Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Seven Sisters - Fiction Review

Rating: Good
Source: Library

Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings.

Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to complete his vision. Izabela—passionate and longing to see the world—convinces her father to allow her to accompany him and his family to Europe before she is married. There, at Paul Landowski’s studio and in the heady, vibrant cafes of Montparnasse, she meets ambitious young sculptor Laurent Brouilly, and knows at once that her life will never be the same again.

In this sweeping, epic tale of love and loss—the first in a unique, spellbinding series of seven novels—Lucinda Riley showcases her storytelling talent like never before.

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:
  This book was on my TBR the minute I heard about it.  I love the concept of everything this book and this series.  

My Impression: 
I know essentially nothing about Brazil other than the giant statue of Christ resides there and they have carnival.  I can pick the country out on a map.  And that about sums it up.  To be honest it never really occurred to me to learn more until I reading this book.  The premise of this book is a bit of a stretch where a single wealthy man adopts 6 infant girls for what seems to be a motive known only to him.  After his death he gives each girl what she needs to discover where she came from.

This is a dual timeline with a large chunk of the book taking place in Brazil and Paris in the late 1920s and the other part set in modern day Brazil.  I loved the 1920s timeline.  The culture was fascinating as what the character Bel who was torn between what made her happy and doing what she was supposed to do.  The emotions were so strong here that at times it was difficult to read and I had such empathy for Bel.  The history of the iconic statue was fascinating and the amount of work to create it was so enormous that I have a whole new appreciation for it.

The modern day story compelled me a little less.  While I love the premise of a woman trying to figure out where she really came from at times the story felt flat - especially compared with the other story.  I think the main reason is because of Maia herself.  She's so controlled and guarded it was somewhat difficult to become invested in her as much as I wanted to do so.  Her reasons for being so do make some sense but I would really loved her character to be explored and fleshed out a bit more.

I love the concept of this book a bit more than I loved the actual execution.  While it was enjoyable I felt like I wanted a bit more - especially when it came to the present day timeline.  However, I'm really looking forward to continuing with the series.  I'm hoping I'll connect more with the next sister.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  I would but I think I'm going the audio route for the next book.  

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you enjoy historical fiction and don't mind a dual timeline than I think you would enjoy this book.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Friday Linkups - Echoes of Evil

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
Have you ever thought about taking a break from blogging?  If you have, how long was your break and what did you learn from it?

My Answer:
I actually haven't taken a break in the 5 years I've been blogging and haven't really felt the desire to do so.  I do have the desire to take a step back from review books - or at least cut down on the quantity of review books - and am working on that.

This week's book is the final in a trilogy that I've been meaning to get to since it was published this fall.  This trilogy is actually part of Heather Graham's Krewe of Hunters series that is kind of a paranormal romantic suspense.  I've read the first two and really enjoyed them so I just have Echoes of Evil to go (and a whole bunch more of the series but we're not going to talk about that right now).  I've heard some mixed reviews on this one but since I typically find a not so great Heather Graham book enjoyable if not memorable I'm feeling okay about it.

The Beginning:
The rhythmic sound of his own breathing through his regulator was, to Brodie McFadden, the sweetest music; there simply was nothing like diving.

My Thoughts:
It sounds horribly claustrophobic to me but more power to him.

The 56:
Of course, the second she saw Kody, tears formed in her eyes and she hugged Kody fiercely.

My Thoughts:
Not the most dramatic of lines but it sounds like something rather terrible has happened.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Governess Gone Rogue - Historical Romance Review

Rating: Very Good
Source: Edelweiss

  Dear Lady Truelove...

My twin brother and I need a new mother, though Papa insists he'll never marry again. Must be nice, brainy, and fond of cats...

Lady Truelove may be London's most famous advice columnist, but James St. Clair, the Earl of Kenyon, knows his wild young sons need a tutor, not a new mother. They need a man tough enough to make his hellions tow the line, and James is determined to find one.

Miss Amanda Leighton, former schoolteacher and governess, knows she has all the qualifications to be a tutor. And while female tutors are unheard of, Amanda isn't about to lose the chance at her dream job because of pesky details like that. If Lord Kenyon insists on hiring a man, then she has only one option.

Jamie isn't sure what to make of his new employee, until he realizes the shocking truth—beneath the ill-fitting suits, his boys' tutor is a woman. An unconventional, outspoken, thoroughly intriguing woman. Despite Amanda's deception, he can't dismiss her when his boys are learning so much. Yet Jamie, too, is learning surprising lessons—about desire, seduction, and passionate second chances.

Genre: Romance - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:
Laura Lee Guhrke has written some of my favorite historical romances but it's been awhile since I've read anything by her so I had to pick this one up!

My Impression:
  One of my least favorite things in a romance is a relationship that is based on a lie/hidden identity so I was a bit nervous going into this one.  However, I decided to trust Guhrke and take a chance on this one and am so glad I did!  Amanda is very different from the usual romance heroine.  She's on her own and while highly educated is not from an aristocratic or particularly wealthy background.  She's ruined after a choice which she deeply regrets and is not only not welcomed by society but is finding it increasingly difficult to get a job.  The fact that she starts dressing up as a man isn't for nefarious purposes or to trick anyone about her abilities but simply out of necessity.  I really enjoyed that it isn't all that simple for Amanda to become a man.  She has a lifetime of habits that she has to overcome and there are a number of practical issues as well which I don't think I've ever seen addressed in this kind of book.

Jamie isn't the typical hero either.  For one thing his marriage was incredibly happy and he dearly misses his wife.  He was more than a little rebellious as a child and has made a complete change as an adult.  He's active in politics and while he does have a title he actually has to go to work or put in effort.  As well, while he loves his children he's not always great at showing them and seems at a loss at how to be involved in their lives which I think is probably more realistic than the typical doting and involved dad we frequently see portrayed.

If you're looking for a steamy romance look elsewhere.  The romance doesn't even start until more than halfway through the book.  However, there's lots going on.  Amanda is getting to know the boys and is getting used to the big changes in her life.  Jamie is still trying to regain his footing after the death of his wife.  They're both trying to do their best for the boys and are learning to work together.

This was an entertaining read with characters that are both likable and sympathetic.  I absolutely flew through it and finished the last page with a happy contented sigh.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  While I'm behind on her books Laura Lee Guhrke is definitely an auto buy for me.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you like historical romances that are a bit different from the usual than this is a must read.

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Romances I Want to Read in 2019

In honor of Valentine's Day I'm focusing on romances.  In the last few years while I still read romance it's definitely taken a bit of a backseat to mysteries and thrillers.  Here are a few that have been gathering dust on my TBR that I'm still looking forward to reading.  

1.  Starlight Bridge by Debbie Mason - Debbie Mason is an author I've been wanting to read - all of her covers are so pretty!  This one involves an old house and secrets which are some of my favorite things.

2.  Sail Away with Me by Susan Fox - I don't know much about this one but the cover grabbed me and it sounds like a fun read.

3.  The Pleasure of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries - Sabrina Jeffries is one of my absolute favorite historical romance authors and for some reason this one is sitting around unread.

4.  Deadly Fate by Heather Graham - I love Graham's Krewe of Hunters series and while this trilogy isn't the strongest it does feature ghosts which is my favorite thing.

5.  Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis - Shalvis is one of my favorite contemporary romance authors and the Lucky Harbors series is one of my absolute favorites but I never read this start to the trilogy she wrote afterwards.

6.  The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick - I love historical romances and this one is set in the 1930s which really appeals to me.  Plus I do love romantic suspense and Jayne Ann Kretnz/Amanda Quick is one of my favorites.

7.  Wilde in Love (The Wildes Lindow Castle #1) by Eloisa James - James is an author I always mean to read more of but somehow never have.  I don't know much about this series but it seems like a good place to stop.

8.  Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas - Devil in Winter is one of my absolute favorite romances and this is about the child of that couple.  It went immediately on my TBR as soon as I first heard it was being published but somehow I still haven't gotten around to it.

9.  The Trouble with Dukes by Grace Burrowes - I know very little about this author or this series but I need to find some new historical romance authors and this book looks like a good place to start.

10. About a Dog by Jenn McKinlay - McKinlay writes some of my favorite cozy mysteries and I read one of the more recent books in this romance series and absolutely loved it.  This looks like a lot of fun.

Do you have any romances sitting on your TBR?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

My Ten Favorite Romances

In honor of Valentine's Day week I'm thinking about my favorite romances!  I must admit I came a bit late to romance and before that I was one of those readers who looked down on romances.  Not because it wasn't a genre I enjoyed but more because of preconceptions I already had in my head.  However, once I finally tried one I don't think I read anything else for at least a year!  After awhile I went back to mysteries and nonfiction but romance is still a staple of my reading life.  Here are 10 of my favorite romance reads right now.  I'm keeping to books that I've read in the last couple of years which gave me a list of romances I need to reread and see if they'll be on this list next year!

1.  Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas - This is one of my all time favorite historical romances.  Not only is this one of the few villain redemption books I enjoy but I just love the couple.  This is definitely a case of each bringing out the best in each other.

2.  Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis - I love Shalvis but this more women's fiction/romance book really worked for me.  Not only did it get me out of a slump for which I was grateful but it was sweet and humorous all at once.

3.  The Christmas Wishing Tree by Emily March - I love Emily March's books and her Christmas books are my favorite and this one which had a nice dash of suspense was probably my favorite of the series so far.

4.  Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper - This was funny and quirky and sweet and had a main character who is trying to find herself and reconnect with a family she didn't even know she had which is one of my favorite things!

5.  Three Fates by Nora Roberts - I love Roberts' suspense novels and this one has a fun history twist.  As well it has three couples, a character coming into her own, and a quest.  I do love a good quest.

6.  The House on Blackberry Hill by Donna Alward - This one had ghosts, an old house that needs restoring, and a historical mystery which is essentially the bookish version of the song "A Few of My Favorite Things".

7.  Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts - I had kind of gotten bored with Roberts' books but on a whim I picked this one up at the library and remembered just why I enjoy her books so much.  I reread this a few weeks ago and enjoyed it just as much.

8.  Snow Angel Cove by RaeAnne Thayne - This was one of my first true Christmas romances and my very first Thayne book.  I love everything about this one and am feeling like I need a reread!

9.  Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas - This is a contemporary Kleypas and one of my favorites.  While it isn't flawless (there's a weird element at the end) it's one of my favorite rereads.

10. And Then He Kissed Her by Laura Lee Guhrke - This is on my reread list for this year and is one of my favorite historicals. It's a little different from the typical historical with neither character being aristocracy and there's not a ball or a house party to be seen.

What are some of your favorite romances?

Monday, February 11, 2019

Last Lie - Thriller Review

Source: Publisher

Description:  For Claire Daniels, life is good. She has everything she’s ever wanted – a career she loves, friends she can rely on and a husband who dotes on her. All she needs is to start a family of her own and things will be even better than good.

They’ll be perfect.

For Alfie, it couldn’t be more different. His life with Claire is built on a lie. A lot of lies. And she can never find out.

Because Alfie has plans for her. Plans which must never come to light. But lies have a way of taking on a life of their own, and when his do, the consequences threaten to destroy everything.

For him and Claire.

Genre: Mystery - Thriller

Why I Picked This Book:
  I've been enjoying psychological thrillers lately and this is an author I've been wanting to read for the last couple of books.

My Impression:
  This is definitely one of those books that the less you know going in the better.  One of my issues with psychological thrillers is that it sometimes feels like everyone has some massive secret but there's so much skirting around and obscuring the facts that it feels like nothing happens.  That definitely wasn't the case here.  This was fast moving with short chapters and alternating POVs (for part of the book) that definitely kept me turning pages.  The pacing was fast and didn't feel like it was getting bogged down in all the lies and secret keeping.  I will say this is perhaps the un-coziest read I've read this year!  There were times when I needed a break - particularly when I was in Alfie's head - but this was never a book I considered DNFing.  I needed to know what happened next!

I'm primarily a cozy mystery reader with only a smattering of more standard mystery reads so I can't say how this compares in terms of graphicness to more standard thrillers.  However, while there is some language and some pretty dark stuff going on it was never one of those books that creeped me out after I put it down.  As well I didn't feel like it was overdetailed or unnecessarily gory.

This was a fast paced unsettling read that kept me hooked until the very end.  I'm so glad I finally read Alex Lake and I'll definitely be looking for more thrillers by this author!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Definitely!  Loved the pacing and the story on this one.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you enjoy thrillers or are looking for a darker read to mix in with some lighter books then I think this would be the perfect read!

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *

Saturday, February 9, 2019

This Week in Reading - February 9th

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

I didn't get anything!  I'm trying to cut down on my review books so I can focus on some of my TBR books and I managed to avoid review books or really any new books!  For this week at least!


Reading:  Edge of Evil by Heather Graham and Governess Gone Rogue by Laura Lee Gurhke

Listening:  I finished The Widow by Fiona Barton and then started listening to The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware.  However, since I just finished a darker psychological thriller and was also reading a darker psychological thriller I just wasn't in the mood for another one.  So I stopped that and switched over to Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis which is about as far away from a darker psychological thriller as possible.

Off the Blog:

It seems (though I'm still spraying everything down with Lysol) that we may have missed the flu and strep that was hitting the Tornado's school hard.  On Monday almost half the third grade was absent and the rumors said we were only a handful of confirmed cases away from shutting the school down for a few days.  So far we are all still healthy.  The Tornado was really congested and run down earlier in the week (I even let him stay home Monday because I wanted him to get as much rest as possible) but it looks like it was just allergies.  Then my husband looked like he might have a stomach bug but given how he recovered and the fact that he ate a chili dog about 10 hours before he started feeling bad we're leaning towards food poisoning.  I've been really tired but nothing worse so I think we're all a bit run down but otherwise healthy which is a huge relief.  I've only had the flu one time and no part of me wants to revisit it or to let it into the house at all.

We had one gorgeous spring like day with temps in the 70s towards the end of the week.  I took the Tornado to a big playground with some friends and all the kids ran around like crazy and the moms all relaxed in the sun.  Now it's back to cold (well for us - temps in the 40s) and I'm not real thrilled.  Since so many people seem to have drifts of snow and crazy cold weather I'm trying to keep some perspective!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  The Last Lie - Mystery Review
Tuesday: My Ten Favorite Romances
Wednesday:  TBD
Thursday: Governess Gone Rogue - Historical Romance Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!