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Tag: "Romance"

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Confessions of Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey

[ 23 ] September 17, 2013

Confessions of Marie AntoinettePlease welcome Juliet Grey, author of Confessions of Marie Antoinette, as she tours the blogosphere with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours!

Enter to win a copy of the book below – open to US residents.

Reviewed by Colleen Turner

Confessions of Marie Antoinette, the final book in Juliet Grey’s trilogy about the life of the famed Queen consort of France, begins with the storming of Versailles on October 5th, 1789 and concludes with Marie Antoinette’s execution on October 16th, 1793. Told mainly through Marie’s point of view, the novel highlights a few of the underlying reasons for the French Revolution, the numerous governmental changes that occurred and the horrifying and inhumane treatment of the royal family, many members of the nobility and those deemed royalists.

Interspersed with Marie’s story is that of Louison Chabry, a young French sculptress who gets caught up in the revolutionary actions of the people and begins to realize that perhaps the hideous actions of the rising men of the new Republic and the blood thirsty populace that seems to follow them blindly are not the solution they need. This added perspective helped give the story a more well rounded feel then if it was told exclusively by Marie Antoinette and also helped drive home the fact that, while many of the poor French people did have legitimate problems that needed to be addressed, the vicious attacks against the monarchy did little to resolve these issues.

While it is entirely possible to read Confessions of Marie Antoinette without reading the first two books in the trilogy, as I did, I would recommend reading the series in order. Not knowing that much about Marie Antoinette’s history, starting with this final book made me feel slightly lost as to what had transpired before the storming of Versailles and why the people felt so vehemently that all their issues were a result of Marie Antoinette’s actions. To see the utter hatred towards the royal family and the all consuming need to destroy them, it was hard to justify that against the royal family’s humanity as seen through Marie’s story.

The Marie that is presented in Confessions of Marie Antoinette is not perfect but is a loving and devoted mother, a wife that is determined to stand by her husband even when his indecision might put her own life in danger and a Queen that genuinely cares about her people. There were times when the constant bombardment and the various failed escapes began to feel redundant, but the fact is this is more an issue with the history and not the writing at all. There is a lot of information discussed throughout the book and it can be hard to keep all the people and changes in check but it is easy to see the vast amount of research that went into the story and that Ms. Grey did an extraordinary job staying true to the facts of this much maligned woman. Included in the back of the book is an extensive reader’s guide that gave more insight into the history and the people who lived after Marie Antoinette, which I found very enjoyable.

All this being said, I will definitely go back and read the first two books in this series. Marie Antoinette is a fascinating true character from history and Ms. Grey does an exceptional job of bringing her story to life.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Ballantine Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: White Lines by Jennifer Banash

[ 2 ] September 16, 2013

15721628Reviewed by Krystal Larson

Cat is the type of girl that many of us wish to be. She has her own apartment in New York City as well as access to some of the hottest clubs. Many of us would find it difficult to see through the glamour, but underneath all of the shine, Cat lives a difficult life. She endured emotional and physical abuse from her mother and abandonment from her father. After she finally finds the courage to leave her mother, she seeks out her absent father – a man willing to pay the rent, but not willing to sit down and actually talk to his own child. Naturally, these memories make it very hard for Cat to form any real, sustaining relationships with other people. Cat knows that she has trouble with that facet of her life and feels badly about it. In order to run from her past, Cat ends up in night clubs and escaping into New York City’s crowds. What will happen to Cat when she finds someone worth coming out of her shell for?

Cat’s character had a lot of depth to it. At the end of White Lines, I felt like I knew her very well. She hasn’t had the best life, but remains generally optimistic and friendly. I knew that she tried her best and felt that she came up short in her father’s eyes. When I put the book down, I knew right away that I would remember Cat for a long time. The other characters were interesting and did add to the story, but they didn’t leave such a large impression. I really loved the way the author developed the characters and incorporate both humorous and serious dialogue. This book is perfect for young adult and teen readers.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Putnam Juvenile. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Hero by Robyn Carr

[ 2 ] August 26, 2013

downloadReviewed by A.D. Cole

Thunder Point, home to a hardworking, close-knit, multi-generational community of people, has some new residents. Devon McAllister and her three-year-old daughter, Mercy, have escaped the confines of a strict, religious commune, though they have no ties to the outside world and nowhere to go. When Rawley Goode picks them up on the side of the road and offers them a place to stay, he opens up doors to Devon’s future that she hadn’t even dreamed possible.

Spencer Lawson, recently widowed and the father of a ten-year-old boy, Austin, finds himself a new home in Thunder Point as well. After losing his wife to a years-long-war with cancer, he finds himself needing a fresh start. He accepts the position of high school football coach in Thunder Point and experiences the added benefit of living closer to some surprising and unusual family connections. Spencer feels pretty stable and content until he meets Devon and realizes he’s ready for more.

Devon’s experiences mean she is reluctant to trust anyone. But when the people of Thunder Point unconditionally open their arms and hearts to her, she finds the surprising joy that comes from loving fearlessly. Spencer’s challenges also lie beneath the surface. He’s been through more loss than anyone knows and has yet to allow himself a moment to grieve. As a result, though normally a solid, dependable kind of guy, he suddenly finds himself questioning his commitments and unintentionally hurting the already vulnerable Devon. But when events conspire to further complicate Devon’s new found peace, Spencer is given the opportunity to prove himself trustworthy; and Devon, the opportunity to trust.

In addition to all this drama, we get to reconnect with former Thunder Point characters, all of whom continue to play important roles in the novel. There’s a much anticipated wedding; the further development of the relationship between Ashley and her bio-dad, Eric Gentry; and the deepening of Cooper’s roots as he begins to develop and expand his business. I’m torn between which story I want next. That of the lonely Dr. Scott Grant. Or the newly single, ex-con Eric Gentry.

The Hero is my favorite Thunder Point novel so far. The romance was a little more intense than in past books, likely because more was at stake. And there was some surprising, and rather heavy, action towards the end. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable read. Carr’s story and character development are flawless and she continues to provide good, solid comfort reading. I definitely recommend the Thunder Point series.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

A.D. Cole is a homeschooling mother and aspiring romance novelist. She lives in the Ozark foothills and spends her free time reading, writing, baking and pondering life’s little mysteries.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harlequin MIRA. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Stormbringers by Philippa Gregory

[ 1 ] August 10, 2013

17912512Reviewed by Jessa Larsen

Since combining traveling parties, Luca and Isolde become more and more attracted to each other as they continue their journey to unravel the mysteries throughout all of known Christendom. Their travels are soon delayed by the uprising of an intense religious crusade that may upset the balance of the civilized world. To Luca’s utmost surprise, the crusade is led by a boy even younger than himself and the boy appears to have gained influence over countless children.

As Luca and Isolde find themselves longing to join what appears to be the most holy of crusades led by a boy who truly speaks with God, they are quite rudely interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Death. Now Luca must investigate all manner of things. Did God truly speak to the young crusade leader, was it truly a sign of the end of days, or did the Devil himself influence the boy and those around him for his own evil means? All these questions must be found and reported and Luca has been charged with the responsibility to do just that.

Stormbringers is another neutral book in the Order of Darkness series and I can say my opinion of the series has not changed with this second installment. This is truly a book for the bored fence sitter in life. This story is for those people who are content to just read for the sake of reading rather than to gain anything from the experience. Luca and Isolde have the appearances of a budding romance, but as Luca seems to maybe, probably, sort of, feel like he will eventually become a priest sworn to celibacy, this romance is perhaps, most likely, possibly not meant to be. Or is it? I have no clue.

Lucky for us, Ishraq has been blessed with the possibility of more than one dimension to her character and might just be the saving grace of the series. I can actually say that I look forward to the possibility of going somewhere with her. Again, like its predecessor, there’s not really anything solidly negative to say, yet I truly don’t have anything positive to express either. The book just exists and I may or may not even bother with the next book in line for release.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, 2 sons, 2 dogs and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She is a full time mom and enjoys writing short stories in her spare time. She also likes watching anime, reading books, and playing video games.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon Pulse. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Changeling by Philippa Gregory

[ 1 ] August 9, 2013

changeling-by-philippa-gregoryReviewed by Jessa Larsen

Luca Vero is a young seventeen year old boy who, most unfortunately, has been expelled from his monastery on accusations of heresy against the church. He is almost immediately recruited by a mysterious stranger based upon his heretic trait of asking questions and seeking reason behind all the things the church teaches. The stranger requests that Luca follow sealed orders and set forth to seek out the fears of Christendom and determine once and for all, the truth of good and evil. Luca must determine if rumors and hoaxes are simply the fears of the simple minded or if they are truly signs of the end of days.

Meanwhile, Isolde, a seventeen year old Lady Abbess, has been trapped in her role at the nearby nunnery in an effort to prevent her from claiming her true inheritance upon her father’s recent death. Unfortunately, the nuns in her care have recently been plagued by strange visions and general insanity. Luca has been sent to investigate this very nunnery and must prove, without a shadow of a doubt, whether these activities point to Isolde’s innocence or guilt.

The best way to describe Changeling is to say that it has meandering potential. The title itself led me to believe the story would have more folklore and whilst the actual story line wasn’t a bad one, I’m not so sure I would have picked it up had it been alternatively titled. I wanted to like the premise, the characters, and general adventures, but everything just slowly meandered along. There wasn’t really anything to solidly catch my attentions. Luca, Isolde, Freize, Ishraq, and even Brother Peter have so much potential, yet they continually stay fairly one dimensional. There were neither intriguing twists nor turn of events and I never got drawn into the world Gregory meant to create.

On the plus side, there really weren’t any solid negative factors to the story. It was written well enough. The story progressed well enough. The plot was interesting enough. But unfortunately there just isn’t much of anything good to say either. Changeling, as a book, just sort of exists.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, 2 sons, 2 dogs and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She is a full time mom and enjoys writing short stories in her spare time. She also likes watching anime, reading books, and playing video games.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon Pulse. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel

[ 7 ] August 1, 2013

SeaCreaturesNew_264x400Please join Susanna Daniel, author of Sea Creatures, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

Reviewed by Lauren Cannavino

Susanna Daniel’s novel Sea Creatures focuses on a small family who must face big change while attempting to remain intact. And as main character Georgia Quillian has come to discover, this is not always easy to accomplish. Georgia and her eclectic husband Graham have both lost their jobs and are looking for a fresh start in Florida. The couple, along with their mute son Frankie, returns to Georgia’s hometown looking to find a new beginning for phase two of their lives. This beginning starts with the purchase of a rickety old houseboat that they will now call home.

The job loss that threw the small family into upheaval had to do with Graham losing his tenured position at Northwestern due in part to a sleep disorder. Georgia’s business also had to close, perhaps partially related to sleep issues of her own. As a result of the focus on sleep, there almost seems to be a heavy haze that hangs over the story and the characters. When Georgia takes a job as a personal assistant to a reclusive artist, Charlie, who lives in the middle of the bay in “Stiltsville”, a different light is shed on the story and the haze begins to lift. Charlie is gruff, private and older than Georgia, but the dimensions of the story open up further once he comes into the tale. Surprisingly, it is the hermit, that brightens the story as Georgia’s darkness and murkiness is cut through. As Charlie and Georgia’s relationship blooms into something far more than artist and assistant, more secrets about Graham, Frankie and Georgia herself slowly rise to the surface. The story moves in a few unforeseen directions and the characters all face ends and revelations that are very fitting for their roles in the story.

While Susanna Daniel does have a clean writing style, I found the book hard to get into. I did enjoy Charlie the most and without him, I feel that the book would have been a loss. I could never get behind Georgia as a supportable main character and this bothered me because I couldn’t figure out exactly why I had no interest in her, her struggles or her development. To me, Georgia almost seemed too wishy washy or too victimized to fully support even when she emerged a slightly different person. Ultimately, Daniel does write a smooth story that is different, personal and shows reflection of how pain can affect all of us in very different and personal ways.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.com.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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