Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Red Deception by J.C. Murtagh

Judith Timbolt lives a life of poverty and servitude until the day she finds a new beginning in the hands of the deceased, Lady Lora Noire. Donning her red cloak and identity, Judith embarks on a fairytale life she could only dream of. When she steals the heart of the powerful Baron Blacwin, her dreams become a reality.

Will Judith's fairytale unravel or will she be able to uphold her falsehood under the cloak of deception she has weaved?

A romantic novella, this was a quick, pretty fun read.
The best thing about the book is that the writing is fresh. It is not slow or dull, instead grabbing and keeping the reader’s attention from the beginning. The romantic scenes are handled nicely, with just the right amount of tension. Judith, the protagonist, is interesting to follow on her struggles, although I would have liked to have read a bit more of her internal fights, especially when it related to leaving her son behind. She seemed to do it without too much trouble, which, despite whatever domestic situation she was going through, should have caused her more pain than it did.

The main issue I had with the book was its length. I feel like there is a much bigger story hiding in this novella. Judith’s actions are too rash, too quick, confusing the reader and making her less believable as a person. I would have loved to have read more about Judith’s day to day life with Garreth and his family, and then the contrasting version when she stays with the Baron. Their relationship, as well, would have benefitted from a fleshed out novel.

All in all, it was still a fun read which I can recommend to any of you who’d like something quick to read.

WWW Wednesday

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently, I'm reading Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by R.L. LaFevers

And The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon

I just finished reading The Rocking Horse by Gloria Zachgo
. You can read my review here.

Next, I'll probably read The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Rocking Horse by Gloria Zachgo

Can a family that has been savagely ripped apart find healing and redemption? Are the mysteries hidden in the human heart destined to reveal themselves? The Rocking Horse, Gloria Zachgo’s spellbinding suspense novel, charts the harrowing emotional journey of one family that is torn asunder, then magically drawn together again. Jenny Preston has been missing for twenty-two years after being taken at the age of two on the very night her mother Amanda, Aunt Ruth, and Uncle Don were brutally and senselessly murdered. While Jenny's grandparents learn to cope with the tragedies, the sheriff, Will Barclay, must grapple with his own guilt and secrets involving the murders. The crime, which rocked the small town of Shady Creek, Kansas, has never been solved. More than two decades later, a woman who calls herself Julie Hendricks is led by a childhood toy to Shady Creek, where she finds refuge from an abusive husband. Living on her own for the first time in her life, she starts to regain her self esteem and make new friends. Her life is then turned upside down again when she discovers she may be the child that was abducted from this very town so many years ago. With the encouragement of her new friends, and a very special someone, she returns to Chicago to learn the truth of her childhood history from her father. After a gripping turn of events, Julie returns to Shady Creek to wrestle with the emotional complexities of her new life and how her past life is starting to catch up with her. An unexpected hero comes to Julie’s aid. A story of family, home, and the grave consequences of actions, The Rocking Horse explores the aftermath of the most unimaginable heartache: the disappearance of a child. Fast-paced and full of intrigue, this riveting read mines the depths of the human heart on its road to recovery.

This was an interesting book to read. It’s what I would call a literary mystery, meaning that there’s not as much action as you’d expect from a mystery novel, instead dealing much more with character development than anything else.

The beginning is handled very nicely. There is a quick, tense pace to the writing that suits the story well. It really leads the reader onward with its smooth flow. Then the plot slows down. Not enough to make it a bother to read, but more than it should. The plot gets a bit bogged down with minutia, when it would have fared better with a bare-bones telling. However, it does pick up again a few chapters before the book ends, once again building up momentum.

The characters are what’s handled the best, I think. They are well written, and fleshed out. Jenny/Julie is the weaker of the bunch, interestingly enough since she is the protagonist, but since there are so many supporting characters that were interesting to read about, this is not such a huge drawback.

This as a fun book to read, and even though it has its faults, like pretty much every book out there, I can easily recommend it to mystery lovers.

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
"We are brewing up a fresh batch of night whispers. In its current volatile state, it will kil anyone who breathes its fumes, causing the lungs to harden and become rigid and brittle as glass."
pg. 58

Monday, February 27, 2012

Musing Mondays

This week’s musing asks…

• Do you read books that are part of a series?
• Do you collect all the books in the series before starting? What if the series is brand new, and the only book that’s been published so far is Book one? As subsequent books in the series are published, do you go back and re-read the preceding books?

I do read books that are part of a series. I don't tend to collect them all before starting, although if I really love the first one I will definitely rush to buy the rest of them if they're available. The Harry Potter series is the best example, of course, but also Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, as well as the Dragonlance series.
Sometimes, if it's been a really long while since I've read the previous book, I'll reread it before the next installment comes along, but it's not the usual for me.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Blog Tour: The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

To escape a scheme to marry her off to a dishonorable man, Margaret Macy flees London disguised as a housemaid. If she can remain unwed until her next birthday, she will receive an inheritance, and with it, sweet independence. But she never planned on actually working as a servant. And certainly not in the home of Nathaniel and Lewis Upchurch--both former suitors.
As she fumbles through the first real work of her life, Margaret struggles to keep her identity secret when suspicions arise and prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall. Can she avoid a trap meant to force her from hiding?

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She has won the Christy Award: Historical Romance for The Silent Governess (2010) and The Girl in the Gatehouse (2011) which also won the 2010 Midwest Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

For more information, visit here.

Don't miss the perfect blend of Regency-era romance and mystery in The Maid of Fairbourne Hall! Grab a copy and then be sure to enter Julie's Kindle Fire Giveaway and RSVP for her Author Chat party on Facebook! Swoon.

One fortunate winner will receive:

  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • A Julie Klassen Library (The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Silent Governess)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 3/14/12. Winner will be announced at Julie's Fairbourne Hall Book Chat Party on 3/15. Julie will be hosting an evening of chat, trivia and a sneak peek of her next book - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books and a Downton Abbey Prize Pack (Seasons 1 and 2)!

So grab your copy of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall and join Julie and friends on the evening of March 15th for a book chat party.

Enter via Twitter
Enter via E-mail Enter via Facebook
Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on March 15th!

My Thoughts:

I’m not usually a huge fan of Regency-era novels (with the exception of Jane Austen’s works, of course), but this book captured my attention.

The idea of a lady becoming a maid and learning what domestic service is all about is a fascinating one. There were so many period details in the story, little small things, that made the book captivating to read. We follow Margaret aka Nora, as she tries to learn how to do the things she’d taken for granted for so long. There is a romance in the book as well, but for me, the novel’s strength comes from the atmosphere the author creates along with the many side characters, all servants, who help (or don’t) the heroine.

The writing is precise, with a good command of pacing. I do wish the shifts from present to a past occurrence had been less abrupt, less “she thought back on that time…” making the reader feel like the image should be hazing over like in a B movie. That’s really the only thing that bothered me a bit, but since it doesn’t happen too many times, it can be overlooked.

This was a fun read that I can recommend to lovers of historical fiction.

To see the rest of the tour, please go here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Follow Friday

Q: Activity!!! Take a picture or describe where you love to read the most…

This is where I love to both read and write. It's cozy and I'm surrounded by books. The only concern is that said books could one day come crashing down on my head.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Booking Through Thursday

What do you look for when reading a book blog? Does the blogger have to read the same genre? Do you like reviews? Personal posts? Memes? Giveaways? What attracts you to a book blog?

I like to read book blogs that have lots of reviews, preferably in the genres I read, but I'm always willing to explore ones by people with completely different tastes. Giveaways are fun, but they're not a requirement for me to love the blog.
I do like to see people who are honest with their reviews, though. If they are either too mean or too nice about all of the books they read, then I tend to become suspicious that they are not being completely truthful.
More than anything, there has to be meaningful content in the blog, whether it's personal or only about books.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spiritus by Dana Michelle Burnett and Giveaway!

When Becca moves into her ancestral home in Corydon, Indiana, her life takes a puzzling and thrilling turn when she meets the ghost haunting the halls. As the seductive spirit lures her closer and closer, she learns about her own past and starts to understand that some mistakes are meant to last.

Becca McAllister has always been different from other girls her age. Never part of the "in crowd", Becca never really fit in anywhere. When her mother dies and her father moves them to the small town of Corydon, Indiana, Becca didn't expect things to change.

But things do change when Becca accidentally makes contact with a one hundred and sixty year old ghost, Alastor Sinclair, that haunts the halls of her new home.

To Becca, Alastor is a seductive spirit that seems to see straight into her soul. To Alastor, Becca is what he was waited a century for--A second chance.

But the closer they get, the more Becca realizes that this isn't the first time she and Alastor have known each other. Worse still, is she the one responsible for his death so long ago? And if so, did he come back for love or revenge?

This was a fun, quick read that is classic young adult fare. A paranormal love triangle that has a nice edge of frightening moments.

It is a fast paced book, which is a nice change from some of the more long-winded ones out there. Becca, the protagonist, is pleasant to read about, and we do get to see her mature a bit as the book progresses, which is always a plus. The idea of making Alastor a ghost, someone she can’t really touch, was nicely chosen. It creates a number of interesting, romantic moments. He is a bit too domineering for my taste, but I guess since he is supposed to be from the Civil War era, that’s to be expected.

One thing that did bug me a bit was the Jonah’s description. His perfection was overstated, to the point where it got repetitive, especially at the beginning. As the book progresses, this does improve, however.

If you’re looking for a fun read, this one is definitely a good choice. I’ll be looking forward to the next book in the series.

Before You Go by James Preller

The summer before his senior year, Jude (yes, he’s named after the Beatles song) gets his first job, falls in love for the first time, and starts to break away from his parents. Jude’s house is kept dark; no one talks much—it’s been that way since his little sister drowned in a swimming pool when Jude was supposed to be watching her.

He was watching her. He looked away for just a moment. He was only nine years old. And he’s never truly grieved for her, or for the emotional deaths of his parents, who refuse to talk about what happened. Seven years later, Jude is finally, finally starting to live. Really live. And then life spins out of control. Again.

Acclaimed author James Preller explores life, death, love, faith, and resilience in a story that will grip readers from the book’s dramatic first few pages to its emotional end.

This book begins and ends with powerful prose. It strikes the reader from the first few lines that it will be a beautiful one to read. And, although it doesn’t always deliver plot-wise in my opinion, the beauty of it does not disappoint.

Jude, the protagonist, is quite interesting. There is a darkness, a brooding quality, that adds a bit of mystery to what could have been just another dull teen character. He is full of contradictions. Once in a while, this can become a bit frustrating to the reader, who would like nothing more than to kick him into some kind of action, but for the most part, we are happy to follow him along on his struggles.

I guess the main issue I had with the book was that it had a hollow feeling to it. Now, this might have been done on purpose, but still, it didn’t draw me in as I’d hoped it would. The writing was truly gorgeous, expressive, lyrical, but the plot could have used more layers, I thought. More nuances.

I still do recommend it. The writing alone is worth the book, but for some of you this might seem like a lackluster story.

WWW Wednesday

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently, I'm reading The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan

And The Rocking Horse by Gloria Zachgo

I just finished reading Never Smile at Strangers by Jennifer Minar-Jaynes. You can read my review here.

Next, I'll probably read The Iron King (Iron Fey #1) by Julie Kagawa

Blog Tour: Miss Word by Randi Black

It's 1993. Kim Ho wishes she were Courtney Love, instead of the chubby 16-year-old who clashes with her traditional Chinese parents. Her very own Kurt Cobain arrives in the form of Kevin, a 26-year-old failed musician. But Kevin uses Kim's rock-star dreams to exploit her, and those dreams die along with the real Kurt Cobain.Too scared to tell anyone, Kim conjures up a cross-dressing imaginary friend and dates Walter Riordan, the cute boy from special-ed. Walter helps her recover, but after a joke snowballs into a plot to murder Kevin, Kim's forced to choose between revenge or her sanity. This is a truly daring and original coming-of-age novel about one girl's quest to reclaim her power from those who've stolen it.

At its core a coming-of-age story, this novel will grab you by the scruff of the neck and not let go. It is violent, unapologetic, and shameless in a way that is gutsy.

I’m not going to lie, the beginning of the story was tough for me to read.
There’s a lot of violence, physical and psychological, and I actually had to set it aside for a few minutes and get myself prepared for what was happening. Kim, protagonist, is refreshing, a change from many of the female characters we see often these days. She is not bubble-gum flavored, but someone deeply flawed, lost, even in her own head. She is the reason we keep reading the book. We are rooting for her to become who she was meant to be.

Yes, there are some heavy-handed moments that could have been trimmed, or cut altogether. Although the sexual themes are vital to the plot, we could have done with one less sex scene with Walter. But there’s a wonderful sense of tension throughout the novel, from school scenes to confrontations with Kim’s mom, that really make this book a fast-paced, surprising read.

It is not for everyone. As I mentioned, there’s a lot of sexuality, much of it violent and chilling, but if you want a book with an edge, then this one is for you.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan

"So while Gunner sat frozen in front of his computer screen, searching for his muse, Addison produced a series of squalling Hunts in rapid succession, taking on the full responsibiloty, as preordained, for their care. She fed them, first from herself, then from a jar, then off a plate."
pg. 21 (from ARC)