Book Review: Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole


Title: Letters from Skye
Author: Jessica Brockmole
Published: July 19, 2013
Publisher: Ballatine Books
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The Summary:
A sweeping story told in letters, spanning two continents and two world wars, Jessica Brockmole’s atmospheric debut novel captures the indelible ways that people fall in love, and celebrates the power of the written word to stir the heart.

March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive.

June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.

The Review:

I haven’t read a lot of historical romance, it’s generally a genre I shy away from. My mom picked this book up, read it, and told me that I needed to read it. It stayed on my to-be-read mountain for a long time, and I finally broke down and started to read it. Overall I liked it. The character were well written, and so real. I could picture them in my head, and the story-within-the story and the way that Elspeth’s and Margaret’s stories weave together and intertwine.  This is a pretty heavy read, considering the time period and the character’s voices.

It’s a wonderful read, full of emotion, hope, love, loss and personal growth. The story is great, the settings and the letters transcending normal narrative. I enjoyed it a lot. I don’t think it’s the book that’s going to sway me into really loving historical romance, but it didn’t put me off of the genre at all. I’ll probably go scope out my library and see what else I can find.

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Book Review: Heels of Love by Phoenix Rayne

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Heels of Love by Phoenix Rayne
Published: September 26, 2013
Publisher: G. Street Chronicles
The Rating:  photo kasa_zpsdf6a064a.gif  photo kasa_zpsdf6a064a.gif  photo kasa_zpsdf6a064a.gif  photo kasa_zpsdf6a064a.gif (3.5 rounded up to four)

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book to read for review by the book tour manager. I am not being paid for this review.

The Summary
When Cricket Hooper moves to Seattle she only has a couple of goals—find a job and an apartment near her friend Chelle, and basically to live a quiet, normal life. However, it isn’t long before life becomes far from normal.
When a mysterious man helps get her car out of the mud after she makes a wrong turn, she finds herself in his thrall. He wines and dines her, quite literally, and before Cricket can stop it, things are steamy and serious…very serious.

Cricket is thrown aback when Jyme turns out to be more than a simple fisherman, but then she isn’t telling all of her story either.

The Review:
I like Cricket, she’s a great well written, full figured, real woman. She has a great friend in Chelle and I really enjoy their interaction. And this might be totally trivial, but it makes me happy when books I read are set in Seattle. I love that city and I go up there every chance I get. Heels of Love is a slick, fast paced sizzling romance, with hot hot hot scenes. What I like is it’s not love at first sight and explores the concept of lust at first sight, and two adults being in a relationship without a lot of labels. I’m interested to see where this book goes in book two, as book one ended on an emotional punch. Jyme is a character that I initially liked, but a couple of things happen within the story that made me pause and reconsider my feelings on him. His and Cricket’s relationship as it evolves takes on some seriously challenging emotions, conversations and events, and at times he really kind of scared me.

This is a good book, and I enjoyed reading it. There’s plenty of action, and real life situations with a bit of mystery and the unknown thrown in. If you’re looking for a great real romance, I suggest picking up Heels of Love. There were a few things that pushed a couple of my own personal buttons, but it didn’t take away from my liking this book and the joy I got reading it.

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Book Review: Ascend by Amanda Hocking.


Title: Ascend
Author: Amanda Hocking
Published: April 24, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin.

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The Summary:
Wendy Everly is facing an impossible choice. The only way to save the Trylle from their deadliest enemy is by sacrificing herself. If she doesn’t surrender to the Vittra, her people will be thrust into a brutal war against an unbeatable foe. But how can Wendy leave all her friends behind…even if it’s the only way to save them?

The stakes have never been higher, because her kingdom isn’t the only thing she stands to lose. After falling for both Finn and Loki, she’s about to make the ultimate choice…who to love forever. One guy has finally proven to be the love of her life—and now all their lives might be coming to an end.

Everything has been leading to this moment. The future of her entire world rests in her hands—if she’s ready to fight for it.

The Review:
Ascend is the last in the Trylle trilogy, and never again will I be drawn in by a pretty cover. I’ll listen to the majority of the reviews. Wendy is still flat, moody and constantly whining about everything. She’s also added a couple more tricks to her vile resume: cheating on her spouse and not caring about anything other than the third man who’s vying for her attention. This book is rushed, with everything being tied up in a pretty bow at the end. And I do mean everything. All the loose ends, every possible story-line, and every character gets a happy ending. Well, the characters that you’re supposed to like get a happy ending. There are battles, which are poorly written and have unrealistic outcomes. I just wish this series were better. I know there are a lot of people out there who like it, but I just can’t get behind it. It pushes a lot of my DNF buttons, but I can’t not finish a book, it drives me crazy.

Book Review: Torn by Amanda Hocking


Title: Torn
Author: Amanda Hocking
Published: February 28, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Rating:  photo kasa_zps3bb337c2.gif  photo kasa_zps3bb337c2.gif

The Summary:
When Wendy Everly first discovers the truth about herself—that she’s a changeling switched at birth—she knows her life will never be the same. Now she’s about to learn that there’s more to the story…

She shares a closer connection to her Vittra rivals than she ever imagined—and they’ll stop at nothing to lure her to their side. With the threat of war looming, her only hope of saving the Trylle is to master her magical powers—and marry an equally powerful royal. But that means walking away from Finn, her handsome bodyguard who’s strictly off limits…and Loki, a Vittra prince with whom she shares a growing attraction.

Torn between her heart and her people, between love and duty, Wendy must decide her fate. If she makes the wrong choice, she could lose everything, and everybody, she’s ever wanted…in both worlds.

The Review:
Marginally better than the self induced train wreck that Switched was, Torn was a little bit better. Not much, a whole half umbrella, but I rounded it up to a rating of 2. Things I did like about this book were that we got more information about the Trylle, and more world building in general. We get to learn more about the characters and some of their motivations for doing as they do. I felt that there was less whining about Wendy not fitting in, but on the other hand, she was constantly complaining about everything else. She didn’t like her ability, and didn’t like training her ability, but at the same time she used it on lots of people.

I do not like the inclusion of yet another love interest, though Loki is far more entertaining than Finn. I genuinely like Tove’s character, but the ‘big reveal’ concerning him seemed a bit contrived and thrown in there for ‘teh dramaz’. I’m still going to read Ascend, but I’m not expecting much from it. I have a feeling I know where this series is going, and it’s a massive blinking neon sign that I would normally avoid. I wanted to like this series, because the premise is still cool–but I’m so not into it.

Overall: Leaps and bounds better than Switched but still not the greatest thing in the world. It’s kind of frustrating.

Book Review and Soundtrack: Bird of Prey by DC Ngontang Mba

Bird of Prey by DC Ngontang Mba.

Published: October 7, 2013
Publisher: Ever After Edition.
Rating:  photo kasa_zps3bb337c2.gif  photo kasa_zps3bb337c2.gif  photo kasa_zps3bb337c2.gif  photo kasa_zps3bb337c2.gif

Synopsis:
This was supposed to be an easy case…

Sémya Slotin had spent the last three years living in London with her best friend Polliannah Koch staying away from solving cases. After Hawaii, she was taking a break from puzzles, cases and mysteries that could potentially get her killed. Instead, she had been doing her second and third favorite things, drinking and selling expensive vintage wines and having earthshattering sex with the mysterious, sexy, beautiful but ever so secretive Josh Heinz. Life in London was good….until her funds ran out. Too much wine drinking, not enough wine selling!

When fashion designer and adoptive mother, Annika Slotin, summoned her back to Paris to hire her for what Sémya considered being the easiest case of her amateur sleuth career, all she could think of and see was money signs and a well-deserved Cuban holiday once it was solved.

What Sémya didn’t see was her stumbling on the fresh corpse of supermodel Johanna Cartier. She didn’t think that male model turned fashion designer Julian Marais-Caldwin, who also happened to be Sémya’s ex, would be suspected of brutally murdering her. Johanna was his girlfriend, his muse and he loved her. Sémya didn’t see the dead bodies piling up or the conspiracy theories.

Sémya was a little rusty. But then again, it was supposed to be an easy case and she was going to solve it. One vintage wine at a time… Sémya Slotin was officially back in business!

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book as part of the book tour for review. I am not compensated for this review.

The Review:
Bird of Prey is a great fast paced, slick murder mystery story. The characters, though there are a lot of them, are well thought out and believable. I like the play between Sémya and Polliannah, and especially loved the scenes between Sémya and Julian. There is a lot going on in this book. Everything has layers, and nothing is exactly what it seems. At times it felt a little clustered a little too much information all at once, but it works itself out nicely in the end.

I enjoyed this book, it did take me a little while to read, as it’s very dense. There’s a lot of things going on, and lots of things to keep track of. There’s plenty of action, suspense and romance (of course), and Sémya is a strong, confident female lead. It is the first book in a series, and I felt that it didn’t have a case of ‘first book-itis’ there were a few things that weren’t explained, that I think would have had more impact if they were gone into with more detail. I really want to know more about Josh and his motives. There’s a lot hinted at, but there’s not a lot of information given about Josh.

Overall, if you’re looking for a good murder mystery with tons of action and a great female lead? Pick this up and give it a read.

Purchase Bird of Prey:

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Check under the cut tag to see the soundtrack that goes along with this book!

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Book Review: Switched by Amanada Hocking

Switched by Amanda Hocking.

Release Date: January 1, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin.

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The Summary:
When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. Eleven years later, Wendy discovers her mother might have been right. She’s not the person she’s always believed herself to be, and her whole life begins to unravel—all because of Finn Holmes.

Finn is a mysterious guy who always seems to be watching her. Every encounter leaves her deeply shaken…though it has more to do with her fierce attraction to him than she’d ever admit. But it isn’t long before he reveals the truth: Wendy is a changeling who was switched at birth—and he’s come to take her home.

Now Wendy’s about to journey to a magical world she never knew existed, one that’s both beautiful and frightening. And where she must leave her old life behind to discover who she’s meant to become…

The Review:
I should have listened to the warnings. I should have listened to the other reviews of this book. I shouldn’t have looked at the cover and said “But it’s so pretty!” or gotten carried away in my head about the idea of changelings. I started this book the day before I started Anna Dressed in Blood and finished it yesterday before a write in started. I’m really disappointed in myself, and in this book. The concept of Changelings is something that fascinates me. Alternate worlds, and fantasy make me really happy when it comes to things I read.

Things that do not make me happy when I read a book:

-Insta-love between the two characters. Chemistry is great, lust is great, planning your wedding and your children’s weddings? Not so much. Wendy didn’t go to that extreme yet, but it seemed like every male character she encountered, including the brother she was raised with, she had warm squishy feelings for.

-Whiny lead characters. Wendy probably couldn’t tie her shoe without having an existential crisis about it. She can’t do anything on her own. She also falls into the “special snowflake”, and “But everyone’s prettier than me!” trope.

-Everyone knowing everything about the main character, but said character is in the dark. This is especially true when she and Finn go to the Trylle. Everyone knows everything about Changeling culture, and troll culture, and Wendy is left out of it. No one tells her anything, meaning we as the readers are just as much in the dark as she is. Which is exponentially frustrating.

I can’t recommend this book. If this style of writing is your thing, and you enjoy not knowing what’s going on the entire book, go ahead and pick this up. Unfortunately, I disliked it, but I have to finish this series because I have a thing when it comes to completing books/series.

So, let’s talk about the last book that disappointed you. Tell me all about it.

Book Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.

Release Date: September 2011
Publisher: Tom Doherty
Rating:  photo kasa_zps3bb337c2.gif  photo kasa_zps3bb337c2.gif  photo kasa_zps3bb337c2.gif  photo kasa_zps3bb337c2.gif

The Summary:
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

The Review:
I actually picked up the sequel to this book first, while I was taking a break at a write in, and wandering around the library. I’ve had Anna Dressed in Blood on my to read list for a while, after being drawn in by the cover. I just hadn’t picked it up. After realizing the book I held in my hands was the sequel, I put a hold in for Anna Dressed in Blood and went on my way. I picked it up from the library yesterday, started reading it yesterday, got about halfway through, went out with a friend and talked about the book to her for a good half hour (mainly about how it was creeping me out), came home at 12:15 am and finished it off.

I loved this book. It was well written, I fell for all of the characters, the relationships were organic and nicely developed. The reason why I didn’t give this was five stars was the pacing. It wasn’t until the last couple of chapters that we find out that Anna isn’t the only major big bad playing in the game, and I would have liked a few more hints, a few more bumps in the night if you will, about the other entity that had found it’s way into Cas’ life. And speaking of the major big bad, while Anna is the titular character and the more influential big bad, I consider the thing that’s hunting Cas to be a little more terrifying–it’s really well done. An interesting take on a voodoo magic/practitioner. I like the tie in to something that happened in Cas’ past and I like the way the first book ended. It’s not so much a cliff-hanger, but a way that’s open to a second book.

Cas is a character that I can support. He’s sarcastic without being a brat, he’s smart but at the same time he still needs the help of the supporting cast who he comes to like and think of as friends. I really liked the slow shift to a somewhat normal life he got a chance to have while at Thunder Bay. Yes, he’s still hunting ghosts, and his life is in danger, but he makes friends–two in particular who really serve to better his character. I’m really looking forward to getting into the second book.

Let’s talk more about YA horror! This is the first book I’ve read in the horror sub-genre. Have you read it? I’ve got a couple other books sitting upstairs, but I’d love some more recommendations!