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Archive for April, 2012

 

 

by Lynda Hilburn
The new 2011/2012 version from Quercus/Jo Fletcher Books and Sterling/Silver Oak replaces the 2007 version.
Published April 3, 2012 by SilverOak

 

 

Summary:

Kismet Knight, PhD, doesn’t believe in the paranormal. She especially doesn’t believe in vampires, but she begins to wise up when she is introduced to a handsome man named Devereux who claims to be 800 years old. Kismet doesn’t buy his vampire story, but she also can’t explain why she has such odd reactions and feelings when he is near. Then a client almost completely drained of blood staggers into her waiting room and two angry men force their way into her office, causing her to consider the possibility that she has run afoul of a vampire underworld. Enter FBI profiler Alan Stevens, who warns her that vampires are very real, and one is a murderer—a murderer who is after her.

 

 

Review:

I was a bit apprehensive when I started this book because I have tried to read a couple other books that had a psychiatrist and supernaturals and they did not jive with me, but this one was actually pretty good. Some parts were quite predictable, like Kismet falling for a vampire even though she did not believe in them; while others were not, like the magic aspect of the story.

I did have a bit of a problem with how quickly Kismet and Devereux fell in love with each other and how she just allowed Devereux to tell her what to do having only known him a couple days. I also felt like I was cheated when it came to her “relationship” with Alan. It just seemed like the author wanted a good sex scene and Alan was the character available. It is almost like he is mentioned in passing because there is this high between Kismet and Alan but them it just ends and the slight conclusion you get seems like an afterthought.

The plot was interesting and kept me intrigued but the writing seemed lacking and in need of some work, even though this is a rewrite of an older book with additional plot added. I will probably read the next book in the series when it comes out because the story had me hooked, but this book is not at the top of my list of vampire books. This is not due to the overall plot but rather more to the confusion in the story and the lack of continuity in the writing. Some things just do not seem to connect and felt as though they were just added later to close up loose ends.

This book is not appropriate for kids or teenagers because there are sex scenes in it that are graphic. For adults, this is a quick read and the plot is pretty entertaining and worth a look if you like to read a lot. If you read slowly or do not have much time to read, I would pass on this book and look for something a bit more polished.

I received this book as an ARC. I do not get paid to review books; I do so in order to assist you in recognizing books that you might enjoy.

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by Eve Edwards
Published February 1st 2011 by Razorbill

 

 

Summary:

1584 – Surrey, England When Lady Jane Rievaulx begins service to the Queen at Richmond Palace, she is thrilled at the court’s newest arrival . . . Master James Lacey. Despite her previous courtship with his older brother, James is the man she truly loves. And for his part, he cannot deny his fascination with her. However, James is setting sail on a treacherous journey to the Americas, seeking absolution for what he sees as past sins. But when Lady Jane is forced into a terrible situation by her own family, there is only one man to save her. Will Master James return to his lady ­- before it’s too late?

 

 

Review:

This is a nice romance novel. It is the second in a series, but I have not read the first book and understood the story just fine. Each one of the books follows a different character, so this one can be read as a standalone novel if you didn’t read the first one. The beginning makes you think you missed something important, and you kind of did, but you catch on right away and then the story flows nicely.

This is a quick read and I don’t remember any swearing or sex scenes. The story is a bit predictable, in the romance novel kind of way; a beautiful damsel in distress who needs to be saved by her knight in shining armor (though he is not actually a knight). The beau doesn’t care if she doesn’t have her fortune, and she doesn’t care that he doesn’t have much inheritance, really none at all. The plot keeps you on your toes and you want to yell to James, “no, don’t go; Jane needs you!!” more than once during the course of the story. There is the side story of Jane’s friend, Milly and her relationship with Diego, a black servant, which was quite scandalous in that day; and also the introduction of Milly’s friend Christopher (Kit) Turner who likes her and tries to cause a bit of trouble for some of the characters in the story.

There is absolutely no way that you can like Jane’s father, her brother, or her stepsons. At times it seems as though there is no one on her side, except Milly. I don’t want to give away any more of the story, but it is good and I am eager to read the first one in the series and the third one as well.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good love story, but also to anyone who may not feel comfortable with the sex scenes that are typically found in romance novels. I think this would be appropriate for a high school student, though I am not sure that as a teacher I would recommend a romance novel to students as classroom reading.

I received this book as an ARC. I do not get paid to review books; I do so in order to assist you in recognizing books that you might enjoy.

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by Adriana Trigiani
Published April 3rd 2012 by Harper

 

 

Summary:

The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. At the turn of the last century, when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza’s family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future.

Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America, Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job in Hoboken until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza, determined to forge a life without him, begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan and into the life of the international singing sensation, Enrico Caruso.

From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, over the perilous cliffs of northern Italy, to the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever.

Lush and evocative, told in tantalizing detail and enriched with lovable, unforgettable characters, The Shoemaker’s Wife is a portrait of the times, the places and the people who defined the immigrant experience, claiming their portion of the American dream with ambition and resolve, cutting it to fit their needs like the finest Italian silk.

This riveting historical epic of love and family, war and loss, risk and destiny is the novel Adriana Trigiani was born to write, one inspired by her own family history and the love of tradition that has propelled her body of bestselling novels to international acclaim. Like Lucia, Lucia, The Shoemaker’s Wife defines an era with clarity and splendor, with operatic scope and a vivid cast of characters who will live on in the imaginations of readers for years to come.

 

 

Review:

After I finished this book, I turned to my husband and said, “I think this is the saddest book I have ever read.” He replied, “Well I did have to keep handing you Kleenex.” It’s true, I cried so much during this book that I gave myself a headache. Ms. Trigiani made the story so moving and so believable that I felt all the emotions that the characters were feeling throughout the story, and even though I cried, this is a good thing.

The plot kept me thoroughly engaged the entire time; I could barely put the book down. I wanted to see what would happen next for Ciro and Enza. I can’t really say this book had a happy ending; it was a totally different ending than I would have expected. It is not at all your traditional love story, though it is one overall. The plot has many twists and turns and a bunch of times you just want to yell at Ciro, “Wake up you fool, what are you thinking!” Ms. Trigiani wrote an amazing book about love, friendship, war, immigrants in America, and loss. I am in love. This is one of my favorite books I have read recently. It was moving and powerful. It was sad and happy at the same time.

Ms. Trigiani wrote a magnificent piece on the trials and tribulations of Italian Immigrants who came to America in the early 1900’s, one of my favorite topics since I am an IBM (Italian by marriage) and grew up in NYS where the Italian influence is still strong today. Many of the foods Enza talked about made me smile and think of my husband’s Sicilian family and the recipes I was given by them, some on our wedding day, like the “famous” chocolate cinnamon clove cookies that have been in his family for generations, and the ones I was allowed to have once we moved away and I had proven myself an adequate cook, such as cutlets. Reading this book also made me very hungry for food I have either had to learn to make myself, or go without since we moved away, such as gnocchi, though we make ours in red sauce. Oh and I do know how to pronounce gnocchi properly even though I am German, it was part of my unofficial Italian education upon marriage.

I highly recommend this book to anyone. There is a tiny bit of sex, but it is not graphic and they are married if that makes a difference. This book gives the reader a view of life for an immigrant that is filled with history, but is not written in a history book style. This book is a love story, but is also filled with much sadness and has many ups and down, emotionally, throughout the story. This is a great book to take on a vacation, but it is not an entirely lighthearted read, it makes you think a bit. Make sure to keep the tissues close by.

I received this book as an ARC. I do not get paid to review books; I do so in order to assist you in recognizing books that you might enjoy.

Please read more of my reviews on my blog: sarahereads(dot)wordpress(dot)com

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Enchantments

 

 

by Kathryn Harrison

Published March 6th 2012 by Random House Publishing Group

 

 

 

Summary:

From Kathryn Harrison, one of America’s most admired literary voices, comes a gorgeously written, enthralling novel set in the final days of Russia’s Romanov Empire.

St. Petersburg, 1917. After Rasputin’s body is pulled from the icy waters of the Neva River, his eighteen-year-old daughter, Masha, is sent to live at the imperial palace with Tsar Nikolay and his family—including the headstrong Prince Alyosha. Desperately hoping that Masha has inherited Rasputin’s miraculous healing powers, Tsarina Alexandra asks her to tend to Aloysha, who suffers from hemophilia, a blood disease that keeps the boy confined to his sickbed, lest a simple scrape or bump prove fatal.

Two months after Masha arrives at the palace, the tsar is forced to abdicate, and Bolsheviks place the royal family under house arrest. As Russia descends into civil war, Masha and Alyosha grieve the loss of their former lives, finding solace in each other’s company. To escape the confinement of the palace, they tell stories—some embellished and some entirely imagined—about Nikolay and Alexandra’s courtship, Rasputin’s many exploits, and the wild and wonderful country on the brink of an irrevocable transformation. In the worlds of their imagination, the weak become strong, legend becomes fact, and a future that will never come to pass feels close at hand.

Mesmerizing, haunting, and told in Kathryn Harrison’s signature crystalline prose, Enchantments is a love story about two people who come together as everything around them is falling apart.

 

 

Review:

I was not at all impressed with this book. I know that people rave about Enchantments, but honestly, it creeped me out. The book started out ok. Alyosha and Masha forming a friendship, but it went downhill quickly after that.

Masha gives quite detailed renditions of her father, Rasputin’s, sex life multiple times throughout the book. Very creepy. Why would a daughter be privileged to this kind of knowledge? All I know was that if the point of this book was to make me think even worse about Rasputin, then it served it’s purpose.

Then there was the whole part about Masha and Alyosha and his trying to have sex with her, actually frequently pushing himself on her when they were both super young! Creepy. Oh and did I mention that when he was separated from Masha he just turned to a girl who was super slutty and a bit older than him but who wanted the opportunity to have sex with the “future tsar.” He then had sex (frequently) with her and described it in very vibrant details. Eww gross.

Next you have the end of the story where Masha describes multiple times, in detail about how her husband, who her father wanted her to marry, frequently rapes her. Just peachy.

I really have nothing positive to say about this story, I wasted my time reading it. I wish I had never done so. It gave me nightmares for several days anytime I even thought about how disturbing it was.

This book is NOT appropriate for kids under 18. This is 100% an adult book, even though the characters are kids.

I received this book as an ARC. I do not get paid to review books; I do so in order to assist parents and teachers in recommending appropriate books for your kids to read.

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by Jerel Law


Published April 3rd 2012 by Thomas Nelson Publishers

 

 

Summary:

Seventh-grader Jonah Stone discovers that he is one-quarter angel–his mother is the daughter of a human and a fallen angel–and after she is kidnapped, Jonah and his sister, Eliza, must try to rescue her, with the help of prayers and a guardian angel.

 

 

Review:

This is one of the most well written Christian Fiction books for kids that I have read yet. It uses the Bible as a tool to help the main characters to save their mother, who is a Nephilim, or the offspring of a fallen angel and a human.

This story has angels, and it keeps the proper hierarchy/ dogma, guardian angels are different than warrior angels, who are different from Archangels for example. It has actual quotes from the Bible that become literally true when the kids pray to God, who they call Elohim (the Hebrew word for God), for help along the way for example, they are granted the use of the shield of faith, it’s strength is based on their faith in God.

This book is fast paced and has a ton of action. This book demonstrated several important themes, such as team work, faith in God, that size/age doesn’t matter, even the small/weak can be strong, with the help of the Lord, and that even someone born from sin, can choose to follow God, among others.

This book would be enjoyed by both girls and boys. The two main characters are siblings and both are strong, faithful kids, who make great role models for young Christians. They have their doubts, but in the end have faith in God, who helps them. There is no sex or any romance or love at all, except the love between family, and towards God.

I recommend this book for kids of any age, depending on their reading level, probably somewhere around 5th grade, but adults will like this book as well for its powerful message.

I received this book as an ARC. I do not get paid to review books; I do so in order to assist parents and clergy in recommending appropriate books for kids to read.

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Mariana

 

 

by Susanna Kearsley

Published April 1, 2012 (ebook) (first published 1994)

 

 

Summary:

 Julia Beckett believes in destiny. When she moves into Greywethers, a beautiful sixteenth-century farmhouse, she suspects that more than coincidence has brought her there. The locals are warm and welcoming, especially the eligible squire of Crofton Hall, yet beneath the ordinariness, Julia senses a haunting sadness about her new home. Then she learns of Mariana, a beautiful young woman who lived there three hundred years ago. It seems history has been waiting for Julia.

 

 

Review:

This is a wonderful no bodice ripping romance novel, with a supernatural twist.  The story begins when the main character, Julia, is a child.  Her family is driving on a family vacation when their car breaks down randomly.  When Julia looks over, she notices they are in front of this gorgeous house, she instantly falls in love with it.  A number of years later, she comes upon the house again when her car breaks down, then when she is an adult, she is driving and she stops to avoid an animal and her car won’t start, she looks over and there is the house, her house.  She goes over to investigate the house and finds out that it is for sale.  She buys it and there begins her journey of discovery and romance.

Julia begins to have flashbacks where she actually goes back in time.  She learns about who she was in a past life and this leads her back to her true love, reborn again in this lifetime.   I do not want to give away the story at all.  It was super good and a quick read.  This book does not have any descriptive sex scenes, just one flashback where she is in bed with her lover after they have had sex.

I would highly recommend this book to romance lovers and paranormal romance lovers alike.  It was a great lighthearted book that kept me on the edge of my seat; I didn’t want to put it down.

I received this book as an ARC.  I do not get paid to review books; I do so in order to assist you in recognizing books that you might enjoy.

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by Kara G. Durbin
Published April 1st 2012 by Moody Publishers

 

 

Summary:

Parenting with Scripture is an easy to use topical resource that parents with young children can use when teachable moments arise. This effective guide helps teach young children how to think and apply God’s Word in their daily lives. Kara Durbin’s revised book helps parents capture those teachable moments and use Scripture to shape their children’s behavior. The 101 alphabetically sorted topics address behavior, attitude, emotions, and actions. Examples include Forgiveness, Humility, Anger and Procrastination. Each topic includes scripture passages, discussion questions, action items, and parenting tips. Questions and tips are written so older children can teach younger children. This new edition of Parenting with Scripture includes detailed help for parents to quickly identify teachable moments, and what to do when they appear.

 

 

Review:

Basically, this title says it all. This book is a parenting guide that uses the Bible as a teaching tool. I found it very interesting and useful. The author, Kara Durbin, goes over some of the ways she has used the Bible, even when her kids were very young, to teach them what the Bible teaches on different topics, not just about right and wrong. Kara even uses a passage from Deuteronomy to explain what teachable moments are; anytime you and your child are together.

What I found the most useful, was the way the book is set up. This is a book you will use on a daily basis if you have kids, long after you have finished reading it. After you read the intro and the teachable moments chapter, Kara lists 15 fabulous verses to memorize, they cover a broad array of topics that you may need/want to use when teaching your kids on a regular day, such as; Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.—EPHESIANS 6:1. Kara even gives some methods to help both you and your kids memorize the scripture verses, breaking it down by age. Kara also talks a bit about praying and how to pray with your children.

But, the best chapter, in my opinion, is the Topics chapter. In this chapter Kara lists almost anything you can think of that you may need to parent a child on, for example, anger, in alphabetical order, like a dictionary. First, she gives the definition of the word, then she lists verses where anger is discussed in the Bible, and lastly she has some discussion questions to use with your kids and a take action part that gives some real life reinforcement activities you can use.

I know that this will be a book that I will use when I have kids. It is a great tool if you want to teach your kids how to interact with the Bible in their daily lives and what the Bible teaches us about almost everything under the sun.

I highly recommend this book to parents, Sunday school teachers, or even to teachers at a private school where you can talk about the Bible.

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