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Guarding Angel

GuardingNEW this week!

Guarding Angel by S.L. Saboviec

While guarding reincarnated humans through the 17th century, Enael’s growing love for Kaspen, a fellow Guardian, is tested by the interference of his former lover, a powerful fallen angel.

Opening lines:

My Ward, Daniel Michael Wheaton, was a special assignment, direct from the Council of Seraphim — the highest rank of angel in Heaven — and I was determined to prove myself with him.

I am so excited to be able to finally give my congratulations to author & friend S.L. Saboviec on her debut novel! If you’re a fan of paranormal romance, then this story of good and evil, heaven and hell, angels and demons, fate and free will, and the sacrifices we make for those we love is one for your ‘to-read’ list. Look for it on Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Amazon paperback!

What I liked BEST about this novel…

  • I love how the author weaves Enael’s story through real-life historical times and places. Each of Enael’s Wards (the humans she’s protecting) live very distinct lives in very distinct places in time.
  • The relationship between Enael and Kaspen is very realistic. It grows and changes throughout the book, developing naturally over a period of time and fluctuating as the characters face challenges.
  • The ending. I’m going to try not to spoil anything, but even though this book is planned as the first of a series, the resolution was very satisfying.

Heads up: contains some scenes of graphic sex & violence (including rape), demonic possession, and a few instances of strong language

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The Boundless

Boundless

NEW this week…

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

 

4 of 5 stars

On the greatest train ever built, teenaged Will teams up with a traveling circus to save the train from bandits.

Something shifts inside Will, like a door opening.  Maybe it was meeting the circus girl, maybe it was the view of all these new mountains like a gateway to a new and dangerous world — but he feels like his whole life is about to be upended.

Fans of the Airborne series will absolutely adore The Boundless.  Will’s got the strength and courage of Matt Cruse, and Maren is similar to Kate de Vries in her spunk and devil-may-care sense of independence.  And, just like in Airborne, the heroes are working together on a fantastic piece of transportation — this time, the world’s longest, biggest train, that spans over seven miles long and contains over 900 cars.  The picture of the train itself is awesome and fabulous, and the world outside the train is just as exciting and unknown, with great beasts and mythical dangers lurking at every turn of the track.

Some may argue that this story follows a plot a bit too similar to Airborne, and, in fact, it did seem to take me a bit to get into the story simply because of that.  At one point, I wondered why the author didn’t just have Matt fly himself over to America, have Kate join the circus, and plop them both on a transcontinental train.

Overall:  A fun alternate history adventure in the same vein as Airborne

Anyone But You

AnyoneNEW this week!

Anyone But You: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet by Kim Askew & Amy Helmes

Teens from two feuding Italian restaurants in Chicago fall in love and, in order to be together, must uncover the source of their families’ hatred for one another.

Opening line:
I took a deep breath and backed through the swinging stainless steel door, leaving the chaos of the kitchen and entering the hushed, dimly lit dining room.

As the third book in the Twisted Lit series (which includes Exposure: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare’s Macbeth)the authors once again take some basic elements and themes of Shakespeare’s plays and works them into a modern-day scenario that teens can relate to.

I loved the idea of two feuding restaurants, and although I saw the *twist* in the 1930s/40s backstory coming a mile away, it answered a question that Shakespeare never did — the question of how this feud began in the first place.  Interesting take on it, for sure!

There is a bit of insta-love, but you can hardly fault the authors for that in this particular case, and — although I don’t want to spoil anything — the modern-day characters don’t go nearly as overboard with proving their love as the original Shakespeare characters!

Anyone But You

AnyoneAnyone But You: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet by Kim Askew & Amy Helmes

Pub: January 18, 2014

Teens from two feuding Italian restaurants in Chicago fall in love and, in order to be together, must uncover the source of their families’ hatred for one another.

Full review to be posted in January!

Overall: A cute story of pizza, pasta, and forgiveness, inspired by Romeo & Juliet

The Aviator’s Wife

Aviators

The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin

Pub: January 2013

A novelization of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s life, her marriage to the famous Charles Lindbergh, the tragedy of their son’s kidnapping, and her struggle to find herself in her husband’s shadow.

I trusted Charles Lindbergh, the man who had conquered the sky, to bring me safely back to earth.

Having read Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald not too long ago, I found a lot of similarities in this one.  Like Z, this book is a novel based on the real events of a woman and her larger-than-life, widely-acclaimed, then widely-pitied husband, the struggles they endured together, and the things that eventually tore them apart.  Like Z, it takes place in an era of excitement and change in the world, and I loved how both novels really put the reader smack-dab in the center of it, through the eyes of a woman who was in the middle of it, yet had very little power over it.

The final hundred pages or so, though, I didn’t really care for.  Somewhere along the line the story became another typical book-club story about a woman’s mid-life crisis and how a wife and mom can’t really know who she is until she goes off on her own and rediscovers herself (usually with the help of at least one extramarital affair).  It’s hard to fault the author, who was just following what actually happened, but it made the whole book end on a low note for me.

Bellman & Black

Bellman

NEW this week…

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

3 of 5 stars

William Bellman is hardworking businessman who seems to have it all, until a plague hits town, taking those dear to him and planting in his mind the concept of a business with a curious partner and macabre purpose.

William lost himself in calculations.  What was the measurement for bereavement?  How to count, weigh, evaluate grief?

As much as I liked this book, it fell short of me loving it, though I so wanted to.  It was as if all of the elements were there for a dark, haunting, beautiful story of life and death and grief, but the pieces just failed to fall into place.  I think that having “A Ghost Story” on the front warped my expectations, so that when the “ghost” really ends up not being so much of a “ghost” as simply the dark presence of death overshadowing Bellman’s life, it’s quite the letdown.  The mysterious Mr. Black was both too present and too absent, and the deal he strikes with Bellman is vague at best and left me wondering — well, I think I understand what just happened there…?

There also seemed to be a number of subplots and threads that just didn’t have any sort of follow-through — characters who never tied into the main plot, questions that weren’t answered, and parts where the author went into great detail about the smallest thing that then never amounted to anything.  It left me feeling rather unsatisfied in the end.

Burial Rites

Burial

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Pub: Sept 10, 2013

3.5 of 5 stars

Agnes, charged with murder, is sent to live with a family at an isolated farm in order to await execution.

They have strapped me to the saddle like a corpse being taken to the burial ground.  In their eyes, I am already a dead woman, destined for the grave.

This novel, which is based on a true story, takes place in Iceland in the early 1800s.  The imagery and language which Kent uses is wonderful, and paints a very vivid picture of life for Agnes and her temporary jailers.  The details about life in Iceland at this time make the reader really feel like he’s there, awaiting execution with Agnes.

If I had known when I first read this that it was based on a true story, I might not have minded the ending so much — but when the whole story finally comes out about what happened the night of the murder and what Agnes’ role in it actually was, I felt a little let down, as it was pretty much as I had expected from very early on.

Overall, though, this is an incredibly well-researched, beautifully-written novelization of historic events.

Mrs. Poe

MrsPoe

NEW this week…

Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

2.5 of 5 stars

Struggling poet Frances Osgood befriends Edgar and Victoria Poe in an attempt to further her own career, but as she becomes romantically entangled with Edgar, begins to fear his sickly wife.

“Words, words, words, words.  Eddie’s not a real man — he’s just a shell made of words.  Don’t fall in love with a poet, Mrs. Osgood.  All they love is their words.”

This novelization of Frances Osgood’s (supposed?) affair with Edgar Allen Poe pieces together documented real-life events and weaves them into a tale that is somewhat unsettling, just as the Poes themselves.  Throughout the entire thing, I loved that I could never really tell whether Mr. and Mrs. Poe were trustworthy or not.  Though the narrator declared her love for him early on, the reader is still left to wonder what kind of man he really is — much in the vein of Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester.

This insta-love was one of my frustrations with this novel, however.  After one afternoon interview, they were inexplicably drawn to one another in an all-encompassing way that pushed aside all reason or regard for anything (or anyone) else, and I have to say, I didn’t buy it.  I also didn’t buy the climax, which just seemed silly and contrived, nor the resolution, which was really no resolution at all.  In the end, it seemed that there was a lot of buildup for little payoff.

Gatsby’s Girl

ClassicsRetold

GATSBY THURSDAY!
GastbysGirlGatsby’s Girl by Caroline Preston

3 of 5 stars

Pub: 2006

This biographical-fiction novel tells the story of Ginevra Perry, based on F. Scott’s Fitzgerald’s first love, who broke his heart and inspired such characters as Isabelle Borge and Daisy Buchannan.

So typical of Scott, to take a punch party at a shabby country club and fill it with flickering lamplight and romantic interludes.  To take a stuck-up pre-debutante and turn her into a noble creature capable of deep feelings.

The first 3/4 of this book captivated me.  I loved seeing Fitzgerald’s life story, so often mimicked in his own books, through the eyes of one of his “PD”s (Popular Daughters).  It was easy to see how the great romantic egotist could take a half-hearted romance that meant so little to Ginevra and turn it into an epic story of love and loss like The Great Gatbsy.  Though Ginevra’s character was shallow, fickle, and flighty, it fit well with Fitzgerald’s own perception of the ‘carelessness’ of Daisy.  I loved the connections and how the author tied in historical facts about the Fitzgeralds and the real-life Ginevra, as well as parts of Fitzgerald’s stories, to create a very realistic, believable story of “the one who got away.”

The final section of the story (from about the time when Ginevra and Zelda meet) could probably be entirely skipped.  The final meeting with Scott in Hollywood was interesting, but the rest seemed to be two steps backward for Ginevra as a character — someone who finally knew what she was doing and was acting maturely reverts to her old, careless ways, making the whole thing end on a rather bleak note.

Overall: Reading like one of Fitzgerald’s novels, this story combines fact and fiction in a way that’s believable and intriguing.

Delia’s Shadow

Delia's

NEW this week…

Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer

3 of 5 stars

With the 1906 San Francisco World’s Fair as the backdrop, Delia is haunted by the ghost of a murder victim as her killer once more terrifies the city.

A murder investigation was a macabre jigsaw puzzle, splashed with blood and the remnants of someone’s life.

This historical murder mystery ghost story borrows from many serial killer investigations, most obviously that of the Zodiac killer (though that occurred decades after the setting of this book), and the grim details and sense of fear are intense throughout the story.  The characters in this novel are particularly well-written, with relationships that felt genuine and strengthened the story.

On the flip side, there were still some unanswered questions that left me feeling somewhat less satisfied at the end of the story:

For instance (highlight for spoilers) –

  • what happened to the other officer who had gone missing?
  • why did the killer target Gabe’s father to begin with?
  • what happened to the killer while at his uncle’s that caused such a change in him?
  • why had Jack’s father kept his mother’s murder secret?
  • who were Teddy & Beryl?
  • how did Aileen know to ask Delia for help anyway?
  • why all the Egyptology?

I also think that the killer may have been a bit too… two-dimensional.  I was sincerely hoping for some sort of twist or shocker ending but was kind of disappointed when they figured out who it was and — sure enough — that’s who it was.  It was almost too easy, and made me wonder why it had taken them thirty years to figure out who it was.

Overall, though, good ghostly murder mystery with a bit of history and romance thrown in as well

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