March 31, 2016

Review: The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

After enjoying the pleasurable read that was A Singular and Whimsical Problem, I was so ready to spend an entire book with Jem and Merinda. And what a ride it is! I surely do love these ladies, with all their quirkiness, confident posturing (Merinda), and doubtful wonderings (Jem), as they go barreling headlong into trouble. They are determined to make a go of their detective business, but it's 1910 and lady detectives are simply unheard of! This does, of course, not deter them. (Naturally.) Which means we get a fun adventure with a side note of mysterious goings-on and clever villains.

Jem and Merinda, ah what can be said of these two? Merinda....I'm not so sure I have any words for her yet. She's such an intriguing mix of perfect manners and nonexistent tactfulness, with a brain that is constantly spinning with thoughts and ideas. Meanwhile, the "normal" things of life seem to never even occur to her! You know, like making sure she and Jem have food on the table and perhaps double-checking that they don't get caught by the Morality Squad...? Thank goodness for Jem! We spend much of the book in her head and she's quite a delight. By far the more sensible (and romantic) of the two, she's the one holding a steady job and keeping Merinda's ideas from getting too out of hand (most of the time). And she's the one fighting the doubts about where her life is going. Much as she loves Merinda (and loves detective work!), she still has her hopes and dreams of getting married some day and having a family. And that's where a certain someone comes in....

Dear, dear Ray, how I loved him! He's so sweet to his sister, which just endeared him to me. Because he's got such a gruff exterior and doesn't like to let anybody know about his soft heart inside. But once he begins to spend more time with our ladies....that protective and tender heart just can't be hidden. He and Jem were too adorable with all their awkward attraction. And Jasper! We didn't get to spend near enough time with him. I'm expecting more Jasper awesomeness come book two, Ms. McMillan! Especially of the "trying to woo Merinda" sort. I have a feeling those two are going to have quite a long road ahead of them. Poor Jasper. ;)

The Morality Squad and general deplorable conditions for women back then makes for several bits of frustration and scary moments for our two detectives. I loved how all the seemingly different mysteries came together and created quite a hullabaloo that just needed Merinda's brilliant mind to sort it all out. A big mystery is solved by the final page, but there is still much corruption and deviousness to be dealt with so I've no qualms that there is ever so much more to Jem and Merinda's story!

Take two awesome lady detectives, dump them in the middle of mayhem and murderous villains, give them two handsome gentlemen determined to cause their hearts a bit of havoc, add in all the little "footnotes" that were hilarious and great for helping us to understand particular moments, don't forget the sarcastic and witty tone of Ms. McMillan's writing, and you have the makings of a fantastic book one! It definitely needs to be added to your TBR pile as near to the top as possible. Then read it, fall in love with these characters, and look forward to book two! :)

**I received a complimentary copy from Harvest House through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

"I'm trying to get the perspective of the street people. Especially in contrast to big parties like this."
"Oh, rats!"
"Do you find that you make more money with that disguise?"
"I am not a woman!"
"I don't believe you!" He reached up and yanked off her hat, and a pile of brown hair fell around her shoulders. "You're the oddest hobo I've ever met. If we could just get that grime off your face. Now, Miss...Miss..."
Jem buried her face in her hands. This was awful. "Watts."
"Excuse me? You're muttering."
"Miss Jemima Watts."
"Ready for your interview, Miss Watts?"
"No!" Jem leaped to her feet, almost leaving her pants behind. She hitched her fingers into the belt loops, pulled them high over her bloomers, and strode away.

March 30, 2016

Review: I'll Be Yours by Jenny B. Jones

Jenny B. Jones is one of my go to authors when it comes to funny and endearing stories. I can always guarantee that I'll close the last chapter with a smile on my face! This delightful story is no different whatsoever. But make no mistake that with all the sweet moments comes some really hard things these characters are dealing with. It's not an easy road for any of them, but oh so worth it to journey to the final page.

I loved Harper from the first. She's riddled with doubts and fears and unknowns, so much of her thoughts reminded me of myself at different periods of my life! Her strength though, knows no bounds, which she learns over the course of events that suddenly get thrown in her path. And her resilience and sense of humor get her through some heavy realizations and decisions. Because her past is tough and she soon finds out her present isn't all happiness and rainbows either. But she deals. She determines to muddle her way through all the yuck somehow and I loved her all the more for it.

Then comes Ridley into her life and oh my! Talk about a swoony hero! Those two makes some great chemistry together, let me tell you. :) But the beauty found in their friendship is how they learn to support each other. Because Ridley is battling some hard as well and needs someone to help shoulder the burden. They seek to build on the foundation of mutual acceptance and caring they find in each other, a feeling which surprises them both. And oh how good they are for one another! Plus their banter is hilarious. Ms. Jones writes some of the best banter between characters of any writer I know!

A story with lots of heart, as well as several thought-provoking moments, this book is not to be missed. Especially if you adore a cute romance and characters who make you want to reach in the pages and make everything all better. Certainly worth a few hours of your time! :)

**I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.

"So this Levin guy."
"Don't want to talk about him either."
"You're boring me, O'Malley."
"Want to talk about my literary heroes from nineteenth-century Europe?"
He flicked on his blinker. "I was more in the mood for subatomic particle physics."
I smiled in the darkened car until I saw where he was turning. "This isn't the way."
"I know a shortcut."
"If you plan to do me bodily harm, I request you wait until we get the dog. I don't have time for death and torture."
"Sticky Fingers"--Ridley leaned far over the console--"if these hands were on you, dying would the last thing you'd be thinking about."
The words, the very thought was still a wound. No longer a gaping hole, but more like a paper cut that never goes away. A thin razor slice that irritates, even stings. One you forget about until something occasionally snags it.

March 29, 2016

Review: A Daring Sacrifice by Jody Hedlund

Having read and loved An Uncertain Choice last year, I was so looking forward to this one. Happily, I thoroughly enjoyed every single minute. From her awesome characters to the historical setting to the swoony romances, Ms. Hedlund certainly has a gift of writing stories that will draw you in and leave you happy by the final page! :)

First, it was delightful to dive into this world again. And the setup of a female "Robin Hood" really worked, especially when Juliana had a certain knight to contend with. Their verbal sparring is fun, but when they go head to head with the bow and arrow, you'd better watch out! Both are quite competitive and it was just so great to see Lord Collin get taken down a peg or two. He's had a relatively easy life, so he needed a reminder of the suffering around him and how much good he could do. Which Juliana was all too glad to show him!

She's a fierce young lady who's been forced into hiding and scraping together a living for herself and those in her care. She's also a crack shot with the bow and arrow and a little too reckless sometimes, so she needed a bit of learning how to be more careful. But what's a girl to do when a handsome guy is doing all he can to woo you? :) They both have some growing to do and much to learn from each other; and their ability to affect the other tends to frustrate them, which means more fun for us to read about!

With her target audience of young adults in mind, Ms. Hedlund does a superb job of writing characters with whom one can relate. The romance happens relatively quickly, but always carefully and is very sweet. Also I appreciate the types of heroines she's writing in this series. Juliana is strong, yet realizes her own weakness (sometimes ;) and knows when to seek help. She also never gives up on those she loves and is willing to sacrifice her own comforts for the sake of others. A great role model for young ladies today! :)

**I received a complimentary copy from Zondervan in exchange for my honest review.

Then before I could react, the boy stood on my hose and with perfect balance leaped off and landed behind his accomplice. Their mare seemed prepared for the jarring movement of receiving the new rider, obviously having been through the routine plenty of other times.
Several of the huntsmen raised their weapons and began to move toward the bandits, but I held up my hand to stop them. Surely my servants had heard of my daring deeds in battle, and knew I could disarm these two waifs by myself if I chose to do so.
As the thief clutched his accomplice, I could see the size difference. The thief was just as thin as the boy, but taller and definitely older.
Their horse shied back. Only then did I get a glimpse of the thief's face beneath the hood of a cloak. Though remnants of dried mud peeled away from his nose and forehead, I could see past the thin disguise to elegant cheekbones, a gracefully curved chin, and full lips. Such features couldn't belong to a boy.
No. This was no boy.
This was a woman.

Review: A Singular and Whimsical Problem by Rachel McMillan

I had been excitedly anticipating Rachel's series for months prior to this little novella getting published! After reading (and loving) her blog for several years, I knew her fictional writing could only be more awesome. She simply has a way with words. A fellow blogger called it endearing and I have to agree that's the perfect word for it!

This world she's created is simply a delight to be introduced to, even with its Morality Squad and murder mysteries yet to be solved. As for Jemima and Merinda? Oh my, what characters these ladies are! I loved Jem immediately, but Merinda had to grow on me. Considering this series is based on Sherlock Holmes though, it's understandable that Merinda would be a bit difficult to get a handle on. She intrigues me and I shall look forward to getting to know her better!

The gentlemen connected to these ladies are just as quirky in their own ways and certainly make an impression. We don't get tons of time with them, as this is only a novella and therefore the amount of page time has to be limited, but what little we get makes it abundantly clear that these men are NICE. Yay for nice guys! Literature could use more of those.

The murder mystery is sufficiently compelling and while I slowly put the pieces together, naturally Merinda was far ahead of me. But she could stand to be a bit more quick on the uptake, especially for poor Jem's sake! ;)

A wonderful introduction to the series that only whets my appetite for more time with these characters.

The blade was at Merinda's neck.
I had a revolver in the pocket of my trousers. We were clad in men's clothes, three steps ahead of the Morality Squad and legions away from feminine propriety. My shaky fingers felt for and slowly extracted the pistol.
"You're sure taking your time, Jem!" Merinda cried.
"Quiet, or I'll finish the job." A dark voice echoed between the surrounding walls.
"All right, all right!" I held the gun out. "There! Consider yourself threatened!" I cocked the pistol as Merinda had taught me, and though perspiration trailed into my eyes and my hand was far from steady, I aimed it just above her shoulder blade and at the breast of her captor. He was larger than she and far taller too.
"Don't shoot me!" Merinda pleaded. "Cracker jacks, Jem! Do you want him to slice me in two?"

March 28, 2016

Northanger Abbey Read-Along :: Discussion Post :: Chapters 11-17

Well here I am again! Late, as seems to be my usual. But at least I'm here, right? :) Life has been a bit crazy recently, plus I had not the heart to do any happy writing (or reading *sadface*) last weekend due to stuff going on. However! This past week was nice and I finally caught up to chapter 17. Only now I'm even further behind on the next chapters! *sigh* Life.

Anyhoo, on to the good stuff. Have I mentioned that I am really enjoying this book? So many of my blogging friends had told me I would love it and I am thrilled that they were right! Only why did I wait so long to finally pick it up again. Because I'm an idiot. Obviously. ;)

{Per the usual, click over here to see all the posts and discussions going on. There's also another giveaway, so be sure and check it out quick!}

Northanger Abbey :: Chapters 11-17

Favorite Quote ::

"Is there a Henry in the world who could be insensible to such a declaration? Henry Tilney at least was not. With a yet sweeter smile, he said everything that need be said of his sister's concern, regret, and dependence on Catherine's honour."
Henry smiled, and said, "How very little trouble it can give you to understand the motive of other people's actions."
"Why? What do you mean?"
"With you, it is not, How is such a one likely to be influenced, What is the inducement most likely to act upon such a person's feelings, age, situation, and probable habits of life considered--but, How should I be influenced, What would be my inducement in acting so and so?"
"I do not understand you."
"Then we are on very unequal terms, for I understand you perfectly well."
"Me? Yes; I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible."
"Bravo! An excellent satire on modern language."
"But pray tell me what you mean."
"Shall I indeed? Do you really desire it? But you are not aware of the consequences; it will involve you in a very cruel embarrassment, and certainly bring on a disagreement between us."
"No, no; it shall not do either; I am not afraid."
"Well, then, I only meant that your attributing my brother's wish of dancing with Miss Thorpe to good nature alone convinced me of your being superior in good nature yourself to all the rest of the world."
Catherine blushed and disclaimed and the gentleman's predictions were verified. 
"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid."

General Impressions ::

I admit to being disappointed in Mrs. Allen. I had anticipated liking her, based on her portrayal from the '07 adaptation, but I don't. She's quite flaky, and clearly spends most of her time consumed with thoughts on fashion. She's nice! But I guess I just wanted more from her and I'm not getting it. Perhaps later...?

1532611The Thorpe's have got to go!! I do not like them. I'm just sorry that it took a bad experience for Catherine to begin (at least slightly) to comprehend how awful they truly are. I had inklings of this from watching the adaptation, but it's now becoming very apparent that both siblings are only after what they can monetarily gain from other people. (I will be so gleeful when they figure out that Catherine and her brother have no fortune at their disposal!) I'll also be really glad once Catherine figures out how false their friendliness and good natures are.

Also, I heart Mr. Henry Tilney. That is all. :D

Discussion Questions :: How do you feel about the way Catherine handled herself with John, Isabella, and James when they pressured her into ditching her walk with the Tilneys in favor of their own outings? How do you feel about the way she explained herself to the Tilneys?

I loved that bit! I was shouting, "You go, girl!" to Catherine during the scene where she adamantly refuses no matter how they cajole. It's hilarious to me that Isabella even tried to use the idea of Catherine being "...her best and oldest friend..." because they've known each other all of what? A matter of days if not weeks? Catherine may have met Isabella first, before Eleanor Tilney, but that was only by a few days at most. I just shake my head at the Thorpes' antics anymore. I will say that it saddened me that her brother joined in with the pressure against her. He's clearly spent way too much time with the wrong sort of friends.

I was so proud of Catherine when she ran to catch up with the Tilney's and explained herself. I get the impression that Eleanor understands Catherine very well. She knows how naive Catherine can be and so Catherine's hasty and slightly confusing explanation is understood. Have I mentioned that I think both Mr. and Miss Tilney are quite lovely? Because they are. I love how they are Catherine's only true friends close to her age in Bath and how kind and sweet they are to her. They seem to genuinely enjoy spending time with her.

Henry, his sister, and Catherine have an interesting discussion about books and education on their walk. What was your favorite part of that conversation? Did any of their opinions on novels, history, or the difficulties in learning to read resonate with you?

I think my favorite bit was when Eleanor suggests that Henry has become comfortable enough with Catherine to tease her. I'm pretty sure part of that's just his personality and he'd tease a great many people with whom he's acquainted, but not to the same degree as he would someone he's with whom he's really comfortable. If you see what I'm trying to say...? I just like the fact that he's comfortable with Catherine and he seems to genuinely like her. He's definitely been showing partiality towards her. :)

Reading has never been difficult for me that I can recall, but I did like Henry's point that struggling through the process is necessary to open a child's eyes to the wonder of reading! So true, for how sad would I be if I couldn't? (Very.)

I also love how the Tilney's challenge Catherine. Just through conversation and drawing her out they cause her to think about things she never has before. They challenge her to see the possibility of a different point of view.

We've been given more glimpses into Henry's character - as well as Catherine's infatuation with him. Do you think Catherine has fallen too hard too fast? Or do you think Henry is proving himself worthy of such admiration?

I don't think Catherine has fallen too fast at all. For one thing, I imagine this was common back then, for what else did people have to go on but dancing and walking conversations? The rules of society limited the amount of time they could spend together. And for another, Henry is clearly showing interest as well. He makes a point to go and speak with her at the concert and notably decides to converse with her when she admits to thinking he's offended and upset. Plus he keeps spending time with her and asking her to dance. You don't do that with someone you're not interested in.

Like I said before, I heart Henry Tilney! He has endeared himself to me and it's going to take a whole lot for him to cause me not to like him. I'm not anticipating that happening, at this point. :)

March 21, 2016

Review: The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter

I always enjoy a Denise Hunter romance, so I was quite happy indeed when this one turned out to be a fun way to spend a few hours! She certainly knows how to write a swoony hero, doesn't she? :) Equal parts mystery (what with the amnesia) and romance (goodness did those two have chemistry), this story is a sweet addition to your library. You should definitely be adding it to your TBR shelf!

Lucy, herself, is pretty memorable. Considering she has no recollection of the last seven months, she has no qualms about making her opinions on where she should be, how her life should look, and what she's going to do to get it back to what she remembers. I have to confess that she frustrated me a bit in the beginning. I wished she had been a bit more willing to realize how her actions might hurt Zac. I could understand her desire for things to go back to what she was remembering, but when someone you love tells you that your actions have the potential to hurt them, wouldn't you do all you could not to continue doing that? Or at least be a bit more understanding about it? I was very happy once she accepted that she needed to take a step back. When that happened, the flow of the romance worked better for me.

And speaking of, I loved the little glimpses we got of how Zac and Lucy met and their time together in the past. I also loved that the angst was kept minimal between them. Yes, they hurt each other, most times very unintentionally, but their chemistry was undeniable, even to them! These are two people who had an awesome relationship and now have to struggle to understand what happened. They both have scars and pain in their backgrounds, Lucy especially, so when they finally reach those pivotal moments, it was wonderful to know they had each other to help work through any future hard.

Also, I do love this Callahan family. The way they pick at each other and support each other no matter what. And the way they're always willing to tell the truth to each other, no matter how difficult it might be. Plus the fact that once you're one of them, you're family! Unless you do something stupid, of course. But Lucy redeems herself, so no worries there! ;) I was also very happy that Eden (from Falling Like Snowflakes) chose to overlook her own fiance and befriend Lucy at a moment when she really needed someone on her side. Their friendship was so sweet.

A quick and entertaining story that had me smiling once I closed the final chapter! If you need an escape into a fictional world for a little, this is a fun way to spend that time. :)

**I received a complimentary copy through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

"Sure." He refilled Beau's glass, then fished a bill from his pocket. "It'll give me a reason to talk to her."
"Like you needed one." Riley smirked. "You've been eyeing her since she walked through the door."
Beau quirked a brow. "Aw, that's so cute. You smitten, little bro?"
Zac shot him a look as he moved to take a drink order form a fellow down the counter.
"Better hurry up before Nick stakes his claim."
"She kind of looks like the chick in that movie," Beau said. "Mandy something. What was it...?" He snapped his fingers. "A Walk to Remember."
Zac lifted a brow.
"Don't judge. It was a date."

March 16, 2016

Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer

Does this series have to be over?! I know I talked about how I hated waiting a year or more between books, but I'm still sad that this is the last one. (Yes, I'm contrary like that.) At least I can go back and reread them all! You can bet that I will, too, because this series is awesome. And this book in particular is EPIC.

With all the multiple narrators and storylines it would be entirely understandable if things got slightly confusing, but I'm happy to say that Ms. Meyer so skillfully changes between scenes (and almost always at a cliffhanger moment!) that I had no trouble keeping track of who was where doing what. Cinder gets the chance for things to start going her way and is able to show the universe exactly what she's made of (finally), and Kai's role in the revolution allows for him to do his part and prove that he's more than just a pretty face. Scarlet has one of the most awesome moments of the whole book when she shows how fierce she actually is, while Wolf has some oh-so-heartbreaking moments. Cress is able to use her hacking ability in all the best ways and Thorne? He finally allowed me to see into his heart. In Cress, I had trouble figuring him out, so I was pleased he opened up a little more this go round.

As for Winter herself, after the small glimpses we had in previous stories I was intrigued to have the chance to know her better. She didn't disappoint me in the least! For as crazy as she seems (poor girl has some terrible hallucinations *sadface*), she's much more smart and sneaky than most give her credit for. I loved how she figured out ways to survive her life with Levana and still help the revolution! She and Jacin were so perfectly suited. Speaking of, I was also happy that I liked him. He's been so very stoic in the past that it was a delight to realize how Winter undoes him. Their relationship isn't easy, but it certainly had its swoony moments! And I loved all the callbacks to Snow White.

There's a whole lot going on, which means I was turning pages as quickly as I could to find out how things were going to turn out. As these stories are based on fairytales, of course you can imagine that the happy endings were going to come! But they didn't come without some heartache and pain, let me tell you. Certain characters I wanted so badly to reach into the pages and hug them tight! (Poor, poor Wolf. *whimpers*)

Kudos to Ms. Meyer for creating an amazing world filled with characters who draw you in! Seriously, this series is fantastic and if you haven't read them, make haste and do so now! You won't be disappointed! :)

Winter stroke beside him, her fingers clenched around the basket handle. At least she wasn't trying to catch his eye anymore, which was a small mercy.
"I do know how you feel about me," she finally said, and it sounded like a confession. "I know that you are my guard, and you are my best friend. I know you would die for me. And I know that should that ever happen, I would die immediately after."
"Yeah," he said. "That's pretty much it." The sound of a nearby coffee grinder rumbled through the stone walkway, and the smell of baking bread assaulted his senses. He braced himself. "Also, I think you're sort of pretty. You know. On a good day."

March 15, 2016

Review: The Thorn Keeper by Pepper Basham

I loved Catherine!! Her sister Ashleigh's story was wonderful, but by the end of it I had become utterly fascinated with Catherine and wanted so badly to spend more time in her head. And after finishing this delightful book, I immediately dived back in to all my favorite moments. Thank you for not giving up on Catherine, Ms. Basham! She snuck into my heart in book one and she's now officially stuck there forever. :)

Don't you just love when characters sink into your heart, especially when you don't expect it? Catherine is an intriguing mix of vulnerability and feistiness. Due to the events of book one, she now has a whole new way of life, in some ways that are awesome and some ways that are exceptionally hard. Her strength knows no bounds in the face of all that she now has to deal with. Especially when it comes to those determined to remind her of her bad choices in the past. And walking with her through each humiliating moment, I wanted to yell at every single person to stop it and start realizing how awesome Catherine is! Yet she's far from being alone. With her restored relationship with her sister, and her newfound determination for helping those less fortunate, she strides forth into mayhem and chaos regardless of her own personal risk. She finds new friends and allies and slowly but surely makes everyone around her realize just how special she truly is.

And David....ah, David. He knew right away how special she is and, disregarding every warning not to, befriends her and seeks to help her realize her own worth. Those two just make magic together! They fit in every way. Of course, their attraction causes some pretty swoony moments ;), but it's the way they strive to make each other better, the things they learn together (about themselves and about each other), the way they simply work through each situation that comes no matter what gets thrown at them. To put it plainly, they're better together than they are apart. Way better! :)

But! I have to mention the plot twist because whoa! There was a certain situation that I was not expecting at all and I was so afraid of where things would possibly go. But I should have known to trust Ms. Basham because she clearly loves these characters as much as I. And the hard places she chose to take them ended up shaking Catherine's story around in ways that made it every so much better.

Now I am beyond excited that we get a book three! There are so many other characters I want to know more about. And if this book is any indication, Ms. Basham's storytelling will only be more amazing next time. So read this one, my friends! It wrapped me up in warm fuzzies and left me with a smile on my face. Isn't that what all readers are looking for? :)

**I received a complimentary copy through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

"Great people do not come from smooth seas, dear Catherine. They never have. Whether by the uncontrollable tempests that blow through life or our own vain attempts to control our worlds by selfishness or pride, the greatest strength is born out of suffering, or rather out of learning from our suffering."

"We weep, laugh, rest, trust, and He loves...and works miracles through us."

Review: The Thorn Bearer by Pepper Basham

Having heard nothing but rave reviews of this book, I had been looking forward to reading it for myself. And it did not disappoint me in the least! Ms. Basham's skill with the pen became quickly apparent as I got swept up into the life of Ashleigh and all her heartbreak. I wanted to put my arms around her and tell her it would be okay so very many times. The girl has been through a lot! And Ms. Basham had no qualms about putting her through a bit more. Ah, my poor heart.

As I was drawn into Ashleigh's story, I loved that it felt like I was getting a first hand look at history. Ms. Basham clearly did her research and it shows. I didn't remember much at all about the Lusitania and its fateful crossing, but consider me intrigued by the story now! My one small complaint is how quick events happen. There were a few times where I felt that more detail would have better served certain moments because we move so quickly past them that I couldn't seem to get as invested in the seriousness of the tragedy as I wanted. I felt more like a neutral observer (which, yes, I know that I am as a reader, but it kind of pulled me out of the emotional moments too fast). And the transitions between points of view weren't as smooth in some places. But don't let that deter you! Because those are things easily overlooked when you have characters who you're rooting for.

Ashleigh, in particular, made me admire her strength and hurt for all the pain she's been through. I was so glad she had friends to look out for her, especially as her family wasn't there for her as they should've been. Speaking of her sister and their relationship, it's a difficult one. Catherine was a character I didn't like right away because she's perfectly awful to her sister! But there was just something about her that made me sit up and take notice. Watching as the two of them work through their individual circumstances and slowly, maybe strive for understanding broke my heart, then mended it.

And Sam. Dear, befuddled, swoony Sam! I loved his friendship with Ashleigh, he was so, so good to her. I admit that he frustrated me a bit in the beginning, what with his inability to realize what was staring him right in the face. But he won me over and he and Ashleigh.....ah, I have no words for just how perfectly they worked together! They fit and that's all there is to it.

Romance on the high seas! Kind of. Secrets to be searched out! Yep. Historical events and drama mixed delightfully! Most definitely. A story worth reading and swooning over! Without question. Read this one, my friends!

Softness flickered over her countenance. Tears formed in those coffee-colored eyes, drawing him closer. Her eyes had always been his downfall - round, dark, pleading. When she was little, he'd caved into giving her a treat or taking her along on an adventure. Unguarded, they glowed with a million emotion.
"Mrs. Ragan doesn't know you. I do." His thumb pulsed a squeeze. "And I have no intention of letting you sail alone."
She slipped her arm free from his hold and the familiar transformation began with each step she made up the gangway. That infuriating emotionless glaze cloaked her expression. If he didn't hate it so much it might have been a fascinating study, but she walled herself in with it: Protected herself from something, but he'd never figured out what. He'd rather she burst into tears or slap her hand against his jaw than distance herself with that confounded look.

March 11, 2016

Poetry Month Celebration

Just FYI, my lovelies! 

Hamlette, from The Edge of the Precipice, is hosting a 
Poetry Month Celebration in APRIL.

Do you like poetry?
Do you not understand poetry, but wish you could?
Is poetry scary or unapproachable to you?
Do you love poetry?
Do you write poetry and wish to share?

If you fall under any of those categories,
then click over here for all the details!

March 10, 2016

Northanger Abbey Read-Along :: Discussion Post :: Chapters 4-10

Here we are again! Finally I am caught up with the timeline of this read-along and get to answer the questions on Thursday even. Who'd a'thunk it? :) So. Things pick up a little bit in this section and the more I read, the more I'm really liking this story. It's different than Austen's other books, that is the others of hers that I've read. The narrator continues to make me laugh with all the little asides and anecdotes she adds in. And I'm simply enjoying the lighthearted feel of the entire thing!

Now on with discussion. {Click over here for all the details on this awesome read-along. AND! There's a giveaway going on, so be sure to check it out!}

Northanger Abbey :: Chapters 4-10

Favorite Quote(s) ::

"Such is the common cant. "And what are you reading, Miss-?" "Oh! It is only a novel!" replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. "It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda;" or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language."
"James and Isabella led the way; and so well satisfied was the latter with her lot, so contentedly was she endeavouring to ensure a pleasant walk to him who brought the double recommendation of being her brother's friend, and her friend's brother, so pure and uncoquettish were her feelings, that, though they overtook and passed the two offending young men in Milsom Street, she was so far from seeking to attract their notice, that she looked back at them only three times."
"For though she could not, dared not, expect that Mr. Tilney should ask her a third time to dance, her wishes, hopes, and plans all centred in nothing less. Every young lady may feel for my heroine in this critical moment, for every young lady has at some time or other known the same agitation. All have been, or at least all have believed themselves to be, in danger from the pursuit of someone whom they wished to avoid; and all have been anxious for the attentions of someone whom they wished to please."

General Impressions ::

Ah, poor Catherine. I loved how Amber described it: I would say chapters 4 through 9 can be summed up in one word: thwarted. So true! She is thwarted at every turn and every time she thinks a certain thing will be enjoyable and help her feel better, well...she ends up disappointed. I have to hand it to her though, she doesn't give up hoping for things to go her way next time! I think that may be one of my favorite things about her actually. She's so very innocent and doesn't have a clue of 90% of the subtext going on about her (the girl is hopelessly clueless at how she wears her heart on her sleeve! I thought that moment where she totally tells Miss Tilney that she's interested in her brother without ever saying the words and doesn't even realize that she's done so is adorably naive!), but she never gives up hope! Hope is a wonderful thing to have. Her innocence is sweet, though I'm not certain how much of a conversationalist she is. However, she does keep up with Mr. Tilney pretty well in that dance convo in chapter 10, so she's not an idiot by any means!

3047636I guess what I'm trying to say is that, while if one met her in real life she may seem a bit too gullible, she's sweet and nice enough that one couldn't help but to like her. She simply needs someone willing to help her understand what people really mean. And not allow others to take advantage of her! *ahem* Perhaps there's a handsome young man of a certain age and personality who'd be perfect for this....?? ;)

Discussion Questions :: Is Isabella a friend or a frenemy? Do you think there's the seed of a genuine friendship between her and Catherine, or is Isabella only loyal to her own ambitions?

I don't know that Isabella falls exactly under that description because I don't see her harboring resentment. (At least not in these chapters, we'll see if that happens later, I suppose.) But I do think she likes the advantage of befriending Catherine on account of James. And I think she likes having a friend who she knows will always agree with her. She likes to feel the center of attention! It seems to me that she's mainly using Catherine at the moment, there's no genuine friendship on her part. I think she's extremely selfish and quite fond of hearing her own voice.

Let's talk about John Thorpe, whose presence is obviously a problem! How would you advise Catherine in her interactions with Mr. Thorpe?

The Thorpe siblings clearly have a lot in common! And not in a good way. John is very much selfishly ambitious and loves to talk about only what he's interested in. If I hear another word on how amazing his horse is.... *frowny face* It's at the moments where Catherine is interacting with him that I wish she could learn to stand up for herself, and also realize that normal (and nice!) people do not talk about themselves so much. Truly genuine people will be interested in those they are speaking with. He needs to go away. And NOW.

Do you agree with Mr. Tilney's comparisons between dancing and marriage? And do you consider dancing an important component of romance?

Firstly, I just love that whole convo between them! It made me smile. (I think that moment might just be when I fell in love with him myself. :) I like the way he's so personable and funny! He teases, but gently, and who doesn't love a guy with a sense of humor? I feel like he's attempting to truly get to know Catherine during that dance. And he makes her feel at ease, she actually responds to him and they converse back and forth. With the Thorpe's she spends most of the time just listening, unable to respond (both because she can't get a word in edgewise and because she has nothing to respond to) and saying little, I love that Mr. Tilney gets her to talk! She's comfortable with him, which is important.

And secondly, I do not consider dancing an important component in modern times. Although, I think it was back in the regency period because how else were two people going to be able to spend time together? They were extremely limited back then in how they could get to know someone they were interested in.

As for Mr. Tilney's comparison....I'm not sure? I think he makes a great case for the similarities between the two though! :D

March 8, 2016

Northanger Abbey Read-Along :: Discussion Post :: Chapters 1-3

Remember last week when I mentioned that Amber is hosting a read-along? {Check out all the details here.} Well I'm finally getting around to posting my thoughts from our first discussion. Yay! :) Can I just say that I really like the way Austen wrote this story? The way the omniscient narrator recounts and describes makes me smile. I hope I continue to feel this way!

Now, on with the discussion...

Northanger Abbey :: Chapters 1-3

Favorite Quote ::
"But when a young lady is to be an heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way."
General Impressions ::

So I must confess right up front that, having watched the 2007 adaptation with Felicity Jones and JJ Feild prior to this, I'm already picturing Catherine and Mr. Tilney as they portrayed them. Which is fine, because I'm rather fond of JJ's Tilney! (Amber will understand me, I'm sure. ;)

Like I said above, I really love how the narrator is telling this story! He/she points out all the absurdities this way. Even if not meant to be funny (by the narrator I mean, I'm assuming that Austen herself meant it to be), all the little details that get noted by the narrator just end up making me grin. And I also love how everything is described as ordinary or run-of-mill occurrences, or how the characters aren't anything special, yet by the very mention of them, obviously there's at least a bit of significance to them. I don't know as I can describe what it is about the way Austen wrote this, but something about it just strikes a chord with me. At least so far!

I admit I was surprised by how quickly things progressed. I'm not complaining in the least! I just figured there would be a bit more set up. But I don't mind getting to Mr. Tilney quicker! ;)

Discussion Questions :: What do you find most endearing about Catherine's character? Do you consider her to be good heroine material?

I love that she's only "ordinary"! That she's not exceptional at anything. She's very innocent and genuine, and seems to take most things at face value. She's happy! I love that her family is so wonderful and she's clearly a product of a happy childhood. It seems more often than not, that heroines tend to have something exceptional about them or that they've had a horrible childhood of some sort. I'm so glad to see that Catherine is simply a really sweet girl. And I also love how she's pleased with just the simplest of compliments. It makes me like her more and so happy that she'll have someone who will realize how special she is.

Yes, I do consider her to be heroine material! Because heroine-ism isn't really based on anything other than having something worth noting happen to you (in the very simplest terms). In which case, aren't we all heroes/heroines of a sort? :)

What are your first impressions of Mr. and Mrs. Allen? What sort of impact do they have on Catherine?

It amuses me how focused Mrs. Allen is on fashion. Her convo about muslin with Mr. Tilney never fails to make me laugh! :D (I was a bit surprised when it was noted that she was more concerned over her dress than Catherine at the ball though.) But I do like that she's so fond of Catherine and invites her to Bath. Obviously, the Allen's are good folk because for all that they're some of the richest in the area, they're still close to the Morland's who I imagine as being of significant less fortune in comparison. Close enough to invite Catherine to travel with them for six weeks! They just seem to be nice people. And I like nice people!

I figure the impact they have on Catherine is helping form her opinion of society, since she's not experienced it before. (Plus they enable Catherine and Mr. Tilney to meet so I'm inclined to love them for that alone! ;)

Has Mr. Tilney already stolen your heart, or are you still forming your opinion of his character? Which of his positive or negative qualities stand out to you most? Do you consider him to be good hero material?

He's already stolen my heart because I love him in the adaptation! ;) But book-Tilney is still growing on me. I mean, I like him! I just need some more time with him to completely fall in love. We haven't really spent much time with him yet. I do love how personable he is! He seems to have a way of making people comfortable around him. I really like that he's the first gentleman Catherine meets and with whom she first dances. He helps her to enjoy her evening, which is what a partner should do at a ball. He gently teases and flirts and sets her at ease. As someone who isn't comfortable in a big group of people I don't know, I appreciate that side of him a great deal. And of course he's good hero material! That should just go without saying. :D

March 3, 2016

My Life According to Literature :: 2015

I saw this post on Hamlette's blog (The Edge of the Precipice), who got it from All The Pretty Books, who got it from....well you get the picture. If you follow the trail, you'll find out where it all went! Suffice it to say, this idea was not original with me. I'm just borrowing the fun. :)

So what is it exactly? I'm so glad you asked! It's basically a questionnaire about myself in which I use book titles to respond. I'm using only books I read in 2015 (obviously, hence the "2015" in the title up there, right?) and it shall be interesting to see what I come up with. (And feel free to join in the fun if you care to!)

(Yes, I am well aware that we are now in the third month of this new year. So I'm a bit behind to use only the books from last year. But if I used books from this year I don't think I'd have enough to cover it! So there.)

Describe yourself: Old Fashioned (Rene Gutteridge) 

How do you feel today: I Was Here (Gayle Forman)

Describe where you currently live: A Thing of Beauty (Lisa Samson)  {I think my little corner of the world is comfortable. There's just a feeling I can't describe when I come home.}

If you could go anywhere, you would go to: The Scorpio Races (Maggie Stiefvater)  {I'd love to meet Sean and Puck just once! And see them in action.}

Your favorite form of transportation: The Fellowship of the Ring (JRR Tolkien)  {AFTER the War of the Ring, of course! I'd love to travel with the fellowship on a vacation-type of adventure. Just spend time with them. Oh the stories they could spin for me! Except I would require the use of horses. I'd never keep up if we were walking/hiking!}

Your best friend is: A Lady of Esteem (Kristi Ann Hunter)

You and your friends are: A Broken Kind of Beautiful (Katie Ganshert)  {We've all had our share of struggles, yet we've supported each other through them and come out the other side slightly broken, but forged strong.}

What's the weather like: Winter (Marissa Meyer)  {Although it's been a bit warmer in the last few days, winter is still here.}

You fear: Mind Games (Kiersten White)  {Particularly the kind of games that require much strategizing and thinking ahead. Because I'm horrible at those!}

What's the best advice you have to give: While You're Awake (Amber Stokes)  {...and alive, live your life! There's so much life to be lived and so short a time to live it.}

Thought for the day: Return to Chocolate (Erynn Mangum)  {Chocolate is always the answer!}

How would you like to die: An Uncertain Choice (Jody Hedlund)  {I have no preferred way, to be quite honest. I just hope it's not painful.}

Your soul's present condition: The Return of the King (JRR Tolkien)  {I'm just here waiting for Him...}

March 2, 2016

The Little Happinesses...

I just love the title of that book, don't you? It conjures up happy surprises and big smiles in my mind! :)

I've had a few things I wanted to mention to my lovely readers, but it's a quirky mix of articles, apps, movies, and all sorts of happy. With no other way to tell you about them (that I could think of at the moment), I just listed them all for you! Besides, so often it's just the little things, right? Little things worth gushing over in a big way. :) Onwards to the fun!

:: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ::
:: (the movie) ::
Y'all it is SO GOOD. I laughed and laughed through much of it. Yes, there's some gory parts (it is about zombies after all), but the ridiculousness of the whole scenario is just too fun and the gore is easily overlooked. I LOVED Lily James as Lizzy! She was feisty and witty and strong. And that famous first proposal that Darcy makes to Lizzy? Oh how I loved the way it went down in this movie! Lizzy reacted just the way I'd imagine she would, if she weren't so tied down to the perfect manners of the time. A zombie apocalypse has a way of stripping down the properness and letting characters be real. real as fictional characters can be, of course. ;)
:: Litsy ::
:: (the app) ::
Have y'all heard of this new app that's out? Lianne (from Eclectic Tales) introduced me to it. It's described at Instagram for booklovers. It's relatively easy to figure out, although I haven't done a whole lot with it yet. But if you care to join, look me up! I'm flowersquiet over there. I could use some more friends to join in! :)
:: The List App ::
:: (the app) ::
Yep, another app! It's lists. That's it, just lists. People list all kinds of things. From the crazy, to the funny, to the serious, to the heartwarming. It's a pretty fun (and nice!) group of listers over there. I've joined, but haven't interacted much. Therefore, I could use more friends over there as well! If you think you'd enjoy listing anyway. If you care to look me up, I'm flowersquiet. (Sadly it's only available for the iPhone, not Android.)
:: Learning to Mellow Like Marilla Cuthbert ::
:: (the article) ::
The lovely Hamlette pointed this post out to me and it made me picture Colleen Dewhurst as Marilla herself. Modern Mrs. Darcy wrote the article and it's just a sweet look at Marilla's character arc over the course of Anne of Green Gables.
:: The Key to Extraordinary ::
:: (the book) ::
One of my favorite authors, Natalie Lloyd (remember how I gushed over A Snicker of Magic? :), just had a new book come out last week. It looks quite delightful! No, I have not read it yet, I've been too busy hugging it! (I mean, look at that cover, doesn't it just look huggable? ;) Plus I've had several books to finish for review. But! I do plan to read it soon! And so should you, if you enjoy middle grade books.
:: Northanger Abbey Read-Along ::
:: (the read-along) ::
And lastly, the always lovely Amber is hosting a read-along of Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen during the month of March. Click over here for all the details! And won't you plan to join us? I've not ever read the book and have wanted to for years. (No excuse for why I haven't. None at all.) I told y'all that I wanted to conquer it this year and Amber was so kind to help me do that! I hear Mr. Tilney is a pretty great hero. Can't wait to find out! :)

March 1, 2016

Review: Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis

And Ms. Lewis does it again. I really enjoyed this one! Her ability to spin a story (ha! ;) only grew stronger with this second book. There are some similarities to Stitching Snow, but it didn't take away from the pure fun of this universe. I do love the alien races and the tech that she created. The sheer imagination she uses so skillfully to come up with these characters and their secrets is well done!

Take a heroine who can't speak (dire consequences otherwise), a hero with a willingness to help, a mystery which begs to be solved, and add in aliens of all kinds, as well as a vast universe of interplanetary travel, and you have the makings of a really fun story. I loved watching Liddi and Tiav struggle to understand one another. They both have many expectations on their shoulders and even though it seems they're on opposite sides of the current situation, they have much more in common than they know. And their romance was cute!

But Ms. Lewis doesn't dwell on just a simple romance. There are mysteries to be unraveled, with lives hanging in the balance. I liked that there was so much going on! There were times that I got confused, most especially in the beginning, but it usually wasn't long until I understood what certain things meant and how this world works. There are a few slow moments, but once I hit the middle of the story, things rapidly progressed from there. Which is to say that I was involved in the story enough that the slow moments didn't bother me at all.

I absolutely loved the emphasis on family! The flashbacks were really helpful in understanding the background of Liddi and her brothers. And I loved how she was willing to go beyond all endurance for the sake of saving them! The protectiveness and genuine love and care they have for Liddi in return is so very sweet. They're a family who would do anything for each other and it's such a beautiful part of the story.

Though I know the basic storyline of The Wild Swans, I've never actually read it. So I can't say whether this is a great retelling of that fairytale or not. But as a stand-alone novel for itself, I say it's quite entertaining!

I don't know what he is. I do know he's angry. He shouts at me with a series of grunts and clicks. I scoot myself back on the grass, getting some distance between us even if it means getting closer to the portal.
His unnaturally long arms snap out and grab me, hauling me off the ground. This time it's even harder not to cry out, because everything hurts and having my legs dangling in midair gives me vertigo and this strange person with too many teeth is still yelling things I can't understand and I want it all to stop. I want to scream and wake myself up from this nightmare.
"Kalkig, I told you to--what are you doing? Put her down!"


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...