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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Robyn Reviews: A PORTRAIT FOR TONI by Annette Lyon

From Amazon: Toni has no idea what she’d do without her best friend, Carter. Who else would she be able to vent to about her parents, her job at the dance studio, or her latest relationship woes? When Toni’s father lands in the hospital, Carter, as always, is there for her. 

That is, until he starts questioning Toni, saying he thinks she has an eating disorder. Then she starts dating Clint, the hot new guy at the studio, and somehow that puts a deeper wedge between her and Carter. When she’s hospitalized after an on-stage collapse, and Carter stupidly starts in with advice about food and weight, she sends him away—then instantly regrets it. 

Toni tries to mend the hurt between them, but instead of finding Carter, she stumbles onto proof that he has feelings for her that go way beyond those of a friend. Toni is left with the very real prospect of losing Carter forever, unless somehow she can return his feelings—but that’s impossible. 

Isn’t it?

Audience: Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 295 pgs

Rating: **** (I really liked it)

Review: A Portrait for Toni was a very moving story. It tells the story of best friends who come to love each other despite problems and misconceptions. Toni is dealing with an eating disorder and Carter is trying to figure out how to help her. I thought the way Annette dealt with the very serious issue of Bulimia was very thoughtful and at the same time straightforward. There are also moments of humor which gives the story a real life feel. I was touched by the way the story came together in the end, and how each of the main characters had to change themselves in order to find each other. The story was well developed and you felt like you were part of their lives. I actually, sometimes, found myself wishing Carter would fall for Brooke because Toni was so blind! You will not be disappointed with this book. The characters are real and come across as imperfect, but lovable people, just like real life! Read it, you will love it.

Sex: 1
Violence: 0
Language: 1
Overall Content Rating: PG

Source: Review Copy

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Robyn Reviews: SAVING GRACE by Michele P. Holmes (Mirror Press, 2014)

From AmazonAfter the death of her grandfather, the Duke of Salisbury, Grace Thatcher wants nothing more than to live quietly in the country with her younger siblings. Her father’s debts thwart those plans, and to protect her sister, Helen, Grace must marry a man of her father’s choosing. 

As each suitor proves less than desirable, Grace comes up with clever schemes, causing each to reject her. While staying at the mysterious Sutherland Hall, a middle-of-the-night mishap sends Grace into the arms of a stranger, Nicholas Sutherland—and provides inspiration for her grandest plan yet—one that will leave her reputation in tatters yet free both her and Helen from all possibility of marriage. 

Too late Grace regrets her rash actions when her father’s last choice, Mr. Samuel Preston, proves to be a gentleman and a friend. But Samuel is the sworn enemy of Nicholas Sutherland, the man responsible for her “ruin.” Now instead of being free, Grace is caught between two men—each with his own agenda.  

Audience: Adult
Genre: Regency Romance
Length: 339 pages

Rating: ***** (Loved it!)

“An early-morning mist shrouded the grounds of the Crosby estate as Grace Thatcher slipped out the front doors. For a moment, she stood alone in the chill and darkness, cherishing the silence and freedom where no one could see her. Then, blessing her good fortune at finding such cover, she crept down the wide steps and disappeared into the fog.”
With a beginning like that how can you not want to finish this book? One of the main things I loved about this book was the believability of the heroine, Grace.   She is human and fallible and makes many errors in judgment, but ultimately learns from her experiences. Nicholas and Samuel are the two men competing for her affections. Both have difficult pasts to overcome, yet each one goes about forgetting the past in different ways. Grace is the one who helps each of them while she is busy running from awful potential suitors whom her father has lined up for her to cover his debts. She is also trying to protect her siblings from his machinations.  Both Nicholas and Samuel are trying to save Grace, but ultimately, Grace ends up saving them.

This book has some light hearted moments, moments of forgiveness and learning, and moments of heartbreak. You will be uplifted and inspired as you read this book. You may even cry.

Grace’s upbringing helps her bridge the gap between classes and she is an honest and caring young woman who doesn’t always make the best choices. You will grumble and roll your eyes at the way she goes about doing this and sometimes you just want to shake the book and say “open your eyes!”  I loved this book from beginning to end.

I surely hope there is a book about Christopher!

Sometimes I felt that there was not enough depth to Samuel and there should have been a few more details about his relationship with Grace’s siblings. Grace’s relationship with Lady Sutherland seems to have been resolved a little too easily, but I actually like the way they went about it. I would have liked a little more suspense for her whole situation with her father and the men he was trying to ‘sell’ her to.

Overall Content Rating: PG

SourceReview Copy

You Might Like: “Kiss of a Stranger” by Sarah M. Eden; “Edenbrook” by Julianne Donaldson; Actually, anything by these two authors!

Follow Robyn on Twitter @birdmom8 for 160 character reviews of the books she's reading!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE by Gail Carriger (Little Brown, 2013)

From AmazonIt's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners--and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but the also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage--in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail's legions of fans have come to adore. 

Genre: YA Steampunk, Fantasy, Historical
Audience: Young Adult
Length: 327 pgs

Rating: ***** (I really loved it!)

Review: Gads, guys, it's been so long since I finished a book. So much other things going on and it hurts me. THIS book was the perfect one to coast in on. Lovely and epic voice. I started Parasol Protectorate (and put it down for personal reasons) and LOVED the voice and the idea and all of it. E&E was so perfect. It had wonderful characters, all of them well thought out, probably all able to have their own story. The execution is hilarious. It felt like the end wrapped up quickly, but it still really worked. Like a cross between Harry Potter and Georgette Heyer--witty, fun, great school world. I'm excited to read the second one!

Sex - 2 (Characters decolletage and bosoms are discussed a few times. It is discussed that certain teachers look more like prostitutes than teachers. The girls speculate that a werewolf teacher may be naked under his coat, and another insinuates that she has heard that werewolves are good in bed, though it is not said bluntly. "I hear they make the best...oooh la la.")
Language - 0
Violence - 2 (There are fights with Flywaymen, with a werewolf, and between spies at a ball. Nothing remotely graphic.)
Substance Abuse - 1 (Some boys spike punch at a ball.)
Content Rating - PG-14

Source - I received a copy via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

As of writing, ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE was on sale on Kindle for $2.99

About Me!

I've been writing since I was old enough to grasp a crayon--my grandma even has an early copy of a "book" I made her. I have a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and will (hopefully) soon be starting a graduate program in English. When I'm not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in the living room or losing miserably to my boys at Uno, I'm ... well, writing or editing, of course! I'm married to my best friend, and we have three rambunctious but simply amazing little boys.


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