The Sharp Hook of Love: A Novel of Heloise and Abelard by Sherry Jones

by Sherry Jones
Published by Gallery Books on October 7, 2014
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Among the young women of 12th century Paris, Heloise d’Argenteuil stands apart. Extraordinarily educated and quick-witted, she is being groomed by her uncle to become an abbess in the service of God. But with one encounter, her destiny changes forever.

Pierre Abelard, headmaster at the Nôtre Dame Cloister School, is acclaimed as one of the greatest philosophers in France. His controversial reputation only adds to his allure, yet despite the legions of women swooning over his poetry and dashing looks, he is captivated by the brilliant Heloise alone. As their relationship blossoms from a meeting of the minds to a forbidden love affair, both Heloise and Abelard must choose between love, duty, and ambition.

Sherry Jones weaves the lovers’ own words into an evocative account of desire and sacrifice. As intimate as it is erotic, as devastating as it is beautiful, The Sharp Hook of Love is a poignant, tender tribute to one of history’s greatest romances, and to love’s power to transform and endure.

Abelard_Heloise_title_frontis

Heloise_marriage_freedom_pp124_125

Abelard and Heloise 1

Sapiophiles unite. Heloise and Abelard are our heroes.

Faith. Knowledge. Friendship. Lust. CASTRATION. Thus is the story of Heloise and Abelard. A love story steeped in provocative intellectual sparring and the knowledge of forbidden fruit. If you are a fan of the great and tragic romances of Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, or Tristan and Isolde, then you are a fan of Heloise and Abelard: star-crossed lovers whose characters were crucified for the love they bore each other.

If you enjoy historical fiction with strong female protagonists then you will enjoy this novel. The author has constructed her version of Abelard and Heloise from a vast array of letters and historical documents available to researchers and enthusiasts. The world of 12th century Paris is also skillfully recreated by the author and was such a pleasure to read. Through lenses of love and desire the culture and social issues of the time are examined, revealing gender inequalities and double-standards that are still, strangely (or predictably) enough, prevalent in today’s society.

The author’s writing is passionate, lyrical, and poetic. Jones has composed a literary love ballad about two historical personalities that challenged the conventions of their time, and risked everything  TO DO WHAT THEY WANTED.

If you are a fan of female historical figures such as Joan of Arc, Hildegard von Bingen, or Eleanore of Aquitaine, I think Sherry Jones’ ballad of Heloise and Abelard deserves a spot on your TBR list.

Here’s a great What You Missed in History Class podcast about Heloise and Abelard to check out to learn more about them and the culture that shaped their love story.

And Just for FUN:

lettere-amorose

The magnificent Magdalena Kozena’s album, Lettere Amorose, is a collection of 17th century Italian Baroque ”love letters” that is worth listening to on its own, but made the perfect soundtrack for reading this novel. While the music featured on this album is not from the 12th century, it still has the feel of Heloise and Abelard’s story. I used it as my reading soundtrack because Jones’ novel uses the real correspondences of H & A to construct her story, and this lovely album plays up that theme.

 

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
The Muse of the Revolution: The Secret Pen of Mercy Otis Warren and the Founding of a Nation by Nancy Rubin StuartThe Muse of the Revolution: The Secret Pen of Mercy Otis Warren and the Founding of a Nation by Nancy Rubin Stuart
Published by Beacon Press on July 1, 2008
Pages: 314
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Praised by her mentor John Adams, Mercy Otis Warren was America's first woman playwright and female historian of the American Revolution. In this unprecedented biography, Nancy Rubin Stuart reveals how Warren's provocative writing made her an exception among the largely voiceless women of the eighteenth century.

A bronze statue of Mercy in Massachusetts.
A bronze statue of Mercy in Massachusetts.

There has been some what of a revival in American historical television dramas over the past few years, and I’d be lying if I said I liked them as much as the British historical dramas- based solely on the integrity of the history being presented to the public via the preferred medium of flat screens. Cable shows like TURN: Washington’s Spies, Sons of Liberty, and (the less recent) HBO series on John Adams are all wildly entertaining. I admit to watching these shows and cringing every time I witness an inaccuracy or fabricated event but still completely enjoying them. Like the majority of history, these American Revolutionary stories are told from the narratives of men. I’m ready for a Revolutionary T.V. drama told from and based on the perspective of a woman. I think Mercy Otis Warren’s story would be the perfect place to start.

TURN S2 picJohn Adams show picsonsofliberty

“Silence is the only medium of safety for those who have an opinion of their own that does not exactly square with the enthusiasms of the time”, Mercy Otis Warren confided to her son some fifteen plus years after the revolution had ended and her once dear friend John Adams had ascended to the presidency. Ironically, Mercy had been anything but silent during the years that spanned the American Revolution. But that was a different time for Mercy. A time when patriotic fervor was at its height and popular thought and values aligned with Mercy’s own.

Mercy Otis Warren pic

As the wife of the patriotic James Warren and the sister of the zealous James “the patriot” Otis (whom she endearingly referred to as Jemmy) Mercy was in a prime position to witness the personal and rhetorical events that contributed to the coming of the revolution. As an educated women- thanks to the chance at an education because an older brother refused to take his own education seriously- Mercy had acquired the knowledge and skills necessary to further develop her innate ability to wield a pen with wit and intuitive verve.

In Nancy Rubin Stuart’s depiction of Mrs.Warren’s life and patriotic achievements a unique point-of-view sheds an intimate light on the thoughts and actions of some of the Revolution’s most memorable figures. From Stuart’s book the reader is presented with a worm’s-eye-view of the history of The American Revolution.

Mercy Otis Warren should be pictured in the background holding her pen like a sword.
Mercy Otis Warren should be pictured in the background holding her pen like a sword.

Mercy Otis Warren was truly a Revolutionary figure in her own right and helped set the stage for women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to pen their own political commentary and openly critique the patriarchal system that Stanton would go on to challenge in Seneca Falls almost a century later.

I loved seeing the American Revolution unfold through Mercy’s eyes but wish the book would have divulged more information on Mercy alone. I am definitely inspired to go and read any other book I can find on Mercy Otis Warren after reading this book and am grateful to the author for introducing me to Mercy’s story.

A picture of Mercy's monument as bad ass as she was.
A picture of Mercy’s monument as bad ass as she was.

In short, Mercy Otis Warren was a bad ass. Mercy stands out as a rebel among rebels. In the 18th century it was not culturally or socially acceptable for women to occupy their minds with thoughts outside of the domestic sphere but Mercy was situated in a hot-bed of revolutionary action at her home in Plymouth, Massachusetts and could not help but put her education and sharp wit to use by her pen.

Those who admire Abigail Adams will feel just as strongly for Mercy Otis Warren after reading The Muse of the Revolution.

If you find yourself interested in the huge role that women played throughout America’s revolutionary period, check out Carol Berkin’s concise and entertaining Revolutionary Mothers.

Revolutionary Mothers pic

And Just for FUN:

Here’s a cute little ode to/bio of Mercy Otis Warren:

And for those of you who are looking for SERIOUS FUN and were inspired by my review, here’s a lecture video featuring professional historians/authors on Mercy Otis Warren, including the author of the book I reviewed:

 

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Rebel Mechanics: All is Fair in Love and Revolution by Shanna SwendsonRebel Mechanics: All is Fair in Love and Revolution by Shanna Swendson
Series: Rebel Mechanics #1
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux, Macmillan on July 14, 2015
Pages: 310
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

A sixteen-year-old governess becomes a spy in this alternative U.S. history where the British control with magic and the colonists rebel by inventing.

It’s 1888, and sixteen-year-old Verity Newton lands a job in New York as a governess to a wealthy leading family—but she quickly learns that the family has big secrets. Magisters have always ruled the colonies, but now an underground society of mechanics and engineers are developing non-magical sources of power via steam engines that they hope will help them gain freedom from British rule. The family Verity works for is magister—but it seems like the children's young guardian uncle is sympathetic to the rebel cause. As Verity falls for a charming rebel inventor and agrees to become a spy, she also becomes more and more enmeshed in the magister family’s life. She soon realizes she’s uniquely positioned to advance the cause—but to do so, she’ll have to reveal her own dangerous secret.

” What if British Magic kept the American Revolution from ever occurring?”

1888 New York- Herald Square
1888 New York- Herald Square

The premise of this book is pretty amazing. My synapses salivate at the thought of how Shanna Swendson conjured this story question. There are two story worlds in this novel. One is out in the open, filled with proper aristocrats and those who wish they were. The other is clandestine, filled with working-class folk who walk on the radical side. I loved how the Industrial Revolution is being turned on its head with steam-punk machinery and I liked entertaining the thought of an American Revolution for Independence happening in the Industrial Age as opposed to the colonial days.

Verity Newton, the lovely female protagonist, has a foot in both worlds because she works as a nanny for an upper-class citizen but falls in with the proletariat crowd during her spare time. Verity is a fun, strong, conflicted character with a hint of naivete. I really hope for the chance to see her character develop more in a sequel.

There are two possible love interests to root for and I will admit to being very conflicted myself as to whose corner I was in until the very end of the novel.

Overall, the pace of the story was a tad slower than I would have preferred but I really enjoyed it despite such a minor issue. The steam-punk elements were cleverly placed within the context of historical New York on the verge of revolution and didn’t overwhelm the rest of the story which I appreciated. I will say that I would have loved to see some more historical context thrown in, even if it was alternate-historical context. It would have been fun to have more back story on that story question that originally made me purchase the book (What if British Magic kept the American Revolution from ever occurring?) Perhaps we will get that in a sequel. 🙂

Have you read Rebel Mechanics? Were you as excited to read it as I was? I’m curious as to what others thought of this one.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

I received this book for free from Purchased, Purchased by Reviewer in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Fisher’s Light by Tara SivecFisher's Light by Tara Sivec
Published by Self Published on March 24, 2015
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased, Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon
One StarOne StarOne Star

Fisher,
I guess this is it, huh? After fourteen years together, starting a life of our own on this island, five deployments and countless letters I’ve written you through it all, I finally go out to the mailbox and see something I’ve always dreamed of: an envelope with your handwriting on it. For one moment, I actually thought you’d changed your mind, that all the awful things you said to me were just your way of coping after everything you’d been through. I was still here, Fisher. I was still here, holding my breath, waiting for you to come back even though you told me you never would. You always said you’d find your way back to me. Out of all the lies you’ve told me, this one hurts the most.

Enclosed you will find the signed divorce papers, as requested.
I hope you find what you’re looking for. I’m sorry it wasn’t me.
Lucy

To get the ending they want, Lucy and Fisher will have to go back to the beginning. Through the good and the bad, they’ll be reminded of why they always made their way back to each other, and why this time, one way or another, it will be the last time.

REVIEW:

I’ve heard so many good things about this book. I’ve not read a book by Tara Sivic before so I thought why not. While I think the plot for this book was unique, I had a few issues with the overall story.

In the beginning I absolutely loathed Fisher. I hated him so much that I almost stopped reading. He was downright mean to Lucy. It’s not really revealed why he treats Lucy the way he does. But the more I read the more I began to understand. Still though he was a complete ass.

It took me a really long time to get through this book. Right at four hundred pages, it took me about a week. I do have to admit though that my reading time is limited as opposed to in the past. There were times I skimmed. I think some of the content could have been edited out.

This story was predictable in a lot of ways. That bothered me some. I want to read books that engage my mind and keep me guessing. Sadly that wasn’t the case with this one.

I liked the characters for the most part. Lucy was an amazingly strong woman considering what she’d had to go through. Ellie was a great friend to her. Trip? Well, what can I say. He was an amazing guy and was always there for Lucy whenever she needed him. Fisher? He slowly redeemed himself. Once things start to unfold, you get to see why he chose to make the decisions he did. At the end of the book I ended up loving him.

Overall, I liked this story. I wish it would have been about a hundred pages shorter. Like I said before, I skimmed through it at times.

One StarOne StarOne Star
Seared With Scars (Book 2 of The 2nd Freak House Series) by C.J. ArcherSeared With Scars by C.J. Archer
Published by Self Published on July 1, 2014
Pages: 229
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

With the Master's spirit still haunting London, Charity must remain at Freak House. But the peace is shattered when Samuel's father is brutally slain by a demon on the estate. Who summoned it and why?

As some questions are answered, yet more secrets about Samuel emerge that send him hurtling toward madness. Secrets that terrify Charity and draw her inevitably closer to him. As the lies are peeled back to reveal the truth, will she be able to conquer her fears and give Samuel what he craves?

You can check out my reviews for the first Freak House Series HERE:

Freak-House-Series

and for C.J. Archer’s The Medium trilogy HERE:

Spirit-Trilogy1

My review of The Memory Keeper, The 1st book in the 2nd Freak House series can be found HERE.

memory

C.J. Archer is my go-to-author for Historical Romance and luckily for me, she puts out books faster than I can keep up with. Especially concerning the Freak House series.

The second book revolving around Charity and Samuel drove me ABSOLUTELY MAD. Like I needed to faint and be slapped awake with butler gloves only to faint again from a temper tantrum mad.

I wanted to slip into Charity’s skin and possess her thoughts and make her do naughty, naughty things….Like take Samuel up to the nearest hay loft and ravish him.

There’s a lot of romantic tension and a whopping dose of suspense added to this installment of the 2nd Freak House Series. I really enjoyed the cat and mouse game between Samuel and Charity, and was ever so wonderfully tortured by the cryptic clues that are sure to lead up to something BIG in The Edge of Darkness about Charity and Samuel’s past.

This book also left me very curious about what’s to become of Sylvia and Tommy’s ”Upstairs, Downstairs” relationship. I’m as invested in the secondary characters of this series as I am of the main ones.

Once again, C.J. Archer is a master of her craft and vibrantly captures the culture, fashion, and rhetoric of the Victorian era. Mixing the paranormal and historic with a wonderful cast of characters does it for me every time. I really enjoyed Seared With Scars and will be jumping into Edge of Darkness immediately. (C.J. likes to leave her readers on the edge of their seats…mad and drooling for the next book.) 😉

 

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
Wish You Were Italian (If Only… #2) by Kristin Rae + ARC GiveawayWish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
Published by Bloomsbury on May 6, 2014
Pages: 323
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Pippa has always wanted to go to Italy … but not by herself. And certainly not to sit in art school the entire summer learning about dead guys’ paintings. When she steps off the plane in Rome, she realizes that traveling solo gives her the freedom to do whatever she wants. So it’s arrivederci, boring art program and ciao, hot Italian guys!

Charming, daring, and romantic, Bruno is just the Italian Pippa’s looking for—except she keeps running into cute American archeology student Darren everywhere she goes. Pippa may be determined to fall in love with an Italian guy … but the electricity she feels with Darren says her heart might have other plans. Can Pippa figure out her feelings before her parents discover she left the program and—even worse—she loses her chance at love?

It’s Summer time and when I’m sitting at my desk in the most air-conditioned city in the country,  I close my eyes and imagine that I’m lounging on the Spanish steps, my face raised towards the Sun, my skin turning as golden as freshly pressed olive oil while pistachio gelato drips off the waffle cone in my hand and down my toasty decolletage… *Snaps out of it* Okay. I’ll continue to my book review before Fabio jumps out of a fountain and offers to clean up my mess…

hotel_rome_spanish_steps

So, yeah…Wish You Were Italian is THE PERFECT ‘get me the hell out of Houston and into an Italian daydream’ kind of book. It’s a fun and light read but does deal with the bittersweet emotions that come with monumentally defying your parents for the first time/stepping out on your own and the loss of a beloved family member.

The main character, Pippa,  was likable and I related to a lot of her internal conflicts about boys, family, and pursuing her dreams. The romance aspect was light-hearted and just a tad risqué (YESSSSSS). The hit-and-miss moments with destiny and the well fleshed out journey of Pippa’s Italian adventure were awesome and created the perfect tension and backdrop. I truly felt like I was swept off my feet by Kristin Rae’s descriptions of iconic Italian landscapes. There’s definitely an “Under the Tuscan Sun” for teens feel to this story which makes it perfect in my book.

Just shy of 330 pages, Wish You Were Italian is a great Summer read and perfect for taking to the beach/pool/backyard/WHEREVER you go to relax and read. I haven’t read any of the other books in this series, but will be adding them to my TBR pile for days when I want to mentally escape with a fun and flirty novel.

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

KristinRaeAuthorWYWItalianLover of books, music, movies, crafty things, and chocolate. My young adult contemporary debut WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN is out now, and WHAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED is coming March 29, 2016 from Bloomsbury! Represented by Marietta Zacker of the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency.

Visit Kristin Rae’s Website HERE!

 

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
We’ll Always Have Paris: A Mother/Daughter Memoir by Jennifer CoburnWe'll Always Have Paris: A Mother/Daughter Memoir by Jennifer Coburn
Published by Sourcebooks on April 8, 2014
Pages: 377
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

How her daughter and her passport taught Jennifer Coburn to forget about dying and truly live

Jennifer Coburn has always been terrified of dying young. It's the reason she drops everything during the summers on a quest to travel through Europe with her daughter, Katie, before it's too late. Even though her husband can't join them, even though she's nervous about the journey, and even though she's perfectly healthy, she spends three to four weeks per trip jamming Katie's mental photo album with memories. In this heartwarming generational love story, Jennifer reveals how their adventures helped relinquish her fear of dying...for the sake of living.

If you’re like me, a Summer Vacation, or any kind of real vacation, is out of reach on a seasonal basis. Between paying for school, paying the bills, paying for my zoo, and just plain paying to live (the daily grind kind), I’m lucky if I have enough cash to go on a road trip from Houston to Austin. So, naturally, I spend all of the disposable income I just denied having on books that take me to new places. (HA!)

download

When I picked up We’ll Always Have Paris at my local B&N, my first thought was that it was going to be a knock-off or play on Casablanca. Turns out it had nothing to do with Casablanca, and as soon as I read that the narrator would be taking me to Paris, Rome AND Spain, I knew I had to read the book to satisfy my Summer wanderlust.

If you like the kind of sentimental journey a memoir can take you on, then you will love this book. Jennifer Coburn balances heavy doses of sentimentality with a certain Charles Bukowski edge, alternating between poignant moments of reflection and frank moments of confession. Humorous and heartbreaking at once, We’ll Always Have Paris explores, analyzes, and evaluates the relationship the narrator had with her parents in comparison with the relationship she is having with her very own daughter thirty-some odd years later.

Coburn’s style and story kept me mentally and emotionally engaged, giving me as many ”AHA” moments as she experiences in her memoir. I cannot recall ever enjoying a travel memoir as much as I have this one. The pacing was comfortable and I enjoyed the back-and-forth between her childhood flashbacks and present day moments with her daughter.

Depending on perspective, I think everyone who reads We’ll Always Have Paris will take away something meaningful as well as discover a little something about themselves in the process of reading it. I’ll just come out and admit it: I’m really jealz of J. Coburn’s writing style, and I wish I had written this book myself. There.

Aaaand JUST FOR FUN:

I have yet to realize my adult-hood dreams of visiting Paris, Rome or Spain outside of a book, but this is how I aspire to be/look when I DO visit Paris (minus the neurotic train-wreck part):

The_Last_Time_I_Saw_Paris_2images (1)images

The title We’ll Always Have Paris of course reminded me of The Last Time I Saw Paris, and you can watch that gem of a film gratuit here:

Soyez le bienvenu!

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Review: Back to You by Priscilla GlennBack to You by Priscilla Glenn
Published by Createspace, Self Published on October 20, 2012
Pages: 328
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased, Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

When Lauren Monroe first laid eyes on Michael Delaney back in high school, she had every reason to stay away from him; within minutes of their first encounter, his volatile actions confirmed his notorious reputation. But Lauren saw something in him that caused her to question his bad-boy persona, and against her better judgment, she took a chance. She had no way of knowing that the unlikely friendship they formed would become so important to her.

Or that it would end so painfully.

Eight years later, when Lauren begins her new job at Learn and Grow Day Care, Michael is the last person she expects to see. Refusing to revisit the hurt and confusion of their past, Lauren vows to keep her distance from him. But staying away from Michael proves to be more difficult than she thought, despite her lingering grief and her instincts for self-preservation.

As Lauren and Michael recall the friendship that changed them forever and the events that tore them apart, will they finally be able to heal? Or will the ghosts of Michael’s past prove to be too much to overcome?

This is the second time I’ve read Back to You. The first time I left a small review on Goodreads. I guess it really wasn’t a review. More like a sentence or two.

“I loved everything about this book. It had me sobbing like a baby a few times, but that’s a sign of a really good story. Heartfelt. Loved it. Highly recommend.”

See. Not much of a review.

Anyway, this book is one of my favorites. It is so filled with emotions. And as I said above. It had me sobbing like a baby. Ugly snotty tears. When I reached the end though I felt as though it couldn’t have ended better. I had a wide smile on my face.

One cool thing I did notice upon reaching the Epilogue was that the year is 2015. I initially read this book in late 2012. Just something that caught my attention that I thought was neat.

The hero and heroine couldn’t have been more different. Their backgrounds weren’t even close to being the same. I loved both of them so much! I had so much compassion for Michael aka Del. Lauren did too. To say he had a rough upbringing is an understatement. Lauren befriended him when most people took a wide path around him. Eventually Lauren and Michael became best friends.

But this being a love story there’s bound to be problems, mistakes made, and misunderstandings. There were no shortages of those, but there were also good times, heartfelt moments, and forgiveness as well.

Overall, I hope you will read Back to You. It offers emotional characters, heartfelt moments, and a beautiful love story.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review: Ugly Love by Colleen HooverUgly Love by Colleen Hoover
Published by Atria Books on August 5, 2014
Pages: 337
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.

Ugly Love was a really good book. The plot was intriguing. The characters were full of emotions. I was sort of surprised at how much emotion Miles showed. He’s the type of guy that when he falls, he falls hard. I’ve never met a guy like that in real life. I have a feeling they’re few and far between. I really liked him though. Even when he acted like a butt. And he did. Acted like a butt that is. Several times.

Tate was amazing. I loved her determination when it came to being with Miles. I sort of think the synopsis is a bit misleading when it describes her. I think she acted just the opposite of how she’s described.

The sex in this book is pretty hot for Ms Hoover’s work. Her romance scenes are usually more tame. Almost adult mainstream. In Ugly Love though things gets really hot. Multiple times.

I’ve heard this book will most likely be made into a movie. I’m pretty sure I’ll be seeing it. Rumors are Nick Bateman may portray Miles. He even posted a picture of himself holding a copy of the book on Instagram. I’m still trying to decide if I like him as Miles.

If you’re a fan of Colleen Hoover, you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of this one.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

About Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover’s love for writing began in 1985 when she was five years old. Her first story was titled “Mystery Bob” and was a huge hit with her mother, who was really good at faking interest.
Colleen continued to write short stories for friends and family until December of 2011, when she decided to write a long story she titled, “Slammed.” She self-published SLAMMED to Amazon in January, 2012 and it hit the NYT’s bestsellers list in May, 2012. She has since signed with Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, and now has six NYT’s bestsellers. Colleen prefers to be called a writer, as the term “author” still terrifies her and makes this feel like a job with expectations. She doesn’t work well under pressure and hopes writing will always remain fun and exciting.

Reviews: Confess by Colleen HooverConfess by Colleen Hoover
Published by Atria, Atria Books on March 10, 2015
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

First of all I just want to say that Colleen Hoover is one of my favorite authors. She’s an automatic auto buy for me. To say I love her books would be an understatement. I love everything about her books. Her writing style. Her characters. Her ability to grab the readers attention from the very first page and hold it until the very end of the book.

Owen Mason Gentry aka O.M.G. is an amazing hero. I fell hard for him from the very first meeting between him and Auburn. I loved his sense of humor. Auburn did right away too. These two connected right away. Their playful banter had me laughing a lot. The chemistry between them was so strong. If ever two characters were meant for each other it’s these two.

The flow of this story was wonderfully paced. It kept building and building. I had a hard time putting it down. All I wanted to do was read it uninterrupted. I love books that are like this one. Books that capture my attention and hold it until the very last page. Books that have unique plots. I can tell you that this is typical for Ms Hoover’s books.

When I reached the end of this book I was happy with the outcome. I liked the way things ended for these two. I also like the way Auburn grew a backbone and finally took a stand. It was refreshing to see her grow into the woman she became.

Overall, if you’re a fan of Colleen Hoover’s books you’ll definitely want to read this one. It’s another physical book buy for my shelves. And if you haven’t yet read her books I highly suggest you give them a try. I’m telling you… she’s a truly gifted author.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

About Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover’s love for writing began in 1985 when she was five years old. Her first story was titled “Mystery Bob” and was a huge hit with her mother, who was really good at faking interest.
Colleen continued to write short stories for friends and family until December of 2011, when she decided to write a long story she titled, “Slammed.” She self-published SLAMMED to Amazon in January, 2012 and it hit the NYT’s bestsellers list in May, 2012. She has since signed with Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, and now has six NYT’s bestsellers. Colleen prefers to be called a writer, as the term “author” still terrifies her and makes this feel like a job with expectations. She doesn’t work well under pressure and hopes writing will always remain fun and exciting.

Review: The Law of Moses by Amy HarmonThe Law of Moses by Amy Harmon
Published by Self Published on November 27, 2014
Pages: 298
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

If I tell you right up front, right in the beginning that I lost him, it will be easier for you to bear. You will know it’s coming, and it will hurt. But you’ll be able to prepare.

Someone found him in a laundry basket at the Quick Wash, wrapped in a towel, a few hours old and close to death. They called him Baby Moses when they shared his story on the ten o’clock news – the little baby left in a basket at a dingy Laundromat, born to a crack addict and expected to have all sorts of problems. I imagined the crack baby, Moses, having a giant crack that ran down his body, like he’d been broken at birth. I knew that wasn’t what the term meant, but the image stuck in my mind. Maybe the fact that he was broken drew me to him from the start.

It all happened before I was born, and by the time I met Moses and my mom told me all about him, the story was old news and nobody wanted anything to do with him. People love babies, even sick babies. Even crack babies. But babies grow up to be kids, and kids grow up to be teenagers. Nobody wants a messed up teenager.

And Moses was messed up. Moses was a law unto himself. But he was also strange and exotic and beautiful. To be with him would change my life in ways I could never have imagined. Maybe I should have stayed away. Maybe I should have listened. My mother warned me. Even Moses warned me. But I didn’t stay away.

And so begins a story of pain and promise, of heartache and healing, of life and death. A story of before and after, of new beginnings and never-endings. But most of all...a love story.

Amazingly brilliant.

What an amazing story. I loved every word of this story. Even the ones that broke my heart. I was hooked from the very first page. Truly. There was just something that drew me in and I knew that when I finished this story I was going to come away from it amazed, happy, and complete.

The writing. As I said above. Brilliant. Ms Harmon did a great job with the writing. There was never a time I found myself skimming or wishing I’d hurry up and get to the end. In fact, with every page I turned I felt a sort of sadness that I would eventually reach the end and the story would be over. I didn’t want it to end. Yet I needed to know how it would end. Have you ever read a book like that? I’m weird I guess. lol

I fell in love with the characters. I felt compassion toward Moses. All that he had to endure his entire life. No one should have to experience that. Georgia was extremely persistent in her feelings for Moses. These two were completely different. You wouldn’t think they would make a great couple. All I can say is that “anything” is possible. I loved them both.

Throughout the book suspense is there. I tried to figure out what was happening to the girls, but in the end I was wrong. Darn it! Actually, I love it! I love books that keep you guessing until the end.

The sex is pretty much non-existent, and what there is is mild. The storyline itself is so strong the focus isn’t on the sex.

I almost didn’t read this book. When it first came out I heard more than once that it was paranormal. For those who don’t like paranormal, please don’t let that deter you from reading this book. I don’t think it’s paranormal. Moses has a gift. Although he doesn’t think of it that way. He’s not a shifter or demon or anything remotely like that.

Overall, I loved, loved, loved this book. I will definitely be buying it for my shelves. I hope you’ll read it.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

About Amy Harmon

Amy Harmon is a USA Today and New York Times Bestselling author. Amy knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Her books are now being published in several countries, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Levan, Utah.

Bad Girls Don’t Die (Bad Girls Don’t Die #1) by Katie AlenderBad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
Series: Bad Girls Don't Die #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on April 21, 2009
Pages: 346
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence. Dysfunctional like her parents' marriage; her doll-crazy twelve-year-old sister, Kasey; and even her own anti-social, anti-cheerleader attitude. When a family fight results in some tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunction into danger. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green sometimes; she uses old-fashioned language; and she even loses track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her strange behavior. Their old house is changing, too. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in.

Alexis wants to think that it's all in her head, but soon, what she liked to think of as silly parlor tricks are becoming life-threatening--to her, her family, and to her budding relationship with the class president. Alexis knows she's the only person who can stop Kasey -- but what if that green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?

A fresh and funny take on the classic possessed-doll-poltergeist story.

I love Katie Alender. Her writing is clever and carries that kind of quick-wit charm you see on the big screen or current television shows aimed at teens. I really enjoy Katie’s writing and her simple yet effective characterization. I first fell in love with Katie’s writing in her book, Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer. You can check out my review of that one, here.

Alexis is our narrator, and she is your typical teenage girl who soon discovers her younger sister isn’t just being a spoiled brat; she’s POSSESSED. Alexis is easy to relate to and unlike many characters in horror films, she’s smart and rarely made me want to slap her.

Kasey, Alexis’s younger sister, is a character we end up feeling sympathetic for despite her demonic demeanor. I LOVE when an author does that with a character you naturally feel like you should hate. I continually felt conflicted about Kasey, and I loved the dimension that aspect of her character added to the story.

While there is a thin thread of romance in this story, it takes backseat but promises to be more center-stage by the end of the novel.

Now he had turned his whole body to face me. “I’ve never met anyone like you.”

I felt an urgent, almost magnetic pull between us. It made my throat feel dry and airy.

“This is so weird, ” I said, but it came out as a whisper.

He studied my face for a moment and then smiled.

Oh God, was it obvious that my heart was pounding? It was like those scenes in movies where the girl thinks the guy’s going to kiss her, so she closes her eyes and puckers up. Except I wasn’t just puckering my lips- I was puckering my whole soul.

This book is filled with all kinds of wonderfully-creeptastic scenes that will make you want to sleep with the lights on. The world-building is nicely done, the pacing was reminiscent of a teen thriller,  and overall, this book is an entertaining and light-read that is definitely worth an add to your TBR list.  Here’s one of my favorite and most infuriating scenes from the book:

“Go to bed, Kase.”

“Why did you want me to come in here?” she asked, looking around.

Was she kidding? “What are you talking about? I didn’t want you in here… It’s the middle of the night!”

She slumped and leaned away. Her hand brushed the hair back away from her face. It was a gesture of elegance, practiced and casual.

Then she reached out to my arm. Her fingers brushed my skin. “We can be friends,” she whispered.

I felt a sharp burn and looked down to find four red marks across my skin, where she’d touched me.

“You know what?” I said. “I’m sick of this. Get out of here.”

Kasey stood up suddenly, and grabbing the yearbook from my nightstand, threw it at the wall as hard as she could.

“What–?”

Then, with hard eyes, she backed away and hit herself in the face.

It took me a moment to process what I was seeing- my sister with an angry red mark on her jaw- and by the time I realized what she’d done, she was huddled on the floor screaming at the top of her lungs.

 

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina HenriquezThe Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
Published by Knopf, Penguin Random House on June 3, 2014
Pages: 286
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

A dazzling, heartbreaking page-turner destined for breakout status: a novel that gives voice to millions of Americans as it tells the story of the love between a Panamanian boy and a Mexican girl: teenagers living in an apartment block of immigrant families like their own.

After their daughter Maribel suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras leave México and come to America. But upon settling at Redwood Apartments, a two-story cinderblock complex just off a highway in Delaware, they discover that Maribel's recovery--the piece of the American Dream on which they've pinned all their hopes--will not be easy. Every task seems to confront them with language, racial, and cultural obstacles.

At Redwood also lives Mayor Toro, a high school sophomore whose family arrived from Panamà fifteen years ago. Mayor sees in Maribel something others do not: that beyond her lovely face, and beneath the damage she's sustained, is a gentle, funny, and wise spirit. But as the two grow closer, violence casts a shadow over all their futures in America.

Peopled with deeply sympathetic characters, this poignant yet unsentimental tale of young love tells a riveting story of unflinching honesty and humanity that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be an American. An instant classic is born.

If you’ve ever been curious about how the other half of America lives- the immigrants and the undocumented and those who would never even imagine having enough money to spend any on buying books to read for pleasure- then this powerful piece of fiction is a great place to start.

This book is for readers that enjoy character studies and learning about other cultures and socioeconomic classes. What I had first thought was going to take a very sociological and subjective approach, ended up taking a very poignant and objective look at the lives of American immigrants from multiple Central and South American backgrounds. Despite what’s being examined in this book, it reads like a lyrical page-turner.

The author’s writing is vivid and beautiful and cuts to the quick. The thread that connects all of the lives examined in this story creates a seamless and emotive narrative that relates what it’s like to fall in the kind of love that’s outside of the pop-culture idea of love, and what it’s like to be an outsider in America on top of that.

Arturo Rivera

I was born in Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico. I lived there all my life until I came here. Other people from our town had gone north. Most of them left because they wanted a better life. That’s what they said. A better life. But it wasn’t like that for us. We had a good life, a beautiful life. We lived in a house that I built. We married in the town square when Alma and I were young, when people told us we didn’t know anything yet about the world. But we knew. Because the world to us was each other. And then we had Maribel. And our world grew larger.

We came here for her.

The characters are beautifully realized and capture the essence of what it is to be a human trying to navigate this world without the proverbial life-jacket of financial security and favor. The love story that blossoms between the two teenage characters was utterly different and refreshing. Their story is definitely a tearjerker.

I couldn’t put this book down. I practically read it in one sitting. It’s for those of you who need a therapeutic cry every now and then, or those of you who want something completely different than what you’ve been reading in the Adult and Young Adult mainstream. The Book of Unknown Americans will make you obsess over the incredibly talented Cristina Henriquez, and make you anxiously await her next novel.

About the Author

Cristina HenriquezCristina Henríquez is the author of The Book of Unknown Americans, The World In Half, and Come Together, Fall Apart: A Novella and Stories, which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection.

Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Glimmer Train, The American Scholar, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, and AGNI along with the anthology This is Not Chick Lit: Original Stories by America’s Best Women Writers.

Cristina’s non-fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Oxford American, and Preservation as well as in the anthologies State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America and Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Women Writers Reflect on the Candidate and What Her Campaign Meant.

She was featured in Virginia Quarterly Review as one of “Fiction’s New Luminaries,” has been a guest on National Public Radio, and is a recipient of the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation Award, a grant started by Sandra Cisneros in honor of her father.

Cristina earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Chicago.

 

 

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Euphoria by Lily KingEuphoria by Lily King
Published by Atlantic Monthly Press, Grove on June 3, 2014
Pages: 261
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

National best-selling and award-winning author Lily King’s new novel is the story of three young, gifted anthropologists in the 1930s caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives.

English anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field for several years, studying a tribe on the Sepik River in the Territory of New Guinea with little success. Increasingly frustrated and isolated by his research, Bankson is on the verge of suicide when he encounters the famous and controversial Nell Stone and her wry, mercurial Australian husband Fen. Bankson is enthralled by the magnetic couple whose eager attentions pull him back from the brink of despair.

Nell and Fen have their own reasons for befriending Bankson. Emotionally and physically raw from studying the bloodthirsty Mumbanyo tribe, the couple is hungry for a new discovery. But when Bankson leads them to the artistic, female-dominated Tam, he ignites an intellectual and emotional firestorm between the three of them that burns out of anyone’s control. Ultimately, their groundbreaking work will make history, but not without sacrifice.

Inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is a captivating story of desire, possession and discovery from one of our finest contemporary novelists.

Euphoria is one of those books that I feel a little nervous about reviewing because it is a story built around a very specific topic, and I don’t want to interpret something wrong or say something that is completely off target. So, for the most part, I’ll just keep it as general as possible.

Although I did take an Intro to Anthropology class, and a Magic, Ritual, and Religion anthropology class in college, I don’t remember specific terminology. Please excuse any shortcomings or amateur perspectives I might have while reviewing this book.

PNG-language-Goroka

Set in 1930’s New Guinea among indigenous tribes, Euphoria was inspired by the “revolutionary anthropologist”, Margaret Mead.  A lot of anthropological lingo is used in this novel, but it isn’t overbearing.  Lily King’s intelligent and profound speculation and story spinning is glorious to read. Whether or not the author set out to do this, Euphoria will challenge perceptions of the self and of civilized society.

Margaret Mead 1925 Samoa
Margaret Mead 1925 Samoa

The story is narrated by “Bankson”, who is technically considered the “third wheel”. It’s between him and Nell Stone, the female protagonist, that an affair develops. I absolutely LOVED being in Bankson’s head and instantly felt the kind of appeal he must of had to Nell Stone seep through the pages and infatuate me with him. Though far from innocent, Bankson has this irresistible naivete to him.

Observations (often shocking) are veiled in scientific objectivity in Lily King’s Euphoria. Lily’s characters have very specific ideas and feelings about the people they are researching and the methods by which they go about it, and under the premise of research, things quickly begin to come undone in their personal lives.

Objectivity gives way to attachment, consternation, greed, and mourning on multiple levels. Soul stirring explorations of how people function and how people love are compared to these primitive cultures alongside how they mourn differently from “civilized” society. This book is one that will appeal to the sentimental and practical reader alike.

“I’m sorry, ” she said laughing, though she seemed to be crying, too. She let go of my shirtsleeves and brushed at her face quickly. “I’ve had a very strange day, Bankson.”

I could not take my eyes off her. It was as if she were performing some trick, some sort of unfolding. There was something raw and exposed about her, as if many things had already happened between us, as if time had leapt ahead and we were already lovers.

The characters are reminiscent of the 1980’s film Out of Africa, and the world building was powerful enough to carry the story on its own. The pacing was perfect within its 267 pages, and the author’s syntax and sentence structure was lyrical and creative without excess. It made the scientific and philosophical context of the story very atmospheric of the time period.

The ”love triangle” aspect of this story is definitely less built upon then the dust jacket synopsis would have you believe, but it does become engrossing by the last few chapters of the story. The characterization was familiar and perfect, and everything you would expect from male and female anthropologists in the 1930’s.

headhunters

My only complaint is that I wish it would have been around 50 pages longer. The ending seems to unfurl rather quickly, and I felt shell-shocked by this. Overall, reading Euphoria was a refreshing experience. It’s definitely a book that I will read again.

And just for fun:

This is an amazing and completely captivating video of an isolated tribe that meets a modern ”white” man for the first time.

 

 

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
Palace of Spies by Sarah ZettelPalace of Spies by Sarah Zettel
Series: Palace of Spies #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on November 5, 2013
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

A warning to all young ladies of delicate breeding who wish to embark upon lives of adventure: Don't.

Sixteen-year-old Peggy is a well-bred orphan who is coerced into posing as a lady in waiting at the palace of King George I. Life is grand, until Peggy starts to suspect that the girl she's impersonating might have been murdered. Unless Peggy can discover the truth, she might be doomed to the same terrible fate. But in a court of shadows and intrigue, anyone could be a spy—perhaps even the handsome young artist with whom Peggy is falling in love...

History and mystery spark in this effervescent series debut.

Let’s start with the AWESOME book trailer, shall we?

 

Fans of Etiquette and Espionage will (should) love Palace of Spies.

I try to refrain from doing this- but after reading the book and giving it five stars on Goodreads, I scanned some of the less than stellar reviews of the novel. One reviewer commented that the book had ”casual racism” in it and I was a little perplexed by this.

There were no instances of ”casual racism”, just social norms that were true to the time period which is to be expected in a true-to-form Historical Fiction novel. Even with that being said, there wasn’t anything insensitive to a particular race in this novel that I can recall.

Moving on, I read A LOT of  Historical Fiction. I’m not easily impressed when it comes to the HF, and I absolutely LOVED this novel. Palace of Spies was pitch perfect for me. Sara Zettel really nailed the historical voice and feel of the time period.

A sample of Sarah Zettel’s lovely writing:

Whatever indignation I felt was entirely banished by the sudden intrusion of complete bewilderment. Separately, all things made sense. Sebastian’s hand under my chin was warm. His eyes were blue. His brow, beneath the line of his tidy wig, was wide and clear. His mouth was inclined to smile. It was the details that threatened to overwhelm: how one corner of his mouth tipped softly upward, how his long, thick lashes curved as he half closed those blue eyes to concentrate on his task. The soft, persistent pattering of the linen against my face. The crook of his strong finger under my chin and the way in which he guided my head to turn slightly to the left so he could minister to another portion of my wounded cheek.

Although the majority of this book could be considered suitable for Mid-grade readers, it gradually matured as far as context/content goes and felt like a solid YA by the end of it.

Monarchs: King George I, Caroline- Princess of Wales, Frederick-Prince of Wales (King George II)

King_George_I_by_Sir_Godfrey_Kneller,_Bt_(3)Princess Caroline of WalesPrince of Wales, George II

 

The settings and descriptions were splendid as the female protagonist, Peggy Fitzroy, assumes her spot under a false identity as one of Princess Caroline’s Maids of Honor in King George I’s court. There are three major location settings, but most of our intrigue and spying takes place at the maze-like Hampton Court Palace.

Some lovely interior/exterior views of Hampton Court Palace where the story takes place:

Hampton Court Interior 1Hampton Court Palace ExteriorHampton Court Interior 3

The premise of the novel is familiar enough: Girl is an orphan with no rights of her own-Girl is forced to betroth a most unamiable man of stature and wealth-Girl refuses betrothal and is disowned by uncle-Girl is forced to accept a mysterious proposition by one who offers to take her in.

Palace of Spies was a page turner for me. The pacing was enjoyable and the Royal mystery was extremely fun and quite possible for the time period. Sarah Zettel has obviously been meticulous in her research of court customs, fashion, affairs, and cosmetics. The author seriously immerses the reader in this time period and the socio-political atmosphere during George the first’s reign.

Belladonna tincture

While reading this I was reminded of a film or two I have seen before, but cannot recall their names at the moment. There was a sort of immersion into action/dialogue/plot, and then moments where time would stand still as the protagonist observed something/realized something/assessed a situation. Maybe like the intro of 2011’s Three Musketeers film– where things are sped up and then slowed down? You know what cinema effect I’m talking about.

Sarah Zettel’s syntax and style is ridiculously good. It might possibly be distractingly good, at first, to the reader because of how ”historical” it sounds, but I found I quickly adapted to the narration.

The narrative is written as a sort of memoir of Peggy Fitzroy, and each chapter begins with a fun heading like:

“In Which Our Heroine Perfects Her Role, Renews Acquaintances, And Unfolds Fresh Mysteries.”

When I read a historical novel that is set amidst the backdrop of a court and involves real historical monarchs, I usually NEED for the historical context to be accurate, and Sarah Zettel does just that. She’s weaved Peggy’s story in and out of accurate descriptions of the history and prominent people of this time period. This is NOT an alternate history novel. There is just a believable fictitious story thrown in. During Peggy’s palace adventure, we see: King George I, Prince and Princess of Wales, Robert Walpole, Isaac Newton, G.F. Handel, the list goes on.

Below: Newton, Walpole, and Handel

Isaac Newton portraitRobert WalpoleHandel portrait

I absolutely LOVED that Sarah Zettel put things in perspective by including other non-fictional characters from the world of science, music, and court politics to give the reader an idea of what else was going on in the world during this time period, even if they were just briefly referenced.

There is a touch of forbidden romance that promises much more in the sequel: Dangerous Deceptions. I wholeheartedly enjoyed this book and am now a Sarah Zettel fangirl. I recommend the Palace of Spies series to fans of Gail Carriger. Although, I don’t want to lean too heavily on drawing comparisons between the two because Sarah Zettel’s work deserves to stand alone on its own merits (I enjoyed PoS WAY MORE than E&E). Have you read Palace of Spies? Do share your thoughts. 🙂

And just for fun:

“Water Music” by Handel (1717) – This was played for King George and his royal guests.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnn3TVBDtcA

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by Robin LaFeversDark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #2
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on April 2, 2013
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge - but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.

But her assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father's rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother's love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for...

You can check out my review for Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) HERE.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy Dark Triumph like I did Grave Mercy. This second book in the series was close to 200 pages shorter but seemed much longer. To be honest, it was a laborious read for me.

Dark Triumph seamlessly picks up where Grave Mercy ends, but we are now looking through Sybella’s eyes. Sybella is a contemporary of Ismae’s. She is a fellow hand maiden of death and has been trained in the same deadly arts. While both Ismae and Sybella have very dark pasts, Sybella’s is somewhat more twisted and sinister.

The things I enjoyed about this book: The writing is still as beautifully crafted as in the first book. The characters are interesting and unique. I enjoyed the in-depth descriptions of the story world.

The plot in this installment moves along much slower than the first, and it wasn’t as intriguing. Much less historical context is focused on, and I believe the author states this in her notes at the end of the book.

Kinda what I imagined Sybella like.
Kinda what I imagined Sybella like.

Let me just start with this- Sybella is not the best character to be immersed in for a 400 page book. It was quite disturbing, boring, and frustrating. BUT THIS IS JUST MY OPINION. The same things I found annoying about her might be immensely interesting to other readers.  A lot of her inner dialogue was repetitive to the point of SEVERE ANNOYANCE for me. She would be faced with a decision about something or faced with a new experience/feeling, and here we go again with, “No one can love me. I’m damaged goods.” Or, “I’m too dark and demented to love someone,” yada yada yada.

“No. There could never be anything between us… As nice as it was to have someone view me in a flattering light, I was not worthy of his true regard. ” This thought is a broken record on repeat throughout the book.

I understand it is an important theme concerning her character, but I just wanted to bitch-slap her by the end of it.

WARNING: The below part of my review is slightly spoiler-ish concerning the sub-plot.

How I imagined Beast.
How I imagined Beast.

I did enjoy the “Beauty and the Beast” romance to this book. I was actually more drawn to “Beast” the secondary character in this novel than to Sybella. Beast is one of Duval’s comrades from Grave Mercy and he is very entertaining and likable in that “big ugly teddy bear” kind of way. Part of me wished the novel had been written from his POV.

I don’t really have much more to say about this one. I know a lot of people liked this book in the series far better than the first, but I wasn’t one of them. I adored Ismae and Duval in the first book and was disappointed when I saw that the next book would not be continued from their POVs. But I totally understand how the author wanted to expand on the wonderful secondary characters she had created. I can’t wait to read Mortal Heart (hopefully soon). I hope I like it as much as Grave Mercy or even more. Have you read this trilogy? Which book was your favorite?

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs WallerA Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
Published by Penguin Books, Viking Juvenille on January 23, 2014
Pages: 448
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.

After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

It’s almost been a year since I read this book, but I can’t let the New Year ring in without reviewing it because A Mad, Wicked Folly was one of my FAVE books of 2014.

Imagine the lush world created in 1998’s Titanic film or the luxurious settings of PBS’s Downton Abbey, and you  have the story world of  A Mad, Wicked Folly. As if that isn’t enough to make someone run to their nearest book retailer and pick up a copy, A Mad, Wicked Folly unfolds in an exciting time: the crux of the Women’s Suffrage movement in London.

DA-Hypebeast

I LOVE historical fiction novels that have to do with the empowerment of women. This book made me want to run to the voting polls and exercise my right to vote for ANYTHING. It made me appreciate the rich history of women fighting for equal rights for the sake of future generations of women and for the sake of social justice.

A Mad pic

Victoria aka Vicky is the stuff that hardy heroines are made of. She is a talented artist and has a good head on her shoulders. She dares to step outside of the obligations and restraints of her social class and pursue her heart’s desire. While doing so, she causes quite the scandal and her parent’s rush to marry her off to some rich dolt.

Vicky will not have it.

Her thoughts, ideas, perspective- her whole world is set on fire after discovering the woman’s suffrage movement in London upon coming home from art school in Paris, and things will never be the same for her. She’s no longer able to settle into the life her parent’s had planned for her, and in this brilliantly written novel we watch Vicky blossom into a woman.

Everything is beautifully described in the novel. The historical context was so inspiring, and the working-class boy she falls for provides for a dangerous and steamy Edwardian romance. Her clandestine relationship reminds me of Rose and Jack from the Titanic film.

The story kept me engaged until I finished it, practically in one sitting. Fans of Lady Sibil Crawley in the first season of Downton Abbey will LOVE Vicky in A Mad, Wicked Folly.

I cannot recommend this book enough. I adore this book and wish I had reviewed it sooner when it was still fresh in my mind so I could have elaborated more on it’s charms. Needless to say, A Mad, Wicked Folly is one of those books that I will cherish, and reread, and want to pass on to my future daughter.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)  by Robin LaFeversGrave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on April 3, 2012
Pages: 549
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

I remember the first time I almost purchased Grave Mercy.

It was a fateful spring night and under a facade of calmness, I was trying to decide on a book to purchase from Target’s limited selection of YA lit as the clock clicked closer to closing time. The book I had come for was out of stock, so I scanned the section for something else that looked appealing. I HAD to have a book. Going home empty handed wasn’t an option. The book-monster needed to be fed.

The intimidating tome that was Grave Mercy stared at me from its prominent front-cover display. I read the back quickly and new it was something the historian in me would love, but I just wasn’t in the mood to commit to this brick of a book that I had heard lukewarm things about. So I went for the pretty purple covered one right next to it: Fated. You can see how that little decision turned out right here.

A treaty that causes many problems in Grave Mercy.
A treaty that causes many problems in Grave Mercy.

Over a year later, I finally ended up purchasing Grave Mercy from  B&N. When I read the story synopsis again, it was like reading it for the first time. I was so excited to dive into Grave Mercy and I thought to myself, “How the FRIG did I pass this up the first time?!”.

I really enjoyed this book. I devoured it, basically. The book-monster was very pleased. Once I read the first few chapters, the girth of the novel didn’t seem so intimidating.

An Illuminated text from 15th Century France.
An Illuminated text from 15th Century France.

The setting amongst a 15th Century Brittany/France backdrop was absolutely captivating. I have always been intrigued with the Pagan gods and Pagan rituals that were commonplace before Christianity became law in Europe, and LaFevers uses this rich history of Paganism as the backbone of her story.

A young Gabrielle Anwar as a plotting Ismae perhaps?
A young Gabrielle Anwar as a plotting Ismae perhaps?

The novel is written in first person and we are intimately acquainted with Ismae, the main character, right from the beginning. Her character continually changes throughout the novel and I really enjoyed seeing her evolve and ultimately question everything she believes by the end of the story. Ismae is an extremely likable heroine and was very exciting to live vicariously through.

I find it very delightful to imagine Cavill as Duval.
And of course I find it very delightful to imagine Cavill as Duval.

And dear Pagan gods of yore, Gavriel Duval- Ismae’s love interest- is the stuff that Disney princes are made of. If Disney made adult fairy tales. Duval is a ruggedly handsome devil with a heart of gold. There is a sarcastic, playful banter that takes place between Ismae and Duval, creating a most intoxicating slow-burn romance. Duval is the PERFECT match to Ismae’s character. He is the trifecta of Charming, Confident, and HOT. I could not get enough of Duval and Ismae together.

"Oh, my, Duval! What has come over you?!" " I can no longer resist you, Ismae. You have seduced me with your assassin charms!"
“Oh, my, Duval! What has come over you?!” ” I can no longer resist you, Ismae. You have seduced me with your assassin charms!”

The cast of supporting characters were interesting in their own right and colorfully depicted. Their story, as well as Ismae’s and Duvals is centered around the time period of Anne of Brittany’s succession, and you can read more about the historical context here.

The pacing of the novel was nice and steady. And despite its length, I never felt a lull. I imagine this book to be much like French cuisine is- a perfect blend of all the ingredients that make a book something to be savored and deliciously digested. In this sense, Robin LaFevers is a Master Chef.

Fans of Grave Mercy and books like it will also enjoy Rima Jean’s Knight Assassin. You can check out my review and casting of characters for Knight Assassin here.

Knight Assassin cover

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
The Memory Keeper (1st book of the 2nd Freak House trilogy) by C.J. ArcherThe Memory Keeper by C.J. Archer
Series: The 2nd Freak House Series #1
Published by Self Published on May 2014
Pages: 216
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Charity Evans wants nothing more than to leave her troubled past behind and start afresh. The teacher at a London school for orphans is encouraged to have her memories blocked by hypnotist Samuel Gladstone, but when they experience visions with an unknown third person, they realize the past can never be truly erased.

Now her past is returning to haunt Charity all over again.

Samuel is determined to help her, but how can a woman who trusts no man trust a hypnotist? And what dark secrets changed the charming gentleman into a desperate man who'll do anything to keep those secrets buried?

The Memory Keeper is the first book in the second Freak House series, which I love fiercely. You can check out my reviews for the first Freak House series, here.

The Romance and Mystery continue at The Frankingham Estate aka Freak House:

freak-house

The Memory Keeper picks up with Samuel and Charity’s story right where we left off at the end of the first Freak House trilogy. I was SO ATTACHED and IN LOVE with Jack and Hannah’s story in the first series that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to properly ”get into” The Memory Keeper.

But I was wrong. (What’s new?)

The Memory Keeper was enthralling. It was full of suppressed attraction and pulse-pounding games of cat and mouse. The menacing thread of mystery throughout the story kept me completely captivated. Samuel and Charity’s story has a much darker edge to it than Jack and Hannah’s from the previous Freak House books, and The Memory Keeper made for a chilling Victorian-era read.

I kinda imagined Sara Gadon as Charity, though she isn’t my perfect match. These pictures of her are not Victorian-era, but it’s all I got.

Charity has a scandalous past. Orphaned at an early age, she was forced to fend for herself by any means necessary- even if it meant becoming someone’s mistress. WE meet Charity in the first Freak House trilogy because she was child-hood friends with Jack Langley. The Memory Keeper focuses on Charity’s internal struggles with the dark memories that haunt her and her desire to be rid of them once and for all so she can move on with her life. It was both heartbreaking and intriguing to be privy to Charity’s painful past, and ultimately frustrating because of how these experiences have scarred her. We also witness the unfolding of a sinister plot that involves people from Charity’s past that threaten to ruin the new sense of self and career she has made for herself. All of this was exciting and intriguing, but I was left with one question at the end of the book: Will Charity ever be able to love a man again, let alone trust one?

I always imagine Alex Pettyfer as Samuel.

SamuelUNF.Yes, please.

Samuel. *SIGH*. Sweet, seductive, sensitive Samuel. My heart definitely beats a little faster for Samuel, but he cannot replace my love for Jack Langley. Maybe that’s because Jack from the first Freak House trilogy is just the right amount of domineering and dashing. But Samuel is debonair as ever in The Memory Keeper and he about charmed the pants right off me- no hypnotizing required. He is the same enticing character he was in the previous books, but layers of mystery and depth come together perfectly to flesh him out in this novel. I enjoyed learning more about his life before he met Charity or entered the Freak House world of characters.

As learned in the previous Freak House trilogy, Samuel has a special skill- he’s able to hypnotize people on demand just by using his voice. In The Memory Keeper, Samuel uses this skill to help Charity cope with her past but it triggers something dark in him.

The Memory Keeper felt more character driven than the previous Freak House books to me, therefore the pacing was slowed down to match this shift. Samuel only has eyes for Charity and desperately wants to be the man in her life. But as one might guess- things are complicated.

Once again, the paranormal, romantic, and mysterious combine to create an attention grabbing story. C.J. Archer’s books are ones to be savored and shared with the historical fiction and paranormal fiction lovers in your life. If you haven’t read them already, please check the first Freak House trilogy before starting The Memory Keeper.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle MoranMadame Tussuad by Michelle Moran
Published by Broadway on February 15, 2011
Pages: 446
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

The world knows Madame Tussaud as a wax artist extraordinaire . . . but who was this woman who became one of the most famous sculptresses of all time? In these pages, her tumultuous and amazing story comes to life as only Michelle Moran can tell it. The year is 1788, and a revolution is about to begin.
 

 

 

 

 

images

 

I’m just gonna be honest here and admit that I am a MONARCH SYMPATHIZER and I despise how the French Revolution played out. *I’m looking at YOU Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette!* Looking back safely from my cocoon of present-day democratic America, with the knowledge of all I have read on the subject, I can say with conviction that I would have been an anti-revolutionary. And that’s why I enjoyed Madame Tussaud.

Marie Antoinette and Louis XIV
Marie Antoinette and Louis XIV

 

Michelle Moran writes Madame Tussaud from a sympathizer perspective, although she refrains from completely demonizing the revolutionaries. She presents Mme. Tussaud’s story in a way that made me question if I would have played to both sides for the sake of self-preservation as well.

When people hear the name Madame Tussaud, most of them think of this:

Robert-Pattinson-Wachsfigur-New-York
Robert Pattinson cast in WAX.

 

But Michelle Moran uses words and virtuoso story-crafting to mold the captivating character and unique history of Madame Tussaud herself.

Madame Tussaud
How I imagined Marie Tussaud.

 

The narrator, Marie (Mm. Tussaud), is fleshed out on multiple psychological levels. As the reader, we experience her thoughts on business, family, loyalty, love, survival, and treason. She is a clever character, and it was so fascinating to witness the inciting events of the French Revolution through her eyes.

Marie is forced to work with the people who are plotting against the King and Queen of France, but her observations of the cunning and subterfuge of the very people who should be most loyal to the Monarchy gives her a unique perspective of the situation.

Forced to walk a fine line between allegiance to the Revolution and allegiance to her Monarchs, Marie does what she has to do in order to save her family from suspicion in a city that is bent on dethroning the King and Queen.

The story unfolds over five years, starting with the first riots of the revolution up until the notorious Reign of Terror.  The novel revolves around Marie and her family as she practices the unique art of creating wax models of beloved and notorious public figures alike; displaying them in her families shop, and living off of the income that customers pay to view the wax spectacles.

This story is a perfect balance of in-depth characters and a worms-eye view of the French Revolution. The pacing might be slow to the point of distraction for readers who are not fascinated by the nation-changing events unfolding in this time period, but it will be a worth-while  pace for those who enjoy historical fiction that is not romance-driven. While there is a small thread of romance between the MC and a family friend, it is not enough to keep those who need a strong romance in a story captivated.

Michelle Moran’s book is a feast for Historical Fiction lovers. Fact and Fiction are symbiotic in this novel and the author immersed me in 18th Century France in all of its glory and horror.

keep-calm-and-vive-la-france-17

 

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
One Night: Promised by Jodi Ellen MalpasOne Night: Promised by Jodi Ellen Malpas
Series: The One Night Trilogy #1
Published by Hachette Book Group on August 5th, 2014
Pages: 480
Format: eBook
Source: Amazon, Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

ONE NIGHT WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH . . .

Livy notices him the moment he walks into the coffee shop. He's heart-stoppingly stunning, with a blue-eyed gaze so piercing she's almost too distracted to take his order. When he walks out the door, she thinks she'll never see him again. Then she finds the note he left on his napkin . . . signed M.

All he wants is one night to worship her. No feelings, no commitment, nothing but pleasure. Every defense mechanism Livy has adopted during her solitary life is at risk of being obliterated by this confounding man. He's obnoxious but well-mannered. He's a gentleman but aloof. He's passionate but emotionless. Yet the fascination is so powerful, Livy can't deny him . . . or herself.

M awakens something in Livy, something deep and addictive that she never knew existed-and that she fears only he can satisfy. But she senses that behind the fast cars, fancy suits, and posh apartment, he's aching inside. To have him, body and soul, she'll have to brave his dark secrets. Delving into his world and breaking down his defenses become her obsession-an obsession that could shatter her heart beyond repair . .

I’m currently on vacation visiting a friend who lives in NYC… I started reading One Night Promised when we were in the for the night last night. I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. I was up until 5am reading and then I finally forced myself to go to bed. The second I was up today I dove right back in to the book instead of going out into the city of NY to wander. That’s saying something. 😉

Olivia, otherwise known as Livy, is a 24 year old woman who just started working a bistro, she cannot master the cappuccino machine to save her life.  She could be annoying at times, but when learning more about her and her secrets you start to understand where she’s coming from.

I really loved Livy’s Grandmother, whom she lives with, she was cute and entertaining. Her Nan did all she could to try and get her granddaughter to break out her carefully crafted shell and live her life. It takes making a bad cup of coffee for a dark haired, blue eyed stranger to  cause Livy’s shell to crack.

I LOVE MILLER. He’s a quirky hot guy. He may seem like perfection, but really he has his flaws and his secrets too. Boy, I did NOT expect his secret to be what it was.. JEM really surprised me with his dirty secret. After learning more about Livy’s past, I think Livy’s reaction when learning about Miller’s profession was a little hypocritical, though now that I’m thinking about it..I guess I can’t blame her either after learning more about her mommy issues.

November is too far away! I can’t wait to see where JEM will take Livy and Miller in the next book. Will she get over her issue with Miller? Will we learn more about Miller in the next book? What about William? I can’t wait for One Night: Denied!

More questions I have for the next book (will spoil, hence why I put these ones behind the spoiler alert!)

View Spoiler »

 

 

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

About Jodi Ellen Malpas

Jodi Ellen Malpas was born and raised in the Midlands town of Northampton, England, where she lives with her two boys. Working for her father’s construction business full time, she tried to ignore the lingering idea of writing until it became impossible. She wrote in secret for a long time before finally finding the courage to unleash her creative streak, and in October 2012 she released This Man. She took a chance on a story with some intense characters and sparked incredible reactions from women all over the world. Writing powerful love stories and creating addictive characters have become her passion – a passion she now shares with her devoted readers.