Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson | Review

Title: The Captive Maiden
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Pages: 306
Publisher: Zondervan
Goodreads rating: 3.93 Stars
Published:  November 23, 2013
Source: Paperback/Bought

Description

Gisela's childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father's death, each day has been filled with nothering bu servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela meets the duke's son, Valten-the boy she has daydreamed about for years-and learns he is throwing a ball, she vows to attend, even if it's only for a taste of a life she'll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten's eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent  on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

My Thoughts

I'm a big fan of Melanie Dickerson, and The Captive Maiden was no exception. The author has a way with fairytales that really just make you love them, and I do love how she brings God and scripture into each one.

Gisela is everything you would expect a Cinderella-esque heroine to be: beautiful, kind, caring... and mistreated.  She lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters in her father's house, trying to keep her stepmother from selling off all of her late father's beloved horses.  She shares the love her father had for the animals, preferring them to her step-family.

The book changes the meeting between Gisela and the prince {or in the case of this book, the young lord} much like the live-action Cinderella movie Disney released a couple years ago - a chance meeting in the woods.  Though Gisela isn't quite as whimsical as Lily James' Cinderella, she still has the kindness we all love in our little Cinder-girls.  While The Captive Maiden is a fairtale retelling, it does try to show a little how life would have actually been during that time period {although fairly loosely}.  Like needing a male escort to go to the market {or face unwanted attention from rude men} or being completely at the mercy of your family, not matter how much you disliked them and didn't agree with how they were running the family's affairs.

However, one thing that was much more fairytale than real was the leading man's choice on a wife: he was able to pick from any of the single, beautiful females of the land.  Lord Valten has been a little shafted in love, since his betrothed married his younger brother.  But he isn't too upset by that, as he hardly knew her, yet alone loved her, and his younger brother was quite in love with the girl {and she with him}.  After traveling and competing in tournaments for a while, Valten decided it was time to go home and settle down.  Enter Gisela and a chance meeting in the marketplace.  They quickly bond over their love of horses and both find the other very attractive.

While there was some typical, expected elements to this book, it took a rather unexpected turn a little over halfway through, and had at least one good "what in the world?" moment towards the end.  If you like fairytale retellings or just want to give one a whirl, this would be a great one to pick up.  Though I would suggest starting with the first one, as this is the fourth in a series and would ruin the others with some of the information causually thrown out later in the book.

Overall, it was a great quitck read and I would highly recommend it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken | Review

Title: Passenger
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Pages: 486
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Goodreads rating: 3.88 Stars
Published:  January 5, 2016
Source: Audiobook/Library, as well as Hardcover/bought

Description

Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home... forever.

My Thoughts

I mostly listened to the audiobook for this one, just reading the few times I curled up in bed with it.  So I had a difficult time getting into it because of the narrator's voice {very gravely/rough, and I was picturing something much different for a young girl, especially one musically inclined}.

Etta is very interesting.  She comes across a little naive and at the same time very stubborn.  She is comstantly saying how she can take care of herself, but then turns to Nicholas.  While I'm all for the damsel in distress or the heroine who can hold her own, Etta as a character seemed a little confused as to which one she wanted to be.  Or maybe she just thought she wanted to be the latter and kept finding herself in situations that made her more of the former {being tossed out of one's time period and landing in the middle of an ocean centeries apart could do that to anyone}.  Thankfully, Nicholas is there for her in both situations {usually}, so she can be either one she chooses.

Nicholas himself is used to time travel and moving between passages of time much more than Etta {she just discovered it when she walked through one with another girl}.  While Etta was completely ignorant of her ability to travel through various portals and passages to different times and places, Nicholas had been trained to do so.  He's there to navigate and show Etta how it's done while they're on a quest looking for a missing item the master of the time travelers wants.

The book took a couple unexpected turns, and the ending had me literally exclaiming "what? No!" very loudly in bed {thankfully my husband wasn't asleep yet}.  I have really enjoyed Alexandra Bracken's writing, and I get sucked into the worlds she creates each time {despite narrators with gravely voices}. I would definitely suggest picking this one up and giving it a go... or maybe just wait until next year, so you're not torturing yourself in anticipation for the next book like I am now!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

After You by JoJo Moyes | Review

Title: After You
Author: JoJo Moynes
Pages: 353
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Goodreads rating: 3.72 Stars
Published:  September 29, 2015
Source: Audiobook/Library

Description:

“You’re going to feel uncomfortable in your new world for a bit. But I hope you feel a bit exhilarated too. Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Just live well. Just live. Love, Will.”

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.



My Thoughts

*DISCLAIMER* This will have spoilers from Me Before You!! If you haven't read it and are planning on doing so, please, please, please don't read anymore!!!!

I'm serious!! If you don't want Me Before You spoiled, DO NOT READ ANYMORE!!!!

Okay... are you sure you want to read ahead??  Here goes...

 
I picked this up because I just really needed to know what happened to Lou after her life helping Will. Sh'e not really doing much with it, which kind of makes me go "man!"  Me Before You left Lou in a place that was sad but had promise.  After You found her working in a little pub by the airport, not really going anywhere.  Sure, she'd traveled to Paris for a bit after Will died, but she came home after, and found herself stuck in a rut.

Horribly enough, her rut ends when she's surprised by what everyone thinks was a figment of her imagination and falls off her apartment building's roof!  She survives, only to go through an interesting turn with the so-called figment of her imagination {no, it wasn't Will, and no, I won't ruin this and tell you who it was}.  She does find that her heart isn't completely closed off since Will, and it's swonderful to see this new interest bring her back out of the cocoon she built around herself.

The story takes twists and turns, some of them expected and others not. It ends pleasantly, but honestly not where I wanted to see Lou after the devistation that was her relationship with Will and the gaping hole Me Before You left in her life {and my heart!}.  I was hoping for a much more "happily ever after" or even "hey! It's all working out for Lou!" type of ending, and that isn't the way the author took this story.

I did borrow the audiobooke of this from my library {months ago... and am just now writing my review... oops!}, and some of this rating is also rating the narrator of the audiobook {she was fantastic, and exactly how I picked Lou to sound in my head}.  If you enjoyed Me Before You, you would defintely enjoy After You {probably more so}.  I would even go so far as to say you don't necessarily need to read Me Before You to read After You and enjoy it!


Me Before You by JoJo Moyes | Review

Title: Me Before You
Author: JoJo Moyes
Pages: 369
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books/Viking
Goodreads rating: 4.31 Stars
Published: December 31, 2012
Source: Audiobook/Library

Description:

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.



My Thoughts

Contemporary fiction usually isn't my "thing".  That being said, I really enjoyed the quirkiness and wit in Me Before You.  I'd been told a few things about this book before reading it, mostly that it will make me just cry my eyes out and/or that it’s amazing and brilliant and that I have to read it.  Having two little ones running around and needing constructive direction doesn't leave a whole lot of reading time, so audiobooks have become my saving grace in how I get things "read".  {I think at some point I'll write up a nice big post about that and everything it entails at some other point.}  I'd borrowed this from my local public library, only waiting a few weeks for my hold to come in {amazing, since the movie was very publicized and on its way to the theater}.

The story follows a very perky, slightly eccentric young woman while she works through family situations and tries to figure out who she is, after landing a job as a caregiver {so long as she doesn’t have to wipe bums, she’s okay with it}.  Hearing her on the audiobook, she sounds like sunshine personified most the time, but not in a way that makes you cringe.  She is very relatable, even if you happen to live on another continent living an entirely different type of life.  Listening while I ran my errands or while my kids napped I was completely transported to wherever Lou was, watching what she was doing or listening to what she was saying.

Will Traynor... guys, he's going to kind of hit you in the gut.  He does just about anything to get Lou to just ignore him/go away.  He made a deal with his parents, and he just wants to have it finally reach its end.  He has six months left of his deal when Lou comes on as his caregiver, and he is determined not to let anything or anyone get in the way of his goal or derail his plan for the end of his six months.  But Louisa Clark is a force to be reckoned with, and has soon wormed her way into Will's life and eventually his heart.

Ultimately this book did bring me to tears in the end.  The general ending was kind of what I expected {since everyone told me it would make me cry ugly tears}, but I won't go into details so that I don't spoil it for any of you!  It was worth every minute I spent listening to the book, and JoJo Moyes has such a way with characters that you will be both thanking her and cursing her for the beauty that is Louisa Clark and Will Traynor and the relationship she weaves between them.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Amazon Burning by Victoria Griffith | Review

Title: Amazon Burning
Author: Victoria Griffith
Pages:
Publisher: Astor + Blue Editions
Goodreads rating: 4.47 Stars
Published: October 1st, 2014
Source: Paperback/From Publisher
Purchase: Amazon

Description:

When 22-year-old aspiring journalist, Emma Cohen, is forced to flee the comforts of her NYU student life, she maneuvers an internship from her father at his newspaper in Rio de Janeiro. There, Emma is immediately swept into a major news story--and a life-threatening situation--when a famous jungle environmentalist, Milton Silva, is mysteriously murdered.Emma must now enter the Amazon rainforest with her father to investigate; both awed by the enormity and beauty of the Amazon, and appalled by its reckless destruction. Not only will Emma have to brave the primal world of the Amazon, she must fight to survive the kidnappers, villains, corrupt activists, and indigenous tribes that lay in wait along the ever-twisting trail of the murder case. Stretched to the brink, it s up to Emma, her father and the dreamy news photographer, Jimmy, to unravel the mystery and live to tell the tale. Amazon Burning by Victoria Griffith is a spectacular debut Young Adult novel.



First, I know the description says "Young Adult", but this is definitely New Adult.  Unless the young adults you know read very graphic books, both with violence and sex {not a ton of the later, but a good deal of the former}.

Amazon Burning was interesting, even though it's not the type of contemporary book I normally read.  I don't mean to say that I didn't like it, because I did enjoy it.  Just not as much as some other {not quite so violent} contemporary New Adult books.  You can tell Victoria Griffith has researched her topic, which makes the book more believable and enjoyable.  I also enjoyed the main character, Emma Cohen, and her quick, believable personality.  Without such a good core character for the book, I think I would have ended up putting it down less than halfway through.

While I did finish the book, it isn't something I would reread, but that's mainly because its not necessarily something I would have read to begin with.  For those who enjoy this topic, I would definitely recommend this book {male or female}.  If the description sounds interesting to you, I would suggest borrowing it from your library or picking up the Kindle edition to see if you like it.  It was written well and is an interesting topic, and it didn't take too long to read.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Maddy Kettle and the Adventure of the Thimblewitch by Eric Orchard | Review

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

August Moon by Tammy Morea | Review

Title: August Moon
Author: Tammy Morea
Pages:
Publisher:
Goodreads rating: 3.83 stars
Published: June 2014
Source: Paperback/From author for review

Description:

What do you do when the one who broke your heart, is the only one who can fix it?

There is nothing in this world stronger than the powerful emotion of being in love.

Except, maybe the paralyzing pain of a broken heart.

Moving to a small unfamiliar beach town in the summer before her senior year of high school is really going to suck. Raven, a black haired beauty, from a well- off family was certain about that. Miserable in her circumstance’s, nothing could convince her otherwise, until Raven meets Quinn, a local with a love for surfing and a bad reputation to go with it. Despite the very different worlds they live in, their desire for each other is undeniable. Raven’s fears and misery start to vanish as she and Quinn fall deeper and deeper into each other.

But things change drastically when Raven is unknowingly used as a pawn, in a turn of disastrous events, caused by Quinn’s older brother.

The events that follow could silence Raven’s heart for eternity and completely destroy what’s left of Quinn’s soul.

August Moon is a captivating story of young love.

Bringing two unlikely hearts together.

Only to be shattered by one tortuous decision.

Putting these star-crossed lovers on course for the ultimate challenge of forgiveness.



The whole idea of young love lasting and being something to fight for had me excited to read this book.  The beginning was good, and I really enjoyed the writing style of the author {a good mix of descriptive and conversational writing}.  However, that sadly did not last {yes, it was sad, because from the snippets I though I would have an entirely different feel towards this book}.

The story starts with and follows Raven, who's been moved from the city to a nice beach town with her family right before her senior year in high school.  She has some family out there, including a cousin her age, which helps her settle in a little easier.  Raven is confident and sure of herself, although she does have a little bit of insecurities {which most teenage girls do, am I right?}.  She ends up meeting Quinn shortly after arriving, and has a strong pull towards him.

This is where the book started to lose me - if you know me, I don't believe in "love at first sight".  I never have; you can have lust at first sight {strong attraction to the physical aspect of the person}, but you don't know them enough to actually love them.  Well, this is a love at first sight story, which I'm okay with for fiction so long as it actually blossoms into something that I would consider love.  While reading, I never really got the sense that Raven and Quinn were more than infatuated {albeit a very, very strong infatuation... the kind that makes it so they will try to stay together no matter what}.  Yes, they were incredibly infatuated with each other, wanting to spend every second with each other like young lovebirds do, which is sickeningly sweet.  They're the couple that everyone says "aw, you guys are so cute - get a room!"

The relationship of Raven and Quinn reminded me a lot of an awful one that I was in when I was younger - "knowing" you're in love, yet a lot of things would have any observer saying "you really shouldn't be together.  That relationship is not good."  The reason I say this is because of how easily Quinn would go off at Raven about something {jealously because another guy was looking at her too long or a male family friend [who also likes her] giving her a hug}, and Raven would come back and reassure Quinn about her undying love for him {which was very unrealistic since they'd only known each other for maybe two weeks at the most}.  So, my review and reaction to this book might be a little bias.

The book does take an interesting twist towards the end that had me wanting to know what happens next, although not quite why you would think.  I won't say anything about it, as I don't want to ruin it for anyone!