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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Robyn Reviews: TRA All Regency Collection by Annette Lyon, Heather Moore, Sarah M. Eden, and More!

Story descriptions below review

Audience: Adult
Genre: Historical Romance

Rating: 5

Review: This is another winner in the Timeless Romance series. This is a clean and enjoyable read. Each author does a great job of telling the various stories. Each is sweet and fun.

Anna Elliot, in her THE WEDDING GIFT: A PRIDE AND PREJUDICE STORY does a fine job of telling a fun and mysterious story about our favorite Jane Austen characters. The story is told in first person by Elizabeth Bennett. First person is not my favorite writing style, but after a few pages I was interested enough in the story to keep reading. It's fun knowing what Elizabeth's thoughts are, and perhaps this story is meant to see thing from a young lady’s point of view, but the story is a little far fetched as to how Mr. Darcy ends up rescuing Elizabeth. However, that's why it is fiction :) I liked the story and the lesson that emerges of the gift of love.

DREAM OF A GLORIOUS SEASON, by Sarah M. Eden is another winner from Sarah. She writes in the style of Georgette Heyer with lots of fun and mishaps along the way to true love. I enjoyed this story of unrecognized love and how our hero, Julian thinks he's just a friend and wants to help Elizabeth. The characters are real and have depth, especially for a novella. You will love the fun and feel for Elizabeth as she navigates the road to love.

Carla Kelly’s story, THE MENDER, was another one that was out of the normal and I wondered about reading it. But, as I started reading it, I really got involved and was really curious how Thankful was going to find her love and adventure. This story drew me in quickly and had me wondering how Thankful and Adam we're going to resolve their problems. The character were well developed and I enjoyed growing, laughing and crying with them.

In BEGIN AGAIN, by Josie S. Kilpack, I was drawn quickly in and felt like it was experiencing the frustrations and misgivings of the hero and heroine. Their misunderstandings were both funny and frustrating. It was interesting dolling them through their discoveries about each other and watching them forgive and let go of preconceived ideas about what and why the other did something. I felt like these characters were real and they experienced real life.

THE AFFAIR AT WILDEMOORE by Annette Lyon was another surprising story. It was not what I was expecting. I loved how it turned out. I enjoyed the character development and growth of both Ellen and Anthony. I laughed at the way each perceived the same event and the misunderstandings the resulted. I loved the lesson about nurturing a marriage and listening to each other and communicating. I really liked how their daughters got in the plan and helped their mother be romantic. It was fun and enjoyable.

THE DUKE’S BROTHER by Heather Moore was sweet and fun. Even though Mabel is a bit different, I loved how Gregory saw what a sweet woman she was. I enjoyed their mishaps and misunderstandings. They were a fun couple. I liked that Mabel could be herself and still find true love with the right man.

You will love reading these stories. These authors don't disappoint.

Sex - 1 (Some romantic kissing)
Violence - 0
Language - 0
Overall Content Rating - PG 

Source: Review Copy

* * *

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Review: CURTSIES & CONSPIRACIES by Gail Carriger (Little, Brown and Company, 2013)

From Amazon: Sophronia's first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy (won't Mumsy be surprised?). Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.

Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers' quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship's boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a field trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot--one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card.

In this bestselling sequel to New York Times bestselling Etiquette & Espionage, class is back in session with more petticoats and poison, tea trays and treason. Gail's distinctive voice, signature humor, and lush steampunk setting are sure to be the height of fashion this season.

Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Science Fiction & Fantasy, Steampunk
Length: 320 pgs

Rating: 5

Review: I adore Carriger's voice, the characters, the Victorian-ness of it all. Sophronia is just fantastic, and I just adore her BFF Dimity more and more. I read so quickly and every time I had to put it down, I couldn't wait to get back into it. I loved seeing Sophronia's arc continue and show her becoming a strong young women, but she still has slip-ups and mistakes she needs to take care of. I had one tiny sticking point--early in the novel the teachers pit Sophornia's schoolmates against her, and when they all stop talking to her, Sophronia accepts it without even trying to convince Dimity to be on her side. She just took it in stride, which was necessary for plot movement, but was not believable. Overall I loved it and can't wait to read the third book in the series.

Sex - 1 (Sidheag admits to seeing men/werewolves naked when they transform and describes in somewhat polite terms how unimpressive they are.)
Language - 0
Violence - 2 (There are fights and blood and such, but it's all handled very nicely.)
Overall rating - PG-14 (Only because of the above discussion of naked men--everything thing else is PG)

Source: Review copy via NetGalley

Try this. Want a historical with a quirky fun voice? Read Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


From AmazonWhat if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

Audience: Young Adult

Genre: YA Contemporary
Length: 368 pgs

Rating: *** (More like a 3 minus, but how do you show that??)

Review: Disclaimer up front: I listened to the audiobook and didn't like the narrator at all, which may have contributed to my view as the MC Lara Jean coming off way whiny.
A second disclaimer: I despised the ending, which may have contributed to my dislike of the book overall.
A third disclaimer...well, warning. There will be spoilers in order to adequately describe why this book was so off for me.
The positives: Good writing. It's professional, and though it lagged for me, that's more in line with my attitude of not loving YA contemps. I really liked the close relationships between the sisters--for the most part. I loved the dad and little sister Kitty.
What through me off: Characters and not relating to a lot of what they were doing. As I mentioned before, the main character, Lara Jean is whiny and not proactive, and in many cases that makes her unlikable. For instance, when people criticize her {somewhat fake} boyfriend, Peter and/or his friends, she doesn't defend them. She'll often think how the criticizer is wrong in her head, but not out loud and so she seems weak, ungrateful, and unlikable.
Margo (her sister) and Josh (sisters {somewhat ex} boyfriend). Even though they're supposed to be her closest friends, at NO point do they ever support her and Peter, and the way they go about degrading him (oh, yeah, and constantly because they're "looking out for Lara Jean," of course) makes them seem more shallow than Peter is portrayed.
It took me about halfway through the realize that Peter was the love-interest, not Josh and that threw me quite a bit. 
And {BEWARE BIG SPOILER COMING} she doesn't even end up with Peter. I once read a five series book where the two people who spend the entire series trying to be together don't end up together--it was a colossal waste of time, so at least this was just one book. It was hard to watch Lara Jean and Peter grow and realize their opinions of the other are wrong, and for them to see each other in a good light, to grow to be friends, to see their real feelings start to come out and then. 
See how I didn't finish that sentence. That's what it feels like.
The fourth disclaimer: I only like a few YA contemps, so I need to stop trying to read them and like them and end up being frustrated instead.

Sex - 4 (Mostly for a lot of talk about sex. I suppose many times in the not-always-respectful way teens talk about it. I actually don't know because I'm never around teens that talk like that. Ha.)
Language - 5 (D,H,Sh, God's name in vain sprinkled all the way through. Lara Jean doesn't swear, but has a friend who uses it a lot, so when that character appears, the language is bad for one or two pages. F-bomb dropped once.)
Violence - 0
Substance Abuse - 1 (At a party teens get drunk; Lara Jean's friend talks about getting drunk and doing drugs.)
Overall Rating: PG-18

Source: Library Audiobook via OneClickDigital

Try this. YA Contemp I like? THE CHAOS OF STARS by Kiersten White . . . but that's cheating. It's actually got some fantasy. ;)

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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