book much anyway.
One of my big issues with the book? The villains (Gilbert the father in law and the fiancé) were absolutely ridiculous. Madelyn's ex-fiancé is a stalker who perpetrates crimes left and right but supposedly gets away with it because he's a lawyer? Unbelievable. On the back cover blurb he's labeled as a "pesky fiancé"....um, it goes WAY beyond pesky. He was obnoxious. And a freaking CRIMINAL. And to top it all off, every time he perpetrated a crime or acted horribly (stealing her possessions? having her credit cards stopped and her credit score altered? stalking her? verbally abusing her every chance he got? etc ad nauseam), Madelyn or the supporting characters would just cower under the abuse or just wag their fingers at him and tell him to stop. It was ridiculous and I found it hard to believe that he was just able to behave in that manner for so long.
The romance fell flat for me too. I understand...98% of romance books are set up with the reader already knowing which two characters are going to end up together before he/she even starts reading. Just because we know who's going to fall in love with whom does not mean the romance has to be flat...or an afterthought. Madelyn and Patrick's romance just kind of happened...and then it was established with not enough development. I just didn't care about it which was disappointing because I wanted to read a romance book. I did not read any chemistry between these two...and, to be honest, I kind of doubted Madelyn's judgement after she was willing to marry Bentley Douglas Taylor III (...even his name reads "Obnoxiously Evil Villain"..good grief) after (I think it was only) six months. Madelyn and Patrick's romance read like it was a poor attempt at the it's-a-slow-burn-because-we-hate-each-other-but-then-find-out-we-are-each-other's-true-love-in-two-chapters trope.
Also disappointing? When you think you're going to read a time travel book...only to find that the time travel doesn't kick in for about 250 pages and then only lasts about 50 pages. Um...not what I signed up for. I was expecting the time travel to be more integral to the plot and more interlaced throughout. We spend more time watching Madelyn try to figure out why Patrick likes to wield a sword then we do actually in medieval Scotland.
I'm probably just grumpy because it wasn't a time travel book like I was expecting AND Madelyn's fiancé REALLY bugged me and it infused the whole story with a tinge of sourness. I plan to go back and read book number one in the series to see if that sets a better bedrock for the series.
Sometimes I wish a historical and/or regency romance would be just that -- a historical and/or regency romance. I don't understand why authors insist on imposing modern day sensibilities on a historical era.
Suffice to say -- the anachronisms are strong with this one!
In fact...anachronisms might just be "a thing" with Maya Rodale. Sure, her books are entertaining and that's a good thing. But if it bothers you to read about modern women in historical eras then this book (and the other two of Rodale's books that I've read) may throw you out of the story.
And...I shudder to think of how many of her readers consume this book and others and think this is historical fact embedded within the historical fiction. I think this is one of the ways "alternate history" gets spread...be it intentional or unintentional.
Here's a VERY spoilery example (seriously -- super spoilery so don't read this next paragraph if you don't want to read about the big plot point):
[*steps up to soapbox* Our heroine, Lady Amelia, reveals that she is pregnant out of wedlock...to which EVERYONE in her family reacts calmly, without making a scene, and urging her to do what's best for her. Even the imposing dowager duchess who Rodale has set up as the "Etiquette Police" for this series...the dowager duchess who is so concerned about her charges making good matches with good ton...the dowager duchess who has spent the entire book trying to reform Lady Amelia...the dowager duchess who responds this way to the news of Amelia's pregnancy: "Sometimes, a family comes to you when it's time, not when you planned it. And it may seem like a disaster but it isn't. It's just...right." No scene...no disappointment...no panic...just calming reassurance that it's ok to have a child out of wedlock. Um...that SO would not have happened during this time period. Lady Amelia most likely wouldn't have been given a choice in the matter and would have been shuffled off to a country estate to "take the air" for an unnamed illness for 9 months and then return to society miraculously healed and to probably live her life as a spinster relation. The idea that the family calmly accepts her pregnancy is a mark of modern culture...not the mark of historical English aristocratic culture. *steps off soapbox*]
Did I enjoy the book? Yeah, I guess. I do like that Rodale puts an actual plot into her books as that element is sometimes hard to find It's always hard to find good regency romances that aren't full of "Insta-Lust" and this author is definitely is strong on the "Insta-Lust" (at least from what I've read so far). I am always on the search for authors that focus on the "love" rather than the "lust"...but that's getting fewer and farther between apparently.
Hunter's claim by S.E. Smith
Meet Hunter -- an overly large, cat-humanoid-alien dude who is a warrior for his alien species (aka the Trivators) who have recently occupied Earth. Unfortunately, he and his friends (like Dagger and Razor) are really crappy warriors and they fail at just about every mission they go on. It's through one of these failed missions that Hunter is captured and it's up to scrappy, survivalist Jesse to rescue him from his captors.
As thanks (?) for rescuing him, Hunter takes Jesse as Amate (note that it's not as "a mate"...but as "Amate". Original, yes?) which bonds him to her for the rest of his life. He can't seek relief from anyone else...not even from himself (in a so-called "relief room")...except from her. Nice to know that he asked her if she even wanted to be rescued and bonded to him forever before he did it, eh? Oh wait...he didn't ask. He just claimed her as his own and then started walking around naked.
But wait...there's more, folks. Hunter and crew take Jesse and her two sisters (convenient that Hunter has two friends and Jesse has two sisters, isn't it?) to the Trivators' home world...which is pretty much the USA. But in space. At least it seems to be...sadly, not much worldbuilding is done to really set up the Trivators' home world. So we are left to assume it's pretty much like Earth...just with big cat-humanoids and a male-centric society. But good thing everybody speaks English! And good thing there's no culture-shock after being essentially abducted and plopped down in an alien world!
I could go on...but I shan't...just in case you want to read the story. There are a few plot points that I could spoil, so I shall refrain. It's a bad book. It's so bad that it might be entertaining if you are in the mood for a campy read.
It seems as though the Kindle edition wasn't proofed at all. Spelling errors and awkward sentences abound...
I'm definitely disappointed...I was in the mood for a fun "Alien Meets Human" book. Not sure what I got instead...
The one by Kiera Cass
And....this season of The (Dystopian-ish) Bachelor is now concluded.
I finally have my answer...Aspen or Maxon? Maxon or Aspen? Which dude does America end up with? And now I know. But you shall find no spoilers here...and don't go peeking at the end of the book to find out, either - it will definitely take a lot out of the story ('cause let's face it...the decision between the two is pretty much the whole story).
So, other than finally knowing who America ends up with...this was an ok book. Not my favorite of the three...I think I enjoyed the first book the best. I enjoyed the different characters floating in and out of the first installment. This final installment is (obviously) focused on wrapping things up and bringing the story to its conclusion. As it should. But there were parts that seemed flatter than I would have liked...lots of talking and whining (if I had a nickel for every time Maxon whined/wavered/wimpered, I would be a rich lady. Or I'd have a few bucks at any rate...enough for a frappucino at least...). Not as much plot movement in my opinion. Oh, a lot happens...it just wasn't as layered as maybe the first one was.
The One is still immensely readable and absorbing, just as the first two were. I enjoy Cass's writing style - it makes for a quick, fun read. I found myself wanting to know a little bit more about the conclusion than was written. The conclusion was satisfying, but I think it could have been fleshed out a bit more (especially with certain characters) to where the ending seemed all the more complete than it already was...and maybe tie up a loose end or two. I really can't go into detail lest I let something slip.
One thing I wish was tackled more in the trilogy as a whole (and definitely in the final installment) was the issue with the Northern and Southern Rebels. The potential was there to really delve into the worldbuilding and the politics, but we were given just enough to make it a plot point and then we moved back to the Selection. I understand...the trilogy is about the Selection, not the Rebels...but I think it could have added more depth to the story and given it an actual dystopian feel. As it stands, it's categorized as dystopian fiction, but without an emphasis on building the dystopian world it really just turns into a literary version of the Bachelor.
Which I am obviously ok with...because I devoured these three books. But still...the world building could have been more structured and detailed.
So, four stars for this one.
Divine by Mistake by P.C. cast
Oh...I so wanted to like this book. Diving by Mistake is my second foray into P.C. Cast's writing...and it's the second time I've had to put a P.C. Cast book down (the first book was Goddess of Spring).
It's not that I didn't like the story...I mean, check out the back cover blurb:
The most excitement teacher Shannon Parker expected on her summer vacation was a little shopping. But then her latest purchase--a vase with the Celtic goddess Epona on it--somehow switches her into the world of Partholon, where she's treated like a goddess. A very temperamental goddess... It seems that Shannon has stepped into another's role as the Goddess Incarnate of Epona. And while it has some very appealing moments--what woman doesn't like a little pampering now and then?--it also comes with a ritual marriage to a centaur and the threat of war against the evil Fomorians. Oh, and everyone disliking her because they think she's her double.
Somehow Shannon needs to figure out how to get back to Oklahoma without being killed, married to a horse or losing her mind...
I mean...sounds interesting, right? I thought so. Definitely not your run of the mill marriage-to-a-horse (turns out to be not as creepy as it sounds) romances. Plus, I've seen Cast's writing style compared to Anne Bishop's as well...and since Bishop is one of my favorites, I definitely wanted to check Cast out. Well, there are similarities between the two...namely the strong female lead (but Bishop writes stronger leads), sense of humor and fondness for animals. But Cast's book didn't catch me like Bishop's books do.
With this book and with the previous Cast book I tried to read...I just couldn't finish it. Not that the writing was painful and not that the plot was bad. In fact, I started this book reading at a furious pace because it was funny, clever and really interesting. Then it went from 80 mph to a standstill in about five pages flat. It's like the book was stuck in mud spinning its wheels. The switch from "I care about this character" to "yeah...whatever" happened almost as instantaneously as well. What's weird is that the same exact thing happened with Goddess of Spring as well.
I have a feeling that the story/writing/everything picks back up eventually (because there's a lot of plot out there that needs to be wrapped up)...but I just couldn't make myself wade through the mire to get there.
So...had to put this one down. I would say, though...if the synopsis looks interesting to you then definitely check it out because you may not find the middle part to be sloggish like I did. Maybe I just picked up her books at the wrong time? Even though I didn't finish this one...still giving it two stars because of how much I did enjoy that first bit.
autumn bones by Jacqueline Carey
Ok, so I won't lie...I'm sick and tired of hearing about Daisy's creepy tail. Oh and in this book, we get a description of it! It's several inches long with blond hair that stands on end much like the hair on the back of your neck when you're alarmed.
All I can think about is a rat tail with some hair on it. Seriously...go Google a picture of a hairy rat tail. Actually, don't...who knows what you might end up seeing.
Other than the tail ...*shudder*... this was an OK book. I didn't love it...but I didn't hate it either. In Autumn Bones we delve a little deeper into Daisy's forays as Hel's liaison and her attempts to keep the eldritch under control in her little town. It doesn't help that her boyfriend Sinclair turns out to be descended from a line of obeah men/women (ie. a family of strong Caribbean withes)....a family that wants Sinclair out of the States and back on the Islands with them where they think he belongs. Soon Daisy is on a deadline to save her town from an evil duppy (ie. the ghost/spirit of Sinclair's dead obeah-man grandfather) before the veil between the living and the dead is torn down forever.
I remember really enjoying the first one (Dark Currents) and I definitely think a knowledge of the first installment is almost a must to really enjoy Autumn Bones. My biggest issue with the story was that it slowed w-a-y down right at the climax of the plot. I mean, why would it do that? The set-up chapters were really easily to read and moved fast...but when the plot really started to pick up, it just got tedious.
So tedious that I was ready for it to just be done.
Oh and there's a tail-waggin' love triangle as well. Not really original, but...whatevs.
That said...will I read the next one when it comes out? Yeah, I will. I don't know if I will it will be as "on top" of my reading list like this one was...and I still waited several months to read this one.
The right wife by Beverly Barton
Expected Publication Date: June 5, 2014
Just received approval for this arc - so excited! I love the cover...I do love a pretty dress.
Anyway, here's the Back Cover Blurb:
In a sweeping and vibrant novel set in the post-war South, New York Times bestselling author Beverly Barton follows one young woman's journey to love and independence. . .
1885. All of Margaret Campbell's hopes for the future lie in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Since the death of her sharecropper father, eighteen-year-old Maggie has no resources and few allies, aside from the relatives who've agreed to take her in. With luck, she might yet make an upright gentleman of her brother, and a real lady of her rebellious little sister. And perhaps, once her siblings are settled, she'll find a decent, hardworking man to marry. But those plans are jeopardized the moment she meets Aaron Stone.
Effortlessly charming, Aaron is building an empire in the South. Maggie knows he wants the right kind of wife to overcome the shadows surrounding his birth--someone like the well-connected widow he's been courting. Someone a million miles from a penniless, outspoken sharecropper's daughter. But neither jealousy, family secrets, nor long-held prejudices will keep Maggie from following her heart. . .
Most of the historical romances I read tend to be Regency Romances. I am looking forward to an American historical romance! Can't wait to get started on this one!
Life. Sometimes it just gets in the way...you know? I hate that I didn't manage to get a TBT review up this week. From an awful week at work to some big life changes starting to evolve...it's been an eventful week. Every time I crack open a book (or turn my e-reader on), my eyes would just drift closed and...whelp...that's all she wrote. Hope to get back to the routine this week - including the Weekly Newbie and TBT. In the meantime, started working on an ARC copy of Mary Balogh's latest Regency-era romance.
So how about I do a "bonus" Weekly Newbie post since I didn't manage a TBT post? Yes? No? Maybe? Well, I'm going to do it anyway.
The Weekly Newbie - The Escape by Mary Balogh
Expected Release Date: July 1, 2014
Back Cover Blurb:
In this poignant novel of longing and salvation, a hopeful widow and a resilient war hero discover the promise of love’s magic and new beginnings.
After surviving the Napoleonic Wars, Sir Benedict Harper is struggling to move on, his body and spirit in need of a healing touch. Never does Ben imagine that hope will come in the form of a beautiful woman who has seen her own share of suffering. After the lingering death of her husband, Samantha McKay is at the mercy of her oppressive in-laws—until she plots an escape to distant Wales to claim a house she has inherited. Being a gentleman, Ben insists that he escort her on the fateful journey.
Ben wants Samantha as much as she wants him, but he is cautious. What can a wounded soul offer any woman? Samantha is ready to go where fate takes her, to leave behind polite society and even propriety in her desire for this handsome, honorable soldier. But dare she offer her bruised heart as well as her body? The answers to both their questions may be found in an unlikely place: in each other’s arms.
I'm about 20% through the ARC copy of this latest installment of Balogh's Regency romance landscape. I think it's considered number three in "The Survivor's Club" and I was slightly worried I would be lost since I have not read one or two. So far, however, it reads as a standalone that you know fits into a larger picture but reads perfectly fine by itself. I'm not sure if it will have anything that will make it stand out from a lot of her other novels...but I'm only 20% through which means anything can really happen. Oh, and I receive the arc from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Hope to post said honest review within the next few days so keep an eye out.
Time to give a new weekly post a whirl. Introducing "The Weekly Newbie" - a spotlight on an up and coming book that will be released within the next few weeks or months. I'll list the back cover blurb and then a little blurb of my own. Enjoy!
The Ophelia prophecy by Sharon Lynn Fisher
"The Ophelia Prophecy is the thrilling new sci-fi romance from the author of 2013 RWA RITA finalist Ghost Planet...
Our world is no longer our own. We engineered a race of superior fighters -- the Manti, mutant humans with insect-like abilities. Twenty-five years ago they all but destroyed us. In Sanctuary, some of us survive. Eking out our existence. Clinging to the past.
Some of us intend to do more than survive.
* * *
Asha and Pax -- strangers and enemies -- find themselves stranded together on the border of the last human city, neither with a memory of how they got there.
Asha is an archivist working to preserve humanity’s most valuable resource -- information -- viewed as the only means of resurrecting their society.
Pax is Manti, his Scarab ship a menacing presence in the skies over Sanctuary, keeping the last dregs of humanity in check.
Neither of them is really what they seem, and what humanity believes about the Manti is a lie.
With their hearts and fates on a collision course, they must unlock each other's secrets and forge a bond of trust before a rekindled conflict pushes their two races into repeating the mistakes of the past."
***Available to buy starting April 1, 2014***
I am pretty excited to check this one out. I have the ARC copy sitting on my Kindle (or would "in my Kindle" be the better grammar?) as I type this and can't wait to get started on it. I'm slightly cautious only because of my tepid response to Ghost Planet - a book, which in hindsight, I did enjoy...except there were so many holes it resembled an aged Swiss Cheese. I enjoy a good sci fi novel...and to throw romance in the mix can only serve to make it better...right? Hope to tackle this one soon!
The Hunger by L.J. Smith
This book celebrates its 20th birthday this year. First published in 1994, The Forbidden Game starts my favorite series from L.J. Smith. In fact, this book has a treasured spot on my "all-time favorites" shelf.
In this first installment of the trilogy, we meet Jenny Thornton who is searching for a fun gift to bring to her boyfriend's party. She stumbles upon a store she never knew existed and meets the store's only employee, the oh-so-gorgeous Julian, who sells her a game in a plain, white box. Once she makes it to the party, however, Jenny thinks she may have made a mistake. Her friends decide to give the game a try, however, and in doing so they begin the fight for their lives.
This book is part Labyrinth and part Jumanji. A young David Bowie can easily be imagined as Julian. And a game coming to life and forcing its players to fight for their lives within the constraint of The Game? Well...that's obviously Jumanji (although I think Jumanji came a short while later?)
If you've enjoyed The Vampire Diaries or The Secret Circle, be sure to check out this other gem from L.J. Smith. This is easily my favorite Smith book/series.