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Archive for August, 2012

Some Kind Of Fairy Tale

 

 

by Graham Joyce

Published July 10th 2012 by Doubleday (first published June 21st 2012)

 

 

Summary:

It is Christmas afternoon and Peter Martin gets an unexpected phone call from his parents, asking him to come round. It pulls him away from his wife and children and into a bewildering mystery.

He arrives at his parents’ house and discovers that they have a visitor. His sister Tara. Not so unusual you might think, this is Christmas after all, a time when families get together. But twenty years ago Tara took a walk into the woods and never came back and as the years have gone by with no word from her the family have, unspoken, assumed that she was dead. Now she’s back, tired, dirty, disheveled, but happy and full of stories about twenty years spent travelling the world, an epic odyssey taken on a whim.

But her stories don’t quite hang together and once she has cleaned herself up and got some sleep it becomes apparent that the intervening years have been very kind to Tara. She really does look no different from the young woman who walked out the door twenty years ago. Peter’s parents are just delighted to have their little girl back, but Peter and his best friend Richie, Tara’s one time boyfriend, are not so sure. Tara seems happy enough but there is something about her. A haunted, otherworldly quality. Some would say it’s as if she’s off with the fairies. And as the months go by Peter begins to suspect that the woods around their homes are not finished with Tara and his family…

 

 

Review:

 I wanted to like this story, and for a little while I did, but it didn’t last.  The story was slow, I kept wanting something to happen.  I kept trying to grasp what was going on for most of the story.  There were almost no happy parts; I don’t really enjoy books with no happy parts.

Some Kind Of Fairy Tale has lots of graphically described sex scenes, especially when Tara talks about Fairy.  They added pretty much nothing to the story.

I would not recommend this story.  Even if you like Fairy Tales or books about Fairies, this just wasn’t all that good.  I would not have wasted my time reading this book had I known what would happen in it and how it would end.

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 Deborah Harkness

Published July 10th 2012 by Viking Adult

 

 

Summary:

“Together we lifted our feet and stepped into the unknown”—the thrilling sequel to the New York Times bestseller A Discovery of Witches

Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.

Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.

Deborah Harkness has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries, delivering one of the most hotly anticipated novels of the season.

 

 

Review:

I was super excited about getting an ARC of this book.  I am a huge fan of A Discovery of Witches and am now a huge fan of Shadow of Night.  Shadow of Night picks up right where Discovery left off, so if you have not read the first book, I highly advise you to do so before reading Shadow of Night, otherwise you may be a bit confused, oh and you will also be missing out on a super awesome story!

I don’t want o give too much away, but in Shadow we learn more about both Matthew and Diana, as they learn more about themselves.  We are introduced to quite a few historically famous people, who just happened to be friends with Matthew in Elizabethan England, unfortunately, even though Diana expects to have intelligent conversations with some of these men, she soon learns that not all of Matthew’s friends are as accepting of her as she would have hoped.  This causes both tension and problems for the new couple.

The longer Diana and Matthew stay in Elizabethan England, the more they change history, causing ripples that run all the way through to modern day, little hiccups that the rest of the family, still in modern times, must strive to clean up in order to cover-up Diana and Matthew’s time jump.  This was a neat way of keeping the reader connected to what was going on in the present time, so that we were not left wondering what was going on with Ysabeau and the rest of the de Clermont family.

Overall, I have nothing but positive things to say about this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who read the first book, if you have not read Discovery, please do so and follow up with this one.  I recommend this book more to adults, this is because there is sex in this book, it is not super graphic but it is described in some detail.  The positive is that this is sex between a married couple in order to consummate the marriage and make it official in both the human and supernatural worlds, and to prove their love for eachother.

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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by Angela Elwell Hunt

Published June 5th 2012 by Howard Books

 

 

Summary:

“If these three sisters don’t change direction, they’ll end up where they’re going. “Darlene Caldwell has spent a lifetime tending Sycamores, an estate located five miles south of a small town called Peculiar. She raised a family in the spacious home that was her grandfather’s legacy, and she enjoys being a pillar of the community. Sycamores is the kingdom where she reigns as queen . . . until her limelight-stealing twin sister unexpectedly returns.

Carlene Caldwell, veteran of the Broadway stage, is devastated when she realizes that an unsuccessful throat surgery has spelled the end of her musical career. Searching for a new purpose in life, she retreats to Sycamores, her childhood home. She may not be able to sing, but she hopes to use her knowledge and experience to fashion a new life in Peculiar, the little town she left behind.

Haunted by a tragic romance, Magnolia Caldwell is the youngest of the Caldwell girls. Nolie has never wanted to live anywhere but Sycamores. She spends her days caring for her dogs and the magnificent gardens she’s created on the estate, but when she meets a man haunted by his own tragedy, she must find the courage to either deny her heart or cut the apron strings that tie her to a dear and familiar place.

Can these sisters discover who they are meant to be when life takes an unforeseen detour? In a season of destiny, three unique women reunite and take unexpected journeys of the heart.

 

 

Review:

 This was a great novel.  Ms. Hunt does a superb job of developing her characters, especially the main ones.  Five Miles South of Peculiar explores in depth each character’s past, why they are the way they are, how they got to be where they currently are, present, the life that they each created for themselves, and ends with a glimpse at each woman’s future.

This book has a nice happy ending for each woman, making this a nice light beach read.  There are some heavy things in this book as well; the loss of love, family dynamics, and a different dysfunctional past for each character even though they are siblings and all grew up together.  Five Miles also looks at life in a small town and what that is like for those living in it.

There are many other characters in Five Miles that add to the story including but not limited to a Pastor who was let go from his church after a divorce and the mayor of the city.  There are also many plots and sub-plots that make this novel the kind of story that you do not want to put down.  Nothing gets old or boring in this book, there are no slow parts that you just want to skim over.

There is no sex, but there is the mention of sex when one sister’s dysfunctional past comes out.  This incident is not glorified in a positive way, and it is not descriptive, but it would be up to you whether you would allow your kids, maybe in upper High School to read this book, if they so desired. I would recommend this book mostly to women, especially those with sisters or at least are interested in the family dynamic that comes with having a sibling.

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 Robin Wasserman

Published April 10th 2012 by Random House Children’s Books

 

 

Summary:

 It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up. When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one true love. When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands and an echoing scream that stopped only when the tranquilizers pierced her veins and left her in the merciful dark.

But the next morning, it was all still true: Chris was dead. His girlfriend Adriane, Nora’s best friend, was catatonic. And Max, Nora’s sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also—according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone—a murderer.

Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. It ultimately brings her to the ancient streets of Prague, where she is drawn into a dark web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all driven by a mad desire to possess something that might not even exist. For buried in a centuries-old manuscript is the secret to ultimate knowledge and communion with the divine; it is said that he who controls the Lumen Dei controls the world. Unbeknownst to her, Nora now holds the crucial key to unlocking its secrets. Her night of blood is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.

 

 

Review:

This book was better than I expected it to be, but not as great as everyone says it is.  The book of Blood and Shadow is full of twists and turns and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.  It is a mystery, historical fiction, and love story all rolled into one.

Nora is a likable character, but is also a bit dim witted at times.  There are so many things that have been going on around her that she somehow never saw or never realized were happening, it is just insane.  I got annoyed by her pretty quick.

Adriane is not at all likable, she seemed spoiled and obviously thought she could do whatever she wanted and didn’t care who she hurt in the process.

Max- well- I’m not sure how he fooled everyone so well.

All these people, Chris included, were supposed to be Nora’s best friends but yet she knew nothing about any of them in the end.  I wasn’t sure whether to be annoyed at Nora’s stupidity, or sad that she somehow never knew any of her “friends” at all.

Even though this does not seem like a review with flying colors, overall The Book of Blood and Shadow was a good read.  It was both entertaining and fresh.  I have not read anything like it before.  Now it does have similarities to some popular movies and some would say, another well known book, but I saw it mostly as an original work that is worth reading.  I would recommend this book to older high school student through adults.  Both males and female would probably enjoy this book.  There is violence and references to sex, but nothing graphic.

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 and also to assist parents and teachers in recommending appropriate books for your kids to read.

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Kill Me Softly

 

 

by Sarah Cross

Published April 10th 2012 by EgmontUSA

 

 

Summary:

“Clever fun.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Incorporating suspense and romance, this contemporary, edgy, Grimm-based novel is an entertaining and well-written entry in the crowded but popular genre.”—Booklist

Mirabelle’s past is shrouded in secrecy, from her parents’ tragic deaths to her guardians’ half-truths about why she can’t return to her birthplace, Beau Rivage. Desperate to see the town, Mira runs away a week before her sixteenth birthday—and discovers a world she never could have imagined.

In Beau Rivage, nothing is what it seems—the strangely pale girl with a morbid interest in apples, the obnoxious playboy who’s a beast to everyone he meets, and the chivalrous guy who has a thing for damsels in distress. Here, fairy tales come to life, curses are awakened, and ancient stories are played out again and again.

But fairy tales aren’t pretty things, and they don’t always end in happily ever after. Mira has a role to play, a fairy tale destiny to embrace or resist. As she struggles to take control of her fate, Mira is drawn into the lives of two brothers with fairy tale curses of their own . . . brothers who share a dark secret. And she’ll find that love, just like fairy tales, can have sharp edges and hidden thorns.

 

 

Review:

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book.  There are many “modern fairy tale” novels out there as well as TV shows so I was hoping that Ms.Cross would  be able to bring something different from all the rest, and let me just say, she brought it.  I was hooked from the beginning.  First I wanted to know why Mira wasn’t allowed to go back to her birthplace, then I wanted to know who these brother’s were, then what was Mira’s curse…  the list goes on and on.  As soon as I thought I knew the answer to a question, I had more questions.  This is a good thing.  Kill Me Softly kept me intrigued and on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

Kill Me Softly has romance, a bad boy, a “perfect” gentleman, princes, princesses, though they don’t actually live in castles, heroes, heroines, everything that a good fairy tale has, even a happy ending.  One of the things I loved about this book was that there is an ending for the two main characters.  There is not a huge cliff hanger, but there are enough sub-plots and other characters that the next book in the series should hopefully follow one or two other characters, only mentioning Mira briefly so we know what is going on with her and if any unfinished business needs to be cleared up.  I don’t know for sure, but that is what I would do.

This book does not have any graphic sex, but it is mentioned and there is at least one sex scene, almost.  Because of this, I would recommend this book primarily to older high school kids and adults.  Adults will really get into Kill Me Softly if they have a pretty good knowledge of the original Grimm Fairy Tales, the ones that really were not so pretty.

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 and also to assist parents and teachers in recommending appropriate books for your kids to read.

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by Sandra Byrd
Published June 5th 2012 by Howard Books

 

 

Summary:

The author of To Die For returns to the court of Henry VIII, as a young woman is caught between love and honor.

Juliana St. John is the daughter of a prosperous knight in Marlborough. Though her family wants her to marry the son of her father’s business partner, circumstances set her on a course toward the court of Henry VIII and his last wife, Kateryn Parr.

Sir Thomas Seymour, uncle of the current heir, Prince Edward, returns to Wiltshire to tie up his business with Juliana’s father’s estate and sees instantly that she would fit into the household of the woman he loves, Kateryn Parr. Her mother agrees to have her placed in the Parr household for “finishing” and Juliana goes, though perhaps reluctantly. For she knows a secret. She has been given the gift of prophecy, and in one of her visions she has seen Sir Thomas shredding the dress of the king’s daughter, the lady Elizabeth, to perilous consequence.

As Juliana learns the secrets of King Henry VIII’s court, she faces threats and opposition, learning truths about her own life that will upset everything she thought she once held dear.

 

 

Review:

This is a historical fiction book told from the POV of Juliana St. John, the daughter of a knight. She becomes a member of Kateryn Parr, King Henry the VIII’s last wife’s household. There is a bit of the supernatural mixed in with the history, which adds an interesting element to the story.

I enjoyed this book, but not as much as other books I have read. I think that was mostly to do with one of the scenes in the book, it left a sour taste in my mouth and influenced my opinion of the rest of the story. There was a vividly described scene in which Juliana is raped. This event influenced Juliana’s life greatly. She forever felt unworthy of any decent gentleman’s affection since she was ruined and tainted by that event. This was even emphasized by a suitor telling her he wanted nothing to do with her after her so called friend betrayed her and told her suitor of the rape in order to gain his affection for herself. How Juliana ever forgave her, I will never know.

Secret Keeper is full of lies, deceit, and intrigue, portraying almost all of the bad things that can happen to one involved in the inner workings of court life. I would never have wanted to be a courtier or even a woman in that time period. I know that it looks fun and that the clothing was beautiful, but women were treated terribly. The double standard of what was acceptable behavior was so much more pronounced then, and women were so cruel, crueler than women are to each other in an average person’s life today.

On a happier note, this is actually more of a romance story than one would think given the title and what you may know about the life of Kateryn Parr, at least it is for Juliana. I am not going to give away anymore of the plot, except to say that it is very good and keeps the reader riveted to the story. This book has so many levels, plots and sub-plots that all mix and intertwine to give the reader a fresh perspective on the life of Kateryn Parr and the women who were loyal to her. Even if you are not fans of the supernatural, that element of this story is so small that it is almost insignificant and should not deter you from reading this book.

In case you wanted to know, there is sex in this book, besides the rape scene. There are not many sex scenes and there is a significant amount of material between the rape and the next sex scene, but sex in general is brought up fairly often because of the insecurities that this traumatic event created for Juliana.

I would recommend this book for adults only because of its overall content including but not limited to sex scenes, the rape scene, and events that follow due to the rape. I do not feel those would be appropriate for kids. If you are very sensitive to rape and all that follows, this book would not be good for you. It may bring up things you don’t want to think about and the scene is described in quite a bit of detail. It is also a main part of the plot and continues to be brought up throughout the entire novel.

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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