Friday, November 18, 2011

An Affair Before Christmas

Title:  An Affair Before Christmas
Author: Eloisa James
Ideal Age Range:  Adult
Mass Market Paperback: 386 Pages
Copyright Date: 2007
Blurb: Magic under the mistletoe...
One spectacular Christmas, Lady Perdita Selby, known to her friends and family as Poppy, met the man she thought she would love forever.  The devilishly attractive Duke of Fletcher was the perfect match for the innocent, breathtakingly beautiful young Englishwoman, and theirs was the most romantic wedding she had ever seen.  Four years later, Poppy and the duke have become the toast of the ton... but behind closed doors the spark of their love affair has burned out.
Unwilling to lose the woman he still lusts after, the duke is determined to win back his beguiling bride's delectable affections... and surpass the heady days of first love with a truly sinful seduction.
My Rating:  (★★)
I was almost pulled away from An Affair Before Christmas because of The Hunger Games trailer that came out this past week made me want to re-read the books but I refused to let myself leave An Affair Before Christmas languish on my nightstand for a book I have already read.  (However, now that I am finished I am now free to re-read! Yay!)

An Affair Before Christmas is the second book in Eloisa James' Desperate Duchesses series of books, the first in the series is of the same name, Desperate Duchesses, which I reviewed earlier this year.  Luckily I found An Affair Before Christmas at the newly opened Goodwill Thrift Store for only a few bucks, usually I would raid my mother's library shelves for the books since she collects romance novels.

In the first book there were two main story arcs, that of the Duchess Jemma and her husband, the Duke of Beaumont (and Villiers) and then the main characters, Reeve and Roberta.  In the second book the story arc of Jemma and Beaumont (and Villiers) continues and there is a new couple, Perdita (Poppy) and Fletch who start the story completely in love and over the first four years of their marriage Poppy's mother's influence ruins any chance of sexual happiness the couple could have, but Fletch is not ready to give up which is refreshing when compared with "real life" where the divorce rate is so high.  

We are also given more of an intricate introduction to Miss Charlotte Tatlock who embarks on a sort of relationship with the sickened Villiers, which I found intriguing and hope that one of the next books centers on those characters (I haven't checked yet though).  I found Poppy's mother to be one of the easily hatable characters that I have ever read, and I found myself liking both the main characters, plus the continuation of the Jemma/Beaumont/Villiers story was great.  

One of the things I wasn't as happy with was the missing tension between the main characters for most of the book.  Then BAM! right near the end there was tons, and then the other thing was I expecting a bit more "Christmas" in the story, even though there was quite a bit of it near the end, I still wanted more.  Oh! and one other thing, the guy on the cover?  Not the description fitting with what Fletcher is supposed to look like, and that kind of bugs me.

Still, I liked it, and will be on the lookout to find the other books in the series, or I will borrow them from my mother.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Hunger Games Trailer Premiere

I apologize profusely for being away for so long! I am working on reading a few books at the moment but I was severely distracted this past Monday, November 14th while watching Good Morning America.  I caught the last half of the premiere of the full length trailer for The Hunger Games movie (based on Suzanne Collins' book of the same name), and I was already really EXCITED for the movie from seeing the teaser trailer that was shown on the MTV Music Awards earlier this season, but this full length trailer had me in tears, and gasping for my breath.

If you haven't seen it, here it is in all it's glory.  I don't care if you are Team Peeta or Team Gale or Team Katniss (I'm Team Peeta, if you were wondering).

I can NOT wait for this movie to come out! Can you?  I actually am in the middle of reading Eloisa James' An Affair Before Christmas, but I may have to pause in the middle and put it down in favor of digging my Hunger Games books out of the garage to re-read.

How many times have you read The Hunger Games?  Who is your favorite character?  After seeing the trailer, what is your favorite scene that they show?

My favorite scene is The Reaping.  I teared up when Katniss volunteers as Tribute.  It might be all the hormones raging since I am currently pregnant with my second child, but I think I might have been moved no matter what my hormones were doing.  I am also going to show all the posters in one place because I got tired of trying to find all of them on one site (they were debuted on a multitude of sights, so you had to go to each one to see them).

Please, if you comment, do NOT comment with Spoilers of the series please.  Thanks!

The Posters! <3

Happy Reading all!   ~And may the odds be ever in your favor!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Captive Heart

Title:  The Captive Heart
Author: Bertrice Small
Ideal Age Range:  Adult
Mass Market Paperback: 405 Pages
Copyright Date: 2008
Blurb: It's 1461, and the winds of war rage across Englad, up-rooting Henry VI's court- including Alix Givet, the daughter of Queen Margaret's physician.  Alix's plight becomes bleaker still when a Northumbiran baron gains her hand for his cruel son.  Duty to her queen and to her sickly widowed father forces Alix into a loveless marriage.  But when her husband unexpectedly dies, Alix once again flees- this time to save herself.  Escaping over the border into Scotland, she throws herself at the mercy of a dark and brooding laird, who-if she can warm his cold heart-might provide the everlasting love of her dreams.
My Rating:  ()
I don't have a lot of experience reading Bertrice Small's romance novels.  The only other one that I have read was "The Love Slave" when I was in middle school because my mother told me that I couldn't.  And while her books always have plenty of sex scenes for the harlot within us all, I did not like "The Captive Heart".  It took me quite a while to read because I put it down about half way through and a month went by where I had no desire to pick it back up, but it was keeping me from moving on to reading something else, so I finished it.
Now, I don't normally write about SPOILERS in my reviews, but I am going to make an exception with this book, because otherwise, I would have to be incredibly vague as to my reasoning why I didn't like it.
Main plot point, Alix is married to the cruel son of a baron that is spoken of in the blurb, the son is in love with the miller's daughter, so much that he has no care with Alix's body when he lays with her, how's that for a first time?  Anyway, so the son's mistress dies in childbed with her child, son goes crazy with grief and commits suicide.  Alix is like, "Yay! I'm free!" but then her father in law takes the idea into his head that he needs a new heir and Alix should be his new wife to beget him upon.  She runs away while he gets a special dispensation from the Bishop.
Here's where one of my gripes comes in, Ms. Small writes out the entire story every time Alix has to explain why she ran away from the baron.  It's written a little differently every time, but still, it's written out.  That's about 6 pages of the novel I didn't have to read.
Back to the story, the laird that she runs to in Scotland, has a little daughter whom she becomes step mother to.  They are all a big happy family, BUT because the laird didn't kill his adulterous wife like he had the right to, the little girl ends up getting killed at the end of the book with about 8 pages to what should have been the happy ending.
I was LIVID.  Maybe because I am a newish mother, and anything about babies/kids lately has really irritated me lately, especially anything on the news relating to children being abused/neglected/killed.  I do not like to watch the news.  I like to read romance as an escape from that kind of stuff.  I do not read romance novels to be depressed.
I cannot bring myself to give this book a good review.  She's a talented writer and obviously spends  time on her research for the time periods that she writes in and all that, but wasn't my style.  Sorry about that.
Better luck next time around! Happy reading to you.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Author Signing - Connie Brockway & Eloisa James

As I sit cross-legged on my bed tonight, I’m thankful for comfy flannel pajamas, and glitterified red velvet cupcakes.  It’s no secret if you read this blog that I love bodice rippers romance novels.  Those and paranormal anything.. basically.

It might be surprising though that I have only ever went to one book signing before tonight.  It was when I was still in high school and my mother took me to Osseo, Minnesota to a used bookstore where Lois Greiman was doing a book signing.

Tonight though!  Tonight I brought both my mother and my son down to the southern side of the Twin Cities to a Barnes & Noble where the fabulous Connie Brockway and amazing Eloisa James were promoting their new anthology, The Lady Most Likely, somewhat sadly Julia Quinn was missing, else it would have been a trifecta of awesomeness and I would have won the jackpot of author signing. 

There was laughter, stories (contributed by the lovely authors), and sparkly cupcakes of red velvet deliciousness.  I had a great time, and even though my son, Colton did cry (just a little bit) when Eloisa held him, I think that even he had an excellent time.  Especially since he got to smile at our neighbor and practice his wave.

Here are the 3 failed attempts at getting a picture taken with the ladies.  They are more like outtakes, and while they offered to retake without Colton, I didn’t want to take up anymore of their time, though I did appreciate the sentiment.  I'm disappointed that I forgot my camera at home.  I probably would have gotten better and non-crying pictures but my mother isn't all that iPhone savvy (that's okay, I still love you!).  He would have probably ended up crying anyway because it was a little later in the evening so we were toeing the line for that as it was.

One lucky lady got to go out for a glass of wine with the authors after the signing was over, and as much as I thought that would be one of the most interesting things I can imagine doing, I’m glad that even though we put our names in to win, that our names weren’t chosen as I think we would have had to decline and let them choose someone else anyway.  As it was Colton fell asleep on the way home since it was a little past his normal bedtime.  (At least he went right to sleep when we got home and my mother went to her respective house.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How To Seduce A Sinner

Title:  How To Seduce a Sinner
Author: Adrienne Basso
Ideal Age Range:  Adult
Mass Market Paperback: 352 Pages
Copyright Date: 2010
Blurb: Seal Her Desire. . .
Dorothea Ellingham is waiting for the man who can ignite a spark of consuming passion with just a kiss. For when that happens, she'll know she's found the one. But after three suitors miserably fail her test, she's about to lose all hope until she lays eyes on Viscount Carter Grayson. His devilish good looks and charm send her pulse racing—and when he kisses her, she finally finds what she's been craving. . .
With A Kiss. . .
Viscount Carter Grayson is in no hurry to wed. But when he meets Dorothea, he's captivated by the urgent need she sets off in him. Knowing he must have her, he proposes. But as they soon discover, a union forged on passion alone is never enough—and explosive desires can often lead to love. . .
My Rating:  (★★)
Now that the heatwave that had held Minnesota in its clutches for almost a week is finally being moved on by slightly cooler and less humid (thank God!) weather, I can get around to actually doing something other than laying on the floor in the dark wishing for the sun to not be so hot.  I finished reading How To Seduce A Sinner a good week ago or so, but just had no desire whatsoever to post a review about it while I simmered inside my house.  I have the window open now, letting in some fresh air while my almost 9 month old (gasp) takes an overdue nap in his crib.
I had never read a Adrienne Basso romance novel before.  And it's quite different than the ilk I normally read in the genre, for several reasons. 
1.) Marriage happens near the beginning
2.) Uses the word Penis most times when describing the male characters' genitals during love making scenes.
3.) It's realistic.
4.) I disliked and liked Carter at varying times.  Mostly liked him when he wasn't being a ninny.
Overall though I have to say the number 3 reason is the most important one.  I read romance novels to be swept away.  I read them for the fantasy aspect.  It's an escape from the realism of the world where one might not be romanced every single day by their significant other when he brings home flowers, or writes a lovely poem and leaves it for you to find under your pillow.  
But, if you like romances where there is a more realistic view of relationships, then this book may be for you, but I prefer the other way and therefor cannot rate How To Seduce A Sinner better than a 2 star.  At least I tried something new though!  That's saying something.
Now, off to make some iced tea or something else wonderfully summery.  Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Just Like Heaven

Title:  Just Like Heaven
Author: Julia Quinn
Ideal Age Range:  Young Adult and Up
Mass Market Paperback: 374 Pages
Copyright Date: 2011
Blurb:  Honoria Smythe-Smith is: 
A) a really bad violinist  
B) still miffed at being nicknamed "Bug"  
C)  NOT in love with her older brother's best friend  
D) all of the above
Marcus Holroyd is:
A) the Earl of Chatteris
B) regrettably prone to sprained ankles
C) NOT in love with his best friend's younger sister
D) all of the above
Together they:
A) eat quite a bit of chocolate cake
B) survive a deadly fever AND the world's worse musical performance
C) fall quite desperately in love
It's Julia Quinn at her best, so you KNOW the answer is...
D) all of the above
My Rating:  (★★)

I really normally love Julia Quinn's books.  Seriously, she is my absolutely favorite romance novelist (with Eloisa James nipping at her lovely heels), but her latest book just didn't do it for me.  I eat her books up.  Gobble them, if you will, but Just Like Heaven left a little bit of a hollow place in me as if I had eaten a sugar-free brownie instead of a delicious to die for German Chocolate Double Fudge Brownie sprinkled in wonder and powdered sugar.
Desserts aside, I am on a diet after all, Just Like Heaven was missing the Julia Glue that holds her novels together in witty perfection like a puzzle made out of words that coaxes laughter out of oneself as they read them.  I wasn't in love with Marcus Holroyd, and there wasn't much of a depth to Honoria.  As sad as I am that I didn't really like Just Like Heaven, and I understand that the Honoria has been a character in her books for quite sometime, so it's not as if Ms. Quinn would be able to change her name, I couldn't help thinking almost every single time that I read her name that it rhymes with Gonorrhea.  Or diarrhea. 
Maybe it's because I have an 8 month old baby boy and I deal with poop on a daily basis?  Who knows?  I just felt like some of the story was a bit... unbelievable.  The fever, and dealing with that just.. got in the way of the romance, I think.  Plus, Marcus was shy.  There was many instances that I remember reading that he didn't know how to flirt with Honoria, how on earth did he know how to bed her then?  There is no hint that Marcus was experienced, but it was obvious (ahem) that he must've been.
Overall, disappointing, but I still love her!  Hopefully her next novel with wash the taste of Just Like Heaven out of my mouth.  (Sorry, Ms. Quinn, gotta be honest even with my favorite author.  :) )

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Help

Title:  The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Ideal Age Range:  Young Adult and Up
Mass Market Paperback: 444 Pages
Copyright Date: 2009
Blurb:  "Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step...
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss.  She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger.   Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child.  Something has shifted insider her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way.  She is devoed to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken. 
Minny, Aibeleen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi.  She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job.  Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation.  But her new boss has secrets of her own.  Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk.  And why?  Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times.  And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women-mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends-view one another.  A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.
My Rating:  (★★★ 1/2)

I got a lot less sleep this past week because of a book.  Not because of my kid, or the cats, or the weather, but because of a book.  I finished Kathryn Stockett's novel, The Help just this morning.  After spending the last few nights staying up way past my bedtime to get in some reading time sans baby.  Not that I can't really read while the baby is awake, but it is much easier when he is safely tucked in bed.
I have to start off with something- this is not my normal fare of book.  It doesn't have within it's pages a hint of the paranormal, there are no werewolves hiding in the cotton fields of Jackson, or vampires in the humid League's hall.  It's contemporary fiction, perhaps set a few decades ago but the problems that are outlined in The Help still exist today, there is still racism, there is still sexism, and don't get me started about the discrimination of people of different sexual orientation than heterosexual.
Kathryn Stockett writes in each woman's voice, chapter by chapter the narration switches from Aibeleen, Minny and Skeeter.  And the differences of inflection and emotions are amazing.  This book is definitely character driven and there is a strength to each woman that makes you keep turning the pages to see what they can accomplish and how they change as people.
There is a depth to even sub-characters.  I felt intense dislike for Miss Hilly.  Pity and sympathy for Miss Celia.  I liked Skeeter's independence, and Minny's Sass (with a capital S).  Aibeleen's love for the white children she took care of hit me pretty hard.  Hardest thing to read was the last two pages, in my opinion, I won't say anything more, but if you haven't read The Help, you might want to pick it up, even if you are like me, not normally into books without vampires or werewolves, I'm sure you will like it.  You won't be able to help yourself.  ;)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Hunger Games

With all the casting news of The Hunger Games movie going on, the latest being Donald Sutherland being cast as President Snow, one of my Facebook friends sent me this link of an amateur video on YouTube of the scene from The Hunger Games of Rue and Katniss.  If you haven't read the books, do not watch the video as it contains spoilers.

A note about this video:  You might want to have Kleenex handy.

It All Ends 7.15

It's really not that far away, is it?  July 15th.  The day it all ends.  And here is a video that I stumbled across on at Magical Urban Fantasy Reads, that was from Empire Magazine.  It's a few of the cast members of the Harry Potter franchise summing up their experience with making the movies into one word.  My favorite?  Emma Watson (Hermione Granger).  

Did you catch her response?  "It's got to be, Magical, isn't it?"  And nearly right behind it is Matthew Lewis' (Neville Longbottom) response, "S'allright." "Sublime" from Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) is right up there as well.  Considering Luna and Neville are probably my favorite characters in both the books and the movies, that's not surprising that I like their answers, I suppose.

Have you seen the trailer yet?  If not, here it is-  this is going to be one epic movie!

Trailer 1

Tv Spot #1

TV Spot #2

TV Spot #3

The Posters

It's both sad and exciting that the last installment of Harry Potter will be coming out in less than a month and a half.  What scene are you most looking forward to seeing?  The scene I can't wait to see is when Molly defends Ginny. What's yours?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hush Hush

Title:  Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Ideal Age Range:  Young Adult
Mass Market Paperback: 391 Pages
Copyright Date: 2009
Blurb:  "A SACRED OATH, A FALLEN ANGEL, A FORBIDDEN LOVE.  Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan.  She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her.  Not until Patch comes along.  With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgement.  But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust.  Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends.  She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide.  And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.  For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those who have fallen-and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life."
My Rating:  (★★)
I finished Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush the other day, and though I thought it was an entertaining read, and not to mention, pretty easy as well, I thought that it held a lot of similarities to Stephenie Meyer's Twilight.  Mostly in the way that the writing is similar, Patch held a lot of the same qualities as Edward, like striking features, namely Patch's eyes and ripped body.  They meet in, of all places, their biology class, and Patch is kind of a stalker.
Sound familiar?  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Twilight, I'm just not sure the world needs more than one of them.  Those similarities could be considered the negatives of Hush, Hush, but perhaps not the only ones.  I thought that Nora was incredibly stupid sometimes, especially for supposing to be a smart girl, she made some really terrible decisions.  But I get it, it was the draw to Patch that made her do those things.  I thought Vee was a terrible friend.
I liked the second half of the book a lot better than the first half, and I liked the ending the best.  I will probably read Crescendo but it's not on the top of my To Be Read list.  All in all, it was worth reading, and really, if you loved Twilight, you will probably love Hush, Hush, as well.  I want to add that I loved the cover of this book.